He was enigmatic, charismatic and handsome. He was the romantic man I had waited my whole life to meet. I fell madly and hopelessly in love with him. In the end, the relationship almost destroyed me.
I had been single for a few years, and I was lonely. I had almost everything I wanted: a great job, wonderful kids and close friends, even an amicable relationship with my ex-husband. The only thing I lacked was someone to love.
I met him online, on a millionaire's website. I thought that might be a place to meet someone of a similar educational background, with similar interests and income. I was never looking to meet a sugar daddy; certainly, as a physician, I was able to provide for my children and myself.
He swept me off my feet. My Pollyanna-like trust and gullibility were no match for his romantic shock and awe. He was a rock star impersonator by trade, having spent his entire adult working life pretending to be someone else (though he claimed to be working on a law degree). He also had just a hint of an affected British accent. The accent, as well as his stories of brushes with celebrity, drew me in, while his unwavering attention through texts, e-mails, phone calls and flowers did the rest. I had never felt so loved, so beautiful and desired. He had me right where he wanted me.
We met in person three weeks after meeting online, and he proposed from the stage of the hotel ballroom in Las Vegas just a month later. We married less than three months after his sudden proposal, against the advice of all of my friends and family and without the benefit of a pre-nuptial agreement.
For those in the know, this rapidly progressing relationship, with proposed co-habitation and/or marriage very early into the courtship, is a hallmark sign of a psychopath. The psychopath knows from experience that he will be unable to maintain his façade of normalcy for long and compensates by "love-bombing" his intended victim. The types of women targeted by psychopaths tend to be over-endowed with personality traits such as trust, generosity and compassion; in essence, the perfect victim.
The warning signs were there early on, but I was too enamored with my shiny new husband to recognize them. The drinking binges, the drug use and the pathologic lying became more frequent over time. I believe he became "willfully underemployed," citing the economy as the cause of his dwindling work, when really he felt no compelling need to work. I provided his home, food, travel and paid his bills. He worked only when his ego needed stroking. What man wouldn't love to strut drunkenly onstage, surrounded by adoring fans? He prided himself on his "goodie bag," lacy underthings which were thrown at him during performances by pretty young women.
I began to realize that while he pretended to like my neighbors and friends, he couldn't be bothered to remember their names. With his encouragement, I bought a bigger house away from the neighborhood in which I had lived for a decade. He professed to love my sons, but treated them with casual indifference, complaining when their activities interfered with his personal time. He seemed only interested in what I could give to him. He hinted for a new Mercedes, a tour bus and a plane. He expected me to take care of all of the household details such as cleaning and cooking while he enjoyed nothing but leisure time. He treated his biological daughter like a prize to be won, using her as a pawn in an ugly custody dispute with his previous wife.
I knew that I couldn't stay married to someone who now appeared to have married me not for love, but for my money. It wasn't until I witnessed his arrest in my front foyer, guns to his head, that I found the courage to end it. Soon after his arrest, I had him removed from my home with a civil protection order. He threatened my personal reputation, stating he would go to the media and claim that I attended orgies and wife-swapping parties -- very damaging allegations to any physician's reputation. He called the state medical board multiple times, alleging that I used and dealt narcotics. Because the reporting process to the medical board was anonymous, I had no recourse. I could not sue him for defamation of character or slander, or to recover the expenses of hiring a medical licensure attorney.
The divorce process was longer than the sixteen-month marriage. Every time I thought he could sink no lower, he would go further in his attempt to destroy me. The magistrate and attorney had no concern for the truth, only the balance sheet. When the dust finally settled, I paid over a quarter of a million dollars in attorney fees, spousal support and final settlement fees. I developed a mass in the center of my chest, which I believe resulted from immune suppression from my chronic, high-level stress.
He walked away with more money than he had ever had in his life and no regrets. The defining quality of the psychopath is the inability to connect with another human on anything but the most superficial level. Because he cannot love, winning and domination become his first and foremost motivation. He feels no remorse, has no real sense of right or wrong and can be the most charming person you'll ever met. It is no coincidence that many cult leaders (Jim Jones, Charles Manson) exhibit most if not all of the criteria on the Psychopathy Checklist.
Use mine as a cautionary tale. Listen to your internal warning system, your friends and family. Take time to really get to know a love interest before jumping into marriage. Because it is far easier to enter into a relationship with a psychopath than to escape from one.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more