If you're giving and giving and<br /><br /> giving to someone and all you've<br /><br /> got to show for it is a relationship<br /><br /> that's not working and some<br /><br /> battered self-esteem, give<br /><br /> yourself the gift of freedom,<br /><br /> peace, and dignity, and take a<br /><br /> walk, and KEEP walking. </p><br /> <p>The further away from the situation<br /><br /> that you are, the stronger you'll get.

Many stories about unhealthy relationships or situations where it’s not mutual but there are attempts to make it mutual and ‘level’, are about one person not knowing when to back off and stop/reduce giving. All of these people end up extremely hurt, rejected, distrusting, and even blaming and shaming themselves because in the quest to get what they wanted through giving, they lost sight of their identity and not only had their boundaries busted, but also busted their own boundaries.

A frequent tale is the rather painful experience of making yourself indispensable with a view that the person thinks that you’re so valuable and devoted that they will give you the relationship that you want. There is often a very quiet expectation that because you’ve been giving so much that they will overlook what you perceive as your ‘flaws’, or you expect that they won’t reject you or get into conflict with you. In some instances, it can literally be giving with a view to the other person doing exactly what you want. When it all blows up and you end up reminding them of what you’ve given, the other person can get very defensive. It can even cross into you inadvertently attempting to guilt them into coughing up what they ‘owe’ – “I gave you eleven years…” or “If I’d known that you weren’t going to do _____, I wouldn’t have done _______.”

When you give and give and give and give and possibly give some more, it’s because you’re an over-giver who doesn’t truly believe that you without the excessive giving is enough. You overdo it because you’re attempting to create a tipping point where the other person will reciprocate and match you and you’ll basically get a return on your investment. When you don’t, you feel devalued by the experience.

It’s not that giving is a ‘bad thing’ – far from it – but giving because you attribute so little value to your own worth that you think that the only way that you can ‘get’ and ‘keep’ people around you is to give the crap out of yourself, isn’t a good thing, because people who do not have limits do not have boundaries, standards, or much self-esteem to work with. One day you realise that you are someone who gives too much in the wrong situations or to the wrong people and that you’re being mistaken for a doormat who doesn’t know when to fold and get the hell out of there.

You wonder where to go from ‘here’ and may even feel ‘bad’ about the possibility of not giving and heaven forbid, saying NO or waiting for others to step up, because you feel guilty as if Good People don’t say no, let other’s do things, or walk away.

You may even feel ‘scared’ that if you stop giving that you won’t have any ‘power’ anymore, possibly because you don’t know your own personal value or values. You value yourself in terms of what you can do for people (and what they give back), not what you’re able to do for yourself, or your qualities, characteristics, and values. Giving with hidden expectations and a ‘You Owe Me’ that hasn’t been communicated or agreed to isn’t wholehearted giving though.

Over-giving is a distinct sign of trying to use external solutions (people) to fix your internal problems while using ‘giving’ as your bartering mechanism. When you address and begin to mend your relationship with you, you can put more energy into giving to you instead of draining and neglecting you to boost others.

Let’s be real; who truly feels good about themselves when they feel like they have to ‘buy’ people’s attentions and affections with giving or they have to overcompensate for their perceived flaws?

When you’re hungry for love, attention, affection, friendship etc, when you meet someone, you can be so high on the possibilities that you rush around doing an excessive amount of stuff that looks particularly odd in the context of hardly knowing someone and then something happens that brings you back down to earth with a bump and it can feel difficult to recover from the giving hangover.

There is something critical that gets forgotten by people who have the equivalent of an Overactive Giving Thyroid – if you keep giving blindly because you’re focused on trying to fill up a void within you and to generate a tipping point, you do not get a chance to truly see what the other person is about nor do you truly get to see what their own capacity is to give.

Since I first wrote Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, I’ve read thousands of stories via email and comments where the person was so in love with being in love, or focused on getting the commitment or validation, or in their own little illusionary world doing all this giving to build their ‘future’ together that they didn’t realise that the other person wasn’t on board. Then they felt blindsided or wronged.

Over-giving clouds out the other person – you’ll know who they are and what they’re about if you slow your giving roll. You can know who someone truly is and where your relationship is at if you have boundaries and are ‘meeting’ people in your relationships instead of chasing and trying to pull them in with your giving.

When you hold your own and act like you’re worthy of being treated with the basics of love, care, trust, and respect, you don’t keep trying to overcompensate or to fix issues by over-giving because you think it’s something ‘about you’ that created the problem and will be the solution.

Mutual relationships , romantic and otherwise, are organic and you always know that the relationship isn’t that mutual or organic when you’re acutely aware of what you’re giving and what you think the other person isn’t and even score keeping. You may think about your interpersonal relationships in terms of investments that you feel that you’ve put too much into to walk away from, even though you may be desperately unhappy with some of these relationships.

I’ve asked many over-giver’s why they continue to give into a situation that is leaving them emotionally bankrupt and barely able to nourish themselves – because they’re afraid that if they stop or reduce giving, that the person isn’t going to step up and then they’d have to admit that they have been pouring their energy into something and someone that isn’t mutual. The thing is, they know it’s not mutual already because if it was, then it wouldn’t be over-giving.

It’s a false economy – all of this giving is done to prevent the person from leaving (but they may do anyway) or prevent the person from failing to recognise your worth (but they may not attribute the same value that you do to your giving) or to prevent other ‘unfavourable outcomes‘, but all that excessive giving will do, particularly in an unhealthy relationship where you’re being treated without love, care, trust, and respect and not experiencing other ‘landmarks‘, is actually create far more unpleasantness than you would ever have experienced if you’d stopped doing all of these dodgy preventative measures.

The most valuable thing that you can do for you is to start treating you with love, care, trust and respect because when you withhold these things from yourself and do not regard you as a worthwhile valuable person, any old person can come along with a crumb and you’ll think that it’s a loaf because it appears to be better than what you’re giving to you. When you’re on a crumb diet, you end up clamouring for more crumbs (because you’re starving) and so you go into giving overdrive in the hopes of getting the loaf or at least some chunks. They’ll do one thing, you’ll do seven in the hope that next time they’ll do two, only they actually think “Wow, they did all that when all I’m giving is that?” and suddenly one equals seven and you’re in a relationship subsisting on crumbs.

If you feed you with some self-love, which you need to do whether you’re in or out of a relationship and irrespective of whatever has come to pass before, you’d walk before you downgrade you or start blowing smoke up someone’s bum.

The sky will not fall down if you quit the excessive giving although a poor relationship won’t be left with anything to stand on. If you’re wondering where to start with reducing, it’s very simple:

If you’re giving away your self-esteem and dignity, you’re giving too much.

If you’re giving with a view to what you think the other person will do and you haven’t communicated this, you’re giving too much.

Your thoughts?

Natalie Lue is the founder and writer of Baggage Reclaim and author of the books Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship and more. Learn more about her here and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter – @baggagereclaim .

Natalie (NML) – who has written posts on Baggage Reclaim by Natalie Lue.


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152 Responses to Are You An Over-Giver? People Who Give Too Much

  1. runnergirl says:

    Hey Natalie, Excellent post. I went back to the section on giving in Mr. U and the FBG. In typical FBG fashion, I would have been so happy if he gave to me what I gave to him. You wrote: “By persisting in giving what you think you need, you’re not really giving to him; you’re giving to you. You’re also by choosing to give to him, giving to a very inappropriate recipient.” This is an important reminder for me. His needs/wants and my needs/wants were extremely different but I collapsed the needs/wants made assumptions and ended up bewildered when things went tits up. It a good reminder to stop giving to others in the “hope of getting back you want and need”. I think I’ve cut out the middle man…giving to me directly now is much easier, assuming I know what I want and need! I know I want a healthy team mate. Thank you as always.

    • Mymble says:

      “cut out the middle man.. ” Heheh! Very good! Yes, it’s not really so unselfish & noble looked at like that, is it?
      When I look back at all the *cough* humiliating submissive behaviour, I realise it wasn’t because I loved him so much as hoping he’d come good for me. Which of course he never did! It made him respect me less and made me respect me less.

  2. EB says:

    There’s a difference between being generous and being a constant giver.While the former is being open to the situation, reacting with it in a mutual dialogue, the latter is actually killing it.A constant giver is like a constant hug. And what the is value or honesty of a constant hug? well there is non.
    I love my hugs sporadically and truthfully, and the same goes for giving .

  3. Natasha says:

    Oh, have I done this! The worst was during one of those “Everything is going WRONG.” periods in my life – i.e., the company I worked for was downsizng, I was working for a jackass and I’d been straight-up dissed by an assclown. For, like, the fifth time. (Yes, I was dissed by the same assclown on all of these occasions. It wasn’t even five separate assclowns. Oy.)

    At some point I decided I must have horrible karma if this was happening (No, I was not on any street drugs. This actually made sense to me. Sober.)and I’d better be more of a Giver very quickly if I was going to “fix” things.

    If a car had driven through my living room, I would have thought, “Aha! I knew I’d be punished for that time in 1986 when I didn’t share my crayons. I’d better let someone yell at me just even sh*t out.” Needless to say, when I got some self esteem and got real about life being, well, life everything got much better. As usual, amazing advice Nat! :)

  4. Tinkerbell says:

    Natalie. Your last several posts have radiated immensely in my life. lately. I’m currently experiencing hurt feelings for this very reason. I recently met a man online, who I thought was a nice decent chap. He messaged me first and seemed to be really wanting to get to know me. I responded affirmatively. Our first telephone conversation was 2 1/2 hours long! I thought, “Oh boy, this is great. Maybe I’ve caught the big fish.” We’ve been communicating only about 3 weeks. His birthday was just a few days ago and since he had given me his (new)address, as he was in the process of moving, I sent him a humorous, friendly card. It was not mushy at all. Prior to this I had sent him an email and a text, expressing encouragement since he was going to be in a new city and moving was a big undertaking. He not only failed to respond to the email, or the text, but has even had the gall not to acknowledge the birthday card! Now, I am feeling very angry and hurt that he could be so cold and ungrateful. I feel like I may have gone overboard. The thing is, I knew with his moving that he would want to keep his options open and not get too involved with me too fast especially since I am still 300 miles away from him. But, at the time I didn’t think I was overgiving. After all, he contacted me I didn’t go looking for him. Anyway, now I am feeling very foolish and angry with myself and with him for not having left me alone if he was not ready for a “relationship”.

    • runnergirl says:

      Hey Tinkerbell,
      I’m sorry the guy hasn’t responded to your very nice gestures. Even though you’ve been communicating for three weeks, you haven’t met him in person? I’d be very, very, careful with “Oh boy, this is great. Maybe I’ve caught the big fish.” That’s the slippery slope of the Dreamer. In my short experience with online dating, the guy on the phone and/or email was very different than the guy that showed up in person. I’d reserve judgment on the “big fish” until you know him or at least met him. With regards to your giving, you made nice overtures and he hasn’t responded. Okay. That is important information/feedback to process. Although I’m totally new at the dating thing, I’d recommend reading everything Nat has written about dating. It’s a discovery phase. In your last line you mention “relationship”? Huh? You haven’t met him. Not every guy that contacts you online is looking for a relationship despite what they may say on their profile. Additionally, are you contemplating an LDR? Why? Although I know you feel indignant, I’d write it off as a bit of an investment and bail but that may just be me because I know I can’t do LDR. If you suspect he may want to keep his options open, do you want to sign up to be one of those options? Online dating has it’s challenges. Be clear with your boundaries and grab a firm hold on your flush handle. Once you give and fail to receive, flush and next.

    • Learner says:

      Tinkerbell,
      A few thoughts on reading your post:
      How did you think you may have caught “the big fish” after a 2.5 hour phone conversation, before which you had not met him face to face yet?
      You gave him a non-mushy birthday card, a text and an email – are those a lot to give? I know it is nice to receive replies to efforts at communicating, especially when you are being supportive of his having to move. However, there could be many reasons why he has not responded – he did just move, which takes a lot of time and energy. Has he just not had a chance to yet as he’s been unpacking and trying to remember which box he packed his underwear in? Could he have felt you were “blowing hot” by communicating with him using all these different methods? Did he say he wanted a relationship? Did you? Sorry, I am just not seeing what has happened that you may feel foolish. I hope you find some resolution soon.

    • PurpleLily says:

      @ Tinkerbell : Completely agree with what runnergirl and learner have said. Firstly, do you really want to do an LDR and why? I would be asking myself these questions if I were you.

      And I get that you thought he was a “big fish”…I remember when I started dating the exEUM, people I talked to about him said “Sounds like he has great potential” and I always maintained a “Wouldnt call that yet, lets see how it goes..”. Dont we all know how that went! LOL.

      Online dating is very, very tricky and one needs to have very thick skin. They dont always say what the want or do what they say they want. Im sorry this particular experience has hurt you.

      He may or may not contact you again but I dont think you should feel foolish for the things you did – if doing these things are normal for you (you do this for friends and family), this is who YOU are and you dont have to change. You need to find someone who appreciates these wonderful gestures and your kindness and cherish you.

      And something NML wrote about that Im going to have tattood on the inside of my brain: People unfold. Let things unfold.

    • grace says:

      Tinkerbell
      I don’t do online dating but if I did surely the main/only advantage is that there are A LOT of people online. Therefore, why trouble yourself with someone THREE HUNDRED MILES away. It’s too far, even if he was worthwhile.
      I know LDRs can work, if eventually someone is willing to move. But FBGs and former FBGs should avoid them. And Dreamers most definitely should avoid them You haven’t even met him yet you’re getting bent out of shape.
      We overvalue men contacting us first, or asking us out first, or paying for the first meal. It is nice but it’s not the be-all and end-all and in no way does it warrant the amount of investment we put into it.
      Flush it and narrow your search criteria to ten miles.

    • AngelFace says:

      Tinkerbell,
      Beware of ALL men on internet dating, as most of them are there for a reason – they strike-out in real life.

      I went on a 1st date last Saturday arranged by a friend. I ended it at first RED flag! His main intention of the date was to find a bar near my friend’s house where I was staying, so that he could get drunk and stumble to the place and get lucky. NOT my intention at all and I told him on phone prior to date that I am not a hook-up. We did have a nice lunch and I planned that part.

      Prior to the date he sounded like a dream: recommended by a friend, an engineer, single, wife died 4 years ago… I thought, nice, Hope this guy measures up (I did NOT start making future plans).

      My friend apologized to me, knowing this guy probably drinks too much. Such is Life, and I will meet and screen someone again. No tears shed!!! Good Luck Tinkerbell !

    • LoveyDovey says:

      Hi Tinkerbell…

      Honestly, I think you may be rushing into this part of the dating phase way too fast for your own good. You did mention you’ve been communicating with for what…three weeks? That’s not even a month. And you haven’t met him yet. Whoa Nelly, slow down the race horses….

      The dating phase, especially when you are meeting someone for the first time, takes time to unfold. This is your time to observe his behavior and NOT get emotionally synched into everything he does when you don’t even know if he’s interested in more than just long chats on the phone.

      It’s good to do things for people out of kindness, but if you were doing this in hopes of getting some kind of validation from him or even getting the girlfriend label this early, then the problem really isn’t the guy. It’s you…

      This is exactly what Natalie is talking about. Give because that’s who you are. Everyone is not going to reacting to your “giving” personality the same way.

      He may have been a jerk for not acknowledging the fact that you did these nice things but don’t take it so personally because his reaction/response (or lack there of) has nothing to do with you.

      Take that as your cue to either slow down, take the time to assess yourself and assess this guys behavior patterns more instead of what he’s saying to you. If he’s still acting like a rude and aloof @ss even after you’ve gotten to know him better, then you need to let this guy go because he’s obviously not in the mood to reciprocate feelings.

  5. Donna Lopez says:

    I definitely give too much and I nearly ruined my summer catering to a guy I hoped would give back basic affection. I had been doing what I thought I needed to to work on my self esteem. I met with friends and family, felt fulfilled at work and was training for a triathlon. Somewhere inside I know I have a great life but I always sell myself out for the possibility of love. I know from years of therapy that I have this pattern and I know it has a little to do with seeing my mom behave this way with my dad. But that’s not where all the blame lies. I learned an important lesson this summer when I played nursemaid to a guy who I can only refer to as a Vulcan due to his lack of emotional response. The good news is that in the past I’ve wasted years over giving to someone who didn’t show me basic respect. I have to believe there was some growth in me. I just have to remember that the type of relationship that I want is one where I am appreciated for whoi am and not what I can do for someone.

    Another piece of good news. My triathlon was yesterday and I finished in 2hrs 7 min. It was the first race of any kind for me. 5 months ago I could barely run down the block. Yesterday was exhilarating and I am glad I got through it even with the circumstances that got in the way.

  6. tired says:

    Im turning to you girls out there for help because im close to break down. my ac as you know i suspect him of cheating and in my heart i know its the case. tonight i went past the place he was playing (hes in a band)and the ow was there they were out front chatting he saw me and as i walked round corner i burst into tears the shock. He denies anything but admits he likes her , he later rang me and spoke to me for over a hr saying hes confused etc , needs to sort himself out etc , says he cant not have me in his life but thinks we should go back to being friends , as i write this it is exactly what ive seen here in past .I know i should say i need to break contact with him and as nat says if in a yr or what evr time limt after ive moved on we can be friends it will be . ive been to the docs to get councilling and im not sure if pills would help?x

    • Fifi says:

      sorry Tired, this must be awful for you right now. But – you listened to your instincts and you faced your fears – that makes you a very strong person in my view, who will get through this.
      No contact is the only way to go. You’ll feel awful for a while, but stay with the feelings, write them down, meditate (meditationoasis.com has free podcasts) and It. All. Will. Pass. It will. much hugs

    • Intothelight says:

      If that AC is telling you “he just wants to go back to being friends”and that he is confused its just a cowards way of saying he wants out for the moment but would like to keep you on hold ‘just in case’. Im not saying this to be harsh Im saying this out of experience after splitting up with my AC after 6 years (who was also a musician conincidently. This man was the person who I referred to as ‘the only man I’ve truly loved” I went no contact he contacted me after 3 months but by I had taken take a good look at myself and realised I had been doing some serious boundary busting in an effort to stay with him. Its hard, very hard, but let him go out and do his thing and get on with your life … any man who has to think about being with you or not is not worth being with. You are worth more.:-)

      • LoveyDovey says:

        I agree, Intothelight…

        He’s basically trying to keep you on ice until he gets his rounds in with the new girl he’s with. He’s essentially putting you on the shelf for a bit until he gets back…if he even does.

        Once he goes cold with that girl, he’ll either find someone else to blow hot with or flip back to you to see if you are still available.

        That’s how it works…basically if you’re constantly being put in the friend zone by a guy you’ve been intimate with on more than one occasion but can’t ever get to stay, that should be the gigantic red flag to you that he only see’s you as a FBG.

      • Brenda says:

        Exactly.. They should just KNOW after a period pof time, and if your needing more it’s P*ss or get off the pot.

        You can’t live without needs being met like that.. to bad yes for so many men sex seems to be enough, But is it really? Why are those the most unhappy then – and if they are happy seems to be more like the spite filled kind, Not the I am at peace kind, that always got me.

  7. blueberry girl says:

    Wow. You are describing me to a tee…I am embarrassed and ashamed that I gave so much to the alky, and glossed over his ill treatment of me and hair’s breath of interest. Oh, I saw it and his myriad problems, but went “dreamer” and carried on with my own agenda, in a relationship that didn’t exist. One of the last horrible things he said to me after I wasted months playing nice, nice, listening to his gripes & problems, excusing his blatant disrespect because he drank, was that he “didn’t give a sh*t if I came by to see him or not, we aren’t dating.”
    I literally gave to the point he had zero respect for me! The more caring and understanding I showed him, the more outrageous his behavior became…just to get rid of me. What a waste of time and energy on a loser who cared nothing about me.
    I would have been far wiser to give that level of care to me or my kids, dog, flower garden, etc., where the investment would have paid off. This is a real eye- opening post, Nat. Thanks for helping me see so I don’t repeat this painful mistake.

  8. Susie says:

    Thanks so much for writing this Natalie. I really needed to read this today. You’ve helped me more than you know.

  9. JK says:

    You touch my soul with your words…Your website has given me the courage to change. 8 weeks NO CONTACT. So proud…SO WORTH THE EFFORT! Thank you…I look forward to your words everyday!!!

  10. Learner says:

    ” One day you realise that you are someone who gives too much in the wrong situations or to the wrong people and that you’re being mistaken for a doormat who doesn’t know when to fold and get the hell out of there.”
    Yes Natalie, I gave away my dignity in a vain attempt to achieve a relationship that never could have worked. My self-esteem was plummeting. I gave so much time, energy, focus, brain-power and feelings to someone who didn’t belong to me in the first place. I mistakenly believed I could ‘win him over” with all my giving. I bent over backwards to be with him, all the while complimenting him, being his shoulder to cry on, meeting his physical needs, and all of this for nothing. It wasn’t mutual and he didn’t recognize my worth.
    I am so glad I found the strength to walk, with the help of BR. When I first went NC, it was so painful and I was so unsure of myself. The first month felt like a surreal roller coaster ride. But the second month felt a little better – you are right that “the further away from the situation you are, the stronger you’ll get” even though it may not feel like it.
    I received an email from a female colleague who is on the same committee as myself and the exMM. She told me she had enjoyed working with me during the recent work sessions we had. She said I looked “happy and refreshed”. It really struck me as significant, as it’s not something I would expect her to say. Apparently I had looked not-so-happy and not-so-refreshed in earlier meetings while I was still involved with the exMM. But now I look noticeably happier. Yay! This has given me even more encouragement to keep going with NC. I have stopped over-giving to someone who was not worth it, and my mental health and appearance have improved. This feels so profound.
    Thank you Natalie, for what you give to us – *within* your boundaries and values.

    • blueberry girl says:

      @Learner
      Much of your first paragraph resonates with me. “It wasn’t mutual and he didn’t recognize my worth.”
      The main issue I’ve struggled with is why on earth I would chase such an inappropriate, unhealthy partner? If I “won” him, what did I actually win? A red-flag- waving alcoholic with opposing values. Would we truly want them, Learner, if the planets aligned and they decided to grace us with commitment ? Truth be told, since he’s revealed more of his character and values (or lack thereof), I don’t even like him!
      Like you, I’m finding peace with NC and slowly gaining ground in my battle to love myself.
      Congrats on your newly refreshed appearance & outlook!

      • Learner says:

        Hi blueberry girl (I love blueberries!)
        Why did we chase these guys, indeed! You ask great questions. In my case, it’s probably my futile attempt to finally win my self-absorbed father’s love – from another self-absorbed guy! Could that be the case for you, too? As I slowly heal from the involvement with the ex, I feel I am healing from some of the childhood hurt, too.
        Sorry, I am also not interested in your red-flag-waving alky, lol, especially since he can actually come out and say he doesn’t give a sh*t if you see him. Nice!
        And if the planets aligned and I got commitment from the exMM? Tbh, I actually thought about that while I was still in pursuit of him. Do I want a man who is 8 years older than me, is a known cheater and liar, can’t respond to anything I say except to talk about himself without acknowledging anything I said, doesn’t seem to want to become a man of integrity, with a mean “ex” wife (and OOW)in the background doing goodness-knows-what? Do I want a man who already has health issues related to aging, like lower back pain, acid reflux, plantar fasciitis, a protruding belly and beginning signs of ED (none of which he can help, but does he have to *complain* about them all so much???).
        As a woman under 50 who works out, is striving to be a better person, has so much love to give and many years before retirement- the answer, like you bg, is NO. I KNOW I don’t want him as a life partner any more. I probably would have been petrified if he had come to me with his separation papers and asked when we could move in together.
        We just have to recover from the addiction to these guys, and from our own self-sabotaging behaviour.
        Oops, sorry for the long reply – your questions got me into a reflective mode that felt good.
        As an aside, I just got an email message asking me if I know “exMM’s name” and if I want to open a Facebook account. Ummmm, yes, I now know him better than I want to, and *no thanks* I don’t need another fb account that I have to block him on!!!
        Thank you blueberry girl. NC, NC, NC

        • runnergirl says:

          Blueberry and Learner,
          I experienced that petrifying moment last July when his wife discovered our affair. Actually it was months after it ended and I was doing a suck it and see, hand in the fire, playing in traffic moment. It was after I discovered BR and realized that he was a cheating liar (and I was too, btw). I was scared shitless that now this cheating liar would land on my doorstep. I posted desperately on BR while walking around my house with my hair on fire. Thank you for those responses. Dear god, be really careful what you wish for. I wish for self-esteem, peace, freedom, dignity, and the ability to walk. No more giving to folks who take it and me for granted. They get one chance. Then, flush. MM’s get zero chance, automatic flush.

          • blueberry girl says:

            @ runnergirl. That’s intense & frightening and maybe what Learner and I have thought through in our most rational moments. I gave away chunks of myself to a younger man with major addiction & unavailability issues.
            Which leads me to the question (deep breath):
            Am I really that shallow that I would overlook his lack of feeling for me and downright cruelty because he’s a much younger man, because I wanted to feel I still am attractive & sexy? All he did was validate the opposite!

            Your experience was truly a wake-up call. I won’t have that hair-on-fire moment of truth as he is so done with me now that I’ve refused membership in his dysfunctional harem of damaged young girls. Yuk.
            Bottomline, it’s a blessing that these men are out of our lives. We made a run for our lives, runner. Thanks for the insight.

        • blueberry girl says:

          @ learner. You got me thinking as well. My mother is a narcissist, self-absorbed and critical, esp. of me, the middle of three sisters. It makes sense that I’m still trying to win her love & approval but does that still work if it’s your mom and not your dad? Is there a psych major in the house?
          Forgive me for laughing, but your ex’s fixations on his physical maladies made me giggle. Mine bent my ear on his interpersonal and work problems; he was always arguing with someone, wasn’t being treated fairly at work, a fly in his cornflakes, complaints ad nauseum. Boo effing hoo. Who needs that?
          I’m glad we can see the humor in it. Learner, we made a lucky escape. NC, NC, NC!

          • Learner says:

            runner
            I can’t imagine having to go through the wrath of the wife finding out. Eek. I am adopting your wishes as my own, if you don’t mind – yes, self esteem, peace, freedom, dignity – so much more desirable than the insecurity, turmoil, angst, shame that we got with the exes. Good call!

            blueberry
            I’m not a psych major (took a few courses tho) but I think it still makes sense that issues with mums could put us at risk for becoming FBG’s too, since it would facilitate being EU.
            And I’m glad you had a giggle at the ex’s maladies. He was always soaking his feet, while texting me to complain they were “on fire”, and once, he described bending over to rake some leaves, putting his back out, and “hobbling into the house to collapse on the couch”. So dramatic. These complaints didn’t exactly up his attractiveness factor, lol. Now *I’m* laughing! I can also relate to having to listen oh-so-sympathetically to his being mistreated by people at work, his wife, his internet provider, his clients. Boo effing hoo is right, lol, I *so* do not miss all that. And I don’t think you’re shallow going for a younger guy – I think you’re smarter than I was with my choice! What were we thinking???

  11. Marina says:

    God I can relate to this one so well Natalie. I’ve recently gone through a HORRENDOUS debacle with my Mr. Unavailable… So bad that even HE left town!!! I can relate so much to what you write about a “crumb diet.” Because that seems to ALWAYS be the case with any man I’m interested in. But speaking of crumbs… I really do have a history of eating disorders (particularly anorexia when I was modeling a few years ago), and even though I’m much better with food than I was, I sometimes wonder if I’ve found a NEW way to starve myself. Because it IS a form of starving yourself… emotionally rather than physically (although often it is a combination of both, as it is in my case with this particular Mr. Unavailable). So you really may be on to something Natalie…

    • Onedayatatime says:

      Marina, I am so sorry to read that. I too have suffered from an eating disorder. Sadly, I believe that one never fully recovers; I don’t want to crush your or anyone’s hope of recovery, I just think that even if you do recover from the ed itself – reach a healthy weight in anorexia, stop vomiting in bulimia, etc – the psychological scars remain a part of you forever. One must learn how to live with it. This has a huge effect on self esteem and the way we see and love ourselves, which of course dictates the type of relationships we have, both with men and other human beings(friends, family, etc). As I read the post on over giving, I don’t know whether to smile or cry in shame because it describes me so well. All my life, I have been your textbook over giver. And after many years, I finally realised in horror, “am I doing this because I genuinely love the other person(s), or is it actually a subconscious way of trying to get affection from other people because I don’t think they would give it to me if I didn’t over give to them??” I finally understood the meaning of giving without expecting anything in return (which I think is the true meaning of honest, pure giving). Of course that leaves me terrified, because now I don’t have that “pseudo-comfort blanket” of over giving in the hope that (eventually) they will “realise how wonderful I am and love me lots in return”. I am still in the process of figuring out what to do and how exactly, because I’m still stuck thinking “well, I actually enjoy giving (I do, the pure part of it – I still have to master detaching it from the implication that I am a good person that I attach to it), so if I am to stop over giving, then what?? Do I turn into a horrible bitch who never gives anything at all?? How can I tell when to fully give and to whom (ie. a wonderful husband one day, a true great friend)??”. I suppose life IS a work in progress, so this, like many other things, I will have to learn as I go along, a day at a time. But it is hard. One really does need a lot of strength every day. That whole “if you fall, you need to get up, dust yourself off and try again” is quite literal….
      I wish you (and fellow BGers) all the best, and I sincerely hope you realise that you deserve much better than starvation and crumbs, in any form. Not from food, not from men, not from your own love and respect. And I hope you (and all of us) can eventually get it.

  12. ResJudicata says:

    When I started reading your site about 3 1/2 years ago, the terms “love, care, trust, and respect” were foreign concepts. After a few more messed-up relationships with unavailable men, I have taken off the last year to reflect upon these terms. As a former “hyper-giver”, your words rang true. However, since the last “relationship” ended last August, I have treated myself with the love, care, trust, and respect that that person did not provide. I have always been independent, but in providing these core things to myself, I have become even more autonomous. If the right, and balanced/available man comes along — great. If not, I have a great job, house, pool, dogs, friends, hobbies, interests, and activities. I refuse to be the “folding doormat” any longer.

  13. Kerry says:

    Tinkerbell,
    I think your first mistake was thinking, “Maybe I’ve caught the big fish.” As tempting as it is, we should never get ahead of ourselves. If we’ve learned anything from BR, it’s that people don’t deliver the honest goods up front. It takes time to unravel the truth. You needed a lot more information on this guy, and it sounds like you got it. Just the other day, I went on a date with a guy I met in a coffee shop. Thirty seconds into the date, he tells me he’s moving away in the next couple of weeks. We had a really nice two-hour chat and he left without getting my number. Too bad, because on paper, he was perfect. Why did he ask me out? I have no idea. Maybe he was killing time till he moved away? Whatever the reason, I’ve learned it’s in my best interests not to over-think it or get ahead of myself. From hereon, I plan to be the observer and let my dates unfold until I get a better sense of who they are. I know it’s hard, but I’ll fight my over-active imagination every step of the way, to protect myself, and to keep myself in the driver’s seat. After all, it’s our own imaginations that usually do us in.
    The guy you met was a stranger with a lot of unknowns. You can’t waste another second wondering what his motives were. Who cares what he thinks of you? Let it go. That’s what a guy would do.

    • PurpleLily says:

      @ Kerry : Bingo! I know for sure that it is my imagination that does me in. Ugh. Too much mental activity!

      Ive told myself the next time I get back to dating (break after EUM + too many other life things going on), Im going to keep this imagination under control. Over the years, Ive learnt to control the dreamer (tough one this), but the imagination will be tough.

      Great to read about your reaction to this dude, something to learn from.

  14. themom2012 says:

    I had to read this article several times as it was as if Natalie had opened a door into my life and exposed my last three years of insanity. I literally laughed, cried and blushed as I read through FINALLY understanding what I had done, the ‘whys’ and reasons behind my frantic gift-giving.
    I took that crumb I had found and pulled up my generous dump truck and showered this AC with everything I believed would make him happy and grateful enough to validate me as ‘wonderful’ …wrong! He took advantage, showed little respect, got angry and left…and now I know why.
    I’m taking Natalie’s upcoming self-esteem course next month to stop the madness. I’ve dusted myself off, forgave myself, let go (ouch) of the money owed. I do have to say the overall list of things I pulled off and did in the name of approval is pretty impressive. For now on, I’m going to do them for me! This post is a keeper!

  15. brown_eyes says:

    Did you know him in person when you sent him the card?

  16. Tired says:

    Im gonna try ring for councelling this morn

  17. Fifi says:

    This is something me and my unmarried childless 40+ friends (male and female) have come to realise in last few years – for all aspects of life.
    We just swapped the school desk for the office desk and carried on being the good girls (and boys) – living life by other peoples’ rules, til we wash up on the shores of our 40s thinking, hang on! Where AM i?
    It was never about “career ahead of family”, it was what everybody else wanted from us ahead of what we wanted (we didn’t even know what that was).
    My friends who were average in school and had no expectations on them are living the modest lives they always knew they wanted – content, in families, facing their lives every day.
    Better late than never I guess – and I do have friends I can discuss it with. Life never gets easier, just deeper and wider:)

  18. PurpleLily says:

    NML, thank you for the wisdom that comes from this post. I am a giver. I think it stems from the fact that I had parents who expected more and more and I never imagined that there was a concept where me being me, was perfectly enough. Thank you for explaining this concept to us so VERY clearly on BR.

    I made all the hyper-giving mistakes with my first EUM at the age of 23. It was a mix of lack of assertiveness, no knowledge of boundaries, low selfesteem and a few other things. I felt the need to give and give and accept and accept (bad bahaviour) because I was too scared that he’d let go if I did stand up (and I didnt know how to do that). It was a sickness that took so much of my self worth away.

    Thankfully, I had done the hard work and knew to never do this with my recent EUM (or ever again). But I do/did have that fear..”if I stopped calling/texting him…what if I never hear from him?”..and I never know how to find an answer. I wonder if this is what makes me the regular texter/happy initiator.

    But at the same time, I am the same with my friends who I never have questions about. I am trying to figure out if I am just a giver with a kind heart who enjoys it (with the required boundaries)or if my communication pattern stems from fear?

    Im sorry if that made NO sense. Too many things happening. Hugs yo everyone!

    • LoveyDovey says:

      PurpleLily,

      What you said made complete sense to me, lol.

      To somewhat respond to your post:

      It’s a combination of both..and a lot more. You’re a generous person, but a generous person who just so happens to not have healthy boundaries and for a long time, never really had a real sense of how to assess people for who they are and their behavior patterns to pick up on code yellow/red flags.

      Also, we have to keep in mind that as Givers (as I do classify myself as one too), we get targeted by AC’s and EU people in general who presume that because we ARE givers, they can take advantage of us.

      We have to be in control of our giving ways and especially if we do spot someone who is just taking us for a ride and for US to know that it is within our RIGHT to leave people who mistreat us or don’t reciprocate our feelings. That’s what took me a long time to understand: I didn’t have to keep giving to people who didn’t want nor deserve my kindness. Giving doesn’t have to be a weakness that others exploit if we don’t let them.

      So I’ll leave them be and find others who will understand that’s who I am (and won’t view that as a sign of weakness) and who will treat me the way a Giver wants to be treated: with love and respect in return.

    • grace says:

      Purple
      I dont advocate gameplaying or keeping tabs but give the thing space to breathe. The best way to do that is to be busy with your own stuff, even if that’s just having a nap. Put the phone on silent, watch a movie, cook a meal, clean, gym, read, whatever.
      Ask yourself why you are texting or calling. If its for reassurance, count to ten first. If you genuinely want to chat or share a laugh, go right ahead.
      I’m pretty sure it’s fifty fifty between the man and me. If you feel you are doing most of the heavy lifting, take a step back. Its nice to let them come to you too. The likelihood is he won’t disappear and if he does you didn’t want him anyway.
      My sisters advice is that I must be honest and be myself. Only you can know if you’re doing that. Dont let fear drive the bus.

  19. Shez says:

    Oh Natalie what a realization. Throughout my 12yr relationship this issue was the centre of every argument and believe me they were terrible. Your post has capitalized all that I was feeling but unable to understand.
    I became a very angrey person during argument I was abusive and at times out of control.
    I would ask my ex to help out, give our family time just be part of our lives over and over, to show some love. I never got it.
    I did however do everything, cook clean pay bills sort the problems buy Xmas presents, while he sat watching tv or making plans with his friends.
    I finally had enough although I still loved him and wanted the relationship. I decided we couldn’t live together once I stuck to my plan and sold the house he left me after 12yrs stating he could no Longer put with my moods.

  20. Intothelight says:

    This is so true ….after my failed relationship with an unavailable married AC who told me he was only staying with his wife because he was scared that if they split she would take his daughter out of the country (his wife was from Spain) all those “I gave you 6 years…” “I wouldn’t have got involved if I knew you weren’t going to leave …” blah blah blah all came out of my mouth. I stayed with him for 6 years on the ‘understanding’ that when she became an adult he would be free to leave as his daughter would be free to make her own choices about where she lived. I was told and knew they lived completely separate lives and just stayed there for her … we saw each other through the week and spent every weekend together. When it ended out of the blue or rather when his daughter reached 18 there was lots of future faking and It’s only after reading BR that I have to face the fact that I busted my boundaries and now have to accept that I was having a fantasy relationship. I also understand that it wasn’t me he rejected (he said that leaving me was probably going to be the biggest mistake of his life) he just rejected the realisation that he would have to be honest with his wife about us and he was too scared to do it. BR has held up a mirror to me …. its a mistake I won’t make again.

    • runnergirl says:

      Intothelight,
      It never ceases to amaze me how similar the OW stories are. The exMM was waiting until his 16 yro daughter turned 18. So I hung in there for two years and kept giving, giving, and giving. Yep, she turned 18 and the goal post shifted…you know the rest. I’m sorry you spent 6 years as an OW. You are spot on about busting our own boundaries and accepting the fact we were having a fantasy relationship. Yep. That’s a difficult moment. There is a ton of inherent dishonesty in an affair. The BR mirror and the BR community have become by best friends. Hang in there. There is light. At the moment, I’m only giving to me and my daughter.

  21. rana says:

    Letting your mate take too much of your attention, time or energy plants seeds of resentment in your heart that will close you off to intimacy in your marriage.

  22. Onedayatatime says:

    This post is so painfully true for me… I discovered my pattern of over giving not long ago, and to my reluctance, I understand that I was doing it to try to get validation and love from people because for some reason I couldn’t give it to myself (I am working on that).
    On the road to self esteem recovery, I am left wondering, if us over givers are to STOP this behaviour, what are we left with? I mean, all my life I have been an over giver, so I’ve ended up seeing myself as that being a part of me. I AM a generous person. So if I am to stop over giving, does that mean that I will stop being a generous person?? What other good qualities will I have?? I realise the potential stupidity of my questions, PLEASE be kind, after all, most of us who are reading this site are guilty of nutter behaviour and thought patterns in some way or other :-)

    • P. says:

      Oneday,

      when you stop giving or overgiving you will likely discover who you really are. Yes, it is scary. I like to give – especially love and attention and also books and articles (I guess you can say information) when I see something relevant to that person or their hobbies (it goes for friends and family, too). However, I did discover that people find this weird and intrusive unless you are really close to them, and sometimes even then. So I made myself pretty much stop. And guess what? I do not see that fewer people talk to me or that they like me less (I am an introvert and do not care much about shallow, wide popularity, but prefer a few closer one-on-one relationships). I wonder if I was busting their boundaries by doing too much, even if I meant well? I feel a lot more confortable now, and, paradoxically, I started to stand up for myself more often, too (I am talking about, let’s say, rude people at a service desk in a store).

    • Eloise says:

      I agree with P “when you stop….overgiving you will likely discover who you are”. So, when you stop overgiving you are left with your true self.

      I have been a big overgiver. My overgiving was a result of feeling that me being *me* wasn’t enough. Like a lot of people I was raised in a family where my emotional needs weren’t met and how I was feeling was not considered important. It was like an inverse parenting model – whereby I spent my time trying to meet my parent’s needs. So, I equated giving with being *good*. It became a habit, was part of my identity and took the best part of 35 years to break.

      I am still a giving person – kindness and thoughtfulness are two of my values and giving flows from that naturally. However, I try to do it consciously and don’t do it just to keep others happy at my expense. I have also had to get better at receiving – as this is something I’ve had difficulty with also.

      • Brenda says:

        Simular.. I was raised to where NOTHING I did was enough of anything to make anyone happy.. except it seems to be unhappy so they could feel higher than me.. and I think that leaked into the (NON-Relationships I had with men.) Just something there for them for a time to build their EGO’s up and bring mine down.. Only to realize later I really had NOTHING in common with them except for maybe the sick cycle we learned.

        I can’t miss my past NONE of it or NONE of them. NOT one was love, Only me trying to make it love, make them be right, turn right, and do right by me.

        How I wish I could go back, there would be nothing from the start.

        I’d run at the first few sentences they usually said ( I just broke up with so and so / Or I just knew when I saw you. ) LOL! RUN RUN RUN like hell.

  23. Misty says:

    I am so happy I found this site! I had a fantasy LDR with someone in another country. I have been NC only 90 days but I will NEVER look back now. I think the fact that he told me if I can’t be in his country NOW its over. I already moved my life once for one AC and guess how that turned out? I guess I learned my lesson and did not move my life from the US to the UK. So he said we can remain friends through email…I blocked him and I have not looked back since….thank god for this site! A lifesaver!!!!

  24. hopeless says:

    so I am curious do you think that if someone doesnt over give than the other person will actually work harder at the relationship? or is it that if you dont over give you will see how uncomitted the man was? the reason I ask is because me and my ex of 6 years lived together for the first 4 years and the last two we moved out from each other but were still supposedly in a relationship. the first 4 years he was around but it seemed towards the end more so because we lived together not necessarily because he wanted too and than when we moved out from each other he always was busy and me and my son never saw him. so i often wondered if we never moved in together would we had lasted as long if i wasnt giving him a place to live?

    • Brenda says:

      NEVER live with anyone before marriage the RULE I live by even though God knows I have been a total screw up in other areas.

      That is ONE I am not breaking, just too many times looking at this living together stuff, then never going the distance.

      Society seems to be so much against REAL commitment these days and has a billion excuses to run from it, But I really don’t SEE much good coming out of avoidance either.

  25. Tinkerbell says:

    Hi Ladies who reached out to me. I really appreciate the support and astute advice. I am a retired RN after 35 years. It is my nature to give and to appreciate attention given to me. I don’t think I can change that. But, I can learn to SLOW DOWN and stop seeing potential in every man who shows up. I very recently had a date with someone who I met online, and just like one of you said, he was completely different from what he was on email and the phone. It was a huge disappointment and I really started to question my judgement and lose faith in my decision-making. Then here comes this last guy. I was delighted to get another chance but I took his actions and responses to me way too seriously. I think it would be best for me to divest myself of hoping to meet someone in this manner. There are too many opportunities to be disillusioned. I have no idea if he intends to contact me again, but I know that I am no longer interested. He has shown me his true colors very early. No matter how busy he may be, he could have responded to the card and thanked me for being so thoughtful. He could have made it brief and said, “I’ll get back to you soon”. But this behavior is totally unacceptable. I feel now that I am too good for him as he doesn’t know how to appreciate me the way that I am. If feelings can’t be mutual, I don’t want it because I don’t need to chase anyone down for attention. Believe it or not, I’ve read Natalie’s book “…Fallback girl and I read all of her blogs and most of the comments others make. And, still, I don’t learn. I know I am incredibly stubborn and intent on getting my way in all things, but this is ridiculous. I’m just setting myself up for disappointment. Thanks, everyone.

    • Learner says:

      tinkerbell
      Yes, you are right – he could have taken the time to send a quick “thank-you” text after you took the time to send the card and messages. I guess I was trying to come up with reasons he didn’t get back to you, which may have been about extraneous circumstances rather than about what he thought of you. As a nurse, you may automatically be in “caring” mode, which has the risk of switching to “over-giving mode” if you don’t balance your own needs with those of others. You say you don’t learn, but it seems to me you ARE learning – just by coming to BR and posting and reading and reflecting shows some growth in my opinion.
      You feel you are too good for this guy – so take Grace’s advice and flush. Save your caring and giving for people who are appropriate, grateful recipients. Starting with YOU, perhaps? Hugs xo

    • Lilia says:

      Tinkerbell
      I agree with Learner, maybe it´s time for you to take care of yourself? Be kind to you, for a change, instead of trying to be thoughtful of others?

      In my case, online dating has been quite useful as a learning tool – in that I´ve been able to know MYSELF better. As there is such a large spectrum of people to engage with, you can define what it is you like or don´t like in relating to men. The thing is, you have to approach these encounters without any expectation. I never assume the guys I meet through a dating site are looking for a commited relationship, but that doesn´t mean that things could evolve to a commited relationship. Do you see where I´m going?

      Like you, I used to be very disappointed because I always had too high expectations from any guy who´d show some interest in me. But now I´ve learned to accept things as they come. For instance, some weeks ago I met this very handsome man I thought had a lot of potential as a boyfriend. After a while I realised he was only interested in having sex asap. So instead of fretting and scheming and thinking “What can I do so he´ll want to get to know the real ME?” I just asked myself “Hm do *I* want to have some casual sex with him?”.
      So that made things so much easier and it didn´t affect my self esteem because I wasn´t looking for his validation anymore.

  26. miskwa says:

    I used to be an “overgiver” and after being the object of someone “giving” in order to try and guilt me into a relationship, I understood how creepy it is for the unwilling recipient. Forced gratitude sucks. Traditional teachungs urge folks to give freely; I still give a lot, but only anonymously and/or without expecting anything in return. At work AC found out about my construction project and wants to borrow my shiny new power tools; he can get his own damned tools.

    • runnergirl says:

      Good for you Miskwa,
      Assert yourself: Don’t let him borrow your “shiny new power tools” or anydamnthing else!
      Love hearing about your projects. You are amazing.

    • selkie says:

      Your old AC can buy is own stinking circular saw!
      Yes, being on the receiving end of an over giver and returning forced gratitude does suck. I have a guy friend who buys me pies and cakes all the time because he knows I like them. yes, I eat them like miss piggy when he isn’t there (does that make me an AC?), but it doesn’t bring me any closer to falling in love with him, it just makes me uncomfortable around him because I have to feed him Forced gratitude. He is a nice man, but I start to find it more like a bribe instead of niceness.

  27. Awakened says:

    I am Laughing @ Grace comment to Tinkerbell

    ” Flush it and narrow your search criteria to ten miles” How bout right up the street?? Lol Wow If only I had realized that months ago!! Thanks for that one Gracee Pooh!!

    • Awakened says:

      @Tinkerbell if sharing this would save you any more further misery in the future I say keep online dating as a very last minimal resort and know who you are fooling with. The guy I met online would text me every day ” I have a Boner”. Funny that stands out as the most memorable moment.

  28. Atrophy says:

    I feel awful after reading this article, I couldn’t get through the whole thing. This is me in the last relationship w/ the exEUM,

    I repeated this with the guy I was dating for 4 months afterwards, I would always accommodate him and drive him around, he borrowed money which he never payed me back for. It was awful.

    It’s happening again. I have started seeing a guy friend of mine and he doesn’t drive, I’ve been driving down, I paid for our meal, I have left my plans to meet up with him. I have made arrangements and initiated contact and have been driving long-distance to see him.

    Ugh, this has to stop, I’m going to take a deep breath and try re-reading this article.

    • cc says:

      atrophy-
      it always feels TERRIBLE when we first become conscious of the obstacles we are putting in our own way, when we first see what we are doing to sabotage our own happiness. we feel horribly ashamed and stupid. we ALL feel this way, this moment you are describing is awful. but every single person on BR has had this moment, BELIEVE me.

      but then we start to accept reality as it is and to relax. to see that our mistakes aren’t crimes, they’re just mistakes. and that we are human and we all get to make mistakes – its how we learn. all learning is painful. but when we learn from mistakes, not only do we correct our mistakes, we also get better at learning.

      don’t cry, honey. or better yet, do cry, get it out. but don’t beat up on yourself.

      this is exactly what i was trying to say in my “quit it” post – do NOT beat the crap out of yourself because you have been an overgiver. so you overgave. so what? now you know. thank god! now you can stop it. now you can start (slowly, no sudden moves) to change it. to change the direction of the giving – just point the pointer at you, not him. give to you.

      because you were born: you deserve to be loved; to be cherished; to be seen; to be respected. but all that must start with you to you. you will continue exist, and are capable of being perfectly happy, even if you do not try to justify your existence through eternal servitude to others.

      • Allie says:

        Very beautoful reply cc. We all have been overgivers, it feels awfull, and then I knew I was being used and felt so ashamed. But as you said, those were mistakes, not crimes.

        • cc says:

          we need to break the cycle of self-abnegation and self-criticism. to stop seeing ourselves as less than. and to stop comparing our actions to those of EUMs and ACs and MMs – as if there is any comparison at all.

          part of “taking responsibility” (barf) is to be able to see things in perspective, and to only take the blame for what was truly our doing….and then to mend our ways, shrug our shoulders, give ourselves a big hug, and buy ourselves an ice cream or a new pair of shoes.

          big hugs and kisses. especially to you, atrophy.

  29. cc says:

    oh, my GOD:
    “when you withhold these things from yourself and do not regard you as a worthwhile valuable person, any old person can come along with a crumb and you’ll think that it’s a loaf because it appears to be better than what you’re giving to you.”

    that’s it, natalie. when we overgive, its because THAT’s how we want to be given to.

    so we should use that as a model for how we give to ourSELVES, not to someone else we hardly know. and then really be generous only with the people who give to us the way everyone should be given to.

    EVERYBODY on BR: quit it with feeling ashamed of having overgiven, of having wasted time with EUs and ACs, with having acted like doormats. we didn’t know better. now we do. to flog ourselves is to continue to not love ourselves, to not give to ourselves.

    so just quit it. give yourself the love and forgiveness you need. treat yourself the way you would treat someone else and you’ll fill your own heart hole.

    • Atrophy says:

      @ cc

      Thanks, but treating ourselves the way we want to be treated is what has led us to over-give in the first place.

      Now I’m in tears, at work, on the lunch hour. Crap.

      • cc says:

        no, atrophy-
        please don’t be upset. i think you misunderstood me, or perhaps i wasn’t clear.

        what i’m saying is this: we do not give to ourselves; we give to everyone else. therefore, we are overgivers to every one but those we SHOULD be giving to, namely ourselves.

        so, if we treat ourselves the way we would treat others, as in with lots of giving, then we’ll be treating ourselves appropriately. stop overgiving to others and give more to ourselves.

        you see? the real saying goes, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” i’m turning this on its head: “do unto YOU as you would do unto others (because that’s really how you want them to do unto you).”

        please don’t be upset. all i’m saying is that we need to treat ourselves correctly, first.

    • dancingqueen says:

      “so just quit it. give yourself the love and “forgiveness you need. treat yourself the way you would treat someone else and you’ll fill your own heart hole.”

      Hallelujah sing it sister:)!

    • blueberry girl says:

      @ cc, so true, how quickly we go from acknowledgment to self-punishment! Didn’t the AC/EUMs get enough punches in that now, when we’re finally rid of their toxicity, we have to turn the pummeling on ourselves? It happened, we learn, we move on. Thanks for the reminder, cc.

  30. Julia says:

    Hey Natalie, I loved your post, but I’ve a question. You give a lot of advice on self-love (i.e. feeding oneself with self-love, respect etc) as the key to having better relationships. How does one love oneself anyhow? How do you love yourself and at the same time love the other? How does one know where to draw the line? I am acutely aware that I over-gave in my previous relationships, and like you said, I ended up feeding on crumbs and felt devalued because he didn’t respond favorably or invest in doing things for me like I hoped he would. As such, I am now trying to get to the core of my self-esteem issues, and I do build it up when I’m unattached, but it seems that whenever I get seriously involved with someone, I revert back to someone who puts him before me etc. How much should I put myself before him? Would that not be considered selfish? Essentially, how do I love myself more?

    Hope to hear from you soon :)

    • Lilia says:

      Julia, I´ll try to answer your question. I´m still working on this myself but so far I think it boils down to getting to know yourself. Which means, knowing what you are feeling at any given moment, faced with the other person´s behaviour and attitudes.
      I think we all are experts at putting our own feelings on a shelf while trying to please the one we love and that is where the error lies.

      For instance, when a guy is lukewarm about you, do you ask yourself what you did wrong, what could have bothered him about you, in short: how he is feeling?
      Or do you acknowledge your own feelings and realise that you really don´t feel comfortable about engaging with this guy because he simply doesn´t make you feel happy?

      I think the second reaction is the one a self loving person would have. It has nothing to do with being selfish, it is taking care of yourself.
      One of my favorite quotes is that you can´t give (love) to others if it means you have to detract from yourself, if you forget your own dignity. Only when you love yourself you are able to love others because only then will they value that love.

    • LoveyDovey says:

      Hi Julia,

      Lilia hit the nail on the head and I’d like to add more to the whole concept of self-love:

      Self-love is basically having an intimate relationship with YOURSELF first. YOU have to figure out YOU. YOU have to figure out what makes YOU tick mentally, emotionally, physically, sexually, spiritually. YOU have to figure out what YOUR wants, needs, fears, weaknesses are.

      We should NOT be leaving that up to others to do. Basically we are taking responsibility for our own self awareness and not expecting others to carry the weight of trying resolve our own personal issues because that’s EXACTLY what it is: personal…YOU.

      Otherwise, we leave ourselves vulnerable to AC’s and EUM’s who target us PRECISELY because they picked up on the fact that we don’t love ourselves and have low self-esteem. PRECISELY because…. before many of us came to BR we had NO clue what we really wanted in a relationship and how we were contributing to our own unhappiness by being in fake ones.

      Once we get to love ourselves, establish our values and boundaries, no other person should come along with their destructive agendas to tear that all down. You won’t allow it because you love yourself enough not to accept abuse in any form and know when to let go…no matter how much you “love” the other person. And this goes for all KINDS of relationships.

      So have a loving relationship with yourself and from there…everthing will fall in place.

      • cc says:

        yep, you guys nailed it. nailed it.

      • Julia says:

        Omg, thanks girls. I think both your explanations of the concept of self-love and self-awareness really shed light for me. I’ve pretty much been wondering about this for a long time now, and even during my relationship with my ex back then when we were still together. I guess I’ve been quite passive about my life—rarely taking responsibility for how I feel or how I would go about to achieve a particular feeling (say happiness for instance). You could say I’ve always been the people-pleaser.

        Going back to the topic of self-love—is loving oneself truly rewarding? I mean, I’ve read stuff from books and blogs etc but I doubt my strength in pulling away. Like for instance, my 3-week old ex recently contacted me for my birthday and we went out for dinner. We ended up kissing, but later on when I asked if there’s a chance of getting back together he said he admits he truly loves me, but the ideological differences we have are too difficult to work out (we have tried working at it over and over, and I know these differences are like one huge gulf between us). I know the self-lovin’ thing to do would be to pull away, NC for a long while; yet, what if I want these bread-crumbs (what if these crumbs are what my SELF wants?) I’m not entirely happy but I’m happy enough… Additionally, I don’t think I even have the strength to just disappear and go NC on him. In this case, does this mean that I have to overcome my fear (or phobia) of being without him to love myself? Aarrrrghhh.

        PS. I’m sorry if I sound whiny or anything. I really have been struggling and I know all the “generic textbook”/sensible answers. But knowing and actually putting it into action is two entirely different things. :(

        • Lilia says:

          Julia, look at it this way: is what you did completely honest? Do you really truly want some crumbs from this guy?
          Because if you do, then you wouldn´t even be thinking about it, you´d be happy in this situation.
          I think the first step in loving yourself should be learning to be honest with Julia – don´t bother about the bloke for now.

          My suspicion is you´re not at all that satisfied with how things are going but that you wont admit that to yourself because it´s painful. But remember that sometimes bad things will happen! Yes you will feel bad when you acknowledge that you´re not happy with a guy´s treatment of you, but guess what? After a (short) while you don´t mind anymore. Emotions come and go (when you allow yourself to feel them). You move on.
          However, when you don´t admit to yourself that something is bothering you, you end up doing all those things that ultimately make you feel much worse and for a longer time. You bend yourself into a pretzel trying to adapt to this guy´s idiotic demands. You forget about YOU and become a FBG.
          And only because you were afraid of feeling sad for er – what would it be? Two weeks tops? Because it doesn´t take much more to get an unsatisfying relationship out of your system (once you see it for what it is and stop the fantasy).

          • Lilia says:

            Btw I didn´t intend the being honest thing to sound offensive, it´s just that honesty seems to be a value more easily accepted for overgivers than giving to yourself.

          • Julia says:

            Hey Lilia,

            I think you’re right! You are so, so right. I have had been so afraid of letting him go and having our relationship to end that I just forgot my self and my happiness along the way. It was like, I didn’t mind him not being around, but I just couldn’t end things with him (perhaps because I feared rejection so much?) Yet, now that all is more/less over (unfortunately, I broke the NC rule…) and more than a few weeks have past, I feel this strange sense of relief and liberation!! Like suddenly, what’s more important than him, is ME.

            Lilia, don’t you worry about the being honest thing sounding offensive or what not. It didn’t, and what you said really made sense. Like this burst of clarity now. I don’t know why I was so afraid though!

            At this point I’m working on my self-esteem now, so that I will be ready when the time comes and I meet a man who’s worth it.

            Many thanks Lilia. Your reply really made my day :D

  31. Tinkerbell says:

    Hi Ladies,

    My girlfriend just left from visiting me a cheering me up. She is soooo good for that. She said “Look, the man just moved! You know how big a deal that can be. You say you understand, but you’re not acting like you understand. He could have a big pile of mail he hasn’t even sifted through yet. It’s only been 4 days!” She’s right and that much never occurred to me. She told me that I’m blinded by my insecurity. So, now IF HE CALLS,(and she thinks he will because I haven’t done anything to turn him away,) I’ll listen to what he has to say, being friendly and very casual. That’s better than refusing to give him a chance to talk to me by not answering the phone. That’s childish.

    • Laurie says:

      Hey Tinkerbell!
      Like you, I have heavily perused Natalie’s blog, and despite all of the knowledge found on this site; I’ve often found it difficult to change my ingrained, unhealthy beliefs. With that disclaimer, I have noticed something in your series of posts and I thought I would share.

      It appears that you are investing a lot of time and emotional energy into a non-relationship. Of course that could change, but it just seems on the surface that you are spending a disproportionate amount of time analyzing whether or not a guy you hardly know is going to contact you. I’m sure we’ve all done that at some point, but I’m afraid you may be setting yourself up.

      I’m reading a book not about how not to fall in love with a jerk. (And discovering more and more how much of a jerk and how emotionally unavailable *I* am. The truth hurts sometimes).Anyway, the author encourages individuals not to rely (depend on someone to meet your needs) on someone more that you can trust them, and not to trust someone more than you know them.

      I’m not sure how much you can know someone after emailing them and talking on the phone with them for a few hours. The author of the jerk book suggests that it takes up to three months to BEGIN to know someone. And that’s with regular face-to-face contact. Personally, I don’t believe that someone who has expressed initial interest owes me a phone call. And just because they don’t call doesn’t mean they’re emotionally unavailable, etc. People are allowed to change their mind.

      Author of the jerk book suggests that individuals will continue to be disappointed and hurt in the dating process as long as they rely on people more than they trust and ultimately know them. I’m sure you’ve read what Natalie has written about dating being a discovery phase. I sure as hell wish I had waited before rushing into an engagement with my ex. When he did ‘unfold’, I had already become so enmeshed and emotionally attached, that it is was difficult to clearly assess the truth of the situation. And that’s where I find myself now. Not good!

      Even if this guy does contact you, I would seriously recommend considering whether or not you want to be involved in a LDR. Like me, you seem to have a tendency to rush things a bit and fantasize about potential. (I could be totally wrong about that). My ex husband and I carried out our courtship for two years across the pond. We would see each other for about two weeks every couple of months. We would pine away for each other for weeks and then experience short, blissful honeymoon periods. It was fun. It was exciting. And it wasn’t REAL. The reality of being married to him was atrocious. I never got to experience what it was like to be with him on a day-to-day basis. It is extremely difficult to get to know someone in a LDR, even if you are hyper-intuitive and trust yourself completely. Just something to think about!

      • grace says:

        Laurie
        I absolutely agree. Slow. It. Down. I see the man at least twice a week and have done for six weeks. Before that we saw each other at least once a week for six months, as friends. I’ve seen him one-to-one, in groups, and with my family. I still don’t know him that well.
        During the anxiety period (and thank you Nat and BR for talking me down from the ledge), I thought I KNEW him. I had him on a pedetal and imbued him with all kinds of qualities. I thought I KNEW how he would react to a, b or c. I FELT he was THE ONE (even though I knew I was being illogical.) I fantasised all the good things we would do together. The conversations we would have. I fantasised all the bad stuff too. I must have run through a dozen break up scenarios. I’ve realised I was wrong about pretty much all of it and it’s time to take it easy.
        Enjoy each stage. I like going out with him, coming home, closing the door and having my own space. In time, maybe, I will enjoy coming home and finding him there. There is no shortcut, it takes time and it’s a good thing. Do you really want to meet someone, have sex, and get married the next day? (or maybe that’s the wrong question to ask on this blog!) There’s no need to panic and cling and give and give. We don’t have to impress them or win them over. We don’t have to cook for them, send them cards, buy them presents, or sex them. Before I did any of that stuff for the man (and so far all I’ve done is invite him to a meal I was having with my niece), he said to me “I am always happy with you”. He should be happy with YOU, not with what you do for him.
        If it’s meant to be, it will happen, if it’s not, you can let it go more easily because your head isn’t stuffed full of false hope. I think men may have a valid complaint when they say that women won’t just relax and enjoy themselves. It’s alarming to bring up your exes, your expectations, your demands on how you expect to be treated, or to start playing house, or girlfriend/wife after one date or a couple of months (or no date at all). I’m not saying roll over and be a booty call either. You (should) know pretty soon whether that’s all he wants, PROVIDED you take your time and don’t let your hormones overrule your intelligence.
        Tinkerbell, you do not know him at all. It’s not worth getting your hopes up. And I don’t think it’s worth getting into an LDR with a stranger. I used to do LDRs all the time. I preferred them because I was afraid of relationships (though at the time I chalked it up to independence). The man lives up the road. If by a miracle we both get home from work on time and it’s not raining, we can meet up for a walk. No need for cars, aeroplanes or trains, or loveletters or emails. Don’t scoff at that. The big drama, the highs and lows, the fantasy, the superlong phone calls, the anticipation of seeing them, the analysis of them when they’re not even in the room, don’t hold a candle to it. I’ve done all of that and real is better.

    • selkie says:

      Tinkerbell,

      You said, “So, now IF HE CALLS,(and she thinks he will because I haven’t done anything to turn him away,) I’ll listen to what he has to say, being friendly and very casual.”
      I’m sorry, but that sounds like a classic fallback girl trap your setting for yourself. The plan to “act” very casual when really you’ve analyzed it for days and decided what is the best way to act. You are strategizing. It sounds too complicated already and you barely even know him. I used to do this, so I recognize it. Step back a moment get a bigger picture. We cant assume that men will call just because we didn’t do anything to ‘turn them away’. This makes it about you. He doesn’t even know you, how could it be. If he calls, be friendly and talk to him if you like. See how it unfolds. If gaps in communication keep happening and you don’t like it, then flush. Don’t change the way you behave or game play (acting very casual) to get a different result. I understand your disappointment that he hasn’t responded as quickly as you would of liked. I get that. But don’t twist in the wind over it. He really isn’t that special and besides, he is 300 miles away, and you barely even know him.

    • dancingqueen says:

      Hi Tinkerbell,
      I don’t want to rain on your parade but I have to be honest; are you sure that you are ready to date? It just sounds like you are not ready for the hazards of dating if you are this upset-and this giving, email, phone, card-to someone you have never met?!Please don’t take this the wrong way but you seem WAY too invested in someone you barely know. I am internet dating now and I try really hard to meet people right away, after a few emails and maybe one phone call. Usually they are not what they seem; if they are, then the next date they do something that shows their hand.

      To me it is a huge HUGE red flag when 1) either person wants to talk so long on the phone-2.5 hours when you barely know each other could very easily be more than a bit of fantasy-making on both your parts-( or email looooooong emails) and 2) when they approach me with some barely there email and immediately suggest that we meet. I personally would never consider long-distance; there are so many men nearby, why look to make it harder?

      If he spent 2.5 hours on the phone with you and then never contacted you since I think that he is gone; and I think you are probably the better for it. What about scaling it back, emailing and only spending a short time on the phone with people near you and putting effort in with people who don’t seem to throw themselves at you and then act flakey…and again, I mean this gently, it is hard to hear but I think that you need to dial it back a bit and reconnect with yourself before moving forward. Internet dating is hard enough when you are ready to date; it is not for the fragile.

  32. P says:

    Hi everyone,

    I have been NC for close to a year now but there is not a day that goes when I don’t think of him. Although, the thoughts have gone from “Thank god, I dodged the bullet” to wanting to reach out, which I have not. Within this one whole year of NC, he’s tried to contact me via soc med several times, however I’ve always kept it short and sweet. I’ve been moving along fine, however few days back he tried to contact me via fbk, wished me Happy Birthday and asked me if I wanted to catch up, instead I thanked him just like i would anyone and wished him well. I later found out that he deleted me off of his facebook list. I know it’s been a long time since I went cold turkey and I was moving along fine. The whole NC made me realize that it wasn’t all my fault and there were certain things that were outright wrong with the relationship. While I take responsibility for my half of the relationship, I don’t feel like I hurt him in anyway, I’m sorry to myself for letting myself get out of hand. While at first I felt like I had hit the jackpot, the whole experience seems to have left a bitter taste over time. Yet when he deleted me, I felt sad. I don’t know why, it’s just facebook. If he really wanted to talk, he would have made the effort to talk a year ago, do i have it right? I don’t why my feather’s are ruffled, i just know I need to stick to hope that there will be better. Any advice/encouragement/support/insight is greatly appreciated. :)

    • cc says:

      p-
      yes, honey, if he really wanted to get back in touch, he would have, in a more meaningful way, and he’s had a whole year to do it, to TALK to you, if he wanted something real. FB, like text, like even email in this case, is lazy communication. his reaching out via FB is a low-quality offer, and you were right to politely acknowledge and move on (i.e. reject).

      so, comfort yourself with this:
      - in FBing you, he was just buzzing around. its not clear what he wanted, but it wasn’t to get back together to offer you love, care, trust, and respect, so good for you for not wasting energy on taking his weak-ass bait.
      - his deleting you off his friends list was childish. therefore, he hasn’t really matured, so he’s not someone you want anyway.
      - in responding politely but reservedly to his happy birthday wish, you presented strength and independence – good for you! he keeps trying to contact you in lazy, meaningless, ways, but you haven’t taken any of his bait for a whole year. and his response to this is to take you off his friends list because you gave him that level of resistance? lol….actually? good riddance!

      look- i know its hard having to face giving up the fantasy that you two might get back together. but, really, you don’t want this guy. you’ve already confronted the things you wish you had done differently, which is painful, but truly, even if you had done everything right and never made a mistake, this relationship wouldn’t have worked based on your “dodged that bullet” comment. and it wouldn’t work now because he’s still him.

      do you see? he deleted you because you, by merely conducting yourself in a mature fashion, and by showing him boundaries, looked to him like you were not easy pickings. that’s too much of a challenge for someone like him. that’s exactly how maturity and boundaries are supposed to work! they discourage the lazy AC!

      so, take heart, p. you’re ok. he’s still him, and we don’t enter relationships that will only work if the other person has to change. i know it hurts a bit, but you haven’t lost much if anything at all. and don’t live in regret – you have learned a lot and you have made good decisions.

      give yourself a massive break and a massive hug. you’ll find somebody better. he’s not the last man on earth.

      • LoveyDovey says:

        cc, great advice,

        Two cents: Notice that when you end up ignoring them and keep them at bay with their drama that AC’s and EUM’s can’t STAND when you don’t respond to them right away or don’t get the enthusiastic, “I’m still hanging on your crotch” response that indicates that you are still very much interested in them?

        They are quick to flush you down the toilet when you’re not playing their game and move on to the next willing target.

        But the minute you start calling them or texting or FBing them regularly they have you on ice when they don’t want nothing to do with you at the moment. Until they get bored and want an ego stroke…

        You are doing the right thing, P. This guy never really cared about you and was just hoping he still had you in the bird cage when you freed yourself long time ago…

      • yoghurt says:

        “do you see? he deleted you because you, by merely conducting yourself in a mature fashion, and by showing him boundaries, looked to him like you were not easy pickings. that’s too much of a challenge for someone like him. that’s exactly how maturity and boundaries are supposed to work! they discourage the lazy AC!”

        Exxxxxactly.

        A friend of mine had an ex-boyfriend (who had been horrible to her) get in touch by email after ten years and say “hi. I was just thinking about you. How are things?” She sent a nice breezy reply, mentioning that she was married and had just bought a house and been promoted. His reply? “Please don’t email me again, I don’t want my girlfriend to find out”.

        She was spitting feathers but really, all he was doing was poking about to see if there was any prospect of getting a quick lay or a bit of an ego-boost. When there wasn’t, he turned round and ‘punished’ her for it.

        It’s the same thing here, I think. Testing the waters and then putting you in the Too Much Effort box, which is actually the biggest compliment he can pay you.

        Well done xx

      • P says:

        Thanks for shedding light to this. :) It made me feel much better. I think he did a huge favor by deleting me. I’m guessing he did that thinking that would hurt me and i’d retaliate. I was always unsure of deleting him, but now I am and honestly, I feel lighter. I’m hoping that the whole thinking about him part, except maybe at work, will eventually go away.

        • cc says:

          p-
          stick to your guns, even in your own head. every time you think of him or miss him, acknowledge how you feel, but then remember the list (i’m betting it was long) of HIS behavior that was unloving, uncaring, untrustworthy, disrespectful.

          i still have an ex-EUM in my head. but he’s taking up less and less space. and i realize that my thoughts about him have less to do with him than with my to the bone tendency to beat the living crap out of myself with self-criticism. and with my fervent hope of finding a truly loving partner with whom i can build a life. the former is a habit i’m still working to break. the latter is a wish i’m still working to fulfill.

          xoxox

          • P says:

            Thanks CC, I’ve always found 3 day weekends hard as it gives me time to ponder over things that add no value. The list definitely was a long one that included manipulation and flipping between just friends and beyond. I believe he’s been talking to another girl, as I saw her postings all over his wall, strangely enough he doesn’t acknowledge them on his wall. (I think it’s strange when couples write on each other’s walls often…). Which makes me ponder over what he could have possibly wanted from me? friendship or im going to delete you so i can live my life in peace w/o ever feeling guilty/ or even I’m going to shield you from the additional hurt that i might cause by dating another woman…I guess one could go on and on but as you mentioned, bottom line is nothing changes what happened. I’m not jealous or phased, I think i was always scared that whomever he would settle for would make me feel inadequate, but that didn’t happen and I feel better/relieved.

  33. pinkpanther says:

    Here’s a lovely example of not overgiving, and I’m proud of it!

    Met someone new last Sat night.We had a nice exchange over a drink, I was with a friend, she was with her cousins. She asked me out for tonight. I didn’t know anything more about her other than what I observed while having that one cocktail. She seemed nice enough to go out to dinner with. After I left with my friend, she texted me, “see you tuesday”.

    Since I hadn’t heard from her since that night, I sent her a text an hour ago. “are we still on for tonight”. She replies back, “oh I forgot I’m still sick”. I”m sure you all know what I thought of that! First of all, since I only met her a few nights ago and she didn’t seem sick then, and I hadn’t heard from her since, how on earth would I know she was “still sick”? I find this rather humorous and pathetic! Maybe I’m wrong (I highly doubt it) What do you think I did next?
    FLUSH! (with some added laughter)

    Did I over give? NO!!!! All I gave was one tiny little text, that it. I love it.
    Thanks Nat for saving me time and money I’d surely of given before I’d been aware of this site. You saved my butt agian!

  34. Tinkerbell189 says:

    I think one of the main thing overgivers have is too much hope. It is good to have hope, but too much keeps you holding on way too long. You become consumed with “What can I do to make this work/make him love me” and then you get left behind when you cant give anymore or its not he wants anymore. I have been through hell and back numerous times with my ex. Even after all the BS, and recently he cheated on his gf with me and is now moving with her 8 hours away from me, I still must admit I have a small hope inside that he’ll talk to me again or want me again one day. Even though he has treated me like crap and it just would make no sense for him to contact me, theres still a part of me that says “maybe.” Believe me, I want to squash this hope, but it sneaks in on me. I have still been giving him my attention even though I KNOW I could NEVER be with him again. I feel for all of us that have given so much and taken so much abuse, but still have that hope inside. You are not alone and you are not stupid for doing these things. Just try to do better in the future and so will I.

  35. GettingBetter says:

    Tired, I have truly been tired as well. This last go-round with this ex-”friend” has made me tired. Ladies, why do we continue to deal with men who make us feel all the bad things: ugly and fat and stupid and anxious. Why? Why did I let this man continue to put me on the shelf like a box of stale saltines and let him come back whenever he was horny or tired or broke? Why did I not realize that the way he was making me feel seeped its way into the rest of my life, my relationships, down to my very core. Funny thing, if you ever saw him, you’d probably smack me silly. He’s a short, ugly, rude stump of a man.(LOL) I remember finding BR during one of our breaks and I remember thinking to myself, “my god I’ve got a lot of work to do.” Take back my 3 years for one. Find my self-esteem(it’s around here someplace). Do whatever it takes to come back to me: meditation, new hobbies, daily prayers and most of all, taking deep breaths. He does not make me or break me. I make me. Enuff said!

    • Tinkerbell189 says:

      I have the same problem! My ex is not even cute and also has many other undesirable things (besides being a liar, cheater, AC) like not having a job, depending on women to support him financially, etc. But yet I gave every last bit of myself to him. Even my dignity and morality when I slept with him tho I knew he has a live in gf…then I became angry and wanted him to face consequences. I sent the gf an email..but did she get it? I dont think so bc I found out he has access to her acct. So here I am still giving my attention and just becoming more obsessed. Ugh

  36. Tinkerbell says:

    He called tonight. He moved to a townhouse in a very large complex and hasn’t even found out where his mailbox is yet. Don’t I feel silly? All that fuss and worry for nothing. At least I am relieved!

    • grace says:

      Tinkerbell
      if you are going to pursue this as I fear you will, then meet up with him sooner rather than later. not sure how to do that with the 300 mile distance as I don’t think either of you should be going to the other person’s house. Is there a halfway point that’s suitable?
      Don’t have sex with him.
      And don’t let your mind go down the “I travelled all this way, I gotta get something worthwhile out of it.” or “isn’t this so romantic, love against the odds!”
      FWIW I met the abusive ex online. I had noooo clue what he was like when I moved in with him cos – I’d hardly ever seen him. The phone calls, emails and msgs don’t make up for that.

      • grace says:

        tinkerbell
        and in public! meet him in public! bring a friend, or a large dog.

        • runnergirl says:

          Tinkerbell,
          You said it, that was a lot of fuss and worry for nothing. Why do you suppose you created that much fuss and worry around a guy you’ve never met? If you decide to pursue an LTR, I’d arrange to meet him in person, in public, somewhere in the middle, (maybe with a friend/large dog as Grace suggests) ASAP. I’ve been doing the online thing all summer and the guy who shows up can be verrrryyy different from the guy online or even on the phone. I’d suggest limiting online/phone communication to a minimum until you meet, if you decide to pursue this. Online/phone communication has a way of creating the “special effects” Nat talks about in her current post, at least it did for me in the past. Doesn’t anymore.
          Good luck to you.

  37. GettingBetter says:

    Oh and Tired,
    After you do the work on you the best feeling in the world will come. Let me describe it for you: You will stop thinking about him with every breath. Stop feeling your heart hurt and the tears threatening to fall. You start to smile for no reason at all and catch yourself humming. You let go of the hurt but remember the lesson. You wish him well but pray for you the best. You don’t wish him harm, but wouldn’t cry if he broke a limb(just kidding). You forgive him, and forgive yourself. You let it go with a smile. And some night, when he realizes that you might have moved on(they’re psychic that way), they call you from a strange number and he will tell you he misses you and he will try that same tired, pitiful, good-god-why-did-this-line-ever-work-on-me. And you will hang up the phone and laugh like crazy. How do I know? I did it earlier tonight.

    Ladies, new theme song: “I Changed My Mind” by Keyshia Cole

  38. On Leaving Sugarland says:

    “If you keep giving blindly because you’re focused on trying to fill up a void within you and to generate a tipping point, you do not get a chance to truly see what the other person is about nor do you truly get to see what their own capacity is to give.”

    I like this…. As an ex-over giver, I find myself welcoming this idea as I search for balance in my ‘giving’; for, now I tend not to give because I don’t ever want to regress into over-giving.

    I really don’t want to give to other people right now. The only time I really want to give to them is when I feel it deep in my heart. Sometimes, it is just a quick decision that feels “ok I want to do this…,” or I think, hmmm, I would like to give this to this person, but I only do it if I have questioned my ego and inner child, and I don’t see any signs of wanting an ego stroke, external validation, or needing to feel ‘right’ , worthy or ‘good’, or…expecting something in return, or….

    And, I don’t always remember to give to myself, although I am doing 150 percent better at giving to myself, and I don’t neglect myself anymore. Sometimes I just forget to give myself what I need or want, …. Sometimes, I’m slow to take the action to get what I need, instead, I catch myself waiting for other people to give it to me, or I expect them to give it to me, but I am getting better at it…baby steps…baby steps.

    Yes, I want my giving to be organic, something that I just ….

    And, I am really digging the idea of having both feet in reality…really being in a moment where someone organically gives to me. I really don’t want something from a man that isn’t given freely…organically.

    I welcome the time it takes to really get to know someone, and I don’t feel like I want to be in a hurry anymore. It’s been ‘good’ lately, just slowly getting to know some new people in my life.

  39. fitnessfreak says:

    Tinkerbell
    Oh come onnnnn !!! He hasnt found where his mail box is yet !!!!!! That’s a terrible excuse / lie…..and you
    bought it !!!! …..you need a big slice of reality pie
    hunny.
    Oh flush , flush , flush,
    I assume he has found where the bathroom is his new townhouse….

  40. cc says:

    everybody on BR read this.

    i pulled this, verbatim, out of a guy’s online profile: “So what am I looking for in a woman? You must have unmet needs that burn like fire in the depths of your soul. This should manifest as a bevy of unrealistic expectations in your relationships, causing you to become quickly disillusioned and resentful, prone to hurl bitter recriminations at the drop of a hat. Significant and profound daddy issues should be a prime determinant of your personality. If there are no daddy issues then at least some mommy issues. If no daddy or mommy issues exist then BOTH aunt and uncle issues are a must. Oh yeah, and a sense of humor would be nice.”

    recognize yourself? i recognized my old self.

    my point? this guy was kidding, trying to put it gently, but it represents a truth – they know. they KNOW. they’re onto us and our issues. its not like we hide them well, anyway.

    this is one of the biggest arguments for healing ourselves and evolving how we love, care, trust, and respect ourselves. so nobody can ever again say the above about us.

    • Lilia says:

      Aw that´s terrible, CC, makes me feel ashamed of myself (of how I used to be – I hope!).

      Yesterday I was browsing the dating site I enrolled in and I received a message there from a guy I had chatted with a couple of weeks before urging me to log on to msn. He had seemed easy going and funny, so I did. But then, when we talked over the phone, he mentioned he liked that I logged on to msn when he asked me to because it meant that I am “obedient”.
      I thought Whatthewhat???
      And it was flush flush flush – but yeah, some of them KNOW we can be vulnerable and they LIKE it and take ADVANTAGE of it.

      • cc says:

        lilia-
        obedient?!? as in he’s a dom and thinks you’re a sub? because you were polite and logged onto msn? HAHAhahahaha… that’s hilarious.

        i once had a guy describe to me how he had a daddy/daughter role playing fantasy. he literally said “want to call me daddy?”

        i didn’t bother to describe to him how my father was viciously abusive to me and my 4 siblings. or how he gave me PTSD. or how i was the youngest.

        uh…no, dude, i’m not your good little girl, and i don’t want to fucking call you daddy.

    • On Leaving Sugarland says:

      I definitely recognized my old self in this one…still working on the expectations, but oh, ….

      • cc says:

        OLS-
        i know. believe me, i know.

        and lilia-
        don’t be ashamed. we’re no worse in our crushing neuroses than these guys are with their ACery. at least we’re working on ourselves.

  41. Mymble says:

    When I first read this post I did not think it applied to me as generally I am not an over giver. But having read it and thought about it I realised that I was following the same principles – pouring energy, time, attention, and affection on someone who was not really reciprocating and who wasn’t able or willing to reciprocate, mainly because he was married. It sounds so incredibly obvious, I don’t know why it wasn’t so to me, at the time. Of course I knew, or at least suspected that he wasnt onboard but I don’t think I fully processed what that meant, and I kept going for so long thinking I could turn it round by giving more of the same. I think he knew, really, but pretended otherwise to me and himself. It really does bankrupt you. It has bankrupted me emotionally and impacted on every area of my life. I am still trying to sort
    out the mess, but I can’t ever get the time back.
    It was for sure me trying to fill other gaps and holes in my psyche. My therapist has asked me repeatedly what I liked about him and I could never answer other than very shallow things such as good-looking, politics, cultured, high achieving etc. But what really hooked me was that when I was with him he made me feel as though I mattered” – he had a way of listening very closely to everything I said and following up on it (until he wasnt bothering). I have always felt that I didn’t “matter” – my parents were not abusive or cruel but for sure I did not matter much to them.
    Unfortunately it was just his manner, or his paying attention in order to get things to work out his way, and I didn’t matter to him either, I just have to get over this urge to try to make men repair my childhood injuries.

  42. AHM says:

    I don’t regret giving to my AC. I know I was available for the relationship and as time went on, it became apparent he was not. I do realize in hindsight, that he implied how he could not wait to buy me little gifts, be there for me, etc (which by the way never happened)and was very manipulative on his part. Shame on him!!! But in his attempt in trying to manipulate me, it didn’t cause me to give any more or any less.

    I gave by choice. I also give to myself and to others (family, friends) as much as I gave to the AC. It’s who I am. I enjoy giving.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’ve done the overscompenating in my past, for many years!! I had to work through this – how I did that wass checking my motives!! MOTIVES MOTIVES MOTIVES

  43. Tyla says:

    So true. I did this for years. Until I finally pulled back my efforts and giving one day, and guess what was left? NOTHING. because all the effort/giving came from me! I’ll never do that again. Lesson learned. Crumbs are not for me!

  44. ac magnet says:

    A brilliant post. What really hit home for me were the thoughts about not being able to see the other person because I am so busy trying to buy the relationship by doing all the work. If I truly valued me, I would be enough. I wouldn’t need to be bending over backwards, trying to convince someone else how great I am, when its clear I don’t believe I am that great. I was truly never able to see that before – thank you for that.

  45. ACaddict says:

    I don’t know if I could call myself an over-giver, but I think with the first guy I met and the fantasy relationship that I had with him, I was giving him wayyy to much validation for his own behavior. It’s just kind of gross to me now that this guy literally gets off to this kind of stuff. It’s just like…WTF was wrong with me haha. I’m glad I can see the error of my ways. Thank the lord, amen to this piece.

  46. annied says:

    Love you Natalie! This has been me, all the time with everyone, just about. Over-giving and over-doing was just what I did. I see it and I’m no longer in that toxic relationship but sometimes I feel like I’ve gone the other direction. Not that I’ve learned to give to myself but that I’ve shut myself off and just don’t give anything at all to anyone. I even struggle with my kids at times. There is a voice in my head screaming, what about me?! When is it my turn to be given to? Is it possible to be afraid of it as well? Or at least, untrusting? Either way, I am free and mostly happy just wonder if I will ever wish to be in a “relationship” again. Hugs to all.

  47. Kerry says:

    Now that I’m done giving of my time, energy and money on the ex AC, the biggest challenge I’m finding is filling the void left behind. It’s been a year of NC, and I spent a lot of that doing all this work to overcome the loss and re-build my self-esteem, which is great. But now I find that where the ex AC took up so much of my energy, I’m having to learn how to turn that on myself. I guess that’s the true meaning of fulfillment, finding the stuff that fills you up. Over the years, I spent so much time ignoring my needs and giving to men who didn’t deserve it, I’m having to learn what it is I want and need in order to be happy. It’s strange that the answers aren’t coming to me instantly.

  48. Laurie says:

    A little variation on the “over-giving” theme: My ex gave a lot of physical things– my office looked like a greenhouse because he was constantly delivering flowers and gifts. He was always lavishing me with things and taking me on special trips, etc. It made me feel really special at the time and I thought it was a sign that he deeply loved me. But ultimately, I think it may have been a smokescreen for his insecurity. He was giving me a lot of stuff but withholding things like…the TRUTH.

    I think sometimes people give us things that appear to be loaves, but are actually giant marshmallows. We think, “well, this is not a crumb, so it must mean something” All of the flowers, love notes, and trips were nice but they weren’t substantial. You can’t build a relationship on flowers and gifts. They’re nice and sweet things to have, but they ought not be confused with things of substance (honesty, respect, love). I’m starting to take inventory and ask myself: “was this relationship sustained by loaves or by sickly sweet ‘marshmallow’ gestures.” At this point, I’m not sure.

  49. Brenda says:

    I am afraid that had I gave way too much of my forgiveness,understanding, and patience.. I think at the time I am really feeling that way, maybe I really do have a great deal of empathy..

    But the other hate filled side of me takes over eventually after so much of not getting and losing more and more trust, the more empathetic you are the more worthless to men you seem to get to them..

    Now I have so much anger sometimes that my skin feels like it is going to crawl off from me, like a burning and itching feeling to just remove my own skin and rid of the creepy feeling I have from having been just something to use for a while, things like that.

    And after so much of that eventually I can never return or forgive and that is also part of this feeling.. I want to be able to, I want some “chance” that maybe I am just overreacting or wrong..

    But after so much pain and after a certain point I can never go back to that person or be able to forgive so much and in the middle of going through the motions it’s almost so painful to want to commit suicide just to rid of that feeling and severe heartache.

    • LoveyDovey says:

      Hi Brenda,

      I can’t help but to comment that your post breaks my heart. I hope you are getting all the help and support you need and by that I mean getting therapy. That’s just a suggestion…..

      At least you’ve made the step to be here on BR to get some answers about your experiences.

      Here’s what I’d like to say about what you are going through and how I was able to get through these very similar feelings I’ve had of myself for being too empathetic to people:

      I took the time to understand why I am empathetic. Am I empathetic because it’s a core part of my being or am I empathetic because it’s somehow a defense mechanism to recieve nurture from others that I don’t give to myself?

      After a lot of soul searching, I realized that yes…I am a caring and giving person at heart, but mostly my empathy was being used in a rather destructive way towards myself and my mental make up.

      My empathy towards others made me overcompensate for other things I wasn’t happy about myself with, and by doing so…I allowed this part of myself to lower my boundaries and allowed people with destructive behavior to serious damage to my self-esteem.

      That being said…empathy should NOT be a dirty word or somehow seen as some character flaw that you or anyone else should despise within yourself.

      Having empathy and lots of it does NOT have to be a weakness. It can be a strength……but we as empathetic people HAVE to learn to channel our over-empathy in ways that ar healthy that truly contributes to something meaningful not just to the people we want to love but most importantly…where it does not backfire onto ourselves that destroys our values, hampers our growth and basicaly turns us into bitter self-hating people.

      Another point: Sometimes we as givers tend to forget that we are not really the norm. Most people in general either have a balance when to give and when not to and others are just down right selfish takers and NEVER givers.

      We have to strive to be one of those people that know when to give and when not to or when to STOP being giving/empathetic to people who otherwise don’t show us appreciation or want our effort. And not take it personally. Some people will never understand that’s just how we are.

      But we have to be clear in our motives and know when not to give to point of self-destruction.

      So as far as advice goes…just keep working on yourself, and from there do not let people who disrespect you to continue to recipient of your giving. And by doing that you have to establish boundaries, as everything has a limit. Even our giving has a limit and you have to set yours.

      • Brenda says:

        My thoughts as well, right now I do not know IF I can feel again for any man.. Now I have NO idea what it would take for that.. Right at this moment I see them all as a potential enemy /predators and can’t help it.

        • Brenda says:

          And I don’t TRUST men to even want what they say they are wanting at all anymore.

          So now if I run across any that seem OK and like they would want to really be cared for – “I think it’s just a set up of some kind.” and I cant help that either.. I really do think they are all the same now.

          And I would not be feeling this way if any one of them had shown me something different, but they never do.

          It is like they LIKE me only when I have reached the point of NO return.

          • grace says:

            Brenda
            I understand how you feel. I didn’t have a date in over six years. When I had counselling a couple of years ago my counsellor was putting forward the possibility that I might meet a man. “You could meet someone who will want to give to you and do things for you.” I looked blank. I had no idea what that would look like, after three years with a man who pushed me down the stairs and then a year “with” another who played around.
            Slowly, I saw that there are men who are happy to give and do things for their wives (my brothers, my brother in law, how men at work treated and talked about their girlfriends and wives). But it still seemed like a long shot for me until it did happen.
            It’s still early days. We were friends for six months, only been dating for six weeks. I can’t say he’s THE ONE (I don’t believe in that concept anyway), but he is consistent, calm, even-tempered, kind. And the only thing I’ve given him is my company. And some pasta which he must have thanked me for half-a-dozen times.
            Sometimes, I do have anxiety attacks and wish he would disappear in a puff of smoke so I don’t have to deal with it, but mostly I’m happy, and so is he. Mind you, we were both happy before we met, which I think is key. He doesn’t need me to sex him up or stroke his ego. I don’t need him to validate me or save me from being single/lonely/bored.
            I tell you what, though, I feel vulnerable to him in a way that I didn’t even when I was flying down the stairs. I suppose it’s a good thing that I’m letting my guard down but, yeah, I get nervous about it from time to time.

            • Brenda says:

              Funny I haven’t had a date in almost 6 years as well, Just a few “Fake” friends needing an ego stoke so far.

              Just showing me the friends first stuff don’t work either!!! – So now nothing does to me, because I swear it was the one thing I never tried before.

              And now that I did do that – I am regretting that I ever did and have even LESS faith in men, and LESS faith in anything anyone ever told me about anything… It’s all crap all of it is crap.

              There is NO winning – I think I would know because I did all the right tings, Felt all the right things, and still was just crap in the end.

              I do not want to give anyone the damn chance ever again for as long as I live.. I do not see any way to get over this I really am destroyed by things to NO return.

              Now I just hate them all and think they are all the same and everything I get told is just a “set up” to show me again that no-matter what I do it will end in loss and pain for me, and for them a happy ego stroke at my expense and maybe oh I will even help them to get a new girlfriend you know.

              B*stards I just hate them now.

              Sorry I cannot feel good – I cannot feel anything but angry right now and like it’s all just some set up to ever bother for ME for SOME reason.

              I really do not want anything to do with ever loving anyone ever again.

              That is exactly what makes them want something else so it’s never SAFE for me.

              • Brenda says:

                Note: Right now I am just P*ssed to know end, and maybe sure maybe I do not know I will change my mind later by what seems to be only a ** Miracle** for me in THIS moment: But when I am feeling something in the moment I write it that way in that moment, if that makes sense? lol!

                • LoveyDovey says:

                  “…There is NO winning – I think I would know because I did all the right things, Felt all the right things, and still was just crap in the end….”

                  Brenda, are you more angry at the men for treating you like “crap” or are you angry at yourself for letting them treat you like “crap”?

                  They were obviously men you never intended to attract in the first place.

                  Also…..why do you feel like you’re not “winning”?

                  Is it because you feel so powerless that you believe you can’t change these men or because you can’t change your approach in deterring these types of men?

                  EU men attract EU women and vice versa. Has it crossed your mind that perhaps maybe you yourself may be EU (Emotionally Unavailable)?

                  You said you did “all the right things”….

                  Well, I hate to spell it out for you but apparently you may THINK you did all the right things…perhaps in regards to trying to please them, but what you DIDN’T do was spot the red flags, took it for what they were when you saw them and know when it was time to fold, Brenda.

                  The thing you didn’t do right was CHOOSE to stay in those toxic relationships for too long.

                  I think it’s possible that there is more than one issue you need to deal with and they are covered in BR articles:

                  – How to build boundaries, self-esteem, knowing your own worth and learning self-love. Learning about yourself and why you can be your own worst enemy.

                  – How to spot EUMs. Why they blow hot and cold, how they think in general and why they do the things they do to women and certainly … and why WE keep picking these guys or attracting them in the first place.

                  – What are yellow and red flags (AKA code orange/red), how to spot them and how you should interpret them when a man starts showing signs he’s flush worthy (meaning you need to kick his @ss to the curb before he does further damage.)

                  - How do you know when you are a FBG/OW (Fall Back Girl or Other Woman) or in a fake-lationship where you are just a bootycall? Signs you need to be aware of.

                  - And most importantly…the Hallmarks of a REAL relationship. What they entail, what they look like and how you should be feeling during the entire process.

                  Take your power back, Brenda….

                  • Brenda says:

                    I think I am P*ssed most because like you say the red flags..”How you gonna SEE them when your LIED to?”

                    How are we EVER going to SEE anything SOON enough like THAT? it would be nice if people were just that HONEST.. yes the right things I was doing on MY end… besides getting out soon enough because I did NOT know enough soon enough.

                    Some “Red Flags” I think are much harder to spot than others, and I really do not think I will ever be feeling SAFE now.. that is why I am so mad, these things knock so much fear into me.

                    No matter HOW much I would like to feel okay again, to fall in love again NOW I’m totally convinced there will always be some “Red Flag” I am going to miss .

                    The last thing I CAN trust is my own feelings,even the best ones were as HUMANS are “supposed” to be able to enjoy, I feel like that right has been stripped away from me.

                    How do you really trust anyone? I don’t know if I will be “Capable” now that is the thing.

                    It would be nice if someone was that “Serious” to have a future.. But really I think for most men it’s something they only think they want on “occasion” the way I want a treat on occasion.

                    Do any seriously want what they say they want? How the hell would I know, Would really like to meet that one.. but you know I am sure there will always be “something”
                    anyhow now.

                    Some reason or some excuse for it to just NOT be me and that is why I really don’t want to go there again.

                    • Brenda says:

                      It is almost like I think there is some “Secret Conspiracy” against me.

                      Like all these dudes all get together in some club and plan this crap out on me, LOL!

                      Hey.. Shh yeah you know that chic Brenda yeah the one in Michigan by 28th street, Hey mess with her head and by all means NEVER let her be the one.

                      You know just give her enough to get her hopes up that THIS time it will be different.. Than SLAM her to the ground harder than hell, make an IMPACT boys!

      • Brenda says:

        UPDATE: I just adopted a helpless baby animal again! : )

        Something SAFE to give my empathy too, and we are thrilled as our last one was a joy.

        Not saying what kind of animal as it is not considered legal to keep this kind for 24 hours – but there is no refuge for it, just a small creature and I am good at getting them in the wild again.

  50. On Leaving Sugarland says:

    “Too many of us worry about being liked by ‘everyone’.”

    Yep, this was true of me for a looooooooong time, but today when this co-worker who really hates my guts snubbed me again, I really didn’t give a flying pig. It was beautiful. I mean I really used to care if people liked me or not, but today I just calmly decided, you know what I’m done extending a civil branch; if she dislikes me, fine; I will just give her her space, and go on about my business. And, I looked at her, and I thought; it really doesn’t matter to me what she thinks of me. I wasn’t angry; I just thought to myself; I don’t need to talk to her; who cares; she’s just somebody that I have to work with, …no worries….

    “Far too many of us worry about being perceived as The Good Guy/Girl.”

    I don’t care about being perceived as anything anymore. I’m just me. I am not interested in promoting the good girl code; I have a moral compass sure, but good girl…pfffffftttt…:)

    And, I must say, I really am digging spending time alone with me. I have been spending time alone now for over a year, and now if I don’t spend time alone, I miss it, and I feel unbalanced.

    • LoveyDovey says:

      “I don’t care about being perceived as anything anymore. I’m just me. I am not interested in promoting the good girl code; I have a moral compass sure, but good girl…pfffffftttt…:)”

      Aaaw boy, I’m definately guilty of this and probably took this sort of thing to heart for a long while.

      Being the Good Girl/Good Guy thing is waaaay overrated. You just have to learn to be comfortable in your own skin and not worry so much about trying to live your life for others or through others’ perception of you.

      I stopped giving a crap about what people thought of me for years now and you know what? I actually feel much freer that I’m just living my life my own terms and not seeking validation anymore.

      I’m just being me and if no one likes it, then so be it.

  51. Tinkerbell says:

    @ Fitness Freak. You have no information about the man or me or how we’ve interacted so far. That makes you unqualified to be so negative and sarcastic regarding my situation. If you cannot be empathetic and offer heartfelt, constructive advice as everyone else did, you should not be participating on this blog!!!
    Thank God he is getting to know me and not you.

    @ all the others. Thank you as each of you has given me food for thought. I very well may be EU because I feel “safer” in an LDR than with someone I could see everyday. It’s because I’m afraid. I’ve been out of the dating field a very long time and I feel ill equipped, but I’m learning with each deadbeat experience and I get stronger and wiser. I need to SLOW DOWN and really examine closely what I am doing. I have a psychologist that I see once/week and we do Cognitive Behavior Therapy which helping me a lot.

    • titi says:

      Tinkerbell, you are not entitled to decide who “should” or “shouldn’t” write comments on this blog.

      “Thank God he is getting to know me and not you.”

      It’s ironic he actually ISN’T getting to know you. He’s just messing around with you. You’re creating high levels of drama. Now you’re even defending you non existent relationship, and your oh, so meaningful 2,5 hours talk from the strangers on the Internet. Stop analysing this jerk and start paying attention to YOUR needs, wishes and issues.

      No one’s duty here is to console you and to encourage you to keep chatting with some guy you *don’t know*, who lives 300 miles away, and who has already exhibited some red flags and assclown behavior. You. don’t. know. the. guy. Period. Sometimes I meet a total stranger on the street, and we talk for 3, 4 or more hours. It doesn’t mean we are meant to be together, and that we get along so well. It just mean we had a nice time together. If you really think based on a 2.5 hours talk with a stranger, that “you caught the big fish”, then you have a very big problem. You are starved. You crave attention. And it’s not good. The first ones who feel that are vulture men. It also means that a few hours talk is a your hook. Read about hooks here: http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/whats-your-hook-understanding-what-will-stop-you-from-letting-go-of-a-relationship-or-draw-you-to-it/. It’s like you think “oh geez, I cannot believe someone actually wants to talk with me for a 2.5 hours”. Your standards are extremely low.

      And your friend doesn’t help much. She was just saying what you needed to hear. I don’t say she has bad intentions, it’s just that she probably developed some very dangerous patterns of behavior in personal relationships. What she said actually was that you were insecure, not considerate enough for the guy who seems kinda mentally challenged, since he’s unable to find his mailbox after 4 days. It’s like telling you you’re all in “not enoughs” for this guy, while he seems he has just descended form the sky. Yeah, sure if you made enough effort, it would turn him into a prince charming. A confident woman wouldn’t tolerate this guy’s shady behavior, and wouldn’t even considerate that his bad behavior is her fault.

      You willingly chose to live in fantasy/lie and you will suffer the consequences. It’s how things work. We’ve all been there. That’s how we evolve. You are emotionally unavailable, yet expect to find an emotionally available man. It doesn’t work that way.

      I know my words hurt, but you will be more hurt if you DECIDE to live a lie.

      • cc says:

        tinkerbell-
        titi is right. fitness freak didn’t deserve that. and even if this guy did only just find his mailbox (which may have been a jokey exaggeration on his part), preferring an LDR to a NDR is not good for you honey. and you should be suspect of another person who is willing to engage in one – its not that he is bad, its that he is clearly EU.

        and i’m saying this because i’m ON your side.

        just try to look at these things with clear, non-defensive eyes. you don’t have to feel judged or afraid. you can have faith that you can face into these things – because we do! we have faith in you! that’s why we tell you the truth. because we know that when you stop fearing fear, stop fearing the abyss of the nothing, of the “who will i be if i am no longer attached to *this* particular identity”, you will grow and move ahead.

        you can grow, tinkerbell. try. because you know what? some lessons are unnecessarily painful, and we are trying to keep you from having yet aNOTHer BR story of how you gave your love to some guy 300 miles away in a fantasy relationship on which you pinned all your hopes and dreams and then it all went to shit.

        you are at the beginning of this story, we can all feel it. please, tinkerbell. close the damn book. put the book down. walk the fuck away. change libraries.

  52. Brenda says:

    Another reason for me to think there MUST be some conspiracy? Okay so when I am a “friend” I really am one.. I would give the best advice possible for my “Friends” to meet the one.

    So WHY in the hell can NO man do that for me and be that kind of “Friend” for me?

    See my PAIN people /dudes… When is anyone going to do what they say they are to me, when?

    I’m expected to be so strong I can hear all about your breaking heart for another..But when it comes to ME for some reason no man can be strong enough to be the “Friend” they claim to be.

    And really that is what hurts the most.. You men in the crazy club don’t want ME enough to do the right thing, But apparently don’t want anyone else to want me either..If you had any heart seems to me you would be the friend you claim to be and give me the scoop on men, support me in meeting one that CAN be there for me then.

    But you see men you don’t wanna do THAT part.. you only want to do the part where I cry alone.

    • Brenda says:

      Maybe that is the men in the crazy clubs worst fear?

      That I will actually meet someone that would give me what they can’t seem to give.

    • Lilia says:

      Brenda, I´m not all that sure what you´re talking about but it seems you want men to behave like women?
      Being supportive, nurturing and having emotional empathy really isn´t a common aspect of the male DNA, quite the contrary.

      Men already have enough trouble getting in touch with their own emotions, forget about someone else´s.
      And I don´t say this in a bad way, I like men the way they are but you can´t expect them to give you the type of attention a female friend or your mom would give you.

      • Brenda says:

        No it’s NOT so much that as the lack of respect and taking advantage of my empathetic side to the 9th degree
        that I have had more than enough of Lila.

        And they know damn well it’s an advantage to them, One I am sick of them having over me any-longer.

        And yes they are more able to be emphatic as well no-matter how UNSAFE some feel, otherwise their would be NO doctors or song writers and the like, I understand some of what you say if true to a POINT but don’t tell me they cannot be a damn respecting “Friend” and can only take out the trash,as it sure is hell is NOT what i SEE from people that are happily married, This bringing him a beer and shuting up BS that don’t cut it for me.

        • Brenda says:

          But I need to get it through my head NOW and NOT later – that if I am that damn scary to commit to after a certain period of time.. ((( Then that person cannot be the right one for ME ))) and if any man cannot be a true friend – ” Meaning they could care LESS ho
          w much PAIN I am in.. Then they should not have any right to call a friend then, and that I am NOT being rejecting or mean or unreasonable for that.

          It was fine and dandy when I was hurting – There is a such thing as self perseverance… and just because I was NOT encouraged to have that quality by people that maybe wanted me to have LESS don’t mean I can’t LEARN it!!

          You cannot teach anyone anything – and if someone is just not morally or mentally in the same place – then you need to accept that and move on there is NO other choice.

          But you see yes an overtly empathetic person too often wants to cause NO harm to anyone, even the healthy NEEDED kind.. and that has been my hardest struggle of all.

          So once again.. I found MY answer, don’t mean it’s an easy one – but it is the ONE that works for me and is meant for me I think.

      • Brenda says:

        Also note: Those excuses for treating women like crap have gone on long enough, because they sure as hell DO have feelings when they want to don’t they?

        Like when SHE or the new girl leaves and then he cries to YOU about his heart going to just BURST he;s gonna just EXPLODE without HER. ( yeah right. ) they have no feeling Lila.

        Think I am NOT sick of this treatment?

        And how did I get that treatment?

        By being too damn easy to go to for a shoulder to cry on – but to hell with me needing one in return that is how.

        You didn’t know that part of it.

        • grace says:

          Brenda
          I’ve been that person who listened to a man whining about his latest woman. I partly didn’t mind because I didn’t fancy him anyway, but eventually it got old and I stopped being that shoulder. In fact I went NC. If the giving makes you angry, or resentful,or even bored then – stop doing it (unless it’s your child or dog – you got an obligation there!).
          If you can’t tell when you are being lied to, if you can’t tell when holding hands, kisses, sex, intimate conversations, promises are too much too soon, if you can’t tell when you are giving disproportionately, if you can’t tell when it’s time to walk away, that is your problem to deal with. I mean that in a positive way, that is something you can do something about. What losers, ACs, users, and abusers choose to do is up to them. You have no control over that other than some tweaking around the edges to prolong the torture. Don’t make their behaviour about you.
          I could give you a list a mile long of DO’s and DON’Ts and still not cover every eventuality. You have to learn to trust yourself and have your own stuff – your own home, your own finances, your own dog/cat/fish/birds, your own hobbies and interests that bring you pleasure, your own friends, beliefs, values. You can’t shortcut that, and why would you want to? No man can make up for your own lack in those areas. And it’s not even a lack, it’s all in there somewhere Brenda, you have to dig through the anger, pain, hurt, resentment, fear (all completely understandable) and find it
          You may need professional help, as I did. And you have to open yourself up to other possibilities, that the life you have had, what you believe and think are not everything. We grow and learn and that means – change.
          The man didn’t “play” at being friends with me for his own evil ends. He’s a lot younger and less experienced than me, I really would have to be playing and buying into being the victim/martyr very, very hard indeed to say I was or am at his mercy. It would be wilful abdication of my responsibility, experience, wisdom, education, intelligence and knowledge. I know, cos I did it at the beginnning, and had to stamp out this old behaviour. It’s easier for me to see my reponsibilities because he’s younger and doesn’t have much experience with women but, even if a man is the most experienced player on earth, he only has the power over you that you give him – especially for us who are fortunate enough to live in a western democracy. Some women truly don’t have the choices we do. We do womankind and ourselves an injustice to act like all that we fought for means nothing if a man comes along and throws us a few crumbs.
          Are there good men out there? Absolutely. But they aren’t interested in taking and taking, or in exploiting you. If you are only interested in giving and giving, and believe that being exploited is fundamental to male-female relationships then those men will pass you right by. The two of you won’t even register each other. That’s why you think there are no good men left – you’re not open to them.

          • Brenda says:

            I already know most of what you wrote, the touching and kissing doesn’t even apply to me these days as there has been none of that for me for many years now.

            Men way younger then me have more experience playing the field than myself – even a 15 year old the way they can go from girl to girl, I swear the boy I lost my virginity to as a teenager has much MORE experience then I ever will in certain areas, lol!

            At 44 y.o. age get’s to be only a number anymore when it comes to who knows and experienced whatever.

            Um I thought the last supposed ” Best friend” I had WAS one of the good ones.. And yes I have NO interest in the types I would have accepted years ago.

            I never said there were NO good one’s out there, or that I do not believe there are NO good ones.

            But even the “Good” ones I think you have to lay it down early on what you will and will not tolerate, and sometimes it happens right in the middle of things even with just friends realizing who your are or what you want.. and then you know it’s hard I think to change the dynamics without some loss going to happen.

            Even the good ones can be taken off guard I think, and now that scares me.. because the changing for me has come in waves at a time, whatever anger I am getting is NEEDED anger in some ways and I know that, we don’t like certain feelings, people fear like hell certain feelings coming from a woman and that is exactly what I am tired of being afraid of!

            Had I gotten angry sooner this phase would have passed sooner as well, and maybe I would have had a backbone when I needed one.

            That is just it.. always being told by people anger is wrong is exactly what got me into really bad situations in the first place, keeping my trap shut when I should have spoken up.

            Because even these GOOD one’s can and will take you for granted, even your kids will go too far and walk all over you if you never show them your angry.

            Right now yes I am angry and screw the world for not liking that because I am tired of being screwed over from being too nice.

            I don’t give a crap who I offend because nobody gave a crap when I was offended all of my damn life.. Almost said sorry for this.. but for some reason I just don’t feel like doing that right now.

            Ans i am even tired of trying to explain anything to anyone.

            Gotta run.

            • grace says:

              Brenda
              I’m not offended but you seem to be doing a very good job of offending yourself.
              I’ve been through this friends or not dilemma. Give it a certain amount of time before you do something. I suggested he take me out to dinner. He was happy to and picked up the bill as soon as it hit the table. I figured he had romantic intentions.
              If you’re giving and giving but not pushing for a resolution, that is your behaviour to change. I didn’t give that much but I can see that if you give a lot you might start wanting payback. And are these men or mice? Are they incapable of looking after themselves? That mothering instinct is best put to other uses. Not many men can feel sexual towards a mother figure.
              And if a man is talking to you about his girlfriend woes you are firmly in the friendzone and I suggest you act accordingly.
              I may have misread your problem. Apologies if so but it’s not easy to pick it out from the tirade.

            • Mymble says:

              Brenda,
              I do not have close male friends with the possible exception of a gay colleague, and I am careful not to lean on him or have very high expectations as far as emotional support is concerned. In my opinion men generally aren’t very good for that kind of thing outside of a romantic relationship and if you expect to be able to cry on their shoulders and for them to be consistently “there” for you then you will very likely be disappointed. (unless they secretly fancy you – I have been in that situation and eventually it becomes uncomfortable). Maybe other women have true close men friends but I don’t see much of it around. Women make better friends.

            • FashionMaven says:

              Brenda,

              I think it’s good that you are waking up to feelings of being used and getting angry for it. I do want to caution you though – I don’t think you needed to get “angry” sooner. I just think you needed to recognize that your boundaries were being crossed and that you were allowing them to be crossed because you hoped for some kind of reciprocation. If you give of yourself with no thought to reciprocation, then fine – but this takes a lot of introspection and honesty with self to know if you’re doing this with no expectations. My advice is to start learning your own boundaries AND to learn when you are “giving” in order to “receive” something back. When you give to receive something back, then you are upset and angry when you don’t get it back. That means your boundary was crossed, but honestly you crossed it first yourself. The key is to give with no expectations. There are true “friends” out there who will love and support you and with whom you can have reciprocal friendship with… but it does take time to get there and honestly I haven’t really found that from a failed “relationship” or from a failed attempt at a relationship. At least not right afterwards. You have to let time heal wounds so that any hidden expectations and heart issues are resolved and gone. You also have to figure out if the man in question is worth being friends with. Don’t accept “friendship” as a consolation prize. That never goes well and just keeps you stuck in limbo hell.

        • LoveyDovey says:

          Grace, great post. All this goes back to EMPOWERING ourselves as women and our overall approach to relationships in the REAL world, not in our fantasy world.

          There are ALWAYS going to be men who are looking for women to exploit for a myriad of reasons.

          Part of the problem is some women (or just in general) have a rather idealistic and perhaps…unrealistic….views and approaches about how relationships work and how they expect most (if not all) men to act in them. A lot of us are not prepared to deal with men who start sabotaging their own efforts by going cold and acting disrespectful in general.

          What exactly is being real men supposed to act and be like, ladies? If being a man means making an effort to meet your woman’s needs and treat her with love and respect from BEGINNING to END, then that’s a man being true to his word and holding his end of the bargain.

          Yet, when they stop doing these things consistently to the point that it makes us miserable, then what?

          We make excuses to KEEP them even after they show us they are no more than immature teenage boys looking for someone to put up with their growing pains.

          Based on our own experiences, AC/EU men CHOOSE to be the best of themselves when it suits their agenda. Some do it knowing that it is the only way to get us to “give” to them, even though they d@mn well know they can’t or won’t match the effort we put in. So basically, they choose whether they want to MEET our expectations of what we expect of them…or they don’t.

          In fact, MANY men feel that they don’t owe women the kind of relationships we all say we want, no matter how good a “wifey” prospect she appears to be at the moment… for the simple fact that it is THEY who will choose to fully commit on their OWN terms, when THEY are good and ready.

          Some men feel it is their prerogative to be the “Judger of A Woman’s Character , Value and Worthiness”, as if it is THEY who have the final say in whether a woman becomes worthy enough to date much less marry. They do grant themselves that kind of empowerment for whatever reason, as they have their OWN approach to relationships and the benefits they garner from them.

          Unfortunately, we really don’t have any control over how they think or their actions. We can’t force men to commit to us if they don’t want to or to change who they really are. Men who want to be manipulative, abusive @ssholes should be allowed be who they REALLY are too.

          It’s just that it should be OUR job as women to assess them as “manipulative, abusive @ssholes” and call them what they REALLY are (a spade is a spade)…not what we WANT them to be, and …FLUSH.

          Get rid of them out of our lives as quickly as possible, period.

          We can control how we value ourselves and how WE choose to empower ourselves as women to be “Judger’s of A Man’s Character, Value and Worthiness”. Heck, if men feel empowered to judge and label women as they see fit…then why can’t we as women take a page out of their book and start assessing them in that honest, matter of fact approach?

          In truth, WE are the bosses of our own happiness in relationships. In fact, we are the ones “hiring” them for the interviewing process: Are they up to the task of being a real man in a real relationship?

          WE choose whether to continue to interact with them or not. We can control our actions by making sure WE make a conscious effort to slow things down, get to know the men despite all the superficial charm they might display in the beginning and most importantly pay attention to HOW they treat us consistently.

          Then…if a man starts to act in ways where he shows he’s no longer reliable (when he was before..), not respectful of your time, has crappy, inconsistent and/or lazy communication when he basically was very proactive in this area…. suddenly starts disrespecting you suddenly after he appeared to be prince charming, then you need to take the signs that this is “another bad employee” and FIRE him for his “shoddy work effort”.

          Cuz think about it: In real world employment, we get hired to do a “job” by the employer who thinks we are “qualified” to do the job.

          We bring our best the first few weeks/moths, but if we start falling off our game and start delivering sh*tty work, guess what? We get a “warning” that we need to get our act together…

          And if we DON’T get our act together after we’ve been told not once, but twice…? Fired. F-III-RRED. GONE.

          That’s presuming you even GOT a second chance to get your act together.

          No questions asked. No trying to “work things out”, analyze and justify keeping his lazy @ss as women try to do ALL the time with men that get told they are no longer engaged and are NOT making the effort anymore. You (the man) stopped delivering and apparently you thought your job was finished after you got settled into your “job” and was just showing up for the “paycheck” (ego stroke, sex, shoulder to lean on).

          Don’t expect a shoddy worker to “fire” himself, so we have to take it upon ourselves to get rid of them permanently (No contact). Take command of the situation when things are not going the way we expect them to.

          Relationships are no laughing matter and we have to start changing our approach in how we view them and become far more business-like and proactive in getting rid of men who show signs of doing “shoddy work” and don’t take their “job” in the relationship seriously.

          • FX says:

            Bravo! You hit this one out of the park LoveyDovey!

            I finally fired the AC’s sorry narcissistic ass a few months ago after years of diminishing job performance. I know I have greatly improved my interviewing/performance review skills for new candidates from what I’ve learned here on BR from NML and the commenters.

            I actually met someone quite interesting last night but a couple of amber flags waved at me. I’m not sure if I’m just being hypervigilant after what I’ve learned here so, for now, I’ll enjoy the attention and roll slow. And, I’ll be channeling my inner NML with my eyes wide open!

  53. Carol says:

    This article really resonated with me. I certainly fit the profile of the “over-giver” in every way. I have a question, though, about a phrase you used in the article:”If you feed you with some self-love…” What does it mean exactly to love yourself? I take good care of myself, try not to be too hard on myself when I make mistakes, and so on. What else can a kind and generous woman who is “hungry for love” do to love herself? What concrete actions can she take to build that all-important sense of self-esteem which could help prevent her from becoming a doormat in the next relationship? I would love to hear some words of wisdom on that subject.

    • grace says:

      Carol
      Everytime a woman comments that she’s good, nice,kind, the perfect girlfriend, never did anything wrong,did everything right, is smart, beautiful, generous, giving (all or any of the above) I cringe. It reminds me of an illustration I read, I think in one of nat’s books. It’s like a kid in a playground who wants to make friends. All the other kids are running about being kids. They come up to lone kid. Lone kid doesnt join in but holds out her favourite toy. Kids aren’t interested in the toy and run off. Lone kid should just put the toy down and have fun, but keeps holding it out. Eventually some little bastud takes the toy. Lone kid wonders what just happened.
      I put it to you that if being kind and generous leave you feeling like a doormat that you’re not as kind and generous as you think you are. And that is okay. I don’t see myself as kind and generous. I am a whole unique human being who is sometimes kind and generous.
      If you are kind and generous all the time to all people you need to roll that right back. Does this situation even require these qualities? Does this person deserve it.? It’s not playing games to take plenty of time to know a man before you even cook him a meal. If you roll out the red carpet on day one, is he not going to just take it for granted? Or assume you do it for everyone? As the relationship progresses and you’d like to be more giving, how will you give more if you already gave it? I’m not just talking sex, but also your time, thoughts, interests.
      Unless you are a robot you have good and bad days, you get tired, irritable, sarcastic, you need someone to help YOU, you dont feel like cooking, you don’t want to do overtime, it’s someone else’s turn to pay. Feel it and do it. You can’t love yourself and take care of yourself if you don’t know who you are and are living instead an ideal that you picked up along the way.
      PS I don’t doubt that the commentators have the qualities they say they have, but on their own they won’t net us a good relationship as a reward. Relationship smarts are something different and it really does start with how you see yourself. Am I acceptable as I am, or do I have to do things for people before they will like me?
      And the irony is, when I gave up people pleasing I found they liked me more. Go figure.

  54. Tinkerbell says:

    @ Titi and cc. I fully realise that it’s no one’s duty to provide emotional support and encourage me to engage in an unpromising friendship. And, yes, I am starved for attention and I even know the causes for this, but can’t seem to do anything about it. I simply must have a man to fantasize about or I’m bored sick. I need to work on myself and leave the men alone for now. But, by the same token, I don’t think biting, sarcastic criticism is helpful or should be published. My feeling is if you are turned off by what I think or feel, there is a decent way to express that. Otherwise, don’t say anything at all. Just as we are not on here to bolster each other’s ego, it should not be a goal to tear each other down with a condescending, smarter-than-thou air either. That is why I retorted the way that I did. On another note, Titi, I went back and read the “Hooks” post you directed me to. And, you know what? It descibes me to a tee. Every example Nat gave I thought, “Yes, that’s me.” And CC, thanks for reminding me that no one means vicious harm and that I have lots of work to do on myself which is far more important than desperately looking for love. As I get older I’m panicked that time is running out. Thank you both.

    • Lilia says:

      Tinkerbell, please read Robin Norwood´s Women who love too much, it might help you understand WHY you get bored sick without a man to fantasize about.

      And forget about time running out, that just doesn´t happen. When you are ready to love, love will find you no matter how old you are (aargh that sounds cheesy but I can´t think of a better way to phrase it).

  55. titi says:

    Tinkerbell, now that you know where the problems are, you are a step closer to their solution.

    We all need attention. But the problem is that you are looking to get attention and love from the unlikely sources. If someone ignores you from the very beginning, it’s not a sign that you should keep chasing and make him interested, it’s a sign for you to run, because he doesn’t appreciate your precious self. It’s not that you are not good enough for him, it’s him who’s not good enough for you. You’re just not a match. If you need attention so desperately, it means you are somehow neglecting yourself. Start by learning to be kind to yourself.

    You also mentioned you’re bored when you don’t have some guy to fantasize about. I totally get it. But actually, it means you have much capacity that you should be investing in enriching your life, not entertaining some jackass. Find new hobbies, friends, interests. Fulfill your life, so that you won’t have to wait for some guy to make it interesting.

    Btw, long talks used to be my hook also. It actually kept me hooked and kept me from leaving even after severe abuse.

  56. Tinkerbell says:

    Thanks Lilia,

    I’ll get the book you’ve recommended. I have recently been reading relationship and self- esteem materials, so I’ll add this to my collection.
    Titi, you’re a real gem. Perhaps we will connect again down the road. I’m not going anywhere.

  57. Robin says:

    When you over-give, the other person can start making more and more demands of you, because they know you’ll follow through.

  58. giggles says:

    always so eye opening.Thank you!

  59. Cat Nils says:

    I was the biggest door mat of all! LOL! I cured myself of all that by never pushing for a relationship, or long term. I see men as occasional companionship, then I assess them as I go along. They are all on rotation, that way I can do some comparison shopping. Don’t have sex too soon, that way I don’t go into “giving too much overdrive” I’m nice, however when I tell a man, we are only friends now, no strings attached…they usually can’t stop chasing me…and that’s how the game is played ladies; and it is a GAME, and we are all children at heart, some are brats and devils, while others are almost angels…LOL

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