Imagine you're committed to man you think of as handsome, charming and professionally successfully. You're successful as well, which makes your life all the more perfect. Then one day, you wake up and find out the life you've been living is a lie -- and more importantly the man you've been living with is a liar. That's what happened to actress Anne Hathaway.
Earlier this year, the star of "The Princess Diaries" and "The Devil Wears Prada" discovered the man she was living with, Italian real estate developer Raffaello Follieri, 30, was under investigation for fleecing investors out of millions.
Prosecutors said Follierie told investigators he would use family connections to get good deals on property owned by the Catholic church. The investors said he told them the chuch had been weakened by sex scandals and needed to sell the property, which he planned to buy at bargain prices and use for redevelopment.
Hathaway ended their relationship before he was arrested in June 2008, fearing the scandal would hurt her career. According to court documents, Follieri used some of the money in the scheme to finance the couple's jet-set lifestyle, which included renting a New York apartment for a monthly fee of $37,000. "It's a situation where the rug was pulled out from under me all of the sudden," Hathaway said of her discovery of Folieri's criminal activities in the October 2008 edition of "W" magazine.
Follieri is scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday. U.S. prosecutors have urged no leniency for the businessman, who agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a four-year prison sentence.
"We have all heard about the man or woman in love who sees the good in the partner that rub friends, family and colleagues wrong. Unfortunately, these good-hearted men and women often wind up crying on the shoulders of those who tried to warn them all along," said relationship expert Brenda Della Casa, author of "Cinderella Was a Liar."
When asked about Follieri during an October 2008 interview with David Letterman, the 25-year-old actress, who was supposed to be talking up her newest movie is "Rachel Getting Married,"responded: "I don't want to go into the specifics but I will say that you do have to give me credit because as far as relationships crashing and burning goes, c'mon, I did pretty great. I mean, scorched that earth."
It's possible that Hathaway was one of many people who were conned by someone who is a narcissist, someone who uses his charm to woo a victim so he can use the victim to make himself look better. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)
says that almost 75 percent of those diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
are men, and the numbers are growing. A 2006 study found that two-thirds of college students who took a Narcissistic Personality Inventory evaluation had above average scores, representing a 30 percent increase since 1982.
A narcissist wants attention, admiration and adultation, said Dr. Sam Vaknin
, author of “Malignant Self Love
.“ They want to inspire awe and extract "compliance and subservience from others,” said Vaknin, who thinks people that get conned by them -- like Hathaway -- shouldn't be too hard on themselves. “Even an experienced mental health diagnostician with unmitigated access to the record and the person can have a difficult time determining whether someone is a narcissist,” Dr. Vaknin said.
Della Casa's advice to wome who may be involved in similar situations: "There are going to be times when your partner and your best friend, mother or cousin won't like one another based on personality differences but if a significant number of people who care for and respect you voice a concern, it's time to open up your ears," she said. "This is especially true if your partner has a history of illegal or toxic behavior. It is also essential to pay close attention to the facts if the law gets involved. You may love your partner and they may love you but that doesn't make unhealthy or illegal behavior more acceptable."
When you finally figure out the person you've been living with is a liar, Della Casa said it's tough to get over the betrayal -- though not impossible. "When someone we love, trust and respect betrays us, it's not uncommon to start believing that everyone is suspect. Many people will start to question their ability to identify cons or berate themselves for not seeing the truth sooner. It's an unfortunate reality that there are some people who are excellent liars and who take advantage of beautiful, loving, healthy people."
If you are having a hard time trusting your decision-making abilities after being taken for a ride, Della Casa suggests you ask family and friends to help you identify times in which you showed excellent critical thinking skills. "It's a sad reality that smart, intelligent men and women get duped every day and it usually has less to do with their decision-making ability than it does the craftiness of a con," she said. "Also, it's normal and healthy to think you can trust and love your partner and friends without fear of being betrayed which is why all betrayals cut so deeply. They are unexpected and out-of-the-norm."WARNING SIGNS THAT YOUR LOVER IS A LIAR
, Ph.D., aka Dr. Romance, suggests paying attention early in your relationship can save you heartache in the long run. 1. Too charming or practiced.
Someone who is not at all nervous, awkward and never at a loss for words, is impressive. A polished approach is very attractive and pleasant, but there could be a down side. It may indicate he or she is a professional at relationships. It may indicate a professional dater who’s been single a long time, dated a lot and is very practiced. This is fine if you just want to have a good time dating. But, don’t get attached, or assume a commitment is available. Perhaps he or she is married, or just doesn’t want to commit. If your date seems very slick, and enthusiastic, but doesn’t open up, has had many short relationships, or shies away from discussing personal details, don’t be too trusting.