Sometimes you just need some reassurance that you have your own back.

While there’s a lot to be said for “You won’t know until you go out there and try”, if you don’t get into the habit of doing the mental equivalent of pulling over on the side of the road when you feel anxious and then asking you, “What’s really going on here?” and listening and calming you, you may be inclined to either continue on regardless of your anxiety or you might withdraw from dating/the relationship without truly understanding what is going on.

It’s natural to have some nerves in a new relationship, especially if like me, you’ve previously been jacked around while also jacking yourself around, but there’s anxiety that you sanity check with reality and then there’s anxiety due to evidence that you’re ignoring – how you feel, something about your needs, wishes and expectations not being met, or their actions or something. It’s the whole, Is it fear or is it knowledge? issue.

If something’s not right there is evidence of it somewhere – slowly play your mental ‘surveillance’ tapes back or evaluate how you feel, and if you can’t pinpoint what it is with this person, see if you can recall previous situations where you’ve felt or thought like this and what your anxiety in these situations was regarding. It might be something big, it might not be, but ignoring your feelings actually makes it difficult to work how you feel and why when you really need to.

Dating is a discovery phase and you have to use your judgment to evaluate the situation in reality and basically intervene if it’s a genuine case of overactive imagination and the voice of doom and tell it to shut the beep up. You have to differentiate between internal and external fear and respond to evidence with your Debit and Credit Trust System.

The ‘spoiler’ type of anxiety that turns up in your mind is an uninvited guest putting everything you’ve previously learned to the test.

Remember life keeps serving you up the same lessons until you demonstrate that you’ve learned them and respond accordingly. The cues and triggers that may have tripped you up before remain the same but you go, “Ah. I remember this from that class I took about fifty times, When They Don’t Make An Effort Until They Need To Hang Out / Get Laid / Borrow Money, FLUSH and Don’t Accept Crumbs. Oh and I’ve also taken the, Slow Your Frickin roll Instead of Future Faking Yourself class” and then you consciously choose to do differently instead of doing the equivalent of repeatedly throwing yourself against one of those shatterproof doors.

You do have to literally say to the spoiler, “Well hello old ‘friend’…. Funny that you should show up. I don’t remember inviting you. What’s that? You think that this person is too good for me? You think that it’s all probably going to end anyway? Don’t be nasty. He/she’s not too good for me. I’m worthy of being with someone who __________. Now either say something nice or leave” and basically silence the hell out of it with evidence.

You always know that you’re ignoring your gut not the annoying guest (although you might make the mistake of treating your gut as if it’s an annoying party pooper guest), when you silence your gut with bullshit.

And you do know when you’re bullshitting even if you won’t admit it. A big clue is if you’ve done this line of bullshit before and it sounds like excuses and possible desperation.

If you’re worrying about whether it’s going to go ‘wrong’, it’s time to come back to the present and be more ‘mindful’ because you’re spending too much time worrying about what isn’t happening or trying to anticipate what’s next and forecasting doom.

You cannot do this – a relationship or dating – without putting your feet in. OK you can but then that just makes you like every other unavailable person on the planet – trying to skim off the fringe benefits with as little input as possible.

Be honest about where the anxiety comes from. If you haven’t been on a date yet or have only been on a date or few and you have a high level of anxiety, going on dates without being emotionally honest enough to recognise where these feelings originate is only going to compound it not relieve it. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stop dating but it does mean listening to your thoughts and feelings.

  • If you feel desperate, why is that? If it’s, in your mind, really ‘that bad’, I would address why you’re desperate because otherwise this isn’t a relationship; it’s salvation.
  • If you feel scared, what are you scared of? What is the worst that can happen and how would you deal with it?
  • Do you trust you? If you don’t, why are you dating? Be honest because these are baby steps in listening to and recognising your needs.
  • If it is early days, this is a code amber alert to come back to earth and go on a fantasy diet – you’re getting carried away.

Try a Feelings Diary and monitor how you feel and what else is happening during these times for a week or so. There may be other factors contributing such as work stress or even boredom.

By far, judging people and situations on merit so based on reality, along with checking in with you daily and having a respectful internal dialogue calms anxiety. You’re not exactly going to feel less anxious if you’re calling you “stupid” or feeding your mind with all sorts of drama scenarios!

Be your own friend! Respect you even when at times you don’t make sense. I went through a period of being anxious when I started dating Em and after a while I had to say, “Nat! Stop with the crack talk!” I’ve got to be honest – sometimes I’ve liked busying my mind with Dynasty levels of drama. It felt more comfortable to have something to be getting my knickers in a knot about but it’s one thing when you have evidence to feed drama (although you’ve got to act not stick around and complain / go into analysis paralysis) but when you stand to jeopardise your self-esteem or a good situation, it’s time to rein yourself in.

The past is useful for checking your mental database for comparing data where appropriate but it’s not useful if you’re still living in the past and cannot differentiate between what’s going on in front of/around you and the past.

Sometimes you just need some reassurance that you have your own back.

It’s natural to experience anxiety when stepping into new territory and having to learn about and learn to trust someone but it’s not the biggest gamble of a lifetime unless you make it that by forgetting you and your life in the process of trying to ‘win’. Regardless of the outcome of this involvement, you still need to be there for you and when that’s not in question, you can handle whatever comes your way.

Your thoughts?


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117 Responses to Calming That Anxiety – When You Feel Jittery In a New Relationship

  1. dawn says:

    Thank You. I needed this one today. After I wrote a comment yesterday I did some serious thinking about signs that I may have missed in my sad little 2 month interaction, which now I realize was nothing more then a delusion. I read the response comments from what I posted yesterday this morning and they were painful…but so true. All day I have been thinking why do I do this? Why do I even bother trying to date? I am horrible at it. I do not trust myself to see the signs if he is wasting my time. Or am I trying to hard to see signs that I am making him pay for the ass-clown before him. Its all so confusing. I know I need to trust that these are all a learning experience. I can feel with each one the scar tissue develop and I worry a callous is forming.
    The funny thing about the whole 2 month delusion I can honestly say I do not know if I actually was developing feelings for him yet…I was just trying to make an effort to get to know him…now that he has disappeared…the missing him thing is over that was gone with in a week…but the pain still lingers at myself from the fact that I let another one shit on me again and I can do nothing about it. I have to take it and try to figure out on my own once again how to find closure.

    • runnergirl says:

      I have to watch my negative self-talk too. For example: “Why do I even bother trying to date? I am horrible at it. I do not trust myself to see the signs if he is wasting my time”. Keep a running tab of these types of thoughts that pop up through out the day, pull over as Nat suggests, and reality check. How about this: I dated a guy 3 times and engaged in a lot of cyber-communication for 2 months. He unfolded and disappeared. I tried to get to know him but he didn’t want to be known. Thus, I have let it go because I trust myself, I have my back, and he isn’t that special.
      You have done extremely well from my perspective. You didn’t let sex cloud your ability to get to know him. You know not to chase him since he’s pulled the Houdini. You know not let him back in no matter what his whiny excuse and you know to let it go, to move on after only two months. That would be giant progress for me. You are acting on knowledge, not fear. It sounds like your anxiety with this guy is based in reality and not an overactive imagination. Dating is a discovery phase and you discovered this guy isn’t suitable. That’s all. His unsuitability and/or unavailability doesn’t reflect on you. Don’t make his problems about you. It’s a flush. You have the evidence. Congratulations. It was only two months and 3 dates. Don’t over-invest in a guy you don’t know.

      • Wiser says:

        “Dating is a discovery phase and you discovered this guy isn’t suitable. That’s all. His unsuitability and/or unavailability doesn’t reflect on you.” Wise words, Runnergirl, and the most healthy, accurate way to look at this situation. Dawn, I too think you’ve handled it well, by taking your time, avoiding sex (which is huge) and not pursuing him after he showed who he really is. You kept yourself from becoming really emotionally invested before he proved he was worthy of it. As you process what you’ve learned, it can only help you next time. Sure you’re disappointed, but not devastated and that’s cause for celebration right there!

  2. MALIHA says:

    ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS… Needed a reminder of always being in check with reality.

    “If it is early days, this is a code amber alert to come back to earth and go on a fantasy diet – you’re getting carried away.”

    LOVE THAT. its all about actions speaking louder then words.

    Can you possibly do a post about your early stages of YOUR NOW boyfriend? What did you do differently with him? How do you avoid getting too carried away in the first 3 months of knowing a guy and keeping your feet firmly in the present?

    It would be fantastic feedback!


  3. Little Star says:

    I decided to start chatting/knowing guys, and see how I feel about dating them for example. What I realized that I became too fussy, it is hard with all this BR knowledge, as I cannot accept any BS from any of them and can see their “faults” and “red flags”…I definitely changed, thanks to Natalie:)

    • finallygettingit69 says:

      @Little Star, I agree with you. Once you see the light you can’t BS yourself anymore. This helps avoid a bad deal all together or getting out one much, much faster. When I am ready to have another go at dating I will be referring back to this and other blogs from Nat. BR/Nat has literally changed my life. Without it I don’t know if I would have ever been able to start putting all of the pieces together or have been able to learn how to love myself. Not just say the words, but to begin living a life with boundaries and self care front and center. It’s so validating and comforting to know I am not alone.

  4. Crazybaby says:

    What about when you want to see them more often than they’re seeing you, and you know that’s largely due to commitments they have – business meetings / trips, family visits in school holidays etc.? Do you just have to be patient? I tend to be a chaser so I find it really hard to not text / call / email to ask when we’re next gonna see each other. And I know it’s important to keep dating other men, but do you tell them about that? What if they ask if you’re sleeping with anyone else?

    I don’t want to lie, but neither do I want a guy to think I’m not that interested in him when I am. I tell him about fun things I’ve been doing in between seeing him (message: I have a life), but I don’t mention dating other guys. I have mentioned other guys showing interest – calling me, inviting me out etc., and he said “if you slept with anyone else, would you tell me?” I said that I would, but that was a lie. 

    When you’re in the early stages and you’re really into someone and keen to see them, it’s hard to know how to handle it. We have a wonderful time when we meet up, and we speak / Skype two or three times a week, but he doesn’t seem to have as much time for me in his busy schedule as I’d like, and I don’t know how to broach it without seeming overkeen or like I’m chasing :( 

    • Tabitha says:

      Crazybaby. I do not like the sound of this. Need more info. How old are you? How long has this been going on for? How often do you actually see him in real life? You say you know it is really important to see other men. Is it? Why? If I am really into one man I wouldn’t bother messing about with another. Maybe this is a cultural issue though as I am English and I think we have a different dating dynamic. Our usual MO is to get drunk and snog someone at a party and then they are your “boyfriend.” yes, even at 47. Anyway……I would say proceed with caution. If he isn’t keen to pin you down to a next date when you finish the date you are on, then I would feel he just isn’t that into you. Sorry. Nat is often pointing out that Barack finds time for Michelle.
      If you feel like you are just hanging around waiting for him to call the shots then I would jump ship. If you think there is something worth salvaging then tell him ( without sounding all bunny boiler) how you feel. That you really like him and would like to see him more. That you would prefer to have two or three dates pencilled in in advance so you can properly organise the rest of your busy life. If he goes white and starts stuttering you have your answer. Who knows, you may be pleasantly surprised.
      Lastly, you make it sound like you are in the very early stages of the relationship but also make it sound like you are sleeping with this man? Adds to the complications doesn’t it?

      • Crazybaby says:

        I’m in my 40s. We’ve been seeing each other for about 3 months now but he’s been away on business trips etc for about a third of that.

        I’d read that you should keep dating other guys til a guy commits to you. Personally I prefer to just see one guy, but I’m trying to change my patterns according to advice I read to see if it improves things.

        I’ve never really dated in the conventional sense so I feel like a novice. When he’s in the country we see each other either once a week or once a fortnight. He doesn’t live that near to me either, which is another reason we don’t meet up as often.

        • NoMo Drama says:

          “Dating” =/= “sleeping with.

        • Little Star says:

          Crazy, I was faithful to my ex AC for FIVE YEARS and so what? I wish I dated other guys, but I could not, as loved him so much, did he appreciated?! NO! So I will start dating and not only ONE GUY, but FEW…Lets have fun:)

    • grace says:

      I would drop this man. No-one is that busy and if he IS that busy, he genuinely doesn’t have time for a relationship. Some people are like that, you could be married to them and they still won’t give you the time of day.
      And don’t lie, or try to make him jealous. It’s gameplaying and will never get you a good relationship. You have to ditch those habits. I’ve been tempted to act that way with the boyfriend but I don’t let myself. He doesn’t deserve it and, crucially, I am better than that. You have to be grown up, honest, respectful and courageous. If those things end the relationship, then it’s not a relationship worth having.

      • Crazybaby says:

        That might be the case – that he’s genuinely too busy for a conventional relationship.

        I hate game playing, but I read so many articles that recommend letting him know he hasn’t ‘got’ you and has to step up to keep your interest. I’m the type to get besotted when I really like a guy, and then he takes me for granted because I’m too ‘available’. I’m just trying different approaches since my way clearly hasn’t worked that well in the past.

        • Lilia says:

          I´ve read that sort of advice too and tried it out but it´s a lot of BS and confusing as hell! Acting like that only makes it easier for ACs to keep you as an option, not harder. It all comes down to acting a certain way to keep some guy´s attention, so in the end you are the one investing most in the relationship. Because it takes a lot of effort to act as if you´re this social butterfly who doesn´t care if AC doesn´t step up because there are so many others waiting in line…

          It might be a convenient attitude if you have your sights set on Rhett Butler, but it´s mostly THE perfect act to attract guys who are EU. Because really, why should they bother if you seem so happy even while they´ve proven that they won´t do anything much to have a relationship?

          I wasted a lot of time and almost had a nervous breakdown following that sort of advice. Until I found this site and forgot all about it. You´ll find all you need to know here on BR.

        • PhoenixRises says:

          @Crazybaby, I don’t know the source of your “advice”, but I would take that with a grain of salt. No self-respecting man or woman will stand for games and drama (and just as importantly, it’s something that is uncomfortable for YOU, so pay attention to your needs and wants and don’t force yourself to ‘play the field’.)

          In order to be in a healthy and genuine relationship, you do need to be available. It’s great you have a life and love the things you do– you also shouldn’t be afraid to put yourself out there if the person shows promise. As far as this current guy goes, it sounds like he doesn’t make much time for you and you express dissatisfaction…ask yourself if it’s worth it, and after reflection if you find it’s not, then FLUSH! :)

        • Allison says:


          It doesn’t sound like he is relationship material if he’s never around. Honestly, I would look for someone who is A LOT more available – you will always come second to the work.

          I agree about the game playing. Not good!!!!!

        • runnergirl says:

          Crazybaby, I dealt with a “very busy man”, granted he was married and probably was very busy given he had a wife and family and a mistress and a demanding career. Natalie has some really good posts on what being busy may mean. I’d recommend checking her posts and the comments. Being busy is a common phenomenon with unavailables.
          I hear what you are saying with regards to changing your patterns. I’ve had to rethink and redo my typical MO too. It’s not a game. He’s either in or he’s out. That middle ground is ripe for booty call, option territory. It sounds as though your anxiety may be well-founded since he may be dipping in and out when it suits him. I’d get “busy” (with your life plus or minus guys) if I were you. If you read Nat’s stuff on how things could progress in a new relationship, this isn’t it. As Nat points out in this post: “Is it fear or is it knowledge”…and…”if something’s not right, there is evidence of it somewhere”. Pull over and do a sanity check. These “busy” types are an interesting phenomenon. And 3 months sounds about right for there to be some evidence or some unfolding. Wishing you luck.

          • Crazybaby says:

            Thank you all for your comments – you’ve given me food for thought. I’d much rather be myself and not play games, it’s so infuriating that I rarely find a guy I feel excited about, and when I do, he turns out to be not the prospect I thought he’d be – even in the short term.

            I actually confronted him about it on Skype today. He said he would do his best to arrange stuff in advance (but didn’t arrange anything there and then apart from a brief lunch date this week), and accepted that it was unreasonable of him to expect me to only date him when he clearly hasn’t been able to see me as often recently (and he expects his workload to continue to be busy for the foreseeable, maybe calming down in the summer). This wasn’t the answer I hoped for. I hoped he’d feel anxious about losing me, and arrange something ASAP. It’s two weeks since we had an evening date, and I’ve no idea if he’ll make time for me next week…

            I’m still on the fence about whether he’s genuinely maxed out with work or just easing out of the relationship the cowardly way :(

            Runnergirl – can you remember the title of the post about what being busy means? I’d like to check that one out.

            • Allison says:


              I’m sorry, but it does not matter if he is legitimately busy or not. He’s not around either way.

              Please don’t wait around for people to make time for you,

            • grace says:

              I have a full time job, an hour long commute each way, go to church at least three times a week, see my boyfriend four times a week, take ballet once a week, and still see my mother, who i don’t even like, more than this man sees you. People make time for what’s important to them and what they enjoy. Always.

  5. paolo says:

    This is a post i need to keep because it’s not often i meet someone i have a mutual attraction with and when it starts to look good I think i can tend to sabotage via self fullfilling prophecy.

    • Rachael says:

      “…it’s not often i meet someone i have a mutual attraction with and when it starts to look good I think i can tend to sabotage via self fullfilling prophecy.”
      same..In 6 years i met two guys i like…one married so no go, the other the guy I am dating (long distance and virtually no communication). What do u mean about sabotaging? how?

  6. Terri says:

    I don’t comment much on your posts. But I so needed to read this today. Thx.

  7. Tinkerbell says:

    Natalie. Thank you so much for writing about this topic because it’s where I am in life right now. I’m in a relationship which is increasingly more comfortable and relaxed. I am totally myself with him. He is the same with me. Ironically, just today I had a woman who is a homeopath/astrologer come to my home to follow up on how I’ve been doing. She’d given me some homeopathic medication as my goal has been to wean myself off of as many meds as possible for my Rheumatoid Arthritis. Unfortunately, I had to tell her that the meds she gave me did nothing and I did not feel I was a candidate that would benefit from departing from my current medication regimen. So, I had her, instead, do my astrological chart. It was spot on. Actually, I didn’t learn a lot of new information because I was realizing and fully cognizant of almost everything she told me. When she checked on whether or not my bf was a good match for me she found that there is every reason for us to be highly compatible. This is reassuring as I’ve been concerned about the fact that we get along so well and there’s no conflict and drama. Prior to my astrologer’s visit, I’ve been conscious of the need to mentally relax my mind and enjoy all the good vibes that are coming my way not only with him, but in general. I’m about as happy and content as I’ve ever been in my life. The core of the matter is to just take things slowly, be in the present, be aware of what is happening and react authetically. Being true to oneself is vitality important because when you’re not, there will be a price to pay down the road. My bf is quite a positive influence on me in many ways. But I am also a very positive influence on him. It is not a one-way street and this feels incredibly good. The most important thing is that I’ve learned before I met him and am continually learning to trust myself, trust what my little inner voice tells me, not to indulge in fast-forwarding and just take life as it comes. There’s no fire. Since I’ve been on BR I’ve found that it has helped tremendously, not only in my love life, but in my entire life, particularly in interacting with others. I’m much more grounded, and having far less freaking out episodes over small stuff, which I’ve been known for all of my life. My anxiety has decreased tenfold. I am just generally happier. I owe a lot of this transformation to reading your articles, Natalie, and absorbing what others posters say regarding their problems and how they are or are not addressing them. There’s much to learn here for everyone, no matter where you are in your life’s journey, you can learn something on BR. I’m learning and ACCEPTING that this is a good time for me and when that changes I will still find ways to cope with what’s on my plate. Thank you, Natalie.

  8. runnergirl says:

    I’m not at this stage yet Natalie. I know I will be and I’ll have to distinguish between fear and knowledge, pull over and do a sanity check. This one is bookmarked for sure. Love this.
    Watch, it’ll happen and I’ll be asking for help…!

  9. Magnolia says:

    I’m starting to get it. I learned a lot from my first year of teaching how I expect people to not cut me any slack (to cut me only as much as I cut myself, I guess). I’ve felt flustered, overwhelmed, not-good-enough, and like my colleagues are secretly saying what crap I am, when all evidence points to things having gone quite well.

    I had some of my last classes today and my grad students called my class “the highlight” of their year and my undergrads thanked me for an “excellent” class. When I noticed that some of my undergrads actually wave to me when they see me outside of class (as opposed to pretend they don’t see me) I have to admit it looks like I’m liked and appreciated. I’ve made some good new friendships with peers, too.

    I’ve generally been fine with “not caring what people think” when I just disengage from believing they think ill of me, but I have had to learn to be okay with people I care about turning out to not be into me or to reject me.

    Even bigger is learning to believe and experience that I am genuinely liked for my good points even when I’m not “performing.” Armed with that belief, I can accept that the same thing is possible in the love arena. Someone can love me and I don’t have to keep waiting for the other shoe to fall.

  10. Tigger says:

    Brilliant article. Thanks Natalie

  11. bikergal says:

    Well, lessons learned. Todays post hit home for me. In more ways than I’d care to own up to.

    I’ve been reading BR for a almost a year now. In many ways I am so much better for things on this blog. In others I feel like I’m forever in the remedial class. Today’s blog is one of the remedial classes but I think I’ve finally got it!

    I originally found this site due to what I’ve dubbed the “King of Assclowns” of my life. Thanks to this site I realized he couldn’t have been that if he didn’t have his many “queens”, of which I was one.

    Once I found this site and recognized the patterns I began to open my eyes and really pay attention and spot the lies and inconsistencies that my King was stringing me along on. I began to unravel his untruths and of course that was the beginning of the end of our little “made-up kingdom”.

    I discovered I was but one of many queens in his harem. One of which was making it hard for him to maintain his facade and keep up with the lies making it easy for me, the “queen” in the remedial classes, to finally wake up from the “made-up kingdom” and learn my lessons.

    I left, knowing the Universe was looking after them both. She was getting her prize, the fool, and he was getting exactly what he deserved, the queen who would rule his world with an iron fist. I needed no part in the game and walked away smiling even as he was asking me to stay.

    I’ve been doing NC and have moved on. Make that, thought I’d moved on. I’ve definitely moved on from the “King of Assclowns”.

    In fact what has happened is, thanks to the King and this blog, I have learned that I’ve really never been with a guy who wasn’t an assclown.

    Up until this post I thought I had gotten so comfortable in “assclown-land” that I had become an “assclown magnet”.

    I now realize that what really may have been happening is me getting very nervous around someone showing signs other than “assclown”.

    So, what I haven’t moved on from is the anxiety around getting to know someone and the fear they are yet another assclown, in a long line of assclowns. I have met a few new guys and tried to date, but bailed at the first hint of “assclown”, or perceived assclown.

    I am again in the beginning stages of getting to know someone new. All has been going well but, but, but.

    This post has helped me realize I need to slow down, stop and process. To do this before jumping to conclusions and calling it quits over what is actually nothing more than me being nervous.

    That this guy I’m seeing now is actually showing signs of being a great guy, not an assclown. That this is 100% new territory for me and that I need to stop, look, listen and process.

    Thanks, I needed this!

  12. grace says:

    Thanks for this.
    when we first started dating I would spend a lot of time fantasisng romantic breakup scenarios. Now we’ve been dating eight months, I’ve switched to romantic deathbed scenarios.
    I’ve run the break up scenario by him, he was quite offended. And he won’t entertain the deathbed ones at all.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Hi Grace. What is a “deathbed scenario?” Please elaborate. Thanks.

      • Tinkerbell says:

        Is it as morbid as it sounds or is it a joke?

      • grace says:

        he’s fifteen yrs younger than me so I’ll probably die first.

        • Tinkerbell says:

          Well. it may seem that that is true, but health as an awful lot to do with it. Mine is 8 years older, and we are not spring chickens. Logically he would be the one to go first, but he is very healthy and vigorous. His stamina far outweighs mine, and I take a lot more meds than he does. Actually, I really don’t mind this at all as I’m not ready to bury a second husband. I’d rather have to keep up with him than the other way around. Couch potatoes annoy me. Thanks for the clarification.

        • Selkie says:

          Statisically, women live longer. Maybe it’ll even out perfectly.

    • Natasha says:

      Grace, I used to LOVE to think through romantic breakup scenarios haha! My personal favorite was them finding someone else and me being happy for them and letting it go gracefully. For serious. I should have used that energy for something more productive, i.e. planning outfits. I must ask – in the latter scenario, which one of you gets consumption?! Thank you for making me laugh :)

      • grace says:

        It’s me dispensing words of wisdom and consolation from my deathbed. And I look pretty damn good for a 100 yr old!

  13. lo j says:

    Grace … In these deathbed scenarios, is he wearing his knitted banana hat???!! Lol!! Oh the dramatics! What we do, huh?

  14. TrayC says:

    WOW…well i have been dating a man for 9 months, he as me was hurt in the past (his last serious relationship was 12 year ago, he’s had some casual relationships since then but nothing serious)…anyway he’s 38yrs old never married no kids…same age as me, but i was married for 14 years and have 2 children (11 & 14)..he has lots of walls up and says he doesn’t want to get married. fine – marriage isn’t a deal breaker for me – been there done that.
    he has come a long way in 9 months – he doesn’t technically live with me, but hes been “staying” with me day in / day out for the last 3 months now. We are for all intensive purposes “playing house”, I dropped the L-word last weekend, and it kinda seemed to freak him out a little, he said “i don’t think i have that emotion”..i wasn’t expecting him to say it back, but he didn’t do a great job “reassuring” me…
    My friends keep telling me “live day to day for right now, stop trying to project whats going to happen, since u can’t predict the future”.
    He has said from the beginning “actions speak louder than words”…and from the things he does for me, i know he cares about me and i feel “loved”…hes a prideful man with a huge ego and I don’t think he can verbally express how he feels, since he’s been single for so long….it kinda goes against i think all the self talk he’s told himself for years (I don’t need a woman, I will protect my heart…blah blah)
    Do i just hang in there or what?

    for now i am ok with how things are…they are progressing, just very very very slowly

    • Natasha says:

      TrayC, “I don’t think I have that emotion.” is a Code Red. It’s one thing to take things slowly, but it’s another to say straight-up that he’s never going to get there. The big concern here is how he’s going to treat your children if he’s in their lives. Would you hire a nanny that said they don’t think they feel love? Of course not, because you’d want someone loving around your children, right? Plenty of people find getting back into dating daunting, but citing a twelve year-old relationship as the reason means something is off. Hope this helps!

  15. paolo says:

    TracyC…I’m a guy..This might sound harsh but i’ll explain what he means in man language…He loves the attention you give him. You no doubt sooth his soul with the care and love you bestow upon him..He appreciates you for it..Now here’s the painfull part you might not want to hear..He’s just not that into you to be in love with you. He might care about what you do for him but that’s entirely different. If someone else he was more into was doing the same thing i doubt you’d be seeing him much…Walls or no walls,,hurts or no hurts..I’ve been hurt like hell and damnation in the past, but when im into a woman im into her..Time goes by too fast when i’m around a woman im into.. and i cherish being around her…This man is bullshitting you. Using you as a ‘meantime woman’..That’ll do for the meantime until he finds someone he really fancys…Don’t waste your time..Kindly drop his sorry using ass and move on..He may start chasing you if you do, but always remember it will only be his ego and pride doing the chasing. Not the man. The man is lost under bullshit…I know, iv’e been lost there myself. If he’s not feeling it, don’t walk, but run away.

    • finallygettingit69 says:

      I love it when the gents chime in and are 100% on the money. Nat wrote an article about a man being EU versus just not into you. Either way, this guy sounds like he’s OK with getting the benefits of the relationship without having to do the emotional heavy lifting. I agree, RUN not WALK away from him.

    • grace says:

      I agree with paolo but would add that he won’t necessarily be better or different with someone he’s more into. Twelve years is a long time to be not over someone and rather than put the work in, he waits for the mythical woman to turn up who will make it all all right, only no such woman exists. Or he knows no such woman exists, so he’ll make do with a halfhearted relationship as that’s all he’s capable of.
      Living from day to day is right, but the day to day has to be good! You shouldn’t be waiting for him to become different or better. In my nine month relationship he’s lost two jobs, my dad had been sick, I’ve been sick, we’ve been crazy busy, his friends and family have been giving him a hard time, but the relationship has been sound. you can’t predict the future, but you should feel he has your back whatever life throws at you.

      • finallygettingit69 says:

        I agree with Tracey, I wouldn’t take his lack of emotional investment to mean not into you, more likely he’s EU. And as NML says unavailable is unavailable, period end of.

      • paolo says:

        grace. That’s exactly right. You have to feel they’ve got your back. With love, care and respect. The respect part i think is wowfully missing… Anything else is just crap.

    • runnergirl says:

      Well, apparently I’m the blog hog (borrowing the phrase from dear Fearless…where are you?)tonite. Paolo, even though your response was directed to Tray C, thank you so much. I think you just summed up my 2 year experience with the exMM quite nicely. All of my anxiety, anger, sadness, and hurt was legitimate. I really didn’t know that a guy could like the attention, the care, soothing, and the love but just soak it up without reciprocating in kind. I really appreciate your comment. The chasing part makes total sense too. That helped me to see it’s about his ego/pride. Not about him and certainly not about me. Your ‘meantime woman’ is another way to cast the fallback girl. Nicely done.
      It sounds like you may not be lost in the bullshit anymore.
      Hope Paolo’s comment resonates with you Tray C. I lived it for two years. Additionally, another poster on another thread mentioned that going slowly can be code for settling for crumbs. Watch the excuses…a prideful man…huge ego…single for so long…protecting his heart? From what?

      • paolo says:

        runnergirl..exactly…I don’t think it matters how hurt someone feels from the past..When a guy finds someone he really likes and is really into, then nothing would stop a guy moving forward and letting it be known in no uncertain terms he is interested…I mean we’re guys for crying out loud..We don’t do subtle and vague unless we’re being cagey and shifty and trying to keep uncommited until or unless something better comes along and playing bullshit..There..That’s all the man secrets out in the open.I have nothing more lol.

        • runnergirl says:

          Ah paola, thank you. I hope every body reads your comment. That is simply it. Thanks so much for sharing all the man secrets. You totally made me laugh out aloud. You and Natalie make a perfect couple. Nat says it in girl terms and you say it in guy terms. I’ve never met a guy that does subtle and vague until I met the exMM. Just like you say, he was being cagey and shifty and trying to keep uncommitted while getting shagged and a home cooked meal. Who could blame the dude? I promise, I won’t tell anybody you revealed all the man secrets in one paragraph. Still laughing! If you don’t mind, I’ve copied and pasted your comment into my journal. I appreciate your honesty. So no anxiety.

  16. ChiTownKitty says:

    Wow! All I can say is wow! My life has been a roller coaster for the last month and I still don’t know if its me or him or both.
    Last year I dated someone who I was crazy about–then he called and ended it (out of the blue, I thought we were getting very close). Anyway, ten months go by no contact on either one of our parts. Then he calls me at work out of the blue. Asks to see me, says he wants to apologize for how it ended and how he hurt me. I agree to meet him. To be honest, yes I was hurt but for some reason I was never mad at him–it just didn’t work out.
    We had a great dinner and agreed to see each other again. I was really aware of some of the positive changes both of us had made in the last year which was great but me being me saw doom and danger when it wasn’t there (but was able to sit down and talk myself through it and realize it was my past with an EUMM talking) and now I am always really seeing what hasn’t changed.

    He’s busy…always busy…gee, the President can play golf but him…swear his tombstone will say “I’m Busy.” Yes, he has kids (older teens) and elderly parents he who live nearby (btw I am an hour away).
    So this time I sat down an thought of my wants and needs. I would like to talk to him daily but I don’t need it. So I only text when I really need a phone call (which includes just to decompress, laugh, or catch up at the end of the day). Have done this twice (sent text saying “hey, I’d really love to talk tonight. Can you give me a call?”)….no response or the next day get a “I was busy…sorry” text with some bit of bs. Hey, if you can’t talk just let me know.

    My deal is this. I have no idea if I am on solid ground or just a dinner and a shag once a week. No clue. I get no signals from him (I mean he tells me I’m great and all that but I wonder if he stops thinking of me the moment he leaves my place and he I’m on a to do checklist “Text CTK today, check”)
    Also, I know I am holding back as I don’t think I am up for another 8 am phone call ending it.
    Thanks for the post! I am trying to figure out what is real and what is anxiety…

    • Mymble says:

      Im not dating and haven’t for a long time but if he has already dumped you without warning before why are you seeing him again?
      I mean what could he have said that would explain it away? Ten months later?
      Also if you’re having to text him to
      see if you’ve got permission to speak that doesn’t sound right, it sounds like there is a big power imbalance whereby you have to wait for him to make time for you as and when is convenient for him. And he isn’t even courteous about it, if he doesn’t return texts.
      I don’t like the sound of him at all, he is an AC. Why don’t you phone him at 8 am (without texting first) and tell him to f*** off. Or better still just ignore all texts and calls. He ignores yours, when it suits.

      • ChiTownKitty says:

        I did wonder why he dumped me ten months ago. He did tell me why he left…lets say that while I understand why he did it (to spare me from a situation he was dealing with in his life that has now passed completely)–I would not have made the same decision but understand what led him to do it.
        He texts me to ask if I can talk (are you busy? is it a good time? etc) so I text as the same courtesy but you are right—I never text during his work hours-I respect that he prefers to be all business then.
        That being said you are absolutely right about the power imbalance. I am agreeing with him that his busy, busy, busy life is more important than mine. Hey we all have stuff!
        The thing is I find myself comparing him to my ex-husband aka King of the ACs and the EUMM I was involved with before. Compared to them the man is the catch of all time…but now I am realizing that things I see as “wonderful” like his devotion to his kids and parents should be standard operating procedures for any human being! Him being an improvement over those two isnt saying much, in other words.
        Mymble, you are right!
        I have to ask myself why I am staying. To be honest I am in my 50s. Ive tried online dating, tried just meeting people. I am happy on my own but I do like having someone in my life as. I know how to be alone but I dont want to be alone all the time. I thought I could make this work by trying to learn what is a want and what is a need in my life…but while that might make sense…well, its great to have the wants met too and if someone wont even be courteous, well..who needs it.
        I am supposed to have dinner with him on Friday night…I think I have to pick one big issue to discuss (in this case the texts)and speak my mind, and let the chips fall where they may.

        • Tracy says:

          ChiTown-I hear ya. I’ll be 50 in January, was married for 19 years, two awesome kids out of the deal. But dating post-divorce has been a disaster. Like you, I saw traits like “good to his kids, good to his parents” as super-duper attributes, when, as you said, they are just things that people SHOULD do. Just recently, I sent a wine-fueled email to the last EUM I dated; one I fell for big-time, but he was just future faking the day away…he was ‘still hurting’ from his ex dumping him four friggin’ years ago. He emailed me this morning and said “good to hear from you, work has been so…”

          Yeah, you got it…busy. He said he’s email me back later, but now it’s later and I haven’t heard back, and quite frankly, I don’t even care. I’m thrilled that I’ve gotten to that place. I was an online maniac, but I haven’t looked in months. Just don’t really care anymore. I want to hang out with my girlfriends, travel a bit…I’m finding that finding a relationship is getting further and further from my mind.

          Tonight I stopped off at my aunt’s, she wasn’t home but my uncle was. He asked me if I have any ‘prospects’, meaning men to date. I told him I’d given up. He offered to set me up with one of his fellow AA memebers, to which (and I don’t mean to offend anyone) I said, “HELL NO”. Been there, done that, twice. He was dismayed that I’d ‘given up’. But I’d rather be alone and hanging out with ‘the girls’ than boosting up someone in recovery just to say that I have someone.

          • ChiTownKitty says:

            Thanks Tracy! What gets me is that my life was working–yes, it was small (Im 52 working on a masters, working, small circle of great friends dont have the funds to do a lot of things I would like but still happy)..but sometimes lonely. When he called I felt strong and then I saw him and folded like a lawn chair.
            I stopped looking after my relationship with him broke up…part of me thinks its wrong to just end it without letting him know what’s bothering me and giving him a chance to change…or is it just futile?

            • runnergirl says:

              CTK, go back and read Paola’s comments. He’s too busy. He isn’t going to change. It’s futile. Let it go and keep focusing on you and your MA. That’ll serve you down the road. Some random busy dude? Not so much. Let him be busy. You don’t owe him a thing.
              Sometimes when was lonely, I thought maybe he’ll spontaneously combust into the guy I imagined. He didn’t. He just reaped the benefits of my loneliness. Ate dinner, got a shag, and went on about his busy life.

      • Allison says:


        I agree with Mymble!

        I have to ask why you are sacrificing and accommodating so much??

        I’m sorry, but this guy does not sound like great dating material, but you’re willing to accept so very little.

        Dump his ass! He’s a waste of time!

        • ChiTownKitty says:


          I have to admit when you came back a month ago, initially I was ticked that he did. Then I met him and have to admit romantic notions swept over me. In his apology he included more compliments than my ex-husband said to me in the last 15 years we were married. And even today I believe he was sincere.
          Also, to be honest I was totally surprised he even had thought of me over the last 10 months. He seemed the never look back type. Again, I wanted to believe I was special (my ex flat out told me I wasn’t important or special and that has always stung).

          But (luckily) the bloom has come off the rose quick and yes I am starting to realize that once again like every other relationship I will be the one expected to bend and give and accommodate…..I guess the one thing I am thinking is that I should at least say something…give him a chance to decide if he wants to bend, accommodate, and give to be in a relationship with me…..

          • Allison says:


            You shouldn’t have to ask someone to treat you with care and respect, it should already be a part of the package. He’s not a child.

            This is who this man is, you should accept it, for both your sakes.

            Why is he the end all? You deserve more,

  17. Sarah says:

    This post came at the perfect time for me! I’ve been dating a new guy for a month now and things were going great. He was pursuing, asking me out on dates well in advance and communicating.
    This week something feels different and that old feeling of panic and anxiety has set in. I’ve been hearing from him less and less and his schedule has been too busy to see each other.
    I’m not sure where to go from here! Do I immediately flush when my gut isn’t feeling right, wait it out and see if this behavior is the new norm or bite the bullet and even though it’s only been a month go ahead and ask the questions that in the past I’ve been afraid of! Are we on the same page here and do you see this progressing?
    THoughts? This is eating away at me

    • Natasha says:

      Sarah, since it’s only been a month,(and this is coming from someone that in the past had years-long-saga-level-of-drama relationships that actually only lasted a month!), I would have a think about why it’s upsetting you so much. If he’s doing that fade-out, then just let him do it and go on your merry way. If there’s something legit going on in his life that’s taking up a ton of his time, he might not be going into detail because you don’t know each other very well yet. The most important thing is not to let it eat away at you. Think of it this way: Let’s say you’ve been on somewhere between 4-8 dates with this guy. That’s 4-8 evenings out of your whole life, which is nothing, right? Take it from someone who’s been there and go do something other than worry about this guy immediately! :)

  18. Atrophy says:

    I feel like I panicked after seeing a guy long distance and since he too started to try less and took it as a sign he was disinterested and called it off.

    My pride won’t let me go back, it’s been a month and we haven’t spoken, I was just starting to fall for him. In the past I had no boundaries and this time around I think I held the good guy to too high standards if that’s the right word.

    He wasn’t doing anything wrong, didn’t have shady behaviour, I think he got comfortable and everytime I said I needed more communciation, he’d simply reply that this is me, I don’t say much.

    I tried to think of older posts of topline data, and reading different blogs, they all say different things. I think I made the right decision because I’m action oriented and he didn’t really have goals or control over his finances.

    I feel a bit lost and I miss him so much but I think that it would be unfair to contact him when I broke it off and am still working through getting over it.

    • Allison says:


      LDR are rarely successful. Why not go local where you can get to know the person you’re dating.

      The finance issues and lack of goals is a big problem. Glad you didn’t settle.

  19. paolo says:

    ChiTownKitty…He’s using you for a booty call…No one..I repeat..No one is that busy..And even if they are because they were in a meeting at the time or something else..They would have the respect to call you back without you havint to ask them to…Only a guy that’s not that into a woman would not do that…As soon as someone new comes along, you’ll see him even less. That’s if he’s not seeing someone behind you back…Sorry, but this crap really makes me angry…The too busy shit is so lame.

    • Mymble says:

      It is very interesting when men confirm ones suspicions about this sort of thing, because sometimes it can be hard to believe. You start to think maybe you’re too demanding, inflexible, aggressive, not understanding enough. Cut them some slack and go with the flow. But Nope. It is as Natalie says. Or worse. They are ACs, and EUMs and they know damn well they’re stringing you along. They’re not confused, scared, or in a bad place. They are taking the piss, and giving them another chance = giving them another opportunity to screw you over.

      • paolo says:

        Mymble..The ‘too busy’ bollocks isn’t unique to men, believe me..Iv’e been assclowned with it aswell with my ex…Its the unavailable’s favourite bit of bullshit..And you do end up feeling like your the one being pushy or uncool or any other low thing that you never felt in the beginning…For what ever reason..The too busy thing is a massive red flag in my book…What they really mean is they’re too busy for you as an individual…End of.

      • Tinkerbell says:

        Amen, Mymble. What constantly amazes me the variety of excuses they have for not showing up, for being late, for breaking up, and on and on. They can be quite creative in that aspect of a relationshit. So they think. And, we women know most of the time it’s BS, but we don’t want to accept it for what it is. That way we give ourselves permission to continue putting up with unacceptable behavior. And all we get for our troubles is more of the same crap and usually it gets worse.

    • Rachael says:

      Hi all, I only recently discovered this site and have read all the comments here. I am dating guy – we met online at Christmas. He works remote and is sometimes out of range for communication. He is also a lousy communicator, not just with me, but everyone, including his kids. I know he is not a cheat. We have only spent three days together and he rarely contacts me, despite me asking him to change this behaviour. I am definitely the type of woman that is prone to over-invest in a relationship early and become dependent on a man for her happiness. I am recognising this and trying hard to change it by focusing on my fitness and confidence. I am not sure if this guy is into me and or EU. Could Paolo or anyone give me their thoughts please? Aussie girl here:)

      • grace says:

        No relationship here. Get Nat’s book – Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship and/or Mr U and the fallback girl.
        “I am definitely the type of woman that is prone to over-invest in a relationship early and become dependent on a man for her happiness. I am recognising this and trying hard to change it by focusing on my fitness and confidence.” You can be as fit and confident as you like, it’s not going to make him a better boyfriend (not that he is your boyfriend). In fact, if you were truly fit and confident you’d flush him or you wouldn’t have got into this in the first place!
        I used to value my independence very much, and was very happy before I met my boyfriend. Therefore, do I a) go for a relationshp where I hardly see them so I don’t become dependent or b) put myself 100% into a relationship with someone who is also putting in 100%?
        (Tip: a) is wrong)

      • Allison says:


        You’re not dating this guy.

        He’s shown you that he is not interested in a relationship by his lack of action – no communication and 3 dates in 4 months. Is he married?

        Please don’t make excuses for him – you should be mortified that he treats his kids this way.

        He’s a waste of time. He’s not interested.

      • paolo says:

        Rachel..Iv’e done what you’re doing..Except your situation sounds a bit more extreme..It seems like there’s even less communication going on between you both..If your someone that invests too early and relies on someone for their happiness, then i would say to calm down, step back..waaay back…and use your mind instead of anything else..Try and be objective and not future fake yourself into seeing more than what is being delivered by this man..It sounds like your getting alot of crumbs..Both in communication and in behavior (as in your not seeing him in real life much). Only go by what is ACTUALY happening, not what you would love to happen, or hope will happen..It’s hard sometimes, but you have to stay in reality..That’s why virtual love is such a head fuck, it’s so easy to future fake our own selves and see more than what there is. I’m no expert but I would also say to focus on your own life so that its full of things you enjoy without the need of someone else to fullfill you in such a way that you want to make them your world or universe…I think we should all really have someone we’re into and is into us as much back, but i can’t see this is possible if they are seen as pedastal gods and godesses over and above mortal human…I think this goes on alot when we’re getting crumbs..They seem worth it, so we accept the crumbs. Or is it that we accept the crumbs first, so we want to make them worth it? Either way, not healthy..walk away,, with dignity.

      • Tinkerbell says:

        Rachael knowing what you know about yourself, you should not be dating right now. You need to invest in YOU. Take time to appreciate yourself, to know what you want out of life and not settle. Stick with us here, maybe get a therapist if you can and READ all the self-help books you can get your hands on. I could suggest a few but won’t at this time. Take care of Rachael and forget the men for awhile. You’ll only be more confused than you are now.

        • Rachael says:

          Thank you, Grace, Allison, Paolo and Tinkerbell for your comments. I appreciate your efforts.
          Grace, “You can be as fit and confident as you like, it’s not going to make him a better boyfriend”. I am working on my confidence and self-worth for me, not him. I figure that the stronger I am, the less likely I am of accepting crumbs from any man. While “a)” is not the case with me at all (I am dependent on men despite the frequency of contact), “b)” is what I aim for (I try to give my all and work on the things that get in the way and what he does is not in my control).
          Allison, he is not married, but he does have clinical depression. While I agree with some of your comments, I also understand things are not simple. He apparently is a better father now than when he was debilitated by depression. Excuses? Perhaps
          Paolo, yes my situation is extreme. “calm down, step back..waaay back…and use your mind instead of anything else” – I have been trying to do this and I believe it is the best way to keep my sanity and self-respect. Thank you for your empathy. “focus on your own life so that its full of things you enjoy” – I think herein lies the problem, while I love my job, my life is somewhat unsatisfying, leaving me vulnerable to future faking. This is why I have taken up an exercise regime and why I seeking advice here.
          Tinkerbell, “you should not be dating right now. You need to invest in YOU”. I have thought the same thing myself. I am 42… I am scared of being alone forever… I want to care for someone and share life… tic toc!

          • Rachael says:

            Paolo, oops, I think I misused the term ‘future faking’.
            “…my life is somewhat unsatisfying, leaving me vulnerable to future faking”… waht I meant here was fantasising/overthinking.

          • Allison says:


            If you are looking to share your life with someone, then this is the wrong dude. He can’t do it, may it be depression, or simply being who he is. Hon, there’s no relationship here.

            Have you tried getting out more: classes, volunteering, clubs, Meetups etc….. Sounds like you need to expose yourself to new things and meet new friends.

            It’s your life. You can wait around for the guy you never see or talk to – while you do all the work – or you can get yourself out there and live your life.

            • Rachael says:

              Hi Allison,
              Thank you for your comment. I sent an email asking if he is actually interested and invited him to tell me if he isn’t. Maybe he will give me the arse. If not, then I will need to create a boundary… that is, no communication is not what I want. You are correct about getting out, I just don’t seem to be very good at that…it was not modeled for me as a child and it always is more effort than reward.

              • jewells says:

                Hi Rachel,
                Don’t ask him permission to move on. EU’s use words like kleenex, his actions have already told you that he is not interested. Oh, clinical depression? Yeah, step away from the downer. My father has depression, he was a terrible father in that I interpreted his lack of action as lack of love and my life has been impacted severly for it. I am 43, and I would rather stay alone than wind up with someone who is not a co pilot with me. Oh, and my father’s second wife just left him after 30+ years – they’ve only been married a few years, I think she finally figured out that he’s not going to change and that marriage doesn’t make a relationship. She’s been his classic fallback girl and I do believe she’s finally growing a backbone. She was his cheif sympathizer (about what a horrible daughter I am for one), his passing the time girl (till he reluctantly married her under threat of her leaving and he had no other options), she accepted crumbs all along as he never knew anything about her or her kids despite the length of time they were ‘together’. So finally after all this time she’s coming to realize that the poor wee man is not so hard done by, but has created his own unhappiness and there is nothing she can do to fix it. I’m not sure how old she is but he is 68. Don’t waste the next 30 years of your life trying to help someone who won’t help themselves. Figure out what it is that will satisfy you in your life and you will find an equal partner. That’s the premise I’m working on now :)

                • Rachael says:

                  Hijewells, thank you for your comment. firstly, I am sorry your father “was a terrible father” and that you “interpreted his lack of action as lack of love” and that your “life has been impacted severely”. That sounds really sad and lonely for you. I hope you heal.
                  Second, I am definitely not asking his permission to move on..I am a grown up. I am just giving him the opportunity to be honest while allowing the chance to clarify his confusing behaviour (non communication)

  20. paolo says:

    Sarah. What i said to Chi.

    • ChiTownKitty says:


      Thanks. I have been wondering that all along. I didn’t want to believe it. My friends want to help me find my way gently but you are right. Im nothing more than a booty call although he would deny it to the end and I bet he doesn’t even see it that way himself.
      Question–are guys oblivious to that? Or do they always know that a girl is just a booty call?


      • paolo says:

        ChiTownKitty…Are guys oblivious?? I think guys are aware of their own behavior when they act in that way. It’s a case of whehther they chooose to ignore it or not, or understand it. In my view, if it’s hurting someone else though it doesn’t matter. The other person needs to get out to protect themselves from such behavior and not accept a guy that’s gonna screw them around until they meet someone they like more…I think this whole backwards and forwards thing is nothing more than a case of thinking the grass is greener when we pull away. That has been my thought in the past anyway..It’s a case of thinking..”Well i scored this one and she’s great, maybe i can score even better so don’t get too commited”..It’s a bullshit way of thinking and a kind of insanity i think, and one im gladly seeing for what it is. Unhealthy.

        • Allie says:

          LOL Paolo,

          it is so true. When i was dating a EUM and “my epiphany”, i used to justify his behavior as “he really didn’t intentionally do this things to me” or “it was unconsciously” or whatever. He knew what he was doing, i now recall him telling me “i don’t want to hurt nobody” and at the end of the day, you know that was his way of “washing his hands” and then if i got hurt it was my own fault. Yes, it was my fault for keeping on keeping on. I decided to stay in that game. But no more, i am out of that and so happy to be out of that misery. If he is oblivious or not, if he learned the lesson or not, now that is his problem not mine.

          • Revolution says:

            Sheesh Allie. “I don’t want to hurt nobody.” Not only is he rolling out the standard assclown phrase, but he’s changing it to a double negative! It can’t get any worse than that.

    • Revolution says:

      LOL Paolo. I’ve been enjoying your contributions here, but I must say that you are reaching (dare I say?) near-Nat status as another reliable lie detector in the “war” against ACs! Thanks again.

  21. Marlene says:

    I have been reading, but have never posted on this site, learned much and just ended it with my MM. We were friends for many years and he
    declared his marriage was over, but
    could not leave her until he had enough money to do so. The romance started three years ago. We live and hour and 1/2 away from each other.We communicated every day either by calling or texting.I started getting anxiety last year when he received and inheritance and
    money from a lawsuit. He had promised that we would be together when he recieved the money. But that never happened. When I confronted him about it he said we would have to wait until he retired
    (we are in our 60’s)to be together.
    He asked me to hang in and wait. Like a fool, I kept believing him.
    I started NC with him 3 weeks ago and was feeling better, then I ran into him at a friends. He could not understand why I was not talking to him and wanted me to explain. So I told him. He said “I drew back from you last year when you got angry when I did not leave home.” I feel like such a fool, he has led me on for 3 yrs. Always declaring his love for me and would I wait for him. I have had it. I have anxiety about dating in the future. I am not sure if I will ever trust a man again. I am afraid of being the fallback girl in future relationships.

    • jewells says:

      Oh Marlene, I’m so sorry for how you are feeling right now. I wish I could define exactly how it is that these MM’s get us so. The artful lies, the future faking, the goalpost moving, the managing. MM is also an acronym for Master Manipulator. The MM also declared his marriage over, my suspicion is that yes it was in some way, but despite what they say to us, have NO intention of leaving their comfort zone(wife/family/home), they use us as a bandaid for what they’re missing, thus, ironically, we keep him satisfied/occupied and their marriage together. It’s a pity we have to travel this road to figure it out. But do not despair, you are here, so have access to the information you need to NOT become a fallback girl in another situation. I don’t know how long it’s been since your situation ended, but give yourself some time to heal and forgive yourself. You didn’t know, like I didn’t know. You trusted in what he said, you believed in him – just like I did. Now, you know.
      Once I started talking about my situation, discovered that most women have had an experience of a MM, knew how devastating it is, then I realized that I was just a late bloomer in acquiring this experience. It’s a life lesson, a painful, devastating, beautiful life lesson. I feel stronger for having had it, I have been doing things for my sake and life and know now that I don’t have to go through that again as I am armed with knowledge to date BETTER in future, and to let actions speak louder – I’ve definitely learned how words can be darn cheap. I know when to flush, and I know when in doubt, I’ll be coming here to run the situation by the posters here to see what they think.

      • Marlene says:

        Thanks to everyone who replied to my message. I know I am not alone and I appreciate you sharing your experiences. I will continue to read & learn what I need, to move forward. NC has helped me relax and focus on myself in the moment.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Marlene. First of all he’s not “MY MM,” He was never yours, was he? Is he? No. So don’t personalize things. He isn’t. DO NOT spend another minute waiting on his lies that he is going to leave his wife. That rarely happens. And why would you want someone who would cheat on you just like he is doing now. You really should know better by now. Sorry, but there’s NO FUTURE. You indicate that he is in your past. For your sake, I hope so.

    • Revolution says:

      Oh Marlene, take heart! We’ve all been fools in love! Didn’t even Shakespeare say that, back in the 1600’s?

      I’m sorry you’re going through this, but please gain strength to live and “fight another day” by reading on this site, and remembering that there are others who’ve fallen in the (well-concealed, sometimes) net, and who’ve survived and even learned positive lessons from it! I think that you especially caught my eye because my mom is in her 60s and it broke my heart when I read your comment. If I were anywhere near you, I’d give you a big, warm hug and make you a cappuchino. But since I’m not, just know that you are heard and you are understood. And it ain’t over ’til it’s over in life. Love is possible to find all the way up until we’re dead. And even in death, God negotiates. :)

    • runnergirl says:

      Hi Marlene,
      I’m a former OW. The affair ended two years ago. Since you’ve been reading BR, you know that the common excuse is that there is some obstacle which precludes their actions matching their words. The exMM led me on for two years with the standard line, waiting for the last kid to go to college. Of course, like you experienced, the goal post shifted once the kid left for college. It’s pretty standard and you are not the only one. Folks actually think I’m smart even though I got duped too and I duped myself.
      After a two year respite and total BR no BS diet, including reading Nat’ books, and signing up for the self-esteem ecourse (the very best), I’ve tackled the in-person and online dating world at 53. I’ve been dating for 10 months and having a great time, albeit I’ve met some losers. You will be able to trust a man again when you trust yourself and have your own back. If you keep reading Nat’s stuff, you’ll be able to pull out of a fallback girl situation because that will give you the heebie jeebies or legitimate anxiety which shouldn’t be calmed. For me, dating has been actually fun, even really bad dates (which I’ve posted about), because I’m learning I can trust me. Thus, the anxiety level decreases substantially. My first boundary: NO MARRIED OR ATTACHED MEN. That’s like an electric fence. Zero anxiety. Zero chance.
      Stay NC and stay with Natalie and BR. Nat and BR got me to the point where going on a date is simply not the biggest gamble of a lifetime!

  22. espresso says:

    I love this phrase, “respectful inner dialogue”
    I have definitely calmed down since my deranged state last summer and fall when I was in acute pain because of my ex and the (long story) way he hurt me as the final blow to a long relationship that was full of pain and hurt.

    I often wonder how I avoided crashing my car last fall because I was so exhausted and in such white hot pain and fury. I really was kind of crazy and when I look back at some of the posts I wrote then..I just feel so sad for that time. But it was necessary.

    My ability to assess myself and other situations and to remind myself to find that middle way between “over-thinking” and just “reacting” has really improved thanks mostly to BR. I can see that I am less vulnerable than I was, more detached in a good way from my ex – not engaging him emotionally in any way or trying not to…and also trying to engage a lot more new people in my life…also revisiting some of the basics in past relationships too.
    Both for women and for men friends. Right now at this minute I feel great. But I still go up and down…and when I actually think of following through on a date (if that ever happens) I get really cold feet. I am not sure if I am up for it…definitely not yet. I definitely feel very pessimistic which is kind of sad.

    But I am moving along…….definitely. The most wonderful thing is that I feel SO much more in tune with my core self. It is hard to describe this growing feeling that I don’t need to be validated by others in terms of the life I am leading and want to lead. I can just do that myself. Feels great!

  23. noquay says:

    Talk about timely; was just thinking about Spring, the semesters end, and how I really need to get out there now that I will not be trapped by bad weather and night classes. On the other hand, I do have major anxiety about having to resort to trying to meet quality men on line after taking a six month break (no healthy choices near here), that time is indeed running out, that some of what my single women colleagues say is true and that I will be stuck alone or having to settle for someone less than, that no one as good looking and educated as the AC was will want me. On the other hand, I think I have learned my BR lessons well, having successfully warded off numerous local marrieds, deadbeats, and other various and sundry wounded birds this region seems to have lots of so I do think I am ready to at least try.

  24. espresso says:

    If a man says he has emotional deficiencies don’t stick around. I did it for many years with my ex who can’t express or identify feelings (his own or anybody else’s). I blamed myself for not being able to change him or make the marriage better. I was the one who put the energy in, who brought the emotions, who engaged, who “felt” things and expressed them and he lived in a way, like an emotional parasite off of me. I don’t think he is a mean and horrible person. He just didn’t have these capabilities. It will be soul destroying for you and like living with half of a person. YOu deserve better. Honestly.

    And please avoid the trap of thinking a loving relationship (that you bring) can fix him. It can’t. I watch my ex struggle with some of these things on his OWN right now and I can see he has really profound issues …more deeper than I ever realized at the time. I never wanted to face that. He always said he didn’t think he could change. I didn’t listen. I lived in false hope.

    • Wiser says:

      I could have written your post, Espresso. This brings up sad memories of my 15-year marriage to a man with serious emotional problems that I really didn’t see during our courtship. But he too could not express or identify his feelings, or deal with the discomfort of looking honestly at his issues. My ex was not mean or horrible either, in fact he had wonderful qualities which over the years became buried by self-hatred, anger and chronic cynicism. He was in therapy for many years, and still is, but never does the necessary work to confront his inner demons.

      I thought that just loving him would be enough, not to change him because I don’t think people can ever “change” each other, but I did think that being loved would help him to find the courage and inspiration to change himself. No such luck. I beat myself for years after our divorce for having “failed” him so miserably. I don’t feel that way any more.

      I remember my mother telling me, as a teenager, don’t marry a man you feel sorry for. I didn’t really understand that at the time, but I do now. Wanting to swoop in and save the sad-eyed puppies is a powerful force that does much good in the world, but pretty much doomed when it comes to romantic relationships. People who chronically can’t emote, communicate, look at themselves honestly, or shut down whenever the conversation turns to self-knowledge and awareness just do not make good partners. If they tell you that they have these emotional deficiences, BELIEVE THEM. Don’t be deluded that you have some special power to change them. If they’re working on changing themselves, great. Watch carefully to see how sincere this is. Otherwise, forget it.

  25. Tulipa says:

    I have finally decided I need professional help with all that happened with the ex AC we still have contact due to recent events he now wants to pay for my therapy should I let him?(I do feel he played a huge part in me ending up needing help) I will seriously struggle to pay and he can afford it or is this just a way for him to hang on the outside of my life?

    • grace says:

      FFS, No.
      How did you even get into that conversation with him? I struggled to pay for mine too, but it was worth it. There are counsellors who will offer a discount if you’re financially strapped.
      Buy less stuff, cut your own hair, cook all your meals from scratch, bring your own lunches to work, don’t buy starbuccks/whatever, cancel the gym membership for x months and workout from home.

    • paolo says:

      Tulipa..What your saying is a bit like a crack addict asking for help from the crack dealer.

    • Wiser says:

      That’s a truly terrible idea. Absolutely NO. You need to get away from people who make you so miserable you need therapy, NOT become further enmeshed with them!! Grace is right, you need to take care of this yourself – first of all, you need to do that for your own self-respect, and if you have to do some sacrificing to make therapy happen, it will be all the more meaningful to you.

    • Allie says:

      Definitely no.

      Your own grow is your own responsibility. You need to be NC with him, zero, nada.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Tulipa. That idea is ridiculously awful. You don’t need him to pay for therapy for you when he’s the cause of your needing it in the first place!!! You should be running away from him as quickly as you can, instead of entertaining the idea of getting more involved. Take others advice about how you can sacrifice in other areas to be able to afford it. Considering that idea is proof that you really need professional help. Good luck.

      • Tulipa says:

        Thank you for telling me what I already knew deep down that it is a crazy idea to be sitting in therapy getting help to get away from him and have him pay for that.
        I do want to take care of my mental health I have struggled for months on end which is how the conversation with him came up. I initially tried to use him as my emotional air bag but the harder I tried the more he backed away. Then as soon as I said I have got myself some help after heeding what he was telling me “I can’t help you” “I’m limited in what I can do for you” etc. He is now all about helping and supporting me including paying. He knows my financial situation so he said it would be one less stress on me. But I would really would rather pay myself.
        I had one short session and I did pay myself and I will continue to do so.
        Thank you again.

    • Magnolia says:


      Your question reminded me of how awful the AC I dated actually was. He was actively paying for the therapy of more than one woman whose issues clearly had much to do with him. He offered to do the same for me, and I was in such a terrible place, I remember thinking I must really need it if he’s offering to pay.

      Yes, I really needed help, but to get as far away from him and his poisonous “help” as possible. Being able to make sacrifices to pull your own weight in life is part of the strength you are looking for: nothing will be able to stop you when you know you will do whatever you can to take care of you, and you don’t depend on anyone else to put you first.

  26. Tired says:

    Dont waste any more time on him . I got involved with a attached man went on to see him marry and have another child . He lost interest in me years back i was a meantime girl a ego stroke . Chief sympathersiser in his sad life . Till he met someone who could offer him a better life style and he could live the life he wanted . He left his wife and off he went . Its really black and white and this goes out to Tracey c if a man really wants to be with you they will , it really is that simple they know pretty quick if they want to be with you end of . How many years do you let go by waiting for them to make a decision ??????? When you could be out there in a happier life ?????? They rarely leave and if they do its usually for a woman who puts her boundries up and wont do affairs . We lose all respect and care when we join the dance of lies and deceit with them . They really do lie toeveryone noone is the exception . They love only themselves . Sorry if isound harsh but i been waking up to it myself and im being harsh on myself xx

  27. noquay says:

    Soooo true! What you described sounds a lot like “grizzly dude” who was still angry and untrusting after his wife dumped him-in 1990. He told me I was too good for him, and went on to prove it. Broken men are just that-broken.

  28. Revolution says:

    So ladies….I was up until past midnight talking to a friend who is having issues with an EU male “friend”. I had to be the friend who, lovingly, told her that he was “taking the piss” (as you Brits say, which I love) with her. She said all the things I said and all the things we read on here. She asked why she wasn’t enough, what he’s waiting for, does he think he can get better than her and that’s why he’s not making up his mind about being more than friends? Keep in mind that this girl is a GORGEOUS, down-ass woman (that means cool, as in “I’m down with that”). It made me sad for my girl, because she is also very confident and yet this dude played her (no sex, thank God, but dinners, lots of attention, texts, calls, etc.). And at the end of all this, this nob (who’s nothing to look at or talk to, believe me) makes my friend feel less than? OH HEEEEELLLLLL NO! I just kept saying to her, “It has NOTHING to do with your worth, this guy would do that to ANYONE. It’s HIM.” Of course, the next step will be to get her here and do the deeper work, if she’s open to that. Maybe she is, maybe she isn’t. Either way, I’m sticking by her and maybe I can pull a little Cyrano de Bergerac, and whisper Nat’s words to her as I help her through this. These guys really piss me off. The nerve. Don’t eff with my friends, you know?

  29. Peanut says:

    One thing that makes me feel more comfortable in regards to darting is some new beliefs I’ve adopted: I don’t believe people change. Yes, people can change their behavior through much work and awareness, but that change comes from within. People are who they are. End of.

    I thought once I recovered from relationship addiction that I would be a totally different person. Nope. Part of my healing was learning to stop persecuting the person I am within. People don’t change their personalities or values. People discover their values. I was living in line with my values so I was miserable and discovered my values once I was prompted be enough pain, mostly self induced pain ironically!

    Even though people may be physically attracted to someone and feel a sense of comfort in familiarity, does not mean that person’s personality and values will coincide with their wishes and desire. Values are part of a person’s personality. I’ve had pretty much the same personify and values since I was two. I freak out if things are out of balance, if I feel uncared for and when I distrust. Personality wise, I’ve always been a singer, quirky, passionate about animals, playful, a bit, okay a lot, neurotic, impatient, had a sweet tooth, reading a shit load, and an extreme introvert, terrified and angered by crowds.

  30. Francesca says:

    Another mind reading entry…I wrote about my one feelings involving entering into a new relationship recently, you can read about it here, if you wish.
    (It is now three months down the track and things are going very well. Too well my old self talk is telling me, but I just keep telling her to “shut the beep up”!
    I just want to note that it is totally understandable to feel jittery and anxious but as Natalie reminds us, evidence and actions should be our guide, not fantasy or anxiety! Oh, so easier said than done though!

  31. Gina says:

    Natalie, I agree with you that at times of uncertainty in a new relationship knowing that you will be there for yourself helps that inner child trust you, and that sometimes relationships don’t work out, and that is okay. I am now 31 and I’ve been on your site for the past four years during a tremendous amount of intensions towards getting happy and healthy. This year I have had two men I date ask me to be exclusive, the first one didn’t work out but the guy I am with now (new boyfriend) is going great so far. I see how much I’ve changed internally by the quality of relationships I require and acquire which is so tefreshing, I am no longer in denial and its so nice to have two feet plated on the ground. I consider what my needs and wants are and make sure the potential partner can meet them, I am in the drivers seat when it comes to the choices I make, but I do not have control of outcomes, can only be decerning, open, honest and develop stronger qualities into being the most loving person I can be for myself and others.

  32. fran says:

    Well said Gina, seems like you are talking about self love and taking care of you being your number one priority. A lesson that so many of us take such a long time in learning, but one well worth learning sooner or later.

  33. Jelby says:

    I am sad to discover I don’t even know what my own gut is telling me. Which is my gut and which is the voice of the drama seeker from within? i can’t differentiate between the two any more. I’m sad at how little I know myself. And ashamed and appalled when I think of the countless number of hours I have spent wondering and obsessing what this guy might have meant by that comment or why that guy was into me one minute and off me the next. Time it seems I would have been far better using getting to know me

    • Tabitha says:

      That is a good question Jelby. I think for me, the gut is usually the one telling me what I don’t want to hear!!! You know, *whispers* “He’s a fucking assclown….RUN!” The drama queen is the one saying “Oh yeah, just meet up with him again, what harm can it do?” Erm, savage my self esteem until it’s hanging in tatters around my ankles whilst my shame alarm is whizzing round my head.

  34. Peanut says:

    My previous comment was way jumbled. I guess what I was trying to say was that I feel more comfortable with the idea of dating in that I feel so much of the pressure is off because people don’t change, therefore you can’t change them. So, there is no such thing as one false move to make them disinterested. Sometimes there just isn’t a connection on any level. Also, I tried to change me so they would change. When change does happen it’s often due to hitting rock bottom (Who wants to wait around for that?) and comes from within. But really, people are who they are.

  35. CRAZYA says:

    I love this post! SERIOUSLY! I NEEDED THIS SOOOO MUCH! 😉 Whenever I get into a new relationship, I hyper over-analyze and so some craaazy crack talking! Recently went out on a few dates with someone and caught myself SOOO fantasy forwarding and fearful, and blah, blah blah. I had to stop, say – okay? You’ve done this before, right? Oh yeah, you did. How did that work out? Yep, not so well. Okay, time to not go to fantasy land – you’ve been on a FEW DATES! Remind myself I’m DATING, getting to know people and that I don’t have to put a label on it and secure it right away. It’s not as if there aren’t other fish in the sea, am I right? If it’s meant to be, it will come at it’s own pace. Chill the F out ME! 😉 But – I realized, I’m leeeeearning! I’ve stopped myself from doing relationship faux pas of the past and THAT means I’m WINNING! 😀

  36. caroline says:

    I just found your site yesterday and have been reading through as many of the posts as I can! I am finding them completely eye-opening, and wish I had found them sooner. I have not dated for a long while since getting seriously jacked around by a guy about four years ago. Well, that is not totally true, I have had sex a few times but NOT allowed myself to feel anything much for a man. I met a guy online about six weeks ago and we really did seem to click. However, he has now turned out to be ‘Mr Unavailable’. My first inkling of this was when he sent me a text message about an hour before he was supposed to come over just saying that ‘he didn’t feel like it’ valid reason or explanation. I of course, texted back asking ‘why’? and he didn’t respond for a couple of hours (?!), and said he would call me later, which of course he did not. I then sent him an email ripping him to shreds and he sent me a similar one back. I was gutted..really thought I had found a good man, now reading your posts I can clearly see that he has major commitment issues and is not emotionally available. Thank you.

  37. Sarah says:

    Nat, I’m in the computer lab at my college and I just read this and started to tear up (embarrassing!) I’m emotional right now and this was such a comfort. I actually met a really nice AVAILABLE guy and It’s making all these emotions and brain shit talk come up and I just wish my head would shut up. But this fact occurred to me…I actually attracted a good one so what does that say about the me!? It says the work I’ve been doing on the inside must be working.

    I deserve some self love for that!!


30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

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

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

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