Bipolar and Hypersexuality: A Chat with Suzy Favor Hamilton

Last week on Girl Boner®, I had the honor of interviewing Suzy Favor Hamilton, a celebrated athlete and three-time Olympian whose newly released memoir Fast Girl — My Life Spent Running From Madness details her struggle with bipolar disorder and the hypersexuality it brought on.

Suzy Favor Hamilton credit Daniel Acuna

Prior to being diagnosed, Suzy led a double-life—one as a mother, wife, realtor and public speaker, another as a high-end escort in Las Vegas. While she doesn’t blame the disorder for that work (and has tremendous respect for sex workers), she doesn’t know how vastly her path would’ve been had she learned of her disorder sooner.

Her story is one we can all learn from, whether we’re directly affected by mental illness or not. In our chat, Suzy shared what it was like growing up with a brother with bipolar, how silence about his illness plagued her family and how she ended up developing an eating disorder and having breast reduction surgery after being shunned for her less stereotypically runner-like body. She talked about the day she made herself fall at Olympic trials when dark thoughts had taken over, why she decided to share the truth publicly and more.

Fast Girl jacket art

I hope you’ll listen to the full interview (links below), but I had to share this particularly insightful portion—a message that should be heard and absorbed by many.

When I asked Suzy what she hopes people will most take away from her story, she said this:

I want people to understand that life I went through all this, but life isn’t a fairytale right now. It’s not all happily ever after. It will be a struggle for the rest of my life. There’ll always be situations that come up about this that I’ll deal with, and I know I’ll deal with them and strength, and no shame.

I want others to feel that the stigma of mental illness should not make them feel shamed—one bit. We need to, as a society, really come together and understand mental illness… It’s an illness, just like cancer. And once the disorder takes over the brain, things are going to happen—look at the rate of suicide, how high that is. We can prevent this by educating ourselves to help the ones around us, to recognize the signs.

I’m hoping that people will read this book and look at bipolar in a different way and reach out to ones that they see destructive behaviors happening. Because my story shows and tells so much that is personal, that always isn’t shown in somebody—so maybe asking the right questions, and looking at my behaviors and asking that hard question about the hypersexuality.

Doctors even have a hard time talking about that. They may be embarrassed. So we need to look at sex in a different way, not as a taboo or in a bad way. There is the component of this disorder and sex, and somehow people have a hard time when it comes to sex and a disorder. They don’t want to talk about it. And we need to go there.”

To listen to our full interview, which also features thoughts from Dr. Megan Fleming on how to differentiate between hypersexuality and a healthy, happens-to-be-high sex drive and more, click one of these links:

iTunes    Stitcher Radio

PS If you’ve enjoyed Girl Boner®, I’d love to have your vote in Kinkly’s Sex Blogging Superhero awards! Simply click this link and then “vote.” Thanks for any support! ♥

Healing From Abuse and How to Stop “Slut” Shaming

I was so honored to spend time chatting with Sophie Ullett on Girl Boner Radio last week, the show’s second time being filmed! We need more voices like Sophie’s and countless conversations on stopping the epidemic of sexual abuse and “slut”-shaming. (And yes, they are sadly linked.)


The episode also features a teaser for a not-to-be-missed documentary and tips from Girl Boner’s current sex-pert, Kait of Passion By Kait. (She’s fantastic!)

Stream the episode on iTunes, Stitcher Radio or my homepage, or scroll down to watch the video. If you’re short on time, feel free to jump to the portions you’re most interested in, using the following time line.

*Please note that the episode contains brief descriptions of sexual abuse for educational purposes.

0:30: I introduce the show.

1:10: See a teaser for UnSlut: A Documentary Film, directed by Emily Linden!

2:20: I introduce featured guest, actress and singer Sophie Ullett! We chat about her background and when she started acting.

*6:20: Sophie discusses the sexual abuse she endured as a child, including her mixed emotions at the time and how she eventually spoke up about what happened.

15:15: Sophie shares how she healed from the trauma and related alcohol abuse. Did she see a therapist? What helped most?

19:15: How did Sophie feel about herself while acting out sexually? Then we talk about growing and healing through sex, and some of the double standards involved with “slut” shaming—such as women being “promiscuous”versus “guys will be guys.”

22:30: More on slut-shaming—including bullying fellow women online, “slutty” Halloween costumes and Define Slut—the groovy t-shirt campaign led by Emily Linden’s UnSlut Project.

26:00: I read a question from a listener whose love of sexting her boyfriend has spurred tension in their relationship. Then our resident Sex-Pert of this month Kait Scalisi, MPH shares awesome advice!

32:00: Sophie and I discuss Kait’s suggestions, then I remind listeners about Kait’s fabulous Sexual Clarity Quickie Package—which is only $98 and includes a huge bonus for Girl Boner fans. (Woot!)

36:00: What is Sophie’s life like now? Learn about her biggest passion and ways we can all put an end to sexual bullying and the message she most wants anyone struggling with the effects of trauma to hear.

42:00: Outro – I share ways you can support Girl Boner® and wish everyone a beautiful week!

What did you think of our chat? How have you been “slut” shamed? What’s your take on sexting? I love hearing your thoughts! ♥

The Worst Advice I’ve Ever Received

This week marks the start of my relationship advice column for The Good Men Project. I can’t tell you all how stoked I am for the opportunity. If you’re new to GMP, a diverse community of thought leaders who explore men’s evolving roles in modern times, I hope you’ll check them out. To read my first weekly segment, answering a question on finding bliss and “the one,” visit this link.

To celebrate, I thought I’d share some of the worst advice I’ve ever received. Most has been well-intended, some I had the wherewithal to ignore and some came from the person closest to me: myself.

authenticity quote

1. Darken your eyebrows.

When I was a teen and first entering the modeling world, I took advice from all industry pros to heart. Much of it was good (don’t pay anyone to model, don’t sign anything your agent hasn’t read and approved), darkening my eyebrows with brownish pencil made me look like I had furry worms crawling on my forehead.

Lesson learned: Don’t wear makeup 50+ shades darker than your face, and anything that makes you look like a creepy-crawler magnet. Aim to look like you.

2. Die your hair platinum blonde.

See explanation #1. When a stylist remarked, “You’d make a great platinum blonde,” I raced off to a salon and left two hours later with Barbie-esque hair. For about two weeks I loved it, relishing the attention. (People stare at you when your head glows.) But then roots appeared, making my naturally light hair appear dishwater-brown by comparison. Meanwhile, I felt like a faker. The frantic upkeep made me and my bank account crazy.

Lesson learned: Don’t color your hair vastly different colors than your natural shade, unless want to rock hot pink or rainbow stripes.

3. Don’t break up with a guy until after Valentine’s Day (or other holidays).

Strategic, right? *quivers* I gave this to myself and took it, multiple times, in my early twenties. Not keen on hurting a guy I planned to break up with more than necessary, I also wanted to make sure I had a date for those holidays. *moment of silence to commemorate personal growth* (If any of you guys are reading this, I’m so so sorry.)

Lesson learned: Staying in a wrong-for-you relationship is lonely, especially on holidays. Pretending you’re invested in a relationship hurts everyone.

4. Create fake identities to have conversations with yourself on others’ blog.

Eek! I’m so glad I didn’t take this. An acquaintance/internet genius suggested I do this when only my parents and 1.5 strangers read my blog. In doing so, he claimed, I’d intrigue people into clicking my (actual) name and visiting my blog.

Lesson learned: Being an industry professional doesn’t make someone an expert on you or your work. Also? Authenticity is everything.

5. Don’t quit.

I’ve heard this many times from well-intended folks—including when I’d decided to leave my first marriage, to trade financial stability in Miami for countless unknowns in LA, and to stop working on a novel to focus on non-fiction. In all of these cases, my instincts told me to leap. With one minor delay (clinging on to the novel for a bit), I did so. These leaps were some of my most empowering and important.

Lesson learned: There’s a big difference between giving up and moving forward. Staying in a relationship or venture because it seems safest or right to others can mean saying NO to our dreams—including those we haven’t yet conjured.


I now realize this list could’ve gone on and on, as could the list of awesome advice I’ve received. For now, I’ll leave you with these five and open the floor to you. What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received? Did you take it? Do you relate to any of mine? I love hearing from you! ♥

Nicole’s Story: Healing From Depression and PTSD

“It’s normal for survivors of sexual violence to experience feelings of anxiety, stress, or fear. If these feelings become severe, last more than a few weeks, or interrupt your day-to-day life, it might be a condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network

One of my favorite things about Girl Boner® is interacting with women whose stories and insight offer so much inspiration. While prepping for my latest episode, on depression, PTSD and empowerment, I polled folks on Facebook: If they’d struggled with these issues, what has most helped them cope or thrive? How has the experience influenced their intimate relationships?

One woman’s responses were so poignant, I wrote back and decided to feature her thoughts in the episode and here on my blog. Thank you, Nicole, for your openness and bravery! Read on to learn how this survivor of sexual trauma is finding her way from intense darkness to light.

To listen to the full episode, which also features an interview with award-winning filmmaker Jill Morley, expert tips from Dr. Megan Fleming and a bit about my own experience with depression, use the links down below. I hadn’t realized it until today, but this marks my 75th segment. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to explore these vital topics with truly awesome women. ♥

August: How long have you been dealing with depression and PTSD?

Nicole: I’ve been dealing with depression off and on for a big chunk of my life, and PTSD related to sexual and relationship trauma for the last seven years.

August: I’m so sorry. I know how challenging that all can be. Have you sought therapy?

Nicole: Off and on for about a decade dealing mostly with depression, and immediately after three traumatic events that all occurred in the span of a year.

August: Has it helped?

Nicole: Talk therapy helped me label what I went through as rape. It was, and still is, difficult for me to use that term, “rape,” because there was no fighting involved.

Instead of fighting, I froze. I knew each of the guys really well. One boyfriend, and two friends. I said, “no,” and, “stop,” and, “I won’t unless you use a condom,” but they kept going disregarding what I said, and I immediately froze. If it were not for therapy, I’d still be talking about them as my “worst sex ever” stories.

rape quote

My new therapist is helping me deal with my PTSD and anxiety that bubbles up in ways I only realize a couple days later what triggered it and why. Sometimes I don’t know why I feel anxious at all. I get so angry at my anxiety.

August: A recent guest, Rachel Thompson, talked about that—not realizing PTSD was triggering symptoms for awhile. What would you say has helped the most?

Nicole: I went to group therapy for abused women, and that, more than anything, helped right away. Hearing the stories of women who went through what seemed like a hell I’ve never experienced, then saying that the psychological abuse was far worse for them than any physical abuse, because only the physical was acknowledged/validated by others. So we validated each others experiences. It was powerful.

August: Sounds like it, and it’s inspiring. What about in your daily life? What habits or tools have you found helpful?

Nicole: A few things:

1) Meditation/Mindfulness. At least 10-20 minutes a day of meditating, which I also call upon when I realize my feelings are overwhelming me. At this point, it’s usually long after I’m in the middle of being upset.

2) Telling myself, “Of course I feel ____________ !”

“It’s natural for me to feel ____________.”

“It’s Ok for me to feel ____________.”

And when I think … “It’s not ‘OK’ to feel this way. I don’t want to feel this way, so how can it be OK?” I then repeat the three statements above about not feeling it’s OK. “Of course I feel like it’s not OK,” etc.

Sky breathing quote 2

3) When it’s nice outside during my therapy session, we go for a walk during that hour.  Movement while talking about my anxiety and PTSD, and about anything that triggers me, has helped me tremendously. Walking while talking about things helped my body process my emotions faster, often leaving me feeling good about myself just for doing some exercise that day.

August: How has this all influenced your intimate life?

Nicole: My husband is so sensitive to my past experiences, and I’ve told him about all of them. When they’re brought up directly he’s there to hold me, or just listen.

In the bedroom, he’s sometimes a little too quick to just stop whatever he’s doing (which is a thin line for both of us to walk, and I feel bad about it being so confusing).

My husband also has his own issues—also about control; I’ve learned that sexual trauma often creates or increases control issues. Our separate issues tend to leave us triggering one another pretty often.

We both want to work on ourselves to be better people for ourselves and each other…and now for our little one on the way. We’re both working very hard at resolving our issues, and we’re seeing a lot of progress six months into counseling, but we still have a long way to go.

I feel so fortunate to have a partner who is willing look honestly at himself, and to work through our problems and do what we need to, in order to be healthy as individuals and as a family.

August: Beautiful. How is your pregnancy going?

Nicole: Being pregnant with my entire body changing is not a helpful piece to this puzzle, but it’s important for me to work on myself now more than ever. I’m hoping to teach my baby boy to grow up a strong feminist, and believing in and fighting for equal rights for everyone.


How beautifully brave and amazing is this woman? Yes, that was rhetorical—but please do join me in cheering Nicole on and sending the best possible thoughts.

**For more on this topic, listen to the latest on Girl Boner® Radio: Depression, PTSD & Empowerment on my homepage, iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

If you need help and aren’t sure where to turn, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE(4673) or chat online at, or contact the Nationwide 24-Hour Crisis Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Can you relate to Nicole’s experiences? If you’ve struggled with depression or PTSD, what’s most helped you cope and heal? I love hearing from you! ♥

“OMG, I LOVE HIM!” The Epiphany That Changed My Life

When I moved to Atwater Village nearly ten years ago, I had two goals:

♥ Retrieve my foster dog Zoe (long story), and adopt her

♥ Work on myself and my career

Little did I know then that the kind and handsome neighbor who showed me around when I first visited the property would turn out to be the love of my life.

Unlike previous guys I’d dated who’d wooed me with grandiose charm, Mike treated me with kindness, warmth and respect. The difference was so striking, I had no idea he was interested in me romantically for months.

That’s not to say you can’t be kind and genuine yet grandiose, of course. But in my experience, “over the top” inevitably turned out to be superficial. A game. A tactic.

Mike didn’t have any tactics. He simply wanted to get to know me, and I him. He’d hoped more would happen, I’d later learn, but didn’t press. We were fast friends.

A couple of months after meeting, we serendipitously decided to go for a run at Griffith Park at the same time. I plunked down on his front steps to tie my shoes. As he sat down next to me, a surprising sensation filled me—a heated, shimmery glow I could’ve sworn streamed from my every pore, making my newfound secret obvious to the world:

Oh my god. I love him!!!!!! 

Holy epiphany! How had I missed it?

It took some time for me to realized I hadn’t missed it. Rather, I’d been experiencing it. Relishing it. Evolving within the journey.

I now know I was experiencing healthy attachment, which Dr. Wendy O’Connor poignantly described in my “dating a sociopath” series.

It was exciting, trust me, but in a comfortable way, versus fireworks from a stranger, equal parts ooh la la and risk.

I’d not only fallen in love, but with my best pal, my adventure partner, the guy who made me feel just right, quirks and all, as I am. The guy who made me laugh and extended kindness to everyone he met, never seeing anyone as “less than.”

Shortly after that landmark run at the park, we were dating. A year later, we were wed on the steps we met on—also the place I’d had my “I love him!” epiphany.

P wedding!

Days later, we learned that Zoe needed surgery that would require ample funds and followup home care, and faced a decision:

Honeymoon or Zoe-moon?

I looked at Mike and saw no hesitation in his eyes. Of course we’d choose Zoe. If I’d had any doubt that I’d married right, that moment would have washed it away.

Zoe surgery love

This weekend, we’ll celebrate seven years of marriage. We’ve had our bumps—what couple hasn’t?—but they’ve only ended up strengthening us. Mike’s character, heart and presence are some of my life’s greatest gifts.

Knowing that all couples who choose to can now share marital adventures as well makes our anniversary that much more special.

As chance would have it, a painting we purchased at an auction months ago arrived today. We hadn’t realized until opening it (I blame the champagne!) that it’s called Couple in the Park. That’s precisely how our relationship feels to me—a grand, colorful adventure, full of play and growth and learning, one I plan to cherish for many years to come.


That’s my love story. What’s yours? ♥

6 Ways to Protect Yourself from Predators

When I think of personal safety, two things pop to mind: The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker, and the creepy man on the subway who followed me home. If only I’d read de Becker’s book back then.

I was working as a model in NYC when, after a long photo shoot that ended at dusk, I hopped on the subway. When I felt a man staring at me then looked up and confirmed he was, I did what I typically did in such cases: darted my eyes away. Then I settled further into the crowd around me so I could keep daydreaming, sans creepy-stare.

Several train transfers and blocks of walking later, I arrived at my apartment building. As I stepped onto the elevator, commotion erupted behind me. I turned to see the creepy guy who’d been staring inches behind me—being yanked back by the building’s security guard. I was okay physically, but shaken and terrified.

Years later, when I read The Gift of Fear, this experience echoed repeatedly. I saw all of the signs, in neon. I’d felt the guy staring, noticed my fear and, sadly, ignored it. Nowadays, I would have looked at him guy straight on, observed his build, approximate age and ethnicity. I’d have maintained awareness of him, rather than vanished into daydreams. I’d have noticed him trailing behind me, called out his description if need be and gone straight to an authority—to whom I could’ve described him fully—and sought safe accompaniment home.

This is only one of many experiences in which I ignored my instincts. I doubt any woman could read The Gift of Fear without nodding repeatedly.

As de Becker points out, humans are the only species that ignores instinctual fear. While animals dart away in light of perceived danger, we, especially women, often convince ourselves to stay around it. So cultured to be polite, we feel we should be “nice” to the guy who’s giving us the creeps. Good girls don’t shun others, we’re taught, unless they cause us obvious harm. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather prevent harm in the first place.

self-defense quote

Being victimized by abuse of any kind is never our fault. Ever.

Predators prey. They stalk, seek out our vulnerabilities and, in the case of sociopaths, are highly skilled at donning sheep’s clothing. But we can learn ways to keep ourselves safe, note the red flags and prevent the worst-case-scenarios.

1.  Trust your instincts.

During my series on dating a sociopath on my blog and show these past two weeks, I’ve heard from many women (and some men) who’ve been stalked, harassed and confined by the controls of an abusive partner. Numerous described the fear they felt upon meeting the person. Some only recognized it in hindsight, or mistook it for magnetism. These women, like so many of others, learned the hard way that our instincts are always to be trusted.

That gut feeling is there for a reason—you don’t even need to know the reason in order to listen or respond. Dr. Wendy O’Connor, the marriage and family therapist I interviewed in this episode, described trusting your gut as the most important red flag.

“So often people get a swirl of emotions, elations, or a deep dark feeling or the famous ‘creeped out feeling,'” she said. “Regardless if it’s positive or negative to the extreme, pay attention to it!”

Dr. Megan quote GB 5-26

2. Practice self-awareness.

As we hone in to stay better in-tune with that inner voice/gut feeling, we should also prioritize becoming more aware of our overall emotions, wants and needs. Doing so requires minimizing distraction—i.e., putting the cell phone and iPod away when we’re out in public alone, for example, and stepping into and exploring any difficult emotions that arise, rather than avoiding them.

If you sense that something is off—publicly or within a relationship—don’t write it off, suggests Dr. Wendy, thinking, ‘Am I crazy?’ Instead, respect and observe those feelings. They’re sharper than you may realize, and could help save you from harm.

3. Don’t mistake obsessive behavior for love or admiration.

Contrary to what many fairytales suggest, a healthy, loving person does not attack us with love and attention. They don’t repeatedly show up uninvited, bombard us with gifts and attention when they barely know us or facilitate constant contact (such as perpetual texts or phone calls). They respect us and our privacy.

If you’re in a relationship and something feels off, look for themes and patterns.

“Do they track your every moment or isolate you from loved ones? This isn’t normal, love or admiration. This is stalking.” – Dr. Wendy O’Connor

4. Take precautions online.

It’s easy to feel somewhat anonymous and safe while posting on social media, and I personally love sharing about my life. But without appropriate boundaries, we open ourselves up to all kinds of risk.

Here are some simple steps to minimize them:

  • Don’t give others a GPS on your whereabouts. Turn your location settings OFF on Facebook and other networks.
  • Avoid posting “checkins” and other social media that reveal your current location.
  • When going through break up, especially if the person is troubled or abusive, reset all of your passwords—including your email, social media and bank account passwords.
  • Save all texts, emails and voice messages from anyone who’s threatening or abusive, in case you need to report them.
  • Don’t post your email address publicly on your blog or website. Instead, use a contact form.
  • Consider blocking or un-friending anyone creepy.
  • If someone reaches out to you, and your gut says YIKES, don’t feel obligated to respond. (Harmful folks often see any attention as positive, even if the attention is negative—i.e., “I don’t want to go out with you.”)
  • Tell others about anything alarming. Tell a friend, a family member, your employer, a therapist—not only for support, but so others have a record as well. This can help if/when you report happenings.

5. Take a self-defense class.

Self-defense classes are empowering. We all deserve to feel safe and secure, and to protect ourselves if need be.

I personally recommend IMPACT, if you have access—though any class that teaches self-defense is worth it. Ideally, the class will teach ways to prevent the need for traditional self-defense tactics, and make both prevention and defense so automatic, it’s muscle memory. This is vital, because once adrenaline kicks in, you’re probably not going to be thinking clearly enough to locate and use your mace can, for example. And holding your keys between your fingers as a “knife,” as many women do, won’t cut it. (No pun intended!)

6. Seek support.

Even if you feel whatever’s happening is “nothing,” feel incapable of getting out of an abusive relationship, or even that you don’t really want to get out but know on some level that you should, professional support is a primo idea. You have nothing to lose by trying, and possibly far more than you realize by not.

Dr. Wendy suggests working with a licensed professional for feedback and to come up with a good game plan, then staying connected with them for a period of time. Meanwhile, don’t hold back.

Often people will lie to their therapist about the most basic things,” she said. “Develop trust with your therapist and talk about your resistance, lack of insecurity, talk about secrets and your desire to learn how to open up to another. Any good professional will be non-judgemental, caring and trusting.”

Helpful resources:

National Center for Victims of Crime Hotline: 1-800-851-3240

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

U.K. National Stalking Helpline: 808-802-0300

Safety and Protection Resources, via Gavin de Becker and Associates

The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker

Related links:

From “Soul Mate” to Soul Sucker: My Relationship with a Sociopath

In “Love” with a Narcissist/Sociopath: Althea’s Story

I Dated a Sociopath, Part I on Girl Boner Radio: True Stories of Hurt and Healing

I Dated a Sociopath, Part II on Girl Boner Radio: Hope and Healing

The Borderline and Narcissist Love Relationship by Dr. Wendy O’Connor

Does Real Love Exist on the Internet? by Dr. Wendy O’Connor


Huge thanks to all of you who’ve followed along with my ‘dating a sociopath’ series. Due to its popularity, I’ll revisit it occasionally as time goes on—so stay tuned!

What steps do you take to ensure your personal safety? Which step will you prioritize? When has trusting or not trusting your instincts affected your safety? I love hearing from you! ♥

In “Love” with a Narcissist/Sociopath: Althea’s Story

When I put word out that I was planning a series on dating a sociopath, starting with my own story, I heard from numerous people who had done so. They’d moved on with their lives, learned a great deal and wished to weigh in.

Then I heard from a friend who I haven’t seen in a few years, whose story is quite different.

I’m currently in a relationship with sociopath/narcissist, she wrote. I’d love to help!

Wow. I asked if she could speak publicly and openly about her experience. Not all sociopaths are abusive, after all. I’d recently read about a neuroscientist who discovered, rather by accident, that he is a psychopath—and an overall good person. He’s what some call a pro-social psychopath; he’s chosen to lead by intellectual empathy.

So maybe, I thought, my friend and her guy were making it work! Maybe they’ve both embraced his diagnosis and she’d like to show us all another side of things.

But that isn’t the case at all.

My friend, who I will call Althea, is a perfect example of someone who is bright, accomplished and well aware of the toxicity of her relationship. And like so many, she’s felt unable to escape it.

She agreed to a Q&A, which I’d planned to simply learn from and quote on the air. Her answers were so honest and poignant, I asked if she would feel comfortable if I shared them on my blog.

Without hesitation, she said, Please do!

As you read the highlights of our chat below, please do so with the utmost compassion, knowing that Althea is one of the bravest women around for speaking openly about this. Then click the links below to listen to other women’s true stories, and a sex and marriage therapist’s message for Althea.

narc love

August: Tell me a bit about you.

Althea: I’ve been married for 5 years, currently separated. I’ve also been involved in an affair with a narcissist/sociopath for 2.5 years. I’m college-educated, a mom and have been successfully self-employed for13 years.

August: How did you meet the sociopath?


I met my narc (let’s just call him this for simplicity) at a bar we both frequent. He originally had eyes for my friend. She lost interest in him, because he’s married, and she wasn’t interested in getting involved as a mistress. He and I began flirting and after a few conversations things picked up.

We were both unhappy in our marriages and shared many of the same qualms. Looking back I see that he told me what I wanted to hear. If I said, ‘I miss doing things as a family’… He’d mirror me with, ‘I wish my wife would like to do things together—even if it is just walking around the mall.’ Whatever I lacked in my marriage, he lacked in his.

It’s like he could smell how vulnerable I was. I had never been involved outside my marriage. Getting involved with him emotionally and physically was a HUGE decision for me. — Althea

August: How did it shift from flirting to more?


Our first venture outside of bar-life was an arranged meeting at a local restaurant parking lot. I hopped in his car and we drove to a quiet place. I wasn’t sure what I expected, but I thought our first time would be more than a twenty minute rendezvous. That’s merely what it was.

I remember leaving him on a complete high, feeling super important—like this was a new experience for him, too, like he understood me…as if this was something special for both of us.

August: Do you consider the two of you a couple?


As I said, this affair has been going on for 2.5 years. It has been a romantic/sexual relationship, sans commitment labels for most of it. I guess I felt like I was with him because he is incredibly jealous and possessive. I learned the hard way that should not be mistaken for loyalty. When the relationship amped up, we agreed to exclusivity, then I found out he was still schmoozing other women.

This schmoozing I speak of is important, because it is a key part of what makes him the narc that he is. He managed to maintain having another girlfriend while seeing me for the majority of our relationship. In the meantime, he had other women he was getting something from sexually and emotionally on the side. It’s like a revolving door with him.

August: Wow. So he really relies on superficial charm sociopaths are known for.


He is very personable and outgoing and a fun person to be with. High energy, charismatic and yes, charming. He makes you feel important. Everyone loves him because he gets to know you and says hello the next time you see him. He really is everyone’s buddy.

He’s also successful, and literally a millionaire. He’s very generous with his money when we’re out together. He lives in a beautiful community with his trophy wife and lives up to ‘suburban standards’ of life. He doesn’t rob banks or start brawls. He’s very well put together. No big rap sheet for him.

August: When did you realize that he’s on the sociopath spectrum? 


When I became aware of his girlfriend and side chick and his audacity to juggle all three of us in the same bar. He literally has no conscience. He lied to every one of us, told us all a different story. Different tall tales. But at the end of the day, he chose the girlfriend.

She became aware of me and the other side chick… He (being found out) within a matter of minutes turned from nice guy to crazy and deranged. Telling me to tell the girlfriend I’m no one…that he’d kill me, my husband and my son. Screaming obscenities and calling me names. That would be the turning point for me.

August: Do you think he’s capable of love?


I think there are degrees of narcissism and sociopathy. I don’t see my narc as being full blown loony but he certainly relates to people differently. I think he feels love for his daughter and maybe his mother and father, but with women… I think it doesn’t go past a general care for another human. If he’s too busy to be bothered then he brushes you aside. If it’s good for him, then he’s there. It’s all about the control for him. I learned the hard way to not mistake his possessiveness and control for love. It’s easy to do.

August: Now that you’ve seen his true colors, what are the biggest challenges?


I always question his sincerity. I always wonder what he’s lying about, what he’s manipulating. I live waiting for his next blow up when I don’t appease him. He’s incredibly emotionally and verbally abusive. He has called me crazywhack jobpsychowhore… He shuts me down when I’m hurting. He tries to intimidate me—i.e., texting ‘I’m driving by your place to see who u have over.’ Accuses me of being with other men when I’m sleeping. Literally makes me feel like I’m losing my mind. Saying he saw me with someone when really I was at home or saying he saw texts that don’t exist. It’s crazy-making.

August: Does his personality/disorder affect your sexual relationship?


100%. I never feel safe. I worry about my sexual health because he is sleeping around, which in turn makes me think about the other women I have to share him with. It creates an immense emotional block for me.

Also, he is incredibly selfish in bed. This may be TMI, but he often treats me like his sex toy. I’m there to give head or he just tells me to play with myself. He doesn’t want to do any work. He wants his women to serve him. I don’t enjoy the sex very often and rarely orgasm. One would think with his grandiose ego that he’d be a giver—a show off of his sexual prowess. Hardly.

August: What do you think he’d say if he knew you were discussing this? 


He would not be happy. He doesn’t see himself as a narc or sociopath, when he is 100% full blown, certified. In fact, he calls me a narc! He wouldn’t like me tarnishing his image or pulling his mask away. He still has the wool pulled over many others’ eyes.

If he knew, I would get a lot of backlash. I’m sure my phone would be blown up and I would be called names and threatened. That’s his MO. Intimidate.

August: Then why are you sharing? Thank you, by the way. You’re very brave.

Althea: I felt very compelled to share my story because he has literally changed my life. Drastically. I’ve almost lost my life over him. Yet, here I am… Still allowing this man in my life and controlling my emotions. I know I will survive and make it out. In fact writing this I was thinking, What am I doing? He’s damaged so much of me and many of my relationships with others.

Thank YOU for putting this out there for people to learn about. Most people wouldn’t know they were getting involved with a narc until it’s too late. I think awareness is an amazing tool.

August: I know some people will hear your story and wonder, ‘Why the heck is she with him? Just leave!’ I know it’s not that simple.


This is by far has been the biggest mind f*ck of a relationship, and the hardest to end. He has me feeling dependent upon his approval. I’ve lost my sense of self. I’ve heard of trauma-bonding and I believe in it. I think I go back to that comfort of the familiar abuse. It’s a rush. A drug. He’s literally my drug.

How in the world do you move on and recover? How do you heal? No contact seems obvious, but he doesn’t go away. He’s so persistent. He calls from unknowns. I fear he will show up at my home. I worry about what he will do if I cut him off. Even worse, I’m so weak. I give in and go back to this head spinning cycle of being lied to and me feeling insecure and unbalanced. I literally have lost my strength. I’ve always prided myself in being strong, outspoken, and feisty but now I’m weak and broken and a little scared.

To hear Dr. Megan’s answers Althea’s questions, and two bold women’s stories of healing after narcissist/sociopath abuse,  listen to the latest on Girl Boner Radio. To listen on iTunes, click here.

On Wednesday, I’ll continue this series on my show with an interview with marriage and family therapist Dr. Wendy O’Connor.

What encouraging words would you like to offer Althea? If you’ve gotten out of a similar relationship, what most helped you? As always, I welcome your respectful thoughts in the comments below. 

Althea, we’re cheering for you. ♥

From “Soul Mate” to Soul Sucker: My Relationship with a Sociopath

T swept me off my feet, years before l learned that great partners don’t sweep you anywhere. Rather, they want you to stand strong on your own.

couple feet water

We met in an acting class, of which he was the star. While other women in the class pined over him, I only had eyes for acting. I was there to study—not flirt. And I certainly didn’t need to leap into another relationship so soon after my last.

The entire class knew about my goals and the breakup, just as I knew about their lives and dreams; it was that kind of class, and hello: we were actors. Open, sensitive and overflowing. It didn’t strike me until later that T was an exception. He shared very little about himself. He performed, charmed us with his wit and charisma and drove students in need of rides home in his luxury car. I, being one of the car-less, was content taking the bus home.

One night the teacher prompted us to sit face-to-face with a partner, look them straight in the eyes and say whatever came to mind. When I turned to seek a partner, T was right there.

Peering in his magnetic eyes, I felt naked and vulnerable.

“You don’t know how beautiful you are,” he said. “Or that you’re the most talented actor in this class, probably in this city. You could be a star.”

My cheeks flushed burgundy. My ex never said such things; on the contrary, he’d felt threatened by my modeling and acting. The wounds echoed.

That night, I accepted T’s offer to drive me home. I sat in the car with other students, including a single mom, an elderly woman and a man who’d fled his homeland in seek of the American Dream.

T opened the sun roof, asked if we’d like to watch TV and told us we could turn our seat heaters or personal ACs on or off as we wished. It all seemed pretentious, until I observed my fellow passengers beaming. T was treating people who never received such treatment like superstars.

After dropping the others off, he stopped for gas.


“I’d love a water.”

“I got it,” he said, declining my $5 bill.

He returned with  20-plus bottles, one of each available brand, some chilled, some room temperature.

“I wasn’t sure which you liked,” he said, half-winking.

I couldn’t stop smiling as he drove on, chatting. He seemed fascinated by me and my life—my upbringing, family and goals. We seemed to share much in common, from world views to favorite past-times.

Within days, we were dating. Make that dating on steroids. Every moment was intensely romantic and adventure-filled. People routinely gushed over how “perfect” we were together, some guessing we were newlyweds, versus newly paired.

While his over-the-top adoration felt foreign (in anything but cheesy movies), I began to rely his perpetual loves notes, bold exclamations and gifts. It was as though he filled voids I hadn’t known I had.


By the time T’s true colors emerged, I felt trapped.

We’d been dating two months when T told me that Kyle, a mutual friend, desperately needed a place to rent for a month—but was too embarrassed to discuss it.

“You should offer to sublet your place,” T said. “Stay with me for a while.”

I later learned that he told Kyle a similar story, only flip-turned—claiming I was in dire financial straits, but too ashamed to mention it. (“So could you please rent her place? I know you hate your roommate anyway.”) Kyle and I fell for his plot, and that month sublet became permanent.

Looking back, it’s obvious that while I had been studying acting, T had been studying me. Each bit of knowledge became a tool in his toolbox of seduction, ways to lure and keep me.

He knew I cherished my place and independence, so rather than ask me to move in with him, he had strategized. And probably relished the game, especially when he won. And won. And…won.

He wooed everyone I cared about and dropped out of class to give me creative space (“It’s just my hobby, but it’s your dream, baby. I believe in you.”) After I’d saved up enough to buy a clunky car, he gave me his. (“You deserve better. I treasure your safety.”) I sobbed, as I drove it for the first time, wondering if I should feel guilty or just grateful, whether I deserved it.

The truth was, I didn’t deserve it—but my understanding of “it” wasn’t reality, not by a long shot.

One day, everything changed.

I received the career news I’d been longing for: I’d booked a lead role in an indie film, and couldn’t wait to tell T; surely we’d celebrate.

Instead, his face morphed from human to animal. He trembled, his face pale, nostrils flared, teeth gritted. Saying nothing, he began pacing and heaving while I stood there, paralyzed and perplexed.

“T, talk to me. What’s wrong?”

He shot me a steely glare, then raced to the kitchen. With both hands, he grabbed the heavy, chrome paper towel holster that was bolted to the counter top and pulled, shaking maniacally, until it snapped off.

I dropped to the ground, sobbing and cradling myself. Please don’t hit me!

He didn’t. But he did use the heavy bar to bash a hole in the wall, mumbling something about the “hot actor guy” who’d play opposite me.

That was the first of countless outbursts, which surfaced any time T thought he might lose me or my attention, the shiny prizes he’d worked hard to win.

After he chased a man around a parking lot with a knife for “looking at me the wrong way,” I packed my bags and left. But we didn’t stay broken up.

He came crawling, pleading for forgiveness: “It’s just that I love you so much! Help me be a better man. I will do anything to make this work.” 

He provided endless excuses for his behaviors—his troubled childhood being the biggie—promising he would work through it all. He started therapy, said he found God, sent a letter of apology to my parents. I was his reason to go on, he said. Without me, what was the point?

I wanted to help T. I loved him. But I also wanted to be happy, to live free of terror and tumult and to move forward in my life. Finally, I realized that the latter was only possible without him. The blissful times we’d shared early on were a farce, and his sociopathic nature, reality.

For any chance at happiness, I had to leave him for good.

Doing so was one of the most difficult and important decisions of my life. I sobbed until I vomited post-breakup, stayed in bed for days. But as healing crept in, my acting career began to flourish (and that later led to writing and Girl Boner). I began feeling strong and whole on my own. A few years later, I met a man who loves me sincerely, with whom I feel more like myself than ever. In the right relationship, we only grow.

If you relate to this story, you’ve probably dated someone on the sociopath spectrum: people who lack empathy and remorse, who thrive on power and control. 

There’s so much to say about all of this, which is why I’m launching a series here and on Girl Boner Radio. I’ll be chatting with two inspiring women who’ve found healing after their own relationships with sociopathic men, a bold woman who is in a such a relationship now and two psychologists. We’ll cover the basics, such as sociopaths defined, common traits and related myths, and ways to move on and heal once you’ve fallen prey to one, and more. I really hope you’ll tune in!

And if you’re feeling lost within and controlled by a relationship, I hope you’ll start believing in the healthier, happier future you deserve. Sometimes the most important thing we can do is recognize that the little voice deep within whispering this isn’t right is brilliant, and worth listening to—even if our hearts can’t catch up with it just yet.

Do you relate to my story? How have you healed from a hurtful relationship? Any questions you’d like to ask my guests? I love hearing from you. ♥