Emotion or Logic? Three Ways to Have Them Both

Red riding hood being fooled by covert emotional manipulation

About a year after my experience of being involved with a psychopath, I had a conversation with an acquaintance about dating and trust.

He told me that when he was much younger, he had begun dating a woman he was enamored with. He idealized her beauty, strength, and intelligence, and he was very physically attracted to her. Things were going well, he said… until she lied to him. The lie she told revealed the fact that several other things she told him were also lies. I asked him what he did. His response?

“Naturally, I ended the relationship immediately.”

Naturally. That word stood out for me. Of course he ended the relationship — what else would have made sense?

And then I thought about the first lie my psychopathic ex told me. It was a lie of omission, and a whopper: he failed to tell me he was married. That’s a serious and significant lie and I should have dumped him right then and there, naturally. But he was able to manipulate me out of my anger and better judgement with a barrage of even more lies.

There was nothing psychopathic about what my acquaintance did. Ending the relationship because he learned this woman was a liar simply made good sense. Why do I say there was nothing psychopathic about it?

Because I had this conversation with a psychopath.

No, I haven’t forgotten that psychopaths are unrepentant liars and yes, I see the irony. But there is a point to this, so please bear with me.

Walking away from that relationship made sense, and it would make sense for anyone to do the same thing. But what was easy for him was impossible for me. I think it’s safe to say that none of us wanted to have a relationship with a liar. I also think it’s safe to say that all of us had a relationship with a liar anyway. How did it happen, and what can we do to avoid it in the future?

The psychopath said he was able to end the relationship so easily because he’s not capable of attachment or love, so he didn’t have the emotions that “get in the way” of seeing the truth and acting on it. He never even gave her a chance to talk her way out of it — and he broke it off without even telling her why. No excuse or explanation would have made a bit of difference to him. He was confident in his perceptions, his boundaries, and his limits.

Love is a wonderful thing, and I pity anyone who can’t experience it. The only time love is not wonderful is when it clouds our judgement and makes us vulnerable to those who know that and take advantage of it without hesitation.

So how do we who are capable of love not let it ‘get in the way’ so we can clearly see the truth, stop doubting our perceptions, stop letting people cross our limits without consequence, stop being swayed by excuses, lies, and other manipulation, and take action to protect ourselves?

I think it comes down to three things:

Understanding our inherent cognitive biases, having clear and strong boundaries, and knowing how to trust intelligently.

1. Cognitive biases are those automatic ways our brains work that aren’t always as helpful as they were meant to be. Once we trust someone, and once we love someone and believe they love us, we see them in a different way. When this person lies to us, we subconsciously think “This is a person I love and trust, so I can believe his explanations and I will give him the benefit of the doubt.” That’s not always a bad thing, but it can be a disaster if you’re dealing with someone who isn’t trustworthy and who doesn’t love you.

“Whenever we meet new people, our brain automatically and immediately begins to categorize them in some way – male or female, same or different, friend or foe – in order to predict what is likely to happen next. In those first seconds, we unconsciously decide whether or not to trust. Once we are convinced that someone is or is not to be trusted, we will go through all sorts of mental gymnastics to reinforce that initial judgment…The first step to making better decisions about whom to trust is to realize that we are all biased. Biases result from the mental shortcuts that our brains revert to when facing otherwise overwhelming information-processing demands…While these mental shortcuts work reasonably well most of the time, they also leave us vulnerable to a variety of judgment traps. This is especially true when it comes to trust.” ~Carol Kinsey Goman, 6 Surprising Truths About Trust

“Although cognitive biases can sometimes be helpful in familiar situations or in dealing with predictable threats, they can lead to catastrophic failures in assessment of unfamiliar and unpredictable adversaries,” according to the University at Albany. The psychopath was most definitely an unfamiliar adversary.

While we may never be able to recognize or overcome all of our cognitive biases, being aware of them may help us anticipate where our thinking and decision making can go wrong.

You can read more about cognitive bias here: The Hidden Vulnerability We All Have, Revealed

2. Being clear about our boundaries (one of my favorite subjects) is of vital importance. These ‘rules’ and limits we set for ourselves and for others can mitigate our cognitive biases if that’s what we intend for them to do. If our boundaries are undefined and sort of murky, they are easy to manipulate. For example, none of us wanted a relationship with a liar, but we probably never thought about it in terms of a clear boundary — “I will not be involved in a relationship with a liar. If someone lies to me and I let it slide or I find myself accepting implausible explanations and excuses, I will take the time to examine it closely to determine why I’m allowing this boundary to be broken and if it makes any sense to do so.” See the difference?

Would boundaries have helped when we were naive about psychopaths? Maybe, maybe not. But now they can, because of the knowledge we’ve gained. To lean more about boundaries you can read my book, Boundaries: Loving Again After a Pathological Relationship, or read the blog posts that inspired that book, starting with Got Boundaries? Part One: What They Are and Why You Need Them.

An excellent series of posts on personal empowerment (including limits and boundaries) can be found on Dr. George Simon’s website: Series On Personal Empowerment.

3. Knowing how to trust intelligently. Do you trust yourself to know when to trust someone, and when not to? After the extreme betrayal of trust we experienced, we can easily mistrust our judgement. In light of what happened, I think of trust as something we need to define and a skill we need to learn, instead of some vague idea that we leave up to chance. Here are some ideas about trust, followed by some resources:

What is trust?

This definition by authors Townsend and Cloud nails it:

“Trust is the ability to be vulnerable with another person. When you trust someone, you feel certain this person will keep your best interests in mind. You believe they are who they say they are. You believe the deepest parts of you will be safe with them.”

Trustworthiness comes before trust. In other words, a person needs to prove themselves trustworthy before we give them our trust. Trust is the response to trustworthiness. It takes time to determine if someone is trustworthy because it takes time for someone to show us if they’re truly trustworthy.

What is evidence that someone is worthy of your trust? The most useful evidence is usually in non-verbal communication. Do their words and actions align? Do they do what they say they will do? Do they fulfill their responsibilities? Can you rely on them? When you confide in them, do they show empathy and acceptance? Trusting someone inspires positive expectations. Do they fulfill those expectations or do they let you down? Can you take them at their word and depend on what they say.

Trust is essential for every relationship. There is no relationship that’s not based on trust. Emotional intimacy is based on trust.

Don’t trust blindly and naively — be assertive and ask for more credible evidence when you need it.

Trust involves taking a risk, but it’s less of a risk if you don’t trust blindly or without reason. Being and acting trustworthy should be considered the only sure way to maintain your trust. In other words, being trustworthy is an ONGOING thing. Just because someone was worthy of your trust at one time doesn’t mean they’re still worthy of it if they stop actually being trustworthy.

Red riding hood being fooled by cored riding hood approachedert emotional manipulation

Our emotions can put us at a disadvantage when dealing with someone who doesn’t have our best interests at heart. Ideally, we can find a balance between emotion and logic that allows us to see reality more clearly.

♥ Thank you for reading.


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26 thoughts on “Emotion or Logic? Three Ways to Have Them Both”

  1. Joan G. Connor

    If someone wants to marry you immediately, Beware. Then they tell you they’ve changed their mind because they’ve been hurt, it’s a trap to lure you in with your sympathy for them. You want to prove you won’t hurt them when you are the one in danger.

    1. Admin

      Exactly! Amazing how they switch things around. I agree, anyone who says they want to marry or move in right away is up to no good. Funny how they can make it seem like the exact opposite.

      1. Depressedempath

        Thanks for the post Admin. Yes, it all makes sense to me know. After my second meeting with the psycho and first “date”, I told him I couldn’t continue, I was married and didn’t want the kind of relationship he wanted. He cracked it and told me that he had fallen in love with me and that if I wasn’t interested he was going overseas indefinitely. So he lured me back for another date, which he then proposed and said I would live with him and he would bequeath me his house. …Turns out later that he could never go overseas for very long, he had little money and 12 cats to look after. It was all a trap to get me in. A lie, one that he would deny. He was very clever, none of his lies were blatant, just a twist of the truth which he would be outraged if I questioned him.
        He used my empathy in all ways to make me feel sorry for him, guilty and heartless if I didn’t go along with him. So glad to be free and can enjoy a normal relationship with a normal person.

        1. Admin

          It is amazing the way they deftly set those traps for us, as we look back and see what really happened. Mine made me feel sympathy and pity for him at being in a ‘terrible’ marriage because he “never thought he’d fall in love again.” Until I came along, his perfect soul mate, the one he’d been waiting for all his life without even knowing it! Fast forward, and the story became “even if I leave my wife, I’d need to be in therapy for years before I could be with you in any real way.” Yes, a thousand years, a hundred thousand, and it still wouldn’t be enough.

          So glad we are free of it now!

  2. Hope

    I like the idea of having my emotions, AND maintaining strong boundaries. What a concept! I would of never thought it was possible a year ago. Thanks for teaching me this. You have a ‘friend’ who’s a psychopath? How’s that working out? I didn’t know it was possible.

    1. Admin

      You made me laugh with your incredulity, which you are right to have. He was actually more of a consultant. He helped in more ways than one to crystallize some ideas and theories, and to answer some lingering questions. Then he slipped back into the ether, and disappeared.

    2. jake

      SEX That was the trap. It was unbelievable good. But it was also the last time. After a couple of years I knew I needed to get out.i tried tell the police it was a drug den (No I do not use drugs) and told them numerous times. Then I tried getting a restraint order, twice, nope. Now years later I have been defrauded $6000.00 and I have so much trouble going to the police. I think I am responsible. The police told me to leave her alone but I could not. I am 6’3″ handsome. But also I am a 60 year old, 100% disabled veteran. I was raised by a psychopath, somethings never change.

      1. Admin

        I’m sorry you’ve had so much trouble, that you’ve had to deal with this as a disabled veteran, and that you were defrauded! Will the police come to your home to take a report, since you have trouble getting there? Why do you think you’re responsible? Sometimes things do change, and I hope they change for the better and that you will have peace and all good things in your life xo

  3. Summer

    Very good post. What I thought of when I read about the psychopath who dumped his relationship so easily, the fact that he was incapable of love which therefore didn’t cloud his judgment was not the first thing that came to mind. What I thought of first was that people with clear boundaries, over time, have more practice in deleting those from their lives that would violate such boundaries. Hence, it’s easier.

    While my partner and I are not psychopaths, the speed and relative ease with which we dump those who have wronged us can come across as psychopathic to casual observers who do not understand the importance of our boundaries. However, those with strong boundaries (unwilling to put up with back-stabbing, freeloading, nefarious deception) not only don’t question how quickly we discard bad interactions but applaud it.

    The older we get (40s now) the less we tolerate of being wronged. It was much more difficult in our 20s and 30s to fire bad hires as quickly as we saw red flags and blatant screw-ups, and to leave behind those who caused us harm. But, we did it anyway. It was just more difficult.

    This is not to say that the person you were talking with isn’t a psychopath — just that some people (like us) who definitely are not, have learned to cut our losses very quickly out of self-preservation. We are very loving people, but the love can stop when the subject no longer is worthy.

    Blogs like yours are very helpful in pointing out red flags and the more we educate ourselves to the signs of defective personalities, the more speed with which we can eliminate them from our sphere. Thanks!

    1. Admin

      “We are very loving people, but the love can stop when the subject no longer is worthy.” ***APPLAUSE*** Good for you and your partner. Some situations might be remedied by talking things out, but some can and should only be dealt with by ending the relationship, when someone has crossed one of our ‘non-negotiable’ boundaries. The psychopath in the blog post did the right thing, the only sane thing. Had he not been psychopathic and not had clear boundaries like you have — or if he were under the spell of a manipulator (impossible for him, of course) — he would have asked her to explain, and she would have found a way to make it acceptable. And then she would have lied some more. He gave me some excellent advice: “Doubt is your friend…but don’t ever doubt yourself.” It sounds grandiose in a way, but not in the context of the conversation, which was about relationships. Manipulators are great at making us doubt ourselves, our perceptions, what we see right in front of us. It’s too easy for them to talk their way out of things or invalidate our doubt as insecurity or mistrust. We have doubt for a reason, and we need to listen to it, not get rid of it. Thanks for your comment.

      1. Summer

        Thanks again, so much! I love your blog!

        1. Admin

          You’re welcome, Summer! I’m so glad to hear it.

  4. Nunc Coepi

    My husband saw your book on Amazon three weeks ago, I read it in one week, and now I am here on your website, receiving healing via your blog. You have educated me, and reading this blog reinforce it. Emotion or Logic? I am willing to try to balance them both, after realizing the foreign young man with whom I was having an affair for 2.5 years is a psychopath. Your book awakened me to that realization, and I am at war now with Emotion and Logic. My reason is always ambushed by my emotions, perhaps because I am currently dealing with that realization. I terminated the relationship on Dec 24 and I unfriended him on my FB Jan 10. Last night I dreamed of him, facing me, and in the dream I felt a surge of emotions but did not speak to him. His response to my silence, “So that’s how it is?” The dream was vivid, and I heard his voice clearly, saw his face clearly, and I woke up from the dream feeling loss. Does my husband know what I am going through, you may ask? Yes. Did he know of the affair? Yes. Is my husband the Hunter who shot the Big Bad Wolf in my Little Red Riding Hood misery? Yes. What to do now? Where do I go from here? I will continue reading your blogs, because this is the only place where I do not feel alone in this. Nunc Coepi! “Now I Begin”. Semper Anticus Sine Metu! “Always Marching Forward Without Fear” Thank you, Admin, for your blog and books and for transforming your experience to a well of healing!

    1. Admin

      Now you begin. You’re definitely not alone; there are many of us. You also have your husband to support you, which is wonderful. The Hunter — I love that! I’m so glad he got you the book and that it’s helping you heal, along with the blog. Hearing that gives meaning and purpose to what I experienced. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind words.
      Your experience is very fresh, and there’s a lot of emotions, realizations, and healing ahead. It’s a journey, and it takes time. Keep marching forward, one step at a time, and you will get there. As far as the dreams go, in my own experience they diminished in frequency and intensity as I healed. I still dream about him on occasion, and the dreams are very mundane and forgettable. All the best to you.

  5. Reality

    hello dear admin.

    i am sorry that i will hijack this post as i want to adress a personal issue that i feel i want to express. Due to work issues i have to have an encounter with the psycoapath for several days in a row. Even if my logic quides me well and logically i know how i have to handle this, my emotional self has a hard time. I feel this thing in my guts caused by anxiety and frustration. I have made various senarios about how i would respond in any kind of excibited by him behavior. But these people are unpredictable , so i do not wknow what it is to come . i dont know what else to do to calm down myself and to handle the situation as better as possible. Any ideas or any kind of support would be very welcomed.

    lots of love to you

    1. Admin

      Hi, Reality. I’m sorry to hear of this upcoming dilemma you’re facing. I’m thinking of how I would feel, and I know I would be very uncomfortable. I would want to get away from him immediately, but you don’t have that choice. Will you have to work with him directly, or just see him in the area? It’s hard to come up with a plan for every possible scenario, because as you said they’re unpredictable. Instead of leaving some scenario without a planned response, maybe you could come up with ONE way you’ll respond no matter what he says or does. Think GRAYROCK — monotone, poker face, emotionless as possible, perfunctory, boring, very few words. Preparing yourself to respond like that may ease some of your anxiety. Have some responses planned in case you need them. “Excuse me, I have a lot of work to do.” “Let’s stay on task.” “Please keep the conversation work-related.” “This is not a conversation I want/need to have.” Blink. Blink.

      Of course you’ll still feel many emotions, even if you don’t act like it. We have a desire to make them understand how much they hurt us, but remember that they can’t really understand it and even if they could, they wouldn’t care. Remind yourself that he was the one at fault. You’re much bigger and much stronger than him or his psychopathy — Know that and Feel it. Stand tall, because you deserve to.

      I hope it helps. Please let me know what happens.
      Lots of love to you, too

      1. Reality

        thank yoy admin. i really appreciate your advice and the fact that you put effort to help me with this thing. Unfortunately i am obligated to have a lot of tete a tete encounters with him. i will tell you how it came.


        1. Admin

          Good luck with it, Reality. I’m rooting for you.

  6. Nearlybel

    Hi admin, another bril blog. For 20 years I used, logic, anger and pleading to try and get him to ‘see’ the hurt he was causing. Of course he cared not which I used, so long as I was concentrating on him and continued to ‘feed’ him.
    I remember watching a program on the psychopathic child abductor from Ohio Ariel Castro, and how he would speak to the girls and form a connection, all twisted lies, but something the girls could identify with, to persuade the girls to accept a lift from a ‘stranger’, him ( a well known boundary) he had disarmed the girls and now they were getting into his vehicle, the program explained his thinking, he had ‘won’ and now the girls deserved to receive the degradation he was going to inflict on them because they got into his car and one never gets into a strangers car. That simple!
    And how did those poor girls feel, going with him, getting into the vehicle, all totally voluntarily. Knowing they ‘shouldn’t’ have.
    How they twist our reality through their lies and deception, but they are being exposed and unravelled. We will tolerate no more. Love and good wishes xxx

    1. Admin

      In my post I said psychopaths were all logic and no emotion — what I forgot to say is that their logic is TWISTED beyond belief. It’s mind-boggling. They have no ability to understand their own disorder. No ability to understand how wrong they are. They just don’t get it — they can’t. Your example of that depraved POS, Ariel Castro, was a good one. And that’s exactly how they ALL think — their victims ‘deserve’ what they give them. It’s too bad we can’t give them what they deserve, because they’re the ‘deserving’ ones.

      We were all disarmed, we all had our boundaries crossed. But now we know. *I don’t believe the three things I listed in my article would do any good for someone who hasn’t yet been victimized. But they can make all the difference for us now. As you said, we will tolerate no more.

      *I have a post coming up that will illustrate just how defenseless even the most well-educated people are if they haven’t actually had the experience.

      Thank you, Nearlybel XXX

    2. Depressedempath

      That is so true Nearlybel! I go over my experience and slowly all the things that happened (and the psycho blamed me for) are explained. Psychopaths always blame someone else for their own despicable actions. They are never wrong. When I ended our relationship, my psycho said that I had wrecked his life, that I was the one who had chased and pursued him. Why did I do that to him? He had appeared to me as a shining, lovable, respectable person. I gave up so much to be with him only to find that he was a fake and it was all based on a lie.
      It becomes clearer and clearer to me every day and with every blog.

      1. Admin

        You’re right, empath, it become clearer over time. Revealing the truth of the psychopath is like peeling away the layers of an onion. When you think you’ve gotten to the bottom of it there’s always more, and then more still. I think there’s a benefit to this slow revelation. I could have never comprehended it or dealt with it if I was presented with the whole stunning, revolting truth at once. As time goes on I keep learning more, and it’s still just as shocking as the truth sinks in further.

        I used to think that I’d love to be able to sit down with him and have a totally honest conversation where he would reveal the entire truth. But then I realized there was no one to have a conversation with.

        1. Depressedempath

          Yes, Admin, I tried having that honest heart to heart. with my psycho, in fact he encouraged me to be honest with him, but they have no heart…..
          And yes, I would have never believed the totally rotten egg underneath all those layers. I was warned, by other people, but alas I was brainwashed. I needed to gradually peel away each fake later….I don’t think I’ve reached to heartless core yet, so keep your blogs going!

          1. Admin

            The one I’m about to publish may do it. In a way, I feel bad about being the one to expose the rotten truth; I know how hard it is to find out.

  7. Nearlybel

    They twist everything!
    I was politcally active when I met him, as was he (he was looking for a victim) he needed a family and so he took mine. He told me lies that I had no reason not to believe, each one is tailor made for us. They mirror and ‘feed’ us universal and personal truths about us and if we don’t comply they force us by their destructive ways to make us make decisions that are harmful to us. Incredible!
    And no way would we think we are being manipulated by them, because we are smart, successful, and make our own decisions!
    So insidious.. Yuk.. But now I can see, :) and
    I see ur governor Chris christie has his paw marks all over the mess the family court system is in.
    Unravelling ? I hope so for all children, mams and dads being totes abused by the system that should protect them xxx

    1. Admin

      Chris Christie…you know how much I like him! You know more about what’s going on here than I do, and I will have to go read up on his latest debacle. It’s hard to keep up. I couldn’t stomach his recent indifference to the horrific plight of industrially farmed pigs, and I’m sure this current topic is disgusting and heartless as well.

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