In addition to the normal addiction properties associated with falling in love with anyone or anything, when we align with a sociopath, the addictive properties of love are exaggerated and one-side and become the driving force behind our desperate behavior, from the relationship’s inception to its disintegration.
The sociopath idolizes you and provides you with so much approval in the beginning of the relationship, that you become hypnotized and brainwashed into believing you are only worthy when the sociopath approves of everything you do even after the relationship ends.
Why would we want this person’s approval after compiling the laundry list of abuses that the sociopath inflicted upon us, our children and our beloved friends and family?
Because we are addicts and require time to detox, abstain and rewire our brains back to a healthy state of self-love and acceptance.
Unfortunately, we are all in denial of our addiction in the immediate aftermath of the abuse and refuse, stubbornly refuse, to accept we were addicts. This denial is what leads us all to break no contact and rush back to the sociopath with questions in hopes we’ll receive the sociopath’s acceptance and approval.
When we do this, we are simply perpetuating the behavior that kept up inside the relationship. We keep imbibing in the drug. We aren’t taking the steps necessary to change our habits, and we continue to remain dependent on the sociopath’s approval.
The birth and perpetuation of this addiction is immediate and sustained across all phases of the toxic relationship cycle: idolization, devaluation and discard phases.
All toxic relationships oscillate and cycle through these phases repeatedly from one phase to the next and back to the other phase and then back again. The oscillation is so slow and insidious in the beginning that victims do not notice.
The idolization phase, the most addictive of the phases, is the dominant phase in the early months and years. Although the idolization phase is often front-and-center in the beginning, the devaluation and discard phases are ever present. In addition, the idolization phase is present even during intense periods of devaluation and discard. Like a dangling carrot of hope that fades and then comes back into focus and fades and then comes back into focus.
The overlapping and intermingling of the three phases results in extremely high levels of dependency for acceptance and approval from the sociopath.
What the sociopath does during the idolization phase…
The sociopath idolizes and praises everything about you and compares you to every past love interest, wife, girlfriend, and even his mother. You are the best, the only one who has ever understood him, the one, his soul mate and he can’t imagine life without you by his side.
What you do during the idolization phase…
You eat up the praise and compliments. Who wouldn’t? This is also the time in which you make excuses for those red flags you see. Instead of seeing him as a loser who can’t keep a girlfriend or fiancee or wife, you see the sociopath as a sympathetic character, a lost and stray dog in need of your TLC. He told you how much he admires your strength, courage and ability to nurture. So your desire to further demonstrate your strength, courage and ability to nurture kicks in, and you are immediately entranced into giving him all of your love and attention. Soon, the sociopath’s needs and desires overshadow your own.
What the sociopath does during this devaluation phase…
The sociopath insidiously chips away at all those things for which he originally praised and complimented you.
>>Your cooking was superb; now it needs a little something. (But he hasn’t a clue what it is and instead says something like, “Oh, you’re so smart. You can figure it out.”)
>>Your hair is now suddenly too long or too short or not the best color for you. (He’s only looking out for his amazing GF and wants her to look and feel great about herself, right?)
>> Your clothes, your shampoo, the car you drive, the way you care for your dog, the way you run your business…it could all be improved. (After all, says the sociopath, you are so good at finding solutions and fixing them immediately, right?)
What you do during the devalue phase…
You never question the criticisms. You love the sociopath and will hyper vigilantly stay on task and slave away at improving your skills and abilities, never realizing the sociopath wants you to do this just to make the sociopath look good for being associated with you. The sociopath will take all the credit when you are complimented by others. Behind your back he will make remarks like, “She finally listened to me. I can’t believe she was doing it that way, can you? She’s so smart, isn’t she? Just amazing.”
And those people will only hear the last part of his back-handed compliment and come to you and say, “Wow. You guys make a great team. He loves you so much.” And all the sociopath is doing is barking orders at you, but you’re too distracted by the need for acceptance that you miss the irony in everything the sociopath projects in your direction.
Remarkably, you feel even more idolized and loved while simultaneously being devalued, not realizing you are being drained of your self-will, vitality and naturally zest for life. Every decision you make is unknowingly guided by the sociopath’s subtle devaluation of you, because you desperately NEED the sociopath’s approval.
What the sociopath does during the discard phase…
The sociopath is no longer subtle about his devaluation. The sociopath either stonewalls you, ignores you and/or dismisses everything about you in hopes you’ll get the message and just leave the relationship (he’s got someone else waiting in the wings, you know?) or the sociopath is direct and down-right nasty and tells you how much you suck. He attacks all the things he once praised about you and even goes as far as telling you that you never would have reached the success you reached if not for the sociopath’s influence and encouragement. You’re so ungrateful and hateful. The sociopath can’t believe how much time he wasted trying to make the relationship work.
What you do during the discard phase…
If the sociopath is subtle/passive-aggressive with his “punishment” of you, you will probably approach the sociopath with concern. You might start up a conversation like this:
“I love you, but I’ve noticed you haven’t been happy. I want you to be happy. Is it me? Did I do something wrong? If it’s me, please tell me what it was and I will fix it.”
If the sociopath is overt and direct with his discard tactics, you will try to fight the sociopath verbally and perhaps physically. You will beg and plead with the sociopath to stop hurting you. You will do anything…change everything. You love him so much. You just want the sociopath to be happy with you again. To love you and idolize you again.
And the cycle begins again. You gave the sociopath the supply and green light he needed to stay in the relationship and suck more from you. (You’re such a great lap dog.)
But once the sociopath has a new supply, the last discard WILL come, and you WILL be left desperate for answers:
“You love me, right? You can’t just stop caring about someone even if you have found another love interest, right? You can still value me as a person? You can still see my value right? Please, please, please see my value. Please!! PLEASE!!”
Unfortunately, you’re wasting your breath. The sociopath saw you as a means to an end. You were fun for a while and gave him the ego boost and recognition he desperately needed to feel good about himself. He may have gotten away with your child, your home, your business, your car, or even something as simple as your dignity. Whatever it was he took and now you find yourself crying about, the sociopath doesn’t care. The sociopath now has someone new to manipulate and control and walk through the same phases of toxicity with fresh vigor and vitality, thanks to you. You’re just a bother, and you keep proving how crazy you are with your threats and stalking and desperate attempts to get him to return your emails, texts and calls. (Your actions are incredibly distasteful, you poor, poor thing. You need help. You must be bipolar or something.)
The only help you need is help learning to detach in order to detox and stop relying on that ridiculous approval high that was never fulfilling nor was it worthy of your time and energy pursuing. You were/are addicted. The more you refuse to accept this, the longer it will take before you realize you will never get answers from the sociopath who truly sees his actions as just and good. You were simply too weak to walk by his side, so he had to wipe you off the bottom of his shoe; you were holding him back.