10 essential breakup boundaries
Yesterday I offered up twelve core boundaries that should be non negotiable for every woman, and in fact every person that wants to find themselves in a healthy relationship with their self-esteem in tow. But I wanted to also give you ten boundaries that are fundamental to having a breakup where even if you do hurt, it won’t be because you are at best embarrassing and at worst, humiliating yourself because you are trapped in the feeling of rejection and trying to be The Nice Girl/Guy.

Ignore these at your peril because as the thousands of emails that roll through can attest to, if you don’t put some boundaries in place when a relationship ends, you will experience infinitely more pain of your own creation.

1. When someone rejects me and the relationship we shared by breaking up with me, I will register this red flag, step back, and not attempt to change their mind.

I know you’re thinking ‘I should fight for my relationship’ but the trouble is that from the moment someone utters the words that they want to break up, you pushing to keep something that they don’t want is like attempting to negotiate your way back into their affections and their life.

They are saying, I don’t want you or the relationship enough to keep trying.

They have already made up their mind. Only people who play games tell you they’re breaking up so they can watch you jump through hoops as you try to persuade them to change their mind. Everyone else means it when they say that they want to break up.

Whatever the reasons are for the breakup, you will achieve nothing by knee-jerking with a reaction like getting on your hands and knees and begging them to stay, listing all of your qualities, denying the problems, promising that you’ll be different especially when that actually may not even be the source of the issue, or even claiming that you’ll be less ‘needy’.

I know you feel invested in your ex and may feel scandalised by the idea of just ‘giving up’ or ‘throwing it away’ but here’s the problem: someone else has already given up and thrown it away.

Let me tell you from personal experience, that you won’t feel very good or confident about the stability of the relationship or the length and breadth of their affections, if you have to pitch yourself and the relationship like a used car salesperson.

This is where you have to have some pride. Respect their decision in the first instance even if you want to wrap yourself around their ankles, because if you try to persuade him/her out of their decision, you’ll remove your dignity and disrespect their wishes. You don’t know better – you and they are not the same person.

If you are going to even contemplate salvaging the relationship, it must be when enough time and space has passed for both parties to have properly evaluated their feelings and their perceived reasons for why the relationship broke down. Only time and space will accomplish this. Don’t badger your ex.

And this is the kicker: If you keep trying to orchestrate your relationship and force it back together and steer them around to your way of thinking and basically continue to meddle in the order of things instead of letting things be and letting them create their own action, you will never be able to have confidence that they’re in the relationship because they want to be. You don’t need anyone there under ‘duress’.

2. I will not settle for less for the sake of having some crumbs rather than nothing at all.

When we are in pain because we feel rejected and we have lost the person who we’re emotionally invested in, it’s tempting to bargain with ourselves and decide that we would rather have them on some rather than no terms.

This is a fast and extremely slippery slope to pain and disrespect.

The reason why we do this is because it’s a kneejerk reaction to the initial pain and rejection, and we tell ourselves that because of what we feel, we can’t imagine this person not being in our lives and not being our friend.

Leave.It.Be. If you are both destined to be friends, it won’t be because you hung around straight after the breakup cocking each others lives up, poking around in each others emotions and keeping a foothold in each others lives.

Distance and time give objectivity and you can only be friends when you actually no longer want a relationship with them. That, and you can actually only be friends with someone who is actually friend worthy.

3. I will cut contact to give myself time and space to grieve the loss of the relationship.

Let me tell you with 150% certainty that if they are ever going to miss you and regret the loss of you from their lives, it sure as hell is not going to happen with you hanging around, reminding them of your existence and seeking validation and attention!

No Contact is not just for flushing out people that don’t treat you with love, care, trust, and respect or forcing yourself to stop what feels like addictive behaviour. Taking it at its most basic level, even in the healthiest and amicable of breakups, both parties respect that each needs time to do their own thing and grieve the loss of the relationship.

You must have faith that if the person gives even the remotest damn about you, that friendship that you think you so desperately need will be there in a few months time.

4. I will recognise lazy communication for what it is and not inflate it into them actually missing me and wanting to get back together.

When someone misses you and has properly contemplated the loss of the relationship and their decision to end it, a decent person with honourable intentions who is not just knee-jerking to their ego or their libido, will not just be hot air, intentions, and silly text messages and emails.

Someone who genuinely misses you will not only pick up the phone and arrange to meet with you and talk, but they will be decisive, acknowledge whatever issues brought you to the original juncture and will be making constructive suggestions as to how to get back together and progress the relationship.

Someone sending you a text message saying ‘Are you watching the football?’ or ‘How are you?’ or ‘Fancy hanging out this weekend’ or ‘Thinking about you’ (all real text messages by the way), is a lazy dipstick on the hunt for an ego stroke but certainly not missing you enough to actually get up off their backside. Which brings me to…

5. For the sake of not confusing myself or causing me to do something that I later regret, I will not sleep with my ex. If I do, I will accept responsibility for the consequences.

Sex with someone who is familiar that you still feel something for is comforting and possibly great.

Sex with someone who is familiar that you still feel something for but who has actually broken up with you, will feel great at the time but is often loaded with expectations that tend to get disappointed.

Just because you’re having sex, doesn’t mean that they’re missing you or you’re getting back together.

Getting back together is not dependent on getting laid, hence if you were actually getting back together, you’d damn well know about it before you had sex.

They may miss you, but chances are that if you’re having sex but not back together, they miss you, but they don’t miss you that much.

If you’re the type of person that has sex with expectation (don’t a lot of us) and isn’t likely to be able to treat it in a casual fashion, don’t have sex with your ex. While you will feel validated in the short-term and it will stem the feeling of the loss and the rejection, when the blinders (and the oxytocin) wear off, this short-term pleasure may have longer lasting consequences and set you back.

And let me remind you that you cannot shag your way back into a relationship. If sex was what held you both together, it was fragile anyway plus you wouldn’t be broken up.

6. I will not bombard them with my love.

This is an incredibly important boundary that’s there to stop you from not only getting carried away with continuously trying to show them how much you love them, but it will also protect you from crossing their boundaries.

It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in your own agenda because you’re trapped in your feelings. These can become all consuming and will seem of paramount importance for you to ‘let them know’ how much you feel for them and what they’re missing. This is why I get emails from so many women feeling bereft and confused because they’ve been pursuing their exes, cooking, cleaning, offering them sex and the whole kit and caboodle and still being rejected.

There’s no easy way to say this, but if you continue to bombard them with your attention, affections, and your feelings, they will lose respect for you. You also haven’t a cat’s hope in hell of them missing you when you don’t give them a chance to breathe and have their wishes respected.

What you want is not what they want.

I know you can’t just switch off your feelings, but you must switch on your self-respect, for yours and their sakes.

Which brings me neatly to…

7. I will recognise when I am becoming obsessed with my ex and will force myself to step back so that I don’t end up trapped in denial.

Also: I will not engage in behaviour that will cause me to lose my dignity and give them the opportunity to call me a psycho/stalker (and to potentially absolve themselves of any shady treatment).

If you’re calling up their friends and family, turning up wherever they go, logging into their email, their voicemail, poking around their flat, or at the opposite end of the spectrum, spending month after month obsessing over the details of the relationship, it’s time to step back and get some perspective, whether that means leaning on your friends and family for some support or talking with a professional.

All of this obsessive stuff, especially when you start doing the keeping tabs on them and making a bit of a pest out of yourself, is an attempt to control them and what they do – don’t go there. They’re already out of the relationship and it’s also disrespectful.

Some of this stuff can start out so innocently and when you’re distraught, you may not recognise the full impact of what you’re doing. You’ll think it’s you and your ‘love’ but it’s a very quick and slippery slope for crossing into behaviour that could at its worst get you into trouble legally, or having you fanning the flames of embarrassment when your ex cuts you off or puts you back in your place, plus it’s even worse when peers, colleagues, and family members are involved.

Particularly when you have been involved with someone who has not treated you very well, I would strongly caution you against taking revenge, because you will inadvertently legitimise any negative perceptions they have of you, plus you may even legitimise what they think are their reasons for their treatment of you and it will give them license to have your cards marked as a ‘psycho’ or a ‘stalker’.

There are some people who really will not care how they are considered – let’s assume that’s not you. When all is said and done, the lingering feeling left behind after doing something that you later regret can have a huge impact on how long it takes for you to get over the breakup and your subsequent relationships.

I recognise that sometimes you just feel so angry and humiliated and rejected but the answer doesn’t lie in doing something to punish your ex. Even if it’s just keeping tabs on them on Facebook, recognise when it’s become an obsessive habit and take any obsessive behaviour as a sign that you need to take actions to limit the pain you can create for yourself.

If you want to take ‘revenge’, do so by giving no room to them in your life and living your life well. That says more than anything else ever will.

8. I will not punish myself for the breakup by neglecting me or doing stuff that is essentially me acting without love, care, trust, and respect towards myself.

It’s OK to feel hurt. It’s more than OK to cry, be angry, and spend a little while letting everything go while you immerse yourself in the after effects but there is a limit, and that limit is where you tell yourself you’re no good, that no one wants you, that it’s all your fault, that you can’t survive without them, and essentially let the loss of the relationship colour your view of you and the world.

We must love and live with self-esteem which requires that you love yourself unconditionally rather than internalising misplaced and displaced anger as well as unfair judgements.

It’s important to acknowledge when you’re reaching those limits, especially if giving you a hard time lasts over an extended period – this is a sign you need to 1) nurture yourself and 2) take your ex off the mighty pedestal you’ve put them on.

Never let someone be the definition of you and certainly don’t define your hopes, aspirations, and future on someone who is no longer around.

You cannot make yourself wholly and solely responsible for the success or failure of your relationship and ultimately, for a relationship to work, it takes two of you.

You can be hurt and grieving the loss of a breakup, but you can still do that and treat yourself with love, care, trust, and respect. In fact if you do, you will find that not only will you not treat your ex like they’re the King/Queen of the Universe, but you’ll also have perspective and get over them in time and avoid throwing yourself back into the emotional equivalent of oncoming traffic and wondering why you get run down.

9. I will not keep trying to get back together with someone who has already rejected me more than once.

Reject me once, shame on you. Reject me twice, shame on me, but I can chalk it up to giving them the benefit of the doubt and another chance. Reject me anymore than that and it’s time to get off the relationship crack. Seriously.

If someone has rejected you once, it’s already one too many times but to go beyond that, you have to ask yourself 1) what the frick you’re trying to achieve and 2) what the hell is so special about them that you would give them the option of rejecting you again?!

Forming part of the overall core boundaries that every person should live by that I wrote about in yesterday’s post, in essence, you must have some pride and stop pursuing people that have both directly and passively rejected you.

Do not force yourself and your love on anyone. You shouldn’t have to convince them of your greatness and from the moment you let someone reject you more than once, you’re saying ‘You’re free to reject me again! Come back and have a go when you’re ready!’

When you keep pursuing somebody who has broken up with you, it’s because you’re trying to stem the loss of the relationship and the sting of rejection by getting attention so that you can feel validated. The breakup may have triggered old abandonment issues and you’ll pursue them to stop that feeling. Any attention and validation you get is short-lived and you have to start the breakup process all over again. Of course, if you won’t heed the signs that someone isn’t interested or is halfhearted in their interest (neither are good enough), you won’t even start to process the breakup because you’ll be too busy pursuing them!

You may not know it yet, but you have more self-respect than this, or at least you will if you learn to have some boundaries.

10. I will not wait and put my life on hold for anyone.

When you break up, take it as final and get on with your life. Seriously. I know the temptation is to hang around and make sure they don’t forget you, but all you’re doing is putting your life in limbo while they go off and live their lives. Let’s not forget that if they’re opportunistic, they’ll use your inability to move on and the fact that you’re waiting around, to get a shag, ego stroke, a shoulder to lean on, money or any other fringe benefits they can enjoy – you’re better than this. If you have boundaries, you will ensure that you are better than this and will have faith that there is better out there for you than someone who has already broken up with you.

I know of women who have been mentally and in some cases physically waiting for their exes. They’re missing out on life and this isn’t something that can be blamed on the object of their affections – it’s the active choice they make. Not waiting eventually frees you up to be in a mutually fulfilling relationship. Believe it.

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91 Responses to 10 Essential Breakup Boundaries

  1. Lisa says:

    I really needed to read this today. Thank you.

  2. Annie says:

    I failed at 6, 7, 8 and 9 – repeatedly. Only your site has made me see clearly. If there is ever a next time, I will re-read this post a dozen times to keep myself from doing those things again.
    Loving me more than loving him MATTERS.

  3. Miriam says:

    wow- I needed this 4 months ago, yet probably wouldn’t recognize it then. But moving forward, I’m glad I’m now living up by these standards, we live and learn.

  4. Emily says:

    Wow, I feel sick at the thought of my past desperate behaviour, great post to keep us on track x

  5. debra says:

    Natalie – another fantastic recap of many of the essential things you have been saying. It is about maintaining respect for yourself and not letting the need for validation cause you to humiliate yourself. I would add a #11 – don’t debrief, don’t feel the need to tell them all about themselves, don’t feel compelled to have the last word. I could have survived all of the others on your list, because maintaining no contact meant that he never saw or knew what was happening. Any post-end suffering I did in silence. But by breaking #11, I truly did myself damage, created my own pain and humiliation and am, 2 months later, still trying to live down the consequences. When it is over, whatever it was and for whatever reason, it is over. Accept it, move on and hold on to your self respect, your boundaries and your tongue! Nothing you say will change or hurt him but I am living proof it can do serious damage to you.

    • Sarah says:

      Love # 11!!!! Very important. There is the aftermath of the breakup, when its all about him, my pain, my need, my obsession. Then comes the anger. I started to see things a different way and started to recognize alot of what I thought was love and caring was just manipulation and control. When the anger hit full force, something inside made me want to tell him, to shove it in his face and “educate” him as to his faults, how he had hurt me and make sure he never did it again. Below that was the layer that really hoped he would magically wake up, realize he was being a tool and love me the way I wanted. Fantasy Island, here I come!!

      I now see that I had a very elaborate and somewhat silly way of avoiding pain. I didn’t want to take the hit of rejection, so I spent an embarrassing amount of time and energy deflecting it, making it about him, about his problems, then about me and my problems and what was wrong with me, blah, blah, blah. When it is all said and done, I learned alot from this experience and that’s what mattered. If he didn’t, not my problem. I only wish I could take back some of my dignity and self-respect. My need for validation from him at the end made me do things that I now regret. The best lessons come from pain.

  6. FeistyWoman says:

    It’s funny how we spend a lot of time trying to convince the person we love that’s no good for us that we need them back in our lives, despite the “drip feed” treatment and the borderline abuse. People have to recognize that the icky feeling they have inside when someone dumps all over them is the breaking of boundary. Nothing should ever hurt bad in order for the intended outcome to be “good”.

    In hindsight, these things are just what the doctor ordered but they’re so hard to put in practice when we’re blinded by “love” and when we’re not confident in ourselves. Generally people have a breaking point that they’ll have to discover for themselves and only then will the tire of second-class treatment.

  7. The Holy Digit says:

    I started reading this and almost wanted to get up from the computer, go put a disguise on, and then come back and finish it. I feel like I have been spoken to directly. I have engaged in truly humiliating behavior. I haven’t physically stalked, hacked into emails or pursued “revenge” of any kind but I have done almost everything listed and to a tee. I wish I could take it all back but I have learned so much about myself from the experience and I know I will continue to learn.

    This guy treated me poorly and had some bad behavior patterns that I constantly swept under the rug. I had set no boundaries and when I was uncomfortable I kept my mouth shut and resentment continued to build. More importantly, I did not set boundaries for myself even after the breakup and it has been a huge regret. I’m still picking myself up off the floor to this day and trying to get some of my dignity back. There is not much left at all.

    I urge anyone that is fresh off a breakup to bookmark this entry and read it whenever you start to feel like you’re about to take part in some humiliating behavior. If only I knew then what I know now….

  8. Gina says:

    I laughed out loud when I read “just because they are contacting you over text “Are you watching Football”? doesn’t mean they are making a sincere effort to getting back together… how many guys in the past have tried that just to get their foot in the door, ego stroked, etc… and I would second guess myself when my gut knew what the deal was.

    • Kim in Minn says:

      Yup yup yup!! I took those messages and calls as him having regrets and missing me. Even though he never said he wanted to get back together – I assumed he did. Idiot!

    • Marie says:

      God! I am so pathetic. No contact for like 10 days!!! Feeling good about his and then today – a stupid text about the shitty weather and I actually feel a bit happy by the contact. then … and thank god! I come to this lovely post and think good god woman. snap out of it. Weather?? Really??? I didn’t engage any further contact. But, I hate that did I felt so giddy by the text in the first place. ARGH.

  9. Cindy says:

    “10. I will not wait and put my life on hold for anyone. ” I understand this and I am moving more and more back towards my life. But any advice for people who are simply not ready to date at all yet? I don’t feel that it is wise to date until I am in a healthier place with relationship awareness and until I have emotionally moved on from my EUM to the point where it no longer effects me so badly. I don’t see the fact that I am not dating right now as putting my life on hold. What advice would you give for someone like me? Spend more time with family and friends?

    • jennynic says:

      Cindy, I am in the same boat. I am not ready to date, and frankly have put a lot less importance on having a mate. I do get lonely and don’t have a lot of friends, as I have always been an introvert and also withdrew from many people during my four year relationship with the AC. I spend a lot of time alone, which has been okay with me, but am starting to feel like I need to get out and do more. I do get invited out but it is always from a guy who is asking for a “date”, so I avoid it. I would love to hear some suggestions too. I even went camping by myself last weekend. I had fun though.

      • Grace says:

        It’s so cool that you went camping on your own. Go girl! After a four-year relationship with an AC your relationships are bound to have suffered. It just goes with the territory. I expect your self esteem has taken a knock and you are not as introvert as you think.
        Accept all invitations, even if it’s just after-work drinks, take up a team sport – it will force you into proximity with people, take a language class, do a cooking course, go on a singles holiday (not 18-30, something like a South American trek), join a book group.

        There’s a lot of fun to be had out there.

      • Fearless says:

        I’m a bit confused by you saying that you do get invitations but it’s always from a guy who’s asking for a “date”‘. Why the “but”? What’s the matter with a guy asking for date; why don’t you accept the invites (Iwould be!) if he seems nice enough (and so long as you know your boundaries well)?

        It’s maybe time for you to shrug off “introverted” and try things such as Grace suggests – camping/outdoor pursuit type clubs? Go for it!…why deprive the rest of the world of you and your company… we only live once! All the best!

        • jennynic says:

          Thank you Grace and Fearless. The reason I have a “but’ about accepting dates is that I am not ready to date. I am five months out of an abusive relationship and don’t want to put myself out there just yet. I was up front about only wanting to be friends with a guy when he invited me to travel with him and he got all drama on me then ignored me every time I saw him. I suspect he was an AC of some sort, but if I did meet a great guy I suspect I would ruin it right now. I am still healing, but want friends so I can begin to feel human again. I have never been good meeting people but have started looking into outdoor clubs and groups to join where I might meet new people. I lost a lot of confidence in myself the last few years, so I am a little scared as well. Thank you for the encouragement!

  10. jen says:

    Amen sister!!!!!

    Wandering Ivy, are you still around, I miss you!!!! I hope we find each other again, maybe on facebook????

    NML, thanks for that post, came just at the right time, I start to believe you are my guardian angel.

  11. Sarah says:

    God! i so needed to read this! i have been guilty of some of the behaviour spoken about and so realise i HAVE to stop!
    Thank you your site is brilliant!

  12. Reva says:

    You are right on here. Our behavior is entwined with our own self respect. When we display these behaviors, we devalue our own sense of worth. Break ups hurt yet there is no need to compound that pain by disrespecting ourselves. After initiating my own break up last week I really needed these reminders. Thanks.

  13. Leigh says:

    I needed to read this too as I’ve been writing the long letter than I’m never going to post to him.

    I’m guilty of looking at his websites – not every day just once in a while. So I decided to subscribe to them and put them in a reader and not access them. That for me will work really well.

    I have, however, put a lot of what Nat says into action now and will try my best not to slip.

    All those points bring back self respect, esteem and pride. This is the pathway to loving oneself and I know I’m going to reach it, again! (and I know we can all do it too!)

    Thanks Nat – Mr Pigeon Chest can go pick at the seeds in Trafalgar Square for all I care :)

  14. JJ says:


    Right on point. Maintaining NC means they never see or no what’s happening and that’s exactly why I’m so glad I enforced it with my ex(X months NC this month to be exact!!) And I don’t regret it. He never saw it coming either. To this day he’s still in limbo I’m sure of why in the hell did she wake up. Wake up Ladies!! Its the only thing to do above all else. And I made sure that I won’t be getting any instant pop up calls during these holidays in fact I know I won’t. Thank God for call BLOCK and Verizon!!!

    • Leigh says:

      He wouldn’t even call me because he’s so tight with money! Even his wife told him he had issues with money!

      The only thing I have thoughts about is flickr. I deleted my account three years ago and created another one. My attitude is is he sees my photos who cares! I actually don’t think he cares enough to look and if he does I don’t actually mind because it’s just art.

      NC isn’t a problem for me I did it before but I didn’t do it exactly right. I did it out of shock and numbness and as a tool to HIDE. This time it’s different. This time its about healing myself :)

    • jennynic says:

      Debra, JJ,

      I went complete NC over 5 months ago after I left him (after 4 years of crap). I blocked every mode possible for him to contact me and even moved so he can’t show up at all hours, drunk. I am glad I did this, as any contact with him would of derailed me completely. I have looked at his Facebook once or twice (okay maybe three or four) times, but have never logged on and read his stuff. I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it, so I only looked at how many friends he had. This was enough to make me feel crappy and have bad dreams, and have since stopped. Why do that to myself? I do not have a Facebook account because I know don’t want to tempt myself and I have read some of the post here about finding out stuff on Facebook. I just don’t want to go there. I am guilty of obsessing some, but only in private or to you guys. He knows nothing about me as I disapeard overnight from his life. I warned him I would someday if he didn’t stop treating me so bad. Well, I kept my word and that was the beginning of me having any boundaries. My revenge was just doing what was best for me.

      • Leigh says:


        I so admire you to be standing so firm. Thanks for showing me that I can do the same. My ex has a facebook account he created one apparently after I did. I have never added him or looked at his and I set mine to complete privacy so that I couldn’t be found.

        I often contemplated revenge out of anger. But I held myself back out of self respect. You are so right, revenge is doing whats best for you.


        • Fearless says:

          I so agree with jennynic too about revenge is doing the best for you – this is a shocker for these men, when they finally realise that is what is happening (I don’t think my ex EUM has caughtened on yet – but he will!)

          I don’t care about ‘revenge’ as such (partly because I now see that I was totally culpable in creating and perpetuating the whole shitty situation (I ordered it up and he duly delivered! I kept ordering more and he continued to oblige!) and besides that, over the past months, thoughts of making him understand or apologise or validate me or validate my ‘truth’ or getting back at him for all his crap have just been slowly but surely slipping of the list of my cares like snow off a dyke!

          And you, know, it feels good – it feels really good to be finally arriving at a place where I matter more to me than he does – where I don’t need or even want him to validate anything for me – where my opinion matters more to methan his – where I just don’t care what he thinks of me or what he wants any more. Well, who would have thought! Thanks be to God – and to Natalie Lue!

          Yes, the best “revenge” (whatever that means for us) is doing the best for ourselves (once you start doing that, and stay doing it (I hope I can!) this kind of one way street relationship cannot survive – it is then closed to all traffic.. it’s deprived of its oxygen and dies on its arse with its legs up pretty quickly (pardon the mixed metaphor).

          Now that I have taken the bull by the horns and dropped my EUM (nearly four months now) I will be taking careful note of Nat’s post break-up boundaries – and I pray I can stay strong and just keep believing in me- if I falter (and I have); going over the core boundaries again, in black and white as they are here, is my first port of call. They have saved me from falling down the hole again, more than once, and I know they will again.

          Thanks Natalie! You have outdone yourself recently with so many quick-fire blogs – like a machine gun! Did you notice some of us were needing a swift boot up the proverbial!? :)

  15. Grace says:


    Re no. 3 I agree that NC can actually be a sign of respecting each others needs. So many of us here, me included, have seen a man busting NC as a SIGN that he is still in love with us. Now I look at it a different way, I see it as a sign of disrespect. He hasn’t taken us seriously nor has he taken our feelings seriously or the break up. A friend of mine got pregnant by her boyfriend, broke up with him because of his cheating, then had an abortion. He still had the audacity to call her – he did not even have the decency to leave her alone! It’s harsh, but to all of us who are clinging to our ex’s texts/emails/ calls as if they were precious, please see that they are NOT precious, they are a blatant sign of disrespect.

    Exceptionally, it may be that the two of you can be friends after the break up BUT there must still be a decent period of mourning. You shouldn’t be texting each other titbits a week later as if nothing had happened.

  16. An old blogger says:

    well put…. when you are hurt and in the middle of heartache, these steps are not easy.. as one can see from my screen name, i was once there, about 2 years ago..
    Now that I am completely out and over my ex, I cannot tell you how right Natalie is.. it’s baby steps, try not to swallow all 10 steps at once but take your pride and move on and most importantly abide by NO CONTACT.. it is the only way to go.. no excuses, cut him off and move on taking each day as it comes.. don’t focus on 3 weeks when he may be at a party you’re going to, or 6 months if he’ll show up at that annual summer bbq.. focus on one day at a time.. it gets better but only if you implement no contact. avoid the texts, block his number, and do whatever you have to do FOR YOU!!!!.. I am willing proof that it works.. I fell off the wagon many times but the last time hurt so bad, I vowed it would never happen again.. that was back in June of 2008…

    Happy Thanksgiving Ladies..

    • NML says:

      Hello! So damn good to hear from you! Happy Thanksgiving!

      You are living proof that NC works! I remember the torment you went through and how addicted you felt. Yet you did it – you chose you and you broke free. So proud of you and thanks for stopping by and sharing your wisdom of experience. I always miss readers from time gone by but normally when you guys are gone, it’s because you’ve flown the nest. Love and hugs and take care xxx

  17. rachel says:

    gosh i feel like crying…. I thought I was doing so well. All my friends and even ,myself, kept saying how methodical Im dealing with this break up and are amazed at my strengh, but now after reading this I just want to cry.
    I miss my mr unavailable emotionally retarded ex and still live in hope that he wants me back and will realise what a great girl I am… Wishful thinking!
    Maube I need to read this all over agian

    • Fearless says:


      It’s YOU who needs to realise what a great girl YOU ARE!

    • NML says:

      Ah Rach. Just realised it was you and want to throw my arms around you and give you a big cuddle. He doesn’t even know he’s born. He must be off his bloody rocker but what I do know is that he doesn’t appreciate you. I’ve known you for 20 years – you deserve better than to 1) be treated like this and 2) to feel like this. You are a great girl. You are dealing with it all so well but don’t wait for him to make up his mind about you because that’s an awful place to be in. Don’t give him that much power. Get on with your life. If he eventually regrets it and you still want him, great, but if he doesn’t, at least you won’t have waited around for him and can work your way to being free to meet someone who wants to put themselves in and love you without restraint and not piss you around. Love and hugs Nat xxx

  18. JJ2 says:

    Wow, you are writing about breakups just as Thanksgiving and Christmas are approaching? Don’t you know it’s a SIN to breakup around the holidays?

    Ok, I’m just kidding….. I’m sure this is timely as breakups sometimes DO occur around the holidays. And it can be even more devastating.

    It hasn’t happened to me yet, but I have HEARD of people who break up, around the holidays, then get back together after the holidays, just to get out of the Christmas thing…… But oops, there is VALENTINES day just around the corner…..

    • Nikki says:

      Obviously my first bf didn’t know about the holiday sin rule as he broke up with me right at Christmastime. I thought he was coming over to give me a christmas gift but instead he gave me a breakup card. Not fun. We did not get back together though.

    • jennynic says:

      I had a guy break up with me once right after he ate the Thanksgiving dinner I cooked. The plates hadn’t even been washed yet! I was devastated then but now I laugh it off. My cooking must have been really bad!!!!!

  19. JJ2 says:

    I’m the one who walked out on the A/C, but I feel as though he walked out on me, at least emotionally. Because of this, even though I walked out, I did most of the things mentioned. I walked out as an attempt to make him SEE that he was treating me badly, which, of course, he will never ever “see.” Funny thing……. I tried to walk out many times before I finally succeeded. On the previous tries, he begged me to stay. Reach/Withdraw. Or, as Natalie called it, “Pushy/Pully.” I wish I had kept on going on the first attempt instead of falling for the crap.

    It’s really interesting how these A/C’s just KNOW how to make YOU look like the crazy person when THEY have the bad behavior.

    • Audrey says:

      yeah, i understand where your coming from. they do leave you when they ignore you and they leave you emotionally beaten up. i do believe it is mental an emotional cruelty that they carry out.

  20. done as dinner says:

    This is my first time posting here. A number of years ago, my first bf and I resumed contact after not having seen/spoken to one another in decades. He was married and altho he said he loved me etc. told me the timing wasn’t right. So, I asked him not to contact me as long as he was committed to someone else. I told him I would not have an affair, or play second fiddle to another woman. That lasted a few months, but he just couldn’t leave it alone. Over the years, he’d contact me every few weeks and I’d respond in the most general way and attempt to shut him down – but stupidly responding all the same. Eventually his wife left him and he contacted me with the news. When I asked what he wanted, he started in with the whole hot/cold song and dance, he didn’t want a relationship, didn’t know what he wanted, but he did want to see me. So I said if he didn’t know what he wanted with me, then I sure as hell wasn’t going to see him (suspecting correctly he wanted a shag, ego boost and a shoulder to cry on). So then he asked if we could “keep in touch” to which I said we’d said all we had to say to one another and there was no point in further communication between us. Of course, after a few weeks had passed, he pressed the reset button with a text. I marched down to the post office, with all the crap of ours I had accumulated over the years and promptly dumped it in an envelope and sent it back. No return address (I’d moved), no note, no explanation and certainly no response to his follow up email. Then I deleted my facebook account and removed every other trace of my on-line existence. It has been NC ever since. As far as he knows, I have ceased to exist. A few months ago I found this site and it really validated that I have always believed in the power of NC, despite being derided that it isn’t nice to do or it’s petty or whatever. Before Nat’s blog, I didn’t know it was a recommended strategy. But it works.

  21. MaryC says:

    Thanks for today post, just what I needed to keep NC going.

  22. JJ says:

    I meant to type 8 months NC for me to be exact when I commented on this post earlier. Sorry but my correction was so worth it. I’ve come a Lonnnnnnggggg Way!!!!! Cheers!!

  23. candy B says:

    You’re like a Dating Advice Angel – every blog you make (especially since im about two weeks in after a break up) is so perfectly timed and lands with a necessary thump in my heart… and simultaneous uplifting “ahhhaa” moment! You are the voice in me i never heard and/or didnt listent to. Thank you, Nat. U rock big time, girl! xxx CB

  24. Jayv says:

    A friend once told me; sometimes we learned the hard way. I just hope that one day when I look back, I’ll be laughing on how desperate I made myself for spending my love/time to an unworthy person. And I would be oblivious of my former failure… I’d still remember the BOY but I don’t remember the feeling anymore!

  25. Tammy says:

    I have been reading these post for the past few weeks. I’m in the middle of a breakup with a 6 year relationship. Not the first breakup, but probably 50-100. times. This site is the first time I feel I actually get it. Why the hell it took me 6 years, I’ll never know. The last couple posts have finally hit home. I am so thankful I found this site. I am taking time out for me, to get a handle on myself and see why I put up with this assclown for this long. I feel I have a whole new perspective. Wow!! and thanks!

    • Audrey says:

      Its good when you finally understand what the hell is wrong with them. focus on yourself now, that’s what i’m trying to do. do something nice for yourself, would taking up a new hobbie be an idea for you???

  26. Leavingonajetplane says:

    cannot wait till the day I read your website and realise I have actually done the positive things, instead of ‘oh crap, I did that’! Such good tips!!!

  27. Sally says:

    I need some advice on this, as it’s tricky in my case. My BF is a former AC, in that he dumped me for another girl (same one) on three occasions all over a period of two years. The last one was two years ago. That’s a total of 18 months in relationship when it happened the first time, then two years of hell in which he didn’t know what he wanted and I became a wreck.

    Then we got back together after an 8 month separation and he behaved within the relationship, I think. He said that he had no feelings for her anymore and it was more than over.

    Only thing is, by then I don’t know why I wanted to be with him any more, I felt so despondent any time I was around him, and I was so angry he did those things. So I read a lot on this site and got smarter and realised what a codependent jerk I’s been. So I broke up with him.

    That was a year ago. I went NC and all seemed peaceful, but then my abandonment issues began to eat away at me, and I gave up on myself only to contact him again in the early summer. Predictably, I started seeing him again. Only thing is this time he saw her again while we were apart. This after telling me there was nothing left. He says it’s not the same because we were apart, but it feels the same because he must have lied about not having feelings for her, to go out with her again.

    I feel so sad around him, and don’t trust him and want to break up with him again. I know from reading this site that it must seem really obvious, that I need to just leave and stay gone. But he’s technically not an AC any more, I am, right? He’s not rejecting me, but I can’t seem to leave behind what has passed between us, and I feel terrible for him that I feel like this. He tells me how much he loves me, and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

    Please be kind.

    • grace says:

      years ago I had an off-on relationship with a man who dumped me regularly because of his issues. The longest dumping lasted a year. Just as I was moving on I foolishly called him, I wanted him to know I was doing fine (obviously not that fine though or I would have stayed away). I went to see him (stupidly) and he proposed (agh). I was NOT over the moon about it but accepted a couple of weeks later (it was just easier to say yes than no). We got married and separated a year later at my instigation. I divorced him a year after that. Like you, I couldn’t get past things he had done even though he behaved during the engagement and marriage. I simply didn’t respect him anymore.
      A lot of us believe that if the EUM got over his commitment issues we would be happy. I’m sceptical. I think that other issues (financial, sexual, lack of respect, our resentment, our OWN commitment issues) would rise up in their place.
      You have doubts, listen to them, don’t just go along with what seems easiest. Trust me, otherwise it will come back to bite you.

    • done as dinner says:

      Sally – he abused your trust. Of course you feel bad and confused. It is only natural. I don’t think you are an AC, I think you are dealing with the fall out of having been manipulated for two years while he dithered back and forth and kept you (and presumably the other gal) as options on the shelf. You seem to have answered your own question though… your gut feeling is that you feel sad, and don’t trust him anymore. Having been through this myself, the first seeds of discontent start in the pit of your stomach, and slowly blossom in your consciousness (which is when it becomes really uncomfortable because it’s then that you actually have to begin to come to terms with what has happened). You are in the process of detaching and moving on – really hard to do when you feel you have invested so much into this person. But, if he were worthy of you, he wouldn’t have messed around for years, and you wouldn’t be having these feelings. All you can do is put one foot in front of the other every day, and keep moving forward, and eventually away from the situation.

      • Sally says:

        Thank you Grace, Done as Dinner and Audrey below for your replies. They have helped me a lot and last night I broke up with him. Again. It was very painful and the old feelings of being lost have settled in already. However, the NC count begins and I know that feeling will pass soon. Thank you so much for backing me up on what I probably already knew. Man, what a jerk he is! Unbelievable that I could give him the benefit of the doubt when it’s obvious what he has done says a lot about the way he copes with life. Not good.

  28. Bek says:

    In my logical moments I’m able to follow these…
    It’s been 8 months since we’ve been over. And I am not over it.
    I keep trying. I am trying to forget it. Trying to stop the obsessive behavior.
    Realize that… I can’t change anyone and their feelings.
    But I can’t stop my head from going.
    He’s never going to want me back. He does not love me. So why am I still stuck?
    And yes, on some level there is a damaging self talk that tells me that no one will stick around, and everyone will throw away something with me.

    I know that this issue is compacted with other issues that don’t involve romantic relationships… I just don’t know what to do.
    Those people in the same boat with anything uplifting to say?
    I think about adding him on facebook again, or sending text messages or.. contacting. But he is inevitably with someone else. Why would I want to open up channels that will just hurt me?

    I feel like I’m in a cycle of self harm and I cannot get out.

    • Obsessed says:

      Bek, your letter hit home. The line “It’s been 8 months since we’ve been over. And I am not over it” is exactly what I’m going through, though for a shorter time period. I’ve been obsessing, and can’t stop my thoughts. Like you, I feel “He’s never going to want me back. He does not love me. So why am I still stuck?”

      I was the OW, and got dumped when the wife found out. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all, b/c he got me to believe all his lies that she was a biotch, I was special, he couldn’t live without me etc.

      I’m trying to hold out until my first appointment with a psychologist in a few weeks. I know my constant thinking about him isn’t normal, but so far I haven’t been able to stop. Knowing how pathetic I’ve been acting doesn’t help my self esteem, either.

      He went NC on me, so I even the NC doesn’t help me feel better, just rejected. I’ve bought and devoured all of NML’s books, but it hasn’t helped enough … yet. I believe that I will get over him, but for now it is misery. How does one get over the pain when you still want him?

      I wish this site had some way to exchange e-mails so we could “buddy up” and lean on each other who are going through similar circumstances

      • grace says:

        Obsessed, I’ve been there. I thought about him in my sleep and the sound of my crying would wake me up. Before I opened my eyes in the morning I was thinking about him. This went on for a good year, perpetuated because I couldn’t cut contact. After cutting contact I would say it went on for another year but much less severe. Now I am over it. It does pass.
        You’re not the only one who has felt this bad. It will help to see a psychologist.

        • Obsessed says:

          Grace, thank you for sharing. It helps to know that I’m not the only one who has been through this.

      • Bek says:

        thank you for responding. It means a lot to me. I’ve gotten to the point where I seek help from my mother (very close to her) or friends and they don’t… get it. I’m trying to get over it. I am trying. It doesn’t help when you are upset and someone calls you crazy, for after 8 months, or whatever amount of time, still going over it.
        I just… I can’t stop wishing I could change things. But why should I? I acknowledge his faults. He is emotionally unavailable and has depression. This cannot change overnight for the girl I saw him with. I do not know the circumstances. Him being with someone else isn’t about me. But the fact is that is feels like it is about me. I have tried meeting new people. I did the whole ‘sleeping with someone else’. And obviously I have an issue with men in general, and I am not over my ex.
        All my questions are ‘Why’s’. And everyones response is ‘Why doesn’t matter’. Why can’t he love me? There is no answer. Why am I stuck on someone that isn’t even what I wanted to start with, that doesn’t respect and care for me. Because if he did, he would not have lead me on, made us go on a break, give reasons for why and what I needed to fix and then change his words later. He lied to me because he couldn’t be honest. Maybe even with himself. The point is he didn’t want to be with me. He didn’t change his mind. He didn’t call wanting to talk. He didn’t fight for me. He didn’t fight for me. He was ending it.
        Am I ever going to have someone fight for me?
        I’m sad that it is over. Completely. Never again. That I fucked up. That he doesn’t… see worth in me. But maybe I’m sadder that I don’t have someone to hold me when I feel this way. That I don’t have someone to be there for me. Even when he was only partially there.
        I shouldn’t still want him. I wasn’t fully satisfied in the past. He wasn’t emotionally there for me. He had depression and did not want to let me in. I cannot fix him. I just have to believe it WON’T work out for the next girls.
        So what am I upset about?
        It’s difficult to believe and accept your truths, when other people’s truths arn’t the same. I want to know I’m right. I want to be able to get past this point in my life. And not read these articles and be afraid that I am doing all these things. That I am acting in ways that are negative to myself and that I am the reason I will never be engaged in a healthy relationship. So I fall back to thinking about him. But we are over. I don’t think I can do relationships: where people walk into your life and right back out. That when it’s over that person goes back to being a stranger. I know at times that is the healthiest thing. But I cannot handle it.
        Sorry to everyone and Natalie for the long drawn out comments.

        • Obsessed says:

          Bek, I feel so much of what you feel. I tried to talk to my sisters earlier tonight, and they just expected me to be over it and move on — I got so frustrated I just asked them to drop the subject. It’s so easy for them to dismiss my feelings, when they have been with their men 10 & 20 years, respectively. Like you said, they don’t get it!

          It hit home to read: “He lied to me because he couldn’t be honest. Maybe even with himself. The point is he didn’t want to be with me. He didn’t change his mind. He didn’t call wanting to talk. He didn’t fight for me. He didn’t fight for me. He was ending it.”

          For me, it was that he had asked me to marry him (when the kids were grown) and told me that he could never love his wife again b/c of their history. So why did he decide to dump me and work on his marriage? That “why” and so many more. But the knife that keeps twisting is that one sentence: “He didn’t fight for me.” If he truly loved me, he would have, I know.

          Stupid as it sounds, I am still in love with him, I still want him. After all the pain, all the tears, I want him. I know that I shouldn’t want someone who has rejected me. Well, my brain knows that. My heart refuses to listen. :(

          • Fearless says:

            Dear Bek and Obsessed,
            I’ve veen reading your posts here with interest. I used to have those type of feelings such as: ‘why won’t he fight for me?’ (afterall, I’m fighting for him – ?.. and all of that…).

            Here’s what I think now:

            Why should I need to fight? Answer: I shouldn’t need to to (I should make all reasonable efforts to put my best into a worthile man and relationship – but I should not have to fight him for his love and care and respect. What’s that all about??)

            What is it I am having to fight, anyway? It’s not a Romeo and Juliet scenario here. If he wanted to be with me he would be with me. There’s nothing standing between us. So what am I fighting? And the answer is: ‘Him’. So the barrier you are trying to get over to get to be with him, is him! You can’t win. The thing getting in the way of your prize is your prize. He doesn’t want to be won!! He is the one sabotaging all your efforts! And not by accident!

            We tend to buy into this imagined Romeo and Juliet scenario. We believe there are external factors keeping us apart. There aren’t. The factors are internal, inherent in the relationship – it’s him!

            There is such as thing in the psychology of ‘love’ called the Romeo and Juliet syndrome. Essentially, if we percieve something in the way of the relationship (parents for example, for the young) then we blow our ‘love’ for the person out of all proportion – we battle with all the forces working against us to be with the “love of our life”! (There’s a message there for parents who try to insist their daughter (or son) does not continue to see the ‘unsuitable boyfriend’ – you only make the youngster want the boy all the more – better to keep an eye out and not make a big deal out of it, and watch it fizzle out naturally.)

            I think this is what we can also tend to do as adults. Similar thing, but we imagine the barriers where there are actually none. Except for… you’ve guessed it – HIM.

            Also.. we want ‘him to fight for us’ we wonder, ‘why doesn’t he fight for me?’ Fight what, exactly??? What is it he has to fight?
            Answer:The fact that he doesn’t want to be with us, that’s what.

            Or, has he to fight to get out of his marriage? People do not need to fight to get out of relationships they do not want to be in – they walk!! I never knew a single guy who had trouble ‘dumping’ me when he wanted out! Do you?

            Do not buy into their crap about it being difficult to get out of another relationship (with a “bitch”!! As if) that they do not want to be in. It’s bollocks. If he is with someone else, he is choosing to be there. Full stop. Accept it. You were never waiting for him to ‘make up his mind’ you were waiting for him to ‘change his mind’. The first one is shit for you, the second one is shitter.

            We tend to believe that we have to “fight” for love, fight for Mr Right. Wrong. You will not have to fight for Mr Right because he will be Mr Right (I wish I’d known this ten or twenty-five years ago and I could have saved myself a bucket load of heartache!).

            Decent relationships, with care and respect do not involve either party having to battle for the authentic affections of the other – they are freely given. Mr Right will give of his own free will. Not yours.

            My advice, for what it’s worth, is to open your mind to the idea that this man that you are pining after is actually Mr Very Very Wrong.

            Try to at least see that as a possibility if you cannot right away accept the fact of it, and perhaps the fact will come to you faster. Other people can see it. He is not Mr Right for you. How can he be? When he is putting up such a fight against you – and when you are having to battle for every crumb you get.

            You have it the wrong way round: the big fight for him is not an indication of how much you should love and want him; it’s not a clue that he is right for you – quite the reverse – it is a clue, yes – it’s waving and screaming at you… that he is NOT the one!!

            Bek. you wrote “Am I ever going to have someone fight for me?”

            No -one should have to fight for you – not if you are Miss Right for him!

            And… you already have someone who should be fighting for you: YOU.

            Please don’t think I am trying to be harsh…Good luck to both of you x

    • Audrey says:

      hi bek, don’t contact him again; you will only add to your pain. What woudl you think of taking up a hobby? have you ever done art or drawing? I do it my spare time and it’s very therapeutic. could you find an art class nearby? it would be good for you to do something to take your mind off of hin. i get what you mean by the obsessing. what about sport? joining a social group like hillwalking, etc. ? wouuld you consider getting a pet? having a pet is good because they love you unconditionally. it’s very healing to have a pet ,bek. what do you think?

      • Bek says:

        I do have pets back home. It’s not constant obsession. I have things I do. I hang out with friends. I try to take care of myself. It’s… if I see his friends, or late at night, or something triggers it… It’s been a lot recently.

    • JJ2 says:

      Bek, BEEN THERE with the recent A/C. Took me nine freaking months to “wash that man right outa my hair.” (What musical was that in……. South Pacific????”) I walked out on him, but I was so obsessed with his emotional rejection of me that I couldn’t let go. It took something drastic for me to let go and you don’t want to go there.

      • snowboard says:

        Hi Bek,

        Just wanted to offer you a hug. I was really touched by your comment: “I don’t think I can do relationships: where people walk into your life and right back out. That when it’s over that person goes back to being a stranger.” This is so true; some times, relationships seem like self-induced nightmares. I grieved for over a year over a relationship that lasted between something like 2 weeks and 3 months — where is the justice in that???

        That said, I do think it could be worse. I know a lot of people who have just made themselves so hardened, because they don’t want to (and thus will not) ever fall in love again. I think this lifestyle seems even sadder than the painful cycles of happiness and grief that most of us have to accept as a part of love.

        Be strong. If you’re 8 months in, know that you have already been through the worst, and it will just continue to get easier. And inevitably you will meet someone new, or find yourself in a new situation that interests you so much, you’ll stop remembering to hurt.

        • Obsessed says:

          Snowboard, I love your line: “you’ll stop remembering to hurt.” Lightbulb moment! Is that what I’ve been doing? Remembering to hurt? Is it just a way to try to hold on to a relationship that died? Wow. When it was good, it was perfect, and I want that feeling back so badly, but instead I’m just torturing myself.

  29. Audrey says:

    hi sally. i feel for you and I see you are confused and hurting. yes, he did lie to you. he said he had no feelings for her and he was with her again, that’s deceitful Sally. i know you find it hard to see the truth but that is a lie. he doesn’t know what he wants and that’s always dangerous. this guy cannot be trusted, and look at how you feel when you are around him. that’s not a good way to feel. you want to be happy right? he won’t make you happy. he will make you even more sad. and he will wreck your life. you deserve better.

  30. JJ2 says:

    One more: If you are the one who walked out, don’t respond to a request to “have a conversation” at a “future date” about “why the relationship didn’t work.” Or, say yes, but know in your heart that it will never happen.

    Mine did this to me. I walked out, but he asked for a “conversation” at a later date. Well, the A/C had a habit of “saying things and not following through.” Well, this little “Request” was a way of “sinking his hook into me deeper.” I went into “stupid mode” in order to get him to actually, for once in his life, FOLLOW THROUGH with something he said. And the end result was that he was the A/C but I turned into the crazy person. These A/C’s are so good at doing this to us to make themselves look like the “good guy.” “I’m such a good guy, how could she have left me?” Natalie has written about these kinds of guys in another post. The “public good guy.”

    • jennynic says:

      My ex was the devil incarnate but I had to hear daily what a nice guy he was. In reality he was a fraud and did anything possible to look good in front of people. He had so many friends, really, a ton of friends, but they all seemed superficial to me. When he got involved with me and I expected some sharing of intimate feelings, he literally couldn’t handle it and did the pushy pulley game to keep me at arms length. Funny, I was always last in line in his life. Always. He wouldn’t stand up for me ever and would even go out of his way to be sickening nice to someone, in front of me of course, to someone who had just blatantly disrespected me. I got labeled crazy though.

    • Ms A says:

      So what if you’re the crazy person. Who cares. You’ll be the happy crazy person.

  31. Little Nickle says:

    Natalie is so right. The best revenge on ACs/EUMs/Manboys/Narcissists is to live your own life well.

    See, these jerks will never be able to do that. The AC friend that I recently went NC on is always striving and seeking and reaching to make his life the optimum life while destroying the lives of good friends all around him with his lying and disappearing acts. He’s obsessed with motivational speakers and books trying to figure out the secret key to open up the door to everlasting love, success, and money. He’s quadruple married/divorced and is severely in debt due to his own carelessness. Of course, his jazillion failed marriages and mountains of debt are rarely his fault in his own bloated mind.

    Here’s the cold truth. He’ll never find that key because NO MATTER WHERE HE GOES OR WHAT HE DOES THERE HE IS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is no key in the world to help a person who truly believes he does no wrong in his deceitful dealings with friends and loved ones.

    The best revenge is indeed a life well lived, ladies! I used to worry and wonder if he would have a better, easier, more fulfilled life than I do as someone who tries to conduct herself with integrity. The answer is NO!!!!!!

    Stay the course, NC gals!!!!!!!

  32. WastedLove says:

    I wish I had read the good sense Natalie has written here about 35 years ago. I’ve read (I think) ever page on this site now and I can honestly say I’ve never read anything as good as this as a lifeguide/life coach/love coach for women in my whole life.

    This is material that women should know when they turn 16, not coming across by accident when they are in their 40s, 50s, even 60s. It should be handed out to every female school leaver, or graduate. This is priceless information and I for one want to scream it from the rooftops!

    Natalie, is your book publishing deal coming to fruition? If not, I would gladly publish your work as a book myself, out of my own pocket.

    If I had a daughter I’d print out the whole site and hole-punch it and present it to her in a ringbinder. I really cannot think of a better present for ANY woman, actually, young or old.

    I’m certainly going to be sending this URL to every woman I know.

    Sincere deep and heartfelt thanks to Natalie, and I am sure I speak for many others… xxxxxxx

  33. Oldenoughtoknowbetter says:

    Wow everyone, love this site! Nice to know I am not alone in my “ridiculous” behavior that I should know better by now! 26 yrs. ago met boy, I was in college, he drove a plumbing truck. Amazing sex, after 3 months he dumped me without a reason (I am falling in love with you is not a reason, it is BS!). I was shocked cause I knew he was not worthy, how dare he? But moved on pretty easily. Got married, had kids, made a successful career, tons of friends, and just occasionally thought of him (or sex with him!).
    Then got divorced….yep, here comes the bad news! Found him on Face Book, contacted him, we met for lunch. He is married but the old chemistry was still there. I went into this with my eyes open, thinking I could handle the fallout cause I am a tough girl. HA! First two months were amazing, sex off the charts. Went to Vegas together, best weekend I ever spent with a man and we never left the room! Next 3 months were crap, crumbs, canceled dates, only contacted by him when convenient to him. So professional, successful, attractive woman reduced to waiting for his texts like a drug addict, WTF??! Then occasionally hated myself and challenged him, just got the silent treatment until I “came around”. Woke up one day and realized…I was sleeping with my Narcissistic father, trying to get this creep to validate me because my father never had! So NC for two weeks, he has not tried either as I “broke up” with him 4 times before, think he is done too as I am not compliant enough. Intellectually I know what he is, emotionally (sexually!!) still miss him, but realize it is because of the black hole in ME!
    So called my counselor and we are working of fixing me, cause who really gives a sh*t about him? Well, maybe his wife of 20 years, but as he has been cheating for 10 of those years, she should run for the hills. So for all of you out there who are in f*cked up relationships and wondering why you keep going back for more, maybe think if the relationship reminds you of one or both of your parents and cut yourself some slack. We carry the child inside us forever, even if we are pushing 50, and it is never too late to heal our child! This is my opportunity to fill that hole inside with love of me, then hopefully spend the second half of my life in a relationship worthy of me. Good luck to all of you!

  34. Sarah says:

    This came just in time. I was doing fine for the past 6.5 months, and suddenly, I’m missing my ex of 7 years again. It’s funny how every time I need to reason things out, I come to your site, and the perfect article alwasy seems to be there. These have made me feel better and help me when I’m falling back into old habits, and ultimately to stay strong. It does get better, very slowly, but it does. I finally believe myself when i say it this time!

  35. David says:

    These rules have helped me set boundaries after my partner left me. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done. He wanted to remain in touch, but I cannot do it. I feel guilty for telling him not to call me. I might not have done it so cleanly and forcefully except for all your constant encouragement. I found it very painful. I feel guilty and bad for telling him to stay away.
    I hope I can learn from the pain and grow. I hope setting boundaries will let me demonstrate to myself that I am worth better treatment. If he wanted to remain connected, he could have remained in the relationship. If he had issues with me, he could have expressed them and asked for what he wanted. If he wanted to leave, he can leave. But I’m not obligated to care for him after he leaves me. I’m surprised he thinks it is OK to ask. I guess he can’t help wanting comfort. It is my job to say what I will and won’t do. Boy, this is really hard.

    • snowboard says:

      Hi David,

      Just wanted to let you know I agree you’re doing the right thing, as hard as it is. Your ex-boyfriend doesn’t appreciate you, and he needs to see what life is going to be like without you. We can’t turn ourselves into needy doormats to placate the whims of our ex-lovers, no matter how much we miss them. We gotta be strong.

      I will say, I violated all 10 of these break-up boundaries with both of my last two boyfriends, and I really regret it. And then when I really cut them out of my life and moved on, getting invested in new projects and new people, they both began to want me back… of course, by then, I no longer wanted them. Isn’t that the way it always goes?

      • David says:

        Thanks, Snowboard. I loved your remark about “getting invested in new projects and new people.” That is the exciting part of all this. With all the pain, comes lots of time and opportunity to discover the world and myself. I am enjoying rebuilding old friendships, and pursuing hobbies. When I feel a little less vulnerable, I expect I will enjoy meeting new friends as well. Mabye not just yet, though. I also hope to explore lots of this with my therapist so I can learn more about myself. My partner treated me well for most of our relationship, until the end. Well, I think he did. Hmm… I won’t go into details. But let’s just say I have plenty to think about and reflect on.

  36. Kay says:

    As I read those ten no go boundaries,I just cringe at the things I did in the great name of LOVE. Any time I got dumped I could never let go, so the scheming began in earnest.All sorts of plots, from masterstrokes to the downright ridiculous.Never worked! So then I’d get more obvious and start stalking,throwing myself at them,offering shags,ego strokes,convenient doormat to be walked all over,any crumbs at all,I lapped them up. When that wouldn’t get me back to GF status,I’d turn nasty and bawl them out verbally if given the chance.Generally I wasn’t because I’ve a nasty temper.So instead I’d write or later email.Big,long epistles, half abusive and totally crazed. Talk about giving them reason to justify their crappy behaviour! I was a seriously mixed up girl in those days. Funny thing though, is that months and years later when I had totally moved on, they would get back in touch! And it would be something ridiculous like “Are you watching the match?” Basically they had as little dignity and self respect as I had. Because no legit guy would ever again go near a woman who had behaved like such a psycho after the break up.

    So it was all toxic.And Natalie is right.All our experiences back up what she is saying.It may be a bitter pill to swallow but as the book says,”it’s called a break up because it’s broken.” And the only thing to do is retreat and nurse your wounds in private.

  37. Cloud says:

    This article honestly couldn’t have come at a more perfect time as I am 1.5 weeks post break up after a 4 month relationship. This guy was a really decent chap and had the balls to tell me up front that he couldn’t commit to me, I respect that. Still hurts like hell! I initiated NC immediately following break up and my friends and family have been amazing in giving me support and I’ve been trying to focus on taking care of me. I find myself thinking about him constantly and can feel old abandonment/seeking validation behaviours wanting to bubble up again. Think I’ll keep on reading this article to reaffirm to myself what is best for me. I’ve come too far since EUM days to go back now! Thanks Natalie for writing such empowering words.

  38. Tuilpa says:

    This is actually my best month, I have had no contact I have been tempted once or twice but thankfully I had deleted his details from my mobile so I couldn’t. I have found lots of things to keep me busy so I do not have time to obsess about him and at night he doesn’t enter my thoughts. I feel so much better and am almost at the point where I don’t care about him anymore.
    I was thinking it is true his words might have said everything I wanted to hear but his actions have spoken much louder (silence) and I have woken up to the fact he doesn’t want anything to do with me and I need to respect that (though I have to look beyond his words for this message) it is there clearly.
    The journey has been hard and slow but I feel a million miles better for the progress made so far.
    I do not need his validation is the hardest thing to break in my mind but I do feel I am there.

  39. hidden away says:

    Everytime i hit a low i come back here ! and as always the answers stare me in the face.my ex she was and yes men do arrive here,was i believe a narc but all those red flags i had and ignored. as this site is called baggagereclaim well she had more baggage than an airport check in terminal! but i loved her i was told from the start of her misfortunes in life which are quickly as follows: at the age of seven abused sexually put into childrens home,at twelve went to high school and was very promiscuous from what i have been told,she later on got engaged to someone fell pregnant but claimed he was going behind her back so after 9 yrs she left him and joined the other housemate moved 2 doors away got married! after 10 yrs she walked out blamed him for it but it got nasty,but wont dwell on that then there were her male friends from the internet one she made travel a long way only to pass him over to neighbour,then another for two yrs who was as i only just found out an as and when reqd she said they got together now and again sure they did screwed him for many european breaks! and in july 2009 when i met face to face i found out he had decided behind her back to get someone else.but guess what i was a internet buddy like him who she had lined up so like a backup she could move on.i shorten this post now by a long way we had the following she made a move on me in one month ..a kiss week s later 3 actually she went for sex then after a month went cold was mixed up she said,then she snapped out of it we had 2 good months nov /dec and xmas day! and 2nd week in january2010 she did same again cold against me,we passed that and here we go at easter this yr similar ground.i said im going reply was over my head she just wanted to talk about garden.but later on said put it on backburner our relationship i did but for 3 weeks on sat nights i got the its strange you not being here etc.. and on one sunday she wanted me over just for sex and called it different and no pressure..we did get back together and was ok untill july this yr when she had finance issues i offered to lend her 300 GBP and got the i would sooner pay you back,and in bed that night a hand either side of my face “i love you” she said this was the first time since dec 09,but guess what in the august she tells me she wants to be on her own and i DO NOT get exact reasons for this but its every 3 months, and to finalise i used no contact it worked to a point but in the beginning she changed something on facebook to trick me into a response and i bit and she laughed. then i wentinto silence only four weeks later she calls and she nice! a week later she calls she not nice i accused of being mardy,folks who read this i was made redundant she knew this my family turned on me because of her and she dumped me and said i have an empty world well in a nutshell she made me believe in her and to this day her hours are spent on facebook cyber farming! she has no remorse… sorry nat for long post and thanks to you and rest who post.

  40. Kristy says:

    My ex left me almost a month ago. I never saw it coming and he did it while i was at work. not only did he move out of my house but out of the state. he was living in FL when i met him. Moved here 3 months ago to be with me. I supported him the whole time. When I ran out of money and asked him to help he left. When i finally talked to him he said he needed to find himself and won’t speak to me at all. I called and talked with his brother and a couple of his friends. Now they aren’t speaking to me. I feel like an idiot. I just don’t understand what went so wrong. I was so happy. he seemed so happy.

    I have the urge to call and i check his facebook a lot. i’m just trying to find some answers. he won’t tell me what i did wrong. I can’t let it go. he is happy. what is wrong with me?

    • Elle says:

      Yikes, Kristy. That sucks. Read this site, read other people’s stories, do some reflecting on the facts you have (ie forget about finding more facts – you don’t need them) and loosely map it out (e.g. doesn’t sound like a good pattern to me: he moved in with you, exploited you for money and then became indignant and buggered off once you had shared expectations). Then, as per Natalie’s most recent post, you will have to accept that you don’t know won’t know everything as he won’t co-operate anyway. It’s out of your control.

      DO NOT entertain those thoughts of: he is happy = you are worthless. These are firstly simplifications – How do you know he is happy? He doesn’t sound like a solid, centred guy to me. He sounds like a chancer. Second, these are not causally related! Your worth has very little to do with him. And, even if he were the second best expert on you (the first being you), he sounds like a shit judge of character to me. A good judge of character does not do a runner on someone.

      Sounds like you’ve had an incredible shock and I am not surprised you’re stunned and reeling. But try to tie your thoughts to real facts, and real causal connections. He just sounds like an irresponsible user. It doesn’t sound at all as if this means you are faulty. What you need to do is give yourself three months of solid love and care.

      All the best

    • hidden away says:

      i can say from my experiance keep away from facebook ! it will drive you nuts mine is on there she posting allsorts knowing i can see it all but i know what an exsistance she has, dont call use no contact otherwise you become a puppet,i was happy she was happy i too never got told why..i still want answers but i will never get it hurts like hell but when my phone rings if it ever does again the reply is no answer. if i do then bingo she got me again, btw i am still owed money and that will never come rest assured. i find it so hard to let go but if i dont then my puppet days are forever.

      • Kristy says:

        I’m trying to stay strong. its just hard. I really put a lot of effort into the relationship. not sure how he could just go like that and not think twice about it. I could never do that to someone.

  41. snowboard says:

    Thanks for this wonderful list, Natalie!!!! From what I can tell from your anecdotes, it seems like you have historically usually been the dumper, but I am ALWAYS the dumpee, and breakup boundaries are something I didn’t even know existed: I always thought my role as dumpee was to try to move Hell and High Water to save the former relationship, even if the guy treated me terribly and I had secretly lost all respect for him. I have now made up my own list of Break-Up Boundaries.

    Along with yours and a few others, I have added I Will Not Play the “I’ve Accepted the Break-Up But That Doesn’t Mean I Can’t Hang Around On the Fringes a Lot, Looking Cute and Friendly, Trying to Win You Back” Game.

    Just thought I would put that one out there for all other manipulators like me. This game is seriously unhealthy, and potentially dangerous, since you’re just setting yourself up to be routinely devastated when he flirts or goes home with other girls, ignores you, etc. I have been known to play this game for years…

  42. christine says:

    day 3 post-break up, and this was a great pep talk. it hurts, and it sucks so badly, but gotta go through it; can’t go around it.

  43. NewYearNewAttitude says:

    Thank you! This is amazing! I have just broken up (for the
    last time lol) with my b/friend of 5 years, and was quite relieved
    but the fact he’s just hangin around was making me doubt myself!
    Now I know I’ve done the right thing! Also I’ve had a 7 yr text
    relationship, with a guy I’ve only actually met in the flesh 3
    times. He seems to get in touch as soon as he knows I’m single, and
    promises me the earth by text, but we met a couple of days ago, for
    a date and it was not good! He blamed the fact he’s been stressed,
    initially I would have believed this rubbish but now I feel
    different. I have deleted his number completely from my phone and
    all the messages. So it’s No contact for him. And bye-bye to the
    boyfriend who only wants what he can get! New Year fresh start!
    Painful sometimes, but mainly relieved and I seem to have got my
    energy back. :o)

  44. Jana says:

    Hi I came across this post randomly. However, it is not so
    random as I really needed to read this today. I might need to read
    it for a few more days so I saved it in favorites. Thank you. This
    blog has saved me from humiliating myself. J.

  45. Michelle says:

    I broke all the rules and am now paying the emotional price and feelings of regret for making a general ass of myself.

    It’s funny, each time I contacted my ex via email I KNEW it was a pointless effort, but continued to do so in a horribly sick cycle.

    Reading it here it just makes so much sense to me now and has been a breath of fresh air.

    I’m keeping this post and many others in my bag as a constant reminder. I’m now on day 7 of NC after the end of a 4 year relationship 2 months ago and I finally feel better and able to start doing the things that I’ve wanted to do!

    A fantastic site, no nonsense advice. Love it!

    • Snowboard says:


      Don’t you just love this post? It’s probably my favorite one Natalie has written – certainly, the most important one for me with my specific set of issues. I know all about the “horribly sick cycle” you describe. Good for you for going NC. It’s going to be a difficult road but you’ll start to see the pay-offs sooner than you think! Hang in there!!!

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.