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  • Writer's pictureKatie Beucus

The Darkest Side of Dating

Updated: Jun 9

This post was updated on 5.3.24 with additional information regarding my experience. The additions are in italics if you're looking for a quick re-read.


Exclusivity, your key to consent by deceit.

Used women, 6 plus, a means to your end.

Creating false care and love and commitment.

Lies on lies on lies.


You knew him. Your brother in service.

Never could I have imagined what you would do.

Did you decide to prey on me before Aaron died?

And you said you wanted to be supportive?

Remember that, when you first reached out?


The timelines



One day I’m going to sit around with my girlfriends and say, “Remember that time I dated a sociopath after Aaron died?” and maybe we’ll even laugh. Maybe.


In my defense, like most, I didn’t know I was dating a sociopath. He wasn’t a Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer type of sociopath, at least I don’t think. Shit, who knows. If I go missing my sister knows who did it. And my brothers. And their wives. And Aaron’s parents. And his sister. And a handful of other victims. And a lot of people in the same line of work as this man, from what I gather.


Back to the point though, he was more of an Elizabeth Holmes type of sociopath minus the money swindling. And to be fair, he never identified as a sociopath, pretty sure most don’t but as soon as I spilled all the details to my therapist, the first thing they said was, “you realize now that this person is a sociopath at minimum, right?”


Sociopaths target their victims for personal gain, a means to an end. They assess their victims before they ever even begin to date, making a determination of whether or not the person is worth their time and if so, how they are going to go about baiting them. They carefully craft their relationships to use their partner as a pawn. They do not have the capacity to love but they can fake it incredibly well. The relationships are one sided where the sociopath is driven by selfish motives and the partner is actually emotionally invested. They isolate you. It is scary how well this all checks out.


This person followed our story from Aaron’s diagnosis on, attended his funeral (!) and specifically used the connection points of having worked with Aaron at one time and “friendship” with a fellow widow (victim) to initiate contact a month after his death. He even sought me out through my private Instagram account, said he worked with Aaron the year he cut his toe. I doubt this was even this guy's own memory, it was probably information he obtained at the funeral and stored away for future use. He told me he knew Aaron was sick, but didn't realize how bad it was until guys at the station started talking about how things weren't looking good. But that's not true, or not the whole truth. He knew exactly how things were going because he received every campaign update at minimum, having been a donor to our fundraiser.


He spent five months building trust before we ever met in person. My therapist tells me that was part of the grooming. He told me that in their line of work he hears and sees things happening like what happened to Aaron often, and feel helpless but that in supporting me he felt like he could actually do something for once. The very first phone conversation with him he told me how sad he felt for me, that I would eventually end up back out dating because he knew firsthand how awful it is out there. One of the girls warned him to stay away from me, to not ruin my life the way he had hers. When another one of the girls questioned him about me, he had the audacity to tell her all the guys at the firehouse had been chipping in around my house to help with things. This guy!


People have asked, how did he have the time?! Funny enough, he was always very meticulous about time. Had to know when you were going to arrive, within minutes, and always had a reason why he had to leave. It's how he would see several of us on the same day. We each had a time slot on his schedule so he could keep things straight. He would use his work schedule and time with his child as covers often. Only, having lived the firelife and knowing variations of the Kelley schedule, he couldn't use work as an excuse very well with me.


He said he shared the same love of Christmas as Aaron did. How would he know that about Aaron if he didn’t really know him? He talked about Aaron singing the wrong words to a ridiculous Christmas song in the engine in the dead of summer. Very on brand for Aaron, my guess is the song was Where are you Christmas from the Jim Carey version of The Grinch. Aaron loved to sign that song wrong, I can still hear his voice now “where are you Christmas, how come I cannot find you?”


Again, probably another stolen memory. He even sent me a photo from his Christmas trip to a cabin last year of The Grinch on the screen with a “wish you were here" text. The same text he sent at least one other girl, while he was with a third at the cabin. The number of times stuff like that happened is incredible.


Oddly enough, as things progressed it was like Aaron never even existed to him. I would ask him about his loyalty to Aaron when he'd use him as an excuse for having guilt about being with me. Trying to understand the impact Aaron had, having only worked with the guy for a year, 14 years ago now. It was weird my brothers and I had never heard his name. Aaron has had the same phone number since he was a teen and never deletes contacts. He's not in Aaron's phone. They definitely weren't best friends, or even real friends likely.


He spent the next three months building on that trust before dating for the following six months roughly. He would specifically ask if I trusted him and felt safe with him. The irony in that he is an individual everyone should be able to trust and feel safe with. That part is scary, when you realize sometimes you can’t even trust people you should be able to. I’ve since learned, they usually are.


He would try to isolate me from my friends. Never meeting them and trying to control what I could or could not tell them. Of course I told them everything. 1) I’m not a liar and 2) I’m especially not going to lie to the people who have literally carried me these last several years. I was never allowed to meet his friends either, although he likely has very few.


I didn’t recognize it at the time, but looking back there were many instances where he would mask who he really was in sarcasm. Hindsight is always 20/20 right. A time that specifically sticks out is from a hike we took (that I kicked his butt on BTW, benefit of having been married to, and hiked in friendly competition many times with, a Wildland guy known for his endurance). I am allergic to bees so I carry a bee kit. I jokingly said I hoped he didn’t have to stab me in the thigh as I loaded my kit into my backpack. He took my epi pen and started examining it, chastising me a bit for it being expired. They don’t really expire at a year but you can’t tell this person anything. Later that day I sent a text reassuring him I had put in for an updated prescription so he wouldn’t have to worry about me getting stung with an expired pen on hand. His reply, “How cute of you to think I would actually worry about you ;)”


The bulk of the relationship with him was manipulation. Sociopaths fake whatever they need to do to have whatever needs they are seeking met. Their relationships are confusing. He would talk in circles to the point you couldn’t  even remember where the conversation began or what you were trying to seek clarity from. Brain fog is a common symptom of grief and so it was easy for me to justify my lack of clarity on that. Word salad is what my friends called it. He always had one foot in the door so long as he could gain from me.


I’m not going to get into the specifics of the needs in my situation but I will say he had various needs of a similar nature met through several women, simultaneously. We each served our own purpose. The ways in which he made us all think we were crazy. The language and tactics used to manipulate each of us, nearly identical. It is scary how much of a science they have this down to. Copy. Paste. It’s a very odd bond to share with a handful of women, closer in ways you would find hard to believe if I told you. The validation that we weren’t at all crazy like he would imply, the story he likely has told anyone who has confronted him, that part feels really good.


Every move he made that led deeper into a relationship he would insist was never planned or intentional. Over explaining his actions always. Do people who don’t intend to kiss someone for the first time get up to use the bathroom and then come back with freshly brushed teeth in the middle of a movie? Asking for a friend.


Do those who are insistent their motive is friendship pull you in close when standing in line for coffee and kiss the top of your head? Or pull you in for a long hug mid walk on the beach and kiss your forehead? Or insist on paying everywhere you go? Do they invite you on a mountain biking trip just weeks after meeting? Do they tell you they miss you like hell and that every time they see you they just want to see you again?


Do friends tell you they love you? That they can see you in their life? That they have thoughts of taking trips together and unwinding at the end of the day with one another? Waking up together one day? When you’re sick do they tell you they wish they weren’t at work so they could come take care of you?


Sociopaths tend to end relationships with abandonment which we discovered happened in some cases. Some women were completely ghosted by him after a relatively short time when needs appeared to be getting met elsewhere or were determined unattainable through these sources. For the rest of us, the long haulers, the relationship ended because we found out who he really was. But even still, he worked very hard to try and manipulate the ending and control the narrative. He didn't know these women. This isn't who he is. It's not like that at all. He is a good person. And when he realized he had lost control of the situation, he apologized with an over elaborate list of lies on how he is being held accountable personally and professionally and a "goodbye" or "I won’t discuss this matter further." Via text.


Sociopaths use weak spots to manipulate their victims. Dead husband. Hi! Check. We weren’t all widows though. Each woman had their own unique vulnerabilities that made us perfect targets. He would lay charm on thick up front and yet you were somehow confused on how he felt and where you stood nearly all of the time. He would say he loved you. That he was in love with you. That he can see you in his life. All on the same day he was with at least 1-2 other women. His words very rarely matched his actions. He convinced us that everything we’d question was in our head and next thing you know we each would be apologizing for having basic needs. I even asked him at one point if there were other women. We all did. He laughed and said no it’s not like that. It was always “not like that”.


I’ve been lucky enough to know real love. And I knew this didn’t feel like that. And I was still sucked in. So many times I’d think, what in the heck am I doing? But I couldn’t pull away until I went back to therapy and learned to face the reality that was in front of me the whole time. You see this stuff in movies, read about it in fiction. But it doesn’t really happen, only it absolutely did. Some of the best parts, about how we caught him, uncovered so many lies, matched days and timelines, I can’t even share other than it was much easier to do than you would think.


I know so much more now and am in a less vulnerable place than I was a year ago. It’s part of how I had the courage to uncover the truth. To confront it. But that doesn’t mean this didn't turn my already broken world upside down or change the way I view others and trust. Trust is a new part of healing I have to embark on. A hole Aaron never would have left.


Aaron did not choose to leave me. Cancer took him and the life we dreamed of from us. Both deep griefs I have worked very hard to come to peace with.


This person committed themselves to creating false hope in me, that some version of that life was possible with him. Every experience I lived with this person, while for me was reality, was actually a lie. And that is the only piece I believe was unintentional because he never thought he would get caught.


P.S. Your friends are always right. Always.

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