Stop asking for permission to have boundaries because it's like seeking consent for you to have basic self-respect, when actually, what you end up doing is offering up your back for them to cosign on using it as a doormat.

One of the biggest concerns that people who are ‘boundary averse’ have, is this fear of the potential for conflict to arise. They bust their own boundaries out of fear of scaring ‘everyone’ off and even feel that people who have boundaries and who for instance, say NO when up against unacceptable behaviour when dating must be very lonely people, neglecting to recognise that actually it’s a pretty lonely existence to be surrounded by people who essentially walk all over you and who you suppress who you really are so as not to jeopardise their approval. When these people attempt to make their line known it’s like they want permission.

“Is it OK for me to have this boundary?”

“I want to have this boundary but only if you’ll still like me”.

It’s understandable when you’re a child to seek authorisation from others and if you’re not brought up in an environment where healthy boundaries are communicated and your family actually want you to grow up with some autonomy and sense of self, you can end up growing up with a fine line between authorisation and approval. If it was a very unhealthy environment, you may have been taught to seek permission from people who have authority but who also abused their authority. They had all of the power.

As an adult, it’s really important to ensure that you don’t continue with a mode of behaviour that may have worked for you to keep the peace when you were a child but that is actually working against you as an adult and effectively keeping you like a child. You may be going out there relating to people with the same default habit of looking for combined permission and approval and this will also leave you in the precarious position of taking a more submissive role in your interpersonal relationships. Seeking permission automatically designates authority to others.

You do not need permission from others to have boundaries. Stop asking for it because it’s like seeking consent for you to have basic self-respect, when actually, what you end up doing is offering up your back for them to cosign on using it as a doormat.

Exactly how many people are asking you for permission on how to live their lives? You’ll note that the people who bust boundaries have their own boundaries. You just try and do things your way and see how they aggressively or passive aggressively make their line known.

Believe me, as someone who has really only known about and incorporated boundaries into her life over the last 7/8 years and who when I look at my family and the generations of issues that are rooted in serious boundary issues, I am all too familiar with the fear of ‘scary’ consequences but I’m more frightened of selling me short and being in some sort of emotional hell. One by one I’ve stood up to people in my life who at one point I would have been terrified of. I’m not a child anymore. Neither are you.

The truth is, you can live your life according to any choices that you like and always remember that even when you choose not to choose, that’s a choice in itself. Whether you give you permission to live your life according to your values, needs and desires and make your choices based on these, or whether you live your life seeking permission and curtailing your identity and your life, whether it’s passively or directly you’re giving permission so be very careful of what you’re consenting to.

I hear from so many people who keep ‘friends’, lovers, exes, and family who they not only have unhealthy relationships with but who they’re unable / unwilling to have ‘active responses’ in their interactions with these people – i.e. they don’t represent their own values, needs, wishes etc by asserting their boundaries.

They might spend a lot of time talking and discussing and plea bargaining. They might say or do nothing. They may try to passive aggressively shift the people to their agenda but these are all passive responses that take the path of least resistance – avoiding asserting those ‘dreaded’ boundaries.

Problem: If someone is overstepping your boundaries and you’re more worried about losing them out of your life than you are about the issues that arise from not asserting your boundaries, they will continue to bust your boundaries because there’s no real consequences and you essentially seeking their permission/approval gives them power. So you’re still unhappy and you’re surrounded by people who suck the life out of you.

Seeking permission for your boundaries is not only approval seeking and ducking out on your own personal responsibilities, but it’s self-censorship. It’s like you override your inner voice, your true self, with this disapproving voice that chimes in with, “But don’t you need their approval?” or “Can you really afford to go around flushing people? Do you want to end up with cobwebs in your pants, lonely and being found dead in your apartment after three weeks being feasted on by cats?”

Why do we still continue to feed ourselves with this myth that people who have self-respect are alone, disliked and unhappy? Why do we still continue to feed ourselves with this myth that being a doormat will get us everything we want even though insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results?

The only permission you need for your boundaries is yours.

When you cut the if’s, but’s, maybe’s and ‘should’s’ and stop fighting your right to have self-respect, boundaries become second nature. The truth is, I can think of a number of occasions where me having boundaries has been met with disapproval, but I can think of many times when they’ve been met with respect. The more you practice having boundaries, the easier it is to deal with an issue should it arise and ultimately if it does, it’s not because you having boundaries is ‘wrong’ but because there may be a misunderstanding or a conflict of values. Boundaries are like muscles – you don’t build up strength by not using them and they’re not going to magically appear without any intervention from you so give you permission to lift your self-respect.

Your thoughts?

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158 Responses to Boundaries: Stop Asking For Permission!

  1. Naz says:

    Best wishes for 2013, a little late but I realised I did try and post before but nothing came up.

    I have no sense of boundaries that it is evident as to why people treat me like a doormat. I have more drama centred around assclowns that one would think I would learn.

    I have had NC for four months I have kept myself busy. What made this AC different he showered me with the attention I sorely missed.
    From an abusive and unavailable father, to a grandfather who just didn’t care to so many bad men in between even being molested by a priest to a husband I was married to for 9 years but never slept with. I am a whole can of beans.

    This AC was a prince, he cherished me when we were together doing everything so right but when we were apart it was hellish with his lies and doubts about us.
    I ashamingly state here I miss him, I miss the closeness, the attention, the care.

    I need some baggage reclaim chatting to, so I don’t call him up begging him to come back. All because I hate being rejected or alone. Worse still invisible which I seemed to be tills he came along.

    I am here hoping someone convinces me that I made the right choice to leave someone that was sleeping with someone else, who future faked and made me believe the dream… Only to shatter it.
    Top that he left me on the Friday via email by the Wednesday he had found a prettier replacement, slim, fit, blond, intelligent and sweet.

    Me on the other hand, seem to have the attraction of a black bag. One guy I thought was really nice, we were chatting he ended up meeting a blond girl at a party and he is now all loved up and doesn’t even talk to me anymore.

    I am 37 next month and panic is my second name at the moment.

    I wonder in awe how easy I was forgotten and thrown to the curb and he said it was my fault because I caught him cheating and that he never promised anything neither were we exclusive. This from a man who said even if I got pregnant he would stand by me as he knew how much I wanted that.

    Boundaries…I wish I had those.

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Naz,
      Congratulations on NC and yes you made the right choice. I can relate to exactly what you are saying. I am experiencing the not right feelings of missing someone who is a total AC and treated me terribly. He also had someone else however I was his fallback girl, his option, and I accepted this as I did not have any boundaries either. I accepted the other woman and I never questioned anything, which I should’ve. He also made me feel special when we were together and future faked and told me many things that I knew he had no intentions of following up on or keeping. It’s not an easy thing. Especially when you feel alone and there hasn’t been anyone in your life for so long. It’s hard to stop because it IS attention..the wrong kind of attention but it’s there and you get sort of used to it. I know! Hang in there and continue the NC. I’m going on almost 2 weeks, after 5 months of yo-yo-ing.
      Hugs !!

    • Tracy says:

      OK, I’ll give you some BR support!

      I just flushed a future faker supreme. He was attentive (at the beginning…), wanted to be with me all the time (at the beginning), emailed and texted multiple times a day (I should have noticed that red flag!!!).

      Then he said, out of the blue, but now in hindsight it really was coming, he wanted a break. But he didn’t give me a timeframe that the break would be, he just expected I would wait around until he was done with, as my sister says, contemplating his naval.

      Four years ago I would have waited and cried and overanalyzed. An AC who was blowing very hot and cold had me all in a twist. I waited for his crumbs, only to find out a year later that he was in a relationship with another woman. Again, I turned that on myself, like somehow *I* wasn’t good enough.

      No more. The latest fellow had to be shown the door. Why? Because if his ‘remedy’ to his depression was to get rid of me unitl he was ‘ready’ to come back…well, sorry, if you consider me too much of a burden, I can’t be around you. (The reason I’m so harsh is that despite the ‘depression’ being the reason he has to be alone, he still manages to socialize with friends. Please note: we only saw each other once a week)

      I don’t like feeling like solution is to get rid of me. I don’t want people like this in my life. As Natalie says, “He’s not all that special”. No one is so great that you have to tolerate shit behavior. These same idiots would be LIVID if the shoe were on the other foot! Think about it!

    • E says:

      I feel your pain and have dealt with some of the same patterns and similar background. What I realized over Christmas/ being alone, was that in order to be able to truly share healthy love, we must first go to the source of true love and surrender our heart, mind and soul to God…God is the only unending source of love…from there we can trust that we are “in love”….meaning loving our uniqueness, ourselves as God loves us. Ask to be cleansed of all fears that keeps us stuck in the belief that we are not worthy…Love is respect…until we surrender to love at the source…we will forever seek it in people that can never fulfill the depths of our yearning….Ask God to show you how to love yourself…and trust it…place all your heart and mind in the care of God…through the Holy Spirit guidance. Miracles do happen. I have found inner peace and know now where my self acceptance comes from now….Not from people…but from the source. You will come to know in your heart that being “in love” is a state of being not something to find out there in another person…Love is to share with them the ability to give and recieve. If we continue to reject our own heart and seek outside fulfillment…we will continue the abuse. Healthy boundaries are the clarity of authentic self love and respect. And then you see clearly what you will and will not allow in your life. You will only give yourself the best. You will not seek outside approval to see if you are loveable…God has already decided that you are! To love ourselves fully, we can love others fully and without fear of abandonment or rejection.Healthy Men truly fall in love with a woman who LOVES herself at the core….She is “in love” and she beams love…with or without a man. God is the only true source of that love.

      • tiffrbug says:

        I think you are 100 percent right on! God is the source of unconditional love. When we hold Him first in our heart, we radiate love and everyone wants some! I will never have another relationship without him at the front and center. When we moving closer to Him, it will ultimately bring us closer to one another as well! How beautiful!!! <3

    • MRWriter says:

      Yes, Naz, you were absolutely right to leave his cheating ass. Given your history, you should be proud for seeing through this AC’s facade, because in reality, that’s all it was. Of course you’re going to miss what you thought were loving gestures on his part and don’t blame yourself for believing they were genuine and real. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be loved and kudos to you for being here because Natalie will guide you to who and how to love that’s waaay healthier and true.

      Resist calling him back because you’ve gone this far in facing your fears and you already know intellectually he’s bad news, so give your heart time to catch up with your head. You will find yourself on the other side with clarity and eventually the wisdom to love yourself first and love a man that doesn’t put you last.

      Feel sorry for those blondies who are currently being fooled. They aren’t any better, worse off, really, because they haven’t found Baggage Reclaim yet.

      I’m 36. I get the age-thing but better we wise up now then say 20 years from now (no offense to those in their 50s). There’s time enough for us to learn, break old patterns, establish better boundaries and live more authentically then to stay with an AC out of fear.

      You can do it! Stay strong and keep coming here whenever you start “missing” the ghost that haunted your heart.

    • JPG says:

      Naz,

      Your story could be mine. You have made the right choice. Setting some boundaries and having some self-respect eventually feels better than those fleeting wonderful moments with an AC. I still miss the great times with mine but positively do not miss feeling less than. Do not worry, the replacement will soon feel that awful feeling too. Feel sorry for her impending doom, as it will come. They do not change. Good luck and stick with NC. I broke it several times and paid the price. If you put your hand back in the fire, it surely will get burned.

    • Allison says:

      Naz,

      You have been through a great deal. Have you sought counseling?

      • Naz says:

        @ all the lovely ladies rallying around and posting comments thank you so much. I just need my heart to catch up with my head and I struggle. I always have and do think I am never good enough.

        @Allsion I wonder if it is at all useful, counselling I mean.
        How do I sit there explaining every AC relationship to which I can even add my parents to. With a father who
        Never wanted me because I was a girl to a mother who is self obsessed and sent me away at 13 because my step father could not handle me and did not want my sore face around.
        To grandparents who were hard and loveless.
        To a sham of a marriage, which I held onto for so long because he was a good person, only I wasn’t attracted to him.
        To AC after AC making me feel like I was nothing, either I was too fat, then too poor, then from a divorced family, to the wrong religion and rce
        Oh and throw in for good will being molested at church school.

        I have no idea of where to start.

        I cried today in pain. I have in the last 4 months lost a guy I was so in love with, who I trusted and who broke me, to losing my job, my flat, the experiencing a horrendous accident which appears to be my fault and to which I must now appear in court with the possibility of losing my license.

        This site helps me in these moments when taking to anyone else seems fruitless.

        I am here because I get s little peace. Natalie words offer solace. The experiences on these pages and non judgemental nature here helps…

        • Allison says:

          Naz,

          Please start somewhere, as your past is affecting your present. Until, you understand how your family and abuse have depleted your self worth, you will continue the pattern of self abuse (bad men).

          Please consider seeing someone, as you have had too much to deal with, as a child, and as an adult.

          If you do not deal with the pain, you will only be bringing more on yourself.

          Hugs

          • Allison says:

            I only read the first bit for responding.

            I am so sorry for all the terrible things that have happened. Do you have a friend you can stay with?

            Are you certain you can lose your license?

            Please know you can come here for support.

        • La Pintura Bella says:

          Naz…

          You go to the counselor BECAUSE of all of the things you just recounted in the post above. It doesn’t matter where to start…just start.

          This is your gift to yourself for 2013. It is the ULTIMATE in self-love. You are allowing yourself to meet the authentic, wonderful, amazing Naz and to embrace and honor her. Trust, me, it will change your life for the better. It’s hard, but oh so worth it, because YOU are worth it.

        • Mymble says:

          Naz
          I would definitely give counselling a go, if you can. It isn’t just about rehashing old hurts although it may include some discussion of them. It’s also about deconstructing unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that you have and getting real life feedback. For example I am working on my avoidance/procrastination behaviours which have held me back and I think have a lot to do with my poor decision to get and stay involved with a AC (avoiding the difficult things that really
          mattered and needed my attention). Also having someone in resl life explain and tell you that you are a good person and you do not need to destroy yourself with shame and regret can be very helpful. An awful lot depends
          on the person you get and whether they’re a good fit for you, but if you want things to be better in future then this is one to try at least. Can I suggest that you make a list of steps or actions that you can take that might improve your life – things to take care of YOU – contacting a friend, reading a book, seeing the dr about antidepressants and/or counselling, starting an exercise plan (even if it is only a walk a day) music, a course or class – whatever you feel would help you?
          Be a friend to you and treat yourself accordingly.
          Best wishes and hugs
          M

    • Kit-Kat says:

      Naz.. In a strange way we are kinda like drug addicts but addicted to the AC’s in our lives & until we decide that we deserve better there is nothing anyone can say or do to make us do it. So you have taken the first ,most important, step by A) going NC B) realizing your deserve better C) coming to BR. Its has been a godsend for me. I was a pathetic mess when I arrived here :). It has empowered me. I have a long way to go but I see hope where I didnt see it before. My advise to you is sift thru the list of post at the top of this page & read, read & read some more.
      One suggestion would be :
      “Holding onto the illusion: Are you emotionally lazy?
      There are many more but that is a start.Beleive me when I say Nat is spot on with so many of her post. She makes you see things so cleary that are hard to see when your head is in a fog from all the emotions of heartache.
      Take one day at a time, one hour at a time, whatever it takes to heal.

    • Rosie says:

      Naz,I can’t add much to what Tired said. My last actual boyfriend was a long time ago. Whenever I would feel lonely and horny and start missing him, it took everything in me to keep from contacting him. What I did was write down all the ways he mistreated/emotionally abused me and I would read that list over and over. Seeing it in black and white helped me to be in reality. Also, whenever feelings surface of being rejected, I write down everything I like about myself. This keeps me in reality too.

      FWIW, if he mistreated you, he’ll probably do the same thing to who he’s seeing now. I don’t know but I doubt the woman he’s with now is much different from you in the boundary department. Usually people with healthy boundaries don’t stay long in relationships with boundary-busting people.

      Oh, NML, if you’re reading this, thank you for sacrificing your holidays by keeping up your blog (even when sick!) and reading all our messages. I hope you and Em are fully recovered from the flu and that your girls are still well! Happy 2013!

    • grace says:

      Naz
      “Boundaries…I wish I had those”. Oh dear, that made me laugh.
      It’s like saying “I wish I ate more vegetables, I wish I went to bed earlier, I wish I exercised more”
      It is entirely 100% in your own hands. You don’t need anyone’s permission to eat more veg, go to bed earlier and exercise. You don’t need anyone’s permission to have boundaries around what behavior or treatment you will accept. But the problem isn’t so much that the world is full of people just itching to get one over on you, though it may feel that way. It’s more that your own sense of worth and value (not the same as thinking you’re better than anyone) is skewed so that almost everything is a reflection on how “bad” you are. “So-and-so didn’t say hello to me, they must think I did something wrong, what did I do wrong? I didn’t do anything wrong! Gah, how dare they?! They’ve busted my boundaries!” Rather than, “huh, so-and-so must be having a bad day” or “I ought to say hello to so-and-so, we haven’t spoken in a while”.
      Take it up a notch. When I accepted my mother is just an angry, bitter, unhappy person I stopped caring (mostly) about the shite she would say about me and other people. Best time was when I threw up my hands in mock despair and cried “Mother, that’s terrible?!” and she burst out laughing.
      As for your AC, they will just take whatever they can get so it’s up to you not to give it to them.
      Work on your own sense of self and identity. What kind of person are you? What are your values and opinions? What do you believe in? Who are your friends? What do you enjoy? What would you like to do more of? Do you have a creative outlet (I think this is major and overlooked)? Your boundaries will form naturally from that. You don’t have to carry around a shopping list in your head of what you will or won’t accept. Just the fact that you are a worthwhile, interesting, valuable person who takes care of herself will allow you to shrug off most “dings” and deal appropriately with others.
      The best and most different thing about my relationship isn’t that he treats me well, or that we get on. That’s terrific but the very best thing is that I see him as a completely separate person. He has his own moods, needs, desire, opinions, thoughts, interests. None of that is a reflection of me. The fact that he loves me doesn’t make me feel any better about myself. I like it, it makes me happy, but my worth isn’t tied up in it. I don’t feel “fuzzy” when I am with him, like I’m not sure who I am. I never knew love would be like this. I thought it would be a big fantasy merger of the hearts.
      Quite often in these EU relationships we are so vague about ourselves that we become an extension of them. We think of it as love and romance. We even think it’s normal. It’s like asking a fish what water is. The fish doesn’t know, that’s it’s world. Your world is looking to the external (men, sex, attention, validation, praise, approval) to measure your value. It doesn’t matter if the whole world and his dog thinks you’re great, if you don’t think it, it makes no difference to how you feel, not in any significant way for any length of time.
      It doesn’t matter if he forgot you as long as YOU remember you. I wish some of the exes would forget me!
      You can get out of this. NC him first.

      • Kit-Kat says:

        Grace. That was a fantastic response. Thanks. I needed to hear those words even if they really weren’t written for me :)

  2. Kc says:

    Thanks. I needed to hear this right now as I am dealing with a work situation that is all about boundaries. It is a great reminder that I only need my own permission to have boundaries. It’s hard to be the one setting boundaries in a situation where a lot of people have bad boundaries. It makes you look mean and stingy. But better that than a burnt out mess!

  3. Chrysalis says:

    If ever there was a timely post. Thanks to BR and the self esteem course I am now setting boundaries. Like any new skill I have made some mistakes. One of the main mistakes is that I still want my ex to ‘like’ me. We have minimal contact but we have kids so I still see him when he picks them up. He treated me appallingly yet I seem to default to this super upbeat friendly mode when I see him. In reality the AC treated me and continues to treat me with absolute disdain (he is having a ‘secret’ affair with another mans wife, its not that secret as I and several other people know about it). Yea, he’s a real prince among men, I know this and YET I treat him with this jovial friendly manner which he so does not deserve. It makes me feel sick at myself. So thanks for the post Natalie. Next time I see or speak to him it will be with cool detachment, and if that feels awkward for him…well it should.

    • Fifi says:

      ‘implacable courtesy’ – I don’t know who said it, but it works, I just repeat it to myself when dealing with people I really have no respect or care for

      • grace says:

        Fifi
        I had a boss who was unfailingly polite to people he actually despised. I could tell who he despised most by how polite he was to them. Said peole would say to me “he’s so nice!”.
        And I would think – if only you knew …
        I can’t quite pull off the same trick but there’s a lot to be said for just keeping things to yourself. Just don’t get a hernia over it!

    • Victorious says:

      How old are the kids? My ex has to text when he is parked outside and the kids run out to him. On return he just sees them to the drive and ensures I have opened the door/am in. Unless they are really little there is no need for you to see him/engage with him.

    • Sm says:

      I’ve noticed that people who are having affairs seem to treat others with disdain, whether it be the cheating spouse or the mistress/other man. And it’s usually directed at the very people who care about them. Strange, huh. He’s not worth your jovial manner, what a piece of crap. What ever happened to bro’s before ho’s.

    • Xena says:

      I actually think you should embrace the fact that you are nice to your horrible ex.

      First of all, because saying to yourself how *insert negative adjective* you are for behaving a certain way is bad for your self esteem. Examine the reasons for your behavior, but it doesn’t sound to me like you are anything other than a good person.

      Second, you share children together, so being happy and upbeat every time you see him is important for your kids.

      Third, you are behaving with class, so never put yourself down for that. Being polite, even nice, to a bad person doesn’t make you stupid, gullible or naive, especially if you are well aware of what kind of person they are. It makes you classy.

      Now, that being said, you should try and minimize your contact with him at all times and make sure you don’t actually take any of his crap.

      But asserting your boundaries ISN’T a synonym of being mean. Stay strong, and LOVE YOURSELF!

      • Chrysalis says:

        Thanks everyone for taking the time to give input on my situation.
        @ Fifi and Grace. I agree sometimes adopting an unfailingly polite uber detached tone can convey more than any words!
        @ Victorias. I know a few people who use that drop and pick process. In fairness when he drops them off he usually doesn’t come in. I think on that particular night I just got ambushed because my son wanted to change his clothes and he came in to the house to wait for him. I guess I still have feelings for him (which makes me mad at ME because I see this as a lack of self respect) which is why I behave the way I do. I suppose its not so much about whether he enters my space on not, its about how I behave when he’s there. (And I agree when I am vulnerable the less I see of him the better!)
        @SM. Yes cheaters by their nature treat EVERYONE with disdain.
        @ Xena, thank you so much for your kind supportive words.

        • Soph says:

          Hi Chrysalis,

          I’m with Xena on this. You should not deliberately change yourself to try to create an “impact” – be it good or negative on someone who doesn’t even deserve space in your thoughts.

          If you could, just remember to be true to yourself. If he gives you a snarky attitude, tell him off on his behaviour as you would to people who disrespect you. But if he does something really nice for you or your children – and you feel grateful for it, there is nothing wrong to thank him sincerely. Just as long as you don’t extrapolate his actions to be a “intention to get back with you” or any such thoughts.

          You’d do fine. And God bless you and your family!

  4. Tired says:

    Naz
    Try as hard as it seems that youre doing somthing for you now . You have come here to this site . You can read all the posts znd they will make you strong and help you to heal . You are seeing him for what he is . I understand the attention thing . But its tge attention , the feeling not the man you miss . I was sucked in like that and when they are done with you , how ever hard you try and chase that feeling down off them you wont get it . They know youre caught , insnared in the ac hook . I loved my ac for five yrs , watched him get married , use me as a prop and then finally leave fir someone eles , my regret that i hung around so long when the signs oh so clear . I had no boundries . Ice learnt tge nicer you are the more they take the piss . Im a bit further down rd than you but you will grt there as your sel respect button has kicked in and like me it starts to overide the door matt in you . The other ladies on this site will help you as they did me x

  5. H-Bomb says:

    Thanks for another kick in the pants!

  6. I'm the one you speak of says:

    Two weeks of NC, I am being very mindful and calm. Emotions drive me to seek contact and the subsequent approval/rejection roulette. So when I start to feel that feeling.. that need to reach out.. I’ve been stopping… and holding the feeling and observing it. Then in my calmest, Anne Lamott voice, like my own best friend , I say “Honey, there is nothing you want that contacting him is going to get you. It’s not there” and I feel that loss or pain briefly, and I put it away. It is the pain from all those boundaries exploited and all those lines crossed and all my deal breakers broken and stepped on. I’m feeling better with NC, because I can’t get upset about anything new. I’ve been pissed off daily for so long. “Maybe, honey, lets just give it a rest, and give you a rest too”.

  7. TJ says:

    Naz-many of us have been there- wishing for that closeness, and feeling unsure whether we can hold out a NC-I know I have. But I can tell you, it gets easier! You don’t have to make what this guy did about you- it’s not! He’s giving you information through his actions that he is not who you thought he was, and it can take time to heal that heartbreak, but time, along with focusing on you and making the uncomfortable decision daily to start living your life for you, is the only way to stop the pattern of attracting the mirrors of our family and past. When I gave myself the time, tried-on acting differently, felt the feelings, and stayed in a rigorous NC with my AC, things shifted-hugely! That was over three years ago (and many beloved BR reads later), and I no longer attract or am attracted to those poor guys (they are the ones who missed out on us, after all ;) Two months ago I married a consistently kind, respectful, fun, peaceful partner. Trust me, hang in there today- start getting that life of your dreams together and do everything you can to focus on you daily and this pain will start to diminish. You can do it!!

    • Magnolia says:

      TJ that’s an inspiring post! Thanks!

    • Anon says:

      TJ, that is awesome that you worked on NC, yourself and boundaries and are getting married in three years time. Great to hear. I have been on here for two years, (or gosh, is it three? ) doing all the right things (no contact, new job/apartment/friends/trips….And – cobwebs in my pants and lonely in my apartment still. None of it led to a family. How did you meet this nice guy? It is good to see it can happen.

  8. Vegandream says:

    Wow! Thanks for that Natalie. Talk about divine timing. I had an issue with a friend on the weekend over her busting my boundaries. Her boyfriend ‘asked’ me to drive he and her and 3 other friends around for the day to do wine tasting. I informed him that I had not been asked previously and advised him of what amount of driving I would be prepared to do, but that I would not be willing to drive everyone around all day. What ensued were messages of guilt (but i’ve driven you around all week) and anger from my friend and then passive aggression – talking to the other members of the group about it, silent treatment, sideways comments. It can be a bit of a tough choice to make – to go with your gut and say no when you want to and have the consequence of passive agression and the demise of a relationship or to comply and submit to guilt and do whatever the person wants you to do for fear of being alone.. Hang on, did I say tough choice? ;) It hurt my heart a lot on the weekend but I feel so much better for having stood up for myself and not submitted to their boundary busting behaviour. I have no interest in being in a relationship with anyone who cannot respect my ‘no’, regardless of how simple they think it would be for me to do what they requested and regardless of how seemingly ‘selfish’ I seem. I trust myself inherantly to keep myself safe and to go as far as I want to go. I think it’s all just about practice, practice, practice and acceptance that when you undertake a journey of self, some people will find the change very challenging and will reject it and put you down until the cows come home.
    Thanks again for this post!!

  9. laura says:

    Dear Natalie,
    Thank you for this post. If there was any kind of medal given out for ‘Lack of Boundaries’ I am sure I would not only be a nominee, but a winner as well.

    It took me decades to understand why I kept repeating this unhealthy behavior. I was overweight growing up and until recently. That didn’t help with the boundaries, as I found it difficult to have enough self esteem to say no or not now or even yes. It was as if I had to let people (not only the men in my life) walk into my life, walk all over it, clean their shoes on my heart and walk right out…and I’d be standing at the door saying..thank you for visiting, please visit us again soon.

    Almost every relationship I have had with men were doomed from the beginning,they were married men, men addicted to some sort of substance, or unavailable and elusive ass clowns.

    I finally woke up. Halleluiah! In Jan. 2012 I made just one resolution. No more self inflicted pain by accepting unacceptable behavior from men. So 2012 passed like a stroll through paradise. I said no when it did not feel right, I did not pursue anything which sounded off.

    I nearly slipped. In October, I replied to an email from a guy I had met online 12 years ago, we had never met, but had kept in touch, once or twice a year by email. He was consistently nice and polite over the years, so when he wrote asking for news and saying hello, I simply replied in the same tone, all good thanks, hope you are well and full stop. He kept writing and skype calling, asked for my phone number (He is in the US and Im in Europe – 6 hours diff). Very soon, he started talking about ‘finally’ meeting. From talking that became ‘pressuring’ and the topic of each conversation became planning when we would meet and what he would do to me! euh!. I nearly caved in. At some point I nearly convinced myself that why not? let’s meet him, after all he is nice and he seems to be into me. There was a nagging little voice inside though. I nearly ignored that oh so important nagging tiny voice in the back of my head saying – wait, don’t meet yet, get to know him a bit more.
    At some point I voiced my concern that it might be too soon, his reaction? He changed the conversation and brushed off my concern (red flag #1) and said something to the effect that when he watches porn he thinks of me (red flag #2) err? what? and that the moment he sees me in the hotel room he would …. (red flag #s 3,4,5,6 -10). Hm I never said I would meet him in a hotel room etc… in that one conversation we reached the maximum total of red flags reachable and the flags were actually turning purple. I realized that I needed to stay alert – and this is important to everyone here – we should let our guards down until we have really mastered setting healthy boundaries.

    The meeting (he decided) was supposed to be in March. I sent him a quick message at the beginning of the year telling him that meeting at that time was not possible, I did not propose a new date, just said so sorry it cant happen, take care. Guess what? he has not replied or contacted me since then. I hope he never does.

    I am relieved – and proud of myself for stopping this insanity. I am grateful to this experience which taught me I still have some work to do but hell, I aint walking into a hotel to meet a complete stranger so that he would red flag me # 10 – infinity :)
    Laura

  10. colororange says:

    But I feel like I HAVE to hide who I am and how I really feel about certain subjects when around family. My mother is an overbearing woman who thinks the way she sees things is THE right way and doesn’t even view me as a woman. I was videoing my grandfather recently at Christmas when she makes some bogus remark saying I sit on my a$$ all day and do nothing when referring to the work I do. I did not say anything though truthfully I wanted to throw my video camera at her ignorant head. I work hard and I am a perfectionist because of stuff like that. Hearing stuff like that ALL my life. But her comment has been gnawing at me. I have to figure out how to edit that out of the video now. It seems like whether it is family or at work, I am surrounded by mindless people that don’t think of how their comments impact other people. When I try to set a boundary I am met with “you don’t really feel that way” or I’m not taken seriously. They try and push passed what boundary I set. It’s like I do not exist at all even after all this time. So I am pretty much quiet around most people to avoid most underhanded remarks….though I lost who I am. Other comments include “toughen up”, “you’re too sensitive” or some other malarkey. I don’t understand why people do that. And what it is about me that makes them want to act that way toward me. I practice daily (when I remember) telling myself I am worthy and good enough to speak my truth. I only wish people wouldn’t respond with such harsh comments when I do.

    • Magnolia says:

      colororange, I wish for you some new interactions with people other than your family. It took a few years of being in a different province from mine to have enough distance to learn some relationship skills on my own, and only after years of that to finally take those skills back into my interactions with my folks such that I can be around them without their ways making me feel so darn powerless and ashamed.

      Glad that YOU know you’re hardworking. Sometimes the best boundary is a lot of space between you and them.

  11. miskwa says:

    Naz
    Keep on a readin BR. Yep, once again, I was thinking of some of those other rship blogs that really want us to give up boundaries and essentially be a doormat. Had pretty good boundaries before the at work AC and have even stronger ones now. Have always stuck with my values and opinions even though they have often caused me to be downright hated. Some of em are;
    No sex until 1-3 months after beginning dating
    Dishonesty equals flush. Don’t care if you’re lying about height, weight, health, education, involved with someone else, you are gone.
    It’s not my job to fix you, support you financially, nor raise yer kids; my parenting days are over
    My lifestyle is sacred territory; wanna live American middle class, fine, find someone else
    No addictions, period
    No abuse of any sort, including towards my critters
    No calls, texts, emails after 8 pm
    Racism will not be tolerated
    Yep, may wind up alone for the rest of my days but my self respect will be intact.

    • Victorious says:

      For what it’s worth Miskwa, your boundaries look really reasonable to me. Until I found BR I hadn’t a clue about boundaries and it is still so interesting to me. I have been trying some on for size and the results so far have been pretty satisfying. I feel sure if you stick to yours you will not end up “alone for the rest of my days” but none of us is ever really alone are we? We have to be able to live with ourselves and is that really possible to be comfortable living with yourself when your boundaries are busted all over? I think not. You have the right idea. Funnily enough my teenage daughter has been talking a lot about living as you do(from as much as you have described on here.) I think you rock.

  12. MRWriter says:

    Funny, boundary laying is one of my New Year’s resolutions. I’m always afraid of upsetting the apple cart or coming across as unreasonable. Not sure where this comes from except I did not socialize much as an only child and went to a very small grade school (10 of us total). Only children have this stereotype for being selfish but I think I went to the other extreme. I question my feelings, instincts, and don’t like to assume the worst about people’s intentions. I’m not a total pushover but one of those whose boundaries are way out there, on the horizon, and when they’re crossed, I wait until they’re crossed again and then I overact or pounce all over the person like a saber-tooth tiger or I split (or both). Not the best way to teach people how to treat me. I’m actively working on this though and I’ve been left a little confused by prior EUMs/ACs making me feel as though my boundaries should be compromised or relaxed or that mine are negotiable while theirs…as Natalie puts it, fat chance of that.

  13. Molly 56 says:

    Hey, what an apropos post today! I think I’ve always been a lurker; not sure if I’ve ever posted, but I just spent a miserable weekend over a boundary issue with my apartment manager and neighbor. I have for many years made a weekly call to my sister (I’m 61, she’s 58) and these sessions mean the world to me…they keep us both sane. Anyway, I go out of the apartment today to see a note from the manager that the neighbor thinks that’s way to early to receive calls on a Sunday (like it’s her business?)and she can’t get back to sleep because she can hear me. Also, the former neighbors didn’t like it either and were glad to leave. This is over 1.5 years, and I hear about it today for the first time. I’ve been sooo “nice”…listen to tv with headphones, tiptoe around in the early morning and don’t flush the toilet late at night if I use it. I’m feeling violated and humiliated and embarassed that my 6 AM calls have been heard and I feel like an idiot but I know I shouldn’t. Manager then proceeded to tell me that my voice was too loud and I needed to take these calls in my living room with the bedroom door closed…oh, and the bathroom door also. Everybody tells me to flip them all off, but I was very angry and said things I shouldn’t. Now I feel a fool. Is this a boundary problem?

    • Sm says:

      Um it’s not a boundary problem for you. How were you supposed to know they could here everything if they didn’t tell you. It would have been nice if someone would have said something way earlier. And good grief those are some paper thin walls if you need to leave a room and close the door. I don’t blame you for getting angry but I imagine it’d be difficult not to be after a year and a half.

  14. Molly 56 says:

    The reason I’m wondering if it’s a boundary issues is that I feel so incredibly miserable and humiliated. My family is perplexed why I can’t just agree to talk softer or go elsewhere…that’s usually the way I react; just a “oops!!! sorry about that” and move on. But I can’t move on this time. I can’t stop thinking about it and I just get more and more wound up. Is it because I was thinking I was such a nice and well behaved neighbor and I got a “comeuppance”? I can’t figure out why I feel so bad and can’t move on…

    • Fifi says:

      I’d say if the neighbour came and spoke to you directly, you would have reacted better – it feels unfair to have the manager come to you, like you’re unreasonable – with no compromises just demands. So I’d say a ‘fairness’ boundary has been busted?
      Also, a bit cheeky of manager – how thin are these walls when you can’t have a conversation?
      People have to live.
      I share with a Spanish girl who talks loudly to relatives late at night, I just put in ear plugs and go to sleep:)

    • yoghurt says:

      Hiya Molly

      I had an insanely huge bust-up with my sister at Christmas and I was mortified afterwards because I handled it badly. But then, I have been ducking out of managing my boundaries properly for years, so it stands to reason that when I’m unexpectedly called on to stand up for myself then I’m not very well-practiced at thinking on the hoof and keeping my dignity and/or not ranting and/or not screeching at the top of my voice. *shame*.

      Fwiw, I think that your manager was unreasonable in that a) a note is an unfair way to deal with the issue – imo a request for you to modify your behaviour IN YOUR OWN HOME at least warrants a face-to-face meeting so that you have the right to discuss and reply, b) your neighbour was unreasonable in going over your head immediately, c) the dig about the other residents was out-of-order – any issues should be dealt with at the time or not at all, not saved up and used as ammo for another occasion and d) given that the issue involves personal conversations that you’ve had IN YOUR OWN HOME then there was a degree of duty to you to flag up the issue sooner and more sensitively than now, purely from the point of view of your privacy.

      I’d be super-upset by all of that too.

      If I was you (and I don’t really know the details of the confrontation) then I’d approach the relevant person again but first of all sit down and write out the points that you want to make. Apologise if *you* feel that you stepped out of line with anything that you said but explain that you were angry. Then state why you were angry and exactly where the disparities between your expectations and their behaviour are. Then state what you see as a solution.

      This approach works pretty well for me at work and, in fact, in any situation where I have time to think beforehand!

      I think you’ll feel better about this if you give yourself a chance to redress the balance. They caught you on the hop with some really insensitive behaviour – imo (and as it’s still an unresolved issue) you need to redress the balance by firmly stating your own pov in an adult-adult (as opposed to a parent-child, which it sounds like you were forced into) scenario.

      • Lilia says:

        Molly
        I´d feel very bad in your situation, I don´t think you´re exaggerating. I think there is a measure of ill will when neighbours start complaining like that. Sure, maybe someone did hear that you were talking over the phone, but if that person has some level of tolerance it will not be perceived as annoying. My own neighbours are musicians and they play the drums and trumpet all day. Their kids are very noisy too. But I´ve never bothered about that.

        I have had other neighbours who caused lots of conflicts so I know how threatening it feels to be surrounded by people who seem to be wishing you harm. It´s really stressful! I think the only way out is to keep your guard up and approach them as rationally as possible, without getting carried away by emotions and embarking on any conflict.

  15. Emerldeyez says:

    I have had no contact for about 6 weeks, after several attempts. I had visitors from out of town, and the AC showed up at my house, knocked on the door when I was walking my dogs, and started to tell my visitor “talking Shit”, i was told by my visitor when I walked up to the door. I simply asked him why are you here, and he wanted to talk. I said we had nothing to talk about, that was 10 days ago. He is blocked, on all levels, yet yesterday I was in a store, and I found a business card on my car window, asking why I won’t talk, that he loves me. I unblocked him, to say, stay away, stop stalking me, it is over, go away. And I re-blocked him before he had any chance to respond.

    I don’t miss him and the lies, the abuse, I miss the thought of a relationship. I will continue the no contact, it was a very unhealthy relationship, and I am better without him. So keep it up, it gets easier, and your thinking gets clearer and you will get to a point that you will see how insane the relationship had gotten, how you became a doormat. You deserve so much better!!!

  16. Tinkerbell says:

    Naz,

    The “man” is a dog! He tells you it’s your fault that you caught him cheating. If that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black! (Old term I’m sure you’ve never heard.) Stay NC. You don’t garbage in your life. It’s 2013. Make a clean sweep.

  17. Anna says:

    thanks for this. i just broke it off with my “friend with benefits” this weekend. it was really hard to do as I fear(ed) being lonely without him. But really, I wasn’t happy with the situation and seeing him was keeping me from meeting other people. Looking back, I can’t believe how I had almost no boundaries and was so passive around him. I thought if I didn’t he would leave and I would be alone. I realized he would never end things because I was easy sex to him. I almost never said no or had other plans on every Saturday night for 6 months.

    Wow, I’m so glad I ended it, finally.

  18. Jennifer Tiffany says:

    “One by one I’ve stood up to people in my life who at one point I would have been terrified of. I’m not a child anymore. Neither are you.”

    Some more of Natalie’s beautifully wise words. So. Incredibly. Inspiring.

    The dynamic between my ex and I was parent/child. I looked to him to essentially tell me what I needed and run my life. Well, I let him run it into the ground, just as he was doing with with his. And I am the one who was left with the pieces.

    Today, I realized something. I have been carrying around a huge burden of guilt. I have been blaming myself for my mom’s death since she committed suicide 16 years ago when I was 12.

    She became very ill with schizophrenia shortly after I was born. I don’t think she received the diagnosis until after I had been born. I have believed that the pregnancy triggered her schizophrenia and had I not been born, my mom would still be alive today.

    I feel as if I should have never been born. I miss her so much I’d rather have never been born in order for her to live. I wish I could go back and change things, control things and save her. I wish I could plead with her to not do it. To stay for me, though rationally I could have done nothing. I was twelve and she was living in a different city at the time. Nonetheless, I think, “If I could have called her. I noticed she hadn’t called as much shortly before her death. If I could have been nicer, and listened to her more…”

    And who’s to say if she would have made it or not irrespective of a pregnancy. I couldn’t save her then and I can’t save her now.

    It’s no wonder my heart is still, over eight months down the road from the breakup, in tatters over an emotionally upset man who had been suicidal three months prior to our meeting. I can’t save these people. I couldn’t save my friend who died of cancer, I can’t save my addicted father, and I never could have saved my mother and stewing in the childhood omnipotence that I could have and can rescue these types of people only sets me up for giving up all my power and remaining a forever child. I don’t want that. I want better.

    • Magnolia says:

      Jennifer Tiffany – you have a lot going on in your immediate family history. A lot to work out. But good for you for noticing that you have unresolved guilt and that you managed to hand over your power to a man who, if he was that recently suicidal, was really not in any position to be an authority figure to you! You probably wanted to fix/please/help someone just like your mom. So good that you’re here at BR. This site is great for support as you figure out all the old baggage and drop those suitcases of guilt/shame one by one!

  19. Sheela Nandini says:

    So happy to have you back,Natalie! Love this post.My first read of the day:)

    “Why do we still continue to feed ourselves with this myth that people who have self-respect are alone, disliked and unhappy?” Spot on!

    Hugs
    sheela

  20. Gina says:

    I’m tired. I am SO tired of people trying to take advantage of me because I am a nice person. I feel as though they take my kindness for weakness. I stick to my boundaries and find that although some people will look at their behavior and respect my boundaries, others act like I have insulted them in some way and actually have the nerve to become offended and defensive. It’s as though I do not have the right to demand that I be treated with respect. I have been reading various books about manipulative, controlling, and passive-aggressive people in order to better understand the types of personalities that I have had the misfortune of coming in contact with. To be honest, I have found it quite frightening to learn how cunning, conniving, and downright evil some people (who seem normal on the surface) can be. I am drained emotionally.

    • Revolution says:

      I’m on the same page, Gina. Keep doing what you’re doing though. You’re on the right track. I’m rooting for you! :)

    • rlva says:

      Gina, what you mean when you say drained emotionally.
      Being a friend to someone who takes your kindness for weakness can be a bitter pill to swallow. Especially when they appear to have it all going on. don’t ever let someone steal your joy and make you tired.

    • dancingqueen says:

      “To be honest, I have found it quite frightening to learn how cunning, conniving, and downright evil some people (who seem normal on the surface) can be. I am drained emotionally”

      Gina me too: I have a weirdo at work and a crazy family; sometimes I feel like I am stymied how some people, who are so horrible, can end up married and in a relationship.

      My coworker is a total borderline personality disorder test-case and she acts in cycles: nice, mean, intentionally nasty, flips out, and then gets nice again for sometimes absolutely no reason. At first we were all walking on eggshells but now I am so used to it, that anything she does pretty much rolls off of my back.

      That said though, I still can’t believe she is a mom with 2 kids and a hubby the way she acts! How is it possible that someone that crazy is with someone and I am alone lol.

      • La Pintura Bella says:

        Because these people end up with other disordered people. They are both unhealthy. We are looking for quality, THEY settle for whoever will put up with their crap.

        In my opinion, people who “mistake” being nice for being weak are TRULY the weak ones. It’s a huge red flag to me now. Flush, Flush, Flush. They get nasty because THEY are filled with self-loathing and are projecting onto the nice people. They WISH they were as strong as the nice people are.

  21. tiffrbug says:

    Thank you for the post on boundaries, I have recently become obsessed with them! Boundaries by Cloud/Townsend is an awesome resource as well. It incorporates the Bible and helps in overcoming guilt associated with wanting to be a loving person. :)

    Most important lesson learned: Boundaries don’t work with controlling people. Try not to take it personally. They are controlling. Pity them. What they want, and what everybody wants subconsciously is love. They will not get genuine, authentic love with control. It is not about us being unlovable, they don’t have the capability. Pity them, forgive them, AMEN! Thanks for being a blessing Nat! :)

    • Revolution says:

      I agree, Tiffrbug.

      “Pity them.” My only addition would be “….from far away. Like Bermuda.” ;)

  22. MJ says:

    One of the very best things I have ever done for myself was to start going to therapy and one of the very best things I have learned so far in therapy is setting healthy boundaries. I still have a very hard time trusting my first instincts and feeling that I need to give people second, third, fourth, etc. chances because I don’t want people thinking I expect too much or that I’m being a nasty mean person if I don’t agree with their behaviors and/or ideas and opinions. In the past 6 months to a year I have drastically cut down on the people I have surrounded myself (mostly due to a grueling new work schedule, but also a lot has to do with conscience choice as I had a lot of people that were FAKE friends) and although sometimes it does bother me that I spend most of my free time alone, I realize it was the best choice for me and I don’t have to worry anymore about who is offended by what or what they’re saying behind my back and/or disrespecting me to my face about. It’s a freeing feeling and this was a very EXCELLENT post, Nat. Thank you!

  23. Little Star says:

    What a brilliant post, thank you Natalie for reminding yet again about boundaries. I rid of some of my friends last year, and regretted in the beginning, but now I am quiet happy that I am not part of toxic friendships. I became a stronger person and value my own opinion, only one thing is difficult to deal with – closed relatives. I am planning two major changes this year and my sister and cousin persuading me to change my mind, otherwise (they think) I will regret it..I will regret even more if I would not pursue my dream! They just cant get it, as they think my life is perfect and I do not need any changes! I am just getting fed up, why should I ask them a permission how to live my life?!!!

  24. Victorious says:

    “But don’t you need their approval?” or “Can you really afford to go around flushing people? Do you want to end up with cobwebs in your pants, lonely and being found dead in your apartment after three weeks being feasted on by cats?”

    Yes this is how I feel sometimes. Basically it is fear. What is so weird though is that in my professional life I have really clear and well enforced boundaries, probably more so than a lot of my colleagues. Seriously nobody messes with me at work. In my personal relationships though I like to avoid conflict and keep the peace. A work friend who knew what was going on with the ex narc was gobsmacked at my behaviour. She just couldn’t understand why someone as “kickass” as me was accepting such shitty behaviour from a man. I think I need to work out why I behave so differently in different areas of my life.
    The only two boundaries I had in my romantic relationships were 1. No Cheating and 2. No Violence. I have experienced these violations and immediately bailed with no going back. The ex knew about this early on and so he never did these things, he just busted every other boundary you can think a reasonable person would have. Cocaine use, lies, witholding sex, treating me less than, ambiguity, making major life decisions without even mentioning them to me. I accepted it all without a whimper.
    Time to toughen up!

    • Revolution says:

      Hey Victorious,

      We’re human. We live, we learn. Even kickass women like us.

      I just had a conversation with a friend of mine last night, and you just reminded me of it. She is thinking of starting her own business, and said “I need to get back to the girl I was when I was younger. I used to be able to do ANYTHING. I would say I was going to do something, and I would DO it.” I told her what I’m going to tell you: “That girl is NOT GONE. She’s still there, but she’s just been dormant for a while. That’s normal. All of us go through ebbs and flows. This is life. You’ll find that girl again.” And I meant every word of it.

      So the moral of the story is, you’re still kickass. You just need to exercise that muscle again, and expand it to other areas in your life. No harm, no foul. (Well, SOME harm, but no foul.) You took the hit, now get up and move on. We’re rooting for you. ;)

      • Victorious says:

        Thanks Rev, you reminded me of something my son tells me when he can tell I am not firing on all cylinders. “Mum, you are a warrior, not a worrier.” I always appreciate your no nonsense comments!

        • Revolution says:

          Your son is right, and what a great saying that is! Thanks for sharing. I love your comments and the warm encouragement you’ve extended my way as well. Keep moving, sister. :)

  25. angelus says:

    I’ve recently realised that my mother is a narcissist, who doesn’t think that I can run my own life. From little digs at my weight to comparing me to her friends’ daughters (both married with children, great relationship with their own mother) and insists on a daily phone call to question my life, which I actually dread. The last time she visited me, she started cleaning my kitchen, which I had already done, and when I asked her to stop, she brushed me aside and carried on. I asked her to leave my flat immediately. To this day she chastises me for enforcing my boundaries in my own living space and does not see how rude she was by busting my boundaries and calls me a “horrible daughter”. Was I right to ask her to leave? Am I right for refusing to take her phone calls? Some advice would be much appreciated ladies.

    • Victorious says:

      Angelus I can totally identify with this as I have had 47 years of it from my own narc mother. Probably explains a lot about my boundary issues. The only way I can control my own issues with her is to be as low contact as possible. Daily phone calls would be a definite no-no. I probably speak to her about once a week and keep it as brief and business like as I can. I know to people who don’t have narc parents it must sound so horrible that I say I am businesslike with her, but believe me, if you show her any weakness, expose any emotion, share any confidences, she will use the information to RIP ME APART.
      She doesn’t care about your boundaries but that doesn’t mean she has control. YOU STILL HAVE CONTROL. Just answer her calls when it suits you. If you don’t like the way a conversation is going, just say uh-huh, yep, mm when you have to or cut her off and say you have to go, someone is at the door, a bird just flew in through the window, your taxi is outside, anything.
      I know this is avoidance and I should be calling her out on all her shitty behaviour but part of me just doesn’t care enough to bother any more. She has done things to me that are unforgiveable and I don’t really get hurt any more, other than her nastiness being a sad reminder that I didn’t get the parenting/childhood I should have. Angelus this is a really personal situation and I don’t feel I can advise you on how to deal with your own narc mother but I hope sharing my story has been useful to you, even if it just helps to know you are not alone.

  26. Maria Carmen says:

    I wanted to ‘shout out’ to Jennifer Tiffany, to say that pregnancy does not bring on schizophrenia. The illness is usuallly not manifested until adulthood (anywhere from 18-25 yrs. of age). Please don’t blame yourself for your mother’s illness – she is not to blame and neither are you. Your childhood was a difficult one but, if it had not been, most of us eventually learn that so many things are *not* in our control. No, we can’t stop loved ones from becoming sick, or even dying…we can’t help it if we get sick, either. What we can control is our “inner” selves, which includes setting our own boundaries and our own expectations of what we want to give “in” life and what we want “from” life. Wishing you all the best!

  27. Jane says:

    Hmm interesting that boundaries are linked with different values.. I didnt think of that before, oddly. I’m 7 months pregnant and my boyfriend is moody, rude, lazy and unhelpful. If I try to say anything to him which criticises him he goes crazy and usually runs back to his mums.
    I have been trying to keep the peace, for mine an baby’s sake more than anything, but it’s not working. Need a new strategy. What can I do? Really could do with advice as I’m close to breaking point now. Don’t want to be on my own but sick of this cycle. I have been too nice, too understanding of his problems. How can I demonstrate my boundaries? Is walking away the only way or is there something that will kick his ass enough to see he’s going to lose his family if he doesn’t fix up??
    Desperate here :( x

    • Marie83 says:

      Hi Jane,
      Thanks for sharing and I’m sorry to hear you are not getting the support you need at the moment. My advice would be to look back at the relationship with your boyfriend and see whether this behaviour has been conistent – as Natalie has often said on this site a good indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour.It really is unacceptable that he runs back to his mother rather than communicate with you. I hope this helps x

    • Victorious says:

      Jane, although I have some reticence about advising someone in your predicament, you have come asking for help so here goes….
      This man does not meet your expectations (whether they would be seen as reasonable by him/his mum/anyone else is irrelevant) in terms of being lazy, rude, moody and unhelpful. He also cries like a baby and goes running back to mummy when you raise any issues with his behaviour.
      I can understand you do not want to be a single mum but from what you have written here, you are going to be bringing up this baby alone anyway, even if you stick with the relationship. I think what you need to ask yourself is if you want to be caring for/feeding/nurturing one baby or two? Cos if you don’t get a change in behaviour from the boyfriend, you will be dealing with the latter.
      Finally, actions speak louder than words, especially with men. You can “tell him” you are unhappy until you are blue in the face. I seriously doubt he will change anything unless he faces real consequences, such as you showing him the door unless he demonstrates he is able to meet your needs. Only you know how serious and deep seated your relationship problems are, and I wish you lots of luck, and happiness with your new baby.

    • cc says:

      jane-
      like victorious said – your guy is acting like a child. however, you’re soon going to have an actual child and the actual child must come first.

      i’m not very good at doing this yet…the thing about boundaries is that we must respect our own boundaries ourselves before anyone else will. it doesn’t really do any good to keep on the other person to respect our boundaries first. yes, you can tell him til you’re blue in the face, but it won’t be until you ACT that you have a prayer of him taking you seriously.

      so – decide what the boundaries are that you want to enforce. then enforce them. you cannot make anyone do anything, but you can behave in a way that respects YOURSELF. then, if he acts like an asshat, disengage. do not deal with him, or limit your dealing, when he is not behaving in a way you want.

      unfortunately, and i’m very sorry, his childish behavior (which his mother is tolerating – not a good mom, don’t be like her) screams “i don’t want to be a responsible partner/father”. this may change…but it may not.

      so, pay attention to what you need and give it to yourself. don’t put up with his shit. i’m sorry, i know this is hard, but he clearly has no problem enforcing his own boundaries. you stick up for yours.

      • Lilia says:

        Jane,
        Once your baby is born you won´t be able to put up with your boyfriend´s BS, simply because you won´t have the time! You´ll be extremely busy, make no mistake about that. And he won´t be able to compete with a baby´s needs. So I don´t think you´ll need to tell him anything.
        He´ll find out on his own that he can´t behave like a child anymore. Then, if he insists, show him the door.

  28. Magnolia says:

    I’m glad that this past year I had the chance to exercise some boundaries and be pissed off appropriately … at my folks.

    In some ways I’ve had uber-boundaries, putting lots of distance between me and the world since leaving a man I lived with when I was 30 (now 39). But the habits of no-boundaries from childhood, that made me learn being-with-people = caving-to-others’-demands, and being-myself=being-alone, have meant that I have an all or nothing approach to people. Either I’m with you and suffocating myself, or alone so the real me has space to breathe. If I didn’t keep things up with my parents (some of you may remember I considered cutting one/both of them out of my life completely), I may not have had the opportunity to practice reacting with boundaries to people who know which of my buttons to push!

    I must have some stuff to learn still. Just thinking of my ex-roomie from my former city still makes me fume: how much of myself was I stuffing just to keep the peace there?

    Since just before the new year I have cut out wheat, sugar, dairy, and meat from my diet. I’m eating this way for a while. I’ve done this before and I always learn something. Right now all the skills I’ve learned from BR come into play as I choose to treat doughnuts like ACs (yes, I enjoyed them and got a big kick out our time together, but afterwards I always felt kind of bad about myself – one, because I’d done something bad for me, and two, because I wasn’t able to make a decision to stop).

    It’s a longer story as to how practicing these food choices for me actually feels like drawing new boundaries with myself, and like saying no to my mom’s favorite (only) way of celebrating life. I’m blogging about it, even.

    NML you are so right that boundaries take practice. Right now I’m realizing how much saying no to my muffins has come with so much internal backtalk that no wonder I find it hard to say no to others. I always assumed that others must be hating on me if I say no. But now as I learn to say no to myself, and I really get that I am saying no now in the service of a larger goal, I can hear “no” with lots less resistance.

    Maybe there are all kinds of healthy people out there reacting to ‘no’ with similar balance.

    • Chrysalis says:

      Ha ha I love it Magnolia. Treat doughnuts like AC’s! Good point as well about setting boundaries with ourselves. I too have noticed when I eat ‘clean’ my thinking is much clearer. However I do have issues with food, I am a typical comfort eater, another issue I am working on. Sometimes I feel so down and think will it ever get any better or will I always be working on some issue or other??:(

  29. Jane (to Molly) says:

    Molly’s post interested me – you feel bugged by this revelation because yes it’s a boundary. We will feel uncomfy when they’ve been stepped over.
    You don’t say if you rent or own your apartment, but either way, if there is no mention in your management contract about noise levels then you are entitled to do what you like in whatever room in your home, be it an early morning phone call or swinging from the rafters naked. Of course everyone is entitled to ‘quiet enjoyment of their home’ also, and these people if it bothered them, did not express that their boundaries were being breached til now. And that is their problem, not yours.
    I feel that this manager could have been more polite and understanding when talking to you when expressing this boundary which would have made it easier to take. But the manner it was done wasn’t that nice and embarassed you, possibly because of the nature of the calls.
    If it were me I’d wait to calm down from the initial shock of the revelation before speaking to manager again (if at all) and if need be, say that you’ll do what you like in your home and will be more mindful of the noise for your neighbours. And that you won’t however be talking in another room as he suggests. The neighbours can always get earplugs. Noise is what you expect when living in an apt! If that’s a boundary they have then they should have moved into a place with less neighbours.

  30. Jane says:

    This is so relevant to me today. As yet again I’m sad and upset because my boyfriend has run home to his mums after getting angry at me.

    I stepped over his clear boundary that he won’t tolerate moaning or complaining..
    This was due to his stepping over my boundary again, of not helping me with the washing up / cooking / sitting on his ass all day / being kind,caring,respectful. I’m 7 months pregnant so I need help around the house. It pisses me off when I’m doing the washing up he’s on Facebook. He says I should ask if I want help.. I say I shouldn’t have to ask… (And when I do I have to ask many times and it takes so long I just do it myself).

    I’ve read so much on Natalie’s blog about boundaries and I know that showing ACs the door is the best thing to do.. But I don’t think I can do this baby thing on my own. And Baby is more of a reason to lay down my boundaries now because I don’t want my child growing up seeing his behaviour as acceptable.

    I just want a quiet stress free pregnancy (the rest of it anyway) so I am guilty of letting him step over my boundaries. But this cant go on, it must change. Maybe he won’t change although he’s seeking counselling at last for his anger and emotional issues. I am sick of this baggage tho but I do want us to be a family.

    Please, I need your help.. What can I do? Is there another way to show him I have boundaries without walking? As at this stage it would be so hard for me to do that as I wouldn’t be calm and happy which is what my baby needs right now. I need to demonstrate that I’m not going to take this behaviour any more, that he needs to fix up soon or he’s going to lose my love and his family for good.

    • Marie83 says:

      Hi Jane,
      His boundary of not tolerating anyone complaining is just a way to silence you and if he runs off to his Mothers rather than discuss this with you, this is control – my ex would use the silent treatment so I appreciate how frustrating this is. Perhaps you could suggest going to counselling together?

    • yoghurt says:

      Hey Jane

      I think that you need to stop thinking in terms of how YOU can make HIM behave in a certain way. There is, sadly, no cast-iron guaranteed way of manipulating him into becoming the man that you want/need at the moment… and I’m sure that it may well rankle to read the word ‘manipulates’, but while you’re planning your actions in terms of effecting a particular response from him then that’s what you’re trying to do.

      Take a step back and think about YOU for a sec. Do YOU want to be with someone who behaves like this? What sort of behaviour would YOU expect from someone who had a seven-month-pregnant partner? What would he have to do to YOU to prove that he was worthy of living with you as a family? What’s more important to YOU – that your baby grows up in a two-parent family or that he/she grows up witnessing healthy interactions (if possibly distant) between family members?

      These things are down to YOU to decide and then act on.

      He will make his choice. He will decide whether or not to put the effort into changing, if he wants to be a good father and whether he would rather deal with the end of your relationship or with having to pull his finger out. Those are his choices and you have no control over those whatsoever.

      And if there’s a recipe for being permanently frustrated and upset, it’s trying to control things that are outside of your remit.

      I had a baby by myself – it was hard and very sad and difficult but there are nice things about it as well and you’d manage. I do understand that you want to make it work (I certainly did!) but you can’t carry that decision by yourself – he has to be prepared to share it.

      I have to say, though, that if he struggles to cope with a complaining gf then he’s going to have REAL issues with a teeny tiny tyrant who only sleeps for three hours a pop…

      • Mymble says:

        Yoghourt
        Lol to the teeny tiny tyrant!
        I used to call mine the tyrannosaurus Babus. I wouldnt want a manchild to add on to that. And yup one of the strong messages here is you can’t change people and it’s futile to attempt it. SOMETIMES they themselves decide to change but that is a lot of work and at present this guy does not sound like he has any interest in it. It would kill me to be be cook cleaner and laundress to a man, though I know some women have marriages that work like that and are okay with it. Or seem to be, though one wonders if they aren’t choking back their resentment.

        • yoghurt says:

          Ha – tyrannosaurus babus, I think that I used to have one of those too!

          It’s worth mentioning that, a year or so ago, when I was ‘sharing my experiences with the EUM (read: whinging about my hard lot) quite a lot of – usually older – married women said “Well, he sounds just about as sensitive and considerate as my husband was, only yours spends more time with the baby”. I don’t think that it’s the right way for him to be, but I do think that a lot of relationships have operated on similar principles.

          Re: the changing people, I used to believe that everyone was built like a little Heath Robinson machine, press the right button, the cog whirr, the wheels click round and a bunch of flowers lands in your lap. I wasted an awful lot of time pressing buttons before I realised that some people were only ever going to hit you with an old sock full of rotten eggs. They just don’t have the flowers in them.

      • cc says:

        jane-
        in the meantime, don’t play the “but i shouldn’t have to ask” game. you want him to do something? just ask him to do it. you’re wasting energy on shoulds, energy you don’t have to waste. then go back and read what yoghurt wrote 10 times.

    • Allison says:

      Jane,

      Sounds like you’re already doing it on your own. Hon, this is who he is.

      Give yourself some peace, you don’t need two children to care for.

    • Claudia says:

      Jane,

      Yes, you can do it alone. :) It’ll be hard, but in the end you and your child will benefit from a family where no disrespect will take place and harmony is present.

      Jane, believe me, there are many good things ahead of you. Mothering is not easy and it should ideally be the work of two, but when you do it without a man who’s less than a zero, it is way easier.

      You may not be considering it right now, given your priorities, but having no man is better than having a half a man. Please don’t buy the family myth with your child’s father. He will not be there for your child unconditionally, and nobody wants the love of a conditional father.

      Get strong. And get the support of family and friends in this difficult. yet beautiful part of your life.

      Love yourself, and your child will love himself, too. :)

    • Sm says:

      Jane how about you having a boundary of not tolerating him running to mummy’s every time you have a disagreement. Like make this time the last, pack his things and drop them off. You are already not calm and happy, there is an undercurrent of tension running through you at all times because of his behavior and that is just as damaging.

    • Ms Determined says:

      Jane, here’s my baby story as food for thought. You’re here at BR, so I can only assume that you’re upset by your guy’s behaviour (although nothing you wrote made me think AC, unless it isn’t his mummy he’s running to).

      I broke up with my ex AC five years ago when I finally accepted what I had known deep down for a long time. That despite his declarations of undying love (usually delivered via expertly timed, flowery texts, even though we LIVED TOGETHER), he didn’t give a rat’s arse about me. Like your guy, his favourite trick was also disappearing (amazing how many obliging ‘mate’s couches’ he occupied on weekends, and by ‘mates couches’, I’m pretty sure I mean ‘strange vaginas’).

      We had had sex during the week before I kicked him out. For the first time in 10 MONTHS. Clearly he thought he could dickmatise me into not breaking up with him over the obvious fact he no longer fancied me (although clearly this was the least of our problems). 4 weeks later, it occurred to me while I was in the shower that I hadn’t had a period in a while (I wasn’t really keeping track of my cycles…what’s the point when there isn’t any sex?) When my partner at work suggested I do a test, I nearly died laughing. There was no way I was going to be pregnant, I was 39 for chrissakes! And this isn’t an episode of the Bold and the Beautiful! As it turns out, it was.

      When I told the ex AC about the baby he *seemed* thrilled (but then had to rush off to meet a ‘workmate’. At 9pm). I was adamant I was doing it all on my own. Over the next little while he persuaded me (damn those pregnancy hormones) to let him back in, that he had seen the error of his ways and that he wanted us to be a family, that it was all “fate”. I waited until it looked like he meant it and let him back in when I was 5 months pregnant. Who here at BR can see what’s coming next?

      This was the worst time of it all. Once he was back in, he really let me have it, disappearing and coming back drunk or drugged or both at ungodly hours (even on work nights). Once I came into the kitchen to confront him about where he’d been and saw him blind drunk with a knife in the toaster, trying to get out his post booze snack (note: he was texting someone with his other hand). I cursed the existence of safety switches. I was crying so much in those last months I made an appointment with the doctor to ask if I could break the baby from being so bloody upset. I rationalised the ex ACs assholery by saying he was just letting off steam before the baby came (he is also a bit younger than me) and that it would all come right when the baby was born because no one would be such an unholy dick under those circumstances, with a precious new baby in the house right? Right??

      Wrong. We broke up when the baby was 3 months old when he came two days after ‘popping out for a drink with the neighbour’. He was so drunk he wet the bed. I told him I didn’t need to be buying adult nappies as well as newborn ones and I moved in with my mum, feeling bereft (mainly for the baby) but strangely peaceful. My baby slept in a drawer, but I didn’t mind, just happy to be away from the madness. I later learned from a friend of his who had felt sorry for me for ages that he had been in a ‘serious’ relationship with someone they both worked with. He took up with her about the time he moved back in with me. I hated him with every fibre of my being. The cherry on top was learning his nickname at work. It was Pantsman. What a loser. But not half as much as a loser as me for rationalising it all. Happily, as Nat would say, I’m not that woman anymore.

      I have had to mentally flush him even though he is still around, which has taken a really, really long time (baby is now 5). He has now been in my life for 10 years, but I do my best to pretend he doesn’t exist. Amazingly, he did not leave, apart from when the baby was small, he went interstate for 8 months chasing a dream and missed his first birthday. Now that my son is older he’s super involved, I think because daddy is the hero, and the ex AC can’t get enough of it. Quelle surprise.

      Please do not allow this guy to make your experience of motherhood into something fraught. Give yourself the peace of it being your decision to do it alone for YOU, BEFORE the baby comes. Try and avoid having to leave when your baby is here. Think about YOU because your baby is relying on you to give it the best care you can in those first demanding weeks. You will need to be as relaxed and clear as possible. Jettison the unhelpful, selfish oaf who will only make more work for you (physical AND mental). You need all the help you can get, not some Facebook-reading f**kwit lounging around and using up all the good oxygen at your place.

      Can your mum or friends help? Can you do it by yourself? It’s hard, but sooooo rewarding and of course gets easier as they get older. Wouldn’t change a thing now.

    • Ms Determined says:

      I meant to post this at the beginning of my comment, oops.

      I’m a long time lurker, first time commenter. Just had to say, NML, you deserve an OBE for services to women worldwide. I mean that seriously. I am tempted to write to the Queen to ask why it hasn’t happened yet (I can only imagine it’s because Prince Phillip is EUM, and she has no energy left) :-)

      Why didn’t I find you sooner? I have learned more from you about platonic and romantic relationships than from any one person, and I don’t even know you. Thank you for this gift that is worth more than all the gold in all the world.

      • Chrysalis says:

        Ms Determined, I read your comment and it nearly made me cry. My situation was so so similar to yours. Me at home on my own with small kids and him ‘popping out’ and returning trollied in the small hours. I had to laugh at your wry sense of humour when describing his texting/toasting saga (damn those safety switches). I wish I had thrown the switch a long long time ago. I’m out now but I stuck it out for 23 YEARS. Yes that is worth repeating 23 YEARS.Better to reach enlightenment late then never…

        • Ms Determined says:

          Yes, Chrysalis, my biggest fear was him killing me and the unborn baby. Not via violence but stupidity. After some misadventure with the gas left on all night it got to the point where I couldn’t even sleep while he was out, waiting for him to come back to prevent whatever pissed idiocy he’d get up to this time. Thankfully, most often it would go quiet and I’d find him asleep in strange places. Once I found him slumped on the loo with his pants around his ankles. He had his phone in his hand with the beginnings of a text on it “I think you are the most amazing woman…” to some Poor lady named Rosa. I left him there. Upsetting at the time, but hilarious now. What a jerk.

          If I’d had to be that vigilant for 23 years, there would have been a murder. I’m surprised you didn’t disable the safety switches/set up deathly obstacle courses for him to navigate in the wee (forgive pun) hours. I wish we had had more fun with that. Fuck your guy too. Clowns, all.

      • Victorious says:

        I wish you had posted before Ms Determined, as your witty way of writing cracked me up. I feel the same about The Goddess Known As Natalie. I thought I had learnt all I could from the posts but bought Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl for myself for Christmas and there is EVEN MORE power and knowledge to be gained.

        • Ms Determined says:

          Victorious, I know, right? This place is INVALUABLE. Christmas left a trail of destruction through my bank balance (way too many presents, um, for me) but payday is around the corner. I feel the purchase of two books coming on. I really think I will learn something uncomfortable about my predilection for fantasies and illusions, but I’m ready. I’m as much an expert on falling for/constructing these as Natalie is in annihilating them.

          Feels good to be writing you instead of reading you, I’ve been following your posts. I LOVE your user name. POWER and KNOWLEDGE. Bring it on!

      • Mymble says:

        Ms Determined
        I found your story very amusing as well but then I re read it and found it very sad indeed.
        It does sound like you and your little boy are doing great now which is fantastic. You deserve it though, you have been through the wringer with that AC.

        • Ms Determined says:

          Mymble, there’s a million examples of shitty shit that I put up with that may come out in future comments (if they relate to the topic…I realised my story to Jane meandered a little but I suppose it illustrated that boundaries and I were totally unaquainted. It was the ‘distressed pregnant woman’ part that resonated and drove me to the keyboard).

          You are right, it was sad (so, so, SO sad), but I look back and see it was actually funny in it’s total fucking outrageousness if that makes sense (sorry, I swear a LOT). Some of the things I did in response to him were outrageous too. I had my ways of humiliating him in return and in the process crossing boundaries of basic human decency. Or maybe not ;-)

          For example I have a tastefully artistic series of photos he does not know I took (somewhere my son will never see them of course) I like to call “Study of an unconscious jerk festooned with various household items”.

          Of course I’m not sad now, but I AM all about Ms Determined (and of course, little Master Determined). I had fooled myself I could accept reset as the default position when it came to our ‘friendship’ and spend time with him as a ‘family’ for the sake of my son. However, after finding BR I find that I can hardly look at the ex AC any more. I don’t want to confuse my son and I am keen to avoid him thinking the 5 year old version of “WTF? Bitches be crazy!” But I realise it’s imperative not be phoney (what a dangerous thing to teach a child, I’m sure his father will attempt to teach him what it is to pretend anyway and I must provide a FOIL to that). I simply cannot sacrifice my own self respect in order to be around the ex AC, for the sake of my self esteem. Much less reward him with the privelege of ‘family time’. Not even for appearances for my son. I want him to have strong boundaries too, and I figure I should lead by example.

          BOUNDARIES. I’ve heard so much about you, nice to meet you at last. Do come in! Stay forever.

          I hope I don’t offend anyone who is suffering and totally unable to see the funny side of the situations we are in/have suffered in the past with my flippancy, but it actually does seem legitimately hilarious that this shit goes on. When I would find myself replaying the AC’s back catalogue (so extensive it requires alphabetising) of assholery in my head it really helped me to laugh and ask the question out loud to myself: Who DOES this shit? And WHO in their right mind would put up with it for more than a milisecond? Happily these days the answer is a resounding “Not ME!!!”.

          • Revolution says:

            Ms. Determined,

            I hear ya. Yes, it is hilarious in its ridiculousness. ACs are, unknowingly, the laughingstocks of the world. In the aftermath of their horrific actions, we can just look at them as we walk by, laugh, and shake our head as we go down the subway stairs. Because they are like dirty, untalented street performers. Sure, they may get a fiver every once in a while, but there’s no talent there. Move along.

  31. Lyz says:

    This also applies to work. Recently had a situation with a boss who was abusive/foul mouthed . Complained once and got an apology after an outburst. Behaviour continued. I grew up in a place where authority was abused and i learnt to be quiet! Not anymore. had great difficulty asserting myself when this behaviour continued, was very offensive. Thought about this then came back with conclusion i HAD to say something. Got the denial, passive aggressive, noone else minded!!! I had go back and glad I did because I know I was right to do so

  32. Dee says:

    Asking for permission has been my “game” for years. I would say 20 years. That is how long it took for me to realize that pointing a finger at my X, that meant at least four more were pointing back at ME. It really wasn’t his fault that I was so bothered by his addiction to porn and me feeling like I was never going to be good enough to satisfy him.
    It was MY fault for letting him get away with it for TWENTY years!! He is never going to change. Duh!
    Fear kept me there for so long…and it took a whole lot of courage to get out but I did it! Every time I have to talk to him, the old fear comes back and it’s up to me to either entertain the fear and give my X control OR step up and OVER that doormat and be strong!!

  33. kookie says:

    i’m new to the site and have been reading all the past posts. i agree with the general principle of the site. i definitely see an unhealthy pattern in my past behaviour but i guess i am confused whether converting oneself to someone who can commit is a good goal. is commitment for everyone? is commitment the default healthy state once you gain self esteem? is there any way to learn to be non-committed (if you’re naturally that way) but in a healthier, boundaries way as opposed to the clearly unhealthy way i have been going about it) . surely every man who is a commitophobe like i am is not also by default an asshole? i now see my commitophobe ways but i don’t see any mean, hurtful streak in me, maybe there are guys who are the same too ? just thinking out loud,any advice for people who want to improve their boundaries, self esteem, quality of relationships etc but maybe don’t necessarily ever want marriage and kids etc. is it possible?

    • FX says:

      kookie, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not wanting to be in a committed relationship as long as you are absolutely clear about your intentions and take responsibility for not sending any signals that may be misinterpreted. An AC will accept the benefits of a partner who is committed to them while remaining uncommitted and having no intention of follow-through. An AC won’t clarify that this is all s/he has on offer because they don’t want to lose out on the goodies by being honest. The tricky part is that someone may see your professed aversion to commitment as a challenge and believe if they try hard enough they will be the exception to the no commitment rule. If your boundary is commitment, I think you will need to be the one to walk away if someone tries to change your stated commitment to remaining uncommitted.

      • La Pintura Bella says:

        Kookie: What FX said. Also want to point out that commitment on this site is not necessarily marriage. It is commitment to pulling your own weight IN THE RELATIONSHIP, whatever parameters that relationship entails as agreed upon by BOTH parties. The people we are all talking about offered up and in a lot of cases even agreed to one thing and NEVER had any intention of delivering what they offered. There is a BIG difference.

      • Grizelda says:

        Agreed. Trouble is, commitmentphobes won’t just keep themselves to themselves. No, they want sex with people. Which is all good and fine until they eventually figure out that pursuing meaningless sex every time all the time restricts them to the kinds of manky pick-ups they really don’t want to have sex with. They realise it’s a drag spending every Saturday night competing with six other guys in a bar for some tiresome low-grade drunken girl in the back seat of a stranger’s car and a dose of the crabs. And vice-versa for the commitment-phobic girls who hopefully wake up to what they’re doing before something seriously awful happens to them.

        But rather than just accepting that scene for what it is, most guys just use outright deception to fish in higher quality dating pools they shouldn’t be fishing in — the one with healthy, happy, beautiful, smart women who want relationships of some sort or other. These guys have every intention of continuing to behave as if they’re still in the meaningless sex pick-up scene, only they find that in exchange for lots of bothersome lying and manipulation, they just might get weeks or months of sex from a woman who is not only way out of their league but who actually is not having sex with three or four other guys from the bar as well! What a good deal that is, eh?! What a bargain! All that’s required is a series of bald-faced lies, laughable excuses, empty promises and endless bullshit. They just keep the manipulations going until they can’t maintain the facade any longer, or until she tries to cash one of the hundreds of emotional cheques he’s written and it bounces. Either before or after they’ve been kicked to the curb, some of them then have the temerity to pretend like they’ve got to run away with one of the other random women because — suddenly they just remembered! — it’s an emotionally charged love affair they’ve been having! Yeah, yeah, that’s it! It’s a real Romeo and Juliet going on behind the scenes there and who’d stand in the way of such a romance?! Reality is, it’s only because they haven’t got any cards left in their hands and they think the story makes them sound too-too-desirable for words. It’s a lot better than calling it the assclown turn-tail-and-run that it really is.

        And yet it drives them wild with disbelief that, when all is said and done, these women could possibly turn around and refer to them as ‘assholes’.

        • AMM says:

          THIS. Brilliant. So well put.

        • Lilia says:

          Ah, thanks Griz! I know this wasn´t for me but you made me feel so much better about myself- me having been the healthy, happy, beautiful, smart woman from the higher quality dating pool. While creepy EUM was the AC with the bald-faced lies, laughable excuses, empty promises and endless bullshit.
          Very well put, I love your wording of things.

        • Lilly says:

          Grizelda,

          Too good! I love this and just in time. The AC has just returned from his hiatus with an offer for me to mark papers and, unbelievably, to meet up again! Now is the time for me to look out for myself. I will do this!

          • Grizelda says:

            Thank you and I’m so glad my words that come tumbling out could be of service to you all!

            I’m getting shrill. I know I’m getting shrill. But DAMMIT I just do not buy the 120-year-old hypocritical nonsense about how we must accept that ‘Caveman Ug must drag wombman by hair and Caveman Ug must mate with wombman and Caveman Ug must throw wombman away so Caveman Ug can bring moar wombman, and moar wombman, and moar wombman’ as some kind of biological imperative made up by… men, of course, old ones who sat around dusty old desks in Victorian universities nursing their ambiguous issues about rape, totally ignoring the fact that there’s a lovely proportion of successful men who never, ever behave in this entitled way.

            Sorry that’s a long-winded way of saying ‘these men choose this behaviour’.

            I ask myself ‘why do they choose this behaviour?’ and the answer isn’t the most wonderful reflection. They act like this because (a) they think it’s amusing, if they’re quite young and/or personality disordered; (b) they aren’t equipped with the social talent or skill to do anything but hobble around in circles with their trousers around their ankles; (c) they’re trying to impress other males. Yeah, that’s a kicker, isn’t it? They perform this female-repelling behaviour because want to look cool in front of other men. That’s quite a game of Freudian Twister they’ve got going on there.

            Underlining this is that old chestnut about how much they hate it when women call a spade a spade from the rooftops. They think women who judge them on this behaviour are getting above themselves and being so unfair in calling them out, transmitting their stories of deception and assclownery, and possibly ruining Ug’s chances with moar wombmen.

            Lilly, Ug is trying to grab hold of your hair again. You have our permission to knock him out with your club.

          • La Pintura Bella says:

            Oh Lilly. He is just relentless…and thoroughly shameless. He’s even worse than a bottom-feeder…although I’m not sure what that would be, chum maybe?

            I have to say, you are so much better than this AC Extraordinaire. And better off without him, as well. His poor wife…maybe you should email her the link to BR! Annonymously of course.

            Stay strong!

            • Lilly says:

              La Pintura Bella,

              I suspect he thinks that I’m a very weak person and in some ways he would be right. I’m not feeling very strong at the moment because of the baby and it’s difficult because he’s the link. Sometimes I want to go running to him to relieve all the anxiety. I’m in a constant struggle with myself, but the strong part seems to be winning!

              • La Pintura Bella says:

                Lilly… I think you are A LOT stronger than you realize or give yourself credit for. Totally grieve the loss of your angel. Maybe it would break “the link” if you began thinking of him as nothing more than an anonymous sperm donor. And don’t buy into his utter bs that you’re weak. HE’S the weak one. The lying, cheating, complete bastard doesn’t even have the strength to honor the vows HE made to his wife. A woman HE chose. From where I sit, he’s a festering maggot. Nothing more.

        • sushi says:

          Grizelda,
          beautifuuly put!
          I met a commitmentphobe once who was honest about his intentions and I ended up not having a non-relationship with him but a whole lot of respect for his honesty. He did say what you are saying exactly: they will dish out all the lies ect because they don`t have a hope in hell of having sex with who they would like to have sex with; worthwile women. i have nothing against commitmentphobes, everyone deserves to have a choice, but no one deserves dishonesty.

        • Victorious says:

          Grizelda. Laughing out loud. Thank you.

        • Revolution says:

          So true, Griz. Especially about these ACs trying to weasel their way into the dating echelon that is far above them. Dating a couple of ACs in my time, I remember my friends looking at me like I was at the crack pipe when they met the guy in question. It was like, “Ummm…WTF are you doing with THIS loser? Do you know that you can do so much better?” Yep, now I do.

    • grace says:

      kookie
      I think as a former commitmentphobe, commitment IS what we should be aiming for. It’s more grown up and rewarding. I committed to my job rather than looking for greener pastures and now enjoy it more, I committed to various duties at my church and while I don’t love being out of my comfort zone I am learning a lot from it, I committed to buying a house and am putting roots down in a geographical area rather than just passing through. Same applies to romantic relationships, if you don’t give it your all, you’re not getting the full benefit. I made the conscious decision to commit to my boyfriend rather than entertaining other options in my mind. If we break up, then is the time to look at other options, not now. I find that we are both freer with each other and more comfortable, and more trusting as our time together grows. It would be a huge loss to me if this relationship ended, it’s not just six months of fun and then move along.

      It doesn’t apply so much to friendships, as you can have more than one friend but even so you still need to treat them with respect and make an effort.

      Ultimately, I think everyone wants to love and be loved and for there to be one special person. If that’s not for you, I question why not. Is it that you don’t think another person can be enough? You may think you can’t be enough.

      I understand the constant need for novelty. New seduction. New sex partner. New excitement. If I was always going to be young and beautiful and bulletproof then it might be feasible. But that option is simply not available. And even if it was, you’d always be in the shallows and never finding that deep connection with another human being, that comes only with time, trust, faithfulness. Commitment in other words.

      I may not be an assclown but I did hurt people. I let them love me and spend time with me when I had one foot out the door. There was fault on both sides, there generally is in EU relationships. I own my part in it and I don’t want that in my life anymore.

      It may not be marriage and kids but if you want to have the benefits of a relationship without permanence there is going to be fallout, if not now then later. The commitment minded men won’t want to deal with you, and we are all painfully familiar of what the non-committed men are like!

  34. cc says:

    i’m still not good at calmly enforcing my boundaries, but at least i know i have them – this didn’t used to be the case.

    i need to keep working on respecting them myself and on keeping myself in my own driver’s seat. its been nearly a month and a half with the new guy – he’s a good man and is good to me. but he’s not perfect, nor am i, and i find myself quailing a bit. he’s not doing anything “wrong”, but we’re moving out of the newness stage, and i find myself getting anxious and flinchy and fearful in a whole new way. i’m not even sure what i’m afraid of – that it will work out? or that it won’t? or both?

    anyway. thanks, nat.

  35. K says:

    Natalie!

    Great post! I love coming here in between writing and supporting and reading here! It keeps me grounded in my own healing and I thank you for that!

    Boundaries are a HUGE, HUGE issue with a lot of survivors, and IMPLEMENTING them is even MORE of an issue. It’s easier to talk the talk, but boy when it comes to walking the walk, it’s far more difficult! FEAR is involved with most if not all cases, as you have described so eloquently!

    When I come here, it’s very validating for me and for what I do too. Thank you so much, Natalie!

  36. Magdalena says:

    Nice post. I just wanted to leave a brief thought about boundaries that’s helped me lately that I learned from one of Brene Brown’s podcasts about her recent book on vulnerability, Daring Greatly.

    Boundaried people are compassionate people. If we can tolerate the discomfort of saying no to people, we can then act out of true compassion towards both ourselves and others. When we can’t tolerate the discomfort of saying no, we’re mired in resentment, fear, guilt, shame, and anger, which makes practicing true compassion impossible.

    Have firm boundaries. Practice greater compassion.

    Cheers.

  37. Tired says:

    I was terrible at boundries , from 16 up , because of the fear that they would leave if i enforce them . However due to reading on here i slowly enforced mine , i walked from the ex mm just as he was leaving the wife for new ow . Not a bang i went with a wimper but i started that day slowly abd surly to say no , no crumbs , no options . I still text and remained friends but that was last yr , im nc and nearly three weeks no looking at fb , . That is the boundry i come close to busting taking a peek , it was the last tie to him i could still peek at how he was doing and niw ive nearly gone three weeks it like his finally gone . I miss the feeling not him . However i take pride that i havent busted my own boundry and how ever low ive not looked . I just say he choose someone eles . I am learning to get on and overcome these low moments by myself. I have got stronger and say no to other ac men as well . I cant believe somtimes hes gone and i feel sick that i let hom use me so , why didnt i see the signs why couldnt have been me that left with someone eles to somthing wonderful not him

    • cc says:

      tired, honey-
      scroll up and read what magdalena posted about how boundaries are a way of being compassionate with ourselves.

      when we are raised in abandonment and are not mirrored and taught healthy boundaries, we reach for people who are not good for us. but the antidote to that is to be scrupulously good to ourselves, and that includes deciding that we must have boundaries because we are worth them, defending/reinforcing those boundaries, and booting boundary-busting people out of our lives.

      i am convinced that part of the scrupulously good/having/defending boundaries is doing so within ourselves – which means NOT feeling sick that we have made past mistakes and caring for ourselves when we do feel that way. so, yes, keep working on taking excellent care of yourself during low moments.

      also – do your very best to not miss the asshat who was not good for you to begin with and who is now with someone else, for unhealthy reasons for all we know. do not fantasize that she is wonderful or that they are wonderful. he is and was bad for you and holding onto regret and imagining wonderful things for him are also bad for you. you need to stop telling yourself that story and rewrite the story – i know it is hard and i know it hurts – but you must, must, must stay on your own side. and that means stop thinking “i let him use me” – be understanding and gentle about that – and let yourself off that hook.

      please take good care of you. enforce the NC boundaries of not stalking. and every time you fall into self-critical thinking, give yourself warm hugs and smoochy kisses and be sweet and compassionate – with you.

      • Mymble says:

        CC
        Absolutely right
        When I get into the mindset “he used me” that, actually is not healthy either. It is self destructive. He was a fool. Leave it at that, and don’t get involved with fools again.

  38. kayakerkathy says:

    For those of you who remember my “Mr. One Month” saga, it briefly reared it’s ugly head early last month…how convenient for the Holidays, right? Well, my ignoring him/NC continued to rear it’s ugly head as well. Here’s his email to me. These guys truly truly don’t get it:

    “Hey Kathy, I hope life is treating you well. I see that you have defriended me on FB. I am not real sure why I assume you met someone and did not want me to see. That is ok if it is the case I an not mad or anything. I did really hope we could remain friends. I hope he realizes that he is a lucky guy. You are a amazing women and i wish you the best in life.

    Still wishing i knew what happened.

    Best wishes
    Tim”

    I couldn’t fricken believe it….wishing he knew what happened??? I spelled it out for him in thorough detail SEVERAL times. Gah!! And are you that self-centered that you think it’s ALL about you??? No, I haven’t met anyone and if I did, who the fricken frack cares???? Sheezuz.

    All I could do was laugh when I saw this, in addition to feeling a little angry twinge in my stomach.

    Anyway, I hope you all had a lovely Holiday, and here’s to a wonderful 2013!!

    KK

    • dancingqueen says:

      Oh my the words that I hope *never* come out of my mouse pad “I see that you have defriended me on FB. I am not real sure why I assume you met someone and did not want me to see. That is ok if it is the case I an not mad or anything. I did really hope we could remain friends”

      Please just tie me up and never let me near a computer again, if I ever type those words….

    • Emerldeyez says:

      KK
      So funny to read your blog. “I wish I knew what happened” made me laugh. My AC was clueless too! Can’t get it, don’t think they will ever get it. I have been no contact, for six weeks, yet he has tried to show up twice thinking we would just pick up where we left off. And I wonder what planet was he on. But it just showed me how out of contact he was with my reality, that we were really in two separate worlds. I loved someone that I realize today wasn’t who he really was. That I fell for an image of who he wanted me to think that he was. And I kept thinking that man must be in there somewhere, and would come back. But I realize he will make himself be whoever he can be to manipulate the next woman that comes along. I like what E wrote early on that you have to have faith in a shource, that you have to trust your intuition, your spirit, whatever you are comfortable calling it, and that the right healthy person will come along. And to get through the fear of being alone. We really aren’t alone, just look at this blog, we all found each other, for support, and a place to vent and get some reality. There are no coincidences.

    • La Pintura Bella says:

      Oh.My.God. What a complete idjit.

      “Still wishing I knew what happened”??? Really? Is he deaf, dumb and blind?

      “…I assume you met someone and did not want me to see. That is ok if it is the case I an not mad or anything.” Oh yeah. Even if you did meet someone else, the only reason to de-friend him is because YOU didn’t want HIM to see??? Stuck on himself much???

      I think you should file this one away as a good laugh war story and then figure out how to block his emails. What an arrogant doofus.

      *LPB slaps her forehead and shakes her head in utter disbelief*

    • Claudia says:

      Hahaha!! This guy is comedy material, Kathy, you shouldn’t have dumped him!! :p

      Best clown ever!

  39. Tinkerbell says:

    Tired.

    Be proud of yourself that you have broken free, and that you are maintaining NC. I just want to remind you of something very important. STOP looking back. It is wasted time and energy. When you look back and rehash, and ask your self why you did this and that you are squashing your success and your victory. It’s been a good while now. Time to clean out the old skeletons from that closet– the one that contains(ed) the MM and OW. Leave it all and don’t talk about it anymore. You’re keeping yourself in a past that you’ve physically, but not mentally left. All the best to you for a better 2012.

  40. Tinkerbell says:

    You know I mean 2013.

  41. Jennifer says:

    As an adult I am completely 100% responsible for myself and my actions. At first realization this was daunting and now I am beginning to realize I may have a shit load more responsibilities than I would like….but with responsibility comes freedom. I have choices. None of them are perfect and I am beginning to see that my expectations have always been a problem. But I do get to choose. That’s the beauty of it.

    I’ve had an opportunity to go back to school for one of my passions and am currently working on another. Truth be told I’m scared shitless. I’m afraid I’ll fuck it up. (I’m my own worst enemy. I’m a huge self sabotager). I hope the more I learn to and effectively love myself, the less prevalent the need to sabotage, until one day it’s completely gone.

  42. Heather says:

    I discovered this blog 7 months ago after a 4 year relationship bombed. Little by little, I have been able to identify a lot about myself, why some relationships have left me discombobulated and why it’s important to have boundaries and self respect. I feel good and I truly feel like myself! Thank you!

  43. meerkat says:

    I posted a few weeks back about my EUM and long distance “relationshit” finally finishing when he disclosed he was seeing someone else as I was booking flight tickets to go and see him. This was less than 2 weeks after he was saying how he missed me and being intimate online – obviously I was the fallback girl here and after putting up boundaries about not sleeping with him, because of the feelings I had, I was dropping them along with my knickers to see him again. Whenever I did put up boundaries he did not like this or he said “I respect your decision” which agitated me even more because he obviously did not care. He admitted that while he no longer desired me (this killed me) that we may meet up at a later stage (future faking and also horrid) This has distressed and obsessed me for around 3 weeks now and I am having little sleep which makes it worse. I also abandoned any boundaries I had and went the revenge route – I told people who know him what he did and I also logged into his email – I stayed long enough to work out who the new person is and to see that he deleted out most of the emails and chats we ever had. I also googled this person and she is so much like him it is scary and has just served to make me feel more miserable and anxious. The worst thing is that I have just started a job in another country where I am essentially on my own. On the plane I watched Hope Springs and It’s Complicated and felt so crappy and sad. I also transited through the country where he lives and where I used to live. I always associated coming back with seeing him – but this time I would not be seeing him. I know that I will eventually be fine but being on my own is sapping my resolve. I will now go out for a walk and get dinner and try and distract myself with my surroundings, then hit the hotel gym. Otherwise I will continue to sit here and obsess.

  44. Victorious says:

    Oh meerkat I do sympathise. I have also done this (cyberstalking) and really regretted it. My pain was so much worse as a result so now I have blocked him, his friends, the suspected OW (who looked like a supermodel)and it has really helped my healing. Honestly, I can’t tell you how much difference it has made. You will get over this. I know it is awful to have your heart broken like this but count your blessings, and be glad you survived this and have learnt lessons that will help you in the future.

    • meerkat says:

      Yes Victorious, would have been better off not knowing what I found out. But I often find myself thinking and behaving irrationally as I want him to suffer and feel remorse for what he has done. But he is not – he is too focussed on meeting his own needs and is enjoying another relationship.

      • Victorious says:

        Instead of thinking about him and his feelings try thinking about yourself and yours. If you had done that more whilst IN the relationshit you probably wouldn’t have put up with it for so long I suspect.
        Your revenge and his “karma” is that he has lost you. YOu and all the love you had to give him. He was soooo stupid he was willing to give you up and now he will have an invisible LOSER sign tatooed to his head for the rest of his days. But you will know it is there. You cannot control his thinking, his emotions, his actions, only your own. So let’s start there and have you thinking about what you can do for yourself to help your healing. Maybe journalling, study, more time with friends. He is his own pilot and you are yours Meerkat. There is nothing for you there now.

        • meerkat says:

          Yes, I suppressed my feelings quite a bit and put my boundaries aside. 2012 was spent mostly away from him as a family member needed support. When I was with him it was difficult and I broke it off because of his behaviour towards me but I caved in and saw him again. He then decided we were not “emotionally in sync” and dictated the push and pull factor of the last 4 months. I was moving on in that I had taken a job away and said I wanted to be with someone who wanted to be with me. He said that he hoped I found that person and then he asked if he was that person. When I held off and said I was looking for and not at this person (him) he became annoyed and said he would look for someone else too. I did not respond but felt wounded as I hoped he would say something different. I should have known better. He then asked why I was not coming back to him and I explained that it would be good for a while but eventually he would not be happy with me there, I would become unhappy trying to please him and would leave. He understood this. Still he would say that he missed me and want intimacy but it felt like I was working on a Skype sex line at times. If I did not play along he would get miffed at times. I was holding back in the hope he would wake up and delayed returning as I was not hearing what I needed to hear. When he announced he had found someone and did not want to see me as a lover anymore it sent me over the edge. You are very correct he controlled me, and it was very tiring. In the end I chose me but I suppose all the repressed hurt and anger has come out now. I know I am wasting my time and energy on someone who left the building a while back and kept me clinging on something that wasn’t there. I am journalling and chatting to friends online when I can. I do know people here and am working to spend time with them as well.

          • La Pintura Bella says:

            Meerkat:

            I know it’s hard…we feel rejected, we ant answers, we want revenge, we want to be loved. Here is something that helped me immensely…turn it around.

            HE didn’t leave the building, YOU did. Hell, he was hoping he’d be that someone and you told him we wouldn’t be…YOU KNEW THE TRUTH AND ACTED ON IT FOR YOUR BEST INTERESTS.

            Your ego is bruised. However, you took back your power, did what was right for you and took back your power. He’s not in a new relationship. He’s in a new farce. The boy lives in a fantasy land of his own making and he probably always will.

            Honestly, he sounds like a predictable, spoiled, incredibly boring person. You, on the other hand, have depth and I bet you’re an intersting, fun, good person. If I met each of you, I’d barely register your AC as even existing (since he’s fake, he really doesn’t exist anyway), but I’d probably have a great conversation and a lot of fun talking to you.

            Hmmm, who in this equation should be upset??? He should. He lost a great opportunity. He just too much of a “dickless wonder” to admit it.

            • meerkat says:

              Thank you for your lovely words of support La Pintura Bella. Yes, my ego is very bruised. I had no choice but to look beyond him but what he did in the end was cruel and illustrated his poor character. Yes, you pretty much summed him up. He is boring in that you have to do all the work. When we were in his home country he did not want to go out at night so I used to take myself off as I was bored – he said I walked out on him and he held this against me as evidence that we were not emotionally compatible.But then he started going out when he decided to hook up with someone else. He is quite a narcissistic individual as everything revolves around him and he sees his pain as worse than other peoples. This boy is 66 years of age *(he looks a lot younger) and has left a trail of damaged women in his wake.

              • La Pintura Bella says:

                66. My last AC was 62. further proof that THEY will never change. And rally, how attractive is it for a 60 something, supposedly grown man, to be running around like he’s ALL THAT and GOD’S GIFT TO WOMEN???

                More like pathetic old coot if you ask me.

                • meerkat says:

                  Yes, a mutual friend said the same thing. That what is he doing running around like a teenager. Note that the mutual friend does not want anything to do with him anymore. And they are getting younger – the one before me is 55, I am 53 and the new one is 43……

            • Revolution says:

              La Pintura Bella,

              I want to bake you a cake for that comment. :)

  45. Lovefro says:

    Hi, wow….this is awesome and a fantastic coincidence. I have just done a New Year’s Message for my followers on ‘maintaining boundaries’…definitely on the same page. I love what you say….Keep it up x

  46. Emerldeyez says:

    meerkat,
    Block him so you can’t see if he tries to contact you, Gmail has a filter, and his emails can go right to delete so you don’t know if he tried to contact you. Why cause yourself more pain? the searching is a form of torture,trying to see if you could have done anything to change the outcome. The total block has been the best thing for me, it has allowed me to stop obsessing, to start to heal, and as others have said to start to feel empowered and back in control of my own life and destiny. I moved, for the relationship, across country, only to find out there was another woman, and when she was gone, and my trust was in the toilet, there always seemed to be some other woman lurking around the peripheral that he used to always explain away. The only regret I have is that I ever looked back and gave him chance after chance after chance. I got hooked in trying to get validation from him, like water from an empty well. Being on this site is a life saver!

    • meerkat says:

      Emerldeyez

      Yes, I also went back when I should have kept walking and made myself so available to him. Over the last few months I became emotionally unavailable in order to protect myself. When he dumped me I was overwhelmed with the repressed anger, pain and fear that I had held in for so long. He tends to fixate on who he is with so I have only received the occasional “hi how are you, where are you now” type of sms sent when I am offline. I don’t need this as he is only thinking of himself as usual. Yes, I need to stop obsessing and move on and blocking is one way of doing this.

  47. Jenn says:

    Thank you so much for posting this- really, you couldn’t have timed this better. Getting over my last ugly breakup has forced me to really question my attitude towards relationships and why I want one. I’m realizing a lot of my relationship hangups are rooted in family conflict that I suppressed and still haven’t really dealt with even now as an adult.

    Everyone in my family is really hot headed and they fight all the time, and as a result, I have learned to be the peace keeper, doing whatever I can to avoid conflict… never setting boundaries, never speaking my mind, being afraid of seeming high maintenance. 2013, this is all going to change!! Your posts have been encouraging and empowering, thank you!

  48. espresso says:

    I thought I had good boundaries because I stood up for myself in my long term marriage – mainly by being so angry much of the time. But because it was hard to figure out – he was so “decent” albeit non-nourishing, not developed emotionally, disengaged, couldn’t make decisions, sustain anything, unable to stand up for self and always just could not remember…..I think I kept blurring my boundaries MYSELF by saying…well he is trying, perhaps I am too demanding, perhaps I can’t get anything better, why aren’t I EVER satisfied??????

    I KNOW I have made the right decision by leaving the marriage but I still am in a lot of contact and this was stressful over Christmas. I still need to discuss stuff with him. We are good friends, share politics and a business and wonderful adult children. I wanted to do it this way but I can only stand so much of him (2 hours max) without having the old stresses and uncertainties return (and my old rage and anger). How do I handle these feelings when I feel NC is not an option I want? My therapist says she is working so that NOTHING he does will ever bother me again. I hope that it works. Has anybody done this and succeeded?

    • Allison says:

      Espresso,

      As your children are adults, why can’t you cut contact? Thinking this would bring you a lot more peace.

    • K says:

      Espresso,

      It depends. I don’t get the feeling that this is really about him, so much as it is about you. I guess I would ask you WHY you have contact or rather WHY you want contact when he brings up such negative feelings for you? How is it that you can be “friends” with someone who brings up such negative feelings for you?

      Just some questions to ask yourself..

  49. K says:

    One of the things I have noticed in having boundaries in my life, is that others have viewed my having them now(when I did not before) as being “mean”.
    I come from a highly abusive, background filled with disordered individuals (psychopaths,narcissists). So, either people were disordered, or they were people like me, reacting TO disorder, chaos, and a whole lotta drama.

    My boundaries are the single most important method of self defense. In implementing them, albeit slowly over the past four years, more so the last two since I left my last disordered one, I had to REMOVE A LOT of people from my life, including two of my children, one who is disordered and one who is WITH a disordered one. My entire biological family is GONE from my life and they have been for four years. It has been HELL to do this, I won’t lie to survivors who are doing this, because it is. I’m also ALONE now. I do not have a man in my life (no man needs to be the ‘wind beneath my wings’, I DO), and am not ready to date again. I may opt to be single the rest of my life as I’m close to fifty, but if someone comes into my life who is HEALTHY, I would be open to possibilities. I was approached by a neighbor guy last week, who brought me pot pie he had made himself over the holidays and then he invited me over for ‘beers’. One of my boundaries is NO alcohol under any circumstances because alcohol was part of a staple diet in my last relationship, where in the beginning he coerced me to use to lower my inhibitions very innocently and in ten years it turned into a problem. When I left, I kicked that alcohol to the curb. Now before I implemented boundaries, the reality that a human being at my door with a penis would have been enough to toss all reason to the wind and trivialize, justify and minimize my boundary by sayin something like this to myself: “Well, it’s okay if he has a few beers now and then, lots of people do, and well, he SEEMS like a nice guy”. He buys beer everyday. I felt no guilt, no need to justify, trivialize or minimize my boundary. A man with an alcohol problem no matter how “nice” he is would be a problem in the relationship LATER.
    Because I came from a home where there were NO boundaries, I had to learn what they really were and what that really meant in a HEALTHY way. Therapy has been wonderful in helping me to do this, but before boundaries, People were allowed to walk all over me, called me because they wanted/needed something, men called me from my past and pushed the reset button because I’d buy the bullshit out of “loneliness”, I allowed people to manipulate me, use me. I was a fixer, rescuer, a glorified Florence! And in doing so, I wound up busting OTHER people’s boundaries because I had NONE of my own EITHER. Fixing someone is a boundary busting ritual in which the other person is actually responsible for themselves.
    Now, I provide support for survivors of domestic violence and education regarding Cluster B disorders. I have boundaries there too, I have too when dealing with people who,like me, had or have none. They have to learn too and my boundaries have to be very tight. Learning to detach from others issues, is also a boundary builder. Having boundaries allows me to fix ME and having boundaries allows others to fix themselves too.
    Other than with survivor support and new healthy friendships I have been building over the last couple of years and a few of my children, my phone is not blowing up all the time, with others needs and manipulations and I no longer feel “lost” in not rescuing people. It takes time to get use to being alone, and living in peace. This means you won’t have people lining up at your door anymore. But if someone does appear, it’s because they like YOU and not what you can do for them. Having boundaries and sharing values with those I care for and care for me, has relationships flowing smoothly. There is mutual respect, care and trust. I LIKE THIS NOW. I was willing to weather the storms of intense loneliness to get to the core of my issues and to fight the addictive pull to be involved in others drama, ie: allowing others to bust my boundaries.

    I’ve also realized, in being alone, that I was ALONE ANYWAY before. Alone in a sea of faces whose objectives were to USE me and I USED them, to avoid ME.
    I still become very lonely at times. I’m still working through recovery, but having boundaries and spending time in “aloneness” has allowed me to see much of the harm and damage done to me in childhood, but mostly, that I had been responding into adulthood, with no boundaries, to those in authority, AS THAT CHILD. That dependent, needy, desperate for love, child.

    I like being an adult. And my boundaries reflect it.

    Great post Natalie. I love coming here for rest! Reading here is one of the many things I do that focus on my continued recovery.

  50. teachable says:

    I am so tired. Blaming myself today…

    • La Pintura Bella says:

      teach…STOP IT! You are tired. Take a long bubble bath. DO NOT BLAME YOURSELF, you didn’t do anything wrong.

  51. Rosie says:

    K, I can relate to your comment about how people think you’re now “mean” for having boundaries. I can also relate to being alone more…well…in my case, it’s the opposite (not referring to romance as all I’m hearing there is crickets). I’m genuinely liked more because I’m now capable of emotionally connecting with others. My friends are adults who treat me as an adult. The one personal relationhip in my life that is unhealthy I can’t change yet due to financial reasons. This person is toxic and we don’t get along well and I try to avoid this person as much as I can. I’m so excited about our not getting along! I’m getting healthier! :)

    • k says:

      Rosie!

      Yes, Yes, Yes!! This is great!

      You ARE getting healthier! I love these kinds of stories. They are so inspiring!

      K

  52. Grace says:

    Such an important message on this blog. I have believed for a long time that enforcing proper boundaries in all relationships…..friends, lovers, family…..is one of the most important elements to personal happiness. When someone is constantly crossing boundaries, that is the very definition of a toxic friendship or relationship. Thanks for shining a light on this issue. Grace

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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