I have a long history of dating dysfunctional people. The one thing I could always be sure of is if he was interested in me, there was definitely something wrong with him. Not because I was such a horrible person, but because it’s what I attracted – exclusively.

When I was in my senior year at University, I remember having to write a huge paper for my Abnormal Psychology class. The topic I chose was Antisocial Personality Disorder.

There were a lot of interesting topics I could have chosen – Schizophrenia, Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)… but I think I chose Antisocial Personality Disorder, because I just happened to be dating a Psychopath, though I wasn’t aware of it at the time.

I vividly recall reading Hervey Cleckley’s book, The Mask of Sanity. I remember it so clearly because my jaw hit the floor as I went over his checklist of Psychopathic traits and it became very clear just what I was dealing with in my personal life and I very abruptly ended my relationship.

A decade later, he contacted me on Facebook. I was shocked to hear from him, to say the least. His message was full of compliments and I was very curious about whether or not I was right about him, so I responded.

As the weeks went by, I would respond to his messages here and there, when I was online.  One day he told me that he had been arrested. He had knowledge that a friend’s father had $5000 in cash, in his house, so he broke in to steal it and got caught. He described it just like he would describe a casual event. There was no shame, no guilty conscience, no remorse. He was just very matter-of-fact about the whole thing. So I had my answer and stopped all contact.

A few days later I had my Facebook open and I went downstairs to do some laundry. When I came back up there were about 10 different messages from him, saying things like, “Stop ignoring me!!!!! Talk to me. Pay attention to me. Why did you unfriend me?. Why did you talk to me before, just to see if I was down and out? I don’t give a f**k. I’ll get better.”

I didn’t respond and was amazed at just how nonchalant and clueless he was to the idea that maybe I don’t want anyone in my life capable of doing what he had done.  A few days later, I got another message from him, apologizing for his behavior and that he was trying to learn how to control his anger. After repeatedly getting no response from me his messages stopped.

That is until last week. Seven years later I got the message, “I hope you don’t hate me.” If I wasn’t, “in the business,” per se, I would have blocked him and not bothered to read any of his messages, but at this point, I find people like him are great teachers and any feelings I ever had for him were gone decades ago.

When I read the message, I rolled my eyes, shook my head and laughed at the absurdity of it all. When I dissected it, I couldn’t help but think – there was a lot to be learned by his behavior.

The Feeler

“I hope you don’t hate me.”

This phrase is what’s called a feeler. He’s trying to test the water to see if I’m receptive. It’s just the right tone, just enough to mean something – if I’m open to it, or just light enough to mean nothing – if I take offence.

It’s akin to some of the most common feeler phrases by emotional manipulators like,  – “I miss you. I’ve been thinking of you. You’ve been on my mind.” All of these are just ambiguous enough to mean nothing at all, yet the possibility of something more is distinctly implied. The manipulator is sticking his lure in the water to see if he/she can catch a fish.

Do not be fooled by these phrases – they mean nothing except – I’m looking for a way in.

I Reserve the Right to Show Up at Any Time

Regardless of how much time has gone by there is always the potential that they will appear once they have labeled you as a source of supply. There is no thought to what might be going on in the life of their former partner, or how their contact might affect them. The only thing they are thinking of is what they want at that moment.

The shame, guilt or common decency that would normally enter the thinking process just isn’t there. The empathy required to put the needs and feelings of others ahead of their own is non-existent and this is how it manifests in their behavior.

The, ‘I Have Feelings/I’ve Changed/I Care,’ Routine

“I hope you don’t hate me.”

What the sender is trying to convey here is that he deeply regrets what he has done to me in the past. The implication is that he’s taken ownership of his past behavior and is looking for forgiveness and to make amends. The problem is, he doesn’t regret what he has done. He takes ownership of nothing, nor will he ever make amends. He has no insight and no empathy, so he cannot possibly fathom what his behavior did to me.

He has always been parasitic, feeding off of anyone unfortunate enough to walk across his path. People have always been pawns to him, so the idea that he could be remorseful is so outlandish, it’s laughable. He’s a psychopath – he has no conscience, no guilt, no remorse and no ability to change that.

By trying to quietly sneak in a, “I hope you don’t hate me,” he’s trying to tweak any sentiment I may have for him. Poor him – everybody hates him. Codependents are quick to envelope anyone in need of love. He’s done this before with me, with great success, so it was a clever move on his part.

In Cleckley’s book, he describes how Psychopaths mimic socially acceptable behavior. They are empty, incapable of forming attachment bonds with anyone. They are able to get by and fool others by watching those around them and mimicking their behavior. They use whatever works to get them what they want and feel nothing for intentionally deceiving their partners. They are predatory, always on the hunt for the weak gazelle in the herd.

The message he sent me wasn’t just an easy, breezy, passing fancy and he wasn’t looking to just say, “hi.” He most definitely had an agenda.

The Agenda

Why does he keep coming back? He must want me. I mean, there must be some kind of cosmic connection between us, some soul mate kinda thing going on, right?…

Ah-no. He keeps coming back, because he wants something – plain and simple. He needs – money, a place to stay, sex, food, attention, an ego stroke, someone to care about him, or he may know that his current victim has just about had enough of him and he’s looking for some options on where to go next….

He wants supply in whatever form he needs it at that moment. That’s all. I was probably not even the only woman he messaged on Facebook that day. He probably threw out a few feelers. I’m sure his primary target is the one with the most resources, but when you’re desperate – anyone will do.

So many get hung up on the mixed messages they get. Mixed messages convey exactly what they’re meant to – today I feel this way – tomorrow I feel this way. It’s more than just being uncertain about someone – they tell the story of someone who’s desires change at a moment’s whim. They’re indicative of someone who cares only about getting their needs met and they are completely oblivious as to how their behavior comes across and effects others.

Looking at it objectively, as I’m able to do now, his attempt at a comeback seems so outrageous, I actually laughed out loud. But until this kind of thing is taught to young people in schools and parents are taught to encourage self-esteem and self-worth, there will always be predators and there will always be victims. I’m sure he will find someone who hasn’t woken up yet, someone who is still looking for validation and love from those incapable of giving it to them. There’s nothing I can do about his next victim – all I can do, is make sure it isn’t me.

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Written by Savannah Grey
Savannah Grey is a Freelance Writer, a Hypnotherapist, Consultant, Sports Fanatic, and Philosopher and has a degree in Psychology. She is the founder of www.esteemology.com, a website dedicated to educating and healing survivors of abusive relationships.