It's annoying when you express your concern or question their behaviour and they say

I’m always wary of people who say and do stuff and then when called on it, they pull the ‘sensitivity card’ especially as I guarantee you that if you were to find their own ‘hot button’ or challenge them on what they’ve said or done, you’ll see how ‘sensitive’ they are. Ironically. Of course they’ll claim that their reason for being upset / offended is more ‘just’ than yours.

So many readers tell me stories of open and shut cases of assholery or where something has been said or done and they’ve expressed discomfort / concern or just questioned it and been met with accusations of being “too sensitive” or “it was just a joke” or “Jeez! If you’re going to be like that, we might as well call it quits / not be friends anymore”.

If you don’t have the presence of mind and self-esteem to recognise what’s going on, you may default to second-guessing your feelings and switching to people-pleasing mode and then of course you become desensitised to what may be increasingly inappropriate behaviour or you don’t, but each time you feel upset or whatever, you shut it down with concerns of being “too sensitive”.

Here’s the thing: When you’re truly being “sensitive” it means means easily distressed, hurt, and offended by slight changes or basically by something slight. Really, is anything that you’ve been wondering if you’re being ‘too sensitive’ about really that slight?

If you feel hurt, distressed and offended quite quickly all of the time in a variety of situations around a variety of people then you’re either surrounded by a hell of a lot of shady people or yes, there are potentially sensitivity issues which may be stemming from feeling that you’re always under attack and thinking that everything is about you or just having a ‘negative association’ with something. It’s like when you’re very sensitive to criticism and see all feedback as criticism and take it badly, when actually there may be some honest, helpful feedback in there. I know based on certain difficult experiences from childhood or in relationships, I’ve been very ‘sensitive’ to certain things but actually, it was more often than not me recognising that I was in some way repeating an unhealthy pattern of behaviour. Really being called “too sensitive” can be another example of someone running roughshod over your feelings and prioritising themselves. This is unacceptable.

Equally, if you’re around someone who keeps doing things that cross or even flat out bust your boundaries, you feeling hurt, offended or distressed is not being “too sensitive”. There’s nothing ‘slight’ about someone overstepping the mark or even tap dancing all over it. They might think it’s slight but that doesn’t mean that it is. Going back to the criticism issue, yes you may be sensitive to criticism from someone but then if they actually criticise you all of the time, you’re bound to be. The type of person who will ride your arse like Zorro all the time may be thinking “Well stop doing things that I need to pick you up on!” That’s abuser talk.

Let’s imagine that tomorrow someone oversteps the mark with you. When you consider what they’ve said or done within a wider context of their general treatment of you and let’s say that their general treatment of you is even worse, then yes, contextually, what they do tomorrow may look ‘slight’ in that circumstance. However it’s a bit like (and I’ve heard this complaint time and again) when someone who’s abusive or who you just have a history of them crossing the line cracks a ‘joke’ with you. Yes it might be that you are being ‘sensitive’ to their joke but then you have to consider that your reaction to the joke in this circumstance is influenced by the fact that they’ve also done A,B, and C, and actually, they might think that the joke is funny but you might not because it’s a veiled, passive aggressive chopping dig at you.

Your boundaries are your boundaries. It’s not up to anyone else to tell you about your own comfort levels or ‘correct’ them to fit around their own agenda.

Your feelings are your feelings. Some people aren’t bothered by certain things but that doesn’t invalidate your position. And yes, some people aren’t bothered by certain things because they have empathy issues so as long as they ‘feel’ (they’re not tapping into many emotions) OK with something and like their perspective, they won’t understand what you’re ‘in a flap’ about.

When somebody keeps telling you that you’re ‘too sensitive’, they’re basically saying “I’m not going to consider your feelings and respect your position because I think that what I’m saying / doing is fine, so get a thicker skin.” What they forget of course is that if they’ve said / done something repeatedly and they’re a remotely empathetic person in a mutual relationship with you, romantic or otherwise, they would consider your feelings and at least try to understand your position.

You could learn to cope with it better, but really, learning how to deal with something better is what you do when you’re for instance, sensitive to criticism and conflict, but it’s not what you do when what you’re actually trying to learn how to manage and tolerate is unacceptable behaviour. Also I’ve discovered that when there is a genuine misunderstanding, the person will clarify what they really meant not call you “too sensitive” or reply back with justification of shady behaviour.

Don’t let anybody override your feelings. Acknowledge why you’re bothered by something because it’s all information that helps you to become more self-aware. If you’re going to ‘downgrade’ how you feel about it, do it based on reviewing the facts and drawing your own conclusion not on someone mocking you into submission. You’re not being “too sensitive”. Be around people who you can be you around, feelings and all.

Your thoughts?

Updated 1st November: An audio version of this post is now available.

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173 Responses to Are You Being ‘Too Sensitive’?

  1. P. says:

    There is another important aspect of being or being called too sensitive. If you have experienced trauma, especially what is called complex trauma, in childhood, you are, indeed, more sensitive, than people with “thicker” skin. You might not even discover till a major trigger (i.e., breakup or divorce) brings up issues from the past. And, I have not known this before, as we age, we react more and more to these known or unknown to us triggers. In good relationships you will be supported in dealing with this, but, of course, not in the shady ones, because it becomes “inconvenient” for the other party to consider someone else’s feelings. I have noticed here on BR many of us have had various traumatic situations at home or in relationships. I would say we do not even qualify when or how we react. There is no such thing as “too sensitive”. I hope this makes sense.

    • La Pintura Bella says:

      P,

      Thank you for bringing up this information. It makes a whole lot of sense. This resonates quite a bit with me.

  2. PhoenixRises says:

    I used to think I was overly sensitive, but I’m beginning to think it’s because I have a different value system than a lot of the people in my age group or even in my particular city. Just an hour ago I invited a platonic guy friend of mine to come out for Halloween festivities, because I always include others and it’s been months since I’ve seen him or we’ve had quality time to catch up, have a drink, etc. Well he proceeds to flake out again, and a light bulb goes off that I’m in the ‘disappointment cycle’ with him! I have forgiven him and let him back into my life several times, but without change or a healthy friendship that I would like. His priorities are placing flashy/popular people higher than his real friends, or chasing tail and leaving moi deserted in a scary part of town (no joke, this is the reason why I didn’t talk to him for six months). At any rate, I know it’s not our job to Tell Them All About Themselves, but I tried to fairly bring up that I am going to stop including him to things, and that I don’t enjoy not being prioritised. He basically says ‘not this again!’ and then says ‘I’m not going to have this conversation’ and signs off his email. Granted, that was not the place to get into the most serious of conversations, but when he was acting like an AC/flake I called him out on it and he couldn’t handle it. I can totally picture this friend telling others that I’m ‘too sensitive’ and how I need to just “get over it”, just like my ex whenever I told him what was essentially an uncomfortable truth. I don’t even care what this guy says to others. Seriously, that was the last straw right there. I am not sensitive, I just have boundaries!! :)

    • Dan says:

      Phoenix-
      You did the right thing – flush!

    • Freya says:

      I think you did the right thing Phoenix. With a certain group of friends I managed to get a reputation for calling people on their shit and not putting up with bullshit (this is not how I used to be AT ALL). I was really afraid to express myself at first because I am so used to being dumped or something equally as harsh when I say “Hey, knock it off. I don’t like that.”

      But I tell you what. Not only did I express how angry or hurt or whatnot I was, I did it right then and there, and it was done quite emotionally. All but one person is still my friend. In fact, they all respect my boundaries now and are quite happy to allow me to feel what I feel even if they don’t totally understand my feelings. The one that left, I told him to bugger off in no uncertain terms. Ya, it was my choice to cut him lose – because he was a repeat offender.

      Like I said before, at first it was really uncomfortable but after I let loose a few times it became easier and easier. I guess I just realized the good peeps will let me be myself and respect me. Even if I get emotional, and even if they think I might be a little unreasonable…the others, well, I am better off without them.

    • La Pintura Bella says:

      Typical. I wouldn’t even bother to explain a darn thing to this guy. Let him go chase after meaningless crap with like-minded shallow people. With friends like him, who needs any enemies. I think you did the right thing. get over it…um, I think you just did by kicking his sorry, INsensitive self to the curb. :-D

    • Paul says:

      So you’re just friends with a guy, but seem angry that he spends time with other people, and that he should god forbid, be interested in other people romantically – and you send him emails demanding why you are not a priority?

      It’s not that you’re too sensitive- but it seems you have quite self-focused demands of someone – you say- is a friend.

      • Victorious says:

        Paul I think this is a gender thing. I know most guys wouldn’t be bothered if their mate blew them off with the excuse/reason that they were chasing skirt or had a better offer. Most women do not accept this from either female or male friends.

      • PhoenixRises says:

        Paul, I probably didn’t explain the situation fully…I am in no way interested in this guy, and it’s not about who he is dating/pseudo-dating at any given time. The point is, this is a person who prioritizes looking ‘cool’ or ‘wanted’ over spending time with someone who is a proven and loyal friend to him. I’ve finally realized that it is not a reciprocal friendship and that it’s not worth including him anymore, since he continually lets me down and is a flake.

        Plus I see the people he’s surrounded himself since we initially met and became friends; these are people I have nothing in common with. It’s a bit sad though, as I have mentored his sister and she is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. That’s also the reason why I was willing to forgive him after he’s said nasty things to me, acted like a child, and blown off our plans to hang out.

        I’m interested how you would have handled that situation with a friend like this. I realize I’m more candid than most, which is why I had no problem telling him it was hurtful. But I think most would have quietly moved away from the friendship without saying anything. And I can see why–these kind of people don’t want to hear why they suck.

        • Paul says:

          Maybe it is a gender thing, but your reply also comes across as you expressing disapproval – how dare he make friends you don’t approve of – and that could be described as quite a controlling viewpoint.

          This might be entirely reflective of the dynamic in a relationship I have recently exited, but it strikes me you want a large ammount of control over this person, rather that accepting them – or not, as the person they are.

          On reflection, it’s probably more of a male point of view, but being out with your mates would never preclude one of them talking to someone else they happened to meet – and if that was going somewhere, sure we wouldn’t stand in their way…

          • PhoenixRises says:

            Paul, he doesn’t know any of my opinions on his other friends. I’ve never said anything about them. But I have addressed that he is a flake with me. That’s the relationship I cared about, not his relationship with others. I have accepted excuses for the last ten invites throughout the past two months, some of which he just didn’t respond to or gave a lame excuse. That’s not how I treat friends, do you?

            I really don’t think this is a gender issue either!

        • Aboutme says:

          If you did not call him out t the time of the incident, let it go. No emails, no texts, in fact block his his number. Don’t waste your energy trying to explain anything to this asshole. Cut him off!! Simple.

      • learning says:

        Paul:

        I’ve given up on same-sex friends who did the same thing: cancelled plans because someone “cooler” (and usually a guy) asked her to do something; bailing at the last minute; taking off with someone else. You start to feel used after a while, as in: I’ll hang out with you until someone better comes along. That’s not friendship; that’s someone using you because they can’t handle being alone.

      • Aboutme says:

        Nooooo, Paul you are way off based with that comment. This guy is totally inconsiderate and disrepectful of his friend feelings.

        Sure he has a right to spend time with other people but it is all about how you go about doing things. And leaving someone/a friend alone without at least making sure she is ok is just plain ole assholery!

        To make it worst he does not want to address or discuss it with her…what an asshole and he is definitely no ones friend but his own.

        Phoenix, you should NEVER give him the time of day, cut him off. Now my version of forgive and forget does not mean we continue with the same status quo like we both push the reset button. Forgiving to me means the negative emotions do not hold me back.

    • SM says:

      Pheonix I give my friends a lot of ‘room’ but there are some people who will just use other people until ‘better’ options come along. When this happens I just walk away, I dont even bother telling them anything. I had a friend who was using myself and another to cheat on her husband unbeknownst to us. When we figured it out, I dropped her like a hot potato. my other friend still hangs out with her and thinks I should talk to her about it. I’m not going to discuss with a user why I dont care for them. Guess what, her husband thinks I’m the ‘bad’ one, he doesnt know.

    • Freya says:

      Paul, I think I see what you are saying here:
      “On reflection, it’s probably more of a male point of view, but being out with your mates would never preclude one of them talking to someone else they happened to meet – and if that was going somewhere, sure we wouldn’t stand in their way…”

      One time my girlfriend made googly eyes at one of the guys in the band and naturally he began talking to her. She had always wanted to have sex with a guy in a band and this was her moment to live that dream. I certainly was NOT going to stand in her way. Only problem was, she was my ride home.

      If I had my own car or money for cab fair I woulda let her go on her merry way and insist she call me later to be sure she was ok. Instead I had to play third wheel and hang out in the corner while they had sex. Argh, the things we do for friends.

      Now, if my friend had not said anything to me and just split with this guy leaving me in a strange town in a strange bar to fend for myself…we likely would no longer be friends.

  3. Lady Lisa says:

    Natalie…great post. Right on time. Nail on the head! I’ve had three recent experiences where I’ve told people that their actions were questionable and it was all met with deflection, defensiveness, laughter and excuse making. It’s been a most helpful tool to weed out folk who have never really been my friend in the first place.

  4. vibes says:

    totally agree, just because they think they wouldn’t be offended by their own behaviour doesn’t make it ok to bust your emotional boundaries and not even try to see it from your point of view.

  5. Domenica says:

    GREAT ARTICLE Natalie, loved it SO TRUE, if I had a dollar for all the times this was said to me…

  6. Grizelda says:

    Being called ‘too sensitive’ by someone who patently tramples over your feelings — and refuses to apologise for it or acknowledge they’ve done anything wrong — is so abrasive. Possibly, bullying.

    It harks back to that infuriating pop-psych trend a number of years ago which had so many people belting out the chorus ‘Hey, you’re not responsible for someone else’s feelings’, which sounds like something out of a guide to successful relationships written by Josef Mengele.

    No we’re not ‘responsible’ for other people’s feelings in the sense that we can’t literally force people to feel certain things. Truth is people make others feel certain things all the time, via the application of deceit, promises, manipulation, threats, bullying, and in fact anything that’s said or done in expectation of an emotional response. ‘Not responsible for your feelings’ was like all their Christmases at once for bastards who like to behave in selfish ways that ride roughshod over the feelings of others — then insult them further with the twisted rationale that they are absolved of blame for any kind of heartbreak, emotional turbulence, or stinging tears of hurt that happen as a result. “Because hey, since when did I ever ask you to have any feelings for me, doofus?!”. Grotesque and shameful stuff.

    This is why “You’re just being too sensitive!”, in the way that Natalie describes, is out of the same box of foul behaviour. “If what I wanna say about you makes you feel like shit, too bad, because I prioritise whatever falls out of my mouth over whatever is in your heart.”

    • Mel says:

      So true.

    • MRWriter says:

      Thank you Grizelda. My recent EUM actually said to me, “I’m not responsible for your feelings.” Never heard that one before…until I googled it later…just smacked of something repeated by rote.

      It pissed me off when he had the audacity to say this to me. I defended myself by saying, “No, but you are responsible for your actions that made me feel this way.” He couldn’t argue — I think he tried but I jumped all over him like a white on rice.

      Ridiculous! This from a man who prides himself on teaching his son “please” and “thank you.” I should have asked him if this was something he planned to teach his son too. Poor little boy doesn’t stand much of a chance…another reason I got out…EMU treated me badly (passive aggressive)in front of his son.

      That was my line in the sand. Treat me badly when it’s between you and me, I’m a big girl, let’s tango. But to do it front of an impressionable child? Uh, no! I won’t be the woman that allows an innocent child to learn bad behavior.

      Of course, EMU called me self-absorbed.

      • kendo says:

        I’m glad you said this. Two things – people are not responsible FOR others feelings but they are responsible TO other people – this means taking into account people’s issues and potential sensitivities when talking to them. No one can make you feel something but they can show respect for you and not walk all over your boundaries.
        I know this in theory – I don’t practice it though – hence my story!
        Just to say too that I told my ex that I didn’t want to play out the rows and disrespectin front of either of our children – his in their twenties, mine just entering teens – and his reply was ‘I put partnership before children’ and he didn’t belive in ‘not in front of the children’. Once I started listening I realised this is a difference in values in us – plus I didn’t want the children seeing him treat me badly because I knew it wasn’t ok – I just didn’t tell myself that loud enough

        • cavewoman says:

          Wow, beside the huge problem of involving children in adult relationships, how is that putting “partnership” before anything, if they insist on engaging in conflict in situations where the partner is not comfortable doing so? Nohow. It’s manipulation and control, the opposite of partnership.

          MRwriter: about responsibility, that is a brilliant way of putting it. We are not technically responsible for other people’s feelings to the extent that each person is to be responsible for his or her own feelings. What that means is that we are responsible for how we ACT on our own feelings. What is doesn’t mean is that there are certain feelings people are responsible to avoid having at all cost! You are so right MRwriter: used in any other sense, that phrase is a stupid cliche used by insensitive people ducking responsibility. Of course we are responsible to others to show the basic human decency not to say “What do I care? Not my problem!”

          The person who would use all of the above lines against me was someone who really did not have any real friends (i.e. at the time, I was supposed to be his only ‘friend’), was a lifetime bachelor, and was even estranged from his own child. This sort of callousness is pretty much the how he got that way.

    • P. says:

      Grizelda,

      I don’t think I am responsible for my ex’s feelings, for example, or, when we were married and he was constantly unhappy over things I could not change, e.g. his job, even though he tried to blame me for them. He would say he was in a bad mood bc I was not “nice enough” and so he was late for work and he would get fired. Things like that. I believed that for a long time, but no, I was not responsible for his feelings then and I am not responsible for his feelings now.

      • Victorious says:

        P. He sounds like a narcissist. Have you done your research?

        • P. says:

          Victorious,
          Thank you. It got so bad I was “responsible” for everything, at which point I became quite sick, and a dr. said I should go on antidepressants because “what’s wrong with a little housework”? At that point I left, basically just drove away, and later, when the ex stopped paying child support, I filed for divorce and got divorced. I am doing my research now, and therapy, when I can. Up until recently he would call me from another state that he had a flat tire, for example. And he frequently blamed me for his feelings about child support and such.
          Interestingly, the therapist says not to ask “why” (which I do all the time), but to ask “what are my feelings about this”? You are right on target; I believe I have a narcissistic mother and I have only realized that after my divorce when I saw the similarities with my ex…

      • Grizelda says:

        P, I think the word ‘mood’ is key. Moods come and go and are not the same as feelings. He was in a bad mood on any given day for whatever reason, and childishly tried to blame you for it as an attention-seeking ploy. “Look, I’m unhappy, and YOU’RE not fixing me”. Had you spent every morning being really deliberately terrible to him, then yes you’d have been responsible for his bad mood and probably his feelings of anger towards you.

        His feelings about work were not good because things were going on at work that were making him unhappy (colleagues’ behaviour, customers’ behaviour, disempowerment, not a good environment, too little pay, whatever). Nothing at all to do with you.

    • Lau_ra says:

      Perfectly summed-up!

  7. Chai spice says:

    Excellent post Natalie, so relevant for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your wise words. Your insights have helped me so much more than counseling sessions. Bless you!

  8. Ed Metz says:

    Well, interesting topic. So, if you are feeling regularly conflicted by what others do, the first question you should ask yourself is: “what did I expect?” Chanes are something was done or said that violated your expectations. And, this ceated conflict in the relationship.

    Rather than “you” being too sensitive, perhps the other person is really being habitually too “insensitive,” too focused on their own selves and needs, and really blind to the needs and expectation of others. There are dumb people out there who have no or little personal understanding of how their behavior is really coming across.

    But, you should not feel defenceless. When that happens, that is the perfect time to say to the other person: “I did not expect such a (statement) or (behavior) from you. Are you aware that when you do or say things like that, you come across as a very insensitve jerk? Is that how you want other people to perceive you? Well, is it?”
    You want the “responsibility” monkey for the statement or behavior to jump from your back – - – back onto their back. Let them be responsible for feeding and caring for that insensitive monkey – - – not you!

  9. malaise says:

    I needed this. It’s amazing how easily I was manipulated to doubt my own feelings by my asshole ex EUM. He actually texted me once, “My cock kind of hates you for making me wait last week” This man is 40 years old. I was in tears, so hurt, but he tried to turn it into a joke!!!!!! So then I just supressed my feelings, and tried to forget it. INSANITY.

    • Mel says:

      The lack of respect in the world today never ceases to amaze me. Any man I don’t care who he is what he’s got who he knows, could be the president of the United States or the Prime Minister of the UK for all I care, if ANY man ever sent me such a disgusting disrespectful form of correspondence I’d cut him off immediately if not sooner.

    • MRWriter says:

      It never amazes me the texts…for some reason if a guy says something hurtful or flippant verbally, I take offense but when he actually goes to the trouble of typing it!!! Double the trouble — double the offense. That’s so gross, Malaise.

    • Freya says:

      I must be weird, or maybe there is some background in the relationship I don’t know about. I don’t think I would be offended by getting that text. I would have piped back with some other equally sexy banter regarding what I was going to do that cock once I got my hands on it.

      Men want to have sex with you. It doesn’t mean they don’t like you as a person or that you are only a sex object. It’s a compliment that you arouse their desire and they want to be the man that sends you over the top sexually. When you are happy they feel as if they have done their job as a man.

      Like I said, there is probably a lot going on that I don’t know about, and there certainly is a line at which it becomes harassment. But I thought it was worth mentioning because I made the mistake of being offended quite a few times. I really just had to learn to accept that men are going to want to have sex with me and it is by no means only about sex and by no means meant to be insult.

      Since I’ve changed my attitude about sex I have been finding there a lot of men I thought were jerks that are actually incredible gentlemen.

      • grace says:

        malaise
        I’d be pissed as hell if I got that text from the boyfriend.
        freya
        “a lot of men I thought were jerks are actually incredible gentlemen”. I’m sceptical about that, yet curious. How does that look?

        • Kit Kat says:

          ***Like ,Grace

          Freya, unfortunatley , it is just sex to them. And if your an unwilling partner they hit the next button.

          • MRWriter says:

            Freya, I agree context is everything and I’m certainly no prude. But that text is misogynistic not sexy. My “cock kinda hates you for making me wait last week.” It says she put him off (for whatever reason) and then the word cock and hate so close to each other — yeah, I got a problem with that when it’s directed at her. It’s arrogant, immature and demeaning. She can respond with something just as sexually nasty if she wants but if a man texted that to me, he’d be making love to his cock with his hand.

            • malaise says:

              He had wanted to meet a week before that text but I couldn’t that day. I had a bad day at work, then got into a car accident on the way home, I just wasn’t in the mood. I was also in the process of moving and just stressed out generally which I didn’t tell him because I was thinking of dumping him anyways after a previous incident which I don’t feel I can describe here…

              I wasn’t responding to his texts for several days, then a week or so later he sends me that, the entire text was actually: “My cock kind of hates you for making me wait last week, but whatever he’ll get over it I hope”

              I was so shocked and hurt, but all I could reply was “I’m sorry”. I couldn’t deal with the thought of him hating me so like an insane person I tried to apologize. Christ almighty. I agreed to meet him again. When I showed up he didn’t even look at me and was playing video games. I had enough of his bs so I dumped him after that.

              Freya, I was the most open person in regards to sex and let this man bust all kinds of boundaries. It’s one thing to make sexy comments to a woman about her body etc or dirty talk. There’s no way that text was meant as a compliment, and I’m confused that you wouldn’t be offended by it.

              • Freya says:

                Malaise, its all about context for me. If this is the man that I like having sex with, and he treats me good, then I’m totally down for some sexy games and word play. Under your circumstances it sounds like he was a previous offender and kind of a jerk.

                I went out with one guy that got really sexual in text pretty much as soon as the relationship began. I played along a little at first cuz it kinda made me laugh. Then it started to make me uncomfortable. I told him several times that he was being too forward sexually, it was making me uncomfortable and would he please stop. He said he was doing it because it obviously made me laugh and he wanted to make me laugh. That would have been fine with me except that he continued to do it. After the third time of telling him to knock it off I just quit talking to him.

                Do I think he’s a horrible guy? No way. We are still acquaintances and keep in touch through facebook. I understand why he was doing what he was doing because he told me why. On the other hand I wasn’t gonna let him bust my boundary and refuse my request to stop. I consider that a red flag. If a man can’t treat me the way I tell him to treat me, well then, He Don’t Get To Have ME.

                The difference though is that in every other way this man was a gentleman. He never ignored me and played video games while I was with him. He made efforts to get to know me as a person, he didn’t shy away from talking to me about things that were important to me, etc, etc. I think my guy just really had no clue. Your guy just sounds like a prick. He’s probably been taught by numerous other women that it’s ok to bust boundaries. If more women would tell him his behavior is inappropriate and STOP having sex with him, TRUST ME, He Would Stop Being a Loser.

                Under your circumstances I probably would not have been offended, but I certainly would have been pissed off. It would be a last straw in my book for sure. Its all about context. Like Demke, and many other women, if this man has shown me through his actions that he cares about me, I am totally down for nasty text messaging. If you told him to knock that crap off because you don’t like it and he continued to do it then he’s not the guy for you.

                You totally did the right thing by dumping him. If women keep doing that to him maybe at some point he’ll get a freakin’ clue.

              • Aboutme says:

                Maliase, I would have felt totally insulted and grossed out by the that text. The tone does not imply any type of love or real emotion…it really does not imply that it is about you. You are simply the woman around at that moment in time that is satisfying his dick only. He acted like he you did something wrong. You don’t even feel comfortable enough to really let him in to your life i.e. accident, feeling low on that. On some level you know that he is an asshole, that is reason why you don’t share your emotional side with him. Cut him off…that has become my mantra…clean and simple.

                I do have question, primarily in my distant past, I would try to make nice or try to end things nastily when an asshole would behave inappropriately. Why oh why do women do this. It’s like we immediately shut down our on emotions and it becomes more about making sure that the asshole ok. I don’t want to be a complete bitch about how you treated me..insane. Now, im not saying that it has to become a “fatal attraction” situation. But should we be apologizing to an asshole who has treated us like shit because his poor feelings re hurt because you called him out or dismissed him without a long relationship defining speech! Now it is becoming much much easier to cut men off without explanation, block numbers…whatever. I don’t have to show any asshole how nice of a person I am. They are not concerned about showing us women how nice they are!

                Freya, sometimes you post interesting, thought provoking statements. All I can say is that some women are cut out for this “mans game” of cheating, sexting to casual people, hot pursuits, hot and cold behavior, etc. It appears that you are and you are willing participate. But sometimes your statements comes across like I am one step above these women on BR because I understand men and I can and I am willing to play the game. So I really wonder why you would find this blog interesting…you got it all figured out, you can this handle this game.

                Everyone is different. It’s been my experience that when you engage in these types of games, eventually it just gets messy, complicated, confusing, etc.

                But rock on, if you can handle it.

        • cavewoman says:

          I am also curious! From a sociological perspetive. I have met sextexting, dirty-talking guys who followed up with ‘not ready for a relationship’. That would not be gentlemanly. I have also met gentlemen with honest intentions who expressed their attraction in gentlemanly ways. I have yet to meet a dirty-texting gentleman with honest intentions. Perhaps they exist. Granted, I have also never met a man who intended to marry me but was not interested in having sex with me. :)

        • Freya says:

          Grace

          AHA! I have an excellent example of a guy I thought was a total jerk who was actually madly in love with me.

          I had a long distance boyfriend, lived about 60 miles from me, and I was in school at the time so we didn’t see each other more than every couple of weeks. One week we had been sexting back and forth like mad fools. He started getting really graphic in his texts and all of a sudden I started to feel a bit insecure…maybe he only likes me for the crazy sex? Maybe I’m being too easy? Wait, did he ever tell me that he cares about me? Did he ever tell me that I am the only one?

          As I start going into a frenzy thinking about every interaction we’ve ever had looking for evidence that its only sex, I start to find what I’m looking for. Then, BING! I get an email. More pornographic sex talk. I start to really buy into its only sex now. Then, I get another email. This one is a video link. The video is some song about sex and how the guy is gonna blow his you know what cuz the gal is so sexy.

          Now, I’m getting pissed. Obviously, he is disrespecting me now. What a jerk. Then he calls. Its the day before I am supposed to spend the night at his house. And what does this guy say to me?
          “Freya, I am so hot for you right now. I’m about to blow my wad just thinking about you. I just want you to know that I am gonna jump all over you as soon you walk in the door and I don’t want you to be alarmed.”

          At this point I’ve worked myself into a tizzy. From my point of view he just told me all he wants is sex. And with all the other evidence I’ve collected…I told him I wasn’t coming over because he was treating me with disrespect and I didn’t like it.

          He was really confused. From his point of view he was giving me the biggest compliment a man can give a woman: He couldn’t resist my feminine essence.

          Somehow I had managed to forget the time he took me aside to tell me he was trying to get me alone so we could get to know each other. Or the time he looked straight into my eyes and said “I think you are beautiful.” I even managed to forget all those wonderful dates he planned; every detail of every date executed to perfection. I forgot the time he told me I could be anything I wanted to be and not to listen to what other people say. I forgot the time he got so nervous typing on his keyboard..like I might think he didn’t know how to type (god , that was adorable). I forgot all the wonderful beautiful things he did just to impress me, and all the times he reached out just to touch me or be near me.

          I mean, what a jerk!

      • Demke says:

        Of course a lot of men want to have sex with you,…and every other woman. lol.

        If people look for casual, then sexual ‘talk’ wouldn’t be insulting. If a woman has been jerked around in a relationship w/ an AC/EUM.. future faking, blowing hot/cold… but the sex is always a priority.. yeah, I can definately, and unfortunately relate to getting a little peeved about the sexual banter, when not getting much happiness in other areas of the relationship. Because I know that would make me feel like.. (okay, is that all I’m good for? is that the only time he’s nice and joking around?)

        If the relationship is mutual, respectful with love and care… (as NML always says), I’m sure the sexual banter would also be mutual.

        I wouldn’t be pissed at that text if it came from a wonderful source (love, care, trust, and respect included! :).

  10. vhs says:

    This clarifies so many thoughts I had, which were circulating in my mind and heart and once again you’ve put it in a one-pager.
    The mind games, the passive agressive twisting things around until all you’re looking at from your very own perspective, are walls, loosing yourself along the way of trying to take grip of a situation, he tried to make me think it were all MY issues instead of his but they aren’t. Sometimes I read your posts and I hear him in my mind ‘see! YOU are the AC! This is what YOU did to me!’
    I’m -sometimes- still doubting his accusations as if there is an ounce of truth in them. I have had trouble not believing him, him manipulating our mutual history into a story that fit him well so he could throw all responsibility and all disrespect and humiliation to my corner of the room. ‘I haven’t been like this with anybody else, only with you’ *lies*
    Projection was his middle name. I am sure now.
    It’s all in here..in this post.
    I nearly have to cry about so much understanding from a person I have never met and maybe never will.

    Thank you.

  11. Clare says:

    This has come at totally the right moment for me (thankyou Natalie x)
    My ex and I broke up a few weeks ago after I discovered some shady behaviour on his part on FB. I had voiced my concerns from something else a few days before & boundaries were put in place that were agreed by us both then just a couple of days later they were crossed (or at least I felt they were.) Instead of waiting till I was calm to talk to him I got angry & called him up which resulted in an argument. We fell out, I gave him space, did’nt hear anything from him for a day then e-mailed him asking if we could talk, I wanted to try to understand things from his perspective if it was different to my own or if not, we’d be better off calling it quits (it was a new r.ship, just a couple of months) I was ignored. I’ve e-mailed him a few times over the last couple of weeks & every time been ignored. I feel angry about that but i’m not acting on it, i’ve just stopped trying for over a week now. It’s been horrible because i’ve gone from blaming myself for handling it wrong, or being ‘too sensitive.’ to thinking, ‘no, actually, it’s just as I thought & that’s why he’s run away’ We seemed to be off to such a good start otherwise & I have to say he treated me very well & I miss that but I can’t lower my standards/values on the strength of that. This was, after all a new relationship so better to have learned early on than later I guess & like you said Natalie, if they care enough they would want to explain themselves/listen to your concerns…Or words to that effect!! Thankyou!

    • Mel says:

      Guilty people who are cowards usually run. Let him go. He’s doing you a favour.

      • Clare says:

        Thanks Mel, that’s the conclusion I came to too. Least I know I tried, not my problem anymore :)

      • PhoenixRises says:

        Mel’s comment is simple and yet a really important lesson. People who are honest, who care about you and want you to know they care (in addition to their character) are not the type to just run away or allow you to believe the worst. Clare, think of how mature and accountable you are in relationships with others. Then ask yourself: does this person treat me in the same way? If the answer is no, then it’s clear as day: they are NOT worth your time!

        • Clare says:

          Yep this is true Phoenix. I’m very fair in relationships, I listen to others points of view & expect to be heard. Two people may not agree but there should still be a level of understanding & respect. I quickly learned this after sending him an e-mail almost actually blaming myself, still he let me do that without a word. My mistake for taking what we had as a whole & not sticking by me. I regret that now because it’s come full circle & seems to be nothing other than what I thought it was initially. Feel a bit silly now but i’m literally done. lesson learned x

    • Freya says:

      I agree with Mel. I good man would not ignore you just because you expressed yourself in an emotional way. You are allowed to have feelings and allowed to express your feelings. You are NOT required to be cool, calm, and collected every moment of every day. People who love you will let you be yourself.

      Do not keep trying to get hold of him and explain yourself. You didn’t do anything wrong here.

      Let him go.

      • Clare says:

        Thanks Freya,i’ve quickly come to realise that he’s not the man I thought he was, or rather portrayed himself to be. Consistency is key, sure he always called when he said he would & did alot of things he said he would but the first sign of trouble & he’s run. NOT consistent of the kind of man he always said he was, least I know now just what an immature coward he really is…Sad when you think he’s 44! Ah well x

        • Clare says:

          & no, I’m not going to contact him anymore, i’ve said all I need to a week ago & have NO intention of reaching out anymore. He’s lost my respect x

    • Demke says:

      Clare.. the posters below have some good comments.

      If he cared, he would’ve listened. How hard is it to answer the phone, keep his mouth shut.. and listen to you? whether he agreed with you or not.

      You had a concern about his FB behavior, which he pretty much validated because he didn’t listen to you… and ran. Guilty.

      And if you are blaming yourself for going off on him and keep trying to talk to him about it. Don’t. YOU were being mature, caring enough to want to communicate and speak to him about it. HE was not. He ran. He’s a coward.

      And you don’t want a shady coward, do you? You didn’t do anything wrong. You had a gut feeling, and you asked about it. Nothing wrong with that.

      Just don’t contact him again. And if he ever contacts you. Don’t answer. FLUSH.

      • Clare says:

        Thankyou so much too Demke. It’s gotten alot easier to deal with especially as he’s still doing the same thing I was uncomfortable about without any regard to me because i’ve seen it since. It’s pathetic really. I think the hardest part for me is forgiving myself for trying too hard to make amends when I was’nt even the one at fault! Altho I did handle it all in a mature way thankyou for recognising that too, i have no regrets on being who i am on that front, true to myself in my actions always, just feel foolish for giving him more credibility than he was worth. Have read the posts below & ur right, they’re invaluable. I thank Natalie for her site & for the members that post, ur all totally amazing, thankyou so very much x

  12. Lavender says:

    Wow Nat this is an amazing post. I agree with everything. I was once with a guy and in the beginning stages of us going out, he would repeatedly pull me in and then push me away and say “we can’t be together, you’re too sensitive” and then I would say “no I’m not, I promise not to be sensitive” and then prove to him that I wasn’t by not being “sensitive” when he was abusive towards me and just putting up with it. I now see it was a complete mind manipulation and I’m still angry with myself for falling for it. Great post!!

  13. Lavender says:

    I was just reading your wonderful post again the guy I was with used to say this all the time: ““Well stop doing things that I need to pick you up on!” That’s abuser talk.” He would give me the silent treatment over something I didn’t know I did wrong and then I would apologise profusely for being too sensitive cause I knew he liked that and then when we were talking again he would say “You need to learn your lesson not to do things that you have to apologise for.” :(

    Nat, your blog and your perspective is amazing.

    • Freya says:

      Lavender, the guy sounds like an abusive A-hole that knew exactly what he was doing.

      Please do not feel bad about yourself for falling for this stuff. Nearly every woman on the planet has fallen for it at one time or another.

      You learn to avoid it by going through it. Its all just part of the learning process. Nothing to beat yerself up over.

      Hugs

  14. blue flame says:

    “You are too sensitive” is just a passive aggressive way to invalidate another human being. There are so many tactics abusive people use to invalidate others . I appreciate you acknowledging this issue and that it can be in any type of relationship,not just romantic ones. If a person grows up with parents who routinely invalidate them in this manner, it becomes a pattern that will FEEL normal to the receiver and that child may well grow up used to their feelings not mattering to anyone and even though it feels bad,continue to accept this behavior from others in their life. Knowledge is the first steps to change,So thank you Natalie, for ringing the bells to alert people this is NOT normal or healthy even if you have been groomed to accept this type of treatment in the past.

    • EllieMae says:

      Blue Flame – “If a person grows up with parents who routinely invalidate them in this manner, it becomes a pattern that will FEEL normal to the receiver and that child may well grow up used to their feelings not mattering to anyone and even though it feels bad,continue to accept this behavior from others in their life.”

      Thank you for that description! It validates how I have been invalidated in my entire life. I am determined to change and not continue to fall for people putting their BS on me. BR has helped so much!

  15. Heartache Amy says:

    I consider myself to be pretty sensitive. I take a lot of things (good and bad) personally. However, since my divorce and a couple of shady relationships, I think I’ve “toughened up” a little bit. But, this past summer, a MM (who happened to be my house painter) made the moves on me, and long story short, I kind of fell for him. It wasn’t really a relationship, and he got cold feet and turned the tables on me. I called him on his behavior and he fed me a few lies. At the same time, he told me how much he liked me and how he would always be friends with me, and down the road, if his situation changed, he would like to date me. I was very hurt by all of this, and told him so, and his response was that I made him mad, but he eventually apologized. My question is: I don’t really know this man, and he used me, but why am I so sensitive and why do I feel so hurt? I need to be stronger, and not let this happen again. How is it that I feel hurt and rejected by an unavailable, insensitive man?

    • Kit Kat says:

      HeartAche Amy… I think rejection of any sort hurts a little. But as you said he was unavailable & married . Thank goodness you didnt get involved & dodged that bullet.

      • Kit Kat says:

        HeartAche Amy. I am feeling a little blah today. I was re-reading some of Nat’s post to try to regain a better perspective on some things.
        Anyway, I came across this in dealing with the feelings that go along with feeling rejected .

        Your ability to cope with and process rejection is tied to your self-esteem because how rejected you feel and the effect it has on your perception of you, is intrinsically tied into your ability to love yourself.

        Its so true. I know I am better off without Mr. Unavail but sometimes the rejection still stings if I let it… I need to stay strong & know I deserve so much better :)

        • Heartache Amy says:

          Hi Kit Kat,
          We BOTH deserve a lot better, don’t we? My self-esteem has taken a beating, mostly because of my divorce, which was difficult. But I’m so appreciative of everyone on this site, including you, and how much support and wisdom you all offer. It’s been so helpful to me. Also, I believe that some things aren’t meant to be, especially all of the Mr. Unavails. There’s someone better out there for us!

  16. dove says:

    The last line is what really got to me-be around people who you can be around, feelings and all. That is beautiful.
    I have had quite a journey and its hard for me to trust people enough to show them all of my feelings, but when I find those that stand by me no matter what, I know they are my true friends. Anyone who I am in a relationship with, if I can’t open up safely and share my feelings, then I shouldn’t be with them. Its simple really, in theory, but has taken me many years to figure it out.
    Thank you for this post.

  17. 4wardMovement says:

    I used to get the “you are being too sensitive” and “you just can’t you take a joke. I was just kidding.” too from my ex husband for years. Now with the ex bf /ac it is “I can’t handle drama” every time I spoke up to express my feelings. He told my friend “I love her to death but I feel can’t take the drama ” when he is the one who is a raging alcoholic narcissistic nut job and I will called him on it.

    • PhoenixRises says:

      4ward, this is what gets me too. I still find myself worrying sometimes what he has said about me, because I know he talked badly about others to me and said what was convenient at that given moment (i.e., whatever would benefit him). The strange thing is, other people–at least, people with some degree of intelligence and class–will eventually catch on that this person has serious issues. You don’t have to worry what he says about you, because his word means nothing! His action will speak for themselves. Somewhere deep down, perhaps he knows what you said is true–but he doesn’t want to address it because that requires maturity/accountability/working hard on yourself. It’s his loss.

  18. Bren D. says:

    For the longest time I always felt I was “too sensitive” – I was ashamed and self-blaming about it (thinking I was simply “jealous and insecure”). It got so bad I would hide my concerns from my ex (my boyfriend at the time – I’m not in contact with him now). But whenever I would try to explain to him what was bothering me (like his flirting with women online), he always minimized it and sometimes even trivialized it. Never once did he say “I understand how you feel” or even “I care about how you feel. Can you tell me why this hurts you?” And he never even considered stopping it – he seemed addicted to getting validation from these women online, and he didn’t care one bit about my feelings. It’s true I did have huge insecurity and fear of abandonment issues, but my ex really did not help things one bit. Over time I began to see he had limited capacity for empathy – he lacked the ability to understand how I was feeling if it was an issue he could not relate to (very very rarely could he very relate to how I was feeling). I also concluded that his arrogance (another trait I really couldn’t stand) was just masking the insecurity he himself had. I often blamed myself entirely for the breakup, but now I can see he was far from flawless himself. I’m so much healthier now without him (and I actually have some self-esteem! I worked hard to address my insecurity issues). I’m surprised I did not realize he wasn’t the right person for me sooner (but back then I knew nothing about having standards & boundaries, recognizing red flags, etc).
    This was a great post. Thank you for it Natalie! xo

  19. miskwa says:

    Too sensitive my fanny. Just another excuse for someone to not own their @#$% behavior just like “I am not responsible for your feelings “. Once again, really timely. Had to ask a couple of folks for letters of recommendation, they don’t want me to leave. Am I being too sensitive about my situation? If so, a. Why have 6 folks in less than a year left employment because of wanting to get out of this town? b. Why have fellow female colleagues left in order to be rid of AC?

    • Fearless says:

      miskwa

      I follow your posts and your story. I don;t much respond as I never have much to add to what you’re already saying and also I have little experience of your ‘living conditions’ etc. Is the town/community really so small/underpopulated that this AC bloke gets to reek so much havoc and people/women feel they need to up-root leave the community to get distance from/get free of him, or do these women continue to feel vulnerable to his “charms” long after they should have reached indifference? Just curious about that one.

      How far are you from the nearest city/larger conurbation?

      Wish I could help – I guess if living there is making you so miserable (despite your farming etc.) that you should think seriously about leaving – but if the root of the issue is this ex AC, perhaps he’s been getting too much power (over other people’s lives) and he should be relieved of his burden! Maybe time people started to tell this guy straight to his face in the clearest possible language that he is a menace to the community. He sounds like a big fish in a small pond; like he needs to be a big fish, so he picks a small pond.

  20. Ejane says:

    I just got out of a relationship about 3 months ago with an EUM. He had a lot of really horrible things happen to him while we dating, namely…losing his job. Even though he had some stressful situations, I really tried to separate him as a person vs. the difficult times he was having. I have to say, if I had been with someone who wasn’t in a stressful situation, I would’ve dumped them sooner.

    In my situation, I was very sensitive to his needs…giving him space, affection, etc. He was always very spur of the moment, never made plans, and never really put me or the relationship first. I brought this up to him several times throughout our year long relationship – sometimes things would get better initially, but they’d always go back to their original state. After a while, he started telling me I sounded ‘needy.’ His excuse was that he was so ‘in his own head’ and stressed out all the time, that he couldn’t find time in his unemployed day to send me a text, call me at night, or come spend time with me, even though he lived 5 minutes away. All the while, he wasn’t spending much time looking for a job. He made me feel as if my needs were much less important than his. Each time I brought something up, his rebuttal would usually involve him telling me that’s ‘just the way I am’ and I shouldn’t take it so personally. I would often walk away from the conversations feeling like I had been too demanding, and insensitive. However, he remained loyal to his friends/family in regards to planning and communication. I finally got wise and dumped his ass. I just wish I would’ve done it about 8 months ago.

    • kendo says:

      OMG! Were you and I dating the same guy?!? I read your post and thought ‘this is exactly what I have been experiencing’!!!
      My ex was unemployed, needed space, told me I was needy when I wanted time with him, acted like his needs were more important than mine and showed that by doing absolutely nothing to make my life easier or help us spend quality time together.
      I stayed for 3 years – you did well to get out after 1! I can’t believe there are 2 the same! Well done us

      • Mel says:

        I don’t have facts but I think its safe to say that there are probably more like millions even billions of these kinds of damaged and misguided people out there.. Cause there are women who do these things to guys too.. and friends who do it to friends, and family who do it to family.. Very sad really what mankind has come to. Humans have always been innately selfish and self serving, and capable of really bad stuff, but at least back in the day people more than now tried to rise above it to a higher level of consciousness by choosing to show respect and care for our fellow man and in other ways by refraining from giving in to our every primal whim and desire. Something happened back in the sixties with the whole sex liberation having sex with whoever you want whenever you want. And now with technology it’s all that bad stuff on steroids and most people aren’t strong enough it seems to think for themselves or to stand their ground against it. We live in an era of total desensitization. Where stuff that shocked our forefathers is now childsplay for this generation. Women want respect and can’t understand why men don’t respect them anymore. News flash. Women have done it to themselves by throwing sex around on a platter to men and men use advances in science to absolve their sins claiming men are made to sleep around. It never ceases to amaze me the number of women, and I mean every day women, women I know, that think being sexy and having men drool over them is something to aspire to then again that’s what the media is shoving down our throats every three seconds. Anyway, I think Natalie definitely covers everything on this blog in all of her posts. As for me, I know I can’t change anyone except myself and that’s all I’m concerned with. I’m going to be what I believe in and one day I’ll find that person or he will find me or maybe even not. I’m still going to be who I am and live by what’s right and true.

        • P. says:

          Mel,
          I don’t think it happened in the 60s. I grew up in another country and my mother, who is 75, has always behaved like getting sexual interest from men was the highest “honor”, dismissed my complaints about her uncle molesting me (and her bf, too, but supposedly by then I was old enough to know what *I* was doing – never mind I was in my early 20s and he was getting me drunk)by implying “it’s just a body/ just a French kiss/whatever, and, finally, made me marry my bf because “divorced is better than an old maid”. To this date she says she could get dates with younger men if she wanted to and often tells me “too bad the men that one likes are gthe same ones that are not able to “help” you. I shudder to think what that means… Not to mention her telling me graphic sex details about my father and her (at least one) lover and claiming “he almost got divorced becuase of me, and that was the only time he even considered a divorce!” like it was a badge of honor. She condones my sister’s relationship with a MM and tried to force me into a discussion on why or why not the MM’s wife sleeps/not sleeps with him any more. There is more, and I am trying really hard NC with her, yet she is not leaving me alone…

        • Mymble says:

          Mel,
          I don’t think there ever was a golden age when men treated women well and reapectfully. There were millions, literally millions of prostitutes in victorian times to cater to mens “needs” and women could not escape from a marriage even if the husband cheated, beat them, raped them or gave them diseases. The fifties are held up as wonderful now but they were miserably oppressive. Women now can choose who they sleep with and who they DON’T sleep with and how other women make that choice is up to them, it’s not for me or anyone else to get judgemental or blame our relationship failures on some other bunch of people we don’t even know. If you’re involved with an AC it’s because 1. He is an AC, nobody “made” him that way, he just is making that choice and 2. Because you’re choosing to get with him and stay with him even after his ACness becomes apparent. It’s about him and you, nobody else.

      • Ejane says:

        I know! I’m glad I’m not the only person who thought this behavior wasn’t normal. At least we are both free now. Did your guy often put down other people, including his friends?

        The worst part of mine though – a month after we split up, he got a new job and he’s now dating a girl we both know. But she lives like 12 hours away, and I’m pretty sure they were talking before we split up. It just sucks that I tried so hard to keep things together, and I got nothing out of it. When we broke up, he kept telling me he couldn’t stand not to have me in his life, but since he didn’t have a job, he didn’t think it was fair for me to wait around until he was in a better headspace. He was essentially asking me to just wait around, and I’m glad I didn’t. But, it does suck that it seems like his whole life is falling into place since I left.

        He gets to be an AC and still get everything he wants. I know I’m better off, but still having a hard time dealing with it.

        • kendo says:

          hey, Natalie has done a post on that – I read it. No my guy won’t ever get a job – he ‘celebrated’ 25 years on the dole this year – he was really proud of that. He makes sounds like he’s going to start earning money – I’m yet to see it although I did always support him. What I did see was him going places and having fun – I live a bus ride from him but he would always say he had no money to come to me and very very rarely did anything for me – what I see now is him going to London, art gallery openings (we are artists) and out and about with friends who were never told about me. He got on with his life whilst I sat round crying – what a waste that is!!! Don’t you do it -I know it hurts but you are better off because you wouldnt want someone who was capable of treating someone the way he treated you. x

          • Lau_ra says:

            Well well well…we all date the same man in a different body:) one of ACs also used to tell me he has no time to visit me (lived 7 bus stations away), wouldn’t take me to party with his friends (said I was moody and uptight, cause I would not smoke weed and openly expressed my dislike of him doing that) and etc.I saw him recently-he looks great, has a gf, does the job he likes, and seems happy, whereas after trusting a new man I got disappointed by him pulling a vanishing act on me and now trying to heal my wounds…still I don’t regret/envy on the thing that this ex AC seems to live a great life without me- I know what slime he can be and I don’t need that type of people (not just men) in my life.

  21. La Pintura Bella says:

    “…you may default to second-guessing your feelings and switching to people-pleasing mode and then of course you become desensitised to what may be increasingly inappropriate behaviour or you don’t, but each time you feel upset or whatever, you shut it down with concerns of being “too sensitive”.”

    I grew up with this from my narcissistic father. In fact he still pulls the “you’re too sensitive” bs anytime I call him on crossing my boundaries. It IS abusive, pure and simple when it happens repeatedly from a certain person with a history of assholery. That phrase, along with “you’re over-thinking things,” just makes my blood boil.

    • P. says:

      La Pintura Bella (what does that mean?),

      Your father and my mother would fit in beautifully with each other. She texted me the other day and I responded that we really were not on the same page.. She texted back “How did you come up with that?” This sounds so passive-aggressive and a put down, basically invalidating my feelings to start with and (from other things she said) lying, too, because “she is so understanding”. No, she is not.

      • pinkpanther says:

        We’re all done for as a civilization when the mothers and daughters text “sensitive” thoughts!

        Wow, no one talks much anymore these days, too much trouble I guess…

      • Lilia says:

        La Pintura Bella, my father is the same. I don´t even know how to get this idea out of my head that my feelings don´t matter at all. At the same time, being around him is like having a mirror before your face – he only sees himself when he´s talking to me, he never ever acknowledges that I´m a real human being.

      • La Pintura Bella says:

        Oh the joys of having a narcissist in the family. I feel you P. La Pintura Bella is Italian for Beautiful Painter. I’m an artist.

  22. runnergirl says:

    That’s abuser talk alright. The long ago ex chopper/abuser would crack a “joke” which was actually a put-down and when I’d get upset, I was “too sensitive”. He also called me a “fucking lunatic” in front of my daughter and claimed I was being too sensitive when I became unhinged which gave him ammo to further substantiate the abuse. It was a constant ugly, nasty battle. Now,I bristle and run if I hear those words. After I finally got a clue and left, I mistakenly thought I had to be friends with him because we work together and had friends in common. Folks thought he was such a great guy. When he had back surgery, we all made dinner and brought it to his place where I spent many a weekend. His evening entertainment was a gruesome homemade video (when he was 30-something) about violently tormenting and eventually smothering a girl, played by none other than his ex-wife. Talk about twisted. Something snapped, I got terribly upset, said a few, maybe a ton of choice words, and left. Apparently, my colleagues agreed with my assessment and left as well. Low and behold in a lengthy and scathing email, the ex abuser accused me of being “too sensitive” and ruining a perfectly good evening, AGAIN. His purpose for the email was to help me be a better person! He launched on the others as well, name calling, belittling, insulting, and brow beating everyone. We were all so lowbrow as to not see the humor in his violent little homemade video. He, he, he…I forwarded his email to all “our” friends. They were stunned. He was shunned. I was validated. Helpful hint to abusers: Don’t put it in writing. He now writes a horribly abusive blog and is regarded as a fucking lunatic. I still have to pass him in the hall and it gives me great pleasure to totally 100% blank him, although I do cringe and wonder WTF was I thinking.
    Natalie, you are completely spot on: “Also I’ve discovered that when there is a genuine misunderstanding, the person will clarify what they really meant not call you “too sensitive” or reply back with justification of shady behaviour.” That’s it in a nutshell. There’s no constructive criticism in put-downs and being called a fucking lunatic and there is no clarification needed. CODE RED big time.

  23. Teresa says:

    I was with an AC for 8 years in an on and off relationship. I finally ended it and have been NC for 5 weeks (Yay!)I had to block his number because he would always call or text after ten days and suck me back in.

    When we were first dating I’d call him up and say Hi and not identify myself because I knew he would recognize my voice but he would say, “who’s this?” Hmmm… So, then he did it the next time I called and again. The third time I got upset because it made me feel unimportant and I told him that. He accused me of being “too sensitive.” Actually said I was “hyper-sensitive.” I knew that he had to know it was me and looking back on it was actually a put-down and abusive. But it really made me doubt myself and question if I was too sensitive. Crazy making. Glad I’m out. And even though I still think of him I am so glad that he can’t get to me anymore. What a relief that is! I just wish I hadn’t wasted eight precious years on him “waiting for him to come around.” That day never came! Now I realize I wouldn’t want it if I did. So glad I’m off the roller coaster and back on firm ground.

    • Demke says:

      Teresa- same here. I was on/off for 7 years w/ my ex AC. It’s about two months NC. I blocked mine from everything. I wish I hadn’t wasted so many years either, but just so happy I finally opted out. Yes, I still think of him sometimes. But it’s different than before. It’s not about validation. I’m happy that I am back to being ‘stable’. Everything is now on my terms, no more mental/emotional abuse.

  24. Lilia says:

    The exEUM would get mad and offended when I timidly voiced my boundaries. His exact words were “what a bore”. For example, at the beginning of our so-called romance, he asked me to send him some sexy pics of myself. When I replied that I wasn´t comfortable with that because it could fall into the wrong hands, he just got angry. And stupid me, I fell into soothing things over, practically begging him to forgive me for being so shy. Then, some weeks later, he would ask again. And again. And so on.
    Until I relented in exchange of some sexy photos of him. And I don´t know what these morons have in their heads but I got quite a collection of images of his penis and boxers.
    I´m happy this post reminded me of this episode. Any empathetic human being wouldn´t have insisted once I mentioned that I didn´t want to expose myself like that, right?
    Sometimes I notice my mind drifting towards Disney-like fantasies in which this guy finally gets over his EU, we reconcile and he becomes the perfect boyfriend. Now I have yet another reason to maintain NC.

  25. Magnolia says:

    I’ve mentioned that I’ve been taking a break from talking to my mom. I felt that she coldly withdrew when I brought up my history of sexual bullying, and for some reason I felt the abandonment acutely, rather than feeling it as the normal thing she always does when I talk about things that make her uncomfortable.

    I was still processing all of this, deciding that I don’t want to talk to her if my feelings are too much for her, when I got a call. My 25 year old cousin committed suicide last week. I of course put my processing on hold to speak to my mother and the rest of my family, and to fly home to attend the funeral.

    I am so grateful for all the work BR has helped me do around validating myself. It is as though karma was helping me to prepare for my cousin’s death, which is a horrible testament to what comes of being treated over and over as if one is too sensitive.

    There is a history of depression in my family. My father’s brother is now tearing himself apart with guilt, having refused to deal with his own depression and taking a similar no-sympathy line with his son.

    All my cousin ever wanted was for the people around him to be authentic and to be able to express their care for one another, so that in turn he could live authentically with them and have some kind of hope. His suicide is a shock, but not a surprise – I and at least 3 other cousins on the same side have been suicidal at some point, and all of us were told repeatedly *before* getting to that point that we were too sensitive.

    When people don’t want to feel their OWN feelings, they can be very harsh with those who are in touch with their own. If it’s in a family situation, and it’s the parents who are EU, they can basically refuse to acknowledge the validity of the children’s feelings, and basically abandon them.

    I made a decision before I got home, having had my three weeks of detaching from my mother, not to expect, nor to worry, if I didn’t see my parents connecting the dots around the family history. I could validate myself. And I could feel the loss of my cousin, and feel how much sense his pain made to me.

    I’m glad I did that because it gave me the distance to watch my mother retreat to platitudes when dealing with my uncle and trying to engage with my other cousin (who lost his brother). My mother is a wonderful person, but I see now she steps back from another person’s pain, going off into a kind of gossipy state at some points, sighing and saying something kind of false at other points, basically not knowing how to empathize. I watched as various family members responded to this awful event, and saw some who could stay present, and others who could not.

    It may not be “boundary busting” to shut off emotionally to someone else (or maybe it is? nml?) when things get too intimate but it’s a kind of denial of them, that shouldn’t have a place in a caring relationship.

    In any case, the years of avoiding feelings and punishing sensitivity (while at the same time upholding another kind of hypersensitivity) are not an insignificant context to my cousin’s death. He talked frustratedly and hopelessly about his father and mother often, much the way I have talked about mine, but more passionately, in direct proportion to the level of repression in his home.

    My cousin’s suicide caused some of us to try to break through and speak. I confronted my cousin, very gently, in part because he was behaving like an ass, about his having molested me. I don’t know why then, but it seemed like the time. He doesn’t remember. He apologized. Now every time I think about it, I hear his apology. I’m grateful.

    My father also took special care to come talk to me, basically admitting that he was depressed and angry when I was young, and acknowledging that all my years of “hypersensitivity” might have been a response to that. It was amazing. And also, again, because I’d already validated myself, I think I was able to receive the moment for what it was.

    My mom was her usual caretaking self. Offering food and hugs. She didn’t mention a thing about my history of therapy, depression, etc. She didn’t say a thing about the three week silence. And I was prepared for that.

    • EllieMae says:

      I’m so sorry about your cousin, Magnolia.

    • runnergirl says:

      So sorry Magnolia for the tragic death of your cousin at such a young age. It’s good you had a few years of BR under your belt as I imagine that was quite an emotional time for everyone, including you. Wow, addressing the molestation with your cousin was courageous. It sounds as though you were very prepared and didn’t let anyone over ride your feelings. It goes without saying, you weren’t the hypersensitive one. There was cause. Hope things are well in your new digs and with your new job. xxoo

      • Ellyb says:

        Magnolia – I feel for you. Anyway, I don’t know whether this is the right time to say it, but a family that makes so many members contemplate suicide is not a healthy family. Stop making those people the center of your life. Confronting your cousin was a brave thing to do, but it may not change much, because your family seems to make way too many excuses for abuse. Get a life on your own (you’ve already started doing this). Break free, change the pattern. You owe it to yourself, and – may I say it – you owe it to your deceased cousin as well.

  26. Magnolia says:

    Oops: a clarification – molester cousin is NOT the brother of the young man who died, he’s from another part of the extended family and I haven’t talked to him, nor has he talked to many of us, in years.

    • Elle says:

      Sorry to hear this, Mags, for all of you.

      On another note, I am glad you felt open and strong enough to receive what your parents were trying to communicate to you, and not being greedy or angry or something else. I say this because I believe my dad tried to apologise to me once, about 7 years ago – for his constant criticism and devaluation but then ‘you’re so sensitives’ (exactly like this post) – but we were in a public place and I was so stunned by it and put off by the fact that there was little room for me to be prepared or respond, that I brushed it off.

      Anyway, wishing you and your family peace and some healing for your uncle.

      • Magnolia says:

        Elle, thanks. I guess the thing with my dad was yet another example of life giving you what you were constantly seeking only once you stop seeking it.

        Runner, all is well with the new digs and job, thanks! Both are just great – how often do I have my BR lenses on when I read the writing of some of the young women in my class, who create male characters who have “penetrating gazes” and deeply-understand-the-female-character-at-first-sight! Was I ever that romantic and naive? Totally.

        And re the confrontation: it wasn’t done out of an anxiety or panic but more out of being tired of feeling intimidated whenever in a room with him … the anti-climactic closure to a situation that in many ways I’d already done the closure on myself.

        EllyB, most of the damage was done a long time ago. We grandkids are adults now and not all still trapped under our parents’ roofs. The extended family isn’t the centre of my life and it’s not like I had any simmering plan to confront my cousin or expectation for him to validate me or apologize, even though he did. It was more that in a moment where I could see my family members for the human beings that they are, it seemed possible to see even the cousin who stood as a monster in my memory as just a guy, a guy as effed up by the lack of empathy, boundaries, etc in our family as my cousin who just died.

        But you’re probably right that emotionally I’ve been very focused on my parents and family – I do think this past month I got some perspective on what I’ve been trying to get from them, and hope that this feeling of finally understanding what they couldn’t/can’t give means that my big motivation for that outside focus is now gone.

  27. natashya says:

    but what if you yourself think you’re too sensitive? i remember last summer when i was still with the ex EUM and an incident happened where i needed his help and he just skipped off. it immediately triggered ‘let down’ issues from other relationships and it got me very upset and thinking ‘here we go again’. when i confronted the EUM, he said he ‘didn’t realise’. was i too sensitive?

    • Linden says:

      I don’t think so. Sometimes the way people treat us in the here and now activates old wounds. It’s a sign that you have feelings still waiting to be processed. The trick is to sort out old feelings from new and deal with each appropriately.

      By the way, I think people who love us can be taught to be thoughtful about pressing our hot buttons. EUMs figure out where the button panel is so they can bash on it like gorillas.

  28. kendo says:

    Once again a timely post -thanks Natalie
    My ex husband used to tell me I was too sensitive and woudl say awful things to me and then say it was a joke. I already know I went into the EUM relationship too soon but whenever he did stuff I didn’t feel comfortable with – for instance ignoring me completely at a family party, not telling any of his friends about me, calling me names (oMG I can’t believe I asked him to stop doing that instead of just walking away) whenever I called his behaviour he would launch into some diatribe about how awful I was or how crap he felt – he NEVER answered me on any of his behaviour NEVER. I never got an apology, or even any attempt to understand how I was feeling. I even said ‘ you don’t seem to understand how I feel’ I got told I could f off how dare I suggest he couldn’t understand me. I was completely bamboozled. And like Natalie says I started thinking maybe I was too sensitive (from an early age) and then its a short walk to justifying abusive behaviour. Trouble is my experience has been that whenever I have called someone on their behaviour they have left…its taking time knowing I don’t need these people anyway and that I’ll be ok, even better, on my own.

  29. Victorious says:

    The issue I often seem to have is that someone will say something that stuns me but I am not sure enough to say anything a the time and feel I need time to process it. Then it seems petty to bring it up later. For example, ex eum/narc referred to me as his “mate” when he was talking to ( getting casual narcissistic supply from) a stranger whilst we were out for a walk. I was gobsmacked as he had always referred to me as his g/f. I let it go but was still very upset days later. But by then I felt I would look foolish bringing it up. I often wish I had had the guts to say something at the time rather then leaving it until it is too late. Maybe I don’t trust my own judgement.

    • MRWriter says:

      I suffer from the same doubt too, Victorious and I’m working on it.

      I’m a deer in the headlights when someone does or says something that either a) I can’t understand, b) I can’t understand the motivation for it or c) it’so rude or insensitive I’m not sure how to react or d) it’s too weird.

      I tend to process then proceed. Like you, it might take me days to actually acknowledge my anger or the disrespect shown and then what to do? It does seem petty to say something when the event has passed and in a way you tacitly agreed that it was okay because you didn’t react in the moment.

      It’s a double-edged sword in my view. On the one hand I like that I’m not the kind of person that blows up at every slight or acknowledge every misunderstanding. I’ve been friends with people who force you to walk on eggshells and filter everything you say before saying it because they overreact.

      Then there’s the holding it in to fester and rot or until an accumulation of bustin’ boundaries makes you blow over. Not good either and as my ex-EUM this year said, “It isn’t fair.”

      That’s one of the few things I’ll give him and I am actively trying to correct this problem. I just reread Natalie’s article about Core Boundaries and studied her diagram. I should carry it around with me…LOL!

      I think for me what happens is that people &(boyfriends) fall into the yellow zone of Natalie’s circle of alertness. Then they push it a little further but back down. Then before you know it they leap frog into the red zone and you’re unsure what the hell happened to cause that and you go into ponder mode instead of pouncing on it ASAP.

      I let drops of bad behavior drip, drip, until it begins to flow, fill up my bucket of tolerance and then I’m a geyser — and I blow like Old Faithful.

      I’m so guilty of rationalizing bad behavior like I’m everyone’s advocate. I can explain or justify almost anything to the inth degree but I’m beginning to see that these same people don’t also consider my feelings (ergo the busted boundaries) so why should I justify theirs above and beyond my self? Stupid.

      I wonder if it’s the way we were raised. For me, I grew up in Texas and was taught debutante-esque manners. My mother is also a bonafide peacemaker so I probably learned it from her too.

      I can play back some significant moments in all my relationships where I didn’t look after myself in the moment. I reflected, pondered it away, but my ex-EUM is right…it isn’t fair to them and it really isn’t fair to you.

      It breeds resentment. It forces you to keep score from a place of “If he does one more thing I’m gonna let him have it!” No, that isn’t fair and while I think some of the actions they pull is so grossly out-of-whack or selfish to be unkind, it’s up to me to speak up.

      I struggle with this though. If I’m going to get anything out of this ex-EUM in terms of improving myself, this is it. Work in progress…at least unlike him I can take ownership and acknowledge my faults. He’s the master of blame. (-:

      • MRWriter says:

        Have to add this article by Natalie:

        http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/do-you-really-need-to-investigate-what-someones-intentions-were-or-prove-that-youre-right/

        I’m guilty of trying to over-empathize and understand another person’s behavior (maybe it’s the writer in me). I love logic so if I can appreciate the reasons for someone’s crappiness I feel a sense of closure and relief.

        It really is such a colossal waste of time. Who cares why except for them or their therapist? I struggle enough to understand me on a daily basis let alone someone else who has their own personal history, brain bio-mechanics and experiences.

        I’m trying to shift my attention on myself and what I can do to improve, honor my feelings and gut instincts, and it’s hard because there’s a satisfaction in “playing Columbo” like Natalie said. It gives you something to do to autopsy a dead relationship instead of burying it, incinerating it and grieving.

        For me, deleting every photo of ex-EUM, every email, removing him from my Google contacts and only visiting his website (unfortunately for me is work-related so I can’t totally escape it without cutting my nose to spite my face) when I only need specific info or to add something (again work related) to his site. I consciously choose not to pay attention to what he writes. Don’t care — don’t wanna know.

        Since I hate Facebook I don’t suffer from peeking in there. I avoid adding men to my Facebook for that reason. Glad I do reading some of the comments on this site.

        Still, if there were true feelings at least on your side it’s hard to erect some symbolic memorial but I find replaying, rehashing and trying to see the relationship from their eyes leads to more misery and grief.

        A friend of mine says she likes to write their name over and over on several sheets of toilet paper and use it for uh…you can imagine. LOL! Not sure if that works but it’s definitely a funny image.

  30. MaryC says:

    As always wise words, Thanks Nat. P.S. Loved the pic of your little ones whom I might say aren’t little anymore in their costumes.

  31. miskwa says:

    Magnolia
    I am so sorry about your cousin.

  32. sm says:

    The last ac I dated would say he liked me because I was tough not ‘sensitive’ like his last gf. Well then I became ‘needy’ for disagreeing with the same behavior she was ‘sensitive’ over. The reason for the difference is that she would cry over it and I would explain why I needed more time with him. Screw these people who call you sensitive for reacting to ac behavior because they’ll have another word for the person who gets angry ‘psycho’or asks for better treatment ‘needy’ and whatever else they can call someone.

    • Revolution says:

      Wow, SM.

      From “tough” to “needy” in record timing. Sheesh, these twats need a motherfuckin’ thesaurus.

    • runnergirl says:

      Isn’t it ironic that an AC describes someone who expects common decency, like a return phone call, as “needy” or too “sensitive” but when they need sex, it isn’t being “needy”?

      • Blessing in Disguise says:

        It is ironic and funny. The man who was on his knees asking me to stay the night with him on the night of our meeting and bombarded me with texts full of metaphors and attributes that seemed over the top to me at the time asking me to be with him, the same man just a month into our ACTUAL relationship told me he was not an emotional person and that I was ‘very emotional’ when I explained to him that a normal reltionship needs more frequent communication. Needless to say I had to let him go just a month after that conversation and he dropped off the face of the earth. Oh and I also remember him telling me in a reassuring tone, “but I won’t fade away!”

  33. Marie83 says:

    My ex tended to use the word ‘needy’ – if he failed to reply to a text or phone call all day and then I saw he was online ‘liking’ other girls status udates or when he would keep me hanging around waiting for him to show up at my flat or when he he wouldnt make any effort to spend time with me so I started to ask for a little more input he would call me ‘miss needy’ I would then question that maybe he was right maybe I was being too demanding – I sure felt like my happiness was dependent on him

    • Ejane says:

      Ugh!! My ex did the exact same thing. He would go an entire day w/out talking to me, but then I would see him commenting on FB statuses…not just ‘liking’ things but sending long, exaggerated responses on people’s statuses. Including his ex girlfriend.

    • HP says:

      Perfect post. I have spent years having family, friends and ex’s tell me I’m too sensitive and a pushover. Then I am told to grow a back bone,express myself and be honest about my feelings. So in the last couple of months I have grown a back bone, expressed my feeling kindly as that is my nature and all the above people mentioned, they have either walked out of my life or still tell me I’m too sensitive. It leaves me speechless and confused.

      • selkie says:

        HP,
        I have experienced that too. I say good riddance to them. I don’t value their opinion anymore, so it doesn’t matter. If me, or you, honoring ourselves and having boundaries is unacceptable, they can keep walking. I consider it a deep cleanse, instead of the normal white wash approach they are used to from me. These are the same folks who also told me I need to stick up for myself. That is confusing, or was until I decided not to let them decide how I should act. I’ve shifted from taking it personal and thinking they were pointing out my weakness and flaws, instead to them showing theirs while hiding behind them. Do what’s right for you.

  34. teachable says:

    This is an interesting post with some great well informed replies. Everything Nat say’s is of course quite right. P, I think heads into discussion of complex trauma in childhood & how this can lead to increased sensitivity. My experience is somewhat the opposite. I discovered in my 30′s, over a decade ago now, that I’ve suffered with periodic bouts of life long Complex Post Tramatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). The age of first onset was approx 7 yo. I still struggle with episodes of it now at 43, which knowing the beast well, I manage well. How I differ though, is that emotionally I am not more, but less sensitive, depending on the circumstances. When it comes to reading people & scanning for possible threats in the environment, I am like a lazer beam. I can percieve them & interpret them VERY accurately. In this sense, I am ‘sensitive’ to impending possible threats or danger. In relation to emotionally traumatic or hurtful experiences though, I find it hard for them to register. This is because, like a little soldier in battle, I willfully trained my mind to be able to block out the registering of both physically & emotionally harmful events from only 3 yo. I continued this self taught training until I was an adult, & finally safe, no longer having need for it. Examples are, it sometimes takes a little while for me to register that a comment someone has made was actually putting me down, & I will not realise this until I reflect on a conversation in hindsight, as in the moment, I am literally ‘immune’ to whatever slings or arrows come my way. Another example was where it took me months to recognise that an unwanted sexual encounter, where I agreed to kissing but not intercourse & repeatedly verbally stated I did NOT want to have intercourse, but the drunken person had intercourse with me anyway after I finally ‘gave in under duress’, was actually sexual assault. That is, I am so desensitised to my own emotion that although I knew something was very wrong with what happened that night, & kept calling ph help lines asking if what happened sounded right to them, it was not until a counsellor, echoed my own distant inner voice ie there is no consent under duress, that I awoke from my terrifying inner worldly slumber. (At which time a police report was immediately made!)

    So I guess it sometimes can be in the reverse also. Complex trauma, can make people less, rather than more sensitive, in a dissociative sense. You will be pleased to know that was a one off extreme example & I’ve come quite a ways since then (although there were extenuating circumstances that night I wont go into & yes I do feel like a complete idiot!)

    • P. says:

      Teachable,
      I think what you describing is not the opposite, but one of the reactions to the trauma. Dissociation? I am not sure if that is the correct term, I have just started reading a book on this that actually lists several different responses to trauma, and talks about PTSD: Jasmin Lee Cori: Healing from Trauma, A Survivor’s Guide. I , too, did not report attempted sexual assault (I would have been kicked out of college for “allowing” it), and so your experience resonates. I normally do not recommend books on here, but someone told me about the narcissistic mothers book (you? CC?) and it was very helpful, so I would like to return the favor.

    • selkie says:

      Teachable,
      That was so insightful and honest. I’m sorry that happened to you. It’s emotionally crippling sometimes how childhood trauma can mould us. I can relate to some of what you said, the part about having laser beam like radar to certain dangers and threats but lose the ability in emotionally traumatic events or situations. I learned the tools to ‘survive’, but not to navigate life in a healthy way emotionally. I too have come a long way. Just having the insight you have now is a huge accomplishment. It is the foundation to change.

  35. lo j says:

    Magnolia … so sorry about your cousin. What a sad loss.
    I am amazed about you confronting your perpetrator! How empowering! It was real, it was wrong, and you can be free. Good for you!
    I think your mom’s not being able to connect/empathize isn’t necessarily a boundary buster … she just isn’t able to for whatever reason, her own demons, so to speak? Its sad, we see the EU in our families, how they couldn’t give to us or to others what we needed, but here’s another way to look at it — they could never completely receive the love, the good stuff, from others as well. Let’s keep moving forward so we can do both!

  36. Jennifer says:

    After calling my ex out on blowing cold, he then said,”I’m moving in September and I’m afraid I’m going to hurt you.You’re sensitive.” Basically saying, “I’m dumping you before I move,” He had also lead me on and future faked a month or so before and told me, “If things are going good, I want to take you with me.” As if I’m some sort of pet to be put in a carrier and carted around. He didn’t even ASK me. Nothing was on my terms. I said, “I want to break up. Take me home.” And I’ve initiated NC for near seven months. I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times, but then I get right back up and start over again.

    • Sadder but Wiser says:

      Your post reminded me of something I read recently. When we’re in a relationship and we get dumped – and especially when we get dumped out of the blue – in addition to the pain and anger and humiliation, there is a profound sense of powerlessness. Perhaps the powerlessness IS the primary feeling, and all the rest flows from it. The person we’re sharing the relationship with has UNILATERALLY decided what would happen to OUR relationship. Usually without any discussion – just BAM, it’s over, I’m outta here. But, but, we protest, this is my relationship too! Don’t I get a say in what happens?? Nope, it’s all on their terms, they get to make all the decisions and we end up with pond scum poured all over us.

      For me, the powerlessness has been the most difficult emotion to cope with. Has anyone else found this to be true?

      • selkie says:

        Sadder,
        Yes, you are so right. I 100% know what you are talking about. I experienced the same thing and the repercussions of feeling powerless. It chapped my ass for sure and it’s probably what has delayed my getting over it, not the actual end of the relationship. You summed it up perfectly.

      • Grizelda says:

        Absolutely SBW!

        The powerlessness and the disorientation equalled the heartbreak, which was profound enough and (as discussed again and again on BR), much worse in every way than a breakup with a normal individual for all those factors of emotional/mental overinvestment.

        If the relationship is like the two of you building a house together (where you, naturally, start off happily going half and half, and then you soon end up putting in 98% of the material investment and labour), you just get to come home one day and find the whole thing burnt to the ground. He did it because he decided that day that he didn’t want that house/relationship any more, and he can burn it down with impunity because (a) his name is on the deed, and (b) he didn’t personally invest much into it anyway. That YOU have nowhere to go, nowhere to be safe, and you have to sleep on nothing but cold cinders out in the open for the next few months is of zero concern to him.

        That’s why NC is so good. NC is you giving him the boot instead.

        • Kit Kat says:

          Grizelda. The way u described it is how I felt. I had no clue the state we were in. I didnt know he was out shopping for a replacement . It was just poof , gone, I’ve met someone else that takes my breath away. See ya, and oh yea ,I love you & cant we be friends..

      • imfree says:

        yes – my last four relationships, (total of 10 years or so) all ended very suddenly – either I was dumped out of the blue or i found out something (cheating) and the arugments that ensued ended up with me being left. Yes, I would have stayed, even after their cheating, but that is a different story!!

        Being blindsided this way I found incredibly difficult to cope with. I felt lost, panicky, at times suicidal. I have had to cope with lots of difficult things in life, but somehow people walking away from me when it was totally their decision, was impossibly hard. I don’t even understand why I took this so badly..
        I actually wish some of those relationships went down hill a bit more slowly so I could get my head around it and feel like I had more of a say, or contributed to the breakup.

  37. teachable says:

    ps I did not perceive the danger of that sexual assault for one critical reason. It was perpetrated by my ex partner & therefore the LAST person in the world I ever expected would do such a thing (as he’d never done such a thing before)…. & even then there were advance precautionary measures in place that night which if I’d stuck to would have prevented what occurred… sigh.

    On that, I am allowing some sensitivity to peak through here. Despite the fear that any feeling of grief will cause me to dissolve into a puddle, due to the enormity of other issues I’m dealing with, so far, I remain of the flesh, even whilst starting to grieve, at least a little, this week! It happened quite by accident. Being ill I found myself mucking with old band footage, making video showreels as momento’s of times past. Then, I found myself making a slideshow of a dedication to the deceased ex, focusing on his good qualities, not the unhappy times, & setting it music that expresses how I feel. I didn’t even realise what I’d done until I was finished. I did not stop crying for two days & nights! And by cry I mean sob my heart out! For all the good, the bad & the ugly.I told my friend what I’d done & she said it helped to make grief visible. I never even thought of that. I only know it’s been very strange & that until now, I’ve barely shed a tear. I still have a long way to go & many mixed emotions, but it’s a start.

    He used to say I was being ‘needy’ btw when he was avoiding answering my calls / txts (he was interstate & supposed to have moved to my state). I learned after I went NC that the truth was he was two timing me with someone else in his state which is why he’d been dodging.my calls! Too needy my ass!

    • Revolution says:

      Teach,

      Good to hear from you. I am fascinated by your idea to make yourself a slideshow. I’m also fascinated that you can do such a multi-faceted grieving session, in that you can be crying and missing him and looking at the good, and also cursing his ass for calling you needy. Wow, you gave me some food for thought. My fear in doing the same (a slideshow for myself, but of my very much alive ex-EU “friend”) would be that I would get stuck in the sentimentality and romance of it all, and then I’d start wanting him back or missing him or not seeing all the assholery that he put me through. Although our situations are not the same (as you grieved his death, and not just the end of the relationship), what are your thoughts on this? Are you glad you did it, or did it stir up feelings that you felt were better layed to rest? I also ask this of you because of our similar temperments.

      As for the rest, ah honey. Yeah, you were the little soldier and you also endured a very real sexual affront to your person. I hear all of that. I also understand about the losing of sensitivity as a result. What did Pink Floyd call it? “Comfortably numb”? I got nothing for ya honey but a nod of the head.

  38. Jennifer says:

    My ex’s idea of empathizing: “I can understand how you’d feel that way. I felt that way with my ex…” and over and over and over again, “Yeah, my ex, my ex, yada yada yada.” After we broke up, he went back to his ex.

  39. pinkpanther says:

    I was out to dinner with a friend of mine who ended a relationship one month ago. This is a very dear friend, but because she’s so busy I only see her 3-4x a year. Since the demise of the relationship she calls more since she needs her friends. I do understand that she now has more time for friends, and also needs support. Since I love her I want to be there for her… within reason! At dinner the first hour was basically a therapy session, after that hour passed, I tried to change the subject and she said “why can’t you hear me, what is making you so uncomfortable that you can’t hear this!” I explained how I do care for her, that an hour’s passed, dinners over, and I’m at my limit of being able to discuss her breakup, since we now are seemingly in a loop de loop ( her ex is an alcoholic/asbergers, so you know how loopy that one gets!).

    It was strange that she told me there was something wrong with me because I was getting upset listening to the same loop. I took this statement to mean that I was somehow too sensitive to her bad breakup and that I should be there for her. But I was right there for her, right in front of her for the past hour! Not fake caring, but really caring and hearing her.

    It was disturbing. I’m not thinking I’m a saint or anything, but I”ve been a good friend to her for years, and now she’s telling me I’m not listening hard enough? Does she want me to cry too? What is that?

    I understand how all this projection spins and spins. How we all miss each others needs, and don’t appriciate what we all have to give each other. Why are things “never enough?”

    • Magnolia says:

      That’s a good question, too, Pink P. I’ve probably felt what your friend does often enough; and maybe those around me have felt as you do.

      Maybe she’s looking for something out of your caring and listening that you can’t actually give, and that she doesn’t realize. For example, if at the core she’s looking for mommy or daddy’s attention, no amount of friend attention will fill that void. Even likely mom or dad’s attention now won’t fill the void of a sense of missing it at some crucial time.

      If you’re there, and listening, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference, then it’s not enough only because she’s looking for something else.

    • Lau_ra says:

      A line on Aspergers caught my eye- I found out that the guy I had felt for and who pulled a vanishing act on me has it…what do you think, ladies, do AS guys fall under category of EUM?

      • Linden says:

        No, I don’t. People with Aspergers who know they have a greater than average difficulty with maintaining relationships and who learn strategies on how to work with those traits, can do fine. It’s not like they don’t have feelings, they just don’t convey them or process emotional information from other people in the same way. It can be compensated for, though how much is obviously going to depend on the individual. It certainly doesn’t have to be an excuse, though some people might like to use it that way.

        My mother was unhappily married to a difficult man for about 20 years, and when he was diagnosed with ADD, suddenly that became the reason why he had to behave like he did and why he couldn’t change or do anything about how he treated her. I always said he didn’t just have ADD, he also was an ASS.

        • Lau_ra says:

          Linden, thank you for your comment. I’ve beem struggling with the idea that if a guy has Aspergers, maybe that would explain why he vanished and kept ignoring me when I was trying to reach him (not to make him “come back”, but just to settle all in a grown-up way, cause we have common friends and its realistic we could meet someday), and I shuould not be angry at him, because he can’t control AS…But you are totally right-he is aware he has AS,and that might be explanation for some specialties in behaviour, but not the excuse for everything he does/ doesn’t do. So I guess I might say this guy has ASS too:D

  40. Jane says:

    This helped me greatly. I have worked on my oversensitivity over the years but this has helped me to see that it’s not all me. My partner makes out its me usually and rarely tries to understand. Expecting his baby in feb too so I do feel a bit stuck. One things for sure tho, he carries on like this around our child I’m not sticking around and being a doormat. Thanks for your blog x

  41. Starlight says:

    Whenever someone tells me that I’m too sensitive, I respond, “Well, maybe the real problem is that you’re too INsensitive!” I really bristle at hearing that. I used to hear it a lot from my mother, who really was insensitive a lot. As an adult now, what I understand it to mean is that they want to be able to treat you rudely and disrespectfully without your objections to it.

  42. Bermiegirl says:

    “When somebody keeps telling you that you’re ‘too sensitive’, they’re basically saying “I’m not going to consider your feelings and respect your position because I think that what I’m saying / doing is fine, so get a thicker skin.”

    OMG!!!! I wish wish wish I had known this earlier and truly understood what it meant for me.

    When you find yourself struggling with your feelings and having to suppress them at every turn, put your running shoes on and leg it!! This is the ultimate red flag and I am convinced that there are NO exceptions!

  43. espresso says:

    In my long term marriage I was always treated as if I was a “over-reactive” person which I guess is the same as being “sensitive.” But this was done in a more subtle way …and I think it often confused me. If I raised the issue of my anger, pain or hurt I would be met with a blank face or the statement ,”so you are saying I am a bad person?” And the rest of the conversation would be me reassuring him that he was NOT and it would become ALL about him and his lack of self esteem. OR if I persisted he would get angry and say,”when do I get MY turn to complain about you?” It was hopeless and even when various therapists tried to help him “get this” it ended up the same way.
    So I got the feeling that it was always ME who was dissatisfied, always ME who was complaining and always ME who was raising issues. Of course he never did raise any emotional issue because he was incapable of doing so so it did look imbalanced. And this confused me sometimes and although I knew I was careful in how I raised things I did wonder sometimes if I was the problem, especially early in the marriage.

    It wasn’t until recently that I have really understood the totally toxic nature of this dynamic for me. Living in this kind of situation…even if I had a good self image in many aspects of my life made me doubt myself as if I was subject to a kind of brainwashing.

    And then there was the whole body language thing that cannot be discounted. The rolling eyes and deep sighs when I raised things…the non listening posture…the blank face. All this hurt me and made me furious at the same time.

    Now I don’t really care anymore about “seeing things from both sides” as I tried so often to do. I chose, a year ago to say, “whatever this is, whatever the causes, whatever his problems and his rotten childhood, his unresolved issues, his willingness to work or not work on things – it is toxic and destructive to me and I don’t want to be a part of it.
    That is a much better place to be. You see, we can try for awhile to try to explain things or work things but after a point it is pointless and will lead only to our feeling rotten about ourselves.

    • Tulipa says:

      Though I wasn’t married to the AC I certainly relate to what you wrote.
      The sheer amount of time trying to get them to see anything from your point of view was exhausting.
      It got so bad that any time I tried to raise any issue I was told I had a mental illness. It was always about him and his issues heaven forbid if I pointed out just because x y or z happened it not a free pass to treat someone badly.
      It is toxic and the sad thing is how long I stayed and put up with it. I also sit back and wonder how did I get that awful horrible situation mixed up with love I can’t even think of one redeeming feature about him now.
      Im glad you are out too espresso.

  44. learning says:

    Another great post. IMO, the best men find a woman who is clear about her needs, opinions, and boundaries attractive. They lose interest if you agree with them all the time, and they’re certainly not threatened when you tell them what you think. I find that they’re rare, and most of the men like this that I know are already in healthy relationships; but it’s good to know they’re out there. Raises the bar.

    Single for me until I meet one who is single, emotionally available and we’re both attracted to each other.

  45. Revolution says:

    I’ve never had a guy pull the “you’re too sensitive” card on me. Go figure.

  46. Demke says:

    Now that I’m dating the opposite of an AC/EUM, I can honestly say so far from my experience… people who are decent and genuine would be careful of what comes out of their mouths around you. Because they adore you… and treat you with the upmost respect.

    My ex EUM used to be nice when he wanted me around.. but blow cold and say mean things to manipulate (push me away) so that he could go off and ‘do his thing’ when he wanted, and come back when he wanted.

    Good men don’t do things like that. Period. The kindness that my new guy has shown me and my kids… consistently… my ex couldn’t top that on his BEST day. He was self-absorbed, beyond belief. A legend in his own mind. And I used to get the “you’re too sensitive.. what, is it that time of month??” when he was in fact blowing cold… so he could go off with someone else.

    No more of that!! So happy to have that out of my life. I actually have something NORMAL.

  47. Magnolia says:

    Thanks Miskwa, LoJ and EllieMae. ((hugs))

  48. Lilia says:

    Well, I was just told I´m too sensitive today by a family member because I got upset when she suggested out of the blue that I should dye my hair and cut some bangs.
    Now I´m wondering if I´m indeed too sensitive because I feel uncomfortable when people voice their opinion on my looks.
    I get told pretty often that:
    - I should put on more weight
    - I should do something with my hair (because it´s naturally curly)
    - I don´t have much boobs/ass
    - I´m too white and never get tanned
    among other things.

    When I was pregnant one comment I received was “ah you´re growing boobs at last!”.

    I find it very hard not to be hurt and offended when people talk to me like that. It´s like I´m a favourite makeover subject. At the same time, I mostly like the way I look so it confuses me and makes me very insecure that others will assume I need a change.

    Anyway, when I get upset about these comments there is no way on earth others will acknowledge that they have been hurtful, I´m always the one who´s been too sensitive. So, what should I do about this? Am I indeed too sensitive? Or are people in general just insensitive?

    • grace says:

      Lilia
      You sound gorgeous.
      I get the occasional bitchy comment from so-called friends about me being flat chested. Never from men. I like being flat chested. I take ballet class so fit right in there. At 47 I can still go braless in a backless top. I like big boobs on other women but I would find them a hindrance.
      Next time they see fit to criticise your appearance look right through them as if they don’t exist. Don’t say anything, don’t acknowledge it, don’t tell them how you feel.
      That will tell them loud and clear you don’t give a damn what they think.

      • Lilia says:

        Thanks Grace, but I´m not gorgeous, honestly.

        Like you, I don´t really care about being flat chested but it does make me insecure around men. The two men I´ve had long term relationships with both ended up telling me my boobs were too small after some years, probably when they got bored. I must confess I spent about a year trying out different natural breast growth techniques after my divorce, until I just thought Well fuck´em, I don´t have time for this!

        I wish I could not care so much about what others think of me. I suppose people say those things because somehow they sense that it will affect me. If I were super secure they would probably not say anything, quite ironic, actually.

        • Ellyb says:

          Lilia: “If I were super secure they would probably not say anything, quite ironic, actually” Well, I believe they would still say stuff like that, because that’s just the way they “tick”. They do it to ANYBODY. You won’t be able to change them.

          However, if you were “super secure”, you wouldn’t second-guess yourself anymore. You would rather wonder: What the h… am I doing here with these creeps? Why am I wasting my time with them?

          That thought has occured to me from time to time during the past months. Not too often (I’m still riddled with self doubt), but really, those people aren’t worth it.

    • Lau_ra says:

      I believe its other people this time that are insensitive and can’t stop making comments on your looks. I am thin and don’t get weight whatever I eat,even though I eat more than the curvy people around me, so all 29 years of mine, I’ve heard tons of “you probably starve”, “you look like a stick”,”you have no curves, all girls are like girls and you (sigh of dissappointment)…”(and this was said by my mother!!!as if I chose my body constitution myself – its my mother who should have gottten married to a husband whose not as skinny as my dad:D) I’ve never felt bad about being skinny – I am fit and happy, but its other people who used to make me feel bad naming my imaginary flaws, so being a teen I even started to think that no guy will look at me and like me, because I’m so thin (men aren’t dogs, they don’t chase bones, do they?), which led to the thing that I would become somewhat inconfident around guys, though I’m not shy when socialising at all. And I also have very fair skin, which only tans just a little bit.
      Hummm…when writing it I start to see some background for my attraction to EUMs (yay, he likes me, though I’m so skinny and unattractive!). But now,when I’ve accepted my body, if smb says smth about things I can’t choose and change, because I’m born with it, I just say-”Yes, I’m skinny/have fair skin (freckles, etc.etc.),and I’m happy with that, so get over it”.

      • Lilia says:

        Lau_ra:
        Yeah, what´s the thing about mothers that they feel entitled to offer “constructive” criticism to their daughters? Mine once offered me to pay for a boobjob and took me out to buy some padded bras (which I never wear because I find them uncomfortable). Now she´s completely obsessed with the fact that I have some grey hairs.
        I´ve received a lot of advice on how to change my looks since I was a teenager, also from my father (who would repeat anything she said) and other family members.

        You have a point that those situations make us an easy prey for EUMs/ACs! I had never thought about it, but I can see I´ve had the same reaction. In fact, I think I fell so hard for my last EUM because he would give me so much compliments about the way I look, he made me feel like I was a very attractive sexy woman. So I fell in all of his sick game-playing and found it very hard to set any boundaries.
        (Of course, this complimenting is probably just part of his seduction strategy, he must use it on all his victims.)

        Thanks for pointing that out, now I can work on those issues.

        • Lau_ra says:

          I think, you should think you are an attractive woman-though ACs/EUMs play games, it doesn’t mean that none of his compliments were true. And mothers…sometimes I think that they see their daughters as a piece of clay to make an ideal herself of. The thing is, we are separate persons and we live our own lives, usualy very different from our mothers.And some mothers just find it hard to deal with.E.g. my mother likes to dress very feminine, she is curvy, and I’m kind of tomboy’ish. So she still makes that expression on her face when I visit my parents after I get a haircut – I have a stylish short haircut,and my mum doesn’t like it, inspite the fact I feel so ME in it, and I get a lot of attention and compliments from men and women on my looks, whereas long hair just makes me dull and ordinary.I guess she just can’t let go the vision of me, wearing long hair and floral dresses:D again, I just had this thought that our attraction to EUMs/ACs is just a repetition of our dysfunctional relationship with one of our parents/both of them.Say in this case we have critical mothers, who don’t want to except us the way we are. Still we know they love us. And we get with men who also express that similar attitude towards us (you are too little of this/too much of that), because such “cold love” is the only kind of love we know.

    • runnergirl says:

      Hey Lilia,

      I get the similar comments about my weight. I’m on the thin side. I’ve grown insensitive to the comments. I don’t know why it seems appropriate for large folks to comment on someone’s weight when they are on the thin side. Usually when somebody tells me I’m too thin, it’s coming from someone who needs to shed at least 20-30 lbs or even 50 lbs. Can you imagine if thin people went up to those that need to shed a few lbs and said “it looks like you are over-weight, maybe you need to get some exercise and lay off the donuts”. The next time somebody makes a comment, just run the tape in your head about how they could stand to lose a few. God, would I love to reply with yeah, well it looks like you could stand to skip a few meals. I got the same comments when I was pregnant and gained 60 lbs. At 53, I’ve just learned to ignore the comments. I like the way I look. I’m short, I’m fit, although I have wrinkles in my knees, and I don’t have to wear a bra under anything. Be comfy with yourself. Trust me, when you hit 53, I found guys really like thin and fit. Not that they are! Since you like the way you look, smile, nod, and dismiss.
      PS. I got braces instead of a boob job. I’m so happy with my straight teeth and flat chest! You should see my teeth!

  49. green legs says:

    RE: “When you consider what they’ve said or done within a wider context of their general treatment of you and let’s say that their general treatment of you is even worse, then yes, contextually, what they do tomorrow may look ‘slight’ in that circumstance.”

    Totally agree. I recently ended a very demoralising friendship. The final straw? Person K initiated a text-message conversation despite my having previously said “No” to texts as a medium for conversation; I swallowed my pride and engaged, giving an update on my life and asking about hers; Person K simply did not respond. It felt like a raid on my trust. I ended up kicking myself for having engaged, and wasting energy fighting the feeling I must’ve said something wrong in my text. No: it was just shitty behaviour on her part.

    Now in the grand scheme you could say “not replying to a text” is indeed a “slight” offence. But actually, as I told her when I ended it, responding to a text when you’ve initiated the conversation is just the barebones MINIMUM of courtesy and, when basic courtesy has gone from a relationship, that relationship is in the morgue.

    “Slight” offences can mean an absence of basic decency and respect, and in that sense they can tell us all we need to know. That’s all I’m sayin, amen.

    • runnergirl says:

      Green legs, text messages are for when you are running late or somebody needs to pick up milk or the kids on the way home. I’ve struggled with the text thing with guys and my former bff. It’s no way to run a relationship or a railroad. Anyone who relies on texting just isn’t going to work for me, male or female.
      Additionally, I just switched to a touch screen from an old blackberry and it takes me 20 minutes to text one sentence consisting of four words. Only person I text is my 20-something daughter.

      • green legs says:

        Thanks runnergirl, yup I agree. It’s one of my official values now: relationships (platonic or romantic) must be largely carried out in real life and in real time. Technological devices to be used only as tools for planning.
        Texting at its worst can be just a way to extract information about your life (i.e. keep tabs on you) without their having to invest any time, energy or care in the relationship. Ugh, no thanks!

  50. teachable says:

    Rev,

    I did the slideshow only b\c he is dead, & I’ve not really been able to fully acknowledge that as I was unable to go to the funeral, as I did not learn of his passing until afterwards.

    He was also buried interstate so none of his old friends from his former life in his home state (where I live, his entire family live & he lived for 40 of his 50 years of life) had an opportunity to even know he has died either, or to acknowledge his passing. I have been slowly letting the word filter out as I see ppl but of course, being ill I am not out & about much….

    My sole acknowledgement to date was to visit a church for a private ‘ceremony’ with a friend who knew who him. It was just the lighting of some candles & a few words. I swore & apologised to God. I’m a Buddhist but was in God’s house so reackoned I better be respectful. It was a church which we used to go to for non religious purposes sometimes. It was very emotional but brief & not really enough for the news to sink in.

    This person was in my heart for 20 years. Our r.ship (before he was an addict) was of approx 4 yrs duration the first time. This time it was 3 yrs but not a r/ship. More like him being very unwell & me trying desperately to direct him to get help.

    We had always wanted to marry & have children. The reason we didn’t was he turned out to have a binge drinking problem the first time around. I was a tee total. I said get treatment. Come back with a year sober & we will see where the relationship stands then. I cut off to save myself the pain in case he didn’t make it… I would live to regret that decision to this very day. Perhaps if I had stayed to suppprt him? He got 4 mths sober but something went awry. I don’t know what…

    I ran into once or twice in the intervening years, but it would be 13 years before he re-entered my life in a significant way. Wind in the past 3 years. It was hell. He was by now an addict. Using cocaine. On drug replacement. He wanted to stop but wasn’t fully willing. I saw his death coming. We discussed it. He just didn’t thimk it would happen to him that’s all.

    There was much dishonesty on his part. It was all very painful & sad but in the end I managed NC for a good 6 mths before I got news of his death. He’d last tried to contact me just before he died. It would be the ONE TIME, the FINAL TIME, I made my stand & did not reply & stayed firm in my NC resolve. I don’t regret this. What I did was right. Speaking to him one final time would not have prevented the massive heart failure (cocaine related I believe, just as I had predicted) which killed him.

    Yes, he was drunk one night & I ‘consented to sex under duress’ after hours of being harrassed by him. He knew I did not want to have sex that night. I had made that VERY clear. Under our law that is an assault. Yes I had gotten up & left the room to try to prevent this happening. My error? He had promised to stop hassling me & being my ex, I BELIEVED HIM. I should not have. My error. Wont make that mistake again. I was as angry as HELL about it, but in time, I understood the behaviour (I know this man remember, very intimately).

    Which left me with….grief. Saddness. Loss. Of. A. Life.

    And not any old life. It was the loss of the life of someone I really loved… A.Lot. And WORSE. He treated me TERRIBLY. All because of his various addictions. The man I fell in love with 20 years ago was NOT that man. THAT man was still in there way down deep inside somewhere, but he was lost. Very, very lost. And in the end, he did not find his way home again before his time was up. There is no greater tragedy. Not for me. But for him.

    This is VERY DIFFERENT to those who speak of the loss of a dream etc although I appreciate kind offers to relate.

    In a word Rev’s, I would say re yr alive ex EU ‘friend’…no. Do not go there. It is not appropriate in your situation.

    You may however print out some photo’s, write a letter & then take them to a special place, with any trickets & BURN or discard them, or some such similar thing. Create your own ‘letting ceremony’.

    I WANT to remember my ex, because he is dead, & can no longer hurt me. I had let him go emotionally BEFORE learning he had died (although granted this is a process & ‘death’ letting go is a whole new level).

    You need to let go of rather than ‘remember’ yours. Hugs revvie xxx

    • Revolution says:

      Teachable,

      Thanks for your response, and you’re right. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking. I’m putting the Powerpoint down now. :) God, can you imagine some crappy-ass Powerpoint of slides of us together on the beach with “I Will Remember You” or some such shite playing in the background? I shudder to think of it. Thanks for kicking me back into reality with those Doc Martins of yours.

      Please know, also, that I see the VAST chasm of difference between me mourning my friendship and you mourning your long-term relationship and the death of your ex. So much so that there is hardly a parallel. Still, I can learn from your thoughts and feelings on these things, and I’m grateful for it.

      I don’t know why your story always stops me when I read it. I think it’s because (selfishly) I can see myself doing exactly what you did (trying to help him through the addiction, then sticking to NC despite loving him, etc.). Though I’m still in awe of the self-possession it took you to carry through with those actions. Just because something is “right” doesn’t mean it’s easy, as we all know. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing to do, and it gets harder as time goes by. Sometimes “healthy” almost kills us for a while before it starts the process of binding us up.

      Being that neither of us are exactly “Hallmark card” girls, anything I say right now to you will sound super convoluted. Just know that I respect your thoughts and I think of what you say in your comments and what you’ve gone through with these deaths. Sometimes silence from a person like myself is the greatest sign of respect and fellow feeling. :)

  51. teachable says:

    Lillia ‘people’ are not ‘insensitive’. Those making such comment’s are being rude & you are well within your rights to tell them so.

    The next time such a comment is made to you try a retort such as, ‘are you alway’s so rude, or am I just so incredibly fantastic that you couldn’t resist the urge to criticise me in order to boost your own fragile sense of self esteem’… followed by a whithering stare, after which you then start smiling wickedly.

    They will be shocked by your deadly accurate response that they wont know what to think! They also wont know if you are joking or serious! If they make an issue of it just start laughing wildly & say, ‘you should have SEEN the look on your face’ !!!

    By now they will be most keen to change the subject because you have just beaten them at their own game & made them look like a complete fool!

    PS Don’t be afraid to practice this a few times while you’re alone so when the occassion arrives, it just rolls on out. Pre-rehearsing responses to these sorts of situations can be VERY effective!! xxx

    • Lilia says:

      Thanks Teachable, I´ll try that out, lol!

      These situations always leave me speechless because I never tell people those sort of things myself.
      I would be afraid to cause an awkward situation, just like those people who ask “So when are you two going to get married/have a baby/have another baby” when perhaps the couple just had a fight because one of them doesn´t want to get married/have a baby or maybe they have trouble getting pregnant.

      The other thing I find tricky is when people offer that kind of advice with seemingly good intentions, like they are helping you. Their paternalism makes me feel like I am a complete loser, you know?
      Anyway. I need to convince myself that I am okay the way I am.

  52. teachable says:

    Thanks Selkie. I’ve been on my healing journey for a long time. Involved in a self help movement for 26 yrs with much professional therapy along the way. This will continue, for the rest of my life. Perhaps not the professional ‘therapy’ part, & who knows, maybe not even the self help part either, but I am definately on a spiritual journey & this at least will continue for me until the end of my days. I have been quite wounded in these past three years, despite my ex being out of my life for 2 years now, since I saw him, & 1 year since I went NC. The first anniversary of his death is coming up in January. I am not looking forward to it. It has saddened me greatly that I was in such a vulnerable place when he reappeared that, although we were not in a r/ship, I still allowed him to treat me very badly. This undid many years of hard work for me. It has rocked my confidence. No other man could have done this, but that HE, of all men, did, has well… we all know how hard it is to learn to trust again. I wasn’t good at that to start with. I didn’t discover the OW until some mths after it was all over. It was a bombshell. There was no pining & romanticising after that. I HATED him with a passion for what he had put me through. And then he died. But not before his last attempt to contact me on the morning of day he died though. I did not falter. I did not stumble. I have no regrets (from this time around at least, anyway). I still have a long way to go before I am healed however.

    P. Thankyou. :)

  53. teachable says:

    Rev, I’ve never had the ‘too sensitive’ complaint either. I have however been accused of being a ballbreaker (which is rubbish & code for, ‘don’t hold me accountable for my irresponsibilty’!).

    • Revolution says:

      “Ballbreaker” ha! Shocked as hell I’ve never been called that. Maybe it’s because I reserve my special bitchiness for the female narcissists that were once in my life.

      You’re right about the code, though. I’m also betting that good, decent, secure men don’t get that treatment from you. Just the a-holes. Funny that.

  54. Anna says:

    Yes quite… People like this have nice thick skin themselves of course, so won’t mind the cold when I put them out the door;)… Nice write

  55. teachable says:

    I understand Lilia. But remember. By replying with an appropriate retort (it doesn’t have to be my one. You may think of a substitute you’re more comfortable with in advance, of your own) YOU did not ’cause’ any awkward situation that may arise. THEY did & your retort,& the occassion of such awkwardness arising will most likely put a stop to any further comments. People tend to learn from consequences of their behaviour & so far the way you tell it, in the moment, there seem to have been none for them. So one way of handling such situations, (as a suggestion only) might be to create some for them. It may be momentarily unpleasant but less so one would think than the damage to your self esteem caused by letting them think they’ve gotten away with uninvited criticism. Just a thought… x

  56. teachable says:

    Lilia,

    The other issue, where ppl try to start up conversation & it hits a raw nerve, I think, can happen by accident just b/c we’re all a bit conversationally clumsy at times. Most ppl would not ask such a thing ie abt marriage/ babies etv if they knew it was an issue, so that sounds a tad like & ‘foot in mouth’ syndrome. I did it myself once. WORST example ever. Thinking I was being pleasant & friendly, I asked (cringe), when a colleagues baby was due. She was not pregnant! I was mortified! Lesson learned!!!!!!

    This one I’d handle by simply switching the subject into another direction. Sometimes it may be neccessary or you may choose to clarify something before doing so (or not). In my colleagues case she ignored me & the conversation moved on. She later visited me in my office with a friend in tow for support. I wondered what was wrong. It was then that she told me. I apologised profusely & that was that.

    I hope that helps a little. We really can be total clutzes sometimes. Or at least I know I was, that day! Doh!

  57. miskwa says:

    Fearless
    The nearest large cities, Boulder and Denver are 100+ miles away over one of the most hazardous stretches of road in the US. Do wish I lived in a civilized nation with mass transit. This town has a population of around 2500, most poor and uneducated. All of the single educated women I know here are in the same boat. Our boy is very tall, fit, gorgeous and highly eloquent, and charming. Most of the older men both in this town and for a wide radius around here are none of those things. This dude can troll through the women here, the women college- wide with impunity. He has zero comptition and knows it. He is smart, it’s not sexual harrassment if you pursue someone and she falls in love with you, not knowing that you have at a minimum one other woman on the side and are also trolling on line saying you are “single”. Its just S@#$ behavior. It also violates no workplace rules if you put yourself, after the fact, on a committee with a woman you deeply hurt and humiliated and flirt with the only other woman in the group right in front of her during your meetings. Its almost like theres an element of deliberate cruelty there. As far as I know, I am the only one that has called him on his behavior. Do I risk a future where being financially ruined, even impoverished is a very real possibility in order to get away from this dude? Some of the workplace higher ups know about the situation. My read of it is they’d rather have me stick around than him; I actually do my job. However, that doesn’t solve the issue of extreme social isolation and very few healthy choices. I really would like to be married again or at least have a partner, I’d like a circle of healthy, like minded friends not associated with work. I’d like to speak freely about environmental issues without threat of retaliation. This next year oughta prove mighty interesting. Why is it that hurtful folks seem to thrive and the folks they hurt feel crushed?

    • Sadder but Wiser says:

      Wow, I’m in EXACTLY the same boat as you Miskwa, and have had almost the same identical experience as you and your charming, amoral ex. My ex too is the only interesting, charming, educated, gorgeous, “quality” (at least on the outside) man in my little upper midwest town of 2500. This is the redneck, hillbilly capitol of the north, so he stands head and shoulders above any other eligible man here. At the same time, there are plenty of smart, wonderful, lonely women he can sample (and he has) as there is no other competition. And apparently he has had to suffer no consequences for his actions. Like you, I have to work with this guy, and I can’t tell you the number of insensitive things he has done since he dumped me. It does seem like deliberate cruelty, doesn’t it. I think it’s more a kind of careless and clueless insensitivity. The question is: how much do I have to let it affect me?

      Like you, I have to decide if I need to move to not only get away from him but to have a chance to meet somebody decent. I love the area and I really had had a tough internal struggle trying to figure out what my motives are. My first thought is that we’ve already given these guys too much already – our hearts, our thoughts, our bodies, our hopes… we just can’t let them have the power to decide where we live as well! If you eventually decide to move, let it be for the reason that you’re doing it FOR yourself and not AGAINST him and his presence.

  58. lentlebean says:

    I absolutely love this website, such great advice, thankyou heaps! however even after reading this article, I am still unsure if I am being too sensitive or not? I have been dating this guy for about 3 months and sometimes he says really rude things… he has made rude remarks about my family and friends (which once I confront him about, he apologises) and sometimes just swears randomly… for example we were going for lunch and I thought the restaurant we were going to was closed which I mentioned to him and his reply was “for f**k sakes its says its open” but its not just this one comment its quite often. Its always “F**k this or f**k that” or “you know F**k all” and he makes remarks about me as a person… calls me “lazy” and that “I have never worked hard in my life” when I bring it up to him and tell him he is being rude he says “you’re being too sensitive, I was only kidding” “your mind is confused, you’re making something out of nothing” or “Oh yeah Iam such a bad guy, I treat you really badly?”. Iam genuinley confused. I have had some terrible relationships and Iam only 23. I Just dont know if I am being too sensitve or if he is actually doing something that is out of the norm? HELP PLEASE!! :)

    • FX says:

      lentlebean, It sounds like he is being disrespectful, minimizing you and playing mind games to keep you where he wants you. Respect for who we are and what we value should be a non-negotiable. What he is doing is not acceptable or part of a healthy relationship.

      “Something to keep in mind either way: When you ask your partner for something you value, and he refuses, your remaining options are these: stay on his terms or leave on yours. Don’t let other things clutter that point.”

      This was part of Carolyn Hax’s reply to a letter in her advice column today. It really resonated with me and I think it applies to your situation, too. She gives great advice and the cartoon that accompanied today’s column is great, too.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/dear-carolyn-shes-reconsidering-after-rediscovering-first-love/2012/11/06/cddae25c-1df8-11e2-b647-bb1668e64058_story.html

    • searcher says:

      You have every right to be upset. He is, without a doubt, being mentally abusive. I just left a post on a different blog about my last ex-boyfriend and how mentally abusive he was. He’d say some of the same things your guy says to you, but much worse. These guys thrive on putting down others to enhance their already low self-esteem. By bringing you down, it raises them up. By putting all the blame on you, he doesn’t have to feel as if he’s done anything wrong. Don’t be fooled, by saying he’s just kidding or you’re too sensitive, that’s a load of sh*t. The ex would insult me and humiliate me, then say I’m being too sensitive and I should toughen up some. These guys are selfish, thoughtless fools who have absolutely no respect for you or your feelings. Tell this guy to piss off, you don’t want to be sucked down to his level. We are all too good for this kind of treatment.

  59. teachable says:

    Got it Rev x

    Lentle bean he is emtionally abusive. Google emotional abuse, learn all you can about it & GET OUT now BEFORE he destroys you (because if you stay he WILL). x

  60. Aboutme says:

    I read the more recent article before I read this one! I have been dealing with this for a while. I have come to the conclusion that I am a fair, intelligent and a logical person. I am learning to really believe this all the way down to my bones. I have to trust who i am. So, I know when someone is just doing a little friendly joking….I know the difference because 80 percent is based on my feelings and 20 percent is based on my logic..the combination clearly tells me what is oing on in any given situation.

    Yes, I have my issues but I have never been accused of being completely clueless. In fact, I went back and read my journals and read what I was feeling at the time that I was going through some mess. And guess what…my feelings were spot on! Problem is, I would mix up my instincts/feelings with my own fears of abandonment, not being liked/ loved, time is running out, etc. So I would disregard my own feelings!

    Now, I know if I m feelings insulted, chopped down, under the disguise of a joke, I know that my internal alarm is going off. Simply put….always choose and respect what you are feeling.

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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