if it feels as if your life is going to implde if a date doesn't work out, you need to calm it down, waaaay down

A really good litmus test for whether you’re ready to date again is having an honest conversation with you about whether you’re genuinely open to dates progressing but also whether you have the resilience to cope with the potential for disappointment. These factors really flush out your true position because they show not only whether you’re available and what you’re available for, but also whether much of your self-esteem is tied up in the success of these dates, which would make it conditional, which would make it rocky.

Our beliefs affect our actions and ultimately when we do start dating again, we do have to put some effort in to checking in with ourselves about where we are emotionally because if we don’t, we can under or overestimate our readiness.

While there’s a lot to be said for “You won’t know until you go out there and try” the trouble is that if you’re not really aware of and willing to listen to your true feelings and thoughts and tend to act unconsciously, you’ll be inclined to either continue dating regardless of not being ready / available, or you might withdraw from dating without truly understanding what is going on because you’re not really processing the feedback and taking the time to understand your needs, wishes and expectations.

Of course it’s a date not a marriage proposal, but if each time you date someone or have a relationship, you keep using the same reasons to end it, possibly even around the same time, you’re not available. If you press the panic button when it looks like the person is really interested in you but feel right at home with someone who is more ambivalent about their feelings and intentions, you’re passing time and hiding your unavailability behind theirs.

Why you’re not emotionally available is up to you to discover but you’re not helping you by effectively using dating as an emotional airbag for avoiding you plus you’re going to cause pain to you and others.

Equally though, can you handle it if a date or few or even a relationship doesn’t work out?

I hear from people who several months, a year, sometimes even a few years on, they’re still not over someone who they had a 0-3 month involvement with. Yes you read the zero correctly. We all have hopes and expectations going into our involvements although it’s safe to say that if you tend to start building sandcastles in the sky with even a little attention, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

You’ve got to be mindful – feet firmly in the present where you can go through the discovery phase instead of operating on a bullshit frequency. Whether you go on a few dates and then think, “Oh my goodness – what if they think that they want to marry me?” and then bail, or you go on a few dates and think, “Oh my goodness – we’re going to get married, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that”, this Future Forecasting borne out of exaggeration is screwing you over as it’s based on fear and/or fantasy.

If you go on one date or you don’t even have to make it to a date before your imagination is running wild and you’ve already had a year-long relationship in your mind where you’ve fallen madly in love, done loads of stuff together which then gradually gives way to imagining breaking up or being screwed over, it’s you not dating that’s setting you up for perpetual disappointment.

If you date and you already having the feelings and expectations of a much lengthier relationship, you’re in love with being in love or possibly in love with the possibility of escaping. What’s so wrong with you and your life that you’re effectively jumping on whatever bus that passes by and making up the destination? Then the bus arrives or you get off and you think, “I’m so disappointed that that bus didn’t go to The Perfect Relationship via LaLa Land….” You made up the destination and plotted out the route when you could have found out the destination and/or paid attention to the route which would have given you an indication of the destination.

It’s not about being pessimistic but if you have a lot of hopes and expectations banking on a date or the possibility of one, you’re going to experience more pain than is necessary. You’re not giving you, this person and events a chance to unfold. They’re on a pedestal, you’re blowing smoke up their bum plus making things hard for you and that’s why the disappointment hurts so much.

You could go out together and over time and experience from the discovery phase, you then gradually increase your hopes and expectations – this is better than having blanket hopes and expectations that really have no bearing on this person and it really just becomes an inevitable process of waiting for them to flunk out.

If you don’t believe in you or relationships enough to make a genuine concerted effort in dating or you have so little faith in you that everything you hope for you rests on someone you haven’t met yet or that you hardly know, recognising these feelings and thoughts is the first step to gaining a better understanding of you so that you can address the ‘why’. If you don’t, you’ll keep thinking, feeling and doing the same things and expecting a different result and it won’t be dating; it’ll be relationship insanity. That, and your own life needs to count for something and have value with or without a relationship because when you know and value you, you don’t bumble into your choices, habitually do stuff that harms you or others, or feel as if your life is going down the pan when a date doesn’t work out.

Maybe we could all do with spending some time dating ourselves…

Your thoughts?


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240 Responses to Are You Ready To Date? Can You Handle It Going Somewhere But Equally Can You Cope With Disappointment?

  1. Peanut says:

    I’ve had one boyfriend for 2.5 months in six years. I’m twenty-eight. I feel like the biggest fucking loser ever. Why doesn’t anyone of the opposite sex want me? What the FUCK is wrong with me??? Why? Why? Why? Most people my age are at least dating.

    I’m not willing to accept sub par relationships and so I’m ALONE. This is bullshit. It’s. Just. Not. Fair. Everyone around me seems so happy and well adjusted. And at the very least content. I’m fucking miserable. I hate my life.

    What am I doing wrong that everyone else seems to GET? Men don’t even notice me. It’s like I have an invisible cloth over me. I look in the mirror, and no I’m not perfect, but I’m really quite pretty, beautiful even. I’m really smart, quirky and thoughtful. I swear if people could just appreciate my qualities half as much as I do, life would be better. But that’s not reality. Reality is no one notices me.

    • Anon says:

      Peanut- if you are sick of being alone and envious of people who aren’t- then do what they do for a little while. They are maybe (probably) accepting people who are less than super- or a relationship that is, but if it is better than being dead alone and totally miserable- then do that for a while! Don’t date a jerk, just a nice guy that doesn’t make you tingle to your toes…. and see where it goes. Nobody can live in a vacuum alone forever, it is just NOT the human condition. Not good physically, spiritually, emotionally or socially. Get your needs met. Some how. As you’ve already noticed, every body else gets theirs met, and have already figured this out.

      • paolo says:

        Anon..I could do with remembering what you posted myself

      • Peanut says:

        Anon, I see what you are saying. There are no special prizes for not accepting sub par relationships, just that we don’t end up in sub par relationships. I do indeed have a lot of work to do on the area of meeting my own needs as an adult woman. It does no good being mad at people who seem to take better care of themselves than I do of myself.

        • Anon says:

          Yes. You got it. All of this advice on the blogs is ignore, no contact, walk away, flush….but if you are the only one alone on Saturday night, Sunday morning, New Years eve, every party, every holiday….then doing ‘the right thing’ doesn’t seem like it’s working right? Sitting home alone every night will ‘protect you from new pain’ with an AC,… but you are there alone, not with a husband or baby, and the AC will know this (is not ideal) so no contact can only take you so far. Glad you posted some thing along these lines and got tons of responses, looks like there was a pent up urge for people to finally talk about it.

          • Tabitha says:

            Anon, the message you are getting from Natalies blogs is very different from my own. I do not hear “sit around on your own every night.” “avoid people/men, they bring nothing but fresh pain.”
            For me, Natalies posts have been instrumental in my going out more with my friends and, yes, on my own. It has been about increasing my self esteem and not needing someone else to validate me.
            Most of us who end up on this site are here because of a shatteringly horrid relationship (or seven) with a partner who did not understand the basics of providing love care and respect.
            I would still rather sit alone at home on a saturday night than continue to wear away my self respect being Chief Performing Seal for that narc assclown. Luckily, most of us have lives that offer more options than “stick with dickhead or spend the rest of my life alone.” It is that third option of doing the work on oneself and then getting back out into the real world than I am enjoying.
            Lastly, if you are truly NC then no AC will EVER know you are sitting home alone any night. It’s one of the great beauties of it.

            • Anon says:

              By alone I meant ‘sans partner’ because that’s how every other adult shows up to events/holidays/parties.

          • Mymble says:

            I don’t think anyones suggesting you stay home alone on Saturday night or any other night, as an alternative to going out with an AC! Go out with other people, do other stuff, have your friends round for dinner. It’s true that most people are not cut out for solitude, but not being in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to be alone all the time. When I look back a lot of my poor relationship habits stemmed simply from that fear of being alone and if I had put more energy into developing a good social and cultural life I would 1. Have found it easier to flush the going nowhere situations and 2. Have had more chance of meeting someone with whom really compatible.
            I am focussing more on this stuff now with running groups, book groups, and other friendships. It doesn’t happen overnight and friendships aren’t built in a day but it is really helping me to feel better about myself in general. I am an introvert by nature but that doesn’t mean I can’t have friends, take part in social things. In fact I think it’s more important for introverts to resist the natural tendency to self isolate.

    • paolo says:

      Well Shit Peanut. I’ll take you out if it means that much to ya 😀

    • Lucy says:

      Aw Peanut, we need to give you a pep talk on here. I often feel like that too but it won’t help you to know that I’m 23 so I’ll shut up now.

      Dating is much harder than I imagined – at least finding people to date who aren’t losers is hard (even though there are plenty of goodies). Maybe we ended up with those guys because they were low-hanging fruit?

      I really hear you! I hope you don’t give up on finding love. Do you feel like you get out to meet people enough? I know that’s why I’m finding it difficult. Perhaps when you approach it from a distance and figure out what the objective nature of the problem is, it’ll get easier. Please don’t think that the problem is fundamental to you. You are as worthy of love as anyone else.

      Why do you feel invisible?

      • Peanut says:

        Awh, Lucy, thank you for the sweet words. And I congratulate you on such wisdom at 23!

        I feel invisible because that’s how it was for me growing up in my family. I know this is really dismal but just to give you an idea: I tried to commit suicide as a teenager (I took a bottle of pills), passed out for a couple of days, and woke up alone. Not a single person in my family noticed.

        I was also continuing a pattern from infancy onward. My mother (now deceased from suicide) was an addict. My father is currently a using addict. I was constantly near death from lack of care as an infant and child. I just sort of ended up wherever I ended up, malnourished and near mute from being so traumatized.

        Also, I’d like to add, I am in therapy (I have a wonderful therapist whom I can trust). I know it is alarming for some to hear these things and people are generally very concerned, empathetic individuals on this blog, so I express that I am doing all I can to get the professional help I need. But I do want to be honest in sharing my story. xx

        • Lucy says:

          Aw you have been through so much but you sound hopeful as well. I haven’t been through what you’ve been through but I went to therapy for a problem of my own and it took a while before I even got the courage to seek help. When you’re feeling even better, your strength in face of adversity will be something to admire. xx

    • Getting it! says:

      Hi Peanut

      I wouldn’t want to date anyone that professes to be miserable. Maybe it’s your attitude or the veil through which you are seeing events (subjectively rather than objectively) which is the real issue? I should point out that I’m not have a go at you. But I notice that your message is angry and negative – if you are portraying this in real life (and I don’t know if you are, so this is just my suggestion based on the few words I see – so I’m not judging you, I’m just trying to give you a different view point) then that might be what is stopping you from dating.

      Although – also, there are times in life where you might not date much. I’ve been single for nearly 6 years and it’s only in the last year that I’ve been dating. I took some time out for myself and started studying etc, so it wasn’t a major priority for me.

      Anyway – happy to chat further about this.


      • Peanut says:

        Getting it!,

        I certainly do not take your words as having a go at me. I, in fact, greatly appreciate them. You are right, I am not looking at this objectively. I am extremely negative in social situations as to keep people away.

        I am dealing with so much personally that I just can’t handle friendship or dating right now, so instead of just accepting that, being patient and working on me, I get angry and self loathing sometimes.

        As much as I want my life to be different right now, it’s not, and I must deal with reality: I live with my elderly grandparents which comes with its own inherent stresses and I had to cut contact with my addict father to save my sanity. I’m going through a tough time right now. It won’t always be this way if I grow from it.

        And, I hear you, I wouldn’t want to date me either! I am just not ready to date. And feel free to judge my situation. I put it out there so that BR readers could judge for themselves and I could get some honest feedback and that’s exactly what happened. And it helped. A lot. So thank you!

    • ATN says:

      I am sure you are all the things you say you are: attractive, smart, thoughtful, the whole package. But are you happy? I think happiness is what attracts healthy men. I am saying this from a place of unhappiness. I am very aware that I still project an air of unhappiness with my current life, even while I am working to be responsible for my own happiness. We have all heard the saying, “you find love when you stop looking for it”. I don’t think that means that love comes when you give up on it, but that it comes when you and I realize that happiness is a state of mind, and that state of mind projects outward and attracts similar people. You are only 28. Just take time to focus on things you enjoy in life for their own sake. I promise you love and happiness will come in due time.

      • Confused123 says:

        ATN: Right on!
        It’s like Gandhi said “Man is nothing but a product of his thoughts”

      • Peanut says:


        Thank you for your insight. I am not happy. And I keep looking to external dating and social situations to fill this void. The thing is, I’m just not pursuing the toxic type of people I once did and I’m getting a different result: People are friendly when I’m friendly and avoid me when I’m negative. Partly, I’m too consumed with personal issues to forge new relationships and the other part is that I’m transitioning to a new, healthier scene. Thanks for the encouragement :)

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Peanut. See reply I left for you.

    • Fifi says:

      Hi Peanut
      I can’t imagine why you’re not dating, but I can only share my observations. Men can tell if you are not open to a relationship, I know I give off ‘keep off the grass’ vibes where men are concerned. I certainly don’t give off ‘open to a relationship’ vibes.
      Maybe you could try asking guys out, just for the hell of it, putting yourself in the vulnerable position of showing you’d like a relationship.
      Dunno if this helps at all

      • Wiser says:

        The vibes you give off really do make a difference. I had the same complaint some years ago that men never seemed to come up to me or flirt or anything, and a good male friend said, are you aware that you are giving off the message “Go away”? HUH? Of course I had no idea I was doing this. He couldn’t put his finger on exactly what it was that I was doing or saying, but that was his impression. It was something very subtle.

        People do pick up on your openness, your happiness, and what you think of yourself.

        • Tabitha says:

          yes I am with Wiser and Fifi on this. I also was giving off the “Keep Out” vibe without being aware. The only person who ignored my obvious emotional unavailablility was the narc. Nuff said. Since I have been feeling a bit more open to a relationship ( not 100% though I admit) I have been approached several times. It feels so weird after all those years of feeling like I was actually invisible to men. I do know that it was me that was giving off that vibe and I believe that although I wasn’t at all conscious of it, it was my body giving me the defences I needed and keeping me emotionally safe.

          • Lucy says:

            I wonder if I too give off those vibes. I know I at least still did several months back. Gradually the vibes are fading. Maybe when they really have gone for good, I won’t be analysing this at all.

            It’s a very small victory but in the past few months I have learnt not to be scared of every man I come across just because one hurt me. I don’t turn and look away if a man looks over at me. I was holding on to that for six years so it’s not as if I’m stretching out open arms but it’s progress. I feel more open to people because I have more love for myself.

            Dear Peanut, that victory will come slowly. I was focusing on myself for a long time and then eventually change caught up with me. If I hadn’t focused on me and instead waited for the life I wanted, I wouldn’t have made any progress. Stay strong and keep going even when it seems like nothing is working, because it will be worth it in the end.

            • Peanut says:


              Yes! I have to keep on working on me and the work will catch up. I expect to magically change sometimes. I see something I want to change or feel disappointed about and get angry at myself for still being that way without giving myself proper time to change.

              • Lucy says:

                I so completely know what you’re getting at because I’ve been experiencing the same thing (should give myself advice). :)

          • yoghurt says:

            “it was my body giving me the defences I needed and keeping me emotionally safe.”

            That’s a lovely way of looking at it – I too have had my Cloak of Invisibility/ManGetTheeBack pulled firmly over my head over the past few years.

            Peanut – I know that lots of people have replied to you and so this might seem superfluous, but truth is I have days of feeling like this still and it isn’t nice, so I want to say this for myself as much as anything.

            I’ve been single for four years and celibate for two-and-a-half and I often wonder if That’s It and that the whole EUM/accidental pregnancy saga has just killed my chances dead. The thing that I keep on reminding myself of is that the price of being choosy and WAITING for the right man is Time. I’ve had offers over the last year or so, it’s just that my reaction now has been “Ew, no!” rather than “Hey you’re hot, c’mere”.

            The other thing, though, is that I know that I have the CHOICE over whether or not I take my singleness as any reflection of my worth. While I’m using ‘A Relationship’ as my yardstick of happiness and/or whether I’m halfway successful as a human being, then it’s automatically going to assume way too much importance and, as such, be far too difficult to handle.

            Nowadays, when I can feel myself getting low over my ongoing singleness, I make a conscious effort to think about something that’s going to make me feel happy and that I have control over. I have a little boy, an interesting and challenging job, arty-type hobbies and an upcoming house-move (exciting!) so there’s plenty there to go at, why dwell on one part of my life that hasn’t gone the way I’d like? I don’t have waist-length red hair or a dog or a nice car, either, but I don’t spend all day fretting about those.

            I doubt I’ll ever get to the point where I can honestly say that I don’t give a stuff whether I ever have a relationship again or not, but I DO know that I’m at the point where I can see it as a nice facet of, rather than the point to life. And the more I can think that way, the less likely I’ll be to send out angsty vibes to the men that I meet (which I’m not saying you do, but I know that I have!)

            So chin up :) Is there anything really exciting and brilliant that you’ve always really wanted to do but never really prioritised enough/felt brave enough to do?

            • Peanut says:


              I have been abstinent for six years. Yup, six years. I had severe sexual trauma growing up. Incest and then rape from a source outside the family. So I DID indeed need this long to heal. Lots of therapy and books helped. Sorry, I went off on a super personal tangent. But sometimes, in order to love ourselves properly, sex with another just isn’t in the cards until we heal. I don’t think it’ll always be like that for me. When I meet a man who is worthy and loving I want to be ready. I’m not ready to date yet. I have to get used to healthy men. It’s hard for me to tell if a man is being nice or if he just wants to use me. I am still very distrusting. It’s me that I still don’t trust. I need to work on loving me and treating me better and making sure I put myself in healthy situations on a day to day basis.

              Sheesh! These comments from all these fantastic BR readers have been super helpful and are just golden!

          • Peanut says:


            It is me giving off that keep out vibe. I’m too scared to let people, even the good ones, in yet.

        • Peanut says:


          I agree. It’s the vibes. I feel so small and inferior inside that I put on this front that I’m superior. Not attractive. Plus, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get any attention from men.

          I have been noticing that very handsome, warm and pleasant men sometimes give me the “I might fancy you vibes.” I noticed that an extremely handsome barista blushes when I order coffee sometimes. Then I get smiles from another guy. I almost do the double take and turn around like, “Who me?” I mean these men are so handsome and well, healthy looking. (All my exes have been very sickly). And I think why in the world would the healthy ones want me? What could they possibly see in me? Growing up I used to be very doll like pretty, not so much anymore. So I guess deep down I’m not as confident in my looks as I’d like to think.

          Near thirty I’m a bit rougher around the edges, as I’ve been through a lot and have the scars figuratively and literally to show for it. And I sort of, okay I look like a hippie. Beads, crazy messy hair down to my waist and all. And I think, what in the world to these clean cut men want with me. My ‘type’ is dirty, scraggly with little self care and addicted. But these men, these hygienic, healthy ones are really what I’m attracted to. I’m just miffed that the addicts don’t take any notice to me anymore. I guess I still crave that validation. My mum (deceased) was an addict and my father still uses. And for the record, I do bathe. Daily. :)

      • Peanut says:


        “Keep off the grass vibe” I love it! So true. This is what I do. I am now seeing that I don’t want a relationship or to date as I am not ready and this is a very hectic time in my life, but I want, crave and need male attention. Can we say daddy issues much?! I need to get a handle on this. I go around to social situations, miss the fun and opportunity to forge healthy interactions, all because I’m too busy being needy with the attention I want from men. And when I do get some healthy attention (a very handsome man smiled at me warmly the other day) I dismiss it if it’s not from my type, which is addicted, mean, haughty and just a plain mess. So, no dating for me, back to the drawing board, I have work to do!

    • Anona says:

      I used to have that before until my middle 20s and I didn’t understand it either. I’m very attractive too and I was a nice, friendly, intelligent person. At first it seemed to be because I was shy, but then in my middle 20s I became a lot more outgoing and started to make friends easily and I still had that problem, except then I had a lot of guys wanting to date me but no one I liked wanting a real relationship.

      For me anyway, I think it was the location. I mean, I live in one of the English countries famous for having a very cold superficial culture (even worse in this city), and I’m originally from a different English country that is a lot more friendly, so I never really fit in with this culture. When I was living outside of this country, even when I was shy, I had guys wanting to date me. Another thing is, when I did start to get dates many of them weren’t serious, it was since I was meeting most of them on a university campus. Since I wouldn’t let them just use me, they’d take off. For me anyway, I realized when I left the country again that I had been clashing with the local culture (and being at a campus hadn’t helped either). That’s my situation anyway.

      One thing I found though was that when I went from shy to more outgoing I did get a lot of dates (just not the right kinds of guys though!). I realized some of it had been my approach, since I became a lot more relaxed around people and I also decided I would be friendly and interested in them as friends regardless of if they wanted to follow up or not. I then ended up with a lot of people hanging around me but most of them as it turns out were very superficial (that is the culture in this country though). Overseas I found the same approach meant I had a lot of real friendships.

      There is another weird thing that a guy friend told me once, but I don’t know how true it is. He said that if a woman is very attractive, most men will only be after her to use her or have a good time, and if she won’t allow that they will just take off, which is why I had a lot of guys on the campus stringing me along and then ditching me. I think there is some truth in this. I also think the guys who are more into this style also make themselves more obvious, and when we get focussed on them we don’t notice the others or just think of them as only for friendship.

      Anyway, what I mean is, it may not be you, but only the wrong setting and meeting the wrong kinds of guys many who themselves may not be ready for anything serious. Which is no loss anyway.

      I wonder if there is a way to change the setting?

      Also, I found if I focuss on them as friends and not hoping they will date me, the friendship will often go in that direction anyway (since guys don’t seem to be able to remain “just friends” for long). And it also puts less pressure on you since you dont have to wait around for them to like you more, you can just not think about it. Also, if you have more confidence in yourself (such as knowing men will be attracted to you and that it doesn’t matter if they are or not) they notice this and are attracted. If you look like you are hoping for a date, they seem to notice that and take off. (But I do too, I mean I’m not into guys who from the minute we say “Hi” are only thinking of me as dating material since I feel I’m not respected as a person). Oh, and there was one time I was depressed for a little while and suddenly guys stopped hanging around then, too, so I guess they also picked up on that. (But this culture is also a bit selfish).

      Anyway, that was what worked for me when I got over the shyness. Not that I easily found serious guys in that setting.

      • Anona says:

        Peanut, I guess what I was trying to say, more briefly, is that I have found that if you are focussed on wanting a date and wanting guys to date you, they pick up on it and give you a wide berth (as I do if guys think I’m only for dating and not a person — I don’t mean you think that but it’s the way it is received). If instead of focussing on what they can do for you (i.e. date you) and focus on them as people and potential friends only, knowing and believing in your own worth and attractiveness but not caring what they think or anxious to be dated, they relax and you end up with a lot of friendships without pressure which are also really nice and good for self esteem, plus a lot of dates as well (even, in some settings, to the point of harassment). Then you just have the problem of screening out who is actually for real and who is still only wanting an ego boost based on your looks (or whatever other assets you might have).

        • Peanut says:

          Anona, that is really brilliant.It is about not being so desperate (red flag to healthy men) and not caring what men think in order to use them as a self-esteem band aid.

          • Peanut says:

            hmmm… I meant: It’s about not caring what men think and NOT using them as a self esteem band aid. I reread that and realized it didn’t make sense :)

      • Peanut says:


        What you say totally makes sense. Not only did I grow up in a family where I did not fit in, I grew up in a city where I don’t fit into the culture near at all either! But, I know that no matter how perfect of a city I live in, if I’m not good with me, I’ll just sabotage it, so I still have work to do. Believe it or not, in my small town feel city, there is a wonderful little college with a divine art program. I’m in it. I love it. And it will give me the power to relocate with more school and job opportunities! Now only if I can just NOT sabotage it.

    • Suki says:

      @Peanut, I wonder also whether you are noticing people. What I mean is – you may not have anyone liking you, but have you liked people? Taking an interest in others for who they are, not for their romantic potential – because liking people for who they are is the first step in having good relationships, and thats the first step in finding romantic relationships too. So practice on liking people and enjoying your life. What did you enjoy today? I enjoyed going to a cafe, reading some great stuff, having a cappucino, the pleasure of a clean room, clean laundry, grocery shopping and cooking – I love food, great phone conversations with friends and family, emails… its a very average weekend day, I didnt go out to a pub or anything, I am single, and when I look at my average day, I have to say, it was fabulous. And because I made it feel that way. I think this is the change in me in recent months – I enjoy my life, in the small things, and I realize how much freedom I have to do as I please, and how much the people in my life have supported my ability to do that.

      • Peanut says:


        What a beautiful comment! Thank you. You are right. I am not really enjoying people, I am getting mad at them for not validating me in the ways I need to validate and take care of myself.

        Today, I woke up to a dozen mini chocolate chip cookies y grandmother had baked. I ate them all and don’t regret a single bite! I had some lovely cat naps with my dog. And finished some laundry and I’m about to go read about art!

    • grace says:

      I didn’t date in six years until I met my boyfriend. Looking back, I see a series of events that brought us together. I don’t believe in fate, I believe in making it possible, even probable that you meet someone.
      I found a new church. I joined in more. I was friendly with the older people as I’m kind like that and I respect their wisdom. One of them asked me to give a talk at a service. I was nervous but said yes. That’s when my boyfriend first noticed me.
      He started saying hello to me but I didn’t notice him. We ended up in the same bible study. Over a few months we got friendlier, he blurted out that he liked me.
      I got mad that he didn’t ask me out so I asked him. seven months later we are still together.
      I was out in the world, engaging and happy and I took a risk. That’s all there is to it. It does take time but if it’s been YEARS we have to make more effort!

      • Peanut says:


        You’re right. It’s about being healthily vulnerable and taking a risk. I’m not ready, yet. I’m not there. I see I am mad at myself for not being ready, yet. But, sometimes it takes time and that is okay.

    • Nikki says:

      You wrote this. I thought I had written it. Thing is, I’m almost 40. There is hope for you. Your age makes the difference. I am starting to have a different realization. Thing is, if you start to accept the inevitable, you are viewed as negative and this is the reason why you have not attracted love. What if, just what if, I was not meant to be loved. As painful as that realization, is it better to accept so that I don’t slit my wrist or do I stay in the lonely hell that does not include a significant other while others continue to marry and remarry before my very eyes. Why can’t people just admit that many of us will lose in the game of love? Why won’t self help writers or bloggers just say that? Give it to us straight and offer strategies to cope. Not in that, ‘just when you are not thinking about meeting someone, someone will come along’ sort of way. But in that, ‘perhaps no one is coming along’ way. No one. This is how you live, cope, and accept. Again, there is so much hope for a 28 year old. I wish you well.

      • grace says:

        I’m 48 so it’s not an age thing.
        But I do know a lot of retired women who didn’t marry. They’re quite visble in church as they do a lot of the organising. I think it is important to find a community, it doesn’t have to be religious.
        When I was younger I rented a room from a retired teacher, never married. She was always off travelling. She had a nice life.
        Ultimately, even if you marry someone will die first, children move away, it’s not at all guaranteed that the coupled up won’t be alone one day.
        hmm I meant that to be cheery, not sure it came out that way!

        • Anona says:

          I don’t think age has anything to do with it. The only way it can is if someone starts focussing on their age and makes it a factor. And it has even less to do with it these days. I think being negative about it and exaggerating it is another way of turning people off, just like the person who people said turned people off by being depressed and thinking they couldnt find a boyfriend. I’ve found that by being friendly and focussing on the other person and not as a potential partner, one can have all kinds of people going after them, and when one learns how to screen them out one can also notice the potentially serious ones more. So it is all in one’s attitude. And age is too. I mean, if you don’t focus on your age but just think of yourself as a person, and a younger person too, you can also give off the right vibes to others. If you go around thinking, “I’m this age and it’s too late for me” you will send off exactly that kind of vibe. Just like the attitude, “Oh, no, I’m this age and better grab someone asap”. The world is a lot more difficult and harsh now, but from this forum we know there are obviously a lot of people out there like us. And as for the “older” people who travelled, well they weren’t dead or anywhere near that, so how do you know that they didn’t late on find someone and just weren’t ready earlier on?

      • SallyJane says:

        Nikki —

        I think you are right that there are no guarantees in life, in love or anything else. I agree it is important to acknowledge this and I don’t think that is negative, just true.

        On the other hand, anything can happen. This is equally true. It is actually the flip side of the same coin.

        I try to hold both of these in my mind, equally, when I think about my future.

        I might not ever find the right person to spend the rest of my life with, but then again I might. Tomorrow! But in any case, I certainly don’t experience single life as a lonely sentence of misery, nor do I regard married life as a surefire recipe for living happily ever after. I think I will be happy, regardless.

  2. Sophie says:

    I started dating again just 2 weeks after no contact with the last ass clown. I imagined all these wonderful things about mr. New assclown and he revealed himself to be inflexible, hurtful and downright rude & uncompromising after asking me to be in a relationship after one week. Well I said yes like a dummy. He has since abandoned me. I had a nervous breakdown. Now I have to start no contact again and find my esteem and dignity in whatever bin I allowed it to be placed. Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to be like me.

    • Lucy says:

      Dear Sophie,
      Don’t be too hard on yourself. So you were duped again but this has happened to the best of us. It does not make you a bad person. Learning the lesson is one thing and practicing it is another. I’m sure we’re not the only people here who stumble when trying to put what we learnt into action. It might seem like you’ve taken a step back but there’s a couple of things you should remember:

      1. You have self-awareness. You are aware of your patterns which is a big part of not letting the same heartbreak happen again. So many can’t escape bad situations because they don’t realise their own power.

      2. You have experienced more emotional pain. That’s nothing to trivialize but think of it in terms of strengthening your resolve. For me, further pain has made me think, “That’s it. I’m done with this. I never want this to happen again”. It’s an inner voice which stops you drifting off course.

      Maybe that didn’t make much sense but I hope it helps. You can twist it around to a win-win situation – you don’t have him around any more causing you pain, and you are free to find yourself or to find someone better.

  3. High Heels Backwards says:

    Wow, this posting was so incredibly timely for me. I’ve been dating for several months on OKC, and I posted a couple of months ago about the AC I was briefly involved with. Now I’m back in the dating pool, and I’ve been going totally anxious over this guy I’ve dated only three times. I know it’s not about him (although he’s kind of cool), it’s about me and how I react to my needs. I wrote in my journal just tonight that I’ve got to value my life and not feel like I should immerse and lose myself in some random guy’s life. Part of the problem is that I’ve already fooled around with this guy a bit, so I’ve got the dopamine response going on. All of this points toward a need to dial it back, slow it down with the physical stuff. It’s weird and unfamiliar to me, since I want to be swept off my feet. The concept of taking a more rational approach to dating is alien to me, but I keep telling myself that this way — unfamiliar as it may feel — is the healthiest way to go. I’m also telling myself that I can do this, that I’ve done lots of scary things in my life (like working in a post-conflict zone, like giving birth to 3 kids, and then separating from my ex-husband). But still, this dating thing is not for the faint of heart! Thanks, Natalie, for what you’ve articulated and for helping me to move forward in my thoughts. Fellow readers, any advice about how to actually move towards valuing myself and my life more?

    • paolo says:

      High Heels Backwards…My advice for what it’s worth, is maybe remind yourself of some of the things you’ve learned in BR and use it to instill a new way of thinking each time the old ways crop up..That might be something of a struggle each time it happens. I have my moments, but i print out some of the posts i need to remember the most and i read them over and over sometimes when i start feeling down on myself because of low self esteem ways of thinking…I often underline paragraphs and read slowly so i can fully absorb some things..Time and patience i suppose…I get scared i won’t find mutual love ever again but if it isn’t going to be forever, then i don’t want it again anyway.

      • High Heels Backwards says:

        Paolo, thanks so much. I actually save notes from BR on my phone, so I can look at them whenever I need to.

    • runnergirl says:

      High Heels, I’d suggest reading what you’ve written. You get it and you can do it. Cut the drama around dating a guy even if it is the infamous third date. Dial it back big time, particularly with the physical stuff. The rational approach is alien to me too but it’s the only way. With regards to valuing yourself and your life, re-read what you wrote. You’ve done lots more scary things in your life. You have 3 children. It sounds hokey as hell but start or end each day by listing one thing you are grateful for. Some days for me, it boils down to I know where my daughter is and she is safe and I know where my retainers are. If you are still inclined to lose yourself in some random guy’s life, should you be dating? Do you really want to be swept off your feet by some random guy you don’t really know? Dating isn’t for the faint of heart, neither is living! Here’s a heap of self-cyber-esteem for you! Hugs.

    • Suki says:

      Read people like Eckhart Tolle on living in the now, helps you exclude bs in your life. Enjoy life! Identify what you enjoy – by yourself and with someone else. You cal the shots, dont wait for them, and dont be desperate. I am not ready yet I think to start dating again. I have however reached a new calmness with myself. I dont feel lonely as much as I used to, I take disappointments better generally.
      The last person I was with, breaking up was hard, and I suffered after it. But I stayed as long as it worked for me and then I left. I did not try to change him, and although the bs really hurt, I knew it was bs which is a step up for me. . I have to say though I was EU also in the sense that I knew he wasnt right for anything serious but I went along because I liked him and to almost prevent myself from being with other EU people. I picked the frying pan over the fire.
      I have also struggled with depression and I think what I hear from some posters when we do the ‘why me’ is that we are depressed. We chase the outcome, we dont look at the process, we are driven by fear than desire, and we dont value ourselves and our own time. We second guess ourselves, we wait for others to validate us, we arent sure whether we are making the right choices, we can’t stand by our views. We basically beg, yell, coax, moan at the other person to validate us. We give them the choice. And we do it to avoid taking the responsibly of validating ourselves. I did this with my previous ex, and it was terrible, it has had lasting impacts on my ability to trust and sense of self. The recent ex I never asked him to change – it is validating of yourself to tell someone you dont want to be with them, and to not wait to know what they think. Their actions have told you already, what more do you need.
      Also, love is very important, but romantic love is not the end all of life. I really do want it eventually but for now I am going to try to do more of what I love. I often stop myself, indulging in compulsive behaviors like internet surfing instead of investing the energy in what would give me more lasting joy – because it usually takes effort. Make that effort.

      • Allison says:


        Well said!!!!!

      • JIll says:

        WOnderful post Suki!!

      • Lucy says:

        Wow. This post really struck me. I very much identify with what you are saying. I spend too much time in the internet abyss. I have been willing to stop myself but haven’t quite made it.

        I did suffer Depression on and off for years with several nervous breakdowns but I don’t feel it so much anymore. I can’t get as sad – it’s like I can only spend so much time crying until finally having the resolve to take my life into my own hands. Of course I still have ups and downs but ups are beginning to outnumber the downs.

        I really identified with this: “we are driven by fear than desire”. Because I was driven so much by fear in the past, I never learnt how to live with desire, how to really go for what I want on my own terms. Maybe that’s why I can’t settle into another relationship. It seems like it would be nice but having the most fun I’ve had in years seems like more of a priority right now.

      • Holly says:

        Fantastic post!

      • kiesh says:

        “indulging in compulsive behaviors like internet surfing instead of investing the energy in what would give me more lasting joy – because it usually takes effort. Make that effort.” – you know my life. sheesh. great comment!

  4. paolo says:

    woahh….Mega needed that one.

  5. Sophie says:

    @ Peanut. You’re no loser. In fact, I’d trade with you. I’ve had many boyfriends. My heart is scattered like sand on the beach. They take your things and make you keep theirs too if you aren’t careful. I’m a basket case. I’ve lost myself trying to block ppl I don’t want to remember. I fainted at work, had a nervous breakdown and can not count how many partners I’ve had. Yeah I envy you Peanut.

    • Peanut says:


      I’ve been there. I’ve been with vile men in the name of not being alone. I get really agitated and lonely sometimes but it is better than being with people who hurt, disappoint, use and manipulate you. We deserve better.

  6. Ace says:

    Wow, amazing! I have been seeing someone for a few weeks but because we don’t live in the same city, a lot of our relationship has been via email when we’re not together. This was fine at first and I was feeling infuse my about how he felt. But with distance and lack of almost constant contact (which for some reason I seem to need to feel reassured) I feel almost constantly anxious. I haven’t been telling him this but I am worried it is coming across. I had an epiphany reading this post that my anxiety may have really much less to do with him an more to do with fear of losing him and going back to my regular life before we met. It wasn’t bad, but had some down times and loneliness which I really didn’t enjoy. So thank you so much Nathalie!! I am realizing after reading this that I really need to focus on building my life am making it awesome regardless if him. This will make it good whether things work out or not and of course, probably helps to make things more likely to work out I I can be calmer as I was in the beginning. Thanks!

  7. M says:

    This post was particularly well-timed for me also. I just called it quits with a guy from OKC who I fell for after the 2nd or 3rd date. Pretty soon we were having “monogamous” sex and in a pseudo relationship. The dopamine kicked in, he started the slow fade. I tried to convince myself that he was just “indecisive” and “passive” because I was always the one making plans. He showed up and we had a good time but there was no communication. I thought this meant I needed to slow down, but I guess I was too far in and fast forwarding to what our little blonde, blue-eyed babies would look like. (I don’t even want babies!!)

    *sigh* I cannot believe I fell for it again but I am trying not to beat myself up. I got sick toward the end of it and couldn’t sleep well and ended up reading lots of Natalie’s blog posts in the middle of the night on my smartphone to assuage my anxiety about the situation. What everyone tells you is RIGHT. It should NOT be that complicated. If a guy likes you and wants things to progress he WILL make an effort. I am learning now more than ever that I need to listen to my gut because maybe I would have backed off after the third date was okay even though we didn’t have a lot to talk about but I thought with my vagina and unresolved daddy-issues and filled the silence with a “well do you want to come up to my apartment?”

  8. Little Star says:

    Thank you Natalie for another timely post:) I do not know how other ladies/gentlemen feel, but I am SO scared to start dating:( I feel so comfortable to be alone and just enjoying my work, meeting my friends and going to the gym/Meet Up group. NOT looking and do not have any intention to date…I hope I will change my mind eventually, as I do not want to be alone for the rest of my life!

  9. Kim says:

    After my last relationship, which lasted 2 months, not even, and I had to get a PPO at the end because he turned psycho on me, I am ready to call it quits on the dating life for a while. It is time to take a step back and reevaluate what is important to me, and why I seem to attract losers. In the past five years since my divorce (and my ex was no prize, mind you), I have had one long term relationship with a passive aggressive controlling AC that ended quite badly, and a handful of short-term dalliances none of which have lasted more than 6 months. And after this last guy, who I made excuses for . . . oh he’s sweet and caring, no matter that he doesn’t have a car, or money, or any interests outside of ME . . . I realized that I have HAD it with compromise. I deserve so much better than I have had, and it’s all because I have compromised my standards on each one of those relationships by thinking that since I am not good enough or worth the best, why hope for the best? Well, I am worth holding out for the best. I know that person is out there, but I refuse to go out with one more loser, AC, or psycho, hoping that this one might just work out to be the one. I’m betting on potential each time, forgetting that without the quality raw material, there is no way that any of these people could ever be right for me. I am willing to hold out for the right one, and to know that, I have to date. However, I am going to reserve the good stuff (i.e., feelings, sex, intimacy) until I know for sure that he isn’t a loser, AC, psycho, or not long term relationship potential. Furthermore, I need to be the best, so that the best sees the potential in me. And for that, I need to work on those aspects of myself that make me happy, regardless of who is in my life. Because, in the end, I have to live with me too.

    • Tracy says:

      Kim-I’m going to print out your post and keep it in my purse. What you have gone through in the last five years is EXACTLY what I have gone through in the last five years, even down to the fact that your only post-divorce LTR was with a passive aggressive AC. The similarities we have are eerie. Like you, after this last EUM I need to step back and see why I keep going back to this EUM/AC well. People tell me I’m nice, smart, funny, kind…but I attract men who want to suck the life out of me, who don’t want to contribute much to the relationship, who are happy for me to do all the work. And when I balk at bad behavior, when I assert my boundaries, they bail.

      It’s time for me to step off the dating crazy train for a while, get my youngest prepared to go off to college in the fall, get a new job in a new area, start to rebuild a life for ME that will be satisfying regardless of whether or not there is a man involved.

    • selkie says:


      “I need to work on those aspects of myself that make me happy, regardless of who is in my life.”

      Yes, I think this is key. Setting up with losers for a quick ‘make me feel better’ fix just keeps us stuck and unhappy. You ARE worth more. We all are, but not all of us believe it yet or have reached that level of trust in ourselves.

  10. Peanut says:

    Yeah, I’m not ready to date.

  11. Lucy says:

    I’m in an in-between zone. I’ve pretty much gotten over the fast-forwarding to fantasy romance after only one date thing, ready to let situations unfold. I know I won’t jump hoops to something really unsuitable as some kind of escapism. But I know I need to be better at reading the extent to which I’m attracted to a person (lust or a real emotional connection?) – or confusing a friend vibe with the potential for more/overestimating my level of attraction. I do find that I develop less crushes now. I slow myself down and think, “Wait. Am I really into him the way I think I am?”. I don’t get obsessed over one guy. I’m not in love with love anymore so if someone takes me by surprise, maybe there actually is something there rather than my fantasy?

    Yet I’m not ready to put a concerted and genuine effort into dating, at least not online. I’m thinking that I am that way because I want to get my life together. I want to develop my friendships first/cut out all negativity so I have that emotional springboard to prevent me from putting all my eggs into one basket. I think it’s fundamental to be able to recognise your life as complete in every important aspect before contemplating serious dating.

    I get online, answer a few messages and then disappear for weeks on end because I can’t handle it. But I can meet a man in a social situation in person and not get freaked out by it. I’m somehow put on edge by the guys online who send me nice well-thought out messages which show real interest. Maybe it’s because I feel somehow that by replying I’m making some kind of commitment and it feels like work. Should dating feel like work if you want to do it? Or is that a sign that I’m not ready enough?

    • selkie says:

      You said, ” I want to develop my friendships first/cut out all negativity so I have that emotional springboard to prevent me from putting all my eggs into one basket. I think it’s fundamental to be able to recognise your life as complete in every important aspect before contemplating serious dating.”

      Yes, I completely agree with you on this Lucy. That’s where I aspire to be too. I have been a little aimless in this by trying to just stay ‘busy’ filling my time with just stuff. Instead, I should cultivate the things I’m passionate about. I start on this course but loose steam and go back to the easy busy stuff. I think it helps to define some goals for ourselves. It takes effort but we have to believe we are worth it and that short cut validations are short lived.

      • Lucy says:

        “short cut validations are short lived.”

        I like that phrase. I’ll remember that, since like you hinted, it’s one thing to want to follow the path you know you should but then there’s putting that it into action and not drifting into the easy stuff. That’s my present challenge.

        I need to define goals too. For some reason I was put off setting goals for years, I think I was afraid that I wouldn’t live up to my own expectations or that it felt like pressure. But I really want to do this now.

  12. Peanut says:

    And that is the best litmus test I have ever heard Natalie. With the ex, he told me he was moving in a few months on our first date. I thought that meant I was safe from getting too attached and that I could just have a bit of fun. We all know how that turned out.

  13. Peanut says:

    I just want a man to love me goddamnit, heal my pains from the past, and make me feel good about life! And the truth comes out.

    • Tabitha says:

      Peanut. YOU need to love you. YOU need to heal your pain from the past. And YOU need to make yourself feel good about life. Expecting some bloke to do all this is magical thinking/damaging/and, without wishing to upset you, clearly not working.
      When you have done the work, I bet there will be a queue of men vying to go out with you.

      • Peanut says:


        It is not working. It is up to me to do the work I need to do to meet my own human needs. This one is a doozy for me. Thanks for the encouragement xx

    • paolo says:

      I pretty much did the same thing as you peanut…got involved with someone that i knew had no future in..It just makes you want them more, even if they’re honest about there not being a future..It’s not the biggest dumbass thing i’ve done with regard to dating, but it’s up there i think..I learned that when it comes to love, there’s no half measure, otherwise it’s just crumbs and pain…I guess the trick is to know the difference between crumbs and going slow..And not mistaking one for the other. If there’s no future though, better to get out earlier than later.

      • Lilia says:

        Great comment, Paolo. The EUM I was involved with actually explicitly stated that he was going slow when he was just giving me crumbs and lots and lots of pain… now I think he pulled out the “going slow”-card to keep me around?
        When I finally told him (after finding BR) that I thought he didn´t want anything real with me, he didn´t deny it. So yeah, everyone beware for the crumbs dressed up as slowness!

      • Lucy says:

        “I learned that when it comes to love, there’s no half measure, otherwise it’s just crumbs and pain”

        Ah so true. And then you think, ‘is this really worth it?’ and it’s as if a light bulb has gone off in your head. I promise you Peanut, that you’ll eventually get that revelation.

        I used to be like you. I used to want to be saved from my pain by a man who loved me. And I didn’t realise what impact my behaviour was having on the guy I was dating. He was absolutely not a good guy to me but I can still see in the clear light of day how I wasn’t presenting myself as a good dating prospect.

      • Peanut says:


        You are right. Trying to go the ‘safe’ route by trying to forge something with someone who is not an appropriate partner just ends in so much more pain than to be single work on one’s self, and reenter the dating world when you can be fully available and want someone fully available.

  14. FX says:

    Great post and timing as always. I had been NC about 6 months when I met a cute guy at a work-related event. In our initial conversation, we established we lived in the same neighborhood within our large city and also knew some industry people in common. He suggested we should get together in the neighborhood sometime. I have been out of the scene so long, I didn’t even realize he meant “a date” until he asked me to dinner. I was pretty sure he was quite a bit younger than me and that he didn’t realize how old I really am! So, he was cute, sweet and affectionate and we had so much in common and next thing I knew he was taking me to lovely places and introducing me to his friends, etc. I think I waited 7 dates to have sex which is a record for me! And, I told him he couldn’t have sex with others if he was having sex with me. He initiated the conversation by asking what we were doing. I have never had that conversation with anyone and I’m in my 50s! 2 months in, he was introducing me as his girlfriend and we were celebrating his birthday (even younger than I ever thought!) – pics on fb, etc., and planning a trip. (My first fb r/s. LOL Thank goodness ex AC isn’t on it.)

    There were many great things about him but I had a sense something was missing on my end so I decided to just enjoy it while it/he continued to unfold. Then, he showed outrageously disproportionate temper at me over something on our vacation and that made me take a big step back. We continued as we had been but my feelings were changed and I couldn’t see how this could work for a number of other reason, too, but didn’t want to end the good stuff either…

    A week ago, my gut told me he wasn’t being straight with me about something and I asked him to leave my home. I think it’s possible my ambivalence at that point had become palpable which may have instigated the change in his agenda to which I reacted. I should have communicated my thoughts sooner but, for the last 2 weeks of it, I reverted to my M.O. with the AC of not wanting to rock the boat until that moment when I came to my senses and respected my needs and boundaries. I don’t think I articulated myself entirely well in that moment but I did listen to my gut and haven’t heard from him since. I’m sure I will because I have several things of his and our paths will cross. I don’t think we need to be enemies because I don’t think he’s an AC. He is just not right for me and even more so not for me at this moment because my BS detector is still on high alert from the 6 year AC relationshit. It was a fun 4 month relationship and I’m glad I had one with someone after the AC. Also, I’m glad I mostly did apply what I have learned. It may be a while before I meet someone else but I hadn’t expected to be in a full-on relationship so quickly anyway. I think the bf was very possibly a fantasist who loves the idea of romance and a r/s and that I could never have lived up to his initial ideal version of me anyway. I’m not crushed but am a little sad that it’s over. I was getting out and having more fun (and sex!) than I probably will have for a while… Sigh. I’ll just keep working on my abilities with all the great knowledge I receive here and keep putting myself out in the world where I can apply it. :)

    • Tinkerbell says:

      FX. Let me get this straight. You had sex with him by the 7th date and after that he introduces you to his girlfriend? Why wouldn’t you bolt at that time?

      • jewells says:

        Tink, it reads: introduced ‘as’ his girlfriend. She had other reasons to bolt though :)

      • FX says:

        LOL Tink, that would be a reason to bolt! No, I was introduced as his girlfriend at any opportunity. All of my friends who met him used the same word – “smitten” to describe his attitude toward me. He’s a sweet guy and wore his heart on his sleeve. I knew he wasn’t right for me for the long term but I like him and we are in related business that we’re both passionate about vocationally and for pleasure. We have communicated since I wrote my comment and think we will remain friends.

        Related to this post, I don’t know that I was really ready for the level of involvement he drew me into so quickly. I think maybe where we are headed as friends is a better level of engagement for me with him. I’m still glad for the months with him because it was a learning experience and changed some of the dynamics of my recovery from the Narc AC. I’m in better shape mentally and emotionally for when another opportunity presents.

  15. Monica says:

    After taking a break from men, r’ships and dating for 2yrs, it was quite eventful when earlier this year I finally started dating again. The guy I met was a real gentleman yet my guard was so high up it took me awhile to let myself like him yet alone express this to him. He seemed too good to be true. I mean on the second date he was telling me about a couple of restaurants he wanted us to check out down the line. He seemed SO into me, yet I just thought ‘he liked the idea of me’, and not really me. I mean he didn’t even know me is what I told myself. Was he future faking like my ex?! I was so afraid of making a mistake, or falling for an AC yet again, I was more like a detective than a fun girl someone would want to date. I found red flags with everything he did …and after a couple of months I couldn’t take the uncertainty and I abruptly ended it. To this day I haven’t decided if it was because those red flags really were red flags and I’m not used to having high standards and acting on them; or I just like sabotaging potentially good things that come my way. I hope I don’t become the 0-3 month girl who is analyzing this for years to come. What I do know for sure like Natalie says, you have to be sure you’re really ready to date (self esteem and all) and trust your decisions b/c if you’re not, and you don’t, it could do more damage than good. I took a break for 2yrs and was sure I was ready – in retrospect, maybe I still have some learning left to do.

    • paolo says:

      Monica..That’s a really good point. I often wonder i was ignoring red flags or if i was so defensive of being available that i only saw red flags that didn’t exist…It’s so hard to know the difference between instinct and over caution/paranoia. :/

    • grace says:

      A red flag is he’s married, has a girlfriend, or not over the ex, insulting behaviour, or future faking eg marriage and babies rather than restaurants.
      Learn the lesson and let the regret go. Two months is not long and it could have gone either way.

      • Monica says:

        Thanks Grace! I know you’re right. My main red flag was more trivial….he was a chronic texter, didn’t “like” talking on the phone – and when I expressed a few times that this was important for me, nothing changed. I felt this was a sign of perhaps other issues that I should be concerned about.

        • paolo says:

          yes that’s so true monica..texting is lazy.

          • Tinkerbell says:

            And, chronic texting is the signature of a MM. He’s clearly an EUM, thereby a waste of time.

            • FX says:

              I agree that the issue that’s more of a red flag than being a texter is the fact that you told him this bothered you and he disregarded your preferences and comfort.

              • Monica says:

                That’s what I thought and that is what my gut told me (thanks to Nat and her amazing site which helped me see this in the first place!!) but then I started second guessing myself b/c he was so nice in other ways. More importantly I’ve never been one to leave when seeing red flags. In the past, red flags meant “go”. The reassuring feedback is very helpful – thank you!

  16. selkie says:

    The idea that showing up on a date or in a new relationship with too many expectations may be an attempt to escape our own life gave me pause. I’m pretty sure that’s me. I’m ready to stop being lonely but that doesn’t translate to being ready to date. What’s the problem? I have very few friends but tons of acquaintances that never move beyond that. I spend way too much time alone, not just sitting on the couch but out doing stuff too, but by myself. I’ve tried Meetup and getting out to coffee shops, book stores, etc. but still I don’t make very many friends. I often feel I’m not very likeable or interesting even though I’ve led a very interesting life. Add being an introvert and very sensitive. Bottom line, I’m lonely a lot of the time. So, when I meet a man who likes me ( and I like him back ) and wants to spend time with me, I’m like a starved orphan set in front of a buffet. A succubus. I know that making more friends so I spend less time alone would help me greatly but I’m not very good at it. The friends I did have were EU and AC, so I’ve drifted away from them, leaving me pretty much alone (as others here have also said). I’m not feeling sorry for myself, just being pragmatic. I don’t know how to achieve what I need to do. I’m willing to make the effort though if it means I’m happier and will be able to not suck the life out of someone in a relationship. In my last relationship I was very aware of my tendency and didn’t expect so much, but he ended up dumping me because I was too guarded and didn’t show ENOUGH interest. Seriously, I was like WTF now? So, add to the mix my pst relationships with AC’s and EUM’s. They hand out crumbs and manage you down when you export more from them. We all know the drill. How much of my idea that I’m a succubus comes from the ‘mindfuck manipulation’ residual of being told I want too much when maybe what I wanted was actually normal and how much is from me putting all my hopes of escape from my own lonely life on my partner? Okay, one more twist. I was neglected as a child. Am I looking to right the wrongs of my past by finding the kind of love I missed out on as a kid? Boy, thats a lot to filter. I’m grateful these posts encourage us to look a little deeper into ourselves for the answers.

    • Fifi says:

      great comment selkie – “I’m ready to stop being lonely but that doesn’t translate to being ready to date” – definitely true for me too, and same with friends thing.

    • Ellensue says:

      I could have written this, Selkie. Every word. I, too, have lead an interesting life (much more interesting than the AC who left me after asking him to marry me) but don’t have many friends. I try but they seem to drift away. The best I can offer is to accept that we are not like other people. Based on our pasts (I, too, was neglected as a child) and our temperaments (I, too, am an introvert), we have lived and are living lives that are different from many people. We will never be them. What I am trying to do is accept and appreciate the person I am (alone most of the time) while slowly trying to make changes.

      • selkie says:

        Thank You EllenSue. Sometimes loneliness gets the better of me and I feel like I need to reinvent myself as the cure. But, I know this really isn’t the solution and I wouldn’t be authentic. I like how you say you are trying to accept and appreciate the person you are while slowly trying to make changes. Much of time I do accept that I’m not like other people but it gets lonely here on my own little planet. I went to a spiritual/healer once who told me I needed to wear my spirit on the outside like a coat and that way folks who have the same coat could find me amongst the crowd. I found it interesting and get that what she meant was that I need to be authentic and embrace who I am.

    • Jacqueline says:

      Selkie, I can really relate to your post. I’m like you too – few friends, spend most of my time alone, also an introvert, and sensitive. I’m intelligent, attractive, very compassionate, and like talking to people. But I also find it hard to make friends, sometimes feel invisible, and feel like I’m a late bloomer (I’m 50). I thought I was smarter this last time, focusing on what’s important…I dated someone with the same values. But it turns out after a few months he is EU also (sigh), even though it started out quite differently. Am attached now, did the future faking (my fault) envisioning us together in ahome like (because that’s what I want now). I put so much into this relationship, but it’s all one sided. I don’t see that he has put much effort into this. And he sees nothing as wrong, even though I’ve pointed out my needs and some of his bad behaviour. I’m having a hard time leaving this, though I know better. This is the first time someone made me feel I’m expecting too much, when inside I feel what I expect is pretty normal too.

      • Tracy says:

        The ‘need’ for a relationship and the pain of loneliness is one thing that I imagine the vast majority of us here have in common. After my divorce 5 1/2 years ago, I didn’t date for a year, I wanted my kids on track, I started a new job, I knew I wasn’t ready. But when I did decide to date I did it with a vengeance, making many mistakes, falling for the wrong people, letting the need to be with someone cloud my judgement sometimes when it came to my kids. All rather embarrassing when I think about it. After the New Years dumping by the EUM, I was really depressed, even though it had only been a ‘relationship’ of three months. I tried OLD, but realized all I was doing was reading for red flags in the profiles (and trust me, those profiles are chock o’ block of ’em). When I divorced I moved with the kids back to my hometown because some of my family was still here, I found a job, and the schools are excellent. BUT…in all this time, I haven’t made one friend. Lots of work friends, but it never progresses beyond work hours. And, for some reason, my hometown hasn’t gotten word that it is 2013, and being a divorced woman isn’t tantamount to leprosy, it’s not going to spread, and, no, I’m not after your (EUM, mostly) husbands. It’s been a very lonely existance. Sadly, while I DO have many friends, none of them live any closer than an hour away, most 3-5 hours away.

        In February I took a weekend and went to visit a friend in another city. I had just gone on a second date the night before with a guy and it went OK. But while I was out of town I was having so much fun with my friend I realized that not only did I not really LIKE the guy I dated, I realized that all I needed was a FRIEND. It was like a light went off in my head. I haven’t looked on OLD since, nor do I have any desire. I’ll leave this town when my daughter goes off to college at the end of the summer and in the meantime apply for jobs in areas where I have friends. What happens from there as far as finding a relationship will be less of a ‘need’ than a ‘want’.

    • Confused123 says:

      I could have written this, Selkie.Hugs!
      Hang in there. :)

  17. Revolution says:

    Yeah. I think I’m cool with dating myself for a while longer. For the first time in my adult life, I’m not in a hurry to get into another relationship. In fact, the thought of being in one right now and disturbing the peace of my life makes me slightly panicky. I think I actually may be EU at the moment, in fact. I just can’t be bothered with nonsense.

    • Lilia says:

      I´m the same. And the thing I´ve discovered is that there is this powerful myth that you´re not complete without a man in you life – but it turns out it´s just that, a myth. I´ve found I´m perfectly happy after I decided I´m okay and valuable and complete by myself.
      It would be nice, of course, to have someone to lean against when watching a film, but I don´t want all the BS that comes with unhealthy relationships! It has to be a good thing, otherwise I don´t want it.

    • Trying to look ahead not behind says:

      I feel the same way about being kind of panicky. I’m on the fence. One part of me doesn’t want to be alone and knows I’m not getting any younger and it will be harder to meet men the older I get. The other part of me is fine with all the friends and hobbies and ME time when I have it (kinda selfish with me time when my daughter is with her daddy). The other day, a man asked me to meet for coffee. I want to meet him at some point but my first instinct was to retreat and do something else. I made an excuse and didn’t meet up with him. Then last night we had our first conversation over the phone and it was nice. It actually went well. He asked me to lunch this week. Well I said yes and I will meet him for lunch but I’m feeling very reserved and nervous.

      • runnergirl says:

        Trying to Look Ahead,
        I think one of the points of this post is to try not to make to much out of a phone chat and lunch. It’s just lunch, not a marriage proposal. And you’ve got to have, as Nat says, “the resilience to cope with the potential for disappointment”. I’m new at the dating scene and I was nervous at first. After 10 months, I’m no longer nervous. They are just people. I know I’ll be coming home, alone, and the next day I’ll get up and go about my routine. No sandcastles, no sweeping off my feet, no dreaming about somebody I don’t know. I’m finally truly internalizing what Nat is saying. It’s a discovery phase. I’ve got to have an interest in them regardless of whether they are interested in me. It is comforting to think of lunch or dinner or drinks as lunch, dinner or drinks and letting things unfold. It’s nice to look nice and go somewhere and see what happens. Just breathe and relax into it. If he’s interested and you aren’t, that’s it. If you are interested and he isn’t, that’s it. If you are both interested in a second meeting, it is still only a second meeting, not a marriage proposal. Breathe and have a little fun!

  18. kiesh says:

    Once again your blog is speaking to me. I recently took a break from dating because something just felt ‘off’ and I hadn’t completely figured out what it was. I’m definitely NOT ready to date right now. I spent most of my life getting anxious about each new guy and being devastated often when things didn’t work out. I haven’t quite figured out how to STOP doing this yet.

  19. Anona says:

    Just wanted to mention one thing. There might for many people be something in the current theory that those who get attached to guys who are ambivalent or unready for commmitment are avoiding commitment themselves, but there is also another reason that people might be less familiar with since the background for this is rare perhaps in modern Western culture. I’m saying this since I’ve been tired of the stereotype and assumption that anyone who has had such bad experiences is on some level afraid of commitment and wanting to be in such things.

    I myself although Western had a very unusual background for these days in which I was extremely sheltered by a very religious family and whose widowed parent had also had very limited, almost nil dating experience having been unusually sheltered herself. Although very bright and perceptive, she actually was not in touch with these things having only had a limited number of friendships but almost no real dates, and also gave me a lot of confusing and bad advice and protected me as much as possible. The result was that there were in fact quite a few social things I had to learn myself as a young adult and quite a few adjustments, but I did learn quite quickly and caught up with most of it, but of cause the dating thing was more complicated and I didn’t even know that there were guys out there who could string someone along despite having all kinds of attraction and affection feelings.

    Luckily being from the religious background (although I became less extreme than my mum) I didn’t let them sleep with me so didn’t get used that way (being sensitive I’m sure that would have been a lot worse if I had) but I did get strung along quite a bit on the emotional level since first, I was in a university not career setting where there are a large number of non-ready guys, secondly I am attractive (and seemed innocent thus feminine) so had all kinds of guys, serious and otherwise, after me which made it quite confusing and difficult to decide, and thirdly, since I’d not been allowed to even like guys in high school and hadn’t even had them as friends until uni, it was a new thing to have guys around me and I got attached very easily. The most obvious was were either the very pushy ones (some of whom were not serious either and anyway I hate being pushed by someone who doesnt’ know anything about me except my looks and pushes aggressively from the moment we said “Hi” on introductions, and were in fact harassing, so they were a real turnoff) and the ones who were sometimes less pushy, seemed normal on the friendship level, but in fact when attracted sometimes had commitment problems (of which I had no understanding). Asking my only family member about this resulted only in me getting very confused and knowing I was somehow getting the wrong info. Plus, being sensitive, I got easily attached and then even if I felt a bit strung along, I had people saying that “slow” situations are good, and I was too attached to easily get out of them.

    It actually took me until recently to figure out what was going on, although I’m an intelligent person.

    Anyway, your site is very helpful but I just want people to be aware that although I’m sure the theory of people being afraid of commitment attract and get attracted to other commitment phobes and feel safe being strung along, we can’t stereotype everyone into that category and there are some unusual situations out there for this culture.

    I’ve always been really into commitment, which is another reason I didn’t easily give up on such things, since I was pretty loyal and was just too confused and lacking in info to completely understand what was going on, although I have excellent perceptions and often had gut feelings about it, mixed with other confusing gut feelings telling me something different (such as that the guy in insecure, which I thought just meant he needed some patience, as people were telling me).

    Also, when I recently lived in some developing cultures, I fit into those cultures more easily than other Westerners since I recognized some affinity there, and most younger people of these cultures were equally sheltered and innocent, even more so the women, but one difference was that when they were, their conservative parents also either arranged or closely guided them into marriages, an option that I as a Westerner did not have. So I was raised that way but was on my own in a very different world to try to find a partner.

    I understand some might try to argue with me since the current theory is all they know, but I know myself extremely well and am very analytical, so I know what is going on here.

    Anyway, your site helped me a lot in figuring out some very confusing scenarios, and being attracted I got bombarded with such things more frequently than most, which was also very hurtful and stressful.

    Having some silly people who only follow the current social theories and don’t try to think for themselves, or perhaps also project their own issues onto others, telling me that I was on some level, hidden even from myself, secretly not wanting a commitment but hoping to be strung along for the rest of my life was completely unhelpful, and it is not great to be at the receiving end of judgement calls.

    Anyway, I saw what was going on (esp with many men) immediately after reading your site a few times. So it was a relief to finally understand it.

    • Anona says:

      I think once I meantioned “religion”, most people got turned off and didn’t notice what else I was saying or the main point (that’s something with Western culture). What I was actually trying to say was that not everyone who meets unavailable guys out for ego boosts etc is doing it since they themselves don’t want to be with someone serious. Some of us (we are more rare in the West though these days) were actually so sheltered and inexperienced that it takes us a long time despite our intelligence to figure out what is really going on out there. And if we are attractive it makes it even more confusing since we then have a lot more guys of every sort after us yet we are too inexperienced to try to sort it all out. And have this innocent sort of inexperienced idea that if someone has strong feelings for us they will just work out their stuff and want to be with us. Plus all the wrong advice from others (when we are trying to catch up in our understanding of things) that “slow” things are serious and positive.

      I also didn’t realize that even if someone isn’t sleeping with you they can still use you on the emotional level to boost their egos.

      So even if I hadn’t said “religion”, that is what my meaning is. Also, some of us actually need to find someone serious since we have limited family and need one of our own, even if we don’t go broadcasting this. And since we are more sensitive and can’t handle the stress of constant stringalongs and subsequent rejections by non-serious selfish jerks.

      And as I’d said before, if a woman is attractive, she gets all kinds of stuff after her, the less serious ones often being the most visible, and a sheltered person does not have any sort of manual to sort through all this. Which is why in the cultures that tend to shelter young people, there are also arranged and parentally guided marriages (we obviously don’t have that in the West).

      • grace says:

        My family is religious and most of us are in good relationships. Even my seventeen year old niece has been in a LTR for three years.
        I’m from a non western culture and got no guidance on dating and relationships. My parents had no clue what goes on out there.
        I understand much of what you’re saying, but the answer for us is the same as it is for anyone else. We nuance it because of our religious values but we certainly need to love ourselves (not the same as being proud or arrogant), address our fears around love and relationships, have boundaries and stop seeking validation from men.
        The thing that really moved me forward was realising that while I may be unique my problems were not. There’s no mystery, normal remedy applies!

        • Mymble says:

          My mother wasn’t any good at offering advice because during my teenage years she was so depressed she had no interest in her own life let alone anyone else. My friend was orphaned before she was 12 and spent her adolescence between residential schools and a distant aunt who had no interest in her. I am sure there are great Mums out there who provide role models and are supportive confidants and advisors, but many of us didn’t have one. And religious or not we all sensitive to the pain of being used and rejected.

        • Anona says:

          It is not just about the religious family. It is a combination of things. My mum was stricter than most religious parents. The only equivalent I have seen is when I lived in the Sultanate of Oman and similar cultures. She was also very controlling and still is. And she is my only living family and I grew up in a country different from my own, in an extremely cold, aggressive and superficial culture. I figured out how to make superficial friendships here and the same technique has worked well in making REAL friendships elsewhere. Also, as I’d said, my only place for making friendships and dates before I went abroad was the university campus. I have very clear boundaries which is why I don’t put up with any signs of potential abuse, and I don’t sleep with men before marriage. These two things protect me a great deal. I also did a great deal of research trying to figure out what was wrong, since I simply did not know and meanwhile had my mother constantly trying to interfere with whatever I was trying to work out, which made things very confusing. I finally did sort some of it out when I got out of the country, since I suddenly did have guys who actually wanted to be serious in the Old World cultures I moved to, and who also did not play a certain type of mind game I found in this culture’s university campuses.

          One more thing: the first men I dated were back in my own original country where I went for second year university, and I had no problems at all with them even though I was extremely shy back then. One became my boyfriend for a little while and treated me extremely maturely. Back then I’d had no experience at all with men, yet I had no problems with them. I didn’t know any methods or techniques but simply acted myself and treated them as I would any of my other friends, and they in turn respected me. I also made many very sincere regular friendships back there, despite my shyness, which the people of my birth country couldn’t care less about. After this experience, when moving back to this other country where I’d grown up, I suddenly started to have these weird male experiences and had no idea what they meant since not only was my experience limited, but the men even at the university back in my birth country did not behave that way at all. Having had no experience I asked others for input and did a great deal of research, and found no answers at all.

          In fact, I first started to realize what was going on when I got out of that culture again a few years ago to spend a few years overseas. Naturally, there are jerks everywhere, but I did not encounter the situations I had encountered with men back in that country. This was in a number of eastern cultures. I also did discover how one can be strung along on the emotional level from finally finding books on the topic while overseas.

          Everyone has their own story to tell, and this is the reason for mine. First of all, I seem to have been quite attractive to men with good looks and the innocent (which seems feminine) personality, despite my intelligence and strength. So I have always had many more men after me than the average female which makes for a lot of garbage to sort through along with the decent guys. And of course many men who are obviously of the type I’d not give the time of day to and who are extremely easy to figure out, but whom I’ve still seen other women going for. I also manage to avoid the problem of being used physically since I have certain values which preclude that (but they are personal, and others can do as they wish, but they suit me since I’m sensitive). And another problem was the university campus setting and being a “real catch” there for the above reasons, but being also a serious person, which means many men will freak out when they dont get what they want and take off if I’ve not already ditched them. I dont see this as a self esteem issue on my part. It is about clashing boundaries and also protects me from being used on that level. Men like that are simply good riddance in my personal opinion. Another problem was the culture. I knew it as soon as I left the country again for the first country I lived in overseas. In fact, locals there were surprised at what I had been through in that other country since their men for all their hangups dont behave in that way.

          It is totally okay if you havent had my experience or the exact same background and can’t relate.

          OH, one more thing. I may have a religion but I actually don’t like many Christian men. I believe in total equality so I have no sympathy with men who use religiob to pressure for submission. So they are not my type and I went mostly secular. This is where I had had no experience and was in deep water trying to sort it out. This was my choice though. I’m sure if I’d wanted a man from my religion, and had put up with that as well, I’d have been married long ago, but I also did not value myself only in terms of being able to marry and having had many choices up until now I was also in no rush. I’m an academic and a traveller so I dont have to just find a guy.

          And what is more, it takes time to learn and figure things out. These things we learn by trial and error. Had I thought that being strung along emotionally or being strongly reacted to by campus guys when I expressed my physical boundaries was okay, I’d never have tried to get the answers to all this. Being attractive one may have to work through a few more jerks in order to sort out one’s approach and understand what is out there. I think I have done extremely well in that I seldom fell for any of the guys after me, and was able to look at almost all of them pretty objectively (which some girls have to do if we are being potentially harassed and bombarded). I don’t get interested in men very easily for that reason, although I have numerous male friends anywhere. This is not a boast, it can actually be very stressful at times unless one finds respectful men and we cant control who we are going to meet, only our response to it.

          I appreciate you people trying to answer but I do find some of the answers so far quite judgemental.

          I know I am an original thinker who has had a very unusual life. And I’m probably luckier than most in some respects. I only made comments here to discuss and learn, not to be criticized.

          I’ve only had two relationships in my life, but numerous friendships and dates or men wanting to date who I just got sick of since as I’d said, I don’t appreciate having someone pursue me relentlessly based on a 5 minute encouter during which we either said “Hi” or nothing at all.

          All the best. I will know better not to reveal anything I myself am working out in the future. But I do certainly appreciate this website as being very informative and intelligently written. And I rather admire the person who writes the articles; they are quite good.

  20. runnergirl says:

    After a two year hiatus from men and a two year steady BR no BS diet, I’ve been in the dating pool, mostly online, for about 10 months and every single thing you advise regarding dating is totally spot on. I don’t build sandcastles any more. A guy is just another human being, not my savior, and not my daddy. Thanks to you and BR, I’ve flushed red flag guys and I’ve decided when I’m not interested even though there aren’t flaming red flags. Most importantly, because I don’t build sandcastles, it is okay if by the third date he’s looking to get laid and I’m not. That’s okay. He can still get laid just not with me. I’ve been having fun, even on the dates from hell, because I’m firmly and clearly understanding dating as a discovery phase. That, for me, was a giant turning point. I don’t have to marry them, I don’t even have to see them again, and I get to decide if I.LIKE.HIM. For the most part, they mostly like me, but…here’s the but…I get to decide if I like him. Boy do I agree: Don’t bank on a guy. I have a great story about going with my gut. A girlfriend from the gym introduced me to her long time guy friend. 6 foot 6 inches, wash board abs, total hunk, and funny too. Ticked all the boxes. Something was off though. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I was uncomfortable. I listened to my gut and declined further invites. Come to find out, his sis kicked him out, and he is looking for a place to live for $500 bucks a month. This is a 60 yro guy, not a 20-something. Rent in this neck of the woods for a studio apt start at $2000. I told my friend that if he finds somewhere to live around here for $500 bucks, I’ll send my daughter there. End of. My life could have gone down the pan if I didn’t listen to my gut. Thank you Nat. I think the turning point for me was realizing I can trust me. That’s BIG. And I’m eternally grateful.

    • Lucy says:

      Wow. Though not directed at me, the first part of what you wrote helped me figure out the online dating stuff. Thanks. :)

      • runnergirl says:

        Lucy, Natalie’s dating advice has been the best ever for me whether in real life or online. I don’t spend much time in cyberspace with them. It’s meet in person or flush. That boundary pretty much sifts out the cyber-space fantasy sandcastle dudes. Let’s see the guy behind the curtain! I also don’t put too much weight on their profiles, that is unless there are obvious red flags. Anybody can write anything. It’s their actions that count.

        • Lucy says:

          @runnergirl – Thanks. That reassures me about the whole process. How long/how many messages should I give it before I decide they’re wasting my time? Should I give them maybe 1-2 weeks? :)

  21. Jennifer says:

    Have you heard of Rori Raye? This is what she advocates. She calls it circular dating.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Rori Raye also advocates fawning over men and twisting inside out to keep them. Ugh!

      • runnergirl says:

        I’m not following RR. I read a few things and went eeww! After twisting myself into the best pretzel ever and taking two years to get un-twisted, I’m not interested in a guy who wants a pretzel, a doormat, a FBG, a option or anything along the lines of what RR suggests.

  22. Lilly says:

    I’m nowhere near ready to jump back into the dating pool, but I can relate this post to what I did in the past and it helped me to see where I went wrong. I was definitely operating on a bullshit frequency when I began the disastrous relationship with the ex AC/MM. I blindly entered into it with barely any consideration for anyone, least of all myself. Future faking may have been his modus operandi, but future forecasting was definitely mine. I can see now that it was based on both fantasy and fear. I wanted an escape route and I also wanted someone to meet my unmet and unexamined childhood needs. Enter the seemingly supportive, caring, older married professor, a man that I had already put up on a pedestal because he was my “amazingly brilliant” thesis supervisor. I started building sandcastles immediately and placed all my hopes, expectations and self-esteem on someone who was married! Not only married, but also, as it turned out, devastatingly cruel and uncaring. It was really only a matter of time before it all fell apart and when it did I was, I still am, completely crushed. I see now that I should have paid attention, listened to all those nagging doubts, and run away as fast as possible. I did set myself up for disappointment, all those hopes and expectations for a fantasy figure who actually possessed none of the qualities I dreamt up for him (well at least not for me)! I’m really not sure if I will ever date again, but if I do I’ll be better equipped because I’m addressing the fall-out and working on myself now. It’s difficult and still so very painful. I’m finding it so hard to let go of my lost baby. I feel so open and exposed at the moment and it hurts badly, but I also feel there is light at the end of the tunnel. No more relationship insanity for me.

    • selkie says:


      “Future forecasting” a great description for us dreamers. It’s going to be sunny and warm, flowers will grow and the milk and honey will abound! Oops, thunderstorms caught us unaware while we were dreaming of roses and daisies instead of actually paying attention to the clouds gathering in the distance.

      I’m glad you see light at the end of the tunnel.

      • Lilly says:


        Yes and giant Cumulonimbus clouds they were too! If only we’d paid attention to the trouble lurking inside of those. Still, better late than never. I’m an eternal optimist and have faith that I won’t always be hurting so much, but it seems to be taking a long,long time.

  23. At Peace says:

    I am dating myself and feel really good about it.

    When I was dating men, one of the things that I absolutely HATED was when I would tell female friends and they would say: “This could be the ONE!” about a guy whom I may have gone out with only once!

    Since I am venting….

    I have been participating in meetup group activities and am totally put off with the 50 something year old women who act like they are desperate to have a man, or behave like silly teenaged girls when they encounter a young good looking guy. Example, last week I went to the movies with a meetup acquaintance who is in her 50s like me. As we gave our ticket to the 20 something attendant, he directed us to the appropriate theater and spoke to us in a VERY deep voice. Yes, his voice was sexy, but NO, I did not want to sleep with him. My meetup acquaintance kept going on and on about how she would have liked to have sex with him (insisting that I wanted to as well). She even made an offhanded comment to him stating that she wanted to date him and have sex with him. Needless to say I was embarrassed for her because he was obviously not interested in her, and acted politely uneasy as a result of her immature behavior.

    • paolo says:

      At Peace…These woman sound awefull..No class. I’d avoid them like the plauge..No wonder you were embarassed to be around them.

      • EllyB says:

        “Class” or not is pretty much irrelevant for me. This woman’s behavior, however, was very disrespectful, humiliating and possibly predatory towards the younger guy. Yes, there are women out there who ARE like that. It’s like those old guys who discuss every young woman as a potential sex partner (yuck – even if some deluded people might consider this kind of behavior “classy” in men).

        • Mymble says:

          That’s what I was thinking, EllyB, sexual harassment is sexual harassment. It is made worse when it is inflicted by someone in power (a customer) upon someone with little power who risks their job if they speak out.

        • paolo says:

          No class at all.

          • Revolution says:

            Paolo’s right. No class. Women like that make me cringe. I wish there was a third gender that we could regulate them to so that they didn’t muck up the “women” gene pool.

            Forgive me, but this type of classless “cougarish” mentality (not the act of going for younger men, but the cheap way in which they go about it) seems to be more of an American phenomenon. I’m American, so don’t get all up in arms. I’m simply saying that I don’t see this in the “older” female relatives in my family, being from Egypt and Italy (my generation is the first in the US). These women seem to KNOW that a woman’s value and experience makes her sex appeal more pungent as she ages. They carry themselves that way too, and it’s hot as hell.

            It’s oceans away from tube tops and getting wasted on too many white wine spritzers before trolling arcades for dates.

            Ladies, let’s pick our role models wisely. Sophia Loren would never do that shit.

    • April says:

      At Peace, I have a 50 yr old friend who is like this. She is determined to find man and has been through so many bad situations because of her dating frenzy that all of us who are friends with her are put off and kind of disgusted. She is also a huge gossip and only seems interested in finding out what I’m doing with dating and men. I guess since I’m not dating now, I’m not as interesting to her and I don’t hear from her as much.

  24. Tinkerbell says:

    Hi All, I’m back.

    Peanut. It seems to you that no one loves or likes you because you don’t love or like yourself. If you did, honey, you would not think so negatively and downgrade yourself like you have done. When you don’t have self-esteem, others are able to pick it up. Especially men. They will either freeze you out, or even worse, use and take advantage of you because you don’t think anything of yourself which makes them feel that they can treat you any way they like. You absolute must love Peanut first. You mentioned that you are pretty and smart and you value these qualities. But do you REALLY? Dig deep and answer that question. I’ve felt the same as you for many years. I told myself I was pretty and smart. But, my behavior did not reflect this belief and I knew that I had deep feelings of inferiority. Somehow, after much work on myself I accept who I am and finally feel comfortable with who I am. When you get there I assure you, your life will get better and people will react to you more positively. Explore how you can reinvent YOU to your own satisfaction really and truly down deep. Good luck, fellow BR lady.

    • paolo says:

      Tinkerbell that’s really good what you said to Peanut.

    • yoghurt says:

      Great answer tinkerbell

    • Peanut says:


      You are right. Also, the things I think I fancy in myself are superficial things. I need to work on my character. I am not ready to date. I’m angry and frustrated that this is the case. But, I’m just not ready.

  25. Tired says:

    I went away over weekend with my mates and on the fri night i felt really self conscious about myself . It affected the way i came across then you notice it and then it gets worse all in my head ! It really is a case of being comfatable in youre own skin . Also i thought im not smiling im just standing here looking unaproachable , plus i dont make it easy for blokes to talk to me . It must be hard for them to just come up and start taliking to someone . So sat night i smiled more and made the effort to talk and i chatted with loads of peeps . Not interested in any as i know im not ready but it i made a effort . We all get negative days and you musnt give up Peanut . Most of the realationships going on around me not that great enjoy your freedom and the opp to do what ever you like when you like . When you feel and more importantly arent searching for it your relaxed attitude will shine through . You will shine through . Do something today that make you feel good about being you . Im having a lay in and a do nothing morning . P.s its snowing soon warm bed it is :)

    • Peanut says:


      I certainly project a negative, haughty, superior attitude. My ex loved it. Yet, he was a lunatic. Healthier people don’t respond the same and I get angry. I feel so insecure inside I feel the need to put on pissed off pants as to not show vulnerability.

      And, I am going to read some nice material and get a good night’s rest!

  26. Tired says:

    I think we think and analise to much . I really do believe you got to go with the flow but have the red flag detector on silent in background when dating again . We pull every thing a man says or does apart . They dont think they do or they dont . Its only the players or shadies who real of streams of words and texrs etc to get ya hooked . And because its a force ten attention hurricane that hits us it knocks us off are feet . Nxt time round im gonna go with flow , not get my hopes up or doom him bf i given him time . Ill just go by his actions and see how it goes . I have come along way and if ive learnt owt its how to at least be brave . So if he turns out to be a ac in hiding ill be brave enough yo go na not for me goodbye however much i like him or not .

  27. RachelC says:

    I’m going to be dating my self esteem for a while. I have finally realised that the AC that I had a non relationship with for over a year is a (excuse the language ) cock.
    I can’t believe that I have allowed him to slowly break down the very little self esteem I had in the first place.
    Thank you this post I know that I really have to love me alot more :)

  28. Angelus says:

    For some reason I can’t seem to progress past the first date. Only just now someone I went on a date with last week emailed me telling me he had changed his mind about a second date. Talk about a slap in the face. Just quite annoyed!

    • Magnolia says:

      That’s the thing – the point of Natalie’s post. Someone deciding not to go on a second date with you doesn’t have to be interpreted as a slap in the face.

      That’s someone who knows their own mind and is communicating to you about it: so much better than stringing you along or just not calling and making you wonder, if you’re the type to wonder.

      And you don’t know anything about someone you’ve only met once, so maybe it’s a good thing he didn’t follow up: maybe (as has happened to me) you’re clearly wanting different things (as in you, a relationship, and him, a shag) and he can see that, so isn’t going to waste either of your time.

  29. Sandra81 says:

    Generally, I don’t feel ready to date when I’m just fresh out of a break-up or disappointment. During those days, my mood for romance = 0. 😛 A couple of times, though, it happened for me to meet new people, by chance, as I was struggling to move on. These people pursued pretty hard, but I was not in the mood, and I was warning them that I was not over an ex. But, for some mysterious reasons, this made them pursue even harder, to the point of becoming pushy,and consequently stirring even more negative reactions in me. Is someone’s vulnerability/reluctance such a turn-on for some people? Because I’m sure that in normal conditions, or even if they simply tried to move slower, I might have given them a chance. What do you think, ladies?

    • Lilia says:

      Sandra, I think the ones that get turned on by reluctance are just in it for the sport. Meaning they want the thrill of conquest and will slowly or not so slowly disappear after you´ve slept with them or got emotionally involved (I´m saying this from my own experience, unfortunately).

      • Sandra81 says:

        That is a high possibility too. In my cases, one of them was a friend’s brother, though, so he may not have done anything to hurt me or jeopardize the relationship with his sister, and the other one looked like that type of guy who was pretty desperate to find a girl, and who always complains that nobody appreciates a nice guy like him, and when I was more firm, yet polite, in rejecting him, he had a reaction like “who do you think you are?!”. Well, perhaps it was also a matter of low self-esteem on their behalf?

    • val8rie says:

      the chase, pursuit of something unattainable…could it be a simple case of wanting something one can’t have?

      or possibly, if they can manage to pursuade you, it boosts their self-esteem?

      and isn’t it always the case, human nature, the minute we get what it is we thought we wanted, we no longer want it!

  30. maya says:

    Would it be okay to say that at 46 to be, I am just too lazy to date? I can’t handle the drama or the disappointment.

    • Little Star says:

      Ha, exactly how I feel:) Especially now, cold outside and I am too lazy/not ready to arrange dates etc, mostly asking myself question: “IF it really worth it to start dating again?” After all disappointment and pain I went through with two ACs, I feel like giving up! Maya we probably not ready and still need time to heal ourselves?

  31. Tabitha says:

    This was a really interesting post Natalie. The thing is though, it was HIM that told me the bus was going to Relationship Heaven, via Butterflies in the Stomach Land. I had no reason to disbelieve him, I accepted all his declarations of affection, wanting a serious relationship, all the future faking, because I had never come across it before. When he started making the detour to Celibacyville and Ambiguity City I kept trying to get off, but he convinced me to stay on the ride for a few more stops. Eventually I had to literally jump off the bus, and he still followed me around for a while before I could shake him with NC.
    It saddens me that my innocence is lost and I no longer give credibility to what people tell me about their feelings. I am nowhere ready to date as my ability to trust is virtually destroyed by this experience.

  32. Mumsthwd says:

    Good article. Came at a good time too. I just went thru a round (November-march) of meeting a phycopath, an alcoholic, and a man that was mentally grasping at everything as well as living with his mother.
    I am not sure if I feel I am not emotionally ready anymore to date or if I am just exhausted. It has become hard to even be hopeful when dating when it seems that the “norm” is so unhealthy in one significant way or another. Either way… I need a break.

    • Allison says:


      This is not the “norm.” If this is what you keep encountering, then I would honestly address why you are attracted to these people. There are a lot of good people out there that do not come with that type of baggage.

  33. noquay says:

    As the days get longer, I am trying to get myself back on line after a nine month dating hiatus and go to events here just to practice my BR and social skills. Sometimes I feel I perhaps think a tad too highly of myself as my womyn friend keep trying to get to either give up for good or accept grossly sub par men and settle. I do give a strong “go away” vibe and supposedly intimidate locals that are unkempt, are known to have drug/criminal/domestic violence issues or are deadbeats. A good thing too as such men are serious problems and no woman should date them. I do make eye contact and will initiate conversations with men I am attracted to but the bad boys need to stay away. As a lone exotic looking female in a small place, I am very vulnerable as folk know I am alone, know when and where I work, where I live. I live my lifestyle to the fullest as a full time academic, small farmer, ultrarunner, and outspoken environmentalist in an area where mining is worshipped like god. Still I often do feel ignored and invisible as I am much older and very different culturally, valueswise, socioeconomically than the other single folk in this town and it is a very lonely place to be but desperately taking whatever is not a solution to that. After seriously checking out doable options, the job market for a senior level academics, my mortgage vs the current value of my home, my need to be able to support my slowly dying dad (the last of family), the most sensible option for my long term future is to put up with life here till I am 60, stick it out teaching though my love of teaching died over a year ago. Not sure if I am ready to date again or not but will give it a try in hopes that there is a well educated, attractive, healthy retiree out there who would appreciate a brown, brainy kick ass babe with good farming and outdoor skills.
    @Peanut, I must respectfully disagree with previous posters that suggested dating dudes you feel little/nothing for in order to assuage loneliness. One, if they are not a fit for you, you will feel just as alone with them as without them. Two, being with someone you do not want for the sake of attention is kinda using them and ultimately causing a lot of hurt. My at work AC did that to me for two years and would probably still be doing so had he not been caught with another woman. Being subjected to ambiguity, hot/cold behavior, emotional dishonesty is a horrid place to be. Find new places to find men that are up to par, no bars, clubs, and involve yourself in non men centered activities as well. Your friends may have dates but are they good dates? Are they happy with who theyre with or just marking time?

    • Mymble says:

      I would tend to agree with that. I have spent a lot of time in relationships which deep down I knew were going nowhere. Passing time candidates. They were mostly nice guys and treated me okay but my heart was never in it. I did it through my fear of being alone, my depression/low mood issues, poor self esteem (thinking that that was the best I could hope for). They were not wasted years and I had many good times with them, but I always had a feeling that this was not my real life, that my real life would begin….sometime..when I met Mr Right. I was a lazy and in a comfort zone with them. Also because I knew I wasn’t deeply attached it was not threatening to me, I did not have fear of losing them. Thing is though I missed out on real intimacy, there was no depth and a certain lack of mutual respect. Sooo now I have to try to do this work now and it is HARD. It is in the past now and I can’t allow myself to drown in regret and self blame but sometimes it’s hard not to. I am not sure how to address my issues and have been at a very low ebb recently. Dating isn’t an option though I have friends urging me to get out there. I think it would either end in total disaster or I’d find myself in another meh type EU relationshit.
      Good luck with the dating anyway Noquay and you never know there may be someone suitable there for you. I do hope so and one thing is for sure no–one knows what the future holds.

  34. Two points made in this post relate to me very well.

    1. First boyfriend and I had been in a relationship for a few months and I already started future fantasising (egged on by his future faking, no doubt) and started imagining a life together. Kids, marriage, wedding, “growing old together” – the whole lot!

    Little did I realise that none of this would come to be because he would turn out to be a lying, cheating psychopath.

    The future fantasies are also what hurts the most because now that perfectly crafted future just simply fell apart at a moment’s notice. I think I should have definitely given him a longer chance to unfold and show me who he really was and not got carried away with the ‘perfect romance’ saga so soon into the relationship.

    I have since learnt to lower my expectations and not make such a big deal of the one guy.

    He also cut down what little self-esteem I had which definitely added to the burden on our relationship. I needed him to support the sadness in my life and replace it with happiness. He did. For a very very short time.

    Now I realise that the reason it is taking me months to get over a 1-year-24/7 relationship is because I went in too early and put too much hope into the relationship simply because he was my first.

    2. As soon as I broke up with the above mentioned AC I started getting approached almost immediately by many more men in a few months than I had in years previously. I think I definitely gave off a vulnerable vibe that men were just drawn to.

    I met a druggie and a ‘nice guy’ who both pursued for a very long time and I kept them both hanging on because I so desperately needed a replacement for love.

    Then one time, when I was waiting for the druggie to text back (soon after the first date) and he didn’t reply, I freaked out and started imaging all the horrible things about me which might have driven him away. This was the first warning sign that made me wake up. I was putting wayy too much into this!

    He did eventually text back, but I said no to the third date. It was enough that I had already piled so much attention onto him.

    I am also seeing the nice guy only as a friend and have refused further dates. I need time alone and I need time to focus on myself. It is scary to think that I am giving away my time while I’m waiting because what if I lose out on a good opportunity? But maybe the time I take out from the dating pool now will be worth it in the future.

  35. LIFE GOES ON says:

    Oh my gosh! This is exactly what I needed to read. It’s been a year now since the break up and I’m doing a lot better now, content and just enjoying the simple things in life BUT the thought of dating again does freak me out a little bit, even marriage. I guess it’s normal to have fears of the same things happening again and I know that I can’t go around thinking every guy is the same… but I feel scared. So I am obviously not ready to date/ be in a relationship yet. I feel like I just need time to be alone, to enjoy my family and friends. I no longer feel hurt and definitely have no desire to be with the asshole again, but I just feel that I owe it to myself to be ME again. I suppose when I am ready, I won’t have this anxiety about it.

  36. Gillian says:

    Every night I have been putting off getting back on the online dating sites. I am in day 66 of NC and the roller coaster is slowing down. I cry and let the grief come even though my logical mind is telling me he was not good, etc, etc. I’ve been riding it out. So, it’s time to get back in the saddle and I have been putting it off and even though I may not be fully ready, I am ready enough, I can tell.

    AC/Narc was the first guy I dated after a 4 year grieving period for my deceased hubby. We were only married for a year!! I have a great story!!!!!!!!! I fell right into it with assclown and then he threw me the friend card which I took for nearly a year!! Finally he hooked up with a woman 20 years younger and that was my blessing to find NC.

    I’m different now and I have to keep reminding myself of that. Dating is a skill, like any other skill and after being married at 18 years old to my first husband I had not built the muscle. I’m wondering now if I was just lazy and grabbed on to the first guy who came along!

    Anyway, I am a changed woman. I have decided to be a hottie (whatever that looks like). I was attracting 70year olds (I’m 56) up to a few weeks ago and had to take a look at myself as to why I was doing that. Because, I WAS THE ONE DOING IT, it was ME thinking that I was not good enough for a real relationship and so I was playing it safe. I was the UNAVAILABLE ONE. I really was playing it SAFE by being around those men, like I’d be the younger woman they were instantly attracted to and I certainly wouldn’t want to be with them because they were too old/in debt/liars etc etc.

    I’m now looking at men who are not drop dead gorgeous, but have the values and qualities that I enjoy being with and are my age or younger. I see how much physical attraction can get in the way at the beginning and jumping into bed with someone after two dates is a big mistake for me.

    Wish me luck ladies, I’m about to re-write my profile and head back out there – a new me with a different attitude!! I’m going exploring on the dating sites and then I am going to see how I behave with real men!!

    OMG…men have been so sparse in my life for 5 years and it was all my doing!! Thank you for that revelation!

    • Good for you Gillian!

      I hope you really go for it and get the best kind of guy that a woman like you deserves after all the crap you’ve been through! :)

  37. Anona says:

    If someone is with a bf who is not sure whether or not he can continue but who is very difficult (stresswise) to break up with, does it make sense to date other guys at the same time (while of course being honest with them about the situation)? It’s hard to do if one is focussed on a guy, but I could push myself to do it.

    • grace says:

      No it doesn’t make sense.
      It’s this type of thinking that’s screwing things up for you.
      Break up with the boyfriend, take time to grieve the relationship, learn the lessons, take a breather and then date. It’s the right thing to do for them and for you.
      I would be pissed if my boyfriend started seeing other women because he was too scared to break up with me.

      • FX says:

        I agree Grace. I have to admit I was thinking of starting to look around while still with the recent bf at the end… In the past, that is what I would have done but with my BR education, I didn’t. I think the r/s was running out of steam/forward progression and we both knew it but didn’t speak it. I now think that starting to be open to other possibilities was exactly what the bf was doing that I sensed in my gut and made me end it. I am actually relieved that I did react so strongly because otherwise we may have just danced around each other inauthentically for quite a while. It is never esteeming to be untrue to yourself or knowingly to others either.

  38. yoghurt says:

    I do this.

    I’ve just reached the end of an ‘episode’ in this direction. About a year ago I had a drunken snog with a bloke who was pretty nice to me even though I was drunken enough to snog a random bloke. He said that he wasn’t looking for something because he was just out of a longish relationship, but got my number from my mate and started texting me.

    I went with it (with half an eye on my BR training) because he seemed like a nice bloke and wasn’t busting my boundaries or making any dodgy suggestions. About six months ago I corralled him into a coffee because I was sick of the texting – we met up, had a nice chat and he said that he was interested in me (I replied ‘nice try buster’). I then expected to either meet up again or for it to drop but, no, it was back to the texting. I started to find this really irritating, especially the way that the conversation could go dead for weeks at a time.

    Anyhoo – feels silly writing all this, really, because it was so much of a nothing – last weekend I went out with some friends and saw him. What a big fat FLUSH that was! In fairness, he was drunk (which never brings out anyone’s best side) but he was alternately really touchy-feely all-overish, slapping me down for things that I said (he kept telling me that I was ‘such a drama queen’ for saying things like “I don’t want this glass of neat vodka, thanks, please can I have my lemonade back?”) or elusive – he’d run off, come back, be all-overish… it was very tiresome. And creepy. Ugh. Ugh.

    (It also occurred to me that his behaviour that night was exactly like his texting behaviour – but it just looked STRANGE in rl. But that’s a topic for another post).

    Anyway, having kept a part of myself objective about this for the purposes of observation over the last year, I noticed the following:

    a) I was always ‘filling in the gaps’. Last week I realised that I didn’t know him from Adam, I really didn’t. Yet I’d drawn alsorts of conclusions about his behaviour from his texts and meeting him TWICE.

    b) Most of these conclusions were born of explanations as to why he wasn’t displaying very much interest, like “He’s just out of a relationship and he’s SELF-AWARE and RESPONSIBLE enough not to leap into anything new straight away”. As opposed to the obvious reason, which was that he just wasn’t that interested.

    c) I tended to get angsty about it and/or get in touch with him when I had something big to deal with – like when I was planning to give up smoking, or – recently – trying to make a decision about moving house. Every time I’ve come up against a tough situation my fallback position has been to go “oh, if only it’d work out with x, that’d sort this ALL out”. It’s like I was looking for a short-cut out of having to live my life or dealing with things.

    d) I felt loads better for making a decision about it – even though that decision wasn’t really the one I’d hoped for. And I’ve since gone on to make lots of other decisions that I was putting off.

    e) I hadn’t realised, until it was gone, how much responsibility I was taking on myself about it. Oh, how I beat myself up for that ‘nice try buster’ (which, actually, was fair enough after *I’D* had to hassle him into it)! How I agonised over every syllable and smiley of every text! I’d rather not date than take on another massive load of hassle.

    So, for such a minor incident, it’s been highly educational. And I feel genuinely and truly happy to be on my own rather than mired down in a Bog Of Nothing.

    • Jule says:

      OH Yoghurt, I love your posts and what you wrote is SO SIMILAR to my AC experience last summer. If I saw him in person, I’m sure he would be drunk and doing the same assclown stuff he always did via text. Good for you to recognize it, learn from it and move on. I am also genuinely happy to be free of that and dating myself.

  39. pinkpanther says:

    I’ve just started going to a bunch of meetups and I am meeting some seriously fun, interesting, nice, attractive women. This is so much better for me than online dating ever was. I can be myself in the meetups and being a curious person it’s just plain fun to talk to strangers, and develop all kinds of relationships. I haven’t met my lover yet, but I”m pretty sure I will, and I think one of the coolest parts of being in the meetups is that I can even check her out over some time without it having to be some kind of overt dating screening process. Plus I get to observe all kinds of fascinating things like how she relates to other people. Seems a lot less phony than going on some computer date where everyone has an agenda. At the very least, I’m doing some fun things I like with new people.

    • intuitive says:

      Great point about how meetups and other non-dating social situations help you to evaluate someone with more objectivity.

      When I think about how the bad dates and relationships I’ve had would have interacted with people at a meetup, it hits me like a ton of bricks how I would’ve had zero problem rejecting them.

      • Anona says:

        I totally agree. I don’t computer date(it seems quite unwise and also unsafe for women and I don’t even see how one can “fall” for someone only through virtual reality) and would rather meet people just as friends in social settings and see how things evolve and also what they are like in groups, etc. I suppose I also am not so into just dating people, I mean I’d rather make many friendships and treat them as friends and then see what happens over a little time. Campus settings were not the best for finding serious potentials this way, but there’s all kinds of other ways to meet people socially in groups. I guess my only problem with it personally is if guys go after me only wanting to check me out physically/romantically from the outset rather than just thinking of me as a friend and giving it some time to also see if I like them. I feel disrespected if I’m only a potential date right from the outset — I’m a person. And I’m in the habit of seeing men the same way when I first meet them. So I must clash with the entire dating scene, but this is me.

  40. Espoir says:

    A beautiful video for my BR friends


    • Fifi says:

      Thanks Espoir, lots of interesting videos there, perfect Sunday browsing:)

    • selkie says:

      Thanks Espoir. That was a tranquil message to start off my Sunday morning, to just relax into myself and quit trying so hard.

  41. Confused123 says:

    Reading all the comments on this topic made me think of one of my favorite movie scenes of all time.
    Dating is hard and brutal sometimes…If you don’t need ribs and ice-cream you are good to date. I’m still licking my fingers from by last pound of ribs…Enjoy ladies..

  42. Tinkerbell says:

    Thanks paolo and yoghurt. I think oftentimes the answers to our dilemnas are really simple and basic. We, as women, make things complicated which heightens our anxiety about ourselves and how we’re coming across to others.

  43. NK says:

    I am not ready to date. I have now committed a year to dating myself, no sex and no flirting. I have decided to share this experience in a blog: http://onlyearsex.blog.com/

    Take a look. I am sharing a day by day report of my experiences without dating and sex. I hope you find it useful/entertaining/a good time waster! :)

  44. Eve says:

    I discovered Baggage Reclaim about a year and a half ago, when I discovered that my pattern was dating narcissists and psychopaths. I thought they were awesome guys and blamed myself for everything until I discovered that there was more to it than just “things not working out”. I read everything I could about narcissistic personality disorder, codependency, went to therapy,and I still read BR daily. I just wanted to share my recent experiences with you.
    Since I had my “epiphany”, I discovered that I had been living my life totally clueless and without boundaries. So with the help of BR I did develop boundaries and I managed to recover (still recovering)from being messed around by an NPD and stalked. From then on I met all kinds of guys and went out on a lot of dates. I haven’t had any pathetic experiences from the day I decided enough was enough. I met some decent guys, and although I didn’t fall in love, my faith in men is somewhat restored, as I see that not all men are narcissists and some of them are even men of great character. However, there was one recent dubious experience, which only served to show me that I have changed, or at least I believe I have. I have known this guy for a couple of years and have always thought he was hot. He pursued me before, but we did’t get together until two months ago. To be honest, I had sex with him due to a long period of abstinence, and it was sort of ok since we had a sort of friendship before that. I wanted nothing more, but then he pursued me even harder, trying to convince me to give him a chance and basically behaving like an angel. I decided to give it a try, since I felt I was able to act in my best interest. For three weeks he was soooo infatuated with me, wanted to be with me 24/7, treated me like a princess, pampered me and…basically future faked me 😀 The thing is, THIS TIME, I was completely aware of that and I kept a diary of “amber flags” which in fact turned out to be red flags. He made refferences to the future, babies etc, which did ring an alarm bell, but I decided to stick around some longer so I could be certain my fears weren’t just internal.And I wanted to make sure I hadn’t become obsessed with diagnosing all men as narcissists, unjustly :D(although I could have safely done it in this case as he is actually a celebrity who takes any chance to appear in the media for whatever reason) When he finally started playing hot and cold and basically twisting around everything he had previously said,and trying to CHOP my self-esteem, a DIFFERENT THING HAPPENED. I JUST LOST INTEREST. I litterally told him that his new behaviour was not what I had signed up for, thanked him for our good times and asked him not to call me again. He was shocked. “You mean you relly don’t care???” Kudos to me for paying attention to red flags, keeping my imagination under control and not ignoring my gut feeling. And, also for trying to give him a chance, to begin with. He pursued some more and blew hot, but I remained firm and stopped responding, only to find out from a friend that he actually has a reputation of being a womanizing assclown, which I had somehow not seen while being “friends” with him for years.I am actually very satisfied with my progress as it took me just a week to recover from this, and I even managed to opt out in a rather polite way, without wanting to tell him anything about himself. Thank you NML!!! <3 This is all your work! I think I am becoming emotionally available and I am no longer attracted to narcissists. (knock on wood!)

    • Mymble says:

      I liked reading your story.
      You sound so cool about it, I hope that stuck a pin in his over inflated balloon of an ego, although more importantly you kept yourself from getting run over by him. Who cares about him really, it’s YOU that is the star of your life.

      • Mymble says:

        In fact I would like to add

        • Tinkerbell says:

          It does feel great to have “found” yourself, to know what you want and what you will no longer accept. Several days ago I got a call on my cell phone from the exACMM. I’d had him blocked from both my phones and he did not reach me for over a year. We inadvertently ran into each other passing by in our vehicles, but that was all. When I hear the signal and looked at my cell, seeing his number I was really shocked. I never would have thought he would try to contact me after so much time has gone by. The very next day I went to my cell phone and land line provider and had him blocked all over again. I learned at that time that blocking stays in effect for only 90 days. Since it had been much longer than that he was able to get through to me. A few days later he called again on my land line but I saw on my phone the signal revealing that the call had been blocked. Talk about feeling victorious! This was a typical case of a narcissist checking kn to see if he can get back “in”. No way, and now he knows it. The only thing he can do now is show up at my home but I seriously doubt that. Then again, I seriously doubted that he would chance his arm after all this time. It feels so good to know that I will never give me another chance. I’m not that person anymore. But even more importantly, I know that having a wonderful man in my life now has nothing to do with my decision to block the deadbeat. Even if I were feeling like the loneliest, saddest wretch, I would never go back to his bs again. I’m sure he is still married and not a thing has changed. Where do these creeps get off thinking they can serenade you back into their lives on a whim and their timetable as if you have been in a physical, spiritual, and mentally incapacitated vacuum since they’ve been gone. It’s unbelievable. The nerve!

          • runnergirl says:

            Hey Tinkerbell, welcome back. I hope things are going well with the new bf? Your post made me laugh. The exact same thing just happened to me last week. I was shocked too even though I know better. Even though I don’t have a wonderful man in my life and even if I was feeling like the loneliest, saddest wretch, I won’t go back either. You expressed my indignation precisely. It’s like I’ve been in a closet just waiting for him to pull me out and play with me again? Selkie summed it up: Put the jack-in-the box back in their plinkity plink box. These cell providers need to come up with something better than a 90 day block. Some of need to sign up for the cockroach plan. And, the ex-cockroach also called on a restricted number, which I know not to pick up. Good for you Tinker. We stand victorious. We aren’t that woman anymore. I’d rather be on a date from hell.

            Thank you Natalie and BR.

            • Tinkerbell says:

              Hey Runner. Keep strong, girl. I gotta say your handling of online dating seems to be pretty cool. You seem to be having fun as you discover new types of creeps that you didn’t know existed. Or maybe you haven’t, yet. Good luck and keep your head on straight.

    • Tabitha says:

      Eve! thanks so much for posting this. You have given me hope :)

    • Anon says:

      Great Story!

  45. lo j says:

    It’s so nice to read others comments and see how we are so similar. :-) I can relate to so many. I am so content right now, I wonder if I have a need for a romantic relationship at times, then I remember how it feels to cuddle and caress and snuggle and I don’t think my friends/family/coworkers love me that much. One of my female coworkers massaged my shoulders briefly the other day and I got cold chills. (non sexual of course) and she said “oh honey, if I buy you a massage will you go!!” I am touch deprived. LOL!
    One of my favorite quotes: “She waited a really long time for someone to save her until one day, she decided to save herself. It was a very good day.”
    I am loving living right now, perhaps for the first time ever, staying in the moment, enjoying my job, my children, my animals, loving me, loving others, letting others love me. I’m not sure if I’m ready to take a risk yet. I haven’t met a single man who seems content, but I haven’t really looked. It’s not a priority I suppose. But if I meet him, I wouldn’t turn him away.

  46. selkie says:

    While I agree with what most people said to Peanut, something that unsettled me and made me uncomfortable was the recurring theme that guys can sense things when they meet us and judge us based on this ability. I think it lends to handing over our power to them and adjusting our behavior based on how they SEE us. I’m not criticizing what anyone said but it made me feel self conscience and that maybe it could promote jumping through hoops to make them see us as worthy. I think basing how we feel about ourselves on how men perceive us is a slippery slope. While I agree with you all, our outside demeanor can influence our interactions and low self esteem is detectable, ideally, changing this vibe should come from a feeling of contentment inside, not to stop repelling men. I think it makes me more anxious to think of it as a potential man repellant rather than a self love issue. I know that most of you meant it as a self love issue, but a little part of me felt gentle pressure to change based on what men THINK of me. Am I splitting hairs? Like Tinkerbell said, “We, as women, make things complicated which heightens our anxiety about ourselves and how we’re coming across to others.” Maybe thats what I’m getting at.

    • selkie says:

      I want to add, I’m not disagreeing with anyone, just thinking (over thinking !?) out loud.

      • EllyB says:

        Selkie, I totally agree! Being willing and able to say “no” to somebody who treats us badly is WAY WAY WAY more important than coming across as “self-confident” or whatever.

        I think we shouldn’t worry about “repelling” men at all, but rather about how to better “fend off” all those guys who mean us no good. Of course this severely limits our options, because it excludes a large part of the dating pool (all those ACs and EUM who continually hang out there) but this is totally okay. At least we would be left with those few who are worth getting to know.

        • selkie says:


          What changes in your life could you make to improve it that don’t involve men? What are your passions? Art, photography, animals, cooking, etc? Get involved in it. Find some contentment in living without the pressure on yourself to be in a relationship or find a man. I have no doubt you are pretty, smart, quirky, and thoughtful. These things don’t become obsolete or useless because a man isn’t appreciating them or outwardly noticing. A flower isn’t worthless because no one saw it or picked it. On the flip side, look at Marilyn Monroe, She changed who she was to be noticed and had the attention of the whole world but she was unhappy.
          I want to be loved just as bad as you. I want to be touched and held. I am lonely too, so I don’t have all the answers but I have come to realize that this void cannot be filled with a man alone. I’ve tried that for years, different men and one marriage. The void shadowed me through all of it. Looking back, I think my whole life I had this ultimate goal of having a relationship. That is a precarious goal to blindly base your life on. For the first time in my life I am on the edge of truly just letting go of my ultimate goal of finding love, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. I don’t want to give up on it completely, but only let go of the pressure and the fantasy that if I find the right man I will be happy. That’s waiting for someone else to give our life meaning. It’s OUR life, it’s OUR job to give it meaning. My new goal is to be busy living my life, feeding my passions, being creative and finding what brings me joy, and then when I am no longer unhappy while longing for what I don’t have, I will be ready for it. It’s in my power to do this for myself, and you have the power too. A relationship can be wonderful but I’m tired of life passing me by while I try to figure out what is wrong with me and why it hasn’t worked out for me yet. Peanut, life is happening for us now, why not try to find happiness where we are instead of where we wish we were.

      • Fifi says:

        Keep thinking out loud:)
        When I spoke about the vibes, I didn’t mean to say we should change our behaviour to suit men, I meant that we may be giving off an unconscious (but true) message that might be preventing men approaching us – I didn’t think it had anything to do with the things she was thinking about – am I not attractive enough etc, which I think is a more self-destructive route to go down.
        I know I give the ‘KeepOut’ vibe not just to men but to people in general – I don’t trust myself yet not to get swamped by the drama and emotionality etc of relationships (any kind) – I find these very very hard to deal with well and the effects linger for so long.
        And the ‘keepout’ is very isolating when it goes on for a long time, and I think I need to keep consciously working at it so that I can have a more contented fulfilled and happy life.

        • selkie says:


          I think I have the ‘keep out’ vibe around people too, but I’m not sure. And your right, it is isolating. I guess that is part of my problem, I don’t know what vibes I give off. I do notice that if I smile more it helps, so maybe I frown when and not paying attention.

    • grace says:

      I don’t modify my behaviour to impress the boyfriend, I’ve just had norovirus and been throwing up in front of him,sending him out to buy stuff and hiding under the pillow when he tries to talk to me.
      He regularly comes over to see me and I have no food in the house, nothing to drink, and in baggy sweatpants. I tease him a lot and embarrass him in front of his friends. We squabble all the time. I’m quite bossy. And this is the supposed honeymoon period.
      None of this is sanctioned by the relationship police.
      But yes I am content in myself. I accept myself, my flaws, my human weakness and so this ordinary relationship is enough. It doesn’t have to be perfect and neither do I. It’s the first honest relationhip I’ve had.
      Men can be surprisingly easygoing and eager to please, I see it in my brothers too, but do pick a good one!

      • selkie says:


        Ha, I’m sick on the couch too. That’s why I have so much time to think, then think some more, then rethink it all again. That’s why I have so much to say.

        I think its very healthy and grounded that you aren’t modifying your behavior to get your bf to like you. He already likes you as you are and for who you are. Part of that equation is you like who you are. I’m sure I speak for others when I say we all look up to you as a good example. For those people who aren’t in a good place, or are insecure, feel worthless, or wonder what they are doing wrong when it comes to relationships, I think telling them that they need to learn to love themselves, respect themselves, build self esteem and develop self trust, is the right advice. But I think if its said in the context that men are able to sniff out if you’re insecure or not puts a lot of pressure on someone to change so men will like them. It’s like saying:
        Men can see your insecurities….so you better work on that self esteem.
        I don’t like the idea of using men as a dangling carrot for a reason to change. Using that reasoning in the logic, to me still puts the focus on what men think of us and the change you try to make with that in mind is still searching for validation. Like I said, I may be splitting hairs, but I wish the impetus to change had everything to do with looking inward, not looking at a man’s reaction to us.

      • Snowboard says:

        @grace –

        awww I love this post!

      • runnergirl says:

        Ah Grace, get well soon. I totally understand why the bf is coming over to see you, throwing up, no food, and baggy sweatpants notwithstanding. I’d come over to see you too. Hugs (from a distance) to you and the bf.

    • runnergirl says:

      Selkie, I agree and couldn’t put my finger on it until I read your response. I don’t think you are splitting hairs. I’m deep into the dating scene and so far I’m not the least bit concerned with how the guy perceives me. I’m simply me at this point in time. At 53, I figure I get to be me and the guy can take it or leave it (that should go for any age). By the same token, I can take him or leave him as well. If my attitude repels AC/EUM/MM’s…so sorry for him. Congratulations to me!
      It does get a bit tiring to keep meeting up with guys who are out of touch. The upside: I have figured out how to move things along when I know it’s dead in the water. Keep track of the check and be willing to pay ASAP. You can move it along. For ladies in their 50’s, be aware of guys in their 50’s who are “semi-retired”. Just met another one last night. He’s unemployed, looking for a place to live with his two sons in tow. I couldn’t get a hold of the check fast enough. I think I begged the waitress to bring me the check. I’m pretty sure he thinks I repelled him cos I did!
      It’s called boundaries. I’ve worked on my emotional boundaries. My financial boundaries are like the Berlin Wall. No unemployed 50-somethings with kids who expect me to support them and their kids as well as an unemployed ex-wife. Who gives a rats ass how they see me. I wish I could market “AC/EUM/MM repellant but Nat’s got the market cornered!
      PS. Peanut…be you.

      • runnergirl says:

        Ah dang, the minute I post, I think of something else. On dates, I’m not so involved in thinking what he is thinking about me because I’m more interested in what I’m thinking about him! That’s the bottom line for me. What is he bringing to the table, if anything…therein lies the question.

        • Tabitha says:

          This simple issue is so important Runnergirl. When I look back, I can see that for the most part, the most important thing any man had to offer me was that he showed interest in me. That was all I wanted.
          How pathetic is that? Talk about low standards!
          Since my BR education got properly underway I have dismissed various MM and ACs because instead of focusing on whether they liked me, I was actually thinking about how I felt about them. I can’t believe I never really operated this way before. It’s like coming out of a rather embarrassing fog.
          If he doesn’t like me then there is very little I can do about that, other than not being myself and turning myself back into the performing seal. Not going to do that again.
          It’s for him to decide whether or not he likes me, and for me to decide whether or not I like him.
          How did I not get this before?

        • selkie says:


          “I’m deep into the dating scene and so far I’m not the least bit concerned with how the guy perceives me. I’m simply me at this point in time” I love it. That is where I am working on getting.

          The dating experiences you’ve shared with us have been educational for me. You put all the ideas we are learning here at BR into action and it’s very encouraging. It helps to see that if someone doesn’t like my boundaries, or yours, it’s not the end of the world. Your simple approach to them in dating is a good example.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Hi Selkie. I can understand your point about it being a “slippery slope”. I was speaking from the standpoint of WE being secure enough to call things as we see them and act accordingly. My point is that you don’t complicate things by worrying about how he feels about you. If you just BE YOURSELF, he can either accept you as you are or go his merry way finding someone else more to his liking. I certainly do not advocate tailoring our thoughts and behaviors in a more acceptable manner for a man to approve us or love us. That’s his prerogative. Mine is to choose me first and let the chips fall where they may. If it’s going to work out, fine. And, if not, at least I wasn’t trying to change myself based on what he might or might not think. That’s where making it complicated comes in.

      • selkie says:

        Hi Tinkerbell,

        When I referred to your statement I was agreeing with you. I thought you summed up was I was trying to say, but in about 50 less words. I think we do worry too much about how we are coming across to others. I do it, I wonder about my vibe all the time. I think we need to on some levels, but as long as we stay authentic and from a standpoint of being okay with who we are. I have to redirect myself in this area of thinking sometimes, so that I don’t start to change my behavior to people please. It’s so ingrained I think it unconscious. Ultimately, I just want to relax with all this and just be myself and who cares what anyone thinks. But, then my loneliness speaks up and says something different. I’ve been spaced out on cold medicine the past few days….my brain going a little wonky.

        • Tinkerbell says:

          Thanks Selkie. I thought you didn’t “get” me or disagreed. Btw, I’ve never been good at making friends either. But the “new me” is finding it much easier and the payoff is so self reaffirming. Keep up the effort to better validate yourself and your needs. Takes awhile, doesn’t it? I’m right along with you. Hugs.

    • Peanut says:


      You nailed it. I am giving off a ‘keep away vibe’ because I see now I have more work to do in being able to enjoy my own company. It feels like one of the final steps before I actually get some friends! This could perhaps be ‘repelling’ men and friends, too. But the main issue is that I need to make changes for me, not to get a man (and I don’t think anyone meant for that, nor do I think you think they meant that either) but it is a slippery slope. If I act a certain way I could be missing opportunities, but I need to be authentic because only then does what I experience with people go toward healthy interactions, so I must change from an authentic place of self love and wanting the best for me irrespective of a man :) Thank you for your thoughtfulness.

  47. Paisley says:

    This was such a valuable post to read (including everyone’s comments). I’ve felt the way peanut feels for years. I’m 26, my last relationship was a year ago and lasted only 4 months. Since then I’ve had a pointless, awkward, fling with a friend who I allowed to use me for sex and a couple of other one night stands with completely unsuitable men, which just made me feel even worse about myself. I seem to have established a weird pattern of bi-polar standards: having lofty, fantasy based ideals of what and who I want for a relationship AND YET completely dropping those standards (and my self-respect) as soon as any guy shows even the vaguest indication of interest. I can’t do this to myself anymore. I agree with all the people who have suggested taking time to date/love yourself. I thought that’s what I had been doing for the past six months but if I truly had been doing that the change would be reflected in the way I treat myself – despite recognising the many qualities I have, I don’t value them. And I think that’s the key, peanut, do you value yourself? I admire people who seem genuinely comfortable in their own skin. These people come in all shapes, sizes and guises (including single and coupled up) but they all share a level of self-esteem which makes them attractive to others.

    • Peanut says:


      I realized just as I valued superficial things in the ex, I value superficial things in myself. Now, I do at least like myself enough not to hang around shady people and places, but am finding these healthier crowds aren’t impressed or hooked by the things my ex was and I used to be. I’m having trouble relating to them. But the core issue is I’m still having trouble relating with myself, establishing boundaries with me, and just basically treating me well.

  48. Paisley says:

    To clarify, what I’m saying is that perhaps you are not presenting your many qualities as things that you value and if indeed you’re not doing that, why do you expect anyone else to value them and you?

    This is what I’m starting to ask myself.

    • Peanut says:

      Ah, yes. I am not working enough on the things in myself that I need to be valuing, such as honesty, balance, spirituality, etc. I am still focusing on appearance, intelligence, and things that can be nice, but don’t necessarily make a good person.

  49. Wise ol owl says:


    Not going to give you a lecture about not loving yourself enough because I don’t see that in your post. You refer to yourself as smart, quirky, even somewhat beautiful–that’s not someone who hates themselves to me. I think you are feeling rejected, alone and tired of the dating game. Further, I won’t say what vibe you are projecting because Im not there on the dates with you, but I believe you are projecting a good vibe, then get let down and came here to vent about how shitty it all feels. It hurts like hell to feel like the only one without a date, a mate, etc..esp. when everyone seems to have one. The only thing I will say is 28 is way too young to throw in the towel. I also agree with Runnergirl…but I’ll put it this way, dont look to anyone to save you, you’ve got to save yourself. How do you do that? Well, do things like meet-up groups (totally nonthreatening)and just do YOU for awhile. By this, I mean cultivate your interests, hobbies or even make some new girlfriends by joining a gym or club or voluteer work. You never know who you might meet through someone else, when it’s least expected. Meantime, feel free to come share on BR and know you are not alone—we’ve all been there or we wouldn’t be here. Hang in, I send you hugs–better times ahead dear Peanut.

    • Peanut says:

      Wise ol owl,

      Your comment gave me so much perspective. That’s exactly how I feel. I’m sad I don’t have a mate or more of a social scene. But I MUST learn to appreciate my own company. I really resist that and sometimes I feel it’s too late to be healthily independent as I’ve been so reliant on the company of other people to keep me away from myself and my issues.

      Every time I read a comment in reference to my post, I feel I’ve just been given gold.

  50. Magnolia says:

    I think I’m ready to meet someone good; I think I’m as emotionally available as someone in the limbo of soon-to-be-post-PhD, looking for contracts anywhere, can be.

    Through some folks from work I met a man who is your quintessential hippie: questionable hygiene (or maybe just w wild facial hair), totally into eating organic only, grows his own organic food and herbs and pot, smokes a ton of pot, extremely social, from a well-to-do family but has stayed away from the corporate family business, very new-age alignment of the planets focused and one of the most accepting, friendly vibes I’ve ever felt come my way.

    I’m surprised at myself for my attraction, because it comes mixed with repulsion, and that is familiar territory (not with ACs, but with the two guys that I ended up with long-term but who frustrated me with their financial instability). Though my exes came on strong to me and I eventually let them in. This person I think is just as friendly to me as he is to anyone; not pursuing. We partied the other night, and though I know he is involved with someone else, I asked for a shoulder massage and got one.

    I find myself fantasizing about being able to snuggle and be held by this person, while the idea of being with him socially or as a partner working on home stuff together (I’ve seen his place – very different standards) just makes me scream nooooo! What is with that?

    I figure I’ve just discovered another little hole I need to patch up myself: a feeling of being worth tender acceptance from people other than myself. I’ve done pretty well learning to speak kindly to myself, but something about the warmth of that acceptance coming from another human still reduces me to feeling like a wandering child.

    I’ve been trying to fix the mindset that I only ever will be accepted/given tenderness by men who are needier than I am financially. Since these recent events, I’m trying to imagine finding a similar acceptance from a non-pothead with a reasonably stable income.

    • grace says:

      I don’t think you should go for the pothead.
      I don’t know why it is but, although my boyfriend is very clean cut, I’ve always had a thing for shabby men, bordering on the homeless type.
      Thankfully we don’t have to follow all our weird and wonderful impulses.

      • Magnolia says:

        Thanks Grace.

        Hope you’re feeling better. I’m surprised to hear you say that about shabby men, though! I never would have guessed that of you.

        Maybe it’s a Florency tendency? Or a way of not being totally into the person from the get-go.

        I just wish that I didn’t feel like only these guys are capable of accepting me (kinda feel like the clean-cut ones would think I’m shabby).

  51. runnergirl says:

    I have one more comment I’m shocked at how I settled for so little. I am no longer disappointed when crumbs are crumbs. Thank you Natalie. You are brilliant. A crumb is a crumb. Most importantly, thank you for giving me the power to call a crumb a crumb. I’m holding ever so firm in not responding to the exMM’s most recent fishing expedition. I’m even refraining from telling him all about himself, again. I’ve concocted tons of responses…all of which I’ve done before. I could save a ton of time just copying and pasting. Even that would be too much time. Thank you.

    • Magnolia says:

      Good job runner. The cockroach after the nuclear armaggeddon metaphor still applies to this guy.

      Just as an FYI, Mr. MediaAttention went for about a week being normal, then called me on the weekend inviting me and my parents to his house when they come to visit, and then emailed me unprovoked to tell me how great one of my online works is, so I see he doesn’t in fact totally get it.

      I nearly laughed out loud at the idea: “Mum, Dad, here’s that married guy I was telling you about, let’s all sit down to a nice meal …”

      I can see wanting to spell it out to exMM, but the very fact that he’s still in touch just shows he doesn’t, won’t, doesn’t want to, and will never get it.

  52. Eve says:

    Mymble: 😉
    I wanted to add something…I think it’s really important to get ourselves to a point of indifference about our past assclowns…Not really saying anything new here, but even the fact that we call them assclowns shows a bit of resentment. I’ll know I’m completely ok when I start feeling completely indifferent about one of them in particular. I am now able to view most of them as just damaged people who helped me improve myself – encountering mostly narcissists made me build my self-esteem in a more profound way, taught me boundaries and even the triangulations and competing with OW made me improve my looks. So, I am actually grateful for encountering them. Now I operate from an entirely new level. I think the most important thing is to maintain a good level of personal happiness and satisfaction, and just not let anyone’s presence substract from it. I also think that focusing on the negative stuff we have all experienced lowers our “vibrations” and brings more of the same into our lives. Good, we know what evil creatures lurk out there, but who cares, now we know so we can walk away, and – if we give off positive vibes, eventually someone awesome must show up! 😀 hahah Good day everyone <3

    • beth d says:

      Indifference is good. I think when you get to that point you know you are healed or at least close. They say the opposite of love is indifference. If you hate or resent them still your emotions are still too strong. Yes these damaged people do help us improve. I will never regret my encounter with my ex Narc. I learned so much about myself and even though it was late in life I had to learn there are people in this universe disguised as good people who can really harm you if you keep looking for good where there is none. Tough lesson to learn but helpful in our future relationships and our overall happiness and peace.

      • Tinkerbell says:

        Eve & Beth D. I totally agree. My experience with Mr. MM taught me more than any self help book or therapist has ever done. I’ve evolved into someone I’m actually proud of. I’m grateful for waking up in the morning and being able to enjoy each day to the fullest. I appreciate my health, my family, friends, etc ad infinitum. Had I not gone through that experience I would not be where I am today. I haven’t learned all the lessons I’m supposed to but I”m making great progress toward getting there.

        • BSer says:

          To Tinkerbell & Others – I think there is possibly too much credit given to these infiltrators. I think quite possibly, you would have been the same person in the same place, whether they came into your life or not. A momentary distraction, that’s all it was; after all, just because you crossed paths doesn’t mean he/she deserves the credit. You crossed paths with a lot of people; do they all deserve the credit for who you are? But OMG, sounds like the grandiosity complex of a narc to want to TAKE the credit for someone’s personal development. YOU own who you are, no one else. XOXO

          To runnergirl: “concocted responses? Na, you just threw up an awesome smoke screen – congrats on your survivalist abilities! You wouldn’t be ex-militia, would you? Also, I think you need to rethink “settled for so little” I don’t think that’s the case at all! There are many varied reasons for people’s actions, – your motives are unique, just like you! :)

      • Tabitha says:

        Thanks for this comment Eve. I do agree. I would also like to reach indifference and am not there yet. However, I am genuinely grateful to the ex narc for the same reasons Beth lists. I am physically and emotionally stronger as a result and I also found BR which has honestly been life changing in terms of how I see myself and how I relate to other people. I have given up trying to understand him and switched the focus to myself. I tell myself ex narc came into my life for a reason.

        • BSer says:

          I would feel very differently Tabitha – I think I would, anyway; don’t you pity him at all? Hugs to you, and hugs to the narc too – they probably don’t get hugged too often 😉

    • Mymble says:

      I’m working on it!
      My situation at present is miserable in other ways so I suspect that when those other things are dealt with I won’t be giving the AC a thought.

  53. Need direction says:

    Sometimes it’s so difficult to make any sense of anything. I keep telling myself that I am ready for a long term relationship but then I constantly doubt my self due to the partner I am currently with, as he has huge commitment issues. So then I question weather they are my commitment issues. In brief we’ve been together for over 4 years (living together for nearly two years). At first I thought he was the one…but slowly he started to show lack of commitment. I thought that with time he would change, but I look at my relationship today & see we have no mutual goals together, no plans for the future, no dreams together. We co-exist together. There is so much more to my story but in brief we’ve both been married before & have grown children. I’m happy to marry again & build a life with someone but he is not. I hold no bitterness towards my ex-husband, he holds a lot of bitterness. I live in his house &feel like a lodger rather than an equal. He is not nasty or mean to me but only gives me the crumbs of his affections & I always feel like I am asking him for it. I dont know what’s normal anymore. Is this it? I love him, we get on well & want it to work out but I dont know how much longer I can take of the little he gives. Is it me who is holding this relationship back? I just don’t know. Oh & I’ve tried to talk to him about this but we seem to go no where. & now I just don’t know if I should try anymore.

    • paolo says:

      Need direction..I wouldn’t care about what’s ‘normal’..I would care about whether my needs were being met. Don’t confuse needs with needy..It’s not being needy to want effection from your partner. If you have to try and manipulate for it, I would say he is unavailable to you and you should move on..Life’s too short for crumbs.

  54. At Peace says:

    I have been spending time doing things on my own such as, weekend getaways to quaint coastal towns, and with social groups such as my singles church group and meetup groups. I am enjoying spending time with both men and women in a relaxed (for the most part) group setting. Fact: people tend to reveal more of themselves in a group setting versus one-on-one dating. I observed a guy act like a rude obnoxious jerk when the attendant at a public establishment politely asked our group to move aside because we were congregated in the middle of a walkway. This same gentleman later engaged me in conversation and seemed quite charming and pleasant (he did not realize that I observed him yell at the attendant). I would have been interested in dating him…but after seeing how badly he behaved earlier, there is NO way I would go out with him! I’ve become more cautious the older I have become, and would feel more comfortable dating someone whom I was able to spend time with as part of a group rather than going out with someone that I met online for the first time.

  55. Gina says:

    Natalie – excellent advice. This sounds like a conversation I was having with my Mom, I told her that in dating, you need to accept that you can get hurt… instead of being powerless. Things change, peoples feelings change and that is okay… yes it might hurt for a little bit, but you still love yourself, and you go on.

    I recently dated this man who went a tad bit fast, not in an assclownly sort of way, and I realized looking back we did not work out because things developed prematurily, turns out this same guy met a women whom he met three years ago 1x, she found him on facebook, they were in communications, met and got married a week later (this happened after a couple of weeks of us breaking up) but we only dated a month anyhow so it was not super serious between us. How did I find this out? I moved on, let him go, although I was sad we did not work out initially. I get the ‘text’ a month later “Hey, how are you?” I was thinking about you and I am sorry for the way things turned out” *** I did not know he was married at this point *** something told me to check his facebook, and there I see him and this women being married on the beach, I go “congrats on your marriage, your a wacko!” He goes “I know”! And he was trying to find information on my life and how I was, I did not say peep and told him Goodbye.

    Nat – over the past several years I’ve been on this forum, and by dating now I can see how much your advice helped me, and of course through the changes I made. I now recognize that I own my choices and I am not a victim. I also have no interest in emotionally unavailable men because I am emotionally available. One of the first questions I ask a man I potentially am going to date is how long he has been out of a relationship, and if he is ready for one. I ask the qualifying questions to make sure I have a healthy candidate, then go into the values, morals, etc…

    I can honestly say I am ready for a long term relationship, and that dating like you said is a discovery phase, and if you do not like you or your life, with or without a man, you will be miserable!

  56. Discarded says:

    Think I’m doing quite well getting over my Narc ex. Coming up to 10 weeks now. Haven’t heard off him for 2 weeks so far… As Blocked his last attempt. He get’s in contact every 2 to 3 weeks to either sent a abusive message or be nice’ish.
    Just don’t get why he get’s in touch?
    Doesn’t make a conversation, just either abuse/or nice then he gets in touch a few weeks later. Repeat.
    So just wondering, I think my ordeal with him is finally over.
    Do you think me blocking him would of made it clear now?
    Because I feel I’m near to healing to get over him for good (this time round)

    • beth d says:

      Yes the blocking makes it clear as well as clearly stating to them on unwanted contact that you want nothing to do with them. This is the longest my ex Narc has kept away and I am grateful. The last time he tried I was never so firm in my entire relationship in stating I wanted nothing to do with him. No friendship…nada! I actually got totally cold blooded in telling him there is not one good thing about him that would tempt me into any kind of relationship including friendship with him. I meant it and it was clear I meant it. I needed to do that in my case or he would not have stopped the hoovering which went on way too long in my case. If I even left a miniscule opening he would have used it to his advantage. Blocking off all their openings is so helpful to finally getting them out of your life and healing.

  57. espresso says:

    This post and the comments on it have really struck a chord with me. All in all I think we should de-focus off of men and try to focus on ourselves. The kind of man we feel is good for us may not come along quickly and even IF he does we still need to be happy with ourselves and our own resources. Things don’t always last and we NEED to be more self-reliant period! I wonder, Peanut, if you just focused on you….on building your self esteem, on building your sense of power, going to the gym, meeting people without ANY expectations etc, whether this might be a good approach. Give yourself 6 months where you don’t give negative feedback to yourself about men not being interested in you but try the other methods. See where it takes you.
    I am of mixed mind about the whole concept that if we are friendly and happy that men will be more likely to approach us and that this is a good thing. Men are pretty good at sniffing out “open for business boundaries” and sometimes that is not a good thing – this is how we can end up with EUM/AC types. I am saying that because I know I am a private person who probably does not send out those “approach me” vibes easily. But I am not sure that those men would interest me anyhow. Perhaps I don’t have the right attitude…but why waste my time and his? I am pretty damned sure that a good relationship is not lurking in those settings but is somebody I will meet through an activity I am involved in.
    But maybe I am just rationalizing the fact that this really doesn’t happen much to me. Sometimes I feel perhaps that I am just not very attractive instead of the person I really consider myself to be and I don’t like to stay in this self-damning space. Not attractive to who?

    Realistically speaking, being an older women, I think there is a kind of reality here and I get tired of people who try to say there are lots of opportunities out there if and when I want them. What planet are they living on? First of all men my age, for the MOST part, either want a caretaker, a money-provider or want to date women much younger. That is the sad truth of it. There are exceptions of course although I haven’t heard of any lately. I have older women friends who have done online dating and it is horrific the abuse that is thrown at some of them because they might want to date and even have sex. There are married men but that is not an option. So it is sad and perhaps when I feel more together and less EU I can explore other options. But in a way I want to dampen down my expectations. There are SO many women out there like me!!!

    • Mymble says:

      Wherever you are in life there are many of you in the same place as the human race has overpopulated this planet. However of the women I know the ones who want to date and have partners are and the ones who don’t, aren’t. If you really want to find someone you will but I think what really happens is that a lot of women stop caring. I think I’ve hit the menopause, havent had a period in five months though no other symptoms. It could be that, but my interest in sex etc has almost gone. My children are young too so they take a lot of my emotional and physical energy.

  58. NoMo Drama says:

    This post is timely for me, as I’d just been feeling a push to “put myself back out there,” even while wondering at the same time, “Why bother?”

    I get a sense reading so others’ comments that I have to work on myself to attain some level of mental and spiritual perfection before a suitable man will come anywhere near me with a healthy relationship in mind. It is depressing because a)my work on myself will NEVER be finished to my satisfaction, and b) how many horrid troll-hags of your acquaintance have somehow managed to rope in a good guy?

    Also, when you attract the kinds of guys that make you wonder what you’re doing wrong, keep in mind that assclowns abound. They approach everybody, much like a male pigeon will do the same silly dance and mating call for every female that crosses his path until he gets a taker. As someone else recounted, the work on oneself through BR and other means gives you the tools to recognize what is going on and put a stop to it long before you might have earlier.
    I would also hope that it gives you the means to recognize a good one and the awareness not to fall into old patterns and run him off unconsciously.

    I believe that practice is important; there are some issues that I have with men and with myself that are best addressed and dealt with through real-life experiences past a certain point. Putting oneself out there with improved awareness may be the best way to go. Otherwise I can keep putting it off and keep working on myself until I no longer remember what a man IS, or why anyone would want to have one around.

    • Mymble says:

      Your last sentence describes where I am heading. I will probably be like my Mum who has been single for 30+ years. Could be worse, she’s her own woman and has a good life in many ways. Time was when I’d have thought that a fate worse than death.

  59. Eve says:

    No, not really. Narcs will come back and chance their arm for as long as they see at least 1% chance that you will respond in any way. I guess now he would want to make you communicate with him after blocking him because that would be a ”win” for him. After I blocked him, mine started stalking me, calling obsessively, dropping by my place, breaking things just to let me know he was there, and cyber stalking and contacting all of my friends and acquaintances. And it never occurred to him to, maybe, send a polite email and explain what he wanted…Oh, wait, he wanted nothing. 😀 Just to dominate me. All narcs return for as long as you let them. I had to remain firmly NC for about 8 months and publicly humiliate him by ignoring him in front of several people who know both of us. I haven’t heard from him for about a year, as I made it more than clear that he wasn’t getting any supply from me, but I am really not sure I am rid of him forever. Maybe he just has some other interesting supply and it wouldn’t surprise me if he tried again, even years later. Has happened with others. Take it from me, the ex ”ASSCLOWN WHISPERER” as Grace once referred to me in a comment 😀 In time you’ll learn to enjoy his frustration 😀 And move on, of course.

  60. Eve says:

    beth d – I just wanted to say I loved this sentence of yours: ”I had to learn there are people in this universe disguised as good people who can really harm you if you keep looking for good where there is none.”

    • beth d says:

      Eve I think it is something we do when we are involved with a Narc. They are just so good at being whatever we want them to be so they are the masters of disguise. We keep looking for that knight in shining armor they portrayed themselves to be. I agree with you also that I would not be surprised to hear back from mine even years later. When you have finally had enough they just can’t believe their charms/tricks/games aren’t working anymore so you become their big challenge. Winning not love becomes their motivation for pursuing you.

  61. On Leaving Sugarland says:

    I am definitely not ready to date anyone: I just pulled myself out of, or shall I say, I think my guardian angels threw some books at my head right at the right moment before I did something really stupid.

    As creepy and unsettling as it feels,…
    child self, inner child, child-like responses–honestly I think my inner child is running my life, or I just never grew up, or my adult self split off somewhere, or my adult-self only functions for a few hours a day, and then…, or I am an adult-child…oh, $%^&*, I said it. … er, spontaneously age regress much? –these patterns really bite! …and I am so pissed at the discoverieS. I’m sure I should be grateful; ok, so I’m grateful, but I still don’t like it.

    YET, now I can see my adult-self and my child-self, and I am starting to be able to control my child-like responses, but not always because some of them I don’t recognize as child-like responses until after the response has been given, and I say, “Hmmm, you were acting like a child.” And, some of the responses are good,e.g., the playfulness and the wonder…the joy…the laughter, so sure, I want to keep those….

    I think I am starting to see where I end and other people begin…not as controlling; I am watching my emotions, and I’m not interested in spewing them on people…, and I am starting to grasp the idea of not trying to change other people, but I don’t have self-acceptance, and I know it, so, if I don’t have self-acceptance I figure I might have trouble accepting others, etc, but now this inner child work stuff seems like a plan for me.

    I must say I feel weird about doing it; I won’t be telling anyone; I kind of feel embarrassed about it, but I’m going to do it anyway because this book I am reading “The Home Coming” by John Bradshaw, …well, I am relating to what he is saying, and I am recognizing myself in some of the behaviors, etc, so here goes. I’m off to do some inner child work.

    So, NO, no dating for me…. Oh, I shutter to think what a handsome, sexy, hot, sweet, charming, intelligent, supportive, soft-spoken narcissist would do to me.

    No, noooooo, no dating for me.

    • Mel says:

      Hi On Leaving Sugarland,

      I totally relate, and you have nothing to be ashamed of. I too, am a big child….missed all that ‘this is where my mom tells me about men’ class and jumped feet first into relationships (all the wrong ones!). But I’m slowly starting to get it and look at all my dysfunctional relationships that have ME in them. And frankly, it all boils down to fear. Fear of being unloved and fear of being abandoned. I settled and compromised for the ‘not good enough for me’ man only because it was better than not being loved. Sad. But I don’t deserve the heartache and I don’t deserve the wrong man. I know that God loves me and rest will be okay.

  62. espresso says:

    Tonight at the gym I decided to rev up my perkiness and smile at everybody just to see what would happen. Most of the guys my age wouldn’t meet my eyes and looked sort of scared. ( I am a really threatening slim 5 foot 1 inch tall). I did chat up a guy I had talked to before…he has been really helpful about some weight stuff (I am pretty serious about it) – he is pleasant and actually asks about me. So today we talked a bit more personally and I asked him what he did. He sells guns in a shop.
    Oh dear…I actually thought of you Miskwa. I mean my whole LIFE has been devoted to anti-gun violence. I really had to laugh at the karma of this…. but seriously speaking what IS the balance between being yourself and stating and living by the values that you have worked so hard for and ones that are your core? I don’t believe in rigidity either and I “think” I am open to a lot of things outside my usual range but on the other hand I guess I am just not interested in pretending to be what I definitely am not. If that is the price of not being lonely, I am not interested in paying it. I really began to see that despite being open and tolerant in many ways, the “pool” of people that I would really be interested in or could really talk to is actually very small. Add age to the mix and it is miniscule. After all, why would I waste my time or the time of others? But it was a pleasant conversation and I got some great tips for building shoulder strength!

  63. noquay says:

    Yep, keep those shoulders strong and live true to who you are. Tis ok to converse with someone who has very different values, another thing to date them. Day to day life would soon be problematic. Thats not being rigid, it is being authentic. Being older classy babes does mean there are far fewer choices for us simply because a great deal of society as a whole chooses to not be classy. That does not mean that we should settle or become the sort of low rent cougar type alluded to in Paulos post. At times one can have friends that have have very different values so long as they respect yours. I have a good older male friend that is pro gun, very conservative, pro military, anti abortion and he genuinely respects who I am. I have had others with similar values that stated that I have no “right” to hate guns, care about our environment, believe in global warming though I have three degrees in the sciences. They are no longer in my life.

  64. Eve says:

    Tinkerbell, I blocked him everywhere online, and he used various phone numbers. HHee never got into my apartment, but he tried to see me and once slept in front of my door, and broke some stuff in the hallway, so I installed metal bars in the hallway…

    • Mymble says:

      He’s not a mere narcissist, he has some kind of mental affliction. Sending occasional emails @ texts is one thing but this guy has completely gone the other side of the mountain and lost touch with reality.

      • Eve says:

        Oh, well…I think he’s actually more of a psychopath. And on the outside, you see an extremely good looking athletic young man, also very intelligent and charming…But on the inside more damaged than anyone I have ever met. As some people less fortunate in the looks department would say to that: ”God thinks of everything.” 😀 Sad, but true 😀

  65. Jacky says:

    You are giving me a great advice. I am concious of what you mentioned above. I was confused my relationship previously. Now focus on what i thought is better.

  66. Potters wheel says:

    I know I have to get out there again, I have no choice if I am not going to end up alone, but right now I don’t know if I can trust myself. I can still attract guys, even much younger ones, but I don’t want them and it wont last much longer anyway.
    I am ashamed to admit but I was almost stalking my “ex”, (never more than a fling and lengthy text correspondence, 90% from me of course).
    He has now moved flat. I am relieved but have moments of scary anger. He wants to date much younger women, and plenty of them, and maybe marry a woman who can get him into the UK (he is a Turkish Kurd).

    I know I have problems with men but I don’t know what they are. I seem to choose pain, fear, distress and humiliation every time, or they seem to choose me.
    I know the only option is to go out and be nice, polite and obliging to new people and don’t expect anything, that way you don’t set yourself up for disappointment. But it’s enough to try the patience of a saint having to relaunch yourself after these experiences, especially when know he is on facebook and couchsurfing every night looking for new women in town. (Erasmus exchange students are his speciality). He will die in bed surrounded by his grandchildren, men like this always seem to.
    Holding it together but the strong moments are short though sweet.

  67. Jule says:

    The answer to the 2nd question about coping with disappointment — nope. Notta. Absolutely not. Can’t do it. I can’t begin to tell you how it’s been one after the other since I was 19. It has been extraordinary how each one has gone deeper and made more scars. Yes, I’m afraid I have had my heart shattered beyond repair. I don’t think I could stand it to be again. And so, I shield myself. I shy away from opportunities and meeting new people or making myself available or vulnerable. I can’t take another sad break up and I don’t think I want to face my family ever again with the news that it didn’t work out. I’ve been divorced ( for the 2nd time — and to a man I still love) for 3 years and I can’t seem to move past it. I cried on my way home tonight on the plane from a business trip. 3 fricking years and I still can’t move on!!! I might as well just disappear.

    • Tabitha says:

      Jule. I expect anything I have to say will sound lame but I felt your post was a tiny cry for help.
      You don’t mention how old you are. I am 47 and I am twice divorced. I feel no shame about this. I have made mistakes and poor choices. So have some of the men I have been involved with. This is modern life.
      I do not set about intending to cause myself or other people misery and I am trying really hard to learn from my errors. I am guessing you are teh same?
      Please stop beating yourself up. Really, you have to ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen? I have a 63 year old friend who “gave up” on men after a particularly damaging MM fiasco in her forties. She is one of the happiest and most fulfilled women I know.
      You must do what is best for you. For me, the most telling line in your post was “I don’t want to face my family ever again…”
      My gut tells me you should start with that and see where you go from there. Building up your shattered self esteem is something only you can do. And it is HARD. But dozens of us on here are doing it. Every damn day. I got a lot of help from a wonderful counsellor. And I get a lot of help just from hanging out on here. Please do not despair. Try to think about little things that make you happy and start from there, treating yourself the way you would treat a wounded friend. I wish you well.

  68. Deidre says:

    Wow..This is really what I needed to read.I recently have started back dating and met this nice guy online. Great conversations, laughter, the whole nine. We met still continued after meeting. then everything slowed completly down..Now our conversations are inconsistant, few and far,the phone calls lol are a joke..always ending up “I’ll call you back”. I can’t understand it he never showed disinterest his excuse is his two kids 5,8,work, new business venture and school. How funny it changes..I get it. I plan to leave well enough alone. I can’t stand the rejection ewk.

  69. BSer says:

    In the grand scheme of things, this is just a speed bump in the road of life. Look at the humor in the situation. Really. After all, if you and someone else don’t mesh how relevant are the in your life? Probably not so much. As far as men go, (only speaking to the single ladies) here’s a hard and fast rule “If he cheats with you, he’ll cheat on you” that’s a given, so don’t even go there…other than that, OMG how do you give up on men??? Girls, please, that’s like giving up on chocolate or worse – coffee! See, since I’m married, I actually do stick to ONLY chocolate or coffee – have you ever seen all the different coffees or chocolates out there? Give up – ha,ha – NEVER!!! If I try a chocolate and it’s bitter, I spit it out, throw it out and try another. Why would you sit there staring at it and wishing it tasted better? Because the wrapper looked good? Come on…you can’t judge a book by it’s cover or a chocolate by it’s wrapper, some chocolates just aren’t wrapped too tight (ha, ha- a little joke there) but you get my drift!

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

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

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

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