BB&W Exclusive: Q&A with Donna Andersen, author of “Red Flags of Love Fraud — 10 signs you’re dating a sociopath”

 

You meet someone who seems to be Prince or Princess Charming. Your new romantic partner says you are “soul mates,” and quickly proclaims undying love. You fall head over heels, only to discover that you’ve fallen into a web of deceit and destruction. It’s called “love fraud,” and a new book helps you avoid it: “Red Flags of Love Fraud—10 signs you’re dating a sociopath.”

 

The author is Donna Andersen, who is also author of Lovefraud.com. Andersen coined the term “love fraud,” and defines it as “the intentional exploitation of an individual through manipulating emotions in a personal relationship.” The people who engage in love fraud, she says, are sociopaths.

 

Perhaps 12 percent of the population has serious psychiatric disorders that make them unsuitable as romantic partners. Most are not in jail—they’re living among us, pursuing hook-ups.

 

Andersen learned about sociopaths the hard way—by marrying one. In two years, this man defrauded Andersen of $227,000, cheated with at least six women, fathered a child with one of them, and then, 10 days after Andersen left him, married the mother of the child. It was the second time he committed bigamy.

 

Because of her experience, Andersen launched Lovefraud.com to teach people how to recognize and recover from sociopaths. “Sociopaths are not all deranged serial killers,” she says. “But they are social predators, and live their lives by exploiting others—especially their romantic partners.”

 

Following is a short interview with Andersen about “Red Flags of Love Fraud.”

 

Q. What is the most important point of your new book?

 

A. Sociopaths exist. We get in trouble primarily because we don’t know that these exploiters live among us.

 

They are not all deranged serial killers. They don’t necessarily look or act crazy. They appear to be normal, and blend easily into society.

 

I’ve spoken to hundreds of people who have been targeted by sociopaths, and many, many times they said to me, “I never knew people like this existed!”

 

Yes, they do. They are human predators, they are found in all segments of society, and they are dangerous.

 

Q. How can you spot a sociopath?

 

That’s exactly what Red Flags of Love Fraud is all about. In the first chapter, I explain the 10 warning signs that a new romantic partner may be a sociopath.

 

The Number One sign is “charisma and charm.” Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with being charismatic and charming, and not everyone who has these traits is a sociopath. In fact, several of the red flags are behaviors that you’d like to see in a dream date.

 

But if your new partner also lies, blames others for everything that goes wrong, and tries to make you feel sorry for him or her, then you may be dealing with a personality disorder. That’s why it’s important to know all 10 signs.

 

Q. What, in your opinion, are the common characteristics of a sociopath’s victim?

 

The common characteristic of victims is that they have some kind of vulnerability. Well, guess what—we all have a vulnerability, or two, or many, so anyone can be targeted. Victims of sociopaths are not necessarily broken, desperate people.  Even rich, successful, confident people have vulnerabilities (possibly money, success or a need to project confidence).

 

Here is what a sociopath does upon meeting a potential target: 1) Evaluate if the target has anything that the sociopath wants. 2) Determine what the target’s vulnerabilities are. 3) Figure out a way to manipulate the target to get what he or she wants.

 

Q. What tips do you have for victims on how to rebuild their lives after being involved with a sociopath?

 

Involvements with sociopaths can cause incredible amounts of damage — psychological, emotional, physical, financial and spiritual damage. Rebuilding is a process, and it will take as long as it takes.

 

The first step is to eliminate the sociopath from your life. Have No Contact with the individual. (This may be difficult if you work with the sociopath or share a child, in those cases, you must do the best you can, and keep any required interactions strictly business.) Do not try to “be friends,” if you have any contact with the individual, he or she may draw you back into the web of lies.

 

Then, make a decision that you are going to recover. This doesn’t “just happen,” you’ll need to work at it.

 

You’ll need to process the emotional pain, grief, anger and disappointment of everything that happened. This will be like “peeling the onion;” as you release some pain, more will rise to take its place. You just have to keep going, until it begins to dissipate.

 

At the same time, do whatever you can to take care of yourself and be good to yourself. Eat well. Get exercise. Don’t do drugs or alcohol. All of these steps will help you cope with depression and anxiety, which are normal results of an involvement with a sociopath.

 

If you commit to yourself, you can recover. You won’t be the same as you were before the involvement, but you do have the opportunity to be better. You can turn the terrible experience into wisdom, compassion and growth.

 

Donna Andersen is author of Lovefraud.com. Her new book, “Red Flags of Love Fraud – 10 signs you’re dating a sociopath,” reveals, for the first time, the tactics of social predators who pursue romantic relationships not for love, but for exploitation. She explains how sociopaths seduce their targets, why it’s hard to escape the relationships, and how people can protect themselves. “Red Flags of Love Fraud” is available in the Lovefraud Store for $17.95, which includes a free copy of the accompanying “Red Flags of Love Fraud Workbook.”

 

 

 

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