Breaking my rule led me into the arms of a sociopath.
We met on Match. He reached out to me, “Hey — great pix! Love your smile. Is that Greece?” I didn’t respond because it would have broken my golden rule: No pics, no play. He wrote again. Hey — sorry. I’m at a business conference in CA and just created my profile. For some reason my pics won’t upload. Must be a bandwidth issue. I’ve attached some for you.
Handsome. Dark hair, dazzling smile. Could those teeth be any whiter?
No worries. I get it. My wifi here is one step above dial up. Great to ‘meet’ you.
Flirty notes progressed into flirty calls. Within a couple of days, he asked for a date. Thank God. I hate when guys drag out the whole emailing back and forth thing. I want a date, not a frickin’ penpal. We made plans to meet at an Irish bar we were both familiar with when he returned from CA. It was comfortable for me, as I was on a first name basis with most of the bartenders having been a frequent flyer there for the past several years.
Brad was sitting at the bar when I arrived. He looked just like the pics he sent. Good start. His navy polo shirt and khakis looked like he walked off a Land’s End shoot. “Hey, nice to finally meet you. Wow. Your pictures don’t do you justice,” he said as he simultaneously stood, leaned in for a peck on the cheek, and presented me with a small bouquet of hydrangeas which I had listed as my faves. “What can I get you to drink?”
The evening flew by. He was charming, personable, and engaging. We exchanged the usual stories. Ever been married? Nope — was engaged, but broke it off a few years ago. He and Amy had dated for six years, college sweethearts. Everyone assumed they’d marry, but once they got engaged, things fell apart. Last relationship? None of note, but had a brief fling with a woman at the conference. Basically, three days of casual sex. He thought she may have been married.
We made friends with a couple from Oregon sitting next to us. Turns out Brad had lived in Oregon for a year before moving to Virginia. They were as captivated by Brad as I was. I pretended not to notice when they referred to me as his wife. “We aren’t married,” Brad corrected them, “but I hope to be that lucky some day. It’s our first date, but I can already tell she’s special.” I beamed as Brad bought them a round of lemon drops.
It was one of those nights you wish would never end. He walked me to my car, leaned in for a lovely good night kiss, and asked if he could see me the following Friday to which I gave a resounding “Definitely.” The smile on my face lasted the entire drive home, and I fell into one of the best, deepest sleeps when my head hit the pillow.
When my eyes opened, I reached for my phone to gaze at his pics again. Damn. I missed a text from him. He must have sent it after he got home.
You’re soooo hot. It’s going to be the longest week ever until I see you again. Sweet dreams, baby.
Is this guy for real? How is he still single? What would I wear on our next date? I need to go shopping. And to the gym. Where is my gym bag? Definitely need to get my nails done. Wonder where we’ll go? That kiss was beyond. My dry spell is finally over. Praise, Jesus. Okay, respond, but nothing too over the top. Sound excited, but not too excited. Say something that keeps the conversation going.
Great night. Looking forward to seeing you again Friday. Where should we go?
I waited a few minutes for his response before cartwheeling out of bed, grabbing some coffee, and hopping into the shower. As I was drying off, I saw two missed calls from him. Swoon. I love a morning after call. Good looking, intelligent, funny, AND thoughtful. He is the whole enchilada. Before I could hit ‘call back,’ the phone rang again.
“Hey,” I said channeling my sexiest morning voice. I wonder if I should switch to Facetime. Too soon? That would be hot — me in my towel. Him in boxers? God — I hope he wears boxers.
“How do you know Brad?” said the woman on the other end of the line.
“We had our first date last night,” I replied.
Amy heard the text notification from my response while Brad was still sleeping. I told her everything, how we met, the details of his Match profile, the story about his broken engagement and the conference fling. My mind was spinning trying to remember everything he had written, said. Which things were truth? Which were lies? Was any of it true? Pretty sure the conference fling was.
After what seemed like the longest pause ever, she said, “It’s not your fault. You didn’t know.” As she said it, I could hear the sound of kids’ voices in the background. Two, ages 2 and 4. My heart sank. There she was standing feet away from her kids while that cheating scumbag predator shitbag husband who didn’t deserve to be a dad was asleep in the other room telling me not to worry. She never cried, but I could hear her voice shaking. I could also hear her strength and determination. “This isn’t the first time it’s happened, but it will be the last.”
She went on to tell me how Brad is the guy everyone loves. Her family adores him. After the last affair — at least the last one she knows about — it was her mother and sister who convinced her not to leave. She was pregnant so she stayed against her better judgement. “He’s the guy manning the grill everybody swarms around to hear his stories and laugh at all his jokes. It’s sickening.” As she said it, all I could think was “This woman just saved me from dating Scott Frickin’ Peterson.” He’s a sociopath.
When we hung up, I was shaking. What if she goes off the deep end and shoots this guy? I want to shoot this guy. My phone number will be the last call the cops see. Jesus. One broken rule, and all of the sudden, I’m in the middle of a Dateline episode.
Amy and I had several follow up calls. Turns out she was in IT, and with my help, was able to hack into his profile and pull up all his emails. She had a trail of evidence to take to her attorney. On our last call, she thanked me profusely. “God, Amy. No — it’s me who should be thanking you. You saved me.”
Amy and I saved each other. That’s what women do. I’ve thought about Amy and those kids many times over the years. More often though, I’ve thought of her family — the ones who were so swayed by Brad’s bullshit that they put it above Amy and the kids’ wellbeing. Sociopaths are powerful like that though.
Not surprising that I would be caught with my guard down. According to Psychology Today, spotting a sociopath isn’t that easy. The biggest red flag? People who seem too good to be true. Pretty sad to think that if you’re swept off your feet, he may be a sociopath. Even sadder that women are still buying into the fairytales of their youth — white knights who have us swooning at first glance. I wanted to buy into that story. I wanted to believe that guy existed — the guy smothering me in compliments and making my heart leap. Had Amy not called, there is no doubt in my mind I would have swallowed the bait whole.
Amy’s phone call was a wake up call. It takes time to get to know the person behind the facade. We all have dating masks we put on, presenting the best version of ourselves. It takes time to build up trust to reveal our true nature — the person behind the mask. Brad revealed his true self to Amy, and I’m grateful she let me in on the secret. I’m only sorry she didn’t follow her instincts sooner, before my first and only date with her husband.