I know them even though I don't know them

Judging by the amount of emails and comments I get regarding Future Faking, Fast Forwarding and “It started out so great! Why can’t they go back to how they were in the beginning?” (even though the time between the beginning and the ‘change’ is actually quite short), many people believe that they ‘know’ another person quite quickly and talk and think with a high degree of certainty about what they can expect from them…even if they haven’t truly experienced enough with them to justify the certainty or even claims of ‘knowledge’.

If you’ve ever watched Big Brother, you can see this in action normally within 3-5 days of them entering the house when you always get people declaring scarily intense feelings, or claiming that they’re best mates, or that they know one another deeply, along with hasty promises about what they’re going to do when they get out of the house. After they leave, it quickly fizzles out…

There’s a reason why it’s called ‘getting to know someone’ – it’s because you are gaining knowledge about them through observation, asking questions, and information. Over time. You can’t really claim to ‘know’ someone until you’ve observed them in all sorts of situations and come back with the same consistent information – the more the same information comes back, the more you can trust that what you’ve believed that you know is true.

The question is, how much time do you think you need to get to know someone, to the point where you would think that you know “a lot” about them and would feel justified in feeling that you’d been misled if they ‘changed’? A few hours? Days? Weeks? A few months?

How much time would you have physically spent with them?

Would you be judging it based on actions matching words?

Or would you judge it based on how excited, horny or ‘connected’ you feel?

If their actions and words ‘changed’, would you consider this part of the discovery phase, particularly if this is in the first weeks or early months?

At what point do you feel uncomfortable with reconciling reality with how you thought things were? For some of you, the answer is immediately or at least a very short timeframe, which is going to pose some major problems for you, because it doesn’t leave you any room for discovery and it certainly doesn’t leave you any room to adjust perceptions and assumptions that you’ve made, which sort of defeats the purpose of getting to know them.

In fact you’re not ‘getting to know’ them because you’re working off an idea that when you experience A,B, and C which you consider to be your strong indicators of someone who you’re very attracted to etc, you believe you’re going to experience X,Y,Z, which are whatever you think leads to your vision of a relationship. So if you get flowers, compliments, and a good shag, you might believe that it means that it’s going to lead to a committed relationship, that they’re available, and that they’re already in love with you, which is actually quite a leap.

It’s like there’s a point where you just shut out incoming information and it’s like “Yeah baby! I like what I ‘know’ so far and I don’t want to ruin it with anymore information. In my mind, I should be able to gauge who someone is within this timeframe and truth be told, I don’t want to burn up copious amounts of brain energy by having to be listening, watching, having boundaries, asking questions, and processing information.”

This then leaves you with a static image of the person that isn’t actually very realistic and the longer you stick with this, the deeper in illusions you become, making it difficult to differentiate between what’s real and what’s fake.

Even if you have observed, and asked questions, or gathered some information, you know what? That doesn’t mean that that’s ‘it’. If you observe further things that contradict or change the nature of what you think you know or what you expect, or the answers to questions change, or your ability to ask questions and get answers is impeded, or you gain further information that informs you of what reality is, it’s your job to be heeding this feedback, and applying it, …even if you don’t like it.

I think it’s also safe to say that sometimes something very crucial is forgotten: Every dating and relationship interaction has a honeymoon period. It might be as little as a few hours (one night stand/date), days (fling or a couple of dates), weeks (possibly several dates), or a few months (building up into a steady relationship). As ‘normality’, routine and even expectations set in, you’re either going to grow, go in fits and starts, regress, or even come to a halt. Sometimes when I read stories about ‘relationships’ that have fizzled out within a few weeks, I do wonder if this whole honeymoon period has been forgotten.

Time is what gives you the opportunity to get to know someone and to also have their true intentions for a relationship. While you might like to think we let it all hang out immediately, people actually reveal themselves over time.

We unfold.

In a very short period of time, particularly in days or weeks, anything you know during this period is distorted by the time period and possibly by intensity which like the Big Brother house can’t last forever, and depending on the nature of your involvement, may actually be largely based on words rather than a more balanced blend of observing actions and sharing experiences with them.

When you decide to go on a date with someone or at a later stage agree to get into a relationship with them, you do it based on what you know at that time. If you’ve gone in with your eyes wide open, have been listening, and have packed your self-esteem for the journey, there’s less opportunity for unpleasant ‘surprises’ plus you’ll listen to yourself if you start to receive ‘feedback’ from your relationship that concerns you.

If what you base your decision to date or get into a relationship changes, you are free to leave at any time. You can walk.

Dating is a discovery phase – if you struggle with the emotional consequences of putting in the time that comes with the territory of dating, you have a duty of care to slow yourself right down.

The litmus test of how well you think your Instant or Very Quick Knowledge Ability works is the results, so if you feel that someone has changed from what you thought you knew, it’s life’s way of telling you that you need to focus on learning about them instead of claiming that you ‘know’ them, and that you also need to heed the feedback that a big enough change in character, behaviour, and values indicates – that you need to stop, look, listen and don’t proceed until you have gained more knowledge to justify continuing.

And here’s the irony in all this: I am inundated with stories from people who claim to know others quickly enough to justify their feelings and investment, and yet funny enough, this ‘skill’ doesn’t extend itself to recognising inappropriate behaviour! How can you truly claim to know someone, if you’ll only ‘know’ what you feel like seeing?

Knowledge when you’re prepared to be available for it, gives you the power to choose realistically.

Your thoughts?

Check out my book and ebook Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl.

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132 Responses to Can You Instantly Or Very Quickly Get To Know Someone?

  1. Bermiegirl says:

    I agree that dating is a discovery phase but there are often very clear flags, where future problems are going to rear their head, from the get go.

    For example, someone who lets slip what a cow their ex is…on the first date or encounter. You will pay for his ex’s mistakes if you stick around. RUN!

    Another example, someone who lets slip that the breakdown of their marriage after more than a decade was due to “religious differences”. You will likely have to deal with someone who refuses to take ownership of problems and will seek to side step all accountability. RUN!

    My personal favourite is someone who can’t even turn up on time to the first meeting/date. Yes, he really does think that his time is way more important than yours. RUN!

    However, that being said, I think that truly knowing someone takes a while and totally agree that you can’t truly know someone without putting in the work to know them. My point is that you can know they’re the wrong one from the get go but as to whether they’re the “right” one…that takes time. If it’s not all hunky dory during the honeymoon period, do yourself a massive favour and leg it. If it is all hearts and flowers, enjoy it but understand that this is only the beginning of courtship. Setting the pace is one thing; the question is whether he can keep it up! (no double entendre intended…honest! lol!)

    • Willa says:

      Bermie,
      I find your several examples of reasons to “RUN!” very refreshing. I’m almost 6 weeks NC with AC/EUM/Abusive exbf. I was managed down and managed down (thanks for that term Natalie) in the relationship to the point where I doubted my expectations to receive the very basics of respect one human should give another. As I’m returning from that low place, it’s very validating to hear specific examples of disrespectful behavior labeled as intolerable. It helps me build my boundaries. Thank you.

      • Bermiegirl says:

        Willa, glad to hear you’re NC and moving on. Good for you!! You should be immensely proud of yourself.
        There is a super easy rule of thumb when it comes to boundaries. If someone makes you feel bad about yourself, leg it. This is all the more important during the honeymoon period. This also why NML keeps reminding us not to date without our self esteem in tow!

        • Willa says:

          Bermie, I can’t say how “Aha!” that simple rule of thumb is to me right now! And how freeing! I especially need to hear that it is all the more important during the honeymoon period. I’ve never had a honeymoon period in a relationship. Thus me being NC & taking a year break to love myself. <3

    • fifi says:

      “For example, someone who lets slip what a cow their ex is…on the first date or encounter. You will pay for his ex’s mistakes if you stick around. RUN!”

      oh yes, ALWAYS true. My ex blamed his last ex for wasting his 30s, as if he had no say in the matter. And so, he over-compensated with me, was like a hair-trigger, ready to bail if he wasn’t happy for an instant. After first of course securing my affections via a major future fake where he proposed after a week. I knew him from 20 years before, so unfortunately relied on my knowledge of him as he was THEN, not now. That one slipped under the radar, usually I am pretty cool with new people until I get to know them better.
      The returning childhood sweetheart can slip through the filters…

    • Lia says:

      “For example, someone who lets slip what a cow their ex is…on the first date or encounter. You will pay for his ex’s mistakes if you stick around. RUN!”

      Or what you’ll find is that there’s probably a whole different side to the story that’s probably a bit closer to the truth than what he’s told you. I dated a guy who described all of his exes as crazy and he hated every last one of them. I could tell that some of his stories were missing major pieces of information (like how he could have been at fault) but I let it go because we were just getting to know each other. After a while of knowing him I slowly came to realize that they probably weren’t crazy after all, just got pissed off or tired of his empty promises and told him to put up or shut up, and he couldn’t. Absolutely no personal accountability, be on the lookout for guys like that…

      • Bermiegirl says:

        When all of his exes are crazy, there is only one common denominator: HIM!
        Those sort of men are what one of my best friends and I dub “crazy makers”. They will take the most beautiful and wonderful woman and turn her into a twitching self-doubting traumatised wreck if she lets them.
        They never take responsibility. You’re so right!

      • Kelly says:

        Funny how many crazy ass women there are out there. According to an awful lot of men, if women would just stop being so damn crazy everything would be sunshine and lollipops. Funny, that.

  2. Shay says:

    I agree… get to know someone and learn about them and learn a few things about yourself at the same time. It is a discovery, a process that is on-going. After a 5 year relationship I still didn’t really know my ex as well as I thought I did but I learnt that no matter how long I have known them for I still don’t really know them.

    • Robin says:

      @Shay: I agree! I frequently hear people say, “My *significant other* is not the person I married!” They married based on what they knew at the time, and since then, that info has changed. The decision to marry this person is not necessarily a mistake. However it is definitely a mistake to believe that your dream guy or gal will not change or not reveal more of who he/she is as you spend more time together.

  3. tired_of_assanova says:

    I just want to say – chatting over IM or FB is NOT a good way of getting to know them! Do it in person as well.

    • Bermiegirl says:

      TOA, you are so right!
      Emails, IM, FB, etc. are all fake intimacy. Anyone can draft and redraft to perfection. Easier to know if they’re keeping it real when it’s face to face!

    • T says:

      Oof, do I know this one. I just called a “time out” with a relationship of 5 months. He’s a really nice man, sincere, raising three little boys alone, owns his own company, house…all the things you want, right? Every time I had with him was a winner.

      The problem? After 5 months I realized I really didn’t “know” him a whole hell of a lot better than I knew him the first month. He had so many restrictions on his time, he only wanted to see me every OTHER weekend when his kids were with their mom. I asked him about getting a sitter because I said I thought the relationship was having a hard time growing seeing each other only twice a month. I told him I wasn’t looking for casual dating, I was looking for a relationship.
      He was stunned that I called it casual since he thought, get this…we texted almost every night!. No phone calls, mind you, he didn’t like talking on the phone when the boys were up, so if I did get a call it was because he was between work and home. He seemed to think that all the texting was part of the ‘relationship’. But how much relationship building can you do in 160 characters? He wasn’t willing to get a babysitter because after he did it a couple of times one of his kids made him feel guilty about it.
      But you can see how much control one party can get relying on texting…when you don’t answer for a DAY, it unnerves the other party. Plus again, trading some jokes or observations on the day is NOT building a relationship.
      The other BIG factor was the fact that at one month, his wedding pictures were still up. I chalked it up to his being “new” in the dating game, and well, he didn’t really know me yet. At five months, they’re still up…
      I told him he had to really think about whether or not he had room in his life for a realtionship, despite telling me on our second date that he was looking for a ‘connection’. In the past I would have gone on forever with this guy, taking his scraps of time because of that comment from the second date. But after five months, he wasn’t taking the time or making the effort to MAINTAIN that connectionl.

      • sushi says:

        T, it`s not that he may or may not have room in his life for a relationship, looks to me like he doesn`t WANT to make that room. It is possible to have a new partner and children, people make things work all the time, even in difficult situations if that is what they want. You do have to consider feelings/practicalities if kids are involved, of course. But…”connection” can be interpreted any which way you like, it is conveniently broad but glorified booty call springs to mind-and I think you gave it long enough to see that all the signs on heaven and earth point to exit. He is giving you scraps and calling it a loaf, you have done so well to flush him. PS, man I saw also wouldn`t consider leaving his 15 year old daughter with a babysitter or even asking if she planned on a sleepover, like all the other normal parents do and I did sometimes to see him – except he did if there was a good drinking time out on a horizon. Everyone has prorities and I just wasn`t his. He really taught me a lesson, I will not be anybody`s option ever again.

        • T says:

          I think you’re right. If you truly want to be with the person, you will MAKE the time. I’m a single parent, too, and *I* make the time. My mother remarried twice with children living at home both times (both great guys who loved her kids), so it CAN be done, which is why I was so perplexed as to why this guy just wouldn’t make the effort AND why he’s so surprised that I don’t think seeing someone twice a month, with few or no phone calls in between is a ‘relationship’.

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        On of the things Mr Unavailables do I have noticed is containerisation or pidgeon-holing. You get this very restricted ‘patch’ in their life which is your allocated space. So they’re not giving you 100%. You don’t mix with their friends of their family with this type of EUM.

        • Stephanie says:

          TOA

          I know this feeling well. The AC compartmentalised me, and it felt degrading. He allocated days for me which were all for his convenience. When he had his children or was around his family he wouldn’t contact me, if he did it was by text. The thing is I didn’t realise he was doing this until it was too late, he had done it too many times.

        • sushi says:

          yes t_o_a, and they manage you into that patch with a dedication of a Tybetian monk, citing reasons so holly that you feel like a jerk just thinking of protesting. How well do I know this !

        • P. says:

          Allocated space – yes! I can laugh about this now, but I got three hours twice a week, APPROVED BY HIS MOM, and a CURFEW (supposedly bc of HIS DOG). No “sleepovers” – uhm, he was talking about marriage, right?

        • T says:

          So true. Never met any family and I thought it was weird that I never met any friends or we never saw ANYONE other than each other on our dates. Despite him telling me about all the wonderful friends he had, I noticed over time that if he wasn’t with me, he was home alone…where were all these great friends? Forget family…I don’t think he even told them he was dating.

      • Little Star says:

        Thank you T for your wise words, it finally hits me…you realised that in 5 months and me after 4 years of casual, booty-call “relationship”…I am changing my phone number today and no way back!

  4. Rean says:

    It’s funny you emailed me this and quite ironic, because I knew this man I was dating for a year but as the honeymoon stage died off slowly I started to feel the distance between us. I feel like that distance between us now, as he has pulled back and not pursuing me like he did in the beginning, I do not feel like I know him anymore. It’s like all the things I got to know before, I have forgot and have to start all over again, but how can I when he has started to pull away? How can I get to know him better than I did before?

    • Little Star says:

      Thank you T for your wise words, it finally hits me…you realised that in 5 months and me after 4 years of casual, booty-call “relationship”…I am changing my phone number today and no way back!

  5. Anne says:

    OK, folks, this article is EVEN BETTER than The Fallback Girl! And that’s saying A LOT! My favorite quote from this article, as written by “Natalie the Wise” is: “Dating is a discovery phase – if you struggle with the emotional consequences of putting in the time that comes with the territory of dating, you have a duty of care to slow yourself right down.”

  6. Tat2dmomma says:

    Honestly, in the past I think I have looked at myself and realized how many mistakes I have made and in turn used that same discretion with others. Obviously, I have learned the hard way that what I consider to be human (as in making mistakes) in comparison to what others perceive is by far a level playing field. Basically my normal does not indicate what someone else’s normal will be. Truth is, not everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt.

    Once I opened my eyes and really started to process what I found here on BR, I realized most of how I’d gone about relationships in any capacity was wrong. Still learning. I strive everyday to practice what I’ve learned but it is not easy. Old habits die hard. I’m hoping that because it’s difficult, that means it’s working? :) Thank you so much, Natalie. I still can’t say that enough.

  7. Trinity says:

    Hi Nat, It’s been awhile since ive posted a comment but I do read all your posts each week :) This post really resonated with me. I know I dated a future faker with all kinds of emotional problems BUT I also agree after reading this that I also let myself down by not paying attention and looking after my best interest, me. I also really agree with the honeymoon phase and like you said it’s often forgotten.. This is something that my therapist to me about. Its so very true I know I definitely get caught up in all that romantic guff said at the beginning and someone how end up thinking, this is who they are when it actually fact they are still slowly revealing who they are to me. People over estimate, get carried away and have mushy brains from all the nice love chemicals, Oxytocin! And that’s just the good guys, of course there are those who have different motives or may not be being honest. I’m often left feeling lied to, how could they change so much, where is that nice guy when in actual fact a lot of the blame lies with me for not watching, listening and even when I do get red flags, acting on it. My last partner showed me he was not right for me in the 1st few months, enough said!
    I’m glad your wedding dress is safely in your hands ?
    Love/peace to everyone XX

  8. NeverTooLate! says:

    The last EUM told me unlike most women I was easy to read. I didn’t get it and still don’t. I think he had himself convinced. To me, it was the most confusing, devastating, “non-relationship” ever. I was so not myself, insecure, still not over it, I barely recognized myself, how could he think he had me pegged so well? Totally effed-up!

    • Sam says:

      I have been there too! My little inner child/voice just couldn’t be heard, I wasn’t myself, strong, postive and I didn’t stand up for me, or my self-respect, values and tell him where to go. He thought he was a genius when it came to understanding women. Infact he held himself in such high regards towards anything he did. I think he just he just knew how to play women and sought out my weakness i.e. my kindness / niceness. He even called me ‘softie’ as his pet name. Yuck! Yes I am soft (warm, loving, kind, caring, give people a fair chance) but I am also very strong and independent. What a jerk. He did not see my qualities for what they are. Too bad his loss. Thank goodness we aren’t with these ACs any longer and can only feel sorry for any woman who ends up with them! I am keeping my qualities for people who deserve them. Love n hugs xxx

      • Bermiegirl says:

        OMG, Sam, I couldn’t have put it better myself. Why do fools mistake kindness for weakness? Thank goodness when I found myself in the same situation; I didn’t stick around!

      • NeverTooLate! says:

        Exactly! I was “beautiful on the inside and outside”, I had the “best heart”. Then why would you want to trample on it? I finally came out and told him that I was sick and tired of being in this lopsided situation. If he didn’t appreciate it me it was okay with me. Take care. Kind of wish I went NC. He didn’t deserve an answer, I am kicking myself, oh well! Love ‘n’ hugs to you, too!

  9. Molly says:

    Arg yes. What I don’t know is how I actually believed someone who told me they loved me in less than a fornight of knowing me in person. When I questioned it it was all ‘but we’d already talked so much online’ and ‘I know you’. I don’t really regard this as geniune time though, in fact I don’t really remember deep conversations happening. I think once he met me he was sold on a particular image of me and when that image didn’t correlate to the reality (I’m far from perfect) he got pissed and practically bullied me out of the relationship. I guess you can say he didn’t live up to my expectations either (understatement). .but you know that’s a thing (re: last post) or things I have to forgive myself for: for listening to the I love you’s and promises and being guillable, desperate and not recognizing or more so ACTING on how abnormal it is for someone to do these things and to claim to ‘know’ you without actually taking the time out to get to know you. I’d take his final behaviours towards me a lot more personally if he actually did KNOW me. But he didn’t. Plus now, if someone were to pull that ‘I love you/you the one’ stuff too soon I’d actually feel scared LIKE I SHOULD and be gone quick!!

  10. runnergirlno1 says:

    Oh Natalie, this post so speaks to me on many different levels. I thought I knew them, we worked together, had so much in common. It was’t a online exchange. Got to re-read and soak this in. Something significant is here.

    • runnergirlno1 says:

      Hey Natalie,
      As I spent the day soaking in this latest post, some more dots were connected. Since all of my former relationships/marriages started out as work colleagues and I had “known” them for years, I thought I knew them. For me, this post is a great companion piece to your previous posts about being blinded by fill in the blank. My blind spot is primarily intelligence, not looks! And your previous posts about dating as a discovery phase. Of course, I skipped the dating phase and therefore the discovery phase because I already knew them from work and the seemed wonderful, at WORK. Obviously, I developed a static image of them and bought the compliments, a few flowers and, at least with exMM, a good shag as signs of a relationship. Once I imagined who they were based on our great work relationship, I thought it would carry over into a personal relationship. Not. Even when I observed behaviors that contradicted my illusion, I simply ignored the information and refused to distinguish what was real vs. what was fake. As I’ve been reconstructing the the scenes of my relationship crimes, there is a distinct pattern. I always thought I knew them because I saw them and worked with them every day and jumped to the conclusion, I knew them. This post really helped me understand what “knowing” somebody actually means. It’s about learning about them and acting on that knowledge. In all honesty, if I had the benefit of your wisdom and of all the amazing BR readers, I would have taken a parachute and jumped everysingletime. This comment really describes me: “How can you truly claim to know someone, if you’ll only ‘know’ what you feel like seeing?” And for me, even if I did see the red flags, including the reddest of all flags MARRIED, I thought I could change it to a green flag! This is a powerful post. I’ve still got more soaking to do.

      • Lois Lane says:

        runnergirlno1,

        Me too! I also thought I knew my last EUM/AC because we had worked together, rather closely, for over 5 years. It never dawned on me that he’d be a completely different person outside of work or inside a relationship. And I just couldn’t (read: wouldn’t) reconcile the two. I still shake my head about it. So many lessons learned with that one.

  11. Lostagain says:

    I realized today that reading BR has really helped me come a long way with my breakup back in November and now how I conduct myself with dating new people.

    Just today I decided to ‘flush’ a guy that I had been seeing for about a month. I was initially not very physically attracted to him, but I decided to give it ago anyway and see if the attraction would build. He seemed like a nice enough guy. Unfortunatly the attraction did not grow and in fact it diminished even further as I got to know him and did my observations.

    After a month: I still did not know his last name (even though I had asked him, he refused to tell me), His terms of endearment included: moron, idiot and asshole (yeah I got a ‘happy easter asshole!’ text) – not cool even in jest, and the one time we got a little intimate he romantically stated “why cant we just fuck” followed by “well did that at least earn me a bj.” ……when I brought this to his attention his response “well sorry”

    i think its safe to say no more time is needed to get to know this person. I know all that i want or need to know.

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      Love – cross
      Care – cross
      Respect – cross
      Trust – cross
      —–
      Result? FLUSH!

    • Sam says:

      Oh dear he sounds a real charmer. Well done for getting the ‘ell out of that one :) xxx

    • runnergirlno1 says:

      Lostagain,
      I wish I had something more elegant to say but Dear God! He has clearly given you the information you need. Your comment reminded me of a guy I met at a meet up this summer. After exchanging a few texts (bad sign), he asked what I was interested in. I responded hiking, bbqing, and gardening and asked what he was interested in. His response: “Women and sex”. That’s all I needed to know. I’ll always remember the brilliant comment from longtime BR reader Magnolia, it’s like he’s trying to seem as though he has two interests. Still laughing Magnolia. My response to him” Count me out”. Come to think about it, that was too many words. “Flush” would have been quicker.
      I very rarely get involved with the personal lives of my students, but I have a really excellent student (20-something female) who has been a bit distracted lately. She’s having bf problems. Without getting to personal, I suggested that she should focus on herself and her education and her life (it worked with my daughter last week). She just wanted the bf back like it was in the beginning and then said “guys are really nice when the want to get laid”. I ran like hell to my next class.
      This turd needs to be flushed three or four times. He isn’t even nice and expects to get laid and a bj to boot ! You know what you need to know from this AC. If you hear a loud flushing sound from the west coast, it’s me. Thank you for posting, I need this constant reinforcement. Loved your irony…” he romantically stated “why cant we just fuck” followed by “well did that at least earn me a bj.” That’s just gotta about take the cake for romanticism. Congratulations, you learned about him and are acting on that knowledge. Good for you. Oh and it’s so not about you!

      • Magnolia says:

        Women and sex!!! Still crying a little laughing over that one.

      • Lostagain says:

        Runnergirl,
        Im not lying I laughed everytime I flushed the toilet as I imagined you flushing him and him spinning around n round in the toilet. Lol

    • Spinster says:

      What the fuck? That’s not even funny. What a dirtbag. He probably thinks that he’s so witty & charming & funny. Ass-wipe. :-|

  12. Molly says:

    If there are no red flags and things seem to be sailing along smoothly, I’d give it at least a year before even considering discussing stuff like living together or getting married.

    IMO, the two of you should experience a MAJOR issue together, some kind of crisis, so you can see exactly what you are dealing with as far as maturity levels, emotional stability, level of support, trust, etc.

    These could include: Death of a loved one or spouse, a serious illness or injury, a major job situation (like being fired or let go, having to change locations, starting a new job after being away from the job market, quitting your job for school or something else), a major housing change or crisis (you buy a house, sell a house, go short-sale or foreclosure, change living locations), or you experience some kind of major separation from the person because of these reasons. Of course there could be other crises or conditions as well that could help you judge how your partner responds to major life changes and surprises, whether it’s personal, financial, career, family/friend, or something else.

    Basically, you’re looking for at least one earthquake to occur in your life while you are still dating to see what the aftershocks will be like. Or is the guy going to get swallowed up by the tectonic plates opening up and just disappear? Is there going to be a tsunami afterwards or just minor temblors with no major damage?

    That’s the stuff you’re looking for before you settle down. And you can’t even get to THIS place until you’re on very solid ground and feel stable about what it is you have.

  13. teachable says:

    Another great post NML. Thankyou!
    Offtopic @ TOA – I just have to say I love yr pen name! Hilarious! lol

  14. Magnolia says:

    I have noticed that most of the people who are established in my life, I have gotten to know almost without meaning to.

    The ones where I make a quick connection, and am like “Oh! You are so cool! We should talk!” and they feel the same (and I’m talking women here, usually), we meet once and have an intense and dynamic chat but then I have little desire to get together with them again, and it seems the feeling is often mutual.

    My good friends never really impressed me with early intensity, they were just around and present and generally positive and cheerful. Then one day, you ask yourself who would be there for you if you lost your house, got sick, etc, and its those people who were never flash but were just always there.

    It takes energy, time and luck to have a chance to suss someone out a little before pursuing getting to know them one-on-one. You can’t engineer getting to know someone organically, though it really is the best way.

    I have been putting in a bit more energy at work/school to become available to other grad students to get to know me. I used to just go in and work and not want to get into ‘surface chat’ with people, but by staying at a remove I lose my opportunity to maybe get to know a few people and choose a couple people to really pursue a friendship with. I’ve taken a leap and initiated hanging out with a couple people – only after months of talking to them casually. When it comes to really taking a risk, I want to really take my time.

    For me, underneath the quick infatuations and feeling like soul mates immediately is a sense that ‘real’ people and real family relationships are disappointing, mundane, full of obligation, joyless and exploitative of my kindness or ability. Who wouldn’t want a super-cool saviour from that?

  15. AngelFace says:

    I have become alert to their early messages- words and actions, and I’m following through with swift and acurate judgement. No Mercy & no time for yet another broken messed up man.

  16. Jewel says:

    What about the relationship that has all the hallmarks and landmarks, and words and actions match,, and things are great, only to discover 8 months in that he has been lying behind my back the whole time and seeing other women.

    Is there anyway I could have protected myself? There were no red flags that I was aware of. I ended the relationship immedietly on discovering the deceit, but feel I have invested 8 months with a chameleon. I have just chalked it up to experience, but obviously don’t want to find myself in this situation again.

    We spent most of our spare time together and I thought I new him very well, but obviously not. It was hard to come to terms that I had been in a fake relationship as his behaviour toward me and the deceit seemed incongruent. You have to trust, but at the same time wake up and smell the coffee when deceit occurs and walk away.

    I used to hear stories of women being involved with men, who they later discovered were married to other women and they had no idea. I used to wonder how this could happen, and secretly thought those women must be naiive.

    Now I know !

    • grace says:

      Juwel
      Sometimes you truly can’t know, though I think it’s rare. There’s a lot to be said for taking it slow. By slow, I don’t mean flip-flapping or keeping lots of options open, but maybe NOT spending most of your spare time together. If you spend huge amounts of time with someone very early on, it can make you feel that you’re very close when you maybe should be more – separate, keeping up your own interests, friends etc. because it gives you more perspective. I think former FBGs in particular can get carried away. Of course, there’s the danger of going too far with the separateness and becoming EU. Ideally, it should feel organic and we shouldn’t be feeling like we’re running a military campaign. I’m working it out myself, so take this with pinches of salt.
      That’s the only warning sign I see here.
      Don’t blame yourself for his cheating.

      • Jewel says:

        Grace, we started seeing each other once a week initially, which increased, then became exclusive around the 8 week mark. By 3 months we went away on a trip for a week together, by 4 months we were spending each weekend together. Sometimes we would meet mid week for an art exhibition opening or movie. We kept our own interests and friendships, met each others families and had a trip planned overseas this year. It certainly seemed a real relationship to me. We are both late 40′s. I felt the pace the relationship progressed was a healthy one, but I’m glad I found this out rather than investing 2 or 3 more years before finding out. He must have used a lot of his energy being so secretive and covetous. Thanks for your response, much appreciated.

        • Jewel, I’m curious as I read your first comment from a couple of posts ago – What was it that made you question why he had no link to you on Facebook and how did you feel about his response about being ‘private’? Is this the only red flag you noticed and how did you end up finding out about his extra curricular activities? This relationship certainly has the appearance of the hallmarks and the landmarks, but something doesn’t add up in what you’ve written across the three comments you’ve made. It’ll come to me, but just reading the description of the time you’ve been spending together is niggling at me. I say this because cheaters tend to be very routine, you just might not notice it until you’re out of it and the routine is often blamed on what appears to be legitimate stuff or you are the type of person that is so busy focusing on other stuff that some of the detail slips through. I’ve also found that the majority of people who feel like they’ve been duped by a con artist, had a section of the week that left another chunk wide open for extra curricular stuff. If you didn’t meet mid week, would you see one another at all during the week?

          I’d also suggest reading: http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/walking-through-your-relationship-and-observing-acknowledging-the-signs-you-missed-first-time-round/

          Ultimately you know who he is now and you’ve cut him off. Trust me, I hear from readers who find out what you have, and are still there flogging away a few years later. You are well out of it. Some people are very slippery and sneaky. It doesn’t mean you have to be distrusting but it does mean that certainly in those first few months, don’t explain away things that seem odd. And let me assure you – in the hundreds of times I’ve heard of this whole ‘private’ excuse for Facebook, it has never yet been for a good reason.

          • Jewel says:

            Nat, thanks for your input. I was on his FB friends list. He had a few albums of pics from the 80′s & 90′s-group shots, parties etc, but none of recent times. After our trip away, he posted a few shots then, but they were the pics I had taken of him. He didnt post any if I was in shot. When I queried this, he said he had a couple of ex girlfriends and an ex wife on there, and he didnt want to hurt their feelings. He was happy for me to put whatever photos I liked up on my own profile, and my profile pic was one of us as a couple which his friends could see any way, so I didnt think too much about it.

            I found out he had been with another woman due to his own sloppiness. He is not computer savvy, and asked my help in setting up a FB “page” for his business. I got him to click on the pic he wanted uploaded, which was one I took back in Oct last year. I remembered the exact date, but he clicked on the night before, which I also remembered clearly, because it was a book launch I didnt go to, because he said he had only got an invitation for one. So he accidentally clicked on this, and voila! there he was with another woman, and I could just tell it wasnt someone he had just met. They looked like a couple. He denied it at first and insisted he met her that night, but I saw she was already on his FB friends list. Then he changed the story and said she was a friend of a friend, then admitted kissing her. I broke it off immediately, and found it interesting that he tried to turn it around on me, as If I was a suspicious controlling woman. He said he didnt enjoy kissing her, and that even if he hadnt been with me, he would never have seen her again., and how had it hurt our relationship as it was 5 months ago anyway. He was gaslighting me. Mind F****ery Unbelievable!

            I wondered if this was the only time he had done this, so when I got home I checked his FB friends list and noticed there were several women from interstate. One had written a few things on his wall, and said she was looking forward to visiting our state. I wrote to her, told her who I was and invited her to be friends. She replied saying she is in utter shock, that she had no idea he had a girlfriend, and that she has been involved with him romantically since before I met him.
            When he found out I contacted her, he deleted me from Facebook and I have never heard from him again.

            I am sure…

            • sushi says:

              Jewel,
              sorry to hear about all this and blood boils reading….
              So there was a clue in the facebook “privacy”. I think you were so on the ball throughout – not too trusting or too suspicious…and still got cought out.
              The conclusion would be not to dismiss a single niggling thought and give yourself a benefit of the doubt rather than them…but there is a very thin line between that and being oversuspicious or misjudging the situation. I was always weary of that as not always things became as crystal clear as they did for you, and that gives the really skilled AC opportunity to take advantage and f**k with your head.

            • Jewel, that’s surely some mind f*ckery indeed. The end of your comment got cut off as it was over the word limit but I get the gist.

              There are many things I dislike about Facebook or Fakebook or Fauxbook as some call it, but one thing I do know for sure, is that when someone goes to lengths to orchestrate any direct link to you out of their profile, to the point that they would put up photos of themselves on a romantic holiday but leave you out of it, it’s *never* for a good reason.

              Whether people care to admit it or not, we do put a lot of thought into what we do and don’t put on Facebook. You’ll find that people who are *genuinely* private on Facebook share very little on their profile – they don’t hang their privacy ideals on one thing when at the same time not being that private about other things.

              You were right to be concerned. While you didn’t push it then, you certainly acted upon it when you had him by the short and curlies.

              Unfortunately in this day and age, Facebook can give you some vital clues. Some recent research of some divorcees cites Facebook as being the #1 reason for filings. I can believe it.

              Ultimately he’s a manchild.

              • A says:

                The facebook thing is interesting….this reminds me of a friend of mine. She’s living with someone who she has been dating for around 6 years. They are both on fb but are not friends, and I’m pretty certain that it’s his choice. They have mutual friends and I don’t think he’s cheating, but there are a few things that just seem odd to me. They worked in the same building for a while and never met for lunch or coffee (not necessarily a huge deal, but I would think they would do so occasionally). I’ve been with her when she has run into him during the day and it’s just….awkward. She thinks he’s a genius, a great catch, and that they will definitely get married (also that women ‘compete’ for the best men and she is lucky to have locked hers down early on). I suspect it may not work out in the long run as I don’t think he’s as committed or in love as she is. As to the fb issue, I’m not sure how one convinces a significant other that they cannot be fb friends. I can understand not bothering to update relationship status, but come on….you can friend acquaintances but not your long term girlfriend?

              • Jewel says:

                Manchild-apt name. I’ve been reading on here a lot about how women feel they have being going out with the same guy. I think it seems that way because these men have very similar behaviour patterns. A lot of the behaviour appears to be narcissistic – without empathy, controlling and manipualtive. This is how a liar acts out. I’ll post a summary of what I have read recently about how narcissists behave in romantic relationships. It describes to a T how most women on this site have experienced men they were dating or in a relationship with.
                Thanks again to everyone for their comments and support.

          • Jewel says:

            Update. I went to a singles night last Friday night, and he walked in. When our eyes met I did not return his smile, but turned my back and walked away. He came after me, grabbed me by the arm and acted pleased to see me. Said he had missed me soooo much..blah, blah, blah….

            Now one part of me was thinking I should just refuse to speak to him. But the other part took over, the angry part that is insensed at how I was treated by him. So I told him that I thought he was an immature coward and I used the Manchild word more than once. He kept asking me if I had missed him and saying “you know you have, why wont you tell me?”
            I was able to tell him straight to his face that I never want anything more to do with him and that I do not miss liars, cheats and betrayers.

            It felt good.

            When I said my peace I turned and walked away and sstarted talking with other men there. I could see him at the bar, watching me and who I was talking to. After being there for sometime, I made my exit when he took his eyes off me for a moment.

            Walking out into the warm evening air, I felt I had regained my feminine energy. If I see him when Im out socialising in the future I will never talk to him again and he knows it.

            Gee this felt good. Maybe it should’nt have, but it did !

        • ixnay says:

          Jewel,
          I am really curious too about how you discovered the truth, whether you confronted him, and whether he was able to admit or apologize for what he was doing.

          Sometimes these men will make you feel crazy for discovering the truth, deny it up and down and say you have trust issues, explain away the evidence, and then the woman actually feels guilty for being so “suspicious” or “jumping to conclusions” that she stays in the relationship and is even nicer to the guy to “make it up to him” for believing bad things about his truthfulness.

          You saw and took immediate action, which you really need to give yourself major props for.

          • Jewel says:

            Ixnay- I have explained it in the above post. He never apologised or showed any remorse, but tried to turn it around on me. He even accused me of being a very weak person, one not able to understand the nuances of adult relationships!!
            Thanks for your input, much appreciated.

            • Polly says:

              Not able to understand the nuances of adult relationships?

              If we had an Assclown blame deflecting comment of the year this would surely be competing. What a load of nonsense

            • dancingqueen says:

              @ Jewel….dont feel too badly I went through something similar and the sting of having someone gaslight me faded..your ex is an ass a loser and a weak manchild and believe me somewhere inside he knows it FLUSH!!!!! hugs:)

  17. Cinnamon says:

    Like T my ex had photos of his ex on the back of his bedroom door in a houseshare, ugh.

    How can you know someone even after 3 years, when the ex suddenly changed so much from anti smoker to smoker, atheist to christian and from meateater to vegan all at the same time ! Headspin. Next!

  18. grace says:

    Nat
    I think this really goes to the common denominator at the heart of our problems. We think we know someone and we really don’t. And even if he is a great guy (yes, they’re out there), it doesn’t necessarily mean a relationship will work out (and, no, it’s not because we’re inadequate).
    If you’re mainly texting/msging/FB-ing/emailing/phoning, you don’t know him!
    If you never spend any time alone with him, you don’t know him!
    If you never spend any time with him in group situations, you don’t know him!
    If it’s been less than six months (or even longer), you don’t know him!
    If all his actions are at odds with what you think you know about him, you don’t know him!
    And sex, chemistry, attraction doesn’t trump any of the above.

    • EllyB says:

      I’d like to add: And even if we spend all our time with him, we might still ignore glaring red flags, because we were taught to do so. After all, our own parent’s behavior was (in many cases) full of red flags, too, but we were punished, ridiculed or given “the silent treatment” whenever we acknowledged any of them.

      I think this is something we should never forget. We have to take our time to get to know somebody. But we also have to be willing to see the truth (and stop being scared of “punishment” if we do).

      • P. says:

        EllyB,

        first, thank you for your comment on the last post, I did read it. Second, I think you hit the nail on the head with the “being scared of punishment”. This is something I struggle with; I realized I was even scared of the somewhat harsh therapist, and following her advice out of fear, not because I felt it was right. She insinuated if I do not follow what she said something was “wrong” with me and I was in “denial”. No, it was not and no, I was not! It is funny how people’s behaviors in different capacities is similar – AC to therapist etc. And often they do imply punishment (like withholding of affection) if you do not “obey”. I think I understand my own reaction to this, obviously, but I do not understand where these people got their confidence/gall/whatever to behave in such a manner.

  19. Lyz says:

    Magnolia I think you’re right. The new friends Ive made (female) are the ones that start gradually and DO stick around!! that’s just it, they STAY and the friendship develops naturally. The big problem to me. is the INTERNET dating. I will NEVER dointernet dating again. I was so NAIIVE and Im in my early 40′s. I met two AC’s/EUM’s one after other. first one was the WORST still learnt so much 19 mths after the event and the second one, what an AC but I had to beat myself up first/re-assess what I was doing and how I INITIALLY fed into their behaviour. IT won’t happen this way to me again; Im concentrating on myself. IM’g/FBook Harems (the first onewas this – Natalie’s previous post) is a JOKE. Im treating any further dating as interviews and I’m calling all the shots and I would NEVER live with anybody (never say never?) at least Im not fully on my guard!1!!! LOL

  20. sushi says:

    In most of my relationships I decided too quickly that “he is the one” sometimes even in the presence of red flags at the very beginning ( possibly because of the familiarity of the flags- aha!)- honeymoon flags! Desperation to be loved, zero self esteem and proceeding straight into morphing into anxious, suspicious pretzel and trying to figure out what it is that would win me their love or fix them so they could love me. Thank God for the gut screaming and making it so darn uncomfortable. Except what good is the gut if you can`t trust yourself, you end up torn between doubt and denial, and don`t know your very own bum from your very own elbow. Unpicking all this over the last year and a bit has been painful, the worst being coming out of denial of “what do you mean Natalie I`m not emotionally available?” I ddn`t think that admitting it to myself would feel like such a relief. You deserve a medal!

    • happy beginning says:

      Sushi, a big YES to that comment, all of it.

    • Thank God for That says:

      Anxious, suspicious pretzel – love it!!

      Comically describes that agonising state I’m so familiar with.

    • yoghurt says:

      “aha! Honeymoon flags!”

      This had me rolling on the floor – I’ve done this… like “aw, our very first argument about his excessive drinking! Cute!”

  21. happy beginning says:

    “If you’ve gone in with your eyes wide open, have been listening, and have packed your self-esteem for the journey, there’s less opportunity for unpleasant ‘surprises’ ”

    BR, I will spare you the list of unpleasant surprises. I hope this sticks in my mind, that when I next date, I’ll be on my way out and check my bag – keys, phone, wallet, lip gloss, self-esteem — I’ll pause for a moment and check I really have it and understand what that means. I have no idea when I’ll date. It feels like it’s something other people do, but when I get round to it, my eyes will be open.

    My tendency has always been to muddle along from one train wreck to another, move on and get to a point where I’m in my element, and then be swept up by some instant, intensive connection, only for it to go horribly wrong somewhere down the line.

    Self-esteem is NOT the bounce in my step, the walking tall, the appreciation of my curves and all of the boost that comes from male attention and chemistry. That’s ‘Other-Person’s-esteem’, for a tiny part of me, and somehow I let it usurp and destroy the Self-esteem that has built up before that point, so am left with nothing when that superficial attention passes.

    Natalie, you are a true visionary. It’s one revelation after another.

  22. pinkpanther says:

    Now that I’m trying to keep the eyes open, it’s so hard to find anyone worth the risk. Knowledge is power, but is love blind?

    • grace says:

      pp
      I think we can be blind to the fact that they wear terrible shoes, aren’t that well-paid, have a disability, are a bit older or younger than we’d prefer, not particularly good looking, too skinny or too fat or have terrible taste in music or can’t dance BUT I don’t think we should be blind to them being shady. Not everyone is shady. I think we go for shady because it’s glamourous, it’s mysterious (we can fill in all the blanks with our imagination), it’s seductive (we can skip all the tedious “getting to know you” cos we’re SOULMATES and there’s so much CHEMISTRY) or it’s just what we’re used to.
      I can tell you that, as a former EUW, a certain man who’s straight up, genuinely friendly, open, and not at all sexually forward is MAKING ME QUITE UNCOMFORTABLE. While I wouldn’t particularly like it if he did start fast forwarding and jumping me, at least it would be familiar.
      If you keep bumping up against shady people, it may be that you’re unlucky, or those are the ones who push your buttons so they make a big impact on you, or you are deliberately – if subconsciously – hunting them down, or it’s paranoia! I guess only you can make that call.

      • Teddie says:

        Seconded! Mystery is THE major component of the attraction women feel for men (oedpil-libidinal stuff). Once you’ve figured a man completely out, you are likely to find you’ve lost the attraction. Huh? How do we reconcile these?
        Moreover, many psychos are born masters of mimicking and reflecting back, this is how some serial killers manage to live as respectable community members while going about their hobby. Truth is, nobody, not even experienced lie detection specialists, can look at somebody, have a short interaction and figure out if he is a decent person.
        Which brings us back to Natalie’s initial point: we need time to determine what is baseline behaviour and what are deviations. This honeymoon phase can be a huge deviation from an otherwise nasty baseline conduct. Unfortunately, it is difficult to hold back on sex long enought to do all these tests and figuring out, and sex is what makes women stupid, by kicking in all those neurotransmitters, yes, it is a hormonal and brain thing and so unfair to women because sex bonds us to men more than the other way round.

    • P. says:

      PP,

      I wonder what do you mean by “risk”? I think there might be some insight for you in the way you wrote this (I don’t know what that is but it feels that way.)

  23. miskwa says:

    There’s no way you can truly know someone right to away. It takes, at a minimum, months. If the person is dishonest and really good at being dishonest, hiding his or her real life and feelings, it may well take years. It took me two years of being alledgedly the center of my AC’s attention before I found out about his extracurricular activities. His actions and word towards me were consistent; his actual feelings were not. I think ones spidey senses always need to be on high alert; sure, you can give a person trust, but still pay attention.

  24. Michelle says:

    Thanks for yet another great post, Natalie.
    This couldn’t have come at a better time for me….I’ve been on my first date after having been single for a year, and with a second one coming up,I’m determined that this time around I’m going to do things differently and take things slowly before getting caught up in something that’s not good for me.
    BR has helped me so much to learn about myself and grow as a person this past year, as has reading the replies left by others.
    Keep up the great work!

  25. Bella says:

    Last year I met a guy at work. As we shared the same work space we got talking quite a bit. As I tend to be very reserved- especially around men- this became some wondrous phenomenon and soon there were words like: chemistry and connection floating from other people in the office as they watched what they anticipated would be a rosy romance.

    While it was true (the chemistry bit), I was still getting over the Ex EUM and not ready to open up to anyone at that time. I had taken the year off to patch up my self esteem and got quite a beating for it from co-workers and friends because he was such a catch and so nice etc etc

    Beginning of this year, I got back to work after a long leave. I was no longer sharing a work space with him but the chemistry still seemed to be there. I decided…..OK. Let me learn to trust myself again and go into this slowly.

    There was some flirting, chatting but when I suggested we do lunch, he suddenly got cold feet and told me he would let me know (still waiting to date).

    A red flag went up.

    I thought about it. Decided not to make a mountain out of a molehill. Maybe he really was very busy/broke/sick or (as I come from a very reserved culture) I was too forward because c’mon he’s a nice guy, right? Nothing like the rat bag I just let go,right?

    What started off as a spark started to fizzle into some pathetic little flame the more I got interested. The more I made it clear that I needed to get to know him, the more elusive he became. While the whole office was fawning over how nice he is I realised that anyone can be nice for 9 hours a day if they want to. It doesn’t mean they are nice. Infact, its odd that they never blow up or look irritated or just have an off day. I have heard people describe serial killers as nice….

    After that, I started to notice changes like he had stopped initiating contact, had actually never taken the time to sit and just chat one-on-one with me while I would see him go off for lunch with just about everyone else. If I was eating someplace, he would find a reason not to eat there. Then a week later he would schmooze in all hot and give me these come-hither stares that would really screw me up and doubt the signals I previously got. The worst part is that everyone in the office would pick on me, asking why I was not going after such a great catch. The HRM went as far as to ask him…

    • Used says:

      Weird weird weird.

      Weirdo.

      Probably has a gf. Wants to shield your being alone w/him (at lunch, for example) from public view.

      Also, maybe he’s a closet gay guy?

    • Ang says:

      I went through something very similar, Bella. People get excited by what they infer and assume — but you have to judge based on what you are actually experiencing.

    • grace says:

      bella
      nothing’s happened and neither of you has done anything wrong and while it’s nice to get validation from observers, it doesn’t mean anything.
      I’m in a very similar situation, been talking for three months to a man at church and there has been no date. Though to say we flirt would be STRETCHING it. We absolutely don’t. I flirt more with my brothers. Other people have noticed “something” is going on but that doesn’t mean we are dating cos WE HAVEN’T BEEN ON A DATE.
      After not speaking to him for three weeks (so I could get on top of the overthinking), I’ve decided just to – let it be what it is and not get worked up about it.
      I have flirted with a lot of men at work – it doesn’t mean anything if no-one pursues it. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it either. If you find it’s too much for you, there’s nothing wrong with rolling it back. If he finds it too much, he can do the same. He doesn’t owe you anything. Don’t let it take up the headspace. Based on what you said, to compare him to a serial killer is a bit much!
      You asked him out, he turned you down. It’s not a red flag in istself. It’s good you asked him out but you have to process the response. You know something about him you didn’t know before – he doesn’t want to date you. And that’s a good thing, you’re free to pursue more fruitful opportunities.

      • NoMo Drama says:

        A lot of people are just seeking attention, and when you show signs of taking the flirtation seriously or to the next level, they blow you off and insult you. BTDT

  26. ladynay says:

    I am NC for 8 weeks now. I allowed myself to be fast forwarded into a relationship. I listened to him tell any and everybody how we “clicked” right from the start; we just “gelled” so well together. I knew in my gut that it was too soon but I felt so flattered and the high was very heady. He came after me like gangbusters, very Hot pursuit. And I ate it up, I didn’t listen to my gut at all. The first time he said something inappropriate, it was about how he once had to slap a woman because she wouldn’t shut her mouth. I said what? I went on to tell him that a man who hits a woman is a punk. That was the first inappropriate thing he said. Then he yelled at me for something and I asked him who he thought he was talking to. All his apologies were fake and insincere, I know now that he was gauging how far he could go with me. I was so forgiving,.. not really though. I was getting uncomfortable. The blowing cold started soon after and that took me back to my past with a dad that used to do that all the time. I began to ask myself , what did I do wrong. I began trying to resolve childhood issues (unconsciously). I struggled with speaking up for myself or staying quiet. He began to manipulate me, the first time I realized it I was outraged and told him off. He wanted to borrow money, saying how I worked and he was on a fixed income. I would say to him, how is that my problem? It’s funny how he had all these expectations on me but told me that I shouldn’t have any on him, HUH? I see now that I talked way too much and I tried too hard to school him, trying to raise a grown man. Couldn’t he see how good I was and how much I loved him and how forgiving I was? Not really, truth be told I didn’t trust him with me anymore but I stayed anyway trying to be validated. then I found Natalie’s blog and I began to read. I started to realize that his behavior had nothing to do with me. He is an AC and that’s all there is to it. I had to let go. when I broke up with him, he couldn’t believe it, told me that our relationship would be fine if I justed stayed out of my head. If I just went along with the program. I said it’s all your program, what exactly am I getting out of this. I put in 100% and you put in 10%. I deserve so much more. I do think about him but I remember all of it not just the fun times we had but the times when I needed him to care, to empathize,…

  27. Broadsided says:

    This post was written for me, I swear, after my last relationship, in which I assumed we were connected soul mates based on COMMUNICATION. We are both good “talkers” – he was a long-time journalist/interviewer – so marveled at how well we talked and shared things.

    While this is good, talk proves very cheap next to behavior and time. This phrase jumped out at me from the article: “You can’t really claim to ‘know’ someone until you’ve observed them in all sorts of situations and come back with the same consistent information – the more the same information comes back, the more you can trust that what you’ve believed that you know is true.”

    Knowing somebody is totally about that. And seeing someone deal with a stressful situation – this guy totally snapped when his mom died – and was on two heavy antidepressants which blunted his ability to feel love or empathy – not sure he ever actually had those abilities – yet would promise me the stars and the moon in cards he’d write. I could have dealt with his grieving and giving him space, but he became mean and critical towards me then abruptly dumped me – once, then wanted me back and I gave him a chance, then again two weeks later. The hurt and the fall was hard for me because I’d assumed so much more was there than was.

    • Polly says:

      Absolutely agree with this – needing to see someone in all sorts of situations. I spent hours and hours a week talking one to one but very little time seeing them in a group. We went to an evening class together where I witnessed his self centred, attention seeking, frankly odd behaviour in that setting. Funny thing was (and this fits better in the narcissistic harem post) I attended on my own one week and two different women asked me where my ‘friend’ was – oh dear

    • sm says:

      Broadsided this reminds me of my close friend whose mother died last year of whom she was very close to. In the first month of grief she became clingy to her almost year long bf. Apparently he didnt like it so he distanced himself from her for a whole month, which was the full second month of her mothers death. He kept calling but had every excuse as to why he couldnt see her an entire month. She and I had countless conversations about this. I guess he didnt like it that maybe she needed extra attention from the person she was closest to while experiencing extreme grief. To me that is what one in an exclusive relationship does during grief, they draw closer to the ones they love.

  28. jennynic says:

    In the last year and half I had two six month relationships. I opted out of the first one and got dumped from the second one. First one went way too fast and I ended up putting my trust and expectations in someone that could never measure up or have a healthy relationship, but it went on for six months because of the ‘connection’ I thought shared from the quick intensity wit him.. I didn’t know anything about him really and projected onto him the qualities I hoped he had. The second relationship progressed very slow, which I thought was a healthy approach, but it ended up being too slow. We didn’t seem to know each other much after six months and it stayed awkward. He ended it citing that I was too awkward and guarded. After more clarity on the big picture, HE was awkward and stiff. I never felt comfortable around him or like he enjoyed my company. He was ‘flat’ and sometimes critical of me, or so overly sensitive, I couldn’t talk to him about things that were bothering me because he became so defensive. Long story short, I see now my mistake in going to fast and getting caught up in the chemistry (drama eventually) and also in the going slow and assuming it was all good because I was attempting to do it right. I missed (ignored is a better word) the red and amber flags in both relationships. Going slow gains you nothing but slower onset of bullshit if you ignore the red flags present. Also, I have learned that my perception of red flags was skewed from my four year experience with an abusive ex AC tow years ago. I was sure going to opt out if I got called a stupid bitch, was lied to or cheated on, or got punched, but the other red flags like the inability to have a conversation about sensitive things without him getting extremely defensive, him canceling last minute and then no call for three days, periods of silence from him to test me (his words), his attachment to a married girl like she was his security blanket and the coolness with which he regarded my 25 year old son I let slide because he seemed ‘nice’ to me in other ways. He was nicer than the AC, but in the end he was just as unavailable. Going slow is healthy but you still have to be ready to act on the red flags, even if they are presented slowly. I failed to do this. After these two experiences, I feel so much more clarity in myself and what my patterns are. I feel so much more in control over my own life and less like a victim of circumstances. The times I was a victim, I always had the choice to leave or change my situation but failed to see my own power. Reading BR helped me so much, even thought it took some time (year and a half) for all the puzzle pieces to fall into place. I sure I will make mistakes but feel so much more empowered to steer my own ship and take accountability for myself. How liberating it feels even in the aftermath of getting dumped. Ha!

  29. Lizzy says:

    Oh god, every single post here describes to a T one or more of my doomed relationships with various manchildren – most of them the 10+ years of hell with the narcissist assclown, but this one is all about the relationshit that came next, the rebound guy who seemed so decent and reliable in comparison to the AC. He turned up on time and phoned me when he said he would, paid for meals and things and could even drive a car (what more could a girl want?)
    Red flags I ignored: he lived with his parents at the age of 28/had a group of friends he wouldn’t let me meet/why was he re-doing a foundation course already having started and dropped out of a design degree?/ and HOLD ON… was that a Freedom Pass (for those signed off sick) he got on a bus with when we first met (and which was was never seen again)?
    Two years later we were still ‘together’ and his mum called me one morning to tell me I won’t be hearing from him for a while because he’s been sectioned, and that being admitted to the local psychiatric unit is basically a regular (every few years) occurence. Didn’t I know he was bipolar and took lithium every day to control his psychosis? No I bloody well didn’t because he’d gone out of his way to hide the information from me.
    We were both unavailable and I was only seeing what I wanted to see and what he allowed me to see. I’m really sad that I could let this happened to me (but trying to forgive myself a la the previous post).
    I can see clearly now the rain has gone – thanks Natalie, forever in your debt xxx

  30. Catherine says:

    An acquaintance of mine was invited to accompany a woman ( whom he’d met again on Facebook after many years ) to a family wedding just before Christmas. He was single at the time, having been unceremoniously dumped by his live-in girlfriend about six months previously. I spent a fair amount of time with him after the break-up – “Florence ? Me ? Guilty, your Honour.” I’m still healing from the death of my husband so romance just wasn’t part of the agenda. Three WEEKS after that wedding, he moved in with this woman. He completely abandoned his own apartment and is now facing eviction due to non-payment of rent.

    Now he’s decided that he’ll just move in permanently with her once his own apartment has been seized by the sheriff.

    From the safety of some emotional distance on this whole situation, I find myself confused as HELL. Good grief . . . who moves in together after only three weeks ? He’s told this young woman that she’s categorically NOT to assume anything because of his decision to move in for good. I’ve met her and it’s abundantly clear that she’s head-over-heels with this swashbuckler. She even told me that she’s prepared to wait “as long as it takes” for him to figure out that he loves her, too.

    I’m literally gob-smacked that this man would so blatantly opt to pursue the path of least resistance. In the meantime, this new woman is pretty much morphing into a pretzel trying to impress and convince him that she’s the “one”.

    It chills me to my core.

  31. Intotouch says:

    Thank you for another wise post. I keep reading your blog to stay clear headed and try to stay strong. You help a lot.

    Lizzy men can be great at hiding things from us. I don’t think that time alone is enough to get to know someone unfortunately. Maybe asking more questions, maybe paying closer attention to inner feelings and actions while spending time with someone. I hope.

    The last disaster I was with was someone that I was friends with for a year and a half before we got together. That is why I trusted him. I thought that I knew him, that he cared about me, that we were friends. that I could trust him. Waiting and checking someone out before dating them definitely is a better thing to do but God help us it’s still not enough.

    Were I to do this again I would have asked questions sooner. I can’t think of anything else unfortunately. He acted really consistently well towards me. Until the last two weeks no pushing away or weirdness. From the last one I learnt not to trust words so I judged this one on his actions. Still wrong. I wish these men had warnings stamped to their foreheads.

  32. Willyb0ne says:

    What I almost always find myself explaining to people is that love, respect and trust are EARNED. You don’t just give them away willy(OHH!) nilly. Are they worth so little? A person must not only earn those things but you must earn them too. When a woman tells a rich athlete that she loves him within a week what does he think? When a man tells a really attractive woman that he loves her after working with her for a month what does she think? It goes the other way too – to decide that someone is only worth sexing up before you know them is equally as uninformed and presumptuous.

    I think the only way to really get a good idea of what someone is like is see how they perform under duress. When the shit hits the fan do they curl up in fetal position and suck their thumbs blabbering “I don’t wanna die, I don’t wanna die, I don’t wanna die”. (I hate when a woman does that!).

    Were all great fun when things are going well and there is no challenge, but you wanna know how someone stands up to some adversity – do you start cheating on a woman after she has your child cause she does not turn you on anymore and then come with some WEAK excuse like “you never have time for ME anymore! Do you divorce your husband because since his mum died and his business flopped he does not sweep you off your feet anymore and is no longer the Knight in shining armour, the male beast he used to be?

    Some people really do this shit!

    I always make my most profound speeches when drunk. FACT.

    • Mymble says:

      Willybone,
      You may or may not be drunk but I agree with much of what you wrote.
      While sometimes they are con men, sometimes also we are their “accomplices” in that we have our own motivations for deciding there’re the one and not letting things unfold and observing their behaviour.
      Have just read “noah’s compass” by Anne tyler, she must be a BR reader! An older, divorced man falls in love with a younger woman, fails to take note of red flags (never meets her friends and family, never goes to her house, she never stays late, all calls on her mobile etc). Turns out she is married. But what is interesting is why he has ignored the red flags, it is because he is lifelong EU himself and an EU relationship has fitted his avoidant personality. Eventually he does end it with the MW but becomes more emotionally available to his children, grandchildren and ex-wife (who had divorced him due
      to his EU). The title is reference to the fact that Noah would not have had any navigational equipment because he wasn’t going anywhere, just staying alive, and this was what the MW was doing, not a bad person but purposeless, avoiding taking responsibility, and he too.

      • yoghurt says:

        Ooo! I love Anne Tyler! I’ve just finished re-reading ‘Patchwork Planet’, which I realised is about someone who is also EU and so hung up on his family’s poor opinion of him that he seeks and dives into a relationship with a woman because she resembles the ‘family angel’ – and then spends the rest of the book experiencing red flag after red flag until he realises that he doesn’t know her or like her at all well.

        Mind, since reading BR I have to admit that I sit there all through any book or film going “Unavailable…unavailable… ooo, what an assclown…”

        willybone – I liked your athlete/beautiful woman analogy – thank you. I read it thinking “well, of COURSE those marvellous people wouldn’t want to throw themselves away on someone shallow and inauthentic”, then it hit me that I’m marvellous too. Neither do I.

    • S says:

      That was a pretty epic drunken speech! Loved a lot of what you said. Love, respect and trust have to be earned….and the best relationships are the ones that grow over time. Patience is a virtue which has become so alien in our culture.

  33. Izzybell says:

    just went on a couple of dates with someone I met online– the first dates I’ve been on since breaking up with my ex back in June. I wanted to test if I was ready and if online dating was still the silly crapshoot I remembered it to be.

    I didn’t hear back from the guy and we didn’t set a time for the second date, so I assumed it wasn’t on and made dinner/had a friend over. At 8 he texted me saying he was waiting for me where we had agreed to meet. So, I rushed over, and told him I wasn’t sure what was happening since I hadn’t heard back from him. He told me he hadn’t gotten back to me because he had watched 7 hours in a row of his favorite sci fi show and didn’t get around to responding to my email.

    I’m laughing as I’m writing this, although it didn’t seem that funny at the time. I actually apologized for showing up late, and said I should have asked him what time we were meeting. Doh!

    This is a double red flag for me– 1. Guy does something lame and unavailable and 2. I decide it’s my fault and apologize/make it right/acknowledge what I could have done differently. I can see how this pattern has played itself out in all of my relationships in the past, and I am totally uninterested in ever being a part of this dynamic again. There isn’t a man on earth (or in the ether) worth it.

  34. This post was made for me! I would fall in love with the idea of the man instead of the man himself and would be devastated when he let me down. Really I had ascribed all sorts of qualities to him that he didn’t really possess and never demonstrated. It was all in my head from the very beginning.

  35. HeartShapedNoose says:

    Help!!!!!!
    This post is so true. I was managed mostly by text thru my on again off again relationship for three years. When we first met, I told him I thought he was a player. He told me that he wasnt and that he would prove it to me, and over the next couple months he future faked and romanced me until one night he said “see. i told you I wasnt a player.” I was so attracted to him at that point, that I bought what he was selling. Now, here I am, Ive been NC for almost 4 weeks, and its getting harder. What is going on here?!!! At first it was easy. Now my imagination is going crazy, who is he with?..what is he doing?. is she waking up with him on my side of the bed? Im already on medication for anxiety and depression, and even after the shit he’s put me through, ( telling me he cant be in a monogamous realtionship and I should learn to be okay with it, or it wasnt going to work, on again and off again relationship where he lied to me about being with other people sexually when we werent together, future faking like no ones business, promising me a future, ive had two abortions because he didnt want kids, but couldnt bother coming to the appointments or even picking me up from them, etc etc.) and now here I am missing him?…wondering what hes doing, and hoping that hes not mad at me for going NC without any warning after I had accepted the friendship card and told him i was ok with it?….WTF is wrong with me?…how do you ladies do this?..I feel weak, and sad and do nothin but sleep and cry. How do i stay strong enough to continue with NC and get thru to the other side?

    • grace says:

      HSN
      I had to get counselling. Twice.
      Just don’t contact him. At the very least don’t have sex with him. What’s worse than a three-year text “relationship”? A four-year one.

    • Miranda says:

      HeartShapedNoose
      Keep strong girl….I totally sympathise with you, I am nearing 3 months NC but I’m still finding myself thinking of him from time to time and wondering who he is with and whether he spends any time thinking of me.
      DO NOT feel guilty for going NC on him. Remember as Nat says this is sending him a clear message that you won’t stand for any of his crap any longer; it’s the best present you can give to yourself….even though I’m going through a ‘reminiscing stage’ at the moment I know this is for the best in the long run. Looking back five and half years when I first met him, like you, I questioned his ‘player status’; if only I’d had Nat’s wise words in those months he would have been history!!! Don’t waste time thinking about who he is with and imagining they’re seeing the better side of him, I can guarantee they are not. EUM’s DO NOT CHANGE.
      Take the focus off him and take care of you….you deserve it.
      Hugs
      Miranda x

    • sushi says:

      HeartShapedNoose,
      I struggled with NC as well. Why not try getting angry with him for starters, it`ll mean that you will still think about him for now but in a more realistic way. Natalie says feelings diary. Every time ( for me it was all the time to start) you think about him write down a situation where he treated you badly, how it made you feel and how and why you will not continue letting him treat you this way. This will make you accept the reality of what it was like. If you start wondering what he is doing; know that most likely he is looking for another victim or dishing out the same stuff to some other unfortunate woman.Then go and do something, even one thing like washing up or vacuuming, or go for a walk, anything physical. Good luck and hugs, it will get better.

    • Magnolia says:

      HSN,

      Sounds like you’re over the “honeymoon” period of NC, when you’re high on the feelings of doing something for you and you’re feeling all empowered. Actually, as I write this, you’ve made me realize that maybe the most powerful times in my life I experienced by leaving someone who was treating me poorly.

      After the powerful feeling of leaving, you’re left with just … your life. You could delay the confrontation with your life by staying stuck on thoughts of him, or getting involved with another EUM that will put you through a cycle that could distract you for months, or years, from your reality. Think of it like breaking an addiction. Kicking a habit is good drama. But once the habit is kicked, what are you going to do for … kicks?

      I’ve been where you are. I had strange pangs for my exAC more than a year after I went NC on him. I didn’t really want *him* back, but I was stressed at the time and it stirred up a lot of longing feelings that naturally latched themselves onto the last person I’d gotten serious about.

      How do you stay strong? Know that your wanting him is about wanting to feel good, to feel in control, to avoid feeling bad, etc and isn’t necessarily about HIM. Notice your pangs for him as if they were pangs for heroin, but you don’t do that anymore. Your feelings are normal, you can have intense feelings without responding to them by doing something that will only hurt you more. These feelings WILL get less and less over time.

      • FX says:

        Magnolia, Your comment rings so true. I don’t miss all the bad things he did to me but I haven’t entirely replaced the destructive “habit” of him with other things that engage me the same way. So, when I miss him, it isn’t really him I’m missing but the excitement, drama, whatever was taking me out of having to just deal with the reality of my day to day life. I do miss having someone in my life but he hasn’t been in it in a healthy way for a long time so I was already missing that… Now, I just need to focus on filling up my own life with positive pursuits and experiences that empower me and make me feel good. This will also enable me to follow all of the great advice here whenever I am next in the position to date someone.

        I was just telling a male colleague yesterday that I was well and truly done with the AC and then I dolled up a bit and went out by myself last night for a couple of beers feeling pretty good about things. This morning I saw that I had 2 text messages. Thank goodness I missed seeing them last night… It was the AC asking me to meet him for drinks. Then asking me “Why are you being like that?” Hmmm… Reset button followed by “Hurry up and forgive me so I can feel better about myself.” I don’t think I would have been tempted to break NC but the lure of the habit would have been greater after a few beers than it was this morning in the bright light of day and clear-headed knowledge of who he is and where any contact would lead.

        HeartShapedNoose, At this stage of NC, memories of outrageous behavior I tolerated keep popping up and make me feel physically ill for a moment. I’m working hard to internalize the lessons of the last BR post on forgiving myself. The fact that I need to own my complicity in being emotionally abused intermittently for over 6 years and forgive myself helps me a lot with NC because I am so angry at him and myself both and I know being in contact will only keep me from getting beyond these feelings and having a happier life.

      • Willa says:

        Magnolia,
        I’m 6 weeks NC today from an abusive AC/EUM. What you have written is perfect for where I’m at. I’m down off the high of both going NC & obtaining a Protection From Abuse order. Now I’m faced with the day to day. I’ve been in a slump of sadness the past week & I can recognize now part of where that sadness has originated. It’s being faced with the work of healing & the “mundane” every day. So thank you for your words. Now to learn how to embrace where I am & keep striving to heal.

    • Mymble says:

      HSN
      I am so sorry, I too went through this, days in bed crying and I hadn’t been with him nearly so long as you and he had not future faked me to any great extent. The wierd thing is that the worse they treated you, and the more awful it was the more it hurts when you end it. Because they broke you when you with them. But there’s no going back is there? It was getting worse and it would get worse still if you went back. You can ride it out, use all the resources you have, try notto spend too much time on your own or doing nothing. Do nice things for yourself, have hot baths, i went to some buddhist meditation/mindfulness classes and found the calmness and ideas of acceptance very soothing.
      (((((hugs)))))

      • FX says:

        “The wierd thing is that the worse they treated you, and the more awful it was the more it hurts when you end it. Because they broke you when you with them. But there’s no going back is there? It was getting worse and it would get worse still if you went back.”

        This is all so true Mymble! And, trust me HSN, it does get worse if you go back. It’s a whole other level of giving them permission to screw you over. It’s like they’re thinking “Gee, she came back after all that crap? I really can do whatever I want to meet my needs and not give hers a thought.”

        When a person is careless with something valuable it can get broken or lost. He was beyond careless and broke me and lost me both. That’s how I think of the dynamic now when he tries to contact me.

        • Willa says:

          “It’s a whole other level of giving them permission to screw you over” Yes FX, this is right on!
          I took back my abusive/AC/EUM several times. I really thought I was strong enough, kind enough, therapeutic enough that he would see the light. He was showing signs of growth & even in therapy. But yet, all levels of abuse grew worse each time. Even after therapy sessions he would come to my home & be verbally abusive & raging.

          So yes HSN, stay strong, don’t go back, it will get worse. You’re giving yourself such love by being NC with the ex. Keep loving yourself.

        • Mymble says:

          Fx
          Yes I did some flip flapping and faux NC, with predictable results. I don’t regret it altogether, the remaining tattered illusions were truly shattered
          Four months NC now, feeling much better. :)

    • Little Star says:

      HSN, please do not come back to him!!! My AC came and went zillions of times and I am still in roller-coaster, I know him for 4 years. Trust me, nothing will change!!! Last week he asked me to come to his place and he promised to cook a dinner for me… prior a day, I did not hear from him. SO I cancelled myself, and his answer was: “OK” ….OK???
      They really f””””up our minds and brains and just go like nothing had happened, they promised a world and do absolutely nothing!!! Natalie is right, we need to concentrate on ourself and do not waste our time on these ACs….Please do not have the same mistake I did! NC all the way! (((HUGS)))

      • Stephanie says:

        HSN

        I had to add my tuppence worth. I struggled with NC mainly because he disappeared and just stopped contacting me and I will probably never know why. More to the point of this post, I was only dating him for about 2 months and thought I was getting to know him. I wasn’t. He was playing me. I used to lay in bed each morning struggling to get up for work as I would only sleep for a maximum of 3-4 hours, wondering what went wrong, who he was seeing, what was he doing, why didn’t he want me, I even turned into a private investigator! I thought I was special to him, but I got bought by all the future faking and fast forwarding. However, after 4-5 months I started feeling better, I still thought about him every single day but not as much. Then, out of the blue he texted and emailed me! Instead of just ignoring him, like he did to me I texted back. He never asked to meet up just general chit chat, but it messed me up a little bit again, I thought (or hoped) that he wanted to make another go of it, but he never suggested it. Now, I’m back thinking about him every single day again, I try to keep busy and concentrate on myself and my career but he is still in my head. I don’t have that urge to contact him because I can see him for what he is and I know he can’t make me happy, I just want him out of my head. This may sound contradicting but it does get better, take each day as it comes. Don’t contact him at all or consider going back as it will set you back to zero. (((hugs)))

    • A says:

      Heart Shaped Noose,

      I know it’s hard, but I think you have to keep reminding yourself of the bottom line: he does not want a monogamous relationship. He does not treat you well. That does not mesh with what you want in your life, and there is nothing that you can do to change it. You’ve spent years waiting for things to get better and they did not. Try to take the focus away from him and back to yourself. Why should you be sitting there wondering whether he’s mad at you for going NC–is he worrying what he did to make you go NC? Or feeling bad about all the times he’s hurt you? Any other woman he gets involved with will be subjected to the same crap that you have, there is no reason to be jealous of who else he might be with. Give yourself time to grieve, but try to force yourself to do something positive for you that will also take your mind off him, at least for a little while. You will gain more perspective in time and his pull on you will lessen–keep strong.

      • HeartShapedNoose says:

        Hi ladies..thank you all so much for your kind and wise words…hugs to you all.
        This is the second time that I have done NC with my AC. This time feels different. I have no desire to have any contact with him. I have changed my email. I have changed my phone number. We live a two hour ferry ride away from each other, and he had never been to my place, once I moved a year ago. I always went to his place for weekends. Im dealing with feeling of jealousy about the harem that i was never allowed to meet or even know the names of, but everytime we broke up, there he was, two days later, out for coffee with one, and the next day out for dinner and drinks with another, and of course, always telling me all about it thru texts. So theres the harem, the fact that last time we broke up he (35) had sex with an 18 year old. I know that by now, Ive been replaced, hes admitted to me that he “needs” to have sex regularly, and that he may have sex addiction issues. I guesss thats why the “i cant be in a monogamous relationship” conversation, after he got home from a 3 week solo backpacking trip abroad. So i know by now, Ive been replaced. which hurts. and the fact that i can see anything and it will remind me of him or a memory we had together..a commercial on tv, a bug on the floor, (seriously) a smell…whatever it might be. I cant even go into the city, because im afraid of the memories flooding back. I explained to a friend the other day what i felt like. ..I feel like, im ready to run, and have a great happy life, but someone is holding the back of my collar saying, “sorry, you need to stay here in the hurt and sadness.” Its really frustrating. Does anyone else experience these things too?

  36. Spinster says:

    A former college roommate met a man, an upperclassman at least a couple of years older than us, at some pub night and said that they immediately bonded. The classic line, “It’s as if we’ve known each other all of our lives!”, was repeated a few times. They had sex within 5 days – in the student lounge on our floor of course – and things were intense & “great” – great chemistry, bonding, knowing each other forever.

    He also had a girlfriend who may have been none the wiser (but former college roommate knew about her).

    He also gave my former college roommate a feeling… an itchy, scratchy feeling. She asked our other roommate to go into the bathroom with her to see what was wrong “down there”. Afterwards, other roommate described to me (while former college roommate was out of the room) what she saw. I asked a few questions – what were the symptoms? how long was former college roommate experiencing symptoms? what did the outside of “down there” look like? With her answers, I was able to say

    “(former college roommate) has _____.”

    Other roommate looked at me incredulously and said “No, it can’t be that! Do you really think that that’s what it is?” I said, “Whenever she goes to get checked out, I guarantee you that that’s what it is.” Other roommate accompanied former college roommate to the doctor, and sure enough… other roommate confirmed that it was what I thought it was. It’s incurable, by the way. And this all happened within 2 months of “It’s as if we’ve known each other all of our lives!”. The girlfriend was likely infected too. Damn terrible shame.

    This is an extreme (and yes, TRUE) example, but hopefully you get the point.

  37. Sandra81 says:

    I sent the article to a friend of mine, who is confronting with a situation of the kind. But then, again, she is only 22, and now I feel “older and wiser”. :P About 2-3 months ago, she met this guy, who is from another country, and who was in our city on a trip, through mutual friends. They only spent half a day together, and always with the group. So, nothing happened between the two of them. Since then, they only kept in touch through Facebook and Skype. But yesterday, I was told that she is going to visit him in his country, and stay at his house for a couple of days, with him and his family. Another thing she heard was some gossip about this guy and his interest for another girl in the same group with whom we went out on that day. Apparently, she never asked either of them if the gossip was true or not. To me, he seemed a nice guy, but I told her she was being a bit hasty, especially given the fact that she was going to see him soon, at an international event. I don’t know if I’m wrong, or being “old-fashioned”, but I wouldn’t spend almost 100 euros only to go and see someone I only spent half a day with. Any advice?

  38. teachable says:

    Well, I’ve decided I didn’t ‘know’ my reletively new female friend after all. Once again I have deleted her number. This has been going on for a little while now. ie her only calling. me when SHE feels like it but not answering phone when I call otherwise after intensely pursuing a ‘bestie’ type r.ship with me for over 9 mths (blew very hot, then when I raised some concerns, suddenly decidedly cool). I’m going to try laying low for a while. Perhaps it will do some good for me not ‘jump’ next time she says ‘how high?’ A taste of her own medicine might be just what she needs (& observing her response to this will be interesting in terms of trying to determine her true charactar)… Sigh.

  39. Mymble says:

    I would be concerned for her personal safety, rather than the money.

    • Sandra81 says:

      I think the comment is for me. :) Her personal safety…well, given the fact that she and I and that guy have many friends in common, who have known him for years, they can guarantee he is a decent person, as in not a psycho, or a rapist, or whatever. But it’s more about whether he is worth of her investing so much: time, feelings, money. A couple of days ago, we were having a conversation with other people, and everyone was like “OMG! You’re going to see Prince Charming!!!” Say what??? :O Plus it’s also about the message that she’s giving out about herself: “Here I am, I barely know you, I only spent half a day with you, but I’m ready to do whatever it takes to be with you, without you having to do or prove anything!”. Hmmm… For a booty call, it would be a pretty expensive one, for a relationship, it would have been better to take things slowly. Yeah, he’s a very cute and nice guy, but I’m afraid she could be appearing easy or desperate, and in the end get hurt. :S

      • Sandra, I have to intervene here. You’re right to have those concerns but I would be very careful of guaranteeing her personal safety. You have no basis for this if you’re going purely on your friendship and mutual friends. Many people have been date raped/raped and murdered by people they knew or people who they had come into contact with as a result of another mutual friend. I also don’t need to highlight the many people who are blinded by mutual friends, status etc that end up being mind effed in an unavailable relationship. You have no business making an assumption like this. Your other concerns are valid but you should be mostly concerned by her physical and emotional safety with a stranger. Assume nothing.

        I also don’t see why “Prince Charming” should get off scot free. You cannot dislike her behaviour without disliking his. What type of man has a woman travelling out to him alone after half a days meeting? As women, we mustn’t perpetuate the very bullshit that we dislike from men.

        • Sandra81 says:

          Natalie, I warned her about all the aspects, even the worst case scenario. But she’s determined to live in the moment, because she’s not “paranoid and old-fashioned like me”. :O But anyway, even if we have nothing serious to worry about, I don’t see this move as the basis for a serious relationship. And she was going to see him anyway at the beginning of next month, in another group situation. Normally, I believe that should have been enough, after all…what was the rush? Oh, well… At the end of the day, she’s over 18 and it’s her life. I did my part warning her, and some other grounded people did too, but from now on it’s up to her. :S

          • Sandra81 says:

            A little update: my friend just returned home, in one piece, so there was nothing serious to worry about, but since she returned she’s not being her usual self. She used to be much more chatty and communicative, but now she’s somehow keeping a low profile. She says she’s ok and she had fun, but something tells me she’s not, and I don’t want to push her to confess anything. However, what it was supposed to be a couple of days’ trip prolonged into 8 days at the guy’s house, with the family, and then leaving together from France to Holland, where the guy had a business committment at an event. She accompanied him at the meetings with his workmates, but once they found themselves at the event, he didn’t have much time for her, and…apparently he has many female friends “gravitating” around him, to the point to which you can’t really tell if there is just friendship or more. And, quite frankly, this is what I’ve also been told by mutual friends: the guy is not a bad person, but he doesn’t seem ready for a serious relationship (he is also very young).

  40. GinaMarie says:

    It’s funny you bring this topic up, I was just doing some research on building a healthy relationship – meaning even in the very beginning stages of that first date, to deciding to become a couple. I realized how much I have matured because it would be very uncomfortable for me to be obsessed with potential of the person after even a first, second or third date. It feels a lot healthier to develop the characteristics of a friendship, based on all the ingredients you speak about, that like you say takes TIME!!! And, who knows maybe I’ll catch myself going into my unhealthy patterns, can’t say I’m perfect – but I am mindful. I like the way you phrase it which keeps it simple enough “Dating is a discovery phase” – which keeps us focused on reality and the present. I am putting myself out there for the first time in a few years. I just want to meet new people and explore the interaction of genuine connections – coming from deriving my own happiness, a place of what you talk about.

    So yeah, to get to know someone takes a lot of time. And, I see when we are uncomfortable with intimacy, we skip over that – when we find ourselves more authentic and coming from a good place, we enjoy the discovery phase, in my opinion anyways.

  41. MuchMoreBetter says:

    I’ve also been on the other end of this stick, where the man I was dating saw ONLY the parts of my personality that he wanted to see and completely ignored the rest. Not because I wasn’t sharing, mind you – but his eyes glazed over and he tuned me out whenever I started talking about anything that didn’t fit into his perfect little picture of me. He didn’t want to be with me, he wanted to be with his image of me, which he painted very, very quickly and got extremely attached to.

    Yes, we do have to listen – both for our own sakes and for theirs. Our fantasies get in the way and ultimately hurt everybody involved.

  42. Late Bloomer says:

    Another excellent post and the comments have been great too. So much wisdom and support from this group.

    I think “catching” ourselves at the beginning — before the blindness takes over is key. Also, the first moment you start to feel bad about something that someone says, does etc… is the time to address the matter. Eyes open, even if it’s not what you want to see.

    I think it was one of NML’s tweets or FB posts that said “Relationships are a lot more simple than we give them credit for – the other party is either in or out. They either accept you or they don’t. If you have to convince them to be ‘in’ or to ‘accept’, it’s a deal breaker.” I cut and pasted that one and added it to the toolbox.

    If someone or a situation isn’t making us happy, then we should be out — and by our own choice.

  43. Kelly says:

    Remember what Sharon Stone said. “Women can fake an orgasm, but a man can fake a whole relationship.”

  44. Lady nay says:

    I want to say thank you to Natalie and all the women who are sharing here. This is helping me so much. I blocked him on facebook before I broke up with him because I know how nasty and mean he can be. When I broke up with him 6 months ago he advertised on FB saying how his relationship ended and he feels good that he had been monogamous, something he had never done before. I couldn’t believe he posted that. A friend of mine told me that he was advertising for the next victim. Then there was a picture posted of him and another women and smiley for the camera. When we got back together he posted on FB that for all the women who wanted to get with him it was too late as he was back with his lady…I hated that post and was uneasy from that point forward. We stayed together for 6 months when I knew that I needed to let go. It’s going pretty good. I don’t let myself remember only good times, I remember the hurtful times. I remember the boundaries I had and how he tried to convince me that I had walls up. I remember the manipulation, the passive aggressive behavior, the cold shoulder, the non empathy, the taker that he was. The man who tried to convince me that I was the problem in the relationship. He never admitted any wrong, he always blamed me for everything, he flip flapped, he lied, he wanted from me all the things that he didn’t give.Wow I am glad to be done. I will keep putting one foot in front of the other. I love me today and letting him go was one of the best things that I have done for myself.

    • Kelly says:

      Lady nay, he sounds like he has narcissistic personality disorder. I went through the same thing for two years and it was the exact same as you described, with lots of putdowns and weird behaviours that took me a long time to figure out (silent treatment, cold shoulder, to punish me for things I wasn’t aware of). I was always kept at arm’s length, even though he wanted to see me all the time. It was a serious mind f—. It’s taken me nine months to finally start to feel normal and good again, after lots of therapy and boundary-defining. I went NC immediately, and with brutal finality he didn’t see coming, and it was the best thing I could have done. When dealing with a narcissist, you must run for the hills and never look back. Consider him a great lesson. You’ll come out of this with greater self-esteem than you’ve ever had before, if you do the work. It’s hard, and it’ll be a roller coaster, but keep your eye on the prize: a true understanding of what you deserve, and appreciation for what a good man is, as opposed to a bad one. Because let’s face it: we were dating bad men.

  45. Lady nay says:

    Thanks Kelly. I finally got it. Yes he was a bad man, a total faker, out to get whatever he could without giving up anything. I remember him saying to me on several occasions, I don’t know what you want from me. I would say I want you to care. One day I finally heard myself and that’s when I realized that he didn’t care about me. I started to feel like something was wrong with me. Thanks to Natalie’s articles I found out that I shouldn’t personalize it. His uncaring ways had nothing to do with me. That saved me. Then I read about trying to get rejection retracted, boy did that help me out. I had to laugh at the source that I was trying to get validation from. I knocked him right off that pedestal. Most of my days are good and for that I am grateful. I don’t romanticizThis has been a real eye opener for me. I have learned so much about myself and it’s not all bad. And best of all, I rejected him and the nothing that he was offering.

  46. hayley says:

    he told me within weeks he loved me and i wanted to run, i sooo wish i had listened to myself, 6 months later and i’m a mess, started nc today and yes went back for round two…he said he could read people really well but couldnt read me, i thought that meant that was something wrong with me!

  47. rana says:

    Hi i did it. I opt out from my engagement before my marrige took place. I saved myself n now i m a wiser stronger person. I m not going to be bllindfolded again i respect n love myself n i shall build my life with someone who knows my value n i Can love in return

  48. Nvr2L8 says:

    I just completed “Fallback Girl” and thank you SO MUCH Natalie for that book! I’ve followed your blog for about a year now. I just got out of a short term Fast Forwarded relationship that fortunately I’m not totally devastated by….but it still hurts to have been dumped by a man who pursued over several months and told me I was his soul mate and was falling in love.

    We saw each other steadily for about 5 weeks, but it was nearly every day and all the chemistry and intensity were there in spades. Communication was off the charts good. We enjoyed each other’s company so very much, were so compatible with many shared values including our religious beliefs, that it did seem almost too good to be true. We both mentioned this several times: “when is the other shoe going to drop?”.

    I’ve never experienced this sort of relationship, so I had no context for the way it was moving so quickly. In fact, I’m fairly recently divorced (yr and half) after 22 yrs of marriage – so dating again is new territory. I was, however, delighted at the way this man and I were connecting. I looked for but saw no real red flags anywhere. It was “all good”.

    For us, that proverbial shoe dropped suddenly and without warning one night in a grocery store when he got a text from his sister about a family member who was dying. He didn’t seem terribly upset at the news. After I offered several sympathetic comments, we continued to shop (he continued to receive texts re: situation) and while I wanted to get out of the store ASAP and have some private time to process this sad news, he apparently was “trying to get my attention” which he said he couldn’t do. He broke up with me the next day saying I “disconnected from him emotionally” at a critical moment and he could not forgive that. He described himself as “gutted at your lack of caring”.

    I honestly was not uncaring or callous. I did make a few light comments about other topics once I ascertained he wasn’t really upset at the news. I had no idea he was “trying to get my attention”. We were both attending the same shopping cart, for heaven’s sake!

    I’ve since realized the warning signs were there in him telling me he had never been able to maintain a really good relationship (read: “as good as you and I have now”) for many years and he had never allowed any date access to his inner…

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!