When you’re in a relationship with someone, especially if it’s someone you are committed to and plan to spend the rest of your life with, you expect to know pretty much everything about them.
It’s like the experts always say: openness and communication are the key to all healthy and long-lasting relationships.
This eye-opening TED Talk will help you build a better communication style with your partner:
Of course, while relationships which revolve around healthy communication are the ideal, there are many couples who don’t conform to this standard. And that’s exactly what one woman, by the name of Jessica Boynton, had to come to terms with as her whirlwind romance broke down beyond repair.
The thing is, Jessica found out much too late that the man who would become the father of her unborn child had a very twisted life that he’d kept a secret from her.
It was May 2016, when a 34-year-old Jessica met 38-year-old Paul, the man who would change her life beyond recognition. The pair met on Craigslist which initially seemed an improvement on all the dating apps Jessica had used in the past.
For their first date, Paul took Jessica and her three-year-old daughter to the movie theater, and they really hit it off. Indeed, it wasn’t long before he began taking Jessica on romantic weekend trips in Charleston.
They enjoyed each other’s company, had an astounding amount of chemistry and Jessica really believed that this was it; she had found her endgame.
And even though Paul lived in South Carolina while they were dating, and traveled all around the South as part of his work as a contractor, the pair had begun talking about moving in together.
By September 2016, just four months after they first met, Jessica was pregnant with his child and her daughter had started calling Paul “daddy”.
Jessica decided that now was the best time for her family to finally meet the love of her life and father of her unborn child. As Thanksgiving was approaching, she grew excited because Paul had agreed to meet Jessica’s entire family at their annual holiday gathering in Zebulon, North Carolina.
However, her plans were thwarted when, the day before Thanksgiving, Paul texted her saying he may not be able to join her family in their celebrations because he was stuck at a house remodel three hours away.
By midday the next day, Paul still hadn’t arrived as a pipe had burst at the site he was currently working at. However, Jessica was skeptical – he had used that exact same excuse once before when he got out of meeting her mom and sisters for the first time.
“That house had better be flooded,” Jessica replied. “Water needs to be pouring out the windows.”
Jessica felt upset, humiliated and totally let down by Paul so she decided it was time to leave him once and for all. “This is it,” she texted. “I’m done.”
Initially, Paul made attempts to win Jessica back, but it wasn’t long before he gave up and ignored all calls, texts, and emails from Jessica.
He even ignored all forms of contact from the lawyer Jessica had hired to arrange a child-support agreement for their unborn child.
Then in December, Jessica saw a shocking Facebook post revealing that Paul had died. He’d had an accident on a highway while in his pickup truck and he sustained fatal injuries as a result.
Moments afterward, Jessica received a Facebook message “When did you meet Paul?” from a woman who claimed she was Paul’s girlfriend.
An outraged Jessica told the woman that she had also been his girlfriend. Later, Jessica decided to look over Paul’s online obituary and reached out to a number of the women who had posted their condolences.
A month later, she had discovered five more of his girlfriends, and most of them thought they had been in an exclusive relationship with Paul.
Jessica found out from his other girlfriends, that there were two engagement rings and promises of building a family life in a custom-built house.
She was especially devastated to find out that Paul had spent Thanksgiving out of state with another girlfriend and that he has proposed to her with her family present.
Jessica then learned that her relationship with Paul paralleled the kind of relationships studied by psychopathy experts.
While the term “psychopath” is usually used to describe extremely morally depraved individuals such as serial killers, they can also be used to refer to other less typically “evil” personalities.
“You can be psychopathic without committing murder,” says Hedwig Eisenbarth, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Southampton. “There are all sorts of behaviors that are evil but not illegal.”
Most psychopaths lie without much if any guilt, engage in reckless behavior and lack empathy. “They get excited by manipulating others and may use different people to fulfill different needs, be those sexual, financial, or something else,” says Anne Brown, a licensed counselor in Arizona, who has worked with both psychopaths and their victims.
In January 2016, months before Jessica had met Paul, a then-33-year-old Rebecca met Paul on Craiglist and was “instantly smitten. The first night we hung out, we talked about last names.”
At the end of the year, Paul had agreed to move to Georgia so he could be closer to Rebecca.
Soon after, they went out to a Mexican restaurant, after which they got into their own cars with the intention that Paul would follow Rebecca home.
As she drove, Rebecca saw Paul’s headlights shift off the road in her rearview mirror and by the time the ambulance arrived, it was too late.
She later found out that while he was driving he was on a phone call with one of his other girlfriends.
“They [psychopaths] tend to like the challenge” of deceiving multiple people. “Psychopaths lack the internal process most people experience after lying,” Brown adds. “When you lie, you feel shame, guilt, maybe even fear, so your body and face give off small signals. But with psychopaths, there’s no shame. Very often, there’s little to no fear. The signals that might warn people away often don’t exist.”
Paul’s girlfriends have had to come to terms with the fact that almost everything in their relationship was a complete lie.
According to Eisenbarth, real love is not possible for psychopaths. “A person with psychopathic traits is not going to be able to experience deeply caring about someone else,” she explains.
On Father’s Day 2017, Jessica gave birth to her and Paul’s son and has since began dating again, this time waiting months before she had any guy meet her kids. After a while of dating one man named John, she developed a feeling of trust for him and felt sure he would stick around.
So she invited John to Thanksgiving last year and he actually showed up and then exceeded her expectations by proposing to her! As for Paul’s other girlfriends. a number of them have kept in touch with Jessica and have developed a powerful bond with one another.