Being Scammed Is A Form Of Addition

One of the things that surprised us early on, was how similar the response of victims was to SUBSTANCE ADDICTION

For some, online dating and the connection it brings is a form of addiction, just as strong as substance addiction. Why is that? Because online dating is more about “projection” than actual reality. It is about what we WANT to happen, more than what actually is in many cases.

The unprepared approach online dating from this perspective, and as a result are much more easily snared in the web of a scammer. This is because scammers KNOW how to feed your belief and keep you addicted inside your own head, just like a drug or alcohol addict.
This “Scammer Addiction” is every bit as difficult to deal with as other forms of addiction. You bought into the scammers set of lies, and as it progresses, your own denial or willingness of believe against all the facts in front of you is what defeats you. According to: A. Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP, Kaushik Misra, Ph.D., Amy K. Epner, Ph.D., and Galen Morgan Cooper, Ph.D. , edited by C. E. Zupanick, Psy.D.:

Recovery from addiction is not an easy task. In fact, change of any sort is usually somewhat stressful and uncomfortable. Whether or not someone attempts natural recovery or gets help, “something” must change. In other words, “something” must cause them to move away from addiction and toward recovery. That “something” is the motivation to change.

In the case of romance scams, this is the overwhelming proof that they are being scammed, even though it usually comes after significant financial loss.

Recovery is fundamentally about the motivation to change. At some point in every addicted person’s life, there comes a moment when they realize they need to change. The difference between those who successfully make the needed changes, and those who do not, comes down to motivation. Since motivation is so critical to recovery, it is important for therapists and therapy participants alike to understand the motivation for change. This includes understanding the degree of motivation; the type of motivation; as well as understanding various ways to increase motivation. Once sufficiently motivated, people can and do change.

The first step is the emotional AND intellectual recognition that you have been scammed. Before you can change you must address the recognition of what has happened to you. You have to first intellectually recognize that the red flags are there, then that they were probably there all along – this means to have to accept that something was wrong and it was not just the scammer, but that it was also in you. Once this sets in, you can begin to approach change.

Most of us recognize that change is not an event that suddenly occurs. Rather, it is a process that gradually unfolds over time. As this process begins to unfold, a person’s motivation changes. The most popular framework for discussing motivation to change is the Stages of Change Model developed by James Prochaska, Ph.D. and Carlo DiClimente, Ph.D. Their work began during the late 1970s when they became interested in the way people change. They developed, tested, and refined the Stages of Change Model. This model is one of the most widely used and accepted models within the field of addiction treatment.

In the book “Changing for Good” (1994), Prochaska and DiClemente describe the six stages of change:

Stages Of Change

Stage #1: Pre-Contemplation – Suspecting The Scam

People at this stage may be aware of the costs of their addiction. However, they do not see them as significant as compared to the benefits. Of course, others may view this situation differently. Characteristics of this stage are a lack of interest in change, and having no plan or intention to change. We might describe this person as unaware.

Stage#2: Contemplation – Recognition Of The Scam

People in the contemplation stage have become aware of problems associated with their behavior. However, they are ambivalent about whether or not it is worthwhile to change. Characteristics of this stage are: exploring the potential to change; desiring change but lacking the confidence and commitment to change behavior; and having the intention to change at some unspecified time in the future. We might describe this person as aware and open to change. Between stage 2 and 3: A decision is made. People conclude that the negatives of their behavior outweigh the positives. They choose to change their behavior. They make a commitment to change. This decision represents an event, not a process.

In dating scams, this is the moment when you recognize you have been scammed.

Stage #3: Preparation – Eliminating The Scam

At this stage people accept responsibility to change their behavior. They evaluate and select techniques for behavioral change. Characteristics of this stage include: developing a plan to make the needed changes; building confidence and commitment to change; and having the intention to change within one month. We might describe this person as willing to change and anticipating of the benefits of change.

This is where you block out the scammer and report their actions.

Stage #4: Action – Changing Your Mindset

At this stage people engage in self-directed behavioral change efforts while gaining new insights and developing new skills. Although these change efforts are self-directed, outside help may be sought. This might include rehab or therapy. Characteristics of this stage include: consciously choosing new behavior; learning to overcome the tendencies toward unwanted behavior; and engaging in change actions for less than six months. We might describe this person as enthusiastically embracing change and gaining momentum.

You recognize the behavior in yourself that led to the scam, and modify your outlook and behavior going forward to work on preventing this from happening again.

Stage #5: Maintenance – Avoiding Scams

People in the maintenance stage have mastered the ability to sustain new behavior with minimal effort. They have established new behavioral patterns and self-control. Characteristics of this stage include: remaining alert to high-risk situations; maintaining a focus on relapse prevention; and behavioral change that has been sustained six months. We might describe this person as persevering and consolidating their change efforts. They are integrating change into the way they live their life.

While you have performed the recognition, and charge your ways, this is not an easy stage. It comes with a negative view towards your ability to ever find the right person for you. Unfortunately, this is simply something you will have to live through, regardless of the ultimate success of your search.

Stage #6: Termination – Living Your Life

At the termination stage people have adopted a new self-image consistent with desired behavior and lifestyle. They do not react to temptation in any situation. Characteristics of this stage include: confidence; enjoying self-control; and appreciation of a healthier and happier life. The relapse prevention plan has evolved into the pursuit of a meaningful and healthy lifestyle. As such, relapse into the former way of life becomes almost unthinkable.

This is the stage of acceptance with what has ocured and the willingness to try again, but with your eyes wide open. Though some will never return to online dating having given up. If you do give up, and that is not really a bad reality, it does not mean that you cannot continue your life with the possibilities still there, you should look at living in the real world, and look to more local forms of social engagement rather than online.

Relapse to a prior stage can occur anywhere during this process. For example, someone in the action stage may move back to the contemplation or pre-contemplation stage. This is one of the reasons why scammers will continue to contact you, they know that many can be scammed again, since they have not yet fully accepted that they were scammed.

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