electric fence

Over the past few years I have written about boundaries, your personal limits of what you will and won’t put up with, many times. Yet, every day I hear from women who even in reading about boundaries and knowing the importance of them are afraid to actually have them. When you have little or no boundaries, it means that you will put up with pretty much anything in the name of being ‘loved’ and getting attention and validation, however actual love and a healthy, decent relationship never requires you to have no boundaries. So I’ve put together 12 core boundaries that every woman, in fact, every person should live by.

1. Under no circumstances will I date someone who is married or has a partner.

This also rules out people who have just separated, have been long term separated with no actual divorce on the horizon, and who are not over their ex. You are not a buffer/emotional airbag. You’re not someone to pass time with while they figure out what they do and don’t want, and the moment that you involve yourself in any of the above situations, the person knows that they don’t really have to do anything. If they lie to you and let you think they’re single, abort mission.

I should also remind about ‘lender awareness’ – do not allow yourself to be in a situation where you are sharing your man, whether it’s because you turn a blind eye to his cheating, or you keep letting him break up with you and then take him back once he’s got her/them out of his skin…which brings me neatly to…

2. I will not spend my time waiting around, whether it’s for their calls, or for them to show up after they’ve disappeared, waiting for them to come back, waiting for them to turn into The Man I Think He Could/Should Be, or waiting for them to decide if they want to be with me – I’m not putting my life on hold for anyone.

When a man is interested, you are in no doubt about their interest and they don’t run the risk of losing you. You have to stop acting like every guy could be the one and like there’s a fire – there isn’t. You deserve better than someone’s half hearted interest and there is no excuse for any man keeping you waiting around. He snoozes, he loses. The sooner they experience this, the sooner they learn to treat the women they date with more respect.

This also means you will avoid being in barely there, ‘non-relationships’.

When someone’s interested in you and wants a relationship, you know you’re in that relationship and it’s not ambiguous or a secret.

And never, ever, ever, ever, ever, wait around for someone to decide whether they want a relationship with you. Don’t demean yourself!

3. I will not continue engaging in any relationship where either they or I don’t treat me with love, care, trust, and respect.

Start as you mean to go on. Even though love is not there from the outset, there is no excuse for someone not to treat you with care, trust, and respect. It’s called integrity and decency. By the same token, if loving them means you can’t love you, always choose you. Do not erode your self-esteem by disrespecting yourself in a relationship. If you don’t treat you decently, others won’t. This is a fundamental part of having boundaries. If you can’t date with self-esteem, don’t date until you can.

4. I will not continue dating someone who reveals themselves to be a Future Faker or a Future Avoider.

Whether they tell lies about the future to get what they want in the present or they just refuse to talk about the future, if you’re involved with Pinocchio or you’re with someone who can’t see their way to making plans with you, cut them off as soon as this becomes evident.

Some people just can’t help but talk themselves up a storm at the beginning. They believe their own hype and overestimate their interest and end up making promises they can’t and won’t deliver on. Watch how quickly their personality switches or they disappear when they’re expected to deliver. Don’t waste your life waiting for them to become the Person They Were In The Beginning.

If someone is reluctant to talk about the future, it’s because they don’t want to give you the impression that you’re in it or they don’t want to accidentally commit and give you the wrong idea.

5. I will not date someone who controls the relationship on their terms – I must be in mutually fulfilling, balanced, healthy relationships.

Plain and simple, if you are not on an equal footing in the relationship and one person is dictating the temperature and pace and deciding what does and doesn’t happen, you are in an unhealthy relationship. You’ll know it’s only their terms when you try to instigate your own or balance things out – they’ll shut down/disappear/get confrontational or pretend to agree and then revert back to doing their own thing.

6. I will not allow someone to use me for sex, devalue me sexually, or treat me in a less than manner.

It’s your prerogative to have casual sex but you should only be doing so if it’s what you actually want and are not building up feelings. You cannot work your way up from booty call to girlfriend. Likewise, if your relationship is all about the sex and you want more than this, opt out. Don’t let someone use you as a sexual plaything or degrade you – you must have limits.

7. I will drop guys who manage the bulk of the communication in our relationship by text, email, or instant messenger, like a hot potato.

There is no excuse for this lazy communication and it’s the hallmark of emotionally unavailable people who want to keep themselves distant. It’s not modern relationships and dating – it’s modern booty calls and half hearted interest. It says, I’m not interested enough to actually make a proper effort with you.

8. I will not allow lies to foster my interactions, whether it’s being in denial or listening to bullshit, being fed lies, or getting the truth distorted.

Feet in reality, shed the fur coat of denial and keep yourself on a Bullsh*t Diet. Don’t let anybody dripfeed you the truth, twist it around, or repeatedly lie to you and get caught out. If you accept it, they’ll think they have license to keep lying to you. People who have integrity and respect you don’t lie to you.

9. I will not pursue someone who has either directly or passively rejected me.

Trust me, you know when someone is not interested or is half hearted and using you for what they can get, or has outright turned you down. If they were interested, you wouldn’t still be chasing them!

This means no pursuing them after they have turned you down, been half hearted in their interest, shagged around on you, not bothered to call you, pit you against other women and certainly no chasing someone to convince them that they should be interested in you. You have more self respect than this and you don’t need to be the equivalent of a used car salesman forcing yourself on someone.

10. I will not play Florence Nightingale because it is not my job to fix/heal/help the Walking Wounded, which means no partners with substance dependency/abuse and no partners that have issues that prevent them from healthily engaging in a relationship.

Everyone has issues but there’s baggage and there’s baggage. Let them sort out their own problems and don’t hide behind theirs. Always acknowledge the red flag that is a dependency on something or emotional/behavioural issues that prevent a healthy relationship. If you ignore, you’ll make the ill advised assumption that your feelings cancel out your concerns – they don’t.

11. I will not date an assclown – someone who is unkind/cruel, lacking in empathy, and at best takes advantage and at worst, abuses me.

When someone treats you poorly, it’s not going to get better because you claim to love them but it will get worse if you stick around. Check out my post on red flags as well.

12. I will not make up excuses for other people’s behaviour or make exceptions to my boundaries. My boundaries are non-negotiable!

Do not treat your partners like children even if they act like it. Don’t make it up as you go along either and come up with your own reasons for why you think they behave as they do. That’s projection. Respect your own boundaries, so that either others do, or you recognise when they don’t. But do not make exceptions because you will keep lengthening your yardstick. This guideline also applies to when they ask you to make an exception to your normal rule of behaviour – someone who genuinely has your best interests at heart will not expect or demand that you do something outside of your normal behaviour.

Your thoughts?

Check out my ebooks the No Contact Rule and Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl and more in my bookshop.

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113 Responses to 12 Core Boundaries To Live By in Life, Dating, & Relationships

  1. Jill says:

    Hell yes!!!!! Now that I have perspective, I am starting to see how silly I have been. Another one to add is, I will not be their slave… cleaning, cooking, serving, doing their laundry!

    • NML says:

      Hehe, well I certainly wouldn’t be doing those things when your relationship is questionable! You’re not their housekeeper!

  2. debra says:

    Brilliant, a great succinct list of things that every woman should not give one inch on. I used to think my boundaries were things like “if he hits me, I’m out of here”. That’s not having boundaries, that’s having virtually no standards. By the time you get to physical abuse, they have already busted through every one of the boundaries on your list. If I had simply loved and cared for myself properly, I would have seen his crap for what it was and sent him packing. Other than the boundaries about having another woman, my AC ticked every one of these boxes. I excused it, I held on in hope, I ignored, all in the name of thinking it would get me what I wanted. There was no care, no respect and no empathy. It makes me sad to think I couldn’t see that but very happy and proud that I can see it today.

    You talk about not growing men from the ground up, but in a very real way I feel alot of what I have learned here has helped me grow myself up. So much of this I should have known from the start. What is comforting and life-affirming is that I can change and grow and learn. It’s never too late and for the first time in a long time, I have genuine hope and optimism for my future.

    Boundaries really translates into self-respect and self-care. If you think of yourself first and with true compassion, you will not allow others to treat you in ways that compromise that. I had spent the day “strategizing” and over analysing how I was going to approach the first “face to face” meeting with my AC in mediation. I had fallen back into the trap of thinking of it from his perspective – how was I going to react when he did this or that? What was he trying to do or get? I have flipped my thinking and am now looking at it solely from my perspective. Who do I want to be in all this? What do I want to accomplish? How can I behave in a way that preserves and enhances my self-esteem and self-respect? How do I stay true to myself and my core beliefs? No more games, concessions or appeasing someone else. I will simply ask the question – what is best for me here? It’s not about refusing to compromise. It’s about not having to compromise myself. Thanks Natalie.

    • namaste says:

      Amen to that!

    • JJ2 says:

      “I excused it, I held on in hope, I ignored, all in the name of thinking it would get me what I wanted. There was no care, no respect and no empathy. It makes me sad to think I couldn’t see that but very happy and proud that I can see it today.”

      I read on another web site that if pain is inflicted the “hook” goes deeper. Also, the same web site says that “intermittent” reinforcement (the “crumbs” that Natalie mentions) makes you want the guy more.

      And I fell for it all.

    • NML says:

      Fantastic comment Debra. It’s a real pleasure to be a part of your introspective journey. I’m glad that your energies are now focused on what *you* need to be and do. Too often we can focus on them and lose sight of the bigger picture and our own needs.

    • Tina says:

      I like the idea of asking “who do I want to be in this”. Maybe that is what having boundaries is. Not reacting to what others are doing but saying who am I and how do I want to be perceived. I am going through a hard time with my ex AC at work. There has been alot of rumor spreading, lies, exaggerations and accusations. At first, it really bothered me and I put energy into trying to convince others he was lying and I was right. Then I realized that how I acted and behaved told people who I was. After too much time spent in AC world, I was still used to the very bad practice of being “told” what to think and how to feel, which had to be in line with the AC. I accepted alot of bad behaviour because he normalized it. But I see that no one can tell me how to feel or think, and he can’t tell other people either. If he baits me and I react like a crazy psycho, then everyone believes him. If I stay quiet and dignified, people believe me. There is alot to unload and recover from after one of these relationships. I think it literally changes our thinking (and not in a positive or healthy way). I gave away so much of myself in the hopes of keeping it going, I have forgotten who I am and what I stand for. Now is the time to reclaim me, set boundaries and live with them. For me. Best of luck in your work battles. I know exactly how you feel.

    • SOCO says:

      Hey hey. Don’t leave this guy out. I can certainly learn a lot from this list as well.

  3. Learning says:

    Wow, this is extremely helpful, as always.

    I have a question, in regards to boundaries/sex. When do you know it’s okay to sleep with someone, basically? I know that for me, personally, I start to get much more attached to a guy after we do the deed and it becomes much harder to break off seeing someone even if he’s not good for me. Does this mean I should wait until the commitment for an exclusive relationship is on the table? I don’t want to use sex as a way of manipulating a man to give me something he doesn’t want to give naturally, but I do want to protect myself and my feelings. As I get older, sex seems expected much sooner these days, from nice guys and assclowns alike, and I simply don’t know how to handle the issue.

    • Nicole says:


      I have asked myself that same question. You are right. It IS expected much sooner these days.

      But here is what I have decided for me. Just because something has become the new normal, doesn’t make it a sane choice for me. I get very emotionally attached after sex, as most women probably do. But our society is trying to teach us that we are not supposed to feel that way. And if we do, we are not normal, or, God forbid, psycho. But the fact is, it IS normal to feel a strong emotional attachment after sex. It’s almost like a law of nature. What if the masses suddenly decided the law of gravity didn’t apply anymore? Guess what, we would still hit the ground if we jumped from a building.

      So, here is how I see it. If a man asking for sex before commitment is a huge deal to a woman, and commitment is a huge deal to a man, then the situation is equal.

      I am not “manipulating” anything. Why should I give a man something so important to me (sex), when he is not willing to give me something so important in return (commitment)?

      I am simply guarding my heart, and doing what I can to have the healthiest relationship I can. Anything less would wreak havoc with my emotions, and then I would become someone they would not want to be with anyway. I say this from my own past experience.

      • divalolo says:

        I heartily agree. I can’t help getting attached after sex (particularly good sex) so it’s up to me to set the boundary and not indulge my lust until the guy demonstrates he is willing to make a commitment.

        Lots of AC will pursue just for the thrill of the chase; you are just another object to them. I don’t ever want to be an object again. Even if I NEVER have another relationship as long as I live, I have learned by applying the wisdom of Baggage Reclaim to respect and love myself and set healthy boundaries.

        Thanks NML and all who contribute here.

        • NML says:

          “I heartily agree. I can’t help getting attached after sex (particularly good sex) so it’s up to me to set the boundary and not indulge my lust until the guy demonstrates he is willing to make a commitment.” A to the fricking men. Brilliantly said!

      • JG says:

        so true.
        just because the media and society and everything are trying to push that “sex is no big deal – everybody’s doing it with everybody.. whenever they can”…. sorry sex IS a big deal. even making out is a big deal to some extent. its biology and chemistry… oxytocin is produced and we women instinctively bond (maybe some of us more or less than others, depending on our OWN emotional availability! ) i felt like i was supposed to “give it up” right away when i was younger and now even more so as 36 yr old.
        f that, sorry :)
        feels like everybody’s jumping on this bandwagon that denies our own biology…. its ridiculous.
        i didn’t even know i didnt have boundaries until after they were crossed! thanks NML for being a daily sanity check.

        • JG says:

          oh and i’ve been guilty of jumping right in on the first night too… thinking if i didn’t impress them with my “skills” or willingness they’d be outta there. ha!

        • NML says:

          Hi JG, you don’t have to ‘give it up’. You’re worth more than that. You have nothing to prove. No-one of any decency is determining your relationship viability based on how well you shag.

      • metsgirl says:

        Very well put Nicole =)

      • NML says:

        Great comment Nicole. You must make your decisions based on your own values, not of others otherwise you’ll act out of sync with your own values and potentially end up disrespecting things that are actually very important to you. You’re certainly not manipulating anything and at the end of the day, if someone would end it because you won’t have sex with them until you feel comfortable, they’re not worth your time. Period.

    • Grace says:

      There is no hard and fast rule but I’m going to suggest three months. I don’t think age has much to do with it. A friend of mine who is 34 is seeing a man who is 29. She waited longer than three months before having sex. She wanted to get to know him first. Three months is not a long time to decide whether you are going to share your body with another person. In fact, it’s odd that we do it after a few weeks really (and yes, I’ve done it sooner than that)!
      It’s a generalisation but men will “have a go” even if they don’t really expect you to say yes. It’s worth a try to them. You’re not obligated to say yes just because you’ve had a meal with them/kissed them/hugged them. I don’t think a decent guy will be mortally offended or frightened off if you just say “I like you but I have to get to know someone before sex.”
      It’s not about playing games, but when women have sex all logic tends to fly out of the window and we need to keep our wits about us while we suss him out.
      If three months seems an eternity, at least try for a month.

      • NML says:

        Another great comment Grace. I totally agree about a lot of guys chancing their arm and to be honest with you, some are setting you a test and writing you off when you ‘fail’ it by sleeping with them. Screwed up but true.

        You must make a choice – do you want to get laid or do you want a relationship?

        If it’s the former, shag away. If it’s the latter, recognise that you should not put the proverbial cart before the horse. Sex shouldn’t dominate your interaction if it’s a loving relationship you want. Stop making it so easy for these guys. You are not going to do whatever they have become used to getting from other women just because ‘society’ says you must drop your knickers to get a man. You are valuable. Treat yourself as such. If they snooze, they lose. Move on. There is someone better. Believe it.

        • Happy Soul says:

          Natalie, my AC was waiting for 2 months (before we jumped into bed), but still it didn’t get me anywhere! He started to show his real assclowny behaviour after we had sex:-(
          We are still communicating via texts, and he still thinks that I am physically attracted to him, how naive he is!!! I don’t love him any more, so sex out of the question!

    • aphrogirl says:

      The logical thing to me here is ignoring modern expectations and telling it like it is for you. Like many women, I get pretty emotionally attached once sexual intimacy is involved. No big deal, just the way it is for me.

      But, I’d want a guy to know that little fact ahead of time. Meaning I would let him know that I was expecting a level of emotional intimacy/ emotional commitment if it gets to the level of sex.

      Moot point as of now, I have not met anyone I would even be interested in getting to know that well. And, after my foray into, and painful recovery from assclownitus, in middle age no less, I have started pursuing some things I’ve always wanted to do.

      I am older and have a pretty full life. But I figure I will meet someone eventually, and when the time comes I will share the above info and watch/ listen carefully to his reactions.

      • NML says:

        Well said Aphrogirl. We must be in command of our own sexual ship. We cannot assume that they know we’ll expect the commitment, especially if they’ve had sex with others where they haven’t had to commit. So we must spell it out.

    • JJ2 says:

      Learning, we ALL deal with that issue. Natalie talks about this in some way, something about we seem to fall in love after the “shag.” Yeppers, the “shag” just intensifies my feelings. I think you have to find the “line” for yourself.

    • NML says:

      Learning, this is where it gets very important to listen to yourself. If you know that you get very attached after sex it means you apply a lot of weight to it, which means you shouldn’t have sex until you understand where you stand. This post has all the key questions you should have answers to before you commit. If you’re the type of person that feels committed after sex, I suggest you find out the answers to those questions first. I would also ask yourself these questions before you have sex. This will save you the drama afterwards. At the end of the day, it’s about owning your decision. If you know you invest, it’s your responsibility to do the due dilligence before you have sex so that you don’t invest in something that doesn’t exist.

      • Learning says:

        Thank you Natalie, for your replies and the links and for your blog. Your site truly is a godsend. Thanks to to the above commenters. I really think I can’t do sex without commitment. I’ve come to understand that not only do get attached after the act because it’s incredibly powerful and emotionally intimate, but that it’s also tied into my self esteem. I need to protect my heart and my sanity, and I think you’re absolutely right that guys will chance their arm for what they can get unless I have my own boundaries in place. A guy who is nice and wants a genuine relationship won’t be off-put by that boundary, but want to make me feel safe and loved before sex. It’s really not a big thing to ask at all, if you think about it, and if someone is going to leave because of it or convince me that I’m being too strict about my standards, it’s just a big red flag that he’s not right for me. I really need to feel safe and find out if we have matching values first.

  4. Fearless says:

    Good one Natalie. I wrote down all my boundaries three months ago (these included all of your core ones here in the blog) and I have (excepting one or two teeny-weeny :) blips!) held on to them all (I hope I can keep going!)

    It just makes sense; and even if we try to look for ‘excuses’ for ourselves to let a boundary slip, like… emmm… maybe if you were to be asked away for an exciting weekend of fun and sex :)…something like that….these excuses are impossible to find against the hard reason and rationality of your list. There simply is no reason good enough to allow any one of these boundaries to slip, so having them ‘on paper’ as your own promise to yourself (as opposed to having some vague, slippery sense of ‘this doesn’t feel right’ sliding about in your head) makes it nigh on impossible to continue to kid yourself on.

    The advice that you give about ‘boundaries’ was one of my key moments in realising where I have gone wrong in nearly every relationship I have had with a man. Those that did not step over my boundaries were nice, decent men – nothing to do with me! -the rest did – and I let them.

    I have counted that my “ex” EUM, overstepped (with my permission!) at least 8 of your core boundaries. No more. Not ever again.
    Thanks, Natalie.

    • NML says:

      Great comment Fearless. At the end of the day, boundaries are non negotiable. Even if we don’t always like the boundaries that people like assclowns and unavailables have, they do actually manage their boundaries well….while crossing yours. This is why the relationship is so distorted and on their terms. Many women, in particular, worry that having boundaries will scare off the guy. If having some self-respect will scare off a guy, he wasn’t worth having in the first place.

  5. candy B says:

    plus there should be a return after:

    7. I will drop guys who manage the bulk of the communication in our relationship by text, email, or instant messenger, like a hot potato.


    pps the above comment about #5 not ending:

    You’ll know it’s only their terms when you try to ins

    is coz im hanging to hear what u have to say – very relevant.

    i suspect u check and approve posts which is why im typing these! x CB

  6. Kay says:

    Perfect list of boundaries,Natalie. These are the values by which I live nowadays and no way will I ever again either compromise them or compromise on them. I have learned that going it alone in life,though that may be lonely, is infinitely preferable to a relationship that compromises my dignity and self respect.

    I so much wish that you had come along to put me on the right path when I was younger. All you young ladies out there, I guarantee you that if you live by the above boundaries and values, you will get to have it all.You will love and respect yourself and that is the sure fire way to attract a relationship where you are truly loved and valued.

    • divalolo says:

      Thanks, Kay, for your post. I am no ‘spring chicken’ but I am holding on to those promises.

    • NML says:

      Hey Kay! Good to hear from you! It pleases me no end to hear you say how much you value your life with boundaries. Great comment and just keep going and evolving and being your best self. (((hugs)))

  7. Agree says:

    I’m not surprised to see that my former EUM meets the majority of these criteria. I realize now, how being with someone with an addiction problem and who only wants a relationship based on their terms, is way worse then being alone, especially after many failed attempts to get them to change their addictive behavior and selfish “me” attitude. I’m glad I can see the forest for the trees more so now than before, initially the feelings for the EUM seem to overwhelm the countless problems, flaws and their ultimate unsuitability for a healthy relationship. I guess since they have gotten away with this behavior from other women in the past and maybe the fact that their own mother condoning or excusing their selfish childlike behavior causes a man to never grow up to know and truly know what it means to be Real Man. Looking back ,my EUM was the prime example of mama’s boy, to the point where he was paralyzed to make an important decision if it meant that his mother did not approve, this from a man who is well into adulthood already, is a definite red flag I should have paid close attention to as the relationship unraveled. If a man can’t think for himself, make his own decisions and not be afraid to leave or ignore his mother on an issue ( any issue) , he is not good relationship material
    ( without intensive psycho therapy..lol) and will always feel indecisive, even when his mother is no longer around.
    I know one day I will look back and see how glad I am that I choose the higher and healthier road by choosing me first as well as refusing to settle for less than what I know I deserve from a partner, it felt like such a roller coaster being in a ‘relationship’ with a someone who doesn’t even know themselves or love themselves enough to respect your boundaries, beliefs, values etc.

    • NML says:

      Hi Agree. What you’ve experienced is a painful lesson to learn. It’s like having the life sucked out of you. These relationships are a drain. Your ex was a walking, talking red flag with too many issues for you both to forge a healthy partnering. It’s not attractive when an adult is floundering around waiting for his mummy to make decisions for him. You couldn’t hold on to your respect for him. Take the steady road – medium and long term, you will derive a lot more pleasure from it than the rollercoaster that these other relationships provide. Keep the faith.

  8. Lesley Binnie says:

    This is it for me. It needs no elaboration from me or clever comments. What it needs is interpretation into action…in my life..today.
    Grateful Lesley x

  9. Grace says:

    I’ve always known that these things are wrong, but I’ve never known what to do about it. Now I do – walk away, run even! But I hope that with good boundaries in place we just won’t end up in these situations again.
    I spoke to my counsellor about this, I said “What would have happened if I had told them how I felt? What if I had protested? ” He said, “they wouldn’t have wanted to know you”. At first that hurt, I interpreted it as meaning I wasn’t interesting/good enough for them. But then I realised, these ACs/EUMs fish for what will suit them – ie someone who is compliant, undemanding, no expectations, just looking for fun etc. If they realise you’re not that girl, they will move on to an easier target.
    Of course, there are the diehard players who love the challenge of winning a girl over but keep your legs crossed and pay attention. They can’t help but reveal who they are (usually by bragging about their conquests/bad behaviour).
    Enforcing boundaries will not only get you out of a bad relationship but hopefully stop you getting into one in the first place.

    • Used says:

      Funny, the AC who was the best out of everyone I dated at making me feel badly about myself (due to hot/cold behavior and, mostly, disappearing and abandoning combined with getting upset whenever I said “no” to last-minute plans) married the woman who DID tell him off at every slight and who DID have sex with him definitely within the first 3 months of the relationship. This is despite the fact that he always showed respect for the girls who (like me) wanted to wait (yes, for marriage) to have sex. Also, he bragged TO HER about his conquests.

      His on-again, off-again, now-wife (then-ex, that is, when he dated me) DOES hang out with women like me, thoughn!

      So what is it? A lady in the streets, a whore b/w the sheets?

      Make some sense out of this for me. I will NEVER get it.

      • grace says:

        To be clear – I’m not talking about withholding sex to make yourself more valuable or to play games. I’m saying wait until you are sure this is someone worth your time. I know there’s no cast-iron certainty but if our pattern is to have sex within a week or two, we should try slowing it down rather.
        As for what his wife does/doesn’t do, none of us can have any idea. More importantly, why do you still care?

      • metsgirl says:

        Used – To be honest…I think women put to much emphasis on sex and disregard the boundaries that would make a man truly fall for a woman.

        A truly believe that a man is less interested in finding a woman that will have sex right away then he is finding a woman with the “It factor”. An “It Factor” woman will hold true to all the boundaries above because she knows she is damn well worth it!

        To be honest I think a real man is always in search of this….and the Assclowns that we entertain will never get it because they are too immature to embrace a woman with this “factor”.

        I like the responses from the women above that say they get too emotional after sex and that it’s completely okay…because I do too and I believe it’s okay to accept that truth about me. Men may respect women who choose not to have sex right away but they almost always fall in love with the woman who knows what she wants and who’s willing to dump any person that treats her with disrespect (or in NML’s words anything less than love, care, trust and respect). Just my opinion.

        Sounds like the clown is someone else’s problem now so celebrate and (((hugs))) to you.

      • NML says:

        Used, you don’t *need* to get it. If someone wants to make up the rules as they go along, they will. You’re trying to rationalise the irrational. It may have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with sex. It could literally be anything. It’s like saying ‘How long is a piece of string?’. Stop trying to figure out this dipstick. You’re better than him. You have WAY more to be focused on!

        • Used says:

          I just hate hypocrisy, and, yes, I do like to have explanations for things, not just on this matter, but on all matters.

          FYI to you ladies: the wife was an “It Factor” girl throughout the relationship, while I was one once it ended. And no way in hell was I turning back (to him or anyone like him).

          I just hate the hypocrisy, more than anything. Especially from the friends we had in common, who complained about how “nice girls finish last” but who would backstab me in favor the wife in a heartbeat!

          These are all ACs, I know.

          And, Grace, I agree that there should be commitment before sex, and that withholding should not be part of a(ny) game. I never played games like that…or games, period.

          Thank you, Natalie. Yep, just me trying to rationalize the irrational. Which I do a lot!

          • Used says:

            …I was also an “It” girl in the way that it ended, too. And he never tried coming back, b/c he knew I wasn’t a FB.

            I never felt more like a high schooler than with this jerk and the people we know in common…even compared to ACTUAL high school!

    • NML says:

      “He said, “they wouldn’t have wanted to know you”. At first that hurt, I interpreted it as meaning I wasn’t interesting/good enough for them. But then I realised, these ACs/EUMs fish for what will suit them – ie someone who is compliant, undemanding, no expectations, just looking for fun etc. If they realise you’re not that girl, they will move on to an easier target.” Love this comment.

      It is amazing how we worry about not being good enough for people who have no respect for our boundaries. Instead of us wondering what is wrong with us, we must learn to recognise that any person that would require us to bust our boundaries, is not good enough for us *anyway*.

  10. Hopeful says:

    These are very important basics and useful in everyday life as stated. If these boundaries, and values are held firm in the beginning I think it makes for a much more rewarding and easier life for yourself and others. Unfortunately I never had these coping skills or the knowledge to make better choices in my life. I learned much too late in life. I look at myself and see what a mess I made of things, the regrets, the guilt, the pain and sorrow it all has caused in my life, much of it could have been avoided. The joy of living seems to have gone from me. Natalie gives of herself, her experiences and her insights. It is hope for those to seek to apply it, there is much to be learned. Thank you-

    • Kay says:

      Why do you call yourself “Hopeful” and then say that the joy of living seems to have gone from you??

      I’m not trying to be harsh or unkind,I just want to shake the despondency out of you because with a user name like that you must have hope! I also made a huge mess of things and also have mega regrets about how different it all could have been. But I sure as hell haven’t given up on my happy ending so don’t you dare give up either! Unless you’re 90 and with a zimmer frame,there is always hope! And speaking of OAP’s,there was a man on TV the other night,102 years old and has a profile on Facebook where he has 55 friends! I swear to God! He got some kind of award.So,Hopeful,there’s hope at every age! There really is.

    • NML says:

      And there is hope for you too Hopeful! It is NEVER too late! Live these life guidelines NOW. You will feel better for it. Don’t give up on yourself x

  11. NC junkie says:

    Please validate this as a legit crap-ass move by the guy. I caught my ex a couple of times hiding the fact that he was out with me to certain female friends of his. I realize in hindsight I should have left him on the spot this night (in addition to his other shady doings) but I stayed and continued to OK his behavior with my presence and silence. We were all at a party and he was talking to one of his female friends that he had been at a concert with a few nights prior. I overheard her ask him what he did afterwards and he said “oh nothing, just left, came home, didn’t do anything.” When in actuallity he came over to my place, we had dinner and went out. I had heard him do this in the past with her and a few other of his choice female friends “oh I just went away to Boston for the weekend, visited some friends, you know…” when it was actually a trip I surprised him with for his birthday. He always left my name out of the picture and downright ignored to tell them any activities I was involved in.
    Back to that night – I marched over since I had heard this song and dance before and told her that he had actually gone out with me after the concert and she looked at him with her mouth open, I couldn’t tell if she was pissed or if it was more of a “why did you lie to me just now?” face. I was upset and when I asked him he laid out the “I want people to view me as an individual and not as just a couple, per se” and that he didn’t want to make his friends feel like he was keeping them out of the picture just to make time for his girlfriend. WTF???? keep in mind he never felt shy telling me he was out with this girl or that girl…he wasn’t “sparring my feelings of making me feel left out” which I wasn’t – I was always had a good healthy relationship with how I felt about him going out with his friends. Total BS and I just want to know if anyone else had this happen.
    He says this wasn’t lying but simply “omissions” well from now on…my new boundary: no more omissions.

    • RuthT says:

      @NC Junkie
      Absolutely. You are not going nuts. The whole point of ommissions is so they can keep their options open. In my experience it was supported by online evidence of singledom. Still after a year, No ‘in a relationship’ on Facebook, Flikr- ‘male and single’, dating sites are conveniently not ‘updated’. Couple photos are never uploaded and tagged with you in…..Hahaha call them on it and they have a whole host of responses along the lines of I don’t want to be hen packed, um its my private life, bla bla bla.
      I hope you kicked the cretin to the curb NC Junkie, very swiftly centurion.
      This is my Rolf Harris Jake the peg Ex with the extra leg, diddle liddle liddle lum, one leg in and two running away…lol

      • JJ2 says:

        Trouble with Facebook is…… if they keep their profile “private” and you don’t even KNOW they have a FACEBOOK profile, how will you know what they put in “relationship” status?

      • NML says:

        Haha RuthT! I suggest you run yourself! These guys are managing their information on a Need To Know Basis never admitting to more than they need to. Not to be trusted. Will always tell lies and omit. Run like the wind.

    • Fearless says:

      NC Junkie,
      He was telling lies because he did not want these women to think he was ‘taken’. Sounds like they are his ‘narcissistic harem’. At a glance he was busting Nat’s core boundaries 3, 5 and 8 – at the very least. Sounds like you are well shot of him.

    • jennynic says:

      NC junkie, Sounds kinda shady to me. I would look at his comment about wanting to be viewed as an individual and not just a couple. He doesn’t want to be viewed as a couple. That says volumes. I wouldn’t be comfortable with it. Omission, to me, is just another form of lying and is disceitful. I also think that if someone is happy and proud to be in a relationship with you, they don’t hide it, in fact, they want to talk about you. I would be offended in a big way and my warning lights would be flashing. His excuse of not wanting to make his friends feel left out is lame, instead he would rather you feel bad? Plus, he is lying to them, that doesn’t show much integrity on his part for them either. He just sounds disrespectful all around. He is lying so he “seems” more like an individual? He needs to grow up and get real. Sorry if I am being harsh, but that’s just how I see it.

    • JG says:

      yes. oh yes. i’ve been there painfully… im sure im not the only one.
      my experience with the sex addict/ womanizer … and my turning point…. i caught him in one of many many lies that shocked me. i think at some point he must have had about 4 or 5 women in regular “circulation”…. i thought i was the “girl he was dating/headed to g/f-land… only to find i was just one of many… so humiliating)

      he would stay over at my place and email girls THAT night that he was just “too tired to hang out”. i would be over at his place and found emails and IMs from his “girls” who wanted to come over .. he told them he was “working late” “too tired” or “staying over at a buddies’ place”… not once a word about me.
      he would say he was home when he was with me….which is how i figured he was also telling me he was home when he was bonking some other chick.
      turning ponit: he was visiting me on a trip for the wknd and told some girl (one he was bonking incidentally as i found out through texts) he was ON A PHOTOGRAPHY trip. i gagged.
      i felt nauseous and wanted to puke/die/kill him/crawl into a hole in the ground/all of the above.
      it all ended after that…. in spurts … a slow death until i finally broke free on jan 4.
      he was a master of words and persuasion and actually scared the crap out of me with what a pathological liar he was – when i CONFRONTED him directly about his lies… he STILL lied to my face. id never seen anything like it.. incident after incident.
      he’s ancient history now… i feel like a weight off my chest. i couldn’t breathe from the pain of everything i discoverd (photos, texts, emails… no sense going into it all now)

      i will always say…. i would rather not have another romantic relationship than EVER be in a toxic/negative/less-than-what-i-want situation where i’ve allowed someone to walk all over my boundaries.

      funny thing- got an email from him 6 weeks ago or so… i just did a “shrug and delete”…. what a relief! maybe even bigger relief that i don’t care anymore! :)

      and to know i’ll never settle for anything less.

      • WastedLove says:

        JG I can almost feel your pain emanating from your posting. You “couldn’t breathe” because of it. (Yes, I know how that feels.) But I am so glad to hear that you are out of it all now. Good luck. xxx

    • NML says:

      NC Junkie – If the omission is something that creates a lie/crosses a boundary, it’s red flag information. People who don’t want to leave you in the dark and have integrity don’t omit information like that. He’s omissing the crap out of the relationship. Shout ‘NEXT’ and move on. Stop giving room to his omissions.

  12. Annie says:

    Great post as usual, Nat. Those guidelines should be taught to every teenage girl in school across the nation! As a mandatory class in self-esteem and self-respect. Repeated from age 14 – 22 once a year.

    • WastedLove says:

      My problem is, I am being told from all sides that I MUST get some self-respect, self esteem, love myself etc so as to make sure I never get used by an AC again, and these are easy things to say and write, but HOW do I find these things? I’m still SEEING him for goddesses’ sakes, despite everything! And people say, Have you no self-respect? Well, apparently the answer is NO, but where on earth to do I GET some from?

      • NML says:

        WastedLove – Putting the boundaries in place gives you the self-respect and in time your self-esteem lifts. Your self-respect comes from boundaries. Little or no boundaries is disrespect.

        • Ah-ha moments says:

          “Self-respect comes from boundaries”. That one sentence spoke volumes for me. Had I read this at an earlier time than my experience in these two past years, I probably would not have got the sentence. My experiences and awareness (now) are having me really know what the meaning of boundaries is for myself. I often hung on to what was in the past. Having reconnected a couple of decades later, I ignored the warning signs in hopes to rekindle the person he WAS all those years ago. What has emerged…is the reality of disappointment. There was no fairyland I created in my head that would protect me. I’m learning a lot from this particular topic on boundaries and value everyone’s input to help teach me. With gratitude.

    • NML says:

      Thanks Annie! I indeed wish I had been taught these at those ages!

  13. Brenda says:

    I too have been one of those women who had no real concept of what a “healthy boundary” was. Oh, I had boundaries but the behaviour that I put up with prior to those boundaries being reached was beyond stupid. I look back now and just shake my head at myself. This is such a wonderful post. It needs to be spelled out for some of us. Like learning the steps of a dance with numbered feet on the floor to follow. I have taken Natalie’s advice to heart and have been working hard on myself. Assertiveness training, building self-esteem courses, cognitive therapy, and of course Natalie’s book. I am proud of myself, I feel good about me, and I am the one controlling my life for a change. Good advice actually sinks in now instead of bouncing off my forehead. I still remind myself everyday though to continue my commitment to me, to choose me. One day it will be as natural as breathing I hope. Thanks Natalie. It started with desperately wanting my life to change, not knowing how to do it and then finding your site. PS: if anyone hasn’t gotten Natalie’s book yet…. YOU MUST!!!!

    • NML says:

      Thanks Brenda! Keep taking care of yourself and you will have good experiences. It is infinitely better to have boundaries than it is to live your life without them. I am the same – everyday remaining committed to myself. We are an ongoing piece of work on an ongoing journey.

  14. Hopeful says:

    I have reread the last two posts, especially focused on “Ready, aim, fire! How willing are you to stretch yourself in dating, relationships, and life”? I did not and have not focused on myself with regard to self-respect, love, care, or trust. Now I am at the point of compassion fatigue, I feel all used up. Two very important changes I should make is to quit smoking and quit chasing a man who does not value me or want me. And why should he, for all the obvious reasons, nor should I want him. The CHOICE, yes, it is mine, and only I can change it. Where to find the strength to do it? I am at the same place as I was 40 years ago when I said I don’t love anyone, not even myself. I got married, raised a family, got divorced, got involved with a EUM all without loving me. I cannot seem to do for myself what others (parents, husband, EUM) should have done for me. Why?

    • NML says:

      Hopeful, while these people should have loved you, certainly in adulthood, if you don’t love you, you will find yourself with people that don’t love you. It’s dealing with the issue of your parents not loving you and how that shaped your belief system that will help you address the rest. You can’t get back your childhood but by working your way through the pain of your childhood, you can create a different life free of the shackles of your parents lack of emotional contribution. Your parents didn’t set you up to love yourself so you’re replicating what you’re familiar with you and continuing to teach yourself that you’re unlovable. It’s not that you’re unlovable – you’ve perpetuated the early beliefs by hanging around with people who don’t behave in a lovable way *anyway*.

  15. lav says:

    ohhh… that’s happened to me too. the omission thing…urghg. he said point blank he was single for six months, while we dated, then later got angry at me for suggesting he was a liar when I found out he had a fiancee. He said he was just “private.”

  16. Brad K. says:

    NML, I think most of these should be written “I will cease to date . .

    Most of these boundaries are about what happens after the introduction. They are flags that behavior and expectations are showing red flags – and intentions not to date that ‘type’ or kind of person are a bit late. The remedy is not to avoid these problems in the future (I won’t date) – it is to drop them, immediately. ‘Cause that is the hard part. We want to believe that loves lasts ’cause we want it to. The point of a boundary is that we build a roadblock – for ourselves – and when we hit one of these moral barriers – we honor it. Dodgy behavior, too many emails, they dropped from sight for a week or six? Oops! Barrier encountered. That is the end of that road. Time to turn our selves around, get back to where we started – and ponder why we were headed in that direction in the first place. In any case, the boundary turns us back from actually proceeding from a path of trouble to a spectacular disaster. And avoiding disasters is a very good thing.

    • NML says:

      Absolutely. Unfortunately some of these things don’t reveal themselves until we’re in it, but the key thing is that as a boundary, anyone crossing these should be bounced. Quickly.

  17. ph2072 says:

    Good (what should be but often isn’t to many people) common-sense advice.

  18. MaryC says:

    Spot on as usual Nat.

    • NML says:

      Thanks MaryC x ps Take your time with dating. Totally understand about getting weirded out. If you want to explain to him do, but don’t feel you have to , especially if him having that connection to your ex’s work rules him out anyway. Know your own comfort levels.

  19. Jayv says:

    I’m starting to see the light, thanks Nat! I wrote you a letter few days ago and I was expecting for your response. I guess this is it already. 1 and 2 hit me the most, but actually all 12 cores are fantastic. I remembered someone told me; in a 100%, if 20% is considered the best times and 80% is the bad/worst time, better start thinking and stop rationalizing things. It’s no good.

    • NML says:

      Hi Jayv, I haven’t seen your letter yet but I have a backlog of hundreds due to the huge volume of queries!

      • Jayv says:

        Oh I see Nat, but I hope you’ll be able to read it. Applying my boundaries were really hard for me especially when he uses our kids to come back into my life whenever it suits him. He’s the hardest thing to love. I broke a lot of NC because he would play guilt trip on me whenever I refused to talk to him. Hopefully this time around I’ll be able to do this and continue doing this, thanks to my family and friends. I know I have to be firm this time. I have 2 beautiful boys to focus on.

  20. JJ2 says:

    My recent A/C was guilty of:
    Number 3
    Number 5
    Number 8
    Number 10
    Number 11

    As for Number 4, well, he’s partially guilty. He did want a future with me, and I did stay at his home for a few months, but the above issues were what led me to give him a “partially guilty” on Number 4.

  21. WastedLove says:

    4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12. Almost all my own fault.

    • NML says:

      WastedLove. We have to manage our boundaries. It’s not their responsibility to manage them staying in the guidelines – it’s ours.

  22. Anusha says:

    I have a question about something that happened with me over the weekend.My bf sometimes “disapiers” and that realy bothers me.For example he wont answer my calls,wont answer my texts and wont contact me(we are in a LDR) and that can go for days sometimes.I texted him on sunday a few times during the day and monday as well but I didnt get a answer until monday night.When that happens I usually get very anxious wondering what is going on,why he wont answer and when he will answer.Anyway when he finally answered he said that his mobile was without batery since Saturday and that he didnt have time to charge it until Monday(he was traveling until Sunday night and Im not sure if he had brought the charger with him) and that he also have been sick on the weekend.Anyway he knows how I usualy get when I dont get to hear from him like that so to me I thought that he didnt have much consideration to me by doing that.Anyway my problem is that I want to have boundaries but I also dont want to be too demanding and sometimes(like on this case) Im not much sure if I was being resonable.So what do you think,me wanting him to not stay days without contacting me is being too demanding?

    • grace says:

      He’s wasting your time, dump him. No man lets their phone go dead for two days. He’s fibbing.
      If he does it once, fine. But this sounds recurrent. He basically only wants to see you/hear from you when he wants. The rest of the time he doesn’t want to be reminded of your existence.

    • NML says:

      Wow Anusha! Long time! So much so that at my London workshop, some readers asked about you to see where you were!

      If this is the same guy it seems nothing has changed. You’re not being too demanding to expect common decency out of a healthy relationship but you are being too demanding in continuing to expect something that this guy has repeatedly demonstrated that he is not going to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s a normal thing to expect – the point is he doesn’t do it. You need to be the one to have some standards here and stop trying to get blood from a stone. If you set boundaries and they disregard, it’s not a sign you are expecting too much. It’s a sign you need to get the hell out.

      • Anusha says:

        Thanks for the reply NML(and grace) and good to know that people have asked about me on your London seminar :) I have missed and thought about you all from BR too.

        Yes it is the same guy and I guess you are right after some good months he seems to be back to his old behaviour again.He acts like everything(even something small as sending a text) is a huge effort and that has realy bothered me.Lately I had to text him quite often to “remind” him to reply my texts after I have waited for hours and havent got a answer.Im so tired of sending all the time “have you got my text?”(to wich he most of the time will reply that he got it but just forgot to answer) or to keep sending it again in case he havent got it.I just feel like that is something that he should get concerned about for himself.I shouldnt have to keep reminding him to answer me all the time.Plus he has missed stuff we set(like calls and chatts) quite often lately too.I realy dont like that cause it makes me feel like being with me isnt all that important to him otherwise he would stick to it.

  23. Leigh says:

    This list is great!

    It’s exactly what I needed to carry around in my purse. With the AC I was guilty of

    No: 1
    No: 2
    No: 3
    No: 5
    No: 7
    No: 9
    No: 12

    That’s a hell of a lot of compromise for a man that isn’t worth a grain of salt! I’ve come to the conclusion that these men spot when a woman is of the type to make compromises – then they set about conditioning them. It is a form of abuse and control.

    When I last saw the AC I was involved with he said to me. “I just tell you what to do and you’ll do it.” (This was after not seeing him for three years!) My Response? That’s what YOU think! and he said “Yes, but just let me believe it.” What an arse!

    Plus, I discovered I don’t LIKE him. Not even physically. He works out (which is okay) but he uses weights and now he has a hard pigeon chest. YUK!

    When I start to date again, that number one will be a huge issue for me. If they are married, separated, just come out of a relationship, have a girl friend that’s an ex – bye bye BIG TIME!

    Thanks Nat! x

    • NML says:

      Leigh “That’s a hell of a lot of compromise for a man that isn’t worth a grain of salt!” PMSL I would have said ‘not worth the steam off my pee’ 😉

      Anyone who talks to you like that is too cocksure of what they think they can get away with. Let him be surprised when you give him the blankety blank, chequebook and pen.

      Pigeon chest?! I’m cracking up laughing here!

      • Leigh says:

        LOL Well I didn’t want to put it like that in an open forum!

        And yes, he looks like a pigeon in a cartoon! I remember when I saw him last thinking “Would you like a bra with that chest?” LOL

        Thanks for smiling with me Nat :)

      • ph2072 says:

        “not worth the steam off my pee”

        *jumps off Tower Bridge*

  24. NC Junkie says:

    Thank you ladies for your replies.

    After a few arguments of me calling him out on his “omission” behavior as well as calling him out on his horrible stunt of not calling or visiting me when I was sent to the hospital – just a simple “are you ok?” text that he never followed up on – he broke up with me in August with the tag line: “I can’t give you what you want, nothing I do seems to be enough for you.” total guilt trip and I hate him for it.

    He then called me after his dumping me, wanting to talk because he wasn’t sure he made the right decision. When I took the bait it consisted of him spitting horrible and venomous things at me. I’m no angel but he really crossed the line in what he said to me that night. I thought I was going to get a sorry and reconciliation and he just flipped his switch and got ugly.
    I put up with a lot of crap because I just saw all the *potential he had. I cringe at the thought of how much crappy behavior I let slide. I hope the next girl he is with puts him in his place good and early. I hope no woman falls for his emotional abuse and neglect.

  25. JJ2 says:

    Ok, from the comments, on which ones were violated, I’m going to post statistics so far:

    Number 1 2

    Number 2 2

    Number 3 3

    Number 4 2

    Number 5 4

    Number 6 no one reported this specifically…

    Number 7 1

    Number 8 4

    Number 9 2

    Number 10 2

    Number 11 2

    Number 12 2

    My conclusion? Numbers 3, 5, an 8 seem to be the “biggies” and those three numbers were on my list!

  26. starr says:

    Thanks for the list! Sometimes you need to see this stuff in writing…

  27. Kim in Minn says:

    I’ve had very poor (as in none) boundaries. Let myself be pushed and pulled and taken for granted while I try to be nice and fun and friendly and attempt to gain approval. All the while resentment is building in me. All those little wrongs that I overlooked are sitting in me like bad gas. Then one day BOOM!! Some thing he does – not even a big bad thing – but just ONE MORE TIME thing that I perceived as rude and I am done. Slam the door. Walk away.

    Then for weeks I stew and stew on it wondering if he really was madly in love with me and now I have messed it up and ruined it by getting furious over that small thing and storming off. I feel awful. I feel guilty. I feel ashamed for blowing up over that small thing. I start to wonder if I should call him, go to his house, send a card… He hasn’t contact me but I rationalize that is because my blowing up made him so mad he will never talk to me again… and it’s all my fault.

    This is really how I think. I have done this with more than one man. I look back at all the rude and inconsiderate things he did that I NEVER ONCE complained about or called him on (not showing up to meet me, changing plans on Valentine’s day to have dinner with ex-in-laws, not wanting to do the things I want but always doing his things, comments about my weight or clothing or taste in television shows).

    Geesh I hate that feeling. Feeling that there could have been something good if I hadn’t blew up. If I had just stayed patient and quiet and compliant (and secretly deep down inside unhappy and insecure and frightened).

    • NC Junkie says:

      @Kim in Minn
      It is very hard to look back and see all those times you swept inappropriate behavior under the rug, most of us here can admit to doing that. It’s wonderful when we finally wake up and realize it. The key is to not make the same mistake in the next relationship and be cognizant of what bothers you and understand how bottling it all up is harmful to ourselves.
      I had a similar experience and I know my guy was a bit confused when I did the “blow up” as he wasn’t used to it at all. His crap behavior had been tolerated so I had taught him that it was ok to treat me like that after repeated incidents.
      Don’t go back to him and apologize or feel mountains of guilt over what happened. I know your situation is unique to you and this guy and you probably have come up with a dozen reasons to apologize and make nice but just remember that it’s another thing you’re shoving down below and it will add to your pile of resentment and make for a very unhealthy relationship. Keep being you and be there for yourself.

  28. Lizzy says:

    oh dear my former AC busted all the above-mentioned boundaries on a regular basis apart from 6 (because, yes ladies, most of the time he refused to even have sex – with me anyway) and 7 (because he wouldn’t get a mobile phone – he even admitted not having one made him less accountable!)
    I’ve never posted on here before but have been reading avidly since the summer. I left this particular clown six years ago, after wasting 10 years on him and very s l o w l y and with the help of psychotherapy learnt many of the lessons Natalie teaches. I only wish this website had existed back then, I could have saved myself so much precious time…
    Despite no longer – thank god – being trapped in an assclown’s web, I find BR fascinating, comforting, awe-inspiring because it explains so clearly what happened to me. I knew I was glad to escape but it all seemed such a muddle.
    Now I know my self-esteem, low when I went into the relationship, was eroded to the extent that I didn’t think I deserved to be treated any better, didn’t know who I was, what I wanted – I was hanging around detemined to get a ‘return on my investment’. Big mistake! Looking back thank goodness I never got my ‘pay-off’ of marriage or kids with him – I had a lucky escape!
    What surprised me most on discovering Baggage Reclaim was the familiar pattern these losers’ behaviour falls into, it’s as if they’re all reading the same script…. how and why does that happen?
    Big luck and love to everyone dealing with one at the moment. There IS life beyond. And a HUGE thumbs up to Natalie for being so wise and articulate and sharing her wisdom

  29. metsgirl says:

    NML….love you like a dear friend! This post left me feeling so empowered and I almost always do after reading your posts but this one really hit home. I’m so thankful that I found your blog and made you a part of my journey =) Thanks once again!!

  30. Cindy says:

    I could shout a thousand “Amens!” during reading this post. This site has been my rock for months. This is the meatiest post thus far. The man I thought I couldn’t live without: it’s funny. I find myself 100 times happier making myself happy, learning to love myself, standing up for myself. The man I thought I would never stop crying over: it was pathetic. It was pathetic to leave such a special gift in the hands of such an asshole who didn’t deserve it. This site is my strength as for many others. Keep it up, Natalie!

  31. Gina says:

    One of the main boundaries hit a cord which was having things on their terms. I remember back almost 6 months ago when I was dating this guy, I took the initative to ask him to spend time together (after he has been the one to ask me out in the past) after dating a couple of months. He did the whole passive-aggressive act, by agreeing to get together but never responding back that same day to getting together. I must have been getting smart about dating through your site, personal growth etc… because that stung inside and was the light bulb that said (amoung other red-flags) it’s time to let this fish off the hook and throw him back into the water. That is one thing that I have took the initative to learn about, boundaries because when I didn’t have awareness of what they were, I didn’t know any better and would let people treat me like crap. I had a father who was abusive, so I can see how I had crummy self esteem and boundaries, but that isn’t any excuse now – I’m learning how to love myself.

  32. Sarah says:

    As a rule I try to stay flexible, but I must admit I do agree with your rules. And I think they’re more important to women because men tend to implement the same rules without thinking about them, take them for granted.

    What I mean is that men will not take any bullshit from women but many expect women to take it from them.

  33. jennynic says:

    My Ex AC crossed 10 of the boundaries on the list out of 12. These were on a regular basis. I can hardly believe I participated in it and stayed as long as I did, but as we know, they are good at making you feel like it isn’t happening or that it is your fault somehow. Someone else here mentioned that it helps to have these boundaries written down instead of vaguely in our heads. I agree completely. Sitting down and thinking over each one on the list and clearly putting a label on the ways he crossed all these boundaries puts what was blurry for me in clear focus. I also wrote down which ones “I” crossed. During the course of the relationship and all the crap that was going down, the lies, verbal abuse, etc., I became someone I didn’t like. I felt like I was frantically fighting to keep my head above water and I hated him, more every day. I started calling him names and wasn’t respectful anymore. I engaged in drama, verbal and physical with him. I became someone I DIDN”T LIKE! I am not an AC, but I was down in the dirt with him, demanding respect with mud all over my face, arm twisted up behind my back. Ridiculous to think about it now. I was never going to get respect by demeaning myself. So, in addition to having these boundaries in place for others people’s behavior, we must also not allow ourselves to cross them too, no matter how crazy they make us feel. Don’t let them demean you but don’t demean yourself with your response to them. I heard somewhere, extreme actions create extreme reactions. So true in my case. This is so much easier to say and think about when you’re not in the drama anymore. I would say there are epiphany moments in our healing too, not just in the midst of an unhealthy situation. Thanks Natalie for making this post so clear and concise. Some of us are so unable to put reals words to our ideas of boundaries, this helps immensely.

  34. lilia ben miled says:

    you rock as usual.. this blog should be used as a dating bible..:)

  35. susiejay says:

    Help me out here? I am confused by someone saying these AC’s usually fall in love with the women who wont put up with them and if they dont feel they are being treated right dump them?

    Having never encountered what i now know to be an AC/EUM i was with for 3 years (was i REALLY with him at the end of the day as it turned out?), i was completely thrown by his disappearing act after we had a fantastic day out together before last Christmas. It was magical, we sang carols in a little old church, walked hand in hand along a cobbled street decorated with the glitz of tinsel and candlelight etc, and he hugged and kissed me many times. Then he disappeared on me next day for 14 days. I had never experienced this behaviour before and thinking he was ill i rang a relative eventually which infuriated this man i thought was my loving partner. He said he thought MY problem was he could not be the man i would like him to be. To say i was amazed by that statement is an understatement! Well he eventually came back to me Christmas Eve and to cut a long story short after we seemed to get back on track for another 5 months, it was then i found out about his cheating and his eventual emotional/sexual withdrawal from me.

    I kicked him out of my life when i found out about the cheating, so how can such a man fall in love with you after you do kick them out rather than fall in love with you when you seem to have a good relationship going? Or was i so into him i misread the signs and perhaps even though he said he loved me he, in fact, didnt?

    I dont suppose it matters now really as there is no way i would want him back in my life, but some days i do try to make sense of it all – is that normal thinking? These AC/EUM men seem to get inside your head not to mention your heart, like an addiction. God forbid if i dont see the signs before i get involved with someone else in the future!

    • Used says:

      As Metsgirl replied (to me) above, real men want the girl who has self respect. I personally also believe that real men WON’T make you go through all sorts of “tests”, tests the results of which they use to determine whether you are willing to have your boundaries (or limits) (or integrity) (or self-respect) compromised.

      Thinking about things, the jerk I knew (and who I STILL see, at mutual friends’ parties and other social venues) “tested” me from the get-go, even on our first date by showing me a crazy dress that was in a shop window and telling me he “liked it” to see how I would react. (I didn’t fall for it…but I didn’t make an issue out of it, call him out on his b.s., either.) He did something like this again on the second date we had.

      I don’t think a real man woud set up tests like this. Or, even if he did, he’s then be an Arrogant Real Man, definitelty one who doesn’t trust women or your sincerity, either.

      My style when dating was “take them as you see them; if you don’t like it, then walk.” I didn’t say anything when any boundary was ever crossed. (Though, with the jerk I knew, I did say “no” to last-minute plans, but I did later apologize when he got mad, b/c I thought I had offended him. No wonder he was surprised and shocked when he saw that I “walked”…when he caught ,me on a date with another man!)

      Anyways, happens to be the case that this particular guy, for example, wanted the girl who didn’t fall for his “tests”, the girl who told him off, to take a hike and leave her alone, at each and every crossing of a boundary–especially when he was looking at other women.

      Well, her style was different than mine.

      But she now has a husband (this jerk AC) who STILL always looks at other women when she “isn’t looking” (when she really isn’t, or is PRETENDING she isn’t, or ignoring it all). (He even still checks me out. He got really pissed the last time I saw him, b/c I was happy and chatty and having a great time at the party we were at, acting as though he didn’t even exist! He gets off on the fact that our mutual women friends all pay too much attention to him, in different ways. Not this woman!)

      THEY DON’T CHANGE. Good men and bad men alike.

      They key is to always maintain your self-respect and dignity, and always always be true to yourself. Act with integrity.

  36. The Holy Digit says:

    About the sex thing and this is a very recent development: After a horrendous breakup with my last AC 3 months ago (the AC who i slept with on the first date btw – first and last time I ever do that with a guy) I went out on a date last night. I reconnected with someone I met a few years ago. We were going back and forth in emails about our up and coming date and since I wasn’t entirely sure what he was “expecting” and since I have been out of the dating scene for awhile and am a bit disgruntled to begin with I laid it out in the email “just so we’re clear, I’m very much looking forward to our meet up but I will be getting on the train after and going home, no funny business in the near future, I’m afraid.” I realize that this seemed A. presumptuous of me & B. kind of/sort of harsh. I figured he would either run for the hills or try anyway.

    Date was fine, he was nice and respectful and sent me a followup email this morning saying how he had a good time and even though he did feel awkward when I wrote him that email that he really, really respected me for being so up front about it all. He even pointed out that it was refreshing that a woman was confident enough in herself to openly state that and not care what her blind date would think about her either way.
    This was a huge step for me in so many ways. I set a boundary, made it known (even if it was a premature statement), and actually found a guy that pointed out to me how much he respected it.
    At least I’m seeing the benefits of boundaries right off the bat. Very motivating.

  37. Anita says:

    Possibly your best post ever, Nat. Recently I have felt such a sense of self respect that you have helped me find. I have ceased chasing boys one sidedly; I’ve finally learned when to drop it and let it go. I got over my last ex within a week by regularly bringing myself back to a *real* perspective about what the relationship really was, not what I thought it should be; I’ve been keeping myself on a bullshit diet; I told a guy to go jump, who I really liked and was having an internet affair with when we went from having cyber sex, the whole deal, to him suddenly going cold, not calling me for a couple of weeks (he ended up telling me has intimacy issues….BYE!); and just last weekend, I was invited to a festival by a guy who asked me out, and when he kept changing his location when I got there and didn’t bother to come to find me, expecting me to chase him around the place, I happily got myself a drink, ate some food, did some shopping and went home, despite him calling me repeatedly (FINALLY, after making excuses to communicate by text) and begging me to come to the bar he and his friends were at when he could have got off his ass(clown) and walked ten minutes down the street to meet me. I simply told him I had better things to do than chase some boy around a festival, I enjoyed myself and beat it. I drew a clear boundary about what I was and wasn’t willing to accept and felt AMAZING! And I don’t even care if he calls me again, I know I can do better and he has food for thought. And he was really CUTE!

    I think I’m finally getting it. My utmost gratitude to you, dearest Natalie. xx

  38. Robin says:

    I think another rule to live by is: “I will treat others with the same respect that I expect them to give to me.” It’s great to have a guy who’s devoted to you and all that, but if you’re exhibiting the same behaviors that you claim to dislike, it still doesn’t make a great relationship either.

  39. Hopeful says:

    ‘not worth the steam off my pee’ …that’s a good one, I needed a darn good laugh! My girlfriend told her ex after he cheated on her that he was nothing but a AH, and not worth the s**t that passes through it. Kind of one in the same :)

  40. Wastedlove says:

    I’ve had literally no boundaries with my AC. I believed that showing him how unconditional my love is, I would make myself indispensible and irresistable, the one woman he could do what he likes with, and therefore could never leave. I’m his Fallback Girl and doormat.

    I don’t yet have any boundaries in place; I am trying to draw them but I weaken and break them myself, purely because I am sure he’ll walk and for some irrational reason I’m not quite ready to end it with him yet. (I may even be addicted to the misery, as it’s gone on for so long now). I love him one minute, hate him the next, but the bottom line is, I feel really scared of losing him, which is stupid as I don’t ‘have’ him, anyway.

    But this site has at least made me see that it’s possible to have boundaries, what those boundaries should be, if we are ever to gain real self respect. My fear is that installing these boundaries and guarding them strictly, combined with never getting past a first date if a Red Flag is shown, means (in the real world) a lonely and celibate life for me till I die. I can’t fully install them until I am prepared for that. I am working on it.

  41. Moonchaser says:

    I’ve been NC since January 2010. Still single, still healing. But enjoying my ‘Single Lady’ status – it’s my ringtone these days!!

    Over the summer I met a few new girlfriends. One in particular I liked a lot. But always in the back of my head was Natalie’s advice about boundaries. When my new girlfriend recently crossed some boundaries about behaviour I would no longer put up with from a guy, I found myself very upset. So I started no contact with her. I would no longer accept sh*t from anyone!

    I sent her an email explaining why I no longer wanted to be in contact with her. I eventually received a reply twisting a lot of what I said. I’m still receiving ‘funnies’ (emails) from her. My thoughts are to treat her like an ex EUM.

    For some reason I was more devastated that someone I felt was a GIRLfriend exhibited the same hot/cold behaviour a guy would show . I’m now struggling to come to terms with it. I’m feeling down at the loss of a girlfriend who had supported me through the latter parts of my breakup. I think I’m depressed at the loss of a friend, as I’d never realised that a GIRLfriend could act the same as an AC/EU.

    I’m glad that the boundaries I put in place cover all areas. I’m sad that it means I will lose a girlfriend I thought was with me. But to me it proves that my boundaries are real, it doesn’t matter who crosses them, they mean a lot to me

  42. Jenn_LI_NY says:

    My best chum pointed me to this list and I avoided it for several days.
    I didn’t want to see what I do not have in place for myself (but kid myself my “rules” work just swell). What rules?! I have some but not anything close to this pledge to the Self.

    By item #2 I was in tears… the rest made me realize how little I’ve cared for my own heart in the past. Open to learning, I embrace this and accept my way doesn’t work.

    Printed and kept in a place I can hold it in my hand and read it. Often.
    Thank you.

  43. Shay Banks says:

    What a great and thorough list. Number 12 is the one that many women struggle with. Keeping your boundaries and not allowing a man (or anyone else) to manipulate you into changing them to suit their own needs and desires. It’s tough, but when you have a secure sense of self, keeping your boundaries is a lot easier.

  44. NewYearNewAttitude says:

    When I meditate in future my mantra will be “Remember Rule
    Number 7, Remember Rule Number 7”. This is soo spot on, it’s scary!

  45. Sara says:

    Hi, I’ve been with the EUM and just met a great date who seems keen through online dating. 4 dates later he still seems to do everything right but…no 7. emails and texts everyday…..he doesn’t ring….am I kidding myself here?


Start any of my courses within the next 48 hours and take advantage of the low prices in my summer sale. Current courses include Build Your Self Esteem, The Pattern Breaker and The People Pleasing Diet.


Start any of my courses within the next 48 hours and take advantage of the low prices in my summer sale. Current courses include Build Your Self Esteem, The Pattern Breaker and The People Pleasing Diet.