two peg people, past connection

Over the past few months, I’ve found myself increasingly referring to a situation or person as having ‘activated’ certain issues. It’s that meeting someone or experiencing something that makes an up until that point unknown issue, or a dormant or lingering issue, active. I’ve come across so many people who had certain values, thoughts and behaviour and then met someone and they all promptly went out the window. For a time, it’s as if they were under the influence of overwhelming ‘chemistry’, feelings and thoughts that dictated their every move.

Life keeps serving us up the same lessons in various sizes until we heed them. They might start out as hints and bitesize lessons and the less we listen and learn, the bigger the lesson gets each time.

When I see how personal experiences can force us to address what we may have believed to be ‘old’ or unrelated issues, it becomes clear that some of what we go through as adults is about helping us to unlearn unproductive thinking and behaviour while adopting healthier habits, as well as putting to rest issues that are informing our identity and having far too much influence when they really don’t need to.

Adulthood is definitely another phase of growing up that helps us to transcend who we thought we were based on what may be a childhood perspective, so that we can grow into being our true selves. We have to find our feet and work out our values and live them, not parrot the past and other people’s agendas.

The 18-month affair that pretty much broke me, activated and brought to the fore issues that I was either unaware of or too scared to face.

Affairs in particular are like exorcisms – they will bring out every ugly thought and feeling you’ve ever had. It brought out my internal torment that had been bubbling away under a veneer of pseudo happiness and a series of losses and hurts combined with circumstances at the time and where my head was at, all made for the perfect storm. It took me a while to recognise that it was just like being a little girl – waiting, hoping, willing, excited, left, disappointed, self-blame and lather, rinse, repeat.

Relationships are in their own way, stepping stones to one another.

relationships are stepping stones with built-in lessons

What we take away from each one influences where we’re going to step to next. Different relationships activated different issues while at the same time, teaching me some lessons along the way. Unfortunately due to much of my lesson summary being, ‘I’m not good enough’ instead of, ‘Natalie – you’ve been going out with your feckin parents again! What the chuff is that all about?’, I had to step from unhealthy relationship to unhealthy relationship to finally ‘get it’. In the end, I’d activated so much stuff that I emotionally and physically shut down and hit rock bottom.

When you experience activation, ‘old issues’ become present. They might have been unknown but they become exposed. You get ‘triggered’ and the wheels are set in motion for big things to go down.

You might reprise a childhood role.

You might be on a laser-focused mission to right the wrongs of the past because it activates this need to be needed or this need to relive the past and have a go at your own episode of Quantum Leap.

It can spark this overwhelming urge to ‘love’, ‘give’ and seek validation, likely because this person is seen as being the one to fill you up. They have something you want.

It can reopen an old wound and can effectively unplug unaddressed grief that wasn’t faced first time round.

Activation also has a habit of triggering uncharacteristic behaviour that you’ll later come to wonder if you were on drugs or something. You may feel like you’re under a person’s spell, especially if you slot into a child role where they’re given all of the power.

Feelings, thoughts and familiarity that you may not even recognise for what it is, can feel overwhelming. This sense of a ‘powerful connection’ or ‘chemistry’ is often used to explain what is happening but what can become apparent is that the connection, especially when it’s based on an old issue, is actually toxic or that a lot of the connection is about what’s going on within you. They’re almost a prop… or a catalyst.

The ‘connection’ is really the energy stemming from the activation. However long an event lasts for or that you’re involved with a person, they can be catalysts for growth, change and healing. Life has a trial and error quality to it that’s a pain in the arse at times but when you stop making what happens about ‘worth’, you get further away from repeating the things that have previously dragged you down.

Familiarity, especially if it’s linked to something or someone unhealthy, is a code red alert. It’s a sign that you’re trying to put the past on repeat and likely trying to ‘fix’ stuff that’s outside of your job spec. It’s also a sign that there’s something that you need to do a little (or a lot) of growing up on, especially if what you’re doing is inadvertently causing you to revert to being a child in some respects.

When you experience ‘activation’, you may feel angry either on realisation that an old issue is rearing its head or after the fallout. It would be nice if we could leave the past behind without any reminders but that’s not real life. To rekindle embers, there has to be something there to burn in the first place. We have to be careful what we carry around with us – this toxic stuff is better out than in.

I remember my osteopath telling me that there’s only so much stuff we can jam inside our mental cupboards. If old issues are activated by something in your present, it’s a valuable opportunity to clear out, tidy and refold everything in a way that gives you some breathing space, even if you need some outside help with the unpacking and reorganising. Ultimately if you’re aware of your vulnerabilities, rather than ignoring them, facing them will actually give you strength plus you won’t allow your life to be directed by unhealthy thoughts, feelings and habits.

In the end, experiencing this activation can activate an enduring need and habit to love and take care of you. Through pain can come some blessings in disguise.

Your thoughts?


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205 Responses to Activation: When someone or something activates old issues

  1. Lilly says:

    I’m very much aware that I’m vulnerable right now and this awareness is helping me deal with the AC who has reappeared. Having contacted me in the guise of ‘work stuff’ he finally made his move (I was expecting it) and asked if I wanted to meet up with him at a conference in 2 weeks. Cue maniacal laughing. All I can say is that he must think I am the pushover of the century! But, I am not. This has, of course, triggered lots of thoughts and feelings, and, please don’t hit me, but part of me would love to go and meet up with him. That part is the small child whose dad left when she was 5. The part of me who just wants someone to love her and take away all this pain. That is my vulnerable spot that this ‘relationship’ has revealed. I’m not ignoring it. I’m going to try to deal with it in a healthy way by staying completely away from him. It is a strong pull, but I will do this.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Lilly. You are stronger than you think. You WILL get through this. I know you will. Remember, he will not love you and take away the pain. HE IS THE PAIN. Stay busy and involved with other people who can offer healthy interaction and friendship. Our minds, even moreso than our hearts are very powerful and we can allow it to play tricks on us. Stay focused on going forward. I’d send you chocolates and roses if I could, to cheer you. Better days are on the horizon for you. You have nowhere to go but UP. Believe that. and believe in yourself.

      • Blue74 says:

        This simple phrase hit me in my heart. It´s so true and puts it in a nutshell! I wrote it on a post-it near my computer – as a reminder, because my ex and I are “friends” and he writes, when he wants… I´m NC for just one week and it`s hard because I suffer panicattacks and depression. Thank you for BR!

        • Pandora says:

          Doing the same thing right now… great comment, Tinkerbell. “HE IS THE PAIN”- multiple meanings!!

      • I'm the one you speak of says:

        HE WILL NOT LOVE YOU AND TAKE AWAY THE PAIN. HE IS THE PAIN. Thank you for this simple truth. Oh the freaking pain and why do I keep exposing myself. I asked the question, I got the answer. Now I suffer needlessly.

        • Tinkerbell says:

          I KNOW what you all are going through and how much it hurts. I’ve so much been there. Glad to help anyone.

    • Lilia says:

      I can´t believe he keeps probing you, doesn´t he have any empathy whatsoever? Any sense of compassion? It seems plain cruel.
      Please stay away from him. Become yourself the father you needed to protect you when you were a little girl. You can do it, Lilly. You´re still a little girl somewhere, but there´s also a lot of strenght inside you that you haven´t used yet. Use that strength.

    • Selkie says:


      What a bugger he is. I agree with Tink. HE IS PAIN, not the cure for it and he will only serve to rip off the scab and watch you bleed. It’s very arrogant of him to just ask you to meet up anyway, like who does he think he is to just breeze in and announce HE wants to meet at his whim. I would say tell him to fuck off, but even that is more than he deserves from you. Ignore him. This too shall pass. Stay strong and don’t give him the time of day. You’ve come so far without him…..

    • genie says:

      Geez lilly,
      This guy is worse than a cochroach after a nuclear bomb!
      He just won’t go away.

    • Little Star says:

      Lilly, my ex AC of 5 years still keep contacting me, but I keep ignoring him, you must IGNORE your ex MARRIED ASSCLOWN, after the way he treated you, no way back! I agree with Tink, you are stronger than you think,do not allow this AC to drag you back to insane rollercoaster xx

    • Allison says:


      Girl, stay strong!

      This guy is a real sadist!!!’

    • Mymble says:

      It’s never over with a MM till you say it is. Because they are giving nothing to you, but they are getting their needs (for sex, ego strokes, whatever)met. They will keep taking and taking and it will traumatise you, demean you and diminish you. So please don’t let him worm his way back in.
      I would suggest that you tell him that if he ever approaches you, propositions you or communicates with you on anything other than strictly necessary work matters you will tell his wife. If he thinks you really mean it, he’ll
      stay away.
      Take the gloves off and stop being so nice.

    • Wiser says:

      Lilly, I’ve been reading this blog for two years now and heard a lot of unbelievable stories about terrible people that left me speechless… but I think this soul-dead creature is the worst of the worst. Without sounding too dramatic I hope, I would say he borders on actually being evil. A lot of people here have been thoroughly devastated by their exes, but this guy has the potential to completely destroy you. You have the devil at your door. Don’t make light of this. Please look after your own soul and DO NOT let him in!!

      • Tinkerbell says:

        Lilly, what Wiser said is exactly why I’ve remained so connected to you. Your story has been the worst ever. PLEASE continue to avoid all contact in any way, shape or form.

        • Lilly says:

          Tinkerbell, Lilia, Selkie, genie, Little Star, Allison, Mymble,Wiser, Paolo, and to everyone else on BR who has ever tried to help me,

          I just want to say I’m truly grateful for all of your comments. I’ve been coming to BR for a year now and it has been my lifeline and has prevented me from hurting myself more and more. Yesterday I took a step back and had a mini-meltdown.It all came flooding back and I cannot believe what my life has become. The AC re-activated all the pain and I badly wanted to reach out to him, but I haven’t.

          I’d already told him that I wasn’t able to go to the conference because I couldn’t afford to(true). He said he will be coming to my state in August and we could meet up then. I have ignored it. I’m not sure what he wants because his behaviour confuses me like it always did. I can only try to figure out WTH it is that I’m doing even conversing with him. It’s because I’m still in pain and still have a lot of work to do. He is still the connection to my baby, although I won’t ever try to get him to acknowledge him properly again. Last time I tried he left me stranded, but it’s still hard to come to terms with it. He also triggers all of my abandonment issues and that hurts as well. This is probably the source of all my problems with him.

          I know he isn’t the answer and as Tink says “he is the pain”. Right now I’m back sobbing my heart out, but this is a temporary slip up. I am strong, and I have my cockroach repellent at the ready (thanks genie) and it will be ok again as it will be for all of us who are hurting like this. Thank you everyone, xxxxx.

          • Tee says:

            I was thinking about this yesterday, I have only been reading BR since end last year, but i remember reading your story in comments of the wankerish behaviour at the airport.

            This cretin doesn’t deserve space in your head, bever mind a meet up in real life

            Please run as if he is fire! Take care of you x

          • simple pleasures says:

            Lilly, you said, “he triggers all of my abandonment issues.”
            because all he has done is abandoned people. Every time he left you and returned to his wife and children he abandoned you.When your child died he was relieved to have no responsibility toward a child he abandoned.When you told him you hadn’t used birth control he wanted no responsibility toward another child and abandoned you (at the airport no less). And every time he visited you, his mistress, he abandoned his wife and family. He is the ABANDON CHAMPION.
            Now, you have issues, he has issues, and his wife who lives with him is probably emotionally starved but financially stuck. Let’s think about his children for a second. They have an emotionally cruel father who goes off to a mistress and abandons their mother. They will end up on Baggage Reclaim
            having experienced relationships that trigger activation of their abandonemnt issues from their father. Please abandon this man.

          • Allison says:


            Why are you communicating with this guy?

            I mean this in a loving way: this man does not care and is MARRIED! He has shown you many times that he enjoys hurting you, but you keep letting him in. You know what he is about, you need to let this go.

            You are the only connection to your child, remember, he was not there for you. You have to move on for the sake of your well being, as you’re causing yourself added drama and pain..

            • Lilly says:


              I asked myself the same question in my previous post.

              He contacted me through my new university via a staff member who he is now working on a project with. He is an expert in his field and it’s the same area of research that I’m currently involved with. I’m trying to keep everything on a professional level. From a career perspective, I feel that I should be careful, because he is who he is and I’m only just starting in this area. He could cause me further damage and my work is the only thing that is going ok for me right now (I’ll admit that he scares me a bit).

              I agree that I need to let it go and that’s what I’m working on, but I lost so much of myself that I take a step back sometimes. I can’t help that he triggers my insecurities, but I can control what I do about it and I am trying so hard to do just that. I declined to go to the conference and I’ve ignored his request to meet up in August. I know he is married (cue guilt and shame on my part), I know he doesn’t care; especially about my baby (cue enormous pain) and I know he enjoys hurting me (cue complete lack of understanding – WTH. The reminder is good though because it gives me more strength to keep him away. I’m going to put it on the fridge! My job is to work out why I was ever there in the first place so I never let anything like this happen again.It might not seem like it, but that is what I’m trying to do.

              • Allison says:


                I am glad you’re not attending the conference, or doing the meet up.

                I want you to be honest with yourself, and us. Is this guy the only person in the country that can help you with your career? If not, cut him off! I could be wrong, but it seems to be an excuse to keep the contact. If someone had treated me the way he has treated you, it would not matter how beneficial he could be to my career, he would be cut out permanently!

                • Lilly says:


                  Ouch! I need to think more deeply about what you wrote, but I don’t think it’s an excuse for me to keep in contact. I sound defensive, but I didn’t instigate it, and he is still cut-off from all other sources of contact. It will remain that way. He is working with someone close to me here and I felt I had little choice but to go along with it. But maybe I did have a choice, although it would have been difficult to explain why I wasn’t interested in something closely related to what I’m researching. I also thought I could handle it. Maybe you are right, maybe it is an excuse. Maybe somewhere deep down I still think he will right the wrongs of the past. I will give it more thought.

                  One thing I am certain of though is that it is definitely not about him helping me with my career. I don’t need or want him to help me. I’m doing fine by myself and there are good people here that I can get advice from.

                  Allison, I felt bad about myself when I read “if someone had treated me the way he has treated you,…….., he would be cut out permanent!”. I can be a doormat and I’m always being told that I’m weak and far too soft. This is probably why he thinks he can press the reset button, but I am learning and I am changing. Boundaries here we come.
                  You have given me lots to think about.

                  • Allison says:


                    I know you’re changing :) You have grown a great deal!!! Your doormat days are over!

                    I know I was tough, but I did it because I care. We all do!

                    This guy is a weak spot for you and is really bad news. Please save yourself from the pain, and not respond to him. No matter the circumstance.

                    • Teddie says:

                      Really, Lilly, I hate having to use such gross words in such a delicate matter: in addition to his evil treatment of you, this person expects you to prostitute yourself for the sake of your career prospects! How insulting can this get! I really think it is time to involve people from the academic bodies you work with, considering also that he is displaying creepy stalking tendencies as well. Big squeezy hug!

              • Learner says:

                Please stay NC with the evil pig. Conferences can seem innocuous enough but they can be perfect stages for wolves in sheeps clothing to attempt to lure back their unwitting flock. Trust me, I am living this. Please continue to ignore his requests to meet up in person. You do not need him. Your son does not need him. Strength and so many hugs to you xoxo

                • Lilly says:


                  Can you believe it! They do come keep coming back for more don’t they! This post and BR posters have helped me so much (and the kick up the butt from Allison – love you Allison, xx). Mymble said in an earlier post that “It’s never over with a MM till you say it is” and I think she’s right and I’ve said it, “It’s over”. The evil pig has just turned nasty on me. Apparently he won’t be asking me to go anywhere with him and once again I’m out on my own! I think he must be angry because I’ve not taken the bait! I hope I don’t come crashing down, but right now I’m on a high. F— Off AC!Sorry for swearing.

                  And dear Learner,your right my precious son does not need him. My beautiful boy was all mine. Hugs, xxxx.

                  • Learner says:

                    That’s it – you swear at that AC. He deserves it! Your last couple of sentences actually gave me goose bumps. Your beautiful boy was, indeed, just yours. ExMMEP (EP for evil pig) is NOT a connection to him, he is a DISconnect!Your son will be in your heart forever, whereas AC has no place there. It’s a good thing he won’t be asking you anywhere again – out on your own is fantastic when it comes to HIM. You go girl!!!

                  • Allison says:


                    Love you too!!!! :)

                    I think Mymble made a great suggestion! If he contacts you again, tell him you will notify the wife. This guy is a sadist!!!!!!

                    • runnergirl says:

                      If Natalie will allow once more response…Lilly, Natalie responded to one of my very early posts and described the exMM as a cockroach after a nuclear bomb. Now I see from your situation what she meant. I think all the responses you have recieved are spot on and Mymble’s comment really struck home. He is about getting his needs met and could care less about you or your needs. The universe sent me two MM’s. Because I’m dense with a lot of daddy issues, I took the smelly bait both times. A year or so ago MM#1 contacted me via FB after several years of NC. I posted on his FB that if he contacted me again, I would forward the message to his wife. And I meant it. I wouldn’t threaten unless I was prepared to follow through. Just recently he called. Fortunately, I didn’t delete the number and I knew not to pick up. It really is the case that the decision is up to you. In my experience, MM’s are a particularly cruel breed of AC. You have to protect yourself permanently. Get some Raid and set it in the bathroom as a reminder. He’s a cockroach.

          • Tinkerbell says:

            Lilly, honey. It gets worse (NC) before it gets better. Your experience may take an unusually long time to come to terms with. Notice, I didn’t say “Get over”. I don’t know how you get over what he did to you. But remember that he was a MM. He never had the same investment in the future that you did, baby or no. Please remind your self of the horror, and DO NOT talk to him, answer emails or texts. NOTHING. Do you hear me? NOTHING. It’s the only thing you can do now. Maintain CONTROL.

            • Tinkerbell says:

              You’ve made progress. We all can see it. Keeping going forward. Luv, ya Tink.

              • jewells says:

                Hi Lilly, just view this as a low on the continuum of healing, it’s cyclicle, not linear. The feelings will resurface occasionally, but should be lesser in intensity each time as long as you don’t re engage. Give yourself hugs and take good care as you will get through this, it’s just a blip. I’m now getting to a stage where my heart does seem to be catching up with my head. Like yourself, I intellectually knew the exMM had treated me horribly, what the deal was, that he was bad news, but it’s taking time for head and heart to meet. Last night I felt a peace and understanding that I have been striving for and visited briefly on occasion, I’m working on forging a path to that place, so that I can access that place easily, rather than my old pathways to pain and suffering. Keep strong Lilly, you can do it. As another poster here wrote…it’s like he opened a door to life in technicolour to someone who’s been lost in the desert, only to be tossed back through that door and having it slammed shut, now I’m learning to open that door myself…

                • FX says:

                  Jewells, I know your comment was to Lilly but it was helpful to me, too. After over a year of NC, I still feel lost in the desert and can’t seen to turn off my old pathways to pain and suffering.

                  I just found out last night that the N/AC got married last month… I saw the whole wedding album online because, apparently, I’m a masochist. She seems like a lovely woman and I know she isn’t getting some prize because I figured out the timeline and he was still keeping me around as a fallback girl while he was professing his love to her. He hoovered me as recently as 2 weeks before the wedding and I accidentally sent a text I wrote when I went to delete it. Interestingly, what I wrote sounded like I knew already and I haven’t heard from him since. Anyway, I know he is incapable of an honest r/s but it still feels like I was sucker punched.

                  You wrote “I’m working on forging a path to that place, so that I can access that place easily, rather than my old pathways to pain and suffering.” How are you doing this?

                  Part of why I’m spinning from this news about the N/AC getting married is because I’m still here reading and posting and not over the hurt and betrayal. Now, I know what he’s been doing which I didn’t for a year being NC. He’s been courting, proposing, ring shopping and getting married. I know he’s no longer doing anything to me. I’m doing it to myself at this point. I just want him out of my head!!!

                  • jewells says:

                    Lets see, forging the pathway to a better place: working out, taking care of myself, reading BR of course :), a book called ‘radical forgiveness’ by colin tipping, striving for a work/life balance, fixing up my place to create a beautiful space I’ve always dreamed of living in, learning about myself in how I need to treat myself with integrity as well as in ALL my relationships, not giving a fig about what the exMM AC Narc is getting up to…
                    It sounds like you are in a similar stuck point that I’ve been in, can still be in…which is that mentally you understand that he’s bad news, won’t change, that it was a fantasy/not real, but your heart can’t quite believe that yet, so still feels betrayed that someone else got what you were promised. You have to find the resolve within yourself to authentically accept that she’s not getting what she thinks she is, and him being away from you IS the better deal. Keep at self esteem work and eventually you will get there.

                    • FX says:

                      Thank you Jewells. Yes, I am feeling stuck and all of your suggestions are excellent. I’ll check out that book, too. I am such a mess today, I can’t do a thing except read here and other sites about ACs and r/s with the Narcissistic Personality Disordered, which he fits even if he wasn’t professionally diagnosed. I just got my therapist to squeeze me in tomorrow which I hope will help me get back on track with myself.

                      I am so angry all over again at how he played me that I’m fantasizing about what I can do to mess up his life. Not healthy or helpful I know… For now, I’m just trying to breathe and let it go. I just so wish I didn’t still feel so connected to him in spite of over a year NC and all evidence to the contrary. He sure activated something in my psyche as per this post!

    • Rosie says:

      You’ve come so far, Lilly. You are strong.

  2. Sarah says:

    Oh Nat, where have you been all my life… I went away with my parents this weekend and am also getting over someone who obliviously just isn’t into me except for as an ego boost. The fact that I keep chasing this guy (or whoever doesnt like me enough at the moment) and the fact that my Dad pays zero positive attention to me have been suddenly connected. Ouch.

    • paolo says:

      Lilly i think it’s good that your staying away from him…And Sarah, I’m glad that you’ve connected the dots with your circumstance..It’s a good post Natalie.

  3. Natasha says:

    Great one Nat! It took me until I was THIRTY to stop throwing myself at the mercy of unavailables that somehow resembled guys who thought I was “not good enough” in college. For real. When I finally realized what that was all about, I was all, “Errrr, I don’t wear tube tops, attend fraternity parties or drink Hawaiian Punch mixed with vodka (though, honestly, it tastes delicious) anymore, so why the hell am I trying to right a wrong involving some a**hole(s) from that era?!”. It really is scary to think that if I didn’t heed this site and learn my lessons, I could be doing the same thing in an assisted living facility!

    • pinkpanther says:

      Natasha, thanks for the good laugh…

      It really is scary to think that if I didn’t heed this site and learn my lessons, I could be doing the same thing in an assisted living facility!

    • Marie83 says:

      Ha Natasha, I hear what you are saying. Although for me it is throwing myself at long haired guys with tattoos and piercings who have delusions of rock star grandeur and wondering why these aloof man-children won’t commit and i’m picking up all the slack

  4. Laura K says:

    Once again spot on! The trouble is that awareness alone isn’t enough. I was well aware of my triggers and vulnerabilities when I met my most recent ex EUM. I had done years of really hard work after being totally consumed by an Npath and was well aware of how it happened, and what it was about my past that enabled it to happen. But with all of that work I never learned any skills or mechanisms to break the bad “habits”. The “chemistry” you mention is extremely powerful and can fool you into believing it’s different than the last time. I just hope my current therapist can help me to learn to carry my baggage differently. I don’t think we ever really get rid of it.

    • NK says:

      I hear you Laura – Ive been self aware for YEARS NOW Ive been to therapy and kinda hope every next encounter be better, the truth is the last encounters have been better, but not ‘better enough’ my old ‘wounds’ are making me feel worse every time I put myself through it… my recent week of horrendous anxiety from that last bloke….the pain of an old wound being opened once again.
      Despite my therapy and endless self analysis and psychology and advice….I’m still victim to it. So much so that I don’t even have that opportunistic hope anymore, I just expect it go the way its gone for the last 5 years. My big promises of a dating hiatus never seems to last long, I can’t seem to keep it up at all. Just have to admit to myself that this has grind to a halt and that spark of motivation just isn’t there right now. It should come back, I hope, I think, but right now this is where I’m at. Not making big promises or commitments like a dating hiatus or actively looking either. Just being me and concentrating on not losing my latest job because my track record hasn’t been great prior, getting through these inevitable dips in mood that result from someone showing carelessness or that old wound where I think I’m not important, loved or heard that have become a pattern now. This is where that defensive, sometimes aggressive, needy, distant side of me comes out and makes rash decisions and making everyone seem overtly negative.
      My latest therapy session discussed how I am extremely as a facilitator or leader comfortable in group settings but often get uncomfortable or can’t build on one to one relationships. If I’m in control of the conversation, I’ll spill my guts but if someone is probing me and I’m not in control I close up quickly and run away. Also happens to be how i converse with my parents because they either don’t ask me any real questions about how I’m doing or only ask so they can continue to prove a point…..wooooooooo

      • jewells says:

        NK, I can totally identify with everything you are saying. I have similar patterns and responses that you are describing. They are not as intense as they have been in the past, as I have done a lot of work in various ways on myself. Yes, there is indeed control issues in me, one of the most helpful things my therapist said to me was that I seem to have a real issue around my needs not being met. True that, my parents were too young and naive when they had me and my brother, had no idea what they were doing and had serious issues themselves. Thus, my need for love and affection, trust, respect, care, support and security were indeed not met. I am learning to trust myself to provide those, to take people as they come and not expect it from those who haven’t got it to give me. That’s the crux, I went through life looking to get those needs met from people who couldn’t give it to me – repeating the relationship to my parents, looking to change it, trying to be good enough in all the wrong ways, when the joke was on me because I was good enough all along, I just had to go through what I went through to figure that out…

        • jewells says:

          oh, the epiphany relationship that brought me here – a MM, who of course (in hindsight) would not be able to meet my needs and ultimately abandon me…just like my parents (mainly father)…penny drops…

    • paolo says:

      @Laura K..I’m starting to think the same thing..Love chemicals must be the most powerfull of all i guess..The attachement it causes if frightning.

  5. Cindy S. says:

    Yes, Natalie, this was so true. I loved what you wrote about the pseudo happiness and thinking you were fine. I did that for many years. I always “believed in love” and thought that I just hadn’t found the right man. After the last divorce I spent 4 years with two back-to-back narcissists. THAT was what it took to snap me out of the Cinderella fantasies and see what was really going on. Codependent traits from an alcoholic mother and EU father let me to seek love and validation outside myself and I ended up hitting the pavement at 100 miles an hour with an alcoholic narc. Uh, guess who finally gets it? And really, without the help of online sites such as yours (especially yours and one other for narc recovery), I might still be in the dark. I never thought to look within and find the programs that were running to keep me in the loop. I’m lonely right now, and I’m not going looking. I’m working on myself and getting stronger and happier everyday and I DO intend to really get to know a person in the future. No more love bombing this woman!! I know the red flags and I have the gumption to act when I see them instead of going into denial and fantasizing that a loving partner exists in a dysfunctional disordered man if only I love him enough! thanks for another great article!

    • Still somewhat stuck says:

      The love bombing you mention — I think I am so EU that that’s what it took to get my attention. Then, one he got it, he was gone. I think I was a blip on his radar screen while mine registered a mid-air collision.

      Intellectually, I get it.

  6. Sarah says:

    I met up with this guy that’s been doing the hot/cold thing with me for months and we ended up hooking up. Dumbest thing ever on my part. We worn together and the last time I saw him almost two weeks ago he was in my office while on the phone with another girl talking about dinner plans. Now I’m wondering if he was trying to get a reaction or is that much of a jerk to passively aggressively show me he doesn’t like me. Thank God I travel half the month or I’d prob quit my job. I doubt I’ll even hear from him again and it sucks.

  7. tiffrbug says:

    My longest unavailable relationship was with an artist who was irresponsible, addicted to pot, and extremely unreliable. He always dumped me when things got tough, or too close. I would always beg for him to take me back and blame myself for acting inappropriately. My own father was never around. He was an artist who suffered from mental illness and addiction. Epiphany relationship, I think so! Attempt to heal original abandonment wound from an unlikely source, I think so!:)

  8. cindy says:

    I have spent the last seven years in one relationship after another where I am triggered so badly. The common theme? Distant, emotionally unavailable and shutting down and pusnishing with silence. All things my father and mother did and do. I have been a mess for years, and everytime I start to heal up a bit, i get back in there and start dating again and end up with the same person, in a different form. Same intense feelings, same feeling of not being “good enough.” And me staying and fighting out of some odd loyalty and dedication. I am triggered beyond recognition of myself.

    • Rosie says:

      Cindy- I can relate to the “fighting out of some odd loyalty and dedication”. I stay in jobs where I’m serving others but the jobs aren’t really benefitting me, at least financially. I stayed in toxic situation with former roommate, in part because I had few options at the time, but also because I didn’t want to just leave her high and dry even though she was mentally and spiritually abusive. I’m out of that situation now but the job part…Anyway, it’s as you say: fighting out some odd loyalty and dedication.

  9. Little Star says:

    Oh Natalie, you are spot on again by saying: “It can spark this overwhelming urge to ‘love’, ‘give’ and seek validation, likely because this person is seen as being the one to fill you up…It can reopen an old wound and can effectively unplug unaddressed grief that wasn’t faced first time round”

    I am forcing myself to think less about AC, try to occupy myself, no dates, nothing, became like a NUN:( I do not know what happened to me, but all my friends noticed that I lost my sparkle and they told me when I was with AC, I was looking happy and had this special energy and fun to be around. Now I am moody and withdrawn…I have to face my past issues and work on myself, I so want to be happy…

    • Lau_ra says:

      This drawing away from everyone happened to me as well, as I was healing, so don’t worry too much, it will pass and one day you’ll realize you’re that charismatic woman once again, but wiser!
      If you feel sad at the moment, just let yourself be sad. Or else you’ll be in yet another “good-and-sparkly-girl” role in order not to dissapoint your friends. Just let them know you’re going through a tough phase in your life, so they would know whats going on.

      • Little Star says:

        Thank you so much Lau_ra…I was maybe “happy” outside for my friends, but inside I felt used and discarded :( Hopefully time will pass and I will have my sparkle back:) x

    • Rosie says:

      Yes, Little Star, yes.

      I want you, me, and all of us to be happy too.

      You’ll get your “special energy” back but this time it will be a beautiful glowing, twinkling light that stays twinkling even as the sun rises because it’s coming from your soul.

      • Little Star says:

        Awww thank you Rosie, I wish you too and all BR readers to find love and happiness! x

  10. Getting it! says:

    Spot on! I’ve been the ‘child’ three times. Once with my biological father and two further times when I was trying to maintain impossible relationships. Thankfully on the third try, the penny dropped and I realized that I just didn’t need this drama in my life. Since then, I have had a few dating experiences and enjoyed them for what they really were. When the end inevitably came (as these were short dating experiences, for reasons that were very clear to me) I wasn’t crushed by the experience. I felt sad, for sure. But I was able to keep on living my life and meeting my responsibilities.

  11. Pandora says:

    Wow, Natalie, this was timely and insightful. It takes a lot of work to uncover where our demons lie, but I resonate with what you said about us being served up the same lessons over again until we finally learn them.

    I wish I had better news to be reappearing here with, but I am still involved with the same Mr. UA, some would say Assclown (i.e., pretty much all of my friends/ acquaintances/ everyone who ever responded to my previous posts on this site). I’ve tried to “break up” multiple times, but haven’t had the guts to go NC, still.
    Still in process, still growing, still learning, and unfortunately, still suffering the same pain.

    My mother passed away three years ago, and it was after her death that this man came into my life. Oddly, he also reminded me of her in many ways- her humour, her charm, her looks, musicality, and attractive personality. He also seemed to have some wisdom and adorable quirks that my mother had, as well. What I’ve recently learned is that not only did they share superficial characteristics, but like my relationship with my mother, I’ve had to create drama for any attention… with my mother, it was always when I was sick, which she feared the most… and I’ve also been reminded that my mother, who seemed confident on the outside, really battled with insecurity. I remember at one point in my young adult life simply realizing “she can’t give me what she doesn’t have”, but that didn’t stop me from banging my head against the wall time and again.
    My UA man is very much the same. Regardless of what I do, or how I try, I must simply realize he is not able to give me what I want, what I need, or what I desire. Each subsequent break-up attempt kills a little bit more of the goodness in what we once had(although it was always built more on promise than delivery, and wasn’t all that). He’s not going to be the one to love me, to fill me, to validate me, and it is not because of my inadequacies- it’s because of his.

    It’s easy for me to write this, and actually therapeutic, but much harder to put into practice. After my emotionally abusive marriage of 20 years, my friends have commented that I seem to have a high tolerance for emotional pain. I can see his neediness and his pain, and there is that never-ending desire to fix it. Why can’t I just end it? Someone here once told me ” You’re afraid of the pain”… it doesn’t make sense. I do believe the very thing I fear doing is what will make me free- but it’s the getting from point A. my head, to point B. my heart that is the hardest.
    Oh, friends, continue to write and support one another. Natalie, thank you for your work. This is a very safe place.

    • Suki says:

      Pandora, your comment really resonated with me. I didnt feel the ex-EU/narc was like my mum, but I felt a resonance of our relationship with the very dramatic relationship I had with my mum. It seems that for some of us ‘love’ is inflected always with emotional pain, and drama. Talking with the ex was like banging my head against a wall, a Sisyphysean exercise in extreme frustration. And yet I couldnt stop.
      It is not that *he* isnt going to be the one to fill you or love you – but that nobody is. People will love you and they already do – but in loving •relationships•. I’m sure we dont say of our close friends or family that ‘they fill me and love me’ – rather we are in something fulfilling together. We are not waiting for love from someone who is incapable.
      You want to fix his neediness and his pain – if you had a mutually satisfying relationship then he would accept this fixing. But I’m sure thats not whats happening, it rarely does. Its possible [drawing from my own experience] that its not the pain of emotional drama that affects you. Its the fear of rejection, abandonment, non-contact. Our anxiety is heightened by people who are wishy-washy – yet we constantly seek out those people. By doing so, we heighten our feeling of a loss of control. Why??

      I want to give some sort of advice – because I came out of that tunnel, although it took a few years. I am in a better place now. I’m also single. I dont even really wish for anything different which maybe is a bit sad. I like my life although sometimes I miss passion beyond work, and togetherness beyond friends. BUT I love the quietude, the calm which is only broken by me and my anxiety, and not by an entirely opaque non-communicative other person.
      Another final thing: repetitive patterns. Break the pattern. Perhaps you are both in a rut and breaking the pattern will help both of you. Do you always stay up arguing into the night? One day tell your friend that if you get into one of those arguments, youre going to come and sleep on her couch – walk away from him and the fight. Learn to live with the anxiety of stepping away from emotional pain. Why be with someone and be miserable? Either leave, or try and fix it [and then leave!].
      Perhaps its not yet time for NC as you say – however, a single step like breaking a single pattern just once will have ripple effects. Start small. Aim for peace, non-fighting, validating yourself, and not seeking the validation of others, learn to sit with anxiety. It will make you ready for NC.

      • Pandora says:

        Kind Suki,

        Thank you for the advice- “learn to live with the anxiety of stepping away from emotional pain”. Yes, that is good. I do indeed fear rejection, abandonment and non-contact. According to my therapist, I never fully grieved the loss of my mother- my grief was interrupted by the new romance with him; therefore, letting him go permanently is letting go of my mother, and fully feeling the loss. Despite the difficulties of our relationship(mine with my mother), I was closer to her than any other person on earth. Blessedly, we were able to resolve the issues and differences prior to her death; I had forgiven her. I always knew that she was the one individual I could call and who would tell me the truth, even when it was painful, and scold me, but was always there. Her love was unconditional. She supported me through the worst of times with my now ex-husband, who had been horribly emotionally abusive and cruel. I grew to believe, on a subconscious level, that was all I deserved. This current man is certainly not as bad as the ex-H. but has some of the same traits. Not sure if I mentioned that certain friends who are well acquainted with the situation liken it to emotional abuse. For his own reasons, he is not able to be emotionally present, and despite many attempts at ending it – and you are very perceptive, those attempts lead to futile and hurtful arguments- I have not had the courage to go no contact. Not many people, except for my therapist and one other work colleague, understand how difficult this is for me. To them, it is completely cut and dry- JUST END IT. I am off now for the summer, and I am really working on gaining clarity, confidence and the ability to let go. Your response was helpful and much appreciated! Thank you for sharing your own struggle. I am very thankful for this blog!

  12. Nicolle says:

    This week I found an email my husband wrote to hotmail address asking a call girls availability. It was another flag that life had put in my way trying to get my attention, but not this bad before. I don’t even know where to begin with the current situation, let alone any past issues – of which I don’t even know if I have any ! I’m seeing a counsellor this week and since I have been a reader of this site for months, I watch in agony and awe as he cycles through the Assclown behaviour trying to save his own ego.

  13. A says:

    “Activation also has a habit of triggering uncharacteristic behaviour that you’ll later come to wonder if you were on drugs or something. You may feel like you’re under a person’s spell, especially if you slot into a child role where they’re given all of the power.”

    Very interesting. It’s so not me to be a doormat or to have any interest in someone who basically treats women like slaves, but alas, that’s what I ended up dealing with from the AC. I thought that I was so excited to be around him that it didn’t matter what we were doing….though of course there was a little nagging voice saying, “wait, it doesn’t matter what you do together, but it does matter that he does not seem to be bothered to put in any effort”.

    • Susannah says:

      I just met this guy who completely put a spell on me…oh, and I met him three years ago too although he looked different and had a different name, and before that there was the one called nick, and before that…oh yeah, “Daddy.”
      All through the date I found myself getting more and more fatuous with him; making compliments, telling him how great this or that was. NOT my style at all! I thought I was over this but here it comes again in a whole new guise. After so many lessons, I can’t even manage to pretend to be cool.

    • Marie83 says:

      Hi A
      “It’s so not me to be a doormat or to have any interest in someone who basically treats women like slaves, but alas, that’s what I ended up dealing with from the AC”

      This paragraph struck me as this is also how I feel about my ex – I am a genuinely laid back person but have no problem walking away from disrespectful people. However, with the ex I was unable to do this – his needs/feelings etc were always more important and although I could see his manipulation for what it is I didn’t care as long as he was in my life – I had absolutely no boundaries – there was nothing he could have done that I would not have forgiven him for

  14. 2fearce says:

    I can’t stand my father. He’s selfish, manipulative, n seems to be oblivious to the hurts he inflicts or just doesn’t give a f*. I recently dated a woman that this discription fit to a T. Yet, I found it really hard to walk away n stay away from her. Then I connected the two. They’re both cut now. I have abdicated my throne; I am no longer the queen of infinite chances.

    Losing what little relationship I had with my father had me in tears yesterday (and now)…but I haven’t had a relationship worth saving in quite a while. Seriously, he never asks me how I’m doing or if I need anything but wants me to show up to events so he can look good to others. I’m more than a show pony. I just kept going back cuz I figured I was supposed to since he was my father n all; he has no such attachment to me. N if I ain’t gonna do it for him; I’m sure not going to do it for sm chick I’ve known 60days n has already shown her tail several times. Now to brush the dust off my feet….

  15. crystal c says:

    Well this piece is so timely!
    You may remember me from a couple months back . I am the 47 year old woman stuck in a relationship with an AC EUM and was sharing how shabbily he has treated me through my illness and surgery.
    Fast forward to today. I went on Amazon and proactively bought 3 books to help me get out of this 6 year rut. I bought Natalie’s book Mr unavailable and the fallback girl , Deal breakers, when to work on a relationship , and when to walk away , and The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags.
    The first one I read was the deal breakers and wow what an eye opening experience! I recognized that I have been in a relationship with the invisible man although he does display other aspects of the other deal breaker personalities .
    Subsequently , I like Natalie also have come down with a few illnesses as the end result of not being loved in return and all the stress that I have gone through in the 6 years we were together. The past 2 weeks I have been battling pneumonia and he has treated me absolutely horridly. Earlier in the year I had a lump removed from my rib and he also treated me like crap during that.
    And then ……the bubble finally burst. I realized , finally , that if I stay in this farce of a relationship that eventually I would sink so deep into depression and eventually die! Yes it may sound abit dramatic however not to me for my soul is dying and I am not the happy bubbly outgoing person I once was. We had a blow out (one of many) and I finally said no more we are done you need to move out. Of course he has tried to flip the script by doing everything from being downright mean and nasty, to bringing flowers to say sorry and then snivelling and whining about his lot in life and how I have everything he has nothing aka the pity pot. All of this has not made me budge from my resolve that it is over in no uncertain terms . Funny how when I am gravely sick he still tries to control on his terms huh?
    Anyways he is in the process of finding a place and I have told him if he is not out by July 1st that I will put his stuff out and I mean it.
    His response yesterday was to go to a street festival where my friends were and hang out with them . He has no friends of his own so I guess he thinks he will infiltrate mine which is fine. Just another AC move I say. Then came home last night and said he doesn’t have a place yet but has time to go and socialize. Shaking my head.
    So now comes the break through , the deal breaker book said once you decide it is over , if you are tempted to go back recite this mantra over and over if need be “why would I want someone who can not love me as I deserve to be loved ?”

    So the last week I recited and meditated and had a major break through Hallelujah!
    When asking myself the above question I got the answer …why?
    Because he treats me how I was treated as a child in my family!!!
    Now I already had a hunch that he reminded me of my father but wow when I really meditated on the exact specifics such as ignoring me, neglecting me, disrespecting me , verbally and emotionally abusing me …..that is exactly how both of my parents treated me!
    Somehow somewhat subconsciously I have been repeating that familiar pattern!
    (oh this isn’t the first time I have been attracted to emotionally unavailable men alllll my life) EPIPHANY!!!
    I am now in the process of reading MR unavailable and the fallout girl (both of these books I highly recommend like they are the bibles on relationships!)
    I am on page 67 of Natalie’s book and I am just like wow!
    Realizing so much about not only him but myself too and why I pick men that are emotionally unavailable and where my issues lie.
    I am fully prepared to take responsibility for myself and do the work I need to do to heal these soul wounds that I have.
    Incidently in Louise L Hay’s book You can heal your life (which gives a list of physical illnesses and their emotional causes) it says Pneumonia is EMOTIONAL WOUNDS THAT ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HEAL!
    How could I heal those wounds when I have been reinjuring myself over and over in relationships that duplicate the very environment that I originally got injured in??? Maybe a subconscious way of trying to heal them by making things different. But how can you get water from an empty well?
    The light has finally been turned on and although I know the road I am about to travel may not be an easy one I have got to stop the relationship insanity and get to working on myself ALONE.
    Alone was once a big scary word but not anymore because I realize I have been alone all along.
    I will continue reading Mr Unavailable and the Fallback girl and doing what I need to do to take care of me . I always have anyways so it’s not so bad especially when you see things CRYSTAL CLEAR ;)

    • Oli says:

      crystal I feel everything you’ve gone through. My EUM dumped me the day after a major life threatening surgery. This seems to be the trend with the worse of the lot. Im glad you’ve made the connection on how your present choices are selecting your need and desire to right the wrongs of your past with your dad. I had to face the same truths. I found it helpful to talk to a therapist who helped me connect the dots further and show me some disturbing characteristics that were a common thread with the men I dated.

      You may find that if you can find the common thread then you will learn to immediately run. DONT WALK RUN away fast.

      I wish you the best of luck and all of the wisdom and clarity you need to heal and move on from this guy. Just remember that it doesn’t matter if they change for someone else or become this awesome guy (they probably won’t). what matters is that they weren’t that awesome guy for you and YOU deserve better.

    • Free 2 Be C says:

      Crystal C,

      Applause, can you hear it? We don’t need someone saying, Oh baby I love you and I am here for you during your illness and I am not going anywhere.

      That act of caring and words can be hollow. I can tell you from firsthand experience that my QUEEN of an AC was only in my life during my Cancer treatments to help herself. It was never about me; no matter how much she said she was worried and would not know what she would do if I died.
      Looking back at it now and almost $100K in a span of 7 years I now see why. Then again she was such a user that she would have found another victim or just return to her EX life as she did. Why let someone use your vulnerability to their advantage. While I was out in treatments, or in bed resting, or working she was carrying on with other relationships and entertaining her EX, all while she was saying she loved me and couldn’t wait till I got better to start a real normal relationship. Interesting thought; I thought we were in a relationship.

      Be thankful that he is showing you who he really is.

      I’m not sure where I saw this quote but I use is and have it written everywhere as a reminder not to believe everything you see and hear.

      “It is bad manners to Say I Love You with a Mouth full of Lies”

      FORGET THIS PIECE OF WORK and Concentrate on you and getting better. No Contact is the only way and you hear us all banter those to Words Around, But isn’t it time to do something different?

      free 2 Be C

    • theseamstress says:

      “Of course he has tried to flip the script by doing everything from being downright mean and nasty, to bringing flowers to say sorry and then snivelling and whining about his lot in life and how I have everything he has nothing aka the pity pot.”

      Crystal, I had the ex eum bring me flowers every single night for 10 days, after I decided to remove myself from that withdrawn, unemotional, passive aggressive, lily livered mummy’s boy. He promised me a 1,000 changes in our whole dynamic, he cried and he bled his little shrivelled heart out. None of it was his fault, he had never had a break, everyone left him and now I was showing that I had no compassion either, wah wah wah.

      Guess what? I, in all my low low self esteemed glory, fell for it big time. Cos, a bunch of gerberas does something to my genitals or whatever it was at the time.
      And Lo and Behold within a week, he had left his mother’s (he was 50) and was back at my place doing exactly the same avoiding and non committal bollocks that he was doing before. And shrugging when I pulled his ass on that shit. I, too, went through some difficult medical procedures and he didn’t give a hoot.

      They. Never. Change.

      I meanwhile, pulled the rug, the plug and wiped my mouth of all the money he owed me and all the stupid unrealistic dreams I had and went NC and have been NC for almost 2 years. I discovered Baggage Reclaim a week into my own brand of NC and realised I had to stick to it. I am finally in a much healthier place in an entirely appropriate sweetly growing relationship and I look back at that particular madness and scratch my head. What a waste of 3 whole years of MY beautiful life.

      I am cheering you on Crystal, it takes bravery and steely determination to lose these EUMs and it’s worth every difficult moment, every tear you cry because life just simply gets better and better when they’ve gone, when you’ve started to breathe easier again. They just aren’t that special. You can only see it when you are through the muddy water and swimming around in the clarity of the lagoon. It’s gorgeous out here. Thanks Natalie. I feel indebted to you. I’m 49 too so it isn’t ever too late to learn. So glad I did and I still am.

      • Revolution says:


        Do you see me? I’m the one in the mezzanine clapping my ass off for you and your comment! ;)

        • theseamstress says:

          Revolution, you’ve been with me all the way, you are also an inspiration. As are all the brave people who share their stories here. I’ve got tons of stories but I’ve been reluctant to tell because finally writing it down/ saying it out loud is painful. But I realised we are all going through or have been through similar experiences and the stories need to be told. I wish I knew this stuff 30 years ago but this is better than never knowing it at all.

          • jewells says:

            the seamstress, I totally agree, even though this isn’t technically a forum, it functions similarly. Our stories need to be told in order to heal them. This site is a safe place to share them, to begin the healing process. I was isolated as a child, never learned to create healthy relationships, so even as an adult, had no safe place to tell my stories. Having a place to be able to write it down, look at it, receive positive feedback (and a little ass kicking at times) has been incredibly healing. All here who have shared their stories have given me strength and awareness that I was sorely lacking in my life. I am soooo grateful to have found this community and at 43 feel more optimistic and peaceful than I have felt in my life ever. It’s in the sharing that heals, so please do share your stories, it not only helps you, but the rest of us as we all identify with the struggles and pain within them. **Big hugs**

  16. noquay says:

    Funny, but from a child onwards, I always strived to be and to be around folks that were unlike my dad in every way. It’s not that I don’t love him, but what I see he has done (or not done) with and to his life. A big trigger I have is with betrayal; I find it impossible to go on as usual when someone has betrayed me. It was a betrayal by my grad advisor that lead to my having to leave my real home and the eventual breakup of my marriage. AC betrayed me (and the other woman as well) in a very public and humiliating way, the project I tried to build for two years collapsed due to administrative betrayals. Somehow you
    are expexpected to go on as though nothing has happened. I cannot do this, I want explanation, I want atonement.

  17. Oli says:

    Wow what a timely post. Ive experienced this in several of my adult relationships. My friend always said, “well the next one can’t be any worse than the last”, and yet they were. Activation and lessons left unlearned and unheeded snowball into multiple relationships getting worse each time. I’ve experienced this and this WAS me. And admittedly my last EUM was the worst, but also the catalyst for healing and change. It was the assclown/EUM that broke the camels back and got me finally internalizing all of the posts I read on this website and encouraged me to seek therapy to help me understand my issues.

    Natalie is right. You have to address the issues and dig deep and do some soul searching in order to break the habit. Learning why I was choosing the same guy in a different and more toxic package each time was uncomfortable, eye opening and downright sad. But I got through it. And Im still going through it, albeit a smarter, healthier, stronger and more amazing woman than I ever have been.

    Im proud to say that I am 6 weeks NC and that even though my last EUM may have seemingly won by dumping me and leaving me for the OW he cheated with, I am better off, happier and have gained so much clarity. Self awareness and healing can do wonders for your self esteem. I thank God everyday for steering me to this website and giving me the wake up call that I needed.

  18. noquay says:

    The first thing you want to do in your situation is get tested for STDs. Please.

  19. betrees23 says:

    I just had a brief relationship with someone who I really, really liked but called it off because I didn’t feel like he was giving me enough time. We only dated two months, but we were sleeping together and I didn’t appreciate days going by without him contacting me. Anyway, he accepted the break up rather easily and even though I broke up with him I had the harder time. But within the week, I had gone no contact and left it at that.

    But today, about two months later, I broke no contact and basically told him that I regretted ending it and blamed myself for the break up for being so pushy when maybe I could have handled things differently or something. Anyway, I said I understood if he didn’t feel the same way but I wanted us to date again. Honestly, I just felt like I had to fix something that I had damaged. (I think he may have just not have liked me as much as I like him, but I think if he had he may have called me or something. I just felt like I had to be sure he wasn’t secretly waiting for me to make the first move and apologize). Anyway, I sent this text and said I hoped he’d call. That was a few hours ago and no response.

    I’m hurt, but I can’t even feel embarrassed or like a food because I just felt like I had to know for sure he didn’t want to date again. I couldn’t play coy and just felt like I had to lay it out there. I’m not even sure it was the right thing to do but I always had a question mark about the whole thing–which I’ve never really had in another relationship. But I’ve gotten my answer, and the answer sucks. At least I can stop second guessing my initial instincts that he wasn’t interested in me enough. It still hurts, though.

    Another lesson.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Betrees23. The relationship was very short. Two months? I don’t want to be harsh, but that was very little time for you have to become so wrapped up in him. But, regardless of the long or short of it, you were not in it by yourself. He had a role. It doesn’t appear from what you wrote, that he was interested in continuing the relationship. Therefore, it is unfair to YOU to take all the blame for the break up. Apparently, his frequent absences frustrated you so much that you jumped the gun and quit. But maybe that was what you needed to do. You cannot go into a relationship trying to change a person right off the bat. There’s no guarantee that it would have worked out, anyway. You learned little about him in that short period of time and you were not happy with what he offered you. Whatever you did or did not do became irrelevant after you broke it off, and 2 more months went by. Two months on and two months off equals zero. Apparently he is not feeling that it amounted to much since he took the break easily and didn’t try to get you back. Don’t hold your breath waiting for him to welcome you with open arms. If you don’t hear anything from him consider yourself fortunate and move on. I think you’ve set yourself up for disappointment. I hope you get what you want, but sometimes we don’t want what is best for us. Let it go. Good luck.

      • betrees23 says:

        Thanks for replying. I promise that I’m not crazy, and I realize that two months is really short. There’s something about who he is and also what he’s doing with is life that caught me because, while I do attach easily after sex, it’s never been particularly this hard for me after such a short amount of time. I’m 27, I’m not that experienced with dating, and I second guessed how someone is supposed to treat someone in the beginning. I’ve just kind of found myself in relationships. I guess I just wish I would have let him go at his pace and then make him take the responsibility of dumping me if that’s what he wanted to do. I know all this wishing is useless, and honestly don’t think I’ll get to date him again. And I know mentally searching for answers isn’t helping me. I don’t want him to think I’m crazy either, but I do know that I’ll get over caring what he thinks about me fairly soon if I do all the things I need to do to get over this. I can’t explain why this has effected me so much!!

        • Lochy says:

          Hi Beetrees,

          I wanted to respond to your comment as I am a cautionary tale for you.

          I was in pretty much the same boat as you, had been ‘seeing’ a guy for about 2 months, (mostly just sex actually), realised I had developed feelings, (or maybe not…just got attached because of the sex). Anyway, asked him where he was on the matter. He said he didn’t want a relationship, doesn’t want to be attached, is a free-spirit blah blah but liked me wanted to be friends etc. I said, OK but I just need a little space to get myself straight. He is a ‘texter’ so asked if it was ok to continue that…foolishly I said ok. I wanted to feel that I was in control enough of my own feelings and that, if I found it too tough, I would just say so. I mean, it’s only been a couple of months so what’s the harm?
          So a month later, we’re back in the sack, (which was all my doing. He actually said, you sure you want to do this based on our last conversation, I’m all like, yeah, don’t know what I was making all the fuss about).
          Fast forward to 18 months later and I am ‘friend with benefits’…he comes and goes as it suits him and I’m caught up in this nightmare of a cycle that I’m struggling to get out of. Natalie’s post is absolutely bang on the money. This man is behaving like my father and funnily enough, I’m copying how my mother coped with it.

          You did the right thing ending it. OK, so you text him or whatever. Maybe feel a bit foolish? So what. You won’t die from it! You’ll cringe a bit to yourself, take it on the chin and laugh about it in a few days/weeks/months. You acted according to your gut instincts, you had the courage to do that. I did too but then second guessed myself. Please don’t do the same.

          Warm wishes to you ;)

        • Keetseel says:

          When someone activates you, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been dating or even if you’ve been dating at all. It could just be a few words that suddenly hits you like a Madeleine in a teacup, reminds you of a lost person, or hooks you. I still have feelings about an 18-month relationship that ended in 2006 because we activated each other soooo strongly.

        • A says:


          If things don’t feel right so early on, they tend to only get worse. If you had put up with a situation that didn’t work for you, hoping that it may change, you would have subjected yourself to more hurt.

          I get the impression that you don’t like the responsibility of having made the decision–do you find that you can be indecisive generally? I think we can have a fear that we’ve made the wrong choice, and thinking about all of the “what if’s”, but all we can ever do in life is make choices based on what we know. This guy wasn’t making much an effort, and you got the sense that you should end it. You did the right thing.

          There is no crystal ball that you can look into to see what the future would have been if you had hung around unhappy for even longer, but chances are that this guy would have continued behaving as he had been and you would have damaged your self-esteem by remaining in a situation that you didn’t feel good about.

    • Kit-Kat says:

      Betrees23… I wish this blog was around when I was your age. Please do not text him again if you receive no response. Rejection is a tough pill to swallow but it is part of life so with time I have grown a thicker skin & learned its really not about me or about you. For whatever reason he was OK with you walking away. If he was really interested that wouldn’t have happened. Don’t beat a dead horse. I have been guilty of that & its useless. Learn from your mistakes. We all make them but need to use them to grow into the person we want to be. I use to be a doormat but that woman no longer exist thanks to this blog & the education I have gotten.. Don’t give him another second of your life. He just isn’t that special :)

  20. Revolution says:

    Natalie, girrrrrl. From two to twenty-two comments (at the time I’m writing this)!!! Must’ve struck a chord. From a purely professional standpoint, I applaud you for knowing your audience. From a personal standpoint, this is a really deep post, probably one of the deepest I’ve read on this site. I’m impressed.

  21. Sarah says:

    @Laura K, Yes! Exactly! “But with all of that work I never learned any skills or mechanisms to break the bad “habits”. The “chemistry” you mention is extremely powerful and can fool you into believing it’s different than the last time.”

  22. Deno says:

    Dear Natalie,
    Hot darn! you did it again, the right medicine at the right time. Well when the “student is ready the Teacher appears”. Thanks for being my Teacher. Yes I admit it, all those love affairs were really Daddy Daycare episodes 1 – xx!! Let’s not count the madness. I hope to God that I can start looking at my heavenly Father and not my Earthly Father for validation. It just sucks that earthly Dads are stuck in their own MUD!! You know what I be sayin?! I promise to stop giving my power away to the unavailable, uncaring, unwise, un-single,un-rich, unsupportive, and un-really Real! There I said it, now to practice!

  23. Magnolia says:

    @noquay, is there still a part of you that expects people to be able who do betray to not betray? i totally agree with having a boundary around betrayal. But how many people can actually be trusted to keep their word on big things that involve risk to themselves? Less than the majority, I think, or else we wouldn’t find it such a treasure to meet someone whose word is actually their bond.

    I am seeing writing on the wall that the guy who hired me for my short contract is going to flake in a way that affects my pay. All signs point to this. All signs always pointed to this!

    In some ways I am incredulous that someone could let you begin a contract in good faith, promising to finalize right away, then never finalizing or showing you a contract to the point that I might be done two months of work without having signed anything, without having been given the opportunity to actually negotiate, and putting him in a position to say, oops, too bad you got your hopes up, I never promised to pay you any more than X.

    I hate to think someone could conduct business in such avoidant and manipulative ways. I keep thinking maybe he’ll come through but he hasn’t yet and the feeling is very familiar: WHO could possibly be so backhanded?

    I find myself having the old conversations in my head “You might not realize but can’t do business / behave like that …”, “You know you promised me you weren’t a flake but do you see how your actions could be interpreted that way?” “I’m sure you don’t mean to but do you see how you seem untrustworthy and how your constant breaking promises causes me stress?” I used to say all that to the ex AC.

    With the exAC it was all the wanting explanation and atonement, and giving opportunities for same, that kept me in that effed up dance way longer than was good for me. And yeah, it was about emotionally and embodiedly (made-up word there), not intellectually, trying to elicit warm caring blood from a father-like stone.

    With this guy, fortunately, I did steel myself going in, and also, it’s work not love. If I’m effed over I won’t be wondering why or throwing a totally justified and deserved fit so I can see him atone.

    I don’t know how people come to be made of the warped stuff they are, but I feel like at least they no longer activate my desire to teach closed-off, scared people how to be vulnerable, open and brave.

    I think of all the people who are good and kind in peacetime who in wartime end up betraying their neighbors. The very definition of character is how quickly fear and threat will make you throw another person under the bus. Honestly, I can’t say that if the apocalypse comes that I wouldn’t steal the last piece of bread for myself and my loved ones over someone else’s. But some people are living an apocalypse inside their own bodies every day, living in fear and suspicion, and god help us if we find ourselves in the position of asking them to hand over our fair share of bread.

    • Revolution says:


      I’m breathless over your comment. Damn, girl. Just…damn.

    • RegainingMyLight says:

      “I don’t know how people come to be made of the warped stuff they are, but I feel like at least they no longer activate my desire to teach closed-off, scared people how to be vulnerable, open and brave.”

      Been reading since last August. First comment.


  24. Dee says:

    Thank you Natalie. I am convinced you are inspired by some kind of universal wisdom to sort out the weird relationship scenarios so many of us are ending up in. It’s like you’re here to say – Do Not Accept! I will take away the words ‘Mutual relationship’ and remember that’s what I want.

  25. still growing says:

    Church tabernacle! Dead on with this post Nat! Xoxo

  26. Tigger says:

    Here Here. To anyone going through anything like this there is a huge glowing light of a better life at the other end so don’t bury your head even though it can be painful!!!

  27. Rachael says:

    Hmm, sudden urge to organise linen cupboard

  28. Lau_ra says:

    Though my painful last-year experiences with a non-existent relationship sort of torn me apart really bad, it definitely gave a huge hint I do have some sort of internal problems I have to solve (the same thing with dating my parents), or else I’m doomed to say “yes” for the wrong men (those who criticise me and show no affection whatsoever, isntead of accepting and loving me as I am).
    Lately I did notice a huge change in my attitude towards me and towards men in general – I met a really cute guy who treated me like a queen, yet he openly said he doesn’t believe in relationships.
    Instead of chasing him in order to make him change his mind, I just accepted the fact he is not a relationship material (at least not now and not for me, as I’m not planning to wait around, though I’ll keep in touch with him as a friend) and took this experience as an example of how I want to be treated by a man.
    It makes me cringe when realising that some several-days fling treated me better than most of my boyfriends and that I allowed it…

  29. Hilary says:

    I like the term “activated an issue” it really fits me right now. when things don’t go as you want it is so easy to be brought back to similar times in the past…

  30. Paula says:

    So insightful as per usual! A book that really helped me with this sort of thing was the Betrayal Bond by Patrick Carnes. It’s about how we keep going back to the same pain in the hopes of finding restitution but we only come away with even more pain. Cut your losses now!

  31. grace says:

    Parents! Parents effin up my life again. Only this time it’s his rather than mine. Mine were actually quite happy that I’d met someone.
    On the plus side, I don’t feel bad or worthless, or feel the need to chase him down for validation.

  32. Lochy says:

    Natalie, just wanted to say this is a wonderful post, and BR folks your responses are amazing too.

    A few people have mentioned the same thing I struggle with which is an awareness of the ‘activation’ but still feeling completely powerless to act on the knowledge in my best interests. I’ve been with my therapist for years and make a lot of conscious effort at learning about myself, triggers etc.

    But I’m still scared of the pain of letting go of how I wish things were versus the reality of how they are. (childish notions really)Maybe because I don’t know what happens next and it’s better the devil you know?

    I know that I am not alone in this and draw tremendous support from you and everyone here. Thanks to you all :)

    • grace says:

      You must accept that the things you believe are wrong. Not wrong as in immoral but just factually incorrect:
      1. Oxytocin is not love nor is it bonding
      2. Sex is not bonding
      3. Winning over a reluctant or unlikely person does not make you special
      4. Chemistry is not an overwhelming force of nature
      5. Love does not control you or make you do things that are not in your best interest
      6. Fancying someone does not make them special
      7. The urge to text someone, sleep with them, call them does not prove you love them or that you even want a relationship with them
      You think it’s love and it’s all about them and they have the power. It’s nothing to do with them. They are simply triggering your hotspots. That’s what makes it compelling, not that they’re amazing and you’re so bonded.
      It is better on the other side. You’re no longer a hostage to it.

      • paolo says:

        @grace…That’s a really good list..Think i might have to save it.

      • Peanut says:


        I couldn’t have said it better. Or I would have! I really enjoyed that list.

      • Rosie says:

        Grace–What do you mean by oxytocin isn’t bonding? It is a bonding hormone. It is not love, though, you are right!

        Do you mean that it’s not an everlasting bond?

        • grace says:

          Think of it as the icing on the cake, it’s not the cake. The bond grows through time, sharing, intimacy, trust, kindness, love. If all you’ve got is oxytocin it may give you a high, but it’s gonna leave you malnourished.

      • Lochy says:

        Hi Grace – thank you so much for your response. That’s a great list and I agree with all of your points. Intellectually speaking that is! There is part of me that is holding myself to ransom, (I like your hostage reference because that is exactly how I feel). And you are right, it has nothing to do with ‘them’. My belief system on a deeper level needs adjusting but somewhere inside, I’m clinging onto the incorrect beliefs for dear life. It is all so absurd! ;)

    • Peanut says:


      It is scary to let the truth in because then follows the pain. There is hope on the other end of emotional pain. “Better the devil you know” Nicely put.

      Yes, we may know what pain certain situations cause and how that can feel normal to us and validate a murky belief system, but it’s not worth it to seek out the shady.

      Bad felt comfortable to me. Good did not. Buuuut, I am getting to a middle ground where both feel shaky. Hah!

      But, when we strive for a better more positive life and don’t give up, there is great possibility for an upside. It’s worth trying.

      • Lochy says:

        Hi Peanut, I know how you feel on the bad=comfortable. Sounds like you’re heading in the right direction though…shaky is still progress lol ;)

        I think, for me, there is a pride/ego thing here in that I don’t want to see myself as a person who is weak, like I should be able to be strong enough to overcome any bad treatment, like this is some sort of endurance test only there are no medals.
        Staying on topic of activation, my father was a Marine so I’m chuckling to myself at my terminology. But on a slightly sadder note, I recall when he left and I wanted to go with him, he said no and as I was getting upset, he said something about me being ‘the strong one’…I was 12. I am strong but I’m also human.

        Here’s to striving for a better more positive life…I will put my endurance capabilities to better use lol ;)

  33. noquay says:

    Good to hear from you, I’ve missed you. I don’t expect folk with little moral wherewithal to change. Some folk are bastards and extreme situations often bring out the very worst in many. It’s just my primitive sense of right and wrong rearing its ugly head. My grad advisor who not only betrayed me, put me in a position where my life was threatened, was given a shiny new lab for his efforts. AC not only is keeping his job but gets a new girlfriend to take care of him while those he has hurt get to stay alone. The persons responsible for the collapse of a program that took up the lives of a bunch of us are rewarded with new jobs at higher pay. What frosts my behind is that apart from you knowing you did right, there is often no or a negative impact of doing the right thing whereas bad/incompetent behavior is rewarded. Sorry for the disjointed rant, haven’t had enough coffee yet.

  34. alice says:

    @noquay & mags it took me to the end of the replies for the epiphany moment to really kick in… having spent the last month moving myself and children out of a ‘rock and roll relationship’ (his description) which ended in a violent attack.. i had been wondering the connection between this and two other alcohol/violence relationships i have had, as although both parents were addicts to one thing or another, neither were violent. Its Noquay’s mention of atonement that touched me. My whole life has had to be changed, i worked at his company too, so even my job has gone. Yet, even though he has pleaded guilty in court, to be sentenced in two weeks, im STILL meeting him to discuss US (?) to talk about his company and MY IDEAS… listening to how he still goes out to the pub, chats to friends etc, none of whom he has told the truth to… so im seeking atonement. From my dad for leaving / choosing heroin, and my mum for choosing booze and any bloke. They were broken people, and seeking for their atonement (they are dead) through the dramas ive manifested has finally hit home. This man i have been with wont change into price charming and atone for a lost childhood, in fact im probably his mother / father and bashing me was him playing out the fact he cannot bash them. I actually no longer give a crap. This is where it stops, as i will be dammned if i keep re-creating some fucked up cycle for my kids to re-enact throughout their adult lives.

    • Rosie says:

      Alice- Can I say “thank you” to you? Thank you for having the strength, courage, and love for your children to think about them. You’re a good mom. You have so much strength, Alice, to leave and to heal for yourself and for your children!

  35. Selkie says:

    While I was driving yesterday, and after running into an ex who triggers things in me, somewhere between longing and feeling on the edge of a cliff, I thought about what IS it that makes me feel this way around him. He is unconventional. He is an artist. He is very sensitive and feeling but also very capable of watching me twist in the wind at his latest sharp turn. I saw him in a parking lot and I was standoffish. He was warm at first but said something he knew would probably hurt me. When he saw the look of hurt in my face I could visibly see him trying not to smile. He liked having that kind of power to affect me. He was enjoying making me feel off center. I walked away. I think IT is that he reminds me of my dad when he was young. Same good looks, same kind of rebel against the world, artist, musician, and capable of inflicting pain for his amusement. I was the one who opted out and have been off and off in contact with him, but usually end up going NC after he displays this type of calculated drop kick. This man saying he wants to love me is like recovering all that I lost as a child, like a warm blanket. But in reality its a trip down an abandoned , hollowed out place of emptiness and disappointment. I no longer feel pain over my father, I’ve been NC from him for so long, but I guess the void left from an absent parent is like a trap. I wonder if I will ever be able to get past this type of ‘activation’. My awareness of it is not enough. Then I think, it’s been so long, why the hell am I still reliving childhood hurts….people have had worse things in life happen to them, yet I’m hung up on something that is long lost past. Makes me feel weak and like my fear is and has always been at the wheel. I am content these days being single, life is good and I’m not feeling any kind of pain, but am I avoiding me by staying single. I fear that I am only okay these days because I avoid triggers.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Hm, Selkie. That’s heavy. Gotta think about what you’ve said. Thanks.

    • Ms Determined says:

      While I was driving yesterday, and after running into an ex who triggers things in me…

      Selkie, When I read that, I was like “ZOMG, YES!!! SHE RAN RIGHT OVER THAT ASSHOLE!” and I was fist pumping the air. Then I read the rest of your comment. And it sucked. Then it got really good at the end! No pain is good. But how is it you are avoiding you by staying single? Sounds to me you are becoming quite intimate terms with a sexy, pain free, kickass chick. OH WAIT, THAT’S YOU.

      • Selkie says:

        Hee hee. It does read like that doesn’t it?
        I guess I’m pretty good at keeping my issues at bay when I’m not in a relationship, but after getting my feelings hurt so easily the other day by a guy I know is a hot mess, it makes me wonder if I can handle my shit if tested in a relationship. This guy’s ability to rattle me makes me question my own progress.
        Being happy is good, I’m at peace but sometimes I wonder if I’ll be alone the rest of my life….because I won’t let anyone in out of fear of getting hurt again. Guess that makes me EU? I’ve made progress in maintaining boundaries but I may be using them to eliminate every possibility.

  36. Magdalena says:

    This post coincides with my current struggles to finally address old and unresolved childhood/trauma/grief that resulted in endless repetition of unavailable relationships in my life.

    I hope its okay to link to this book, which I’ve found really helpful in sorting it all out.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      I’ve promised myself not to have so much to say anymore. I’m spending way too much time on here because I’m retired and I love BR. But this is, my last comment for awhile, I promise, which I’ve repeated over and over because it is helpful to those who are still angry, trying to come to terms, or have long been over an AC:

      Free 2 Be C, and Oli. I don’t hope to cure everyone who uses these terms but I can try. My intention is to help, not be smart-assed or insensitive. It is very hard when it’s over, but you can do little things to help yourself such as changing how you think of them. Think about this. Why are you calling these individuals “My” AC, “MY” EUM or “My” anything? It was horrible, it’s over. Are you still interested in considering them “MY”? You weren’t married so. I think not.

      • Swissmiss says:

        Oh no, Tink, I will miss you! You have been invaluable to my growth. I often scan the posts looking for your remarks. I hope you don’t leave us for too long.

        I am 65 and have been shocked, considering that I am a pretty ‘together’ woman, that deep issues have been activated from the affair with the MM. Even though I had addressed them in therapy 30 years ago, as Nat said, here they are again, stronger than ever.

        It just goes to show you, your world can be rocked any time, anywhere.

        My husband and I are now discussing how to structure our separation. I am a little frightened to leap into the void, but it looks as though that’s where I need to be. I’m feeling more honest with myself than I have in a long time. Guess that’s the good side of looking at activation under an electron microscope.

        • Tinkerbell says:

          Thank you so much, Swiss. It’s just that it’s summertime and I want/need to spend some extended time with my boyfriend. I’ll still read when I can, but comment less. I appreciate being appreciated. I am so sorry about your separation. It’s a tough thing to face that there’s little chance of it working out.

          I hope you will manage on your own better than I did when my husband passed. If you are independent by nature you will figure everything out. All the best, Swiss. Tink

        • jewells says:

          Swissmiss, I had the same experience as you, I ‘thought’ I’d dealt with the issues that the exMM brought up years ago, but apparently no…

          And Tink, I will miss your comments too!!

      • beth d says:

        Always look forward to reading your comments Tink. It is summer so I get it but hopefully we can still get some comments out of you as you are an important contributor to this blog. :) xo

        • Tinkerbell says:

          Beth d. That’s a lovely thing to say? I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy. Thank you! Your cyber buddy, Tinkerbell.

          • Tinkerbell says:

            Beth, you know I didn’t mean to use a question mark – wrong punctuation. I definitely, thank you and I WILL still be around. How could I not?

      • Little Star says:

        Oh my dear Tink, how can I live without your honest and caring advises? Please do not leave:( x

  37. Peanut says:

    The man I’ve had the most chemistry with was a meth dealer I met when I was sixteen.

    An std, slew of women, and a prison sentence couldn’t keep me away.

    Finally after seven years I had enough self respect to cut contact.

    What I thought was chemistry was a mixture of fear, disgust, hate and rage. The sex between this man and I was terrrrible. Unfortunately I was just too young and misguided to even realize that.

    Now when I experience the chemistry bit it comes in the form of visible anger and nausea. I have to get away and usually I do.

    Sexual attraction and chemistry are different. And biological chemistry takes time to activate. You don’t see a man and go babies, let’s mate on a biological level either. For adequate proliferation of the species there has to be more discernment than that!

    Chemistry is a word we use to excuse poor choices in men or remain lazy and lax on our values. Once I figured out the values I wanted in a man, I realized I had to live by them. Needless to say, I am forced to make a heap of changes and won’t be ready for a relationship until these changes take the form of lifelong habits.

    • Peanut says:

      Oh my, I meant prison sentence on his part. He went to prison. We wrote letters.

      • paolo says:

        @Peanut…I’m no expert but it sounds to me like your evolving into a better, clearer human being now and as a result, a better version of you as an individual.

        • Peanut says:


          Thank you. Oh, my I certainly hope so. Like so many newbies, I was frantic when I’d post here. I didn’t know up from down. I was hanging onto an abusive situation because I thought I’d never find a man with tight jeans who liked kittens again. Obviously, there was so much more to it. I just wasn’t willing to see it then.

          I hope to be my true self. As I heal the layers get peeled back and I learn to trust me more. The more I learn to trust myself the more honest and vulnerable I am willing to be. And the more honest and vulnerable I am, the closer I get to my true self that sort of got buried in all the family pain and drama. Thanks for the words. Take care.

  38. Tinkerbell says:

    Noquay. God eventually rights the wrongs, but you probably won’t ever know about it to get any satisfaction. What was done to you was wrong. For example, my sister, an attorney was the director of a moderate sized non-profit organization. Shortly after she was hired, a cliche of jealous folks who felt the position should have gone to someone in-house, succeeded in having her ousted from the position. They went to the board of directors with lies and invalid complaints. She was devastated over the cruelty especially after she had promoted one individual who was instrumental in the back stabbing, and another who she’d known she should have fired but did not do so. A year later the organization ran out of funds and collapsed. So all those devils lost their jobs, also. Retribution at work. This to say, you don’t know what is in store down the line for those who participated directly or indirectly in your leaving. And, the grad advisor will surely pay one day. Not that you are waiting for this to happen. You are a person of integrity and that would be beneath you. But, I guarantee all may not be roses at that workplace and if not at work, their personal lives will be compromised. Bet on it. I know this has been bothering you, so feel better. Yours in the struggle, Tink.

  39. Free 2 Be C says:


    By MY, I mean “My Experience with said AC ect.” Not possesive in needing or wanting.


    • Tinkerbell says:

      Free. I realize that that is probably what you meant but obviously you are speaking about YOUR experience, not someone else’s. When you say “My” that indicates intimacy. I’m sure you’re trying to mentally and emotionally distance yourself from him so it would seem that being so you would instead say “The AC who…….. Just trying to help you or anyone else maintain a certain impersonal attitude, neutrality about the person who was such a disappointment. I think it’s a small step toward healing. It’s the same idea as instead of thinking of him as a gender he’s an “It”. Hope you get my point. In any event, you have the right to refer to him in the manner that you feel comfortable.

  40. Espresso says:

    Crystal C
    I love your mantra – I was thinking for me that I would add being treated as I deserve to be. My ex always said he loved me, still does say this while shedding tears even though it is entirely inappropriate in the circumstances and NOT something I encourage or welcome in the slightest. But his “love” didn’t seem to get translated into action or the real world that I lived in. That really confused me because if a person loves you it should follow that they treat you in a certain way. It always screwed up my head when I would hear the love words and the “I am trying so hard” words but still felt treated often without any apparent awareness or thoughtfulness of the person I am. It really screwed up my head. It has been epiphany to me that the love words were mainly for HIM and not for me at all.

    • micheyl says:

      I loved the mantra too.

      Espresso, I too have been confused by the “love” My first ex-husband loved to tell me how no one would love me the way he did, even though he broke it off with me.

      This break-up that has been dragging on was full of “I love you”s – I don’t understand if someone is so in love with you why they are refusing to actually be with you???

      Anyway, I just had flashbacks to some horrible moments in my childhood when I felt my parents were being cruel or unkind, and their words were “we are only doing/saying this because we love you.” WTF? Some people sure don’t know how to express their love…

      • jewells says:

        micheyl, yeap, that’s one of the dismorphs of our childhoods. Being treated shabbily and told it’s because of love. I’ve recently reinstated contact with my EUM father, get this: he texts me, doesn’t call ever, always ends with ‘love you’ with x’s or kissy icon, yet makes no effort towards me in any other way. I think I am Narc supply and harem really. But I reinstated contact as I figured I was healed enough to deal with him, and I appear to be. I no longer take his inappropriateness or lack of connection personally. This site has allowed me to understand him better, so I no longer have the pain of feeling ‘not good enough’ for him to love. He just doesn’t have it to give, so for him the words are all he has, and I’ll let him love me in the limited manner he has and not hope, or more importantly, expect, for more. This has given me peace, and now I feel I can embark on the ‘discovery’ process of dating without worrying about outcomes and the emotional fall out on my side. Steady as she blows… :)

  41. Magnolia says:

    Thanks for the followups noquay, rev, tink, regainingmylight. Noquay, don’t worry, BR isn’t rid of me yet! I’ve been reading but haven’t had as much time to comment.

    It DOES burn when connivers get rewarded. But Tink, I agree, so far life seems to bring around what has gone around. Though some asshats never seem to pay, it’s true.

    I’m on the tail end of two months of travelling all around my country and blogging about it. I’m in Yellowknife now, who’d have ever thunk? The whole journey will be done in just over a week!

    I’ll be back to my own sheets and pillow and BR time!

  42. J. Ingram says:

    Hi Natalie, I’m waaay across the pond in Washington, D.C., but I love your blog and I tell all my girlfriends about it & keep telling them to read because it is sooo wonderfully appropriate for all of us in our stage of life. Your posts always help me… this one reminded me of something I went through and it SO rings true…

    Back in 2011, after taking two years off to heal from an abusive relationship, I had a really horrible reaction to a nice guy I was just barely getting to know. I completely shut down after I missed seeing him one day; thought he’d ditched me… it took months of reflection to understand & heal from the fact that the old relationship stuff was still around, making me feel abandoned and primed for a guy to hurt & abandon me again–though this nice guy hadn’t shown any signs of that, at the time. I was reading your blog back then (’bout two years ago) and I’m still reading and feeling empowered now…

    Eventhough Mr. Nice Guy turned out to be an Asshat anyway and I was getting to be his Fallback Girl (thanks again for defining this stuff in the nick of time! Helped me to drop everything immediately, and walk away from the situation). Thankfully, I have much better things to focus on these days, and so I got experience and an emotional stepping stone out of that one.

    I’m a true-blue believer now: it is an excellent idea for a woman to step back and handle her stuff whenever she needs to.

    I even mentioned you in one of my fiction blog posts! I hope you don’t mind me being a fangirl and sharing? Hoped your blog would really help some of my single writer female friends too.

    Natalie, you work it, girl! *snap*

  43. crystal c says:

    thanks for the support ladies!

  44. Bishopsgyal says:

    Natalie Natalie Natalie it’s like you’ve been reading my diary!! : “It can spark this overwhelming urge to ‘love’, ‘give’ and seek validation, likely because this person is seen as being the one to fill you up…IS SPOT ON!!! OMG. I read your post and cried. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I feel so free right now it’s un-friggin-believable!!! I have the biggest smile EVER….. THANK YOU!!!!!!

    • Diane says:

      Bishopsgyal-Ditto on everything you have said!! I sobbed like a baby after I read this post, and the replies…I have never had a decent relationship in my 53 years on earth…I finally get it, they were all varying versions, of my alcoholic father who abandoned me, so he could drink and hang with lady’s of the evening…Thank you Natalie!!!!! You have saved me from having a total breakdown after the last ROACH I was involved with (So he could drink, and visit Crack Whores)Hmmmm

  45. Bishopsgyal says:

    @Betrees23 girl I’ve been there! It’s NOT crazy that you developed ‘deep’ feelings after two months (regardless of what others may say). But Natalie hit it right on the nose…he is an activator. I never understood why I felt this deep connection to my AC of an EUM until now. Heeding this post will save you Months/years of emotional and mental anguish. I too broke off my relationship after like 6 weeks and did the SAME THING you did because I missed him so much. Mind you I mentally knew he wasn’t good for me and couldn’t give me what I needed or deserved. Long story short its been a 28 month nightmare of trying to get the monkey off my back. I have not had a physical hook up with him in about a year (thanks to Natalie’s posts) BUT he still tries (after all i gave in so so many times in the past) AND I keep in phone ctc with him. I Cldnt bring myself to do the NC but NOW that I understand the trigger for me I can FINALLY let go. Hope this helped and best of luck.

  46. Raven says:

    Yes that is definitely the process I’ve been through over the past few years. I often joke that dating is free therapy! The last paragraph put into words exactly what happened with my last breakup. I told my friends something absolutely fundamental in me has changed I know that I will take no more shit because I love, trust and value myself. And that has brought me relationship sanity and peace. All due in a big part to this blog, thanks Natalie!

  47. Melissa says:


    We all have ‘em, don’t we? And very very few are perfect. We can consider their actions as part of our genetic make up from the get-go, I believe. The marks that they leave us with….same as the freckles we inherited from dad’s side or the pear-shaped bottom we got from mom’s. Either way, their marks will be upon us- they made us from the inside out. Parents made the men that we date. Parents made the parents.

    When we toss around terms like AC and EUM….it’s a tad bit unfair because they were made in the same way we were…from parents. And largely, they know not what they do. They are emotional wrecks internally just like we are. I am not excusing the behavior, not at all, but I feel like calling someone an ass clown (even though he is acting like one) makes it appear like there is malicious intent behind his actions. It gives him power.

    Most often, he’s just the product of his own internal chemical soup that was created by semi crappy parents and then pushed through the even worse filter of what society expects men to act like in the first place. A disaster waiting to happen.

    I am only saying this because if you take a minute to look at a man through a filter of compassion, it makes it a little easier to forgive him and forgive yourself for putting up with him for however long you did. Not to keep going with him (because you can’t fix him)…just to breathe, understand that he’s effed up too and move on.

    • Revolution says:


      Despite my fiery comments that might suggest otherwise, I feel ya on this comment. I really do.

      • Melissa says:

        Thanks. I am not trying to be all “head in the clouds” with my comments, I know bad guys can cause a lot of pain. It just helped me when I went through my divorce to realize that my ex was so damaged internally that there was literally nothing he could do to be any other way. He was just stuck.

        I am 39. Really hoping to meet a meet a man…I did the online dating thing for a while a holy moly did I meet some seriously damaged men. Between their mothers and the wives that they married who were exactly like their mothers (they do the same things we do!) their egos are blasted, their nerves are shot, they literally have PTSD when it comes to relationships.

        It’s a shame because most of them won’t go to therapy, won’t even read a blog….forget being interested in actual connection and love…instead they watch porn endlessly and forget how to be good lovers. It’s a pile of wreckage out there, ladies. Especially the men above 35.

        So…not dating online any more and not meeting anyone out and about in the real world either. It’s a BLAST! Ha. Sorry. Pretty frustrating. I don’t know how I will ever, ever, ever meet a quality man. I really have no clue.

        Clearly, I am not “head in the clouds”….I just know that I have most of the issues straightened out, I know what my triggers are, I know how to care for and feel compassion…and here I am, holding the bag. Alone.

      • Lau_ra says:

        Me too, me too…I just don’t agree none of them have some sort of malicious intentions though. Its not like the ACs or EUMs aren’t capable of understanding the effect of their actions, yet very few have balls to do some introspection – most just fly from woman to woman until they find one whose problems are compatible with his, not even minding all the broken hearts on the sideways or learning from hte experience. Of course we can’t “fix” them, so the best sollution is to stay away.

        • jewells says:

          Lau_ra, I agree with your insight, that they don’t necessarily have malicious intent. Even those who seem to get off on another persons pain are probably just satisfied that a)they have that kind of power (get ego boost) or b) their misery isn’t alone. They have no concept of others as human, just objects to meet their own (unconscious) needs (of power, control mostly). And it’s sad, yes, that they don’t get therapy and just continually repeat their behaviours, so yes, we can have compassion for them for that. But, we do get angry, and express it here, to then work it through to break out of our patterns that saw us with them in the first place. Right now I feel like I’m just starting to get to the compassion place myself. The anger and sadness is finally coming to an end, compassion is ultimately where I want to be and I know I will get there in the end. It is our journey :)

          • jewells says:

            Oh, misread that first line of yours lau_ra, so looks like I don’t agree with you afterall. I think that if we don’t see malicious intent, but ignorance, it’s easier to have compassion. And having compassion is not an acceptance of the behaviour, it just makes it not about us.

            • Lau_ra says:

              I agree on having compassion-yes, its more about them than us, not minding the fact we looove to internalise-or to be more exact – used to loooove this:)
              Yet it just awes me how you and me and others start looking for answers at some point, yet those guys don’t. I doubt its a plain ignorance that they act upon. Many such men do have malicious intents – its not like no one ever tells them they are ACs, they take effort to manipulate people and etc, and they continue such behaviour knowing it hurts people. They’re not unsoncscious dummies, ya’ know…So in some cases I can practise compassion to a certain extent, yet in many other I choose to tell the person he acts like sh***, for this might be his epiphany:)

              • jewells says:

                Lau_ra, we have the wherewithall to look for answers, they (for the most part) do not. We are the blessed ones because we give ourselves the opportunity to learn and grow and do differently. If they chose not to change/look for answers, they are not ready yet, and even may never be…until they either hit their epiphany relationship…or die. So, I still stand by my non-malicious intent statement, due to the knowledge in myself that when I behaved badly at times in the past with behaviors indeed AC characteristically, I didn’t do it with malicious intent per se. I did it out of ignorance, fear, lack of understanding, lack of insight etc. I didn’t love myself, therefore acted out for various reasons towards the other person. I’m sure I’ve been ‘the epiphany’ for someone, then blindly stumbled my way forward completely painfully unawares…
                This all helps me towards the place of compassion – recognizing my own mistakes, realizing that they too have unconscious motivations and drives that they had not enough self awareness to do anything about…It’s the only way to move away from the destructive bond with this person, bless them and move on. Thank you for the lesson, I now know more and can do better than before…
                It’s not that I think they are unconscious dummies, they just have blind spots like we all do.

                • Lau_ra says:

                  Oh, well, maybe I’m not that spiritually evolved yet, so I could actually practice forgiveness in its essence, I guess, though what you’ve said gives me direction to work towards:)

              • grace says:

                My mother enjoys hurting people. She finds pleasure in it. I feel sorry for her as she is physically incapacitated but I’ve long given up trying to understand why she did/does what she does. I stop people dead when they try to explain it.
                Some things you cannot explain and, more importantly, we have better things to do with our time, our lives even.

  48. Sanntay says:

    I never met my father, and my mother was always very negative (still is), not at all nurturing, encouraging or loving, so that definitely influenced my self-image and sorely impacted my ability to choose men and relationships. At the age of 46, I can’t say that I’ve ever been in a healthy relationship, they were always dysfunctional. I tolerated abuse (verbal/emotional) and gave guys more chances than they deserved, yet they continued to cheat on me and disrespect me…but that’s what I allowed, because I didn’t respect myself. In the aftermath of the 5-month casual hook-up where I got too attached, I have learned so much about myself, and now realize that I while I am emotionally damaged, as we all are, I’m still a work in progress. I just need to trust myself more. My intuition has been spot on in a number of recent situations, and it seems whenever I go against it, there’s hell to pay. I finally realized (better late than never) that I was the rebound in this situation with the co-worker who claimed he ‘didn’t want to date anyone exclusively’, who didn’t ‘have time to devote to a relationship’ because he works all the time, has goals he wants to achieve, blah, blah, blah, because somehow, in the blink of an eye, he is now back with his ex and they are living together. This kind of fits in with Nat’s last post about saying, thinking, and doing incongruent things. So that’s where I am. I have definitely benefitted from therapy, and I can move on with my life lessons, and pray for continued strength and wisdom to make better decisions for myself, by TRUSTING MY INTUITION and RESPECTING MYSELF.

  49. Sanntay says:

    Just re-read my post. I didn’t mean to imply that we are all emotionally damaged, I meant to infer that we are all a work in progress. Sorry for the miscommunication.

    • paolo says:

      I don’t think im capable of falling in love with a woman again..I know that this would make me EU…But this time it feels different…It feels permenant.

  50. noquay says:

    Like many previous posters have said, this douche is EVIL! You and not him, are the connection to your lost baby. He was nothing more than a sperm donor. Don’t tell him you cannot afford the conference, tell him you don’t want to see, hear, smell his sorry a$$ ever again. Then do not respond to any sort of communication from him ever.

  51. 2fearce says:

    So my ex (who brought me here) is waiting to find out if she has has that cancer gene. It’s all through her family (mom died from it when she was 10 ; grandma had it but survived…). Theres a pretty good chance that if she does she’ll need a dbl mas. I’m aware that she might only be interacting with me bc I’m the caring type n she might need me… much like my father has done to me before. When I’m useful I’m important, when I’m not… I’m out with yesterdays trash.
    But I can’t just walk away…even though I know I mt just be discarded when the scare is over…

    • Rosie says:

      2fearce- I think it’s normal to want to be there for her as you care for her. Do your best to keep a safe distance even if it kills you emotionally(even though NC is best; she’s got others to give her support, I’m sure). If she calls you, put a limit on the minutes. Set a timer if you have to and then excuse yourself by saying that you have to use the restroom or whatever.

      I had a friend once whose adult son made himself homeless through his own choices. He was prideful, didn’t want to tell his mom but she knew. It killed her to act nonchalant, pretending like she didn’t smell him, notice the weight loss, greasy, stringy hair, etc. She didn’t give him money, though, even though she was his mother.

      This sounds so cold but she learned to exercise tough love. Whenever he would leave her presence, she would go to her room and break down…just cry ’til she couldn’t cry anymore. When he was present, she was casual and dry-eyed. She’d hold conversations with him and just let him lie, lie, lie about his life. I think she did give him a haircut as she is a hairdresser and did let him take a shower and gave him some lunch and gave him the leftovers. As his mom, she would have done more for him as she didn’t want him to starve but there was a bigger lesson she wanted to teach him. She wanted to teach him character. She wanted him to look her in the eye, admit his life, own his choices that brought him there. She didn’t want promises of change, just wanted him to come to her like a man.

      The pay off was huge! He started making better choices because his mom refused to be his “fall back girl”. He is now a productive citizen and has children of his own now that he does take care of.

      This story may seem unrelated as your not her parent; it’s not your responsibility to give your ex a lesson in character. I’m telling it to give you encouragement and inspiration to stay strong and exercise tough love with your ex. It’s in both of your best interests. If a mom can do it with her homeless son… ;)

  52. Rosie says:

    Grace- Doing this by phone. Thank you. Your analogy about icing and malnourishment makes perfect sense. I understand now. :)

  53. Rosie says:

    Paolo- Doing this by phone. Going only by your posts, it sounds as if you were EU before you even met her. An LDR isn’t an intimate relationship. You can’t really know somebody via computer, even if it’s Skype. I’m very direct in my writing style, often have to apologize as I can be insensitive without realizing it. Yet, in person, everybody, even “enemies” say I’m sweet. I am! But that doesn’t show up in my writing style.

    I was in a LDR for little more than a year. He visited me for a week (he stayed in motel & I did not have sex with him). We talked of marriage. I thought I was in love with him but, really, he turned out to be mentally & emotionally abusive, a real jack a**. I did not know him at all so how could I have been in love with him?

    • paolo says:

      @Rosie..What i don’t understand then is, if i was emotionaly unavailable at the time then why do i still grieve for her nearly a year later?

      • paolo says:

        I think your right though. We both were kind of EU, trying to make something happen without commitment or progress.

        • Rosie says:

          Paolo- I grieved and grieved and grieved over the loss of the LDR guy. I thought I was in love with him. In addition to E-mail, we’d talk on the phone for hours (7-8 hours at a time). Although we’ve talked of marriage, that’s as far as it went. He wouldn’t deviate from the routine. We’d E-mail all week and then talk on the phone endlessly one day a week. That went on for more than a year except for when he visited for a week. I’m flabbergasted by this. How can anyone be in such fantasyland but I was! Yet, I went through the heartbreak and grieving as if we had been lovers for years.

          What I came to realize is that it wasn’t him I was grieving as I didn’t even know him. I was grieving what he represented: opportunity. He lived in a gorgeous area, was highly intelligent in areas where I struggle (business, math and science) and I can’t remember what else but there were a couple other things. And he said he wanted to marry me. As someone who picks men who don’t want her back, his mental and emotional abuse and eventual breaking up with me was devastating after being told he wanted marriage. My whole dream of what I wanted for my life fell to the ground at lightning speed with me face first in a pig trough. Even though I didn’t want him back, it took a little more than a year to get over it.

          That was about 5 years ago. Fast forward to a year ago when I met the guy who brought me here. I post it often enough so I assume you know the story. He tried to use me for sex and blah, blah, blah. I mention this story a lot. We only went out twice but it took so very long to get over! I didn’t think I was in love with him and I can barely remember what he looks like. But that’s the thing, Paolo. I still grieved. I grieved because it felt like life was playing a mean joke: The guy was a doggie biscuit life was dangling in front of me and then, when I thought I had the biscuit, life snatched it back, “Just kidding, Rosie. No biscuit for you. Hahaha!”

          I guess this is a long-winded way of saying that grief is a terrible gauge when determining levels of love.

          • grace says:

            True, It is not an accurate gauge.
            I saw my ex three or four times a week for a year. He always supported and encouraged me. He never criticised me. He helped me practically. He gave me time. Our relationhip was out in the open.
            Up to the last minute he was kind to me.
            He said he was always happy with me, that I loved and accepted him, and he didn’t have to prove anything to me.
            Even though I miss him and am sad, I don’t feel the gnawing anxiety, yearning and hopelessness that I had with the toxic exes. I do feel glad that I knew him and that he was a very gentle reintroduction to the world of relationships.
            I would only have him back if it came with a marriage propsal, I’m not holding my breath. i asked him to stop contacting me to see if I’m okay, and he has respected that.
            It doesn’t have to be boundary-less and humiliating to be love. In fact, those things say that it’s not.

            • Rosie says:

              Grace- Thank you and I am so sorry for your loss. :(

              “It doesn’t have to be boundary-less and humiliating to be love. In fact, those things say that it’s not.”

              You are right per usual. :)

            • Kit-Kat says:

              Grace. So sorry things didn’t work out for you. You are very smart to go NC with him until you sort things out in your mind. He was a stepping stone to bigger & better things to come. Big cyber hug to you :)

            • Learner says:

              I must have missed a post where you said you broke up with your boyfriend. I only saw something about his parents. I am also sorry to hear of your loss. Your sadness is understandable, and it’s great to hear that you are not experiencing that gnawing anxiety that comes with the toxic variety of exes. You sound very sure of what you want. Hugs to you.

          • Wiser says:

            Rosie, grief is often more about deep disappointment that goes beyond the loss of the actual person. Like you, my time with the ex was incredibly brief but I grieved and grieved over it for a ridiculously long time. Why? Because I really thought he had come into my life as a sign from God, that my prayers for some happiness had been answered after a long period of feeling dead inside. My image wasn’t a doggie biscuit (a great example by the way) but the open door – after I had asked, seeked and knocked, a door had opened into a wonderful world that had been denied to me for a long time, and I stepped through briefly. It was like going from dull grey into glorious technicolor. It felt like finally arriving ‘home’ after a long journey of wandering in the desert. Then without warning, I was rudely shoved back out into the darkness and the door was slammed in my face. And there was nothing I could do to open it again. It was the worst mean joke ever. I grieved more over the feeling that I had been abandoned by a cruel God than I was by the ex. The level of disappointment was staggering. It took me a long time to make peace with this and come to some understanding. I’ve learned to open other doors myself, and those have led to many happy experiences. The door that leads to “really loving and being loved by another person” is still closed but no longer locked and bolted, which is how it felt in the beginning. I fully expect that door will open again someday.

            So I guess my point is similar to yours – grief can arise from many things that have really nothing to do with the specific person at all.

            • Rosie says:

              Wiser- Thank you. I like your imagery of walking through a door into a glorious technicolor world and then being shoved out and having it bolted shut in your face.

              I also love the hope and empowerment you share by how YOU are opening doors. (I believe in God too and I believe that a part of our dignity in being His sons and daughters is active participation just as what you’re doing by opening doors yourself.)

              “grief can arise from many things that have really nothing to do with the specific person at all.”

              Yes, exactly! :)

            • Used says:

              excellent writing, outstanding analysis of how you felt.

              also note the significance of: timing timing timing.

          • paolo says:

            I understand Rosie..Thank you for telling me your story..I felt like life was playing a joke on me aswell. I think i over romantisized something that had no future anyway because she always said she wants to live and work abroad in her science..I played it down because i thought she was my soul mate and it could somehow be worked out..Only i wanted that enough though..We are both undergrad scientists in different fields…Grace and Wiser. I read your posts and it has helped me a bit aswell, so thank you both aswell…I hope i never invest my emotions in someone online again..Or if i did i’d make damn sure i still got to see them regularly in real life. Which is what didn’t/couldn’t happen…Thank you ladies again..I know im a guy but you help me alot.

        • LaPinturaBella says:

          Paolo: Just because you are EU doesn’t mean you’re emotionally dead or don’t care at all. It means you’re limited in what you can give. That’s why you are still grieving.

  54. Demke says:

    I can relate to Lilly’s post. My ex AC reappeared after the longest disappearing act since i knew him, 9 months. I mean, completely out of the blue asking to meet for coffee. I was like “whos this?” lol. He said he wanted to apologize in person for “immenesly hurting” me over the years, that he did a lot of “soul searching” yada
    yada. I just said, apologize for what? Let bygones be bygones. Take care.

    And he made a comment that he still means what he said when we first met. (he was going to marry me).

    I think: karma got to him quickly. That he probably got dumped bu the girl he left me for.

    I’ve learned a lot and did everything i could to move on. And he obviously still thinks a lot of bs will get him anywhere w me. It wont. Its a test by the devil, lol. I associate him with pain and deceit and theres no way in hell im putting my hand back in that fire.

    • Tinkerbell says:


      Apparently, he doesn’t realize that the best thing he can do for you is leave you the hell alone.

      • Demke says:

        I hear ya, Tinkerbell. And he tried calling me too. I didn’t answer. I just said via text, “glad you’re doing well, I am too.. maybe someday we can catch up. Take care”.

        Then he sent me a message on FB, then again text message saying how life brought him to ‘this’, he learned a lot, and realized I was the only person who understands certain things and knows certain things. “That’s something you can’t replace”. (umm… but ya did ‘replace’ me, ya moron, lol) “I trusted and relied on you more than I ever let on for stupid ego reasons, cause I didn’t want to be weak”.

        I didn’t answer him back. And I won’t.

        I’ve heard him say things like this to me before, when he was trying to weasel his way back in. And he’s always pulled the same crap.

        I am no longer this mans, or any mans fallback. And it wasn’t flattering at all. It just made me think..’it took him 9 months to contact me to apologize, and he thinks he can just walk in my life again thinking I’ll meet up with him? is he crazy? Why the heck would he think I’d meet him when we haven’t even talked for how long? I mean, he mentioned he knew he did some things wrong, wanted to apologize and wanted to see me.. talk to me.

        So… years ago when this crazy vicious drama cycle would happen (but only a few weeks of disappearing), I would ‘jump’ to meeting him. Now? it’s insulting for him to even think I’d consider it. It’s actually made me a little angry and still shocked I heard from him.

        The ONLY thing I can think of is that he saw my sister out a few nights ago… she said they just said ‘hi’ to one another and that was it. Who knows. Ughh… freakin’ AC! lol

        • Tinkerbell says:


          He ran into you sister, bychance. The light bulb goes on, “Oh, let me call Demke and see what she’s up to”. Of course, you know what the ultimate intention is. They can be sooo transparent and they don’t imagine or believe you may have really CHANGED.

  55. espresso says:

    I really screwed up last night by ignoring my warning signs that I was getting upset about things my ex did done and things he had said yesterday that affected me. I have been very careful to try to set boundaries and keep emotionally detached as we work through the arrangements of our separation and our co-owned business. My being silent (as I have been – not bringing things up most of the time) is okay for him – in fact it is what he has always preferred because he hates conflict of any kind. There were three things that happened yesterday, two involved work and another involved a small financial task he had offered to take on, When I enquired about it just expecting it would have been done he breezily told me he just “forgot” and got angry when I said this didn’t make it alright because it was important. (Long history of forgetting in our marriage – it has been a source of many problems). I have avoided bringing issues up because I almost always get blocked with him or he turns the conversations towards him (so let me tell you what YOU have done to upset me!) or telling me that this isn’t something I should actually feel because he has said “sorry, well we have a long history of these kind of toxic dynamics. I start off with good language, the I feelings, a generous approach and as I am blocked or manipulated I often do become more upset and then I deteriorate as well. Again trying to head this off but last night I lost this focus. It is just so damned exhausting…I had a meeting to prepare for the next day and was up way past midnight trying to recover and regain my calmness. So then I start my old habit of explaining how and why I feel so and so and what would have worked and why it would have made me feel better etc and he tells me how his intentions or soooo good and how he would never want to hurt me and how he is trying sooo hard and then he cries. And then we end up talking about how his childhood was so bad and how he has no many challenges and etc meanwhile I am just churning away. And still I see no action that is different, no active response, no engagement and no adult to adult conversation, no acknowledgement, no problem solving that is real. And to add to it I felt ashamed that I had exposed my feelings and vulnerabilities to him (again) when he doesn’t value what I am saying.

    I was needy and wanted understanding, appreciation and I was overwrought. I can see that I need to better monitor my feelings so that I don’t get into this kind of emotional state. But the worst thing is that I can see that for some reason I STILL hope/wish he could understand, that we COULD reach a deeper level. I still WANT him to come to me and talk about things in advance, to try to understand what impact things have on me – to try to relate to that, to step up as an active partner in the separation arrangements. Why do I have so much trouble with just saying to myself definitely “This is not possible – you can’t get blood out of a stone.”? Why can’t I completely let go of this hope/yearning/wish? Because I am older I am aware that I can never put this effort into another relationship again so I really wish it could have worked out.

    • sushi says:


      a relationship is not supposed to take this sort of effort.
      The yearning for the impossible to happen will go in time once you remove yourself from him, you are too close to the mindfuck he is pulling on you at the moment. He is probably loving the effect his behaviour has on you as it gives him a lot of drama to feed on and attention.He was not an active partner in a relationship and now plays the same games with separation.I know so very well, acceptance of reality is just the hardest thing ever, but you`ll make it. Hold on in there.

  56. JJ2 says:

    NO S***! You tell us over and over that we make choices based on our family dynamics. It wasn’t until four years ago when I briefly dated a passive aggressive, self absorbed, insecure narcissist (PASAIN) (which is what led me to find this website) that I woke up and realized there were issues with my MOM I needed to address. This PASAIN guy was 10 times worse than my mom, but it’s what it took to wake me up to it.

    • Tabitha says:

      I had the exact same experience JJ2. I am now happily NC with both the ex and my narc mother. I am weirdly grateful to him for waking me up to what was going on with my self esteem as a result of having a narc mother who was hell bent on destroying any chance of happiness that ever came my way. Wishing you luck on your journey.

  57. Kimiko says:

    I like the word “activation”. My therapist explained it using the word “trigger”.
    An ex MM I was involved with over 2 years ago was my activation. I never imagined myself being drawn to someone (a player) like him, but I was. Through the year long “relationship” (and I use the term loosely) I always felt he would change his attitude with me and made me feel like he was withdrawing. I was constantly feeling as if I needed to “make it right” or as Natalie says “fix it”. It was a compulsion. I became afraid to express my opinions and felt like a child. He even made me feel that way by calling me a little girl in the beginning. I know I need to heal this wound I never knew I had until my association with him. I wish I knew how.
    Even now, I still can’t seem to stop contact by email and FB with him.
    Still working on healing myself!

  58. Fernleaf says:

    Natalie, I haven’t posted very much, but felt compelled to do so. I was involved with a man I now suspect had traits of Borderline Personality Disorder. It lasted a year. During that time I was baffled by his sudden outbursts of intense and frightening rage, narcissistic behavior, projection and major abandonment issues. It was so toxic, chaotic and there were lots of breakups and reconciliations. He had an amazing way of projecting blame for everything that was not right in his life at the feet of others and had no sense of self responsibility. I hung in there because I was insanely attracted to him and the sex was amazing. The final straw was when I accidentally got pregnant and had miscarriage. A week later he accused me of having an abortion.

    I finally got out of the relationship and implemented NC for almost a year based on your advice. But, here is the kicker. I ran into him at a party in January (after doing so amazingly well at healing myself) and after a lot of alcohol we slept together. Sadly I gave him another chance. BIG MISTAKE. All it did was open myself up to more pain and massive drama.

    It has been a rather cruel lesson that I really needed to learn. I realized that these people NEVER EVER CHANGE, I implemented NC contact. That was February. It has taken almost six months to get back on track again.

    The good news is that I took up a new sport, lost 8 kgs and am finally starting to get my confidence back. However, I am still very bothered that I managed to get embroiled in a relationship with him in the first place and ignored a million red flags. I think I am clever, smart and professionally competent. But, it is taking a long time for me to figure out what it is about “me” that lured me into it. I don’t think I have the answers yet.

    I want to say how much I have learned from this site and the amazing people who have shared the stories. I read every single comment and am so grateful for the wise words of many amazing ladies.

    • Digs says:

      Fernleaf, I was involved with someone with a lot of BPD traits, and I ended up on a support forum for BPD, where I read over and over again how amazing the sex is…unlike sex with anyone else ever. I experienced that as well. I think that the intensity and drama makes it *seem* like the best sex ever. A couple of years after my BPD relationship ended, when I was completely over him, we somehow ended up in touch with one another, were both single, and going through “a dry spell”, and decided to have a one-night no-strings romp. The sex was … boring. Nothing like I remembered, not even close.

      I feel your pain in getting over a relationship with someone with BPD traits – it’s very difficult. I too went through the cycles of breaking up and making up (for two years, I am embarrassed to admit), and I ignored gigantic bright red flags. The draw to him was so intense…it’s hard to understand until you’ve been in it. Don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s very common with a BPDer. You are right that they do not change. My ex has told me so many times how he’s changed. It’s been 3 years and he still tries, every now and again (in between relationships), to convince me that we’d be good together now that we’ve both grown and changed (all via text, mind you). No, we wouldn’t. Thankfully at this point, even just sex with him isn’t appealing to me in the least, and I am in another dry spell. I’d rather shrivel up and become dust, than end my dry spell with him.

      You are right that there is a reason why his BPD attracted you. For me, it was the intensity of his “love”, as if In-Your-Face love was the only way that I could actually *believe* that someone loved me. I couldn’t hear quiet love. No, it had to be cranked up full volume. It was the feeling that he’d never abandon me, ever, because he was THAT in love with me. It was also that he mirrored me. I felt more accepted than I ever have. The drama made me feel *truly* loved, his repeated returns to me, etc. all confirmation that he really loved me, that this was forever. We had this little dance…as soon as I would get close to him, he’d create drama to avoid true intimacy, pull away, and that would trigger my need to get him back. When I got him back, I didn’t want him, I pulled away, he was triggered, he fought to get me back….over and over and over we played out this cycle. So much drama, so much sex, so much intensity. With therapy, I was able to see why that was attractive to me, and why it was so hard to give it up. I have a long way to go, but this site is helping me so much. Natalie’s writing, and her readers’ comments help me so much. I am going to be getting her books now that I am ready to truly make some changes in my life.

      Good for you to be doing good things for yourself. Sounds like you’re on the right road :o)

      • Demke says:

        Yep. I know that situation all too well. And with my ex, the sex was also amazing. And that’s hard to give up especially when they come sniffing around again. That’s what I’m going through now. It’s been a long time, and he wanted to see me, under the guise of apologizing and talking, blah, blah, blah.. lol.

        But, I just know from past experiences with him, I know where it would end up. He’d be nice and attentive for a 2-3 weeks, great sex… then back to being a selfish @ass.

        So, for me… this really is a true test. Long dry spell, calls and texts from him. A test from Satan himself. LOL! I am doing good though. I see right through it, and it would be embarrassing, and unhealthy for me to even entertain it.

        I’d rather be alone than to ever give him the satisfaction.

        • beth d says:

          The sex is always amazing with these assholes. I am convinced it is the drama that fuels it even more. My other theory is that they know they have “something something” and use it to take full advantage of you. I remember thinking to myself that the pain involved in my relationship was way too high a price to pay for good sex.

  59. riotgirl says:

    Thanks for the great post, Nat. I seriously needed this today.

    I’m not sure if this happens to anyone on BR, but everytime I feel like I’m getting on track with the healing process – my old feelings and thoughts about my ex re-surface.

    This was a guy I was willing to die for. I loved him more than anyone or anything in the world. I supported him financially, almost had a baby (aborted) with him and would have done anything he asked of me. Until I found out he was lying to me and cheating on me and still, I forgave him and got back together with him. When I finally decided to leave; he cried, begged, emotionally blackmailed me, threatened to ruin my life, put himself in hospital by trying to commit suicide and got his ‘psychologist’ to ring me up and tell me that it was all my fault and that I should really be doing what’s right. I’m pretty sure he was a sociopath.

    It’s been two years since I went NC and am now happily married to a wonderful man who loves me and treats me well but from time to time, I dream of my ex or get reminded of him in some way, that I feel ‘re-activated’. I feel really guilty that I think about my ex, feel like I shouldn’t be feeling anything at all except anger and hate towards him — but I think a part of me actually misses him. I dream about him all the time, and these emotions re-activate.

    Am I a masochist? Or is there a way that I can stop this from happening? Because I know that he will never love me and I will never be able to get any closure from him. I love my husband dearly and I don’t want this to get in the way of our relationship. :(

    • genie says:

      Have you tried therapy?

      • riotgirl says:

        genie, I went to one psychologist who tried to put me on anti-depressants… what kind of therapy would you suggest?

        • beth d says:

          riotgirl A therapist who offers advice and counseling would be helpful especially if it is over two years. A psychiatrist prescribes medicine. A psychologist or therapist talks it out with you. You are stuck on pain which is common in unhealthy relationships. It is very hard to deprogram and many people need help. I think of it as the “stolkholm syndrome” We feel a weird attachment to our abuser and miss the drama and the highs and lows. It sounds like that is the situation with you. It takes a long time to appreciate and get use to a “normal” loving relationship when you have been involved with someone like you described.

          • riotgirl says:

            beth d: Thank you for the comment. It’s reassuring to know that someone has some insight into what I’m going through. You’re right — the attachment is weird and I miss the drama. I still haven’t gotten used to a “normal” loving relationship even though it’s all I’ve ever wanted.

            Will give therapy a go and hopefully, keep you posted. Thank you for your kind words. :)

        • Mymble says:

          I wouldn’t dismiss medication out of hand. I have found it helpful, and ha definitely diminished the paralysing anxiety and negative self talk. They say that the best results tend to be medication in combination with a talking therapy.
          I am not doing the talking therapy just now, though I did a few months last year. I just cannot afford it now.

          • riotgirl says:

            Mymble: I’ve heard really bad things about the medication and I guess that’s why I am so cautious about it. Perhaps, a combination of both would be more useful. With the psychologist that I saw, (I know this sounds crazy) but I didn’t feel like she wanted to listen to me or cared very much.

            I had seen a counsellor before that, and she was different. So it wasn’t just because I was adverse to her treatment, but the vibe I got from her too.

            OMG! The charges here are ridiculous. I think it’s close to $200 per session. I haven’t been able to afford it either. :(

            I hope you’re feeling better though… :)

            • Karen says:

              Twelve step meetings like Codependent’s Anonymous or Al Anon are fantastic in addressing issues that cause us to choose to love assclowns, EUs, losers and users. It’s like group therapy and only costs a buck! Sponsors are also available for one on one guidance.
              When I recently dumped my EU phony, I ended it by saying, “I will accept no further contact.”
              That set a firm boundary and if she violates it it will only remind me how wise I was to end it.
              She could write, call, text or send a singing telegram and I will not acknowledge any of it.
              I don’t owe her any explanations and it’s not my job to provide her with closure.
              I think getting closer is overrated. “It didn’t work so it had to end” is about all the closure I need to move on.
              Now I have spread the word to everyone I love and care for: “I HATE DRAMA.”
              I want to cultivate a reputation as a drama hater, because I used to rather love it and was never shy about stirring it up.
              It’ time for me to stop examining the remains, finish the autopsy and move on.

  60. Laura Kamienski says:

    This is what is meant by paying attention to your gut feelings or intuition in self defense classes. The trouble is there is no way to teach those who have already suffered trauma to recognize those gut feelings in such a short amount of time. Trauma teaches us to ignore and squelch them in favor of coping mechanisms and behaviors, which then translate into future relationships as spongy boundaries. Gender roles also play a significant role in our learning to ignore these feelings. Girls are taught to “be nice and let the nice man kiss you” as well as our indoctrination into the “romance” novel and aiming for the “bad boy”.

  61. BS says:

    I don’t understand how you guys “fall in love” with these freakish men. I don’t think it is possible to fall in love with them. They are unlovable. Maybe you confused fear with love? Especially if he/she was a person that had kind of authority over you or someone in your family – they have the power to make life miserable and they have the absence of character to do just that. What they need is to be “outed.” So they can’t do it again…

    • Lau_ra says:

      Well, I have this theory about “cold love”. If you’re someone who comes from a family where love wasn’t expressed (more sort of just anticipated), yet the criticism towards your actions/choices was a routine thing or we see some unhealthy behaviours in parents couple, as young adults we still carry this ill understanding of how love is (its drama, its having to proove you are worthy of love and etc.).
      All of my friends who are in healthy relationships come from very supportive families, so its a no-brainer why and how they managed to create the same type of reltionships – those friends would always find those guys I’ve used to date not suitable for me. Such a cliche, yet they were right.
      So we fall in love with those guys, cause we think these crumbs is all we deserve, as we are used to getting crumbs. And it doesn’t change until we get a great kick in the ass in a form of epiphany relationship and make a choice of dropping these ill-patterns.

      • riotgirl says:

        Lau_ra, that actually makes a lot of sense. I never thought I’d link my dating choices to my parents. Heh.

    • Kit-Kat says:

      BS.. I don’t think its fear at all. Sometimes in the beginning they do all the right things to reel you in. Sometimes we miss or ignore red flags and b4 you know it you have strong feelings for this person. For me I just want to be loved in a mutual relationship. Like the one I never had with my father as a child. I understand the dynamics now and it will never happen again. I don’t think you can judge what other people do until you have walked in their shoes. We are all here because we let someone into our lives that didn’t deserve to be. We are here to support each other no matter what. I wish is was as easy as your post suggest but for some of us love & who we love is complicated…Just my thoughts

      • Brenda says:

        I’m with Kit Kat a lot can be hidden and misunderstood. I learned my lesson about selfish yet sensitive guys becasue of that.

        Sometimes yes sure they are real sensitive.. “About themselves.”

        But things like that can take time to discover – say for example when you’ve usually experienced the more obvious selfish type that was NOT sensitive or emotional.

        You might for a good while take on this sensitive person as a friend only to find out they jump from relationship to relationship, think you should be a back-up plan, don’t care for your happiness or how much they had hurt you.. But still all in all can be plenty pitiful when it comes to their own feelings.

        Those things somethings are just lessons we have to learn the hard way and do not start out as fear based and might even LOOK so different at first.

        Just complete misunderstandings about someone’s TRUE character.

        Why I really think dating for a while is a better idea than jumping into anything, and now I will be careful even of who I “care” about after that experience becasue they might be sensitive yet very selfish and self serving at the same time.

  62. Erica says:

    I have really benefitted from this site and for the first time was able to see my choices as the problem and not luck. This lead to my soul searching, self help research, and counseling that made me realize the only reason I was so hurt was because I let it happen. You can only be treated as badly as you allow. I had two serious relationships with two EUMs in a row but this last one was the wake up call I needed. He told me early on he was fearful of committment and not good in relationships, and that he didn’t date and I was “it” for him. I was his first serious relationship in 10 years, so as most women I thought, wow I am that girl to make him want to settle down. As time went on he was very closed off in so many ways. One day he was all over me, the next wouldn’t even touch me, he never wanted me around friends (I felt alienated after a while), he only expressed emotions drunk, and when I asked to see him 3 days a week he would, but would shortly after make remarks like “he spends all his time with me” and acted very aggitated and mean (um 3 days a week is hardly all your time not to mention it was for 3 hours at most at a time). I began to want to end things for the first time and see signs from my last EUM before this one that made me want to run because that was the most painful breakup of my life. He then told me he “doesn’t know what he wants ” can’t be a “full time BF” “can’t be who he wants” and all in tears he told me this. I began to realize these people are mentally sick, and this EUM realized he is wanting to go get counseling . I don’t think it’s fair to make them all out to be bad people (some definitely are, receivers, cheaters, bad users), but in my instance it was not the case. You just need to learn to see the red flags and walk early on, see things for what they are (not what they could be “someday”) and realize only you make these choices after seeing the signs. It took a lot for me to realize this but after this last EUM wanted to stay friends saying he was in so much pain, loved me, was miserable, showed up in tears at my house I realized he didn’t want to change. He still didn’t know what he wanted, which was activating but was my walk up call to “WALK”. No contact 2 weeks now and I have barely shed a tear because I feel free from his mental instabilities that I was taking on as my own. Only he can change himself, ladies you can’t make him.

  63. Karen says:

    I spent the last year and a half suspecting that my girlfriend was activating codependency issues I’d spent 4 years recovering from.
    Ha! Imagine my surprise to find it wasn’t my codepedency she was triggering, it was my recovery sirens trying warn me.

    When I pay attention to my own emotions instead of those of others, life just works better.

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!