Wolf, Feck, which lies and flattery will get the door open?

Each and every time someone shares a story with me where the object of their affections (and their pain) is described as “charming”, I already know the rest of the story without them having to utter another word. My spidey senses go “O-oh!” and I know that the rest of the story’s going to be a rollercoaster of pain where much of the relationship is going to be about chasing the beginning (when there was Fast Forwarding and Future Faking) and also about recouping the validation, adoration, and intensity that they get when the charm offensive is switched on. There’s also likely to be assertions that this person is narcissistically inclined or an actual narcissist.

You see, when we truly know a person and we also appreciate them for more than what amount to superficial qualities, we’ll go beyond charming, attractive, good sense of humour, popular with people or good at their job.

If we’re claiming that a person is “charming” and we’re still describing them in this way even after the chaos and their true self has unfolded, we don’t know him/her anywhere nearly as well we believe and we’re very attracted to certain qualities that we feel make a person ‘likeable’, even if over time, they don’t consistently present these qualities and characteristics in the relationship. We’re in admiration of this person, likely latching onto certain personality traits, seeming capabilities, and their physical and social appearance, so how they look and or how they appear in a social context. They’re on a pedestal.

This “charm” that we refer to, is what provides a rather large clue as to why we’re under their spell and why they have the ability to get us to do what they want whether we’re still with them or broken up and trying to move on.

Actively “charming” people are practiced at saying and doing the things that present them in a certain way but that also get the best out of people so that they can benefit from the compliance and adoration that the flattery and let’s face it, the performing, yields them.

There’s a big difference between somebody who as a result of being authentic, they come across as a really enjoyable person, whether it’s in a brief interaction or over a consistent period of time, and somebody who actively seeks to use their charm in order to gain an advantage where they may even be able to run rings around them with  effery.

Somebody who is a genuinely lovely person who you’ve gotten to know over time, isn’t going to drain you out and suck you dry. Unfortunately, people who are stuck on somebody they regard as charming, end up having less self-esteem than what they entered into the relationship with, and also feel as if they’re broken due to this person withdrawing their attentions and affections, or even ‘chopping’ them down with their behaviour and comments.

Actively charming people know how to cover up their true agendas and mask their inadequacies by heaping on the praise. We’re highly likely to be taken in by a charming person when we don’t see ourselves as whole and judge us on perceived past mistakes, faults, flaws etc, because we won’t see the charmer as a whole either.

When we’ve experienced an excessive amount of criticism in childhood (or we perceive certain experiences as a criticism of us), we tend to gravitate to people who are charming. We’ll be highly responsive to praise because it’s the whole being given a cracker after not eating for six months in the desert. A charmer speaks to that part of us that looks for validation and approval, which in turn activates our pleaser, and as they heap on the praise and we no doubt feel flattered to be basking in their presence (because you know we’ve built them up as if they’re The Best Person That Ever Did Walk The Earth TM), we want to influence their behaviour and feelings even more by being pleasing (read: compliant and putting them before us). We make the mistake of believing that we will be safe with this person (which is like nesting with a python), because in our minds, we’re blowing smoke up their arse and putting them before us – what’s not to like?

On some level, because we’re attracted to these traits and qualities in the first place, we sense that a person like this has the power to destabilise us by invalidating us in some way, expressing some level of disapproval, or just withdrawing their attentions and affections now that they feel thoroughly in control.

Unfortunately that willingness to please becomes the thing that they disrespect us for. It’s like, “Lemme build you up so that your admiration veins are nice and juicy, suck you dry, chop you down before you see what I’m about, and then get mad at you for not having anything left for me to suck on…. So I’ll discard you for a bit, let you get a bit more confused admiration and fear in your veins, go and bleed someone else in my harem and then pop back to you for a top-up….”

All of the feelings of fear and inadequacy kick in and it’s, Here we go again! because truth be told, even if it was unconscious, we were trying to right the wrongs of the past in some way. The charming person is representative of someone from our past and when they [the charmer] builds us up and chops us down, it resurrects old wounds.

After hearing thousands of stories, being destabilised by a charmer is akin to the pain of having an exacting, highly critical and even narcissistic parent or caregiver. If we’ve been raised by an unpleasable and we’re still trying to please them via our adult involvements even if it’s unconsciously through a toxic patten, we’ll then try to find a reason that ‘makes sense’ and then home in on the belief that what has happened is due to us being inadequate and unlovable, because it’s what we’ve always taught ourselves in these situations. It will feel like ‘home’ – familiar territory. We’ll think that because we felt this way before that it has to be us when it’s more that we’re engaging in a similar dynamic and repeating a pattern. We’ll wonder what we did wrong to cause the withdrawal of affections and attentions or for us to even be replaced.

A charmer’s attentions and affections, particularly after they’ve been withdrawn or there’s been the threat of it, seem more ‘valuable’ because when we’re raised by people who make us jump through hoops for love, care, trust, and respect, we learn to only value ‘love’ from people who find it hard or even impossible to put out. Somebody who doesn’t have a shady agenda and doesn’t make us jump through hoops, will feel ‘wrong’ while being dicked around will feel ‘right’.

Truly healthy relationships go a lot deeper than charm and aren’t reliant on being disarmed and us having to sacrifice ourselves for the other party to feel big. When we mend our relationship with us by addressing the effect of feeling inadequate as a child and blaming ourselves for other people’s behaviour, we stop basing our lives around fear of making a mistake and being judged, which means that not only will we allow ourselves to be vulnerable so that we can have deeper relationships, but we won’t be taken in by somebody who relies on charm to prevent depth.

When we start being kinder to ourselves and work on healing those parts of us that ‘activate’ our still wounded younger self, no one can come along and showboat with their megawatt flattery because we won’t be waiting for somebody to come along and give us praise, attention and even permission to have an existence. We won’t be trying to fill a parental void with a romantic partner or putting the past on repeat by trying to right the wrongs of the past and prove that we’re enough to some fly-by-night or cruel person, when we are already more than enough. “Charming” tends to be a precursor to code red problems - don’t ignore the reality of what is going on because ultimately, charm can only cover that up for so long.

Your thoughts?

PS I’ve been meaning to do it for ages but my February and March appearances on Ridge Radio are now on Soundcloud. I will be on tomorrow evening from 7.15pm GMT so do send in your questions to studio AT ridgeradio.co.uk Listen in live from wherever you online are at Ridge Radio.

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260 Responses to “Charming” tends to be a precursor to code red problems

  1. JGP says:

    Fantastic article. It is only once you get some true distance from the charmer (read: more than a couple of weeks/months of no contact) to properly detach yourself from the front seat at their pedestal that you can see them for what they are.

    Charmers, as Nat has outlined, have a way of crazy-making without you realising it until quite far down the line. Often you get that sixth sense, pit in the gut, deep intuitive sense that not everything is what it says on the tin. I remember how in my last relationship in the first few months that if I got drunk enough I would reveal to my friends my doubts, and then proceed to cover them all up the next day. Only now, after much time for evaluation and detachment, can I see how the early things that sneaked in and tugged at my warning bells actually made me feel.

    It’s completely true; they build you up, cut you down, and get mad when you have nothing left to give. You just have to make sure you can NOTICE HOW YOU FEEL, ASSESS WHAT THAT MEANS, RESPOND WITH COMMITTED ACTIONS. If you cling to someone for all the wrong reasons and cover up what it’s doing to you beneath their superficial surface qualities, it takes a lot longer to get over. BELIEVE ME!

    • Hina says:

      JGP, I did the same thing! But I revealed my doubts to him! We would get in arguments when I got drunk. Because I knew something was not right, but couldn’t admit it to myself, but my subconscious would bring it up when I was less inhibited I guess.

      • Sofia says:

        Oh Hina and JGP, the same thing happened to me! When buzzed or drunk, I would always act up because deep down I was not satisfied with the crumbs but I would always be a doormat and nice about it. However, when less inhibited, I would act up by not doing anything crazy, but not wanting to stay at his place. I would call a taxi or pretend like I was about to drive away. In my drunk state, I was ready to leave him. I would always feel like breaking up with him when I was drunk! That’s when the true feelings about him came out and he got very mad because he knew I was unhappy about the situation but too weak, in love and too doormat to act for real in real life with no alcohol involved.

        • rachael says:

          courageous and honest drinkers….
          “too weak, in love and too doormat”?
          afraid, hopeful and bloody long suffering!

  2. tiffrbug says:

    Wow Nat! You hit the nail on the head with this post! I was in a very toxic and unavailable relationship for seven years. It was very much like this. I was always jumping through hoops for his approval, and the person I was trying to be could not have been farther from MY TRUTH. The girl I had to be for his approval was less MAGNIFICENT then God created me to be. So sad.
    On a positive note, as I healed and regained my self-esteem, I saw all the superficial charm for what it was. I had to pick up some belongings, and he was throwing compliment after compliment my way. It was blatantly obvious that he was trying to get down my pants. Pathetic. Made me squeamish. My body told me to run!!
    Best thing? I no longer take it personally that he doesn’t value me. Superficial and shallow people don’t understand value anyways! Thanks for this post! Love your insight!!;)

    • bethd says:

      No one can take these mentally f’d up people seriously or personally. It’s funny how I identify with all these stories. It isn’t possible we all had the same guy but it can actually seem that way hearing these stories. It is only when we make our final break that the fog clears and we see them for what they are. Souless vampires who can never be filled. Not by us or anyone.
      “When we start being kinder to ourselves and work on healing those parts of us that ‘activate’ our still wounded younger self, no one can come along and showboat with their megawatt flattery because we won’t be waiting for somebody to come along and give us praise, attention and even permission to have an existence.” Fantastic Nat This is key to never letting these frauds charm us again and spotting it in the future.

  3. Ashlyn says:

    Thank you for putting my painful battered emotions into words. Ive read many of your posts but this one will hopefully open my eyes wide . Ive been severely stung with parents, relationships and recently a charming commitment phobe who works in my office…soo difficult..but your gift of healing by writing to the wounded will help me greatly.. Thank you Natalie very much :)

  4. Yoyo says:

    This brought back some less pleasant memories, spot on. Glad I can see these ones coming now. Out of interest, do we know what causes the charmer to behave in such a controlling way?

    • Firefly says:

      So they can get what they want.

    • rachael says:

      he does not believe he has the ability to be loved for who he is, so he preys on women who ‘need’ building up in order to be desired himself. no?

    • Gina says:

      Plus they don’t know who they truly are themselves deep down. Maybe they are too afraid to go there but ultimately one needs to face their darkness sooner or later. Charming for selfish motive is an example of this darkness.

  5. Hina says:

    Yes, yes, this is so true. I had thought that after the conversation with the current fiance, I had no love left in my heart for Mr. UK. But here I have been thinking of him. WHY??? Why can’t I just stop.

    He was a charmer. One that didn’t have to try very hard. He had an English accent. Us American girls are suckers for that. And that dry English humor. I thought it was charming. And Nat is so right. I was raised by 2 unpleasables. And Mr. UK is a narcissist.

    SOOOO what did I do in a stupid drunken haze after pretty much 5 months of NC??? I emailed him. God, I am so stupid. I really hate myself for it. In my drunken stupor, I wrote him all sorts of questions, then deleted it all because I thought, what if he shares it with her like he shared my last email? And I KNEW it wasn’t even worth it, but I sent him an email anyway. Something so stupid – just a question mark “?” And that was it. Why did I do that? Why bother? Why let him know he was even on my mind? I am so full of regret. I feel sill and stupid and weak.

    Getting drunk is my excuse. I only had 2 glasses of wine. But after not drinking for a while I guess it did me in. UGH UGH UGH. I could kick myself.

    I know forgive and move on. I am. But I am still feeling like a fool. Why does this narcissistic, cheating, liar have such a hold on me.

    • Sofia says:

      Hina, don’t beat yourself up. It’s ok. I have been buzzed on the weekends but haven’t written or called him. I hope I won’t. 2 months NC. Don’t worry, just continue NC. 5 months is great!

    • rachael says:

      i will answer your email to him for you…

      Why Hina? I won’t tell you cause I am still the same insensitive sh_t who didn’t tell you ‘why’ 5 months ago.

      • Hina says:

        Thanks Sofia and Rachael. I have my weak moments. But staying strong now.

        • rachael says:

          we all do… thats what connects us

        • Sofia says:

          I have a lot of weak moments too. Without your support I would have broken NC long time ago. I come back here, read and post. Even with a glass of wine in my hand, I stay strong. I have the confidence I will get through it and we all will!

    • Suki says:

      Why does he still have a hold on you? Because at least partly (and I speak from experience); you are having obsessive thoughts and you tend to have obsessive thoughts and you can’t stop yourself. Its likely this is not the only thing you obsess about (do you worry a lot over some chance remark you made or someone else made? are you unable to let go of thoughts – e.g. you are not only obsessing over him, writing long emotionally tense emails, but also obsessing over the obsessing as you ask yourself why why why and feel shame). Worry and obsession strangely calms us, it becomes a go-to mechanism of coping. Some people are more anxious than others, or have had past experiences which made worry a coping mechanism for a while, or had experiences that were so confusing as a child that worry became a pattern (e.g. you were not safe emotionally or adults had no boundaries). I had an experience once where I was able to stop obsessing over the failing relationship for the 10 days I was preparing intensely for two job interviews. As I walked out of the second interview, I could feel all the obsessive thoughts come flooding back in. Nature abhors a vacuum – nothing else had changed in my real life, just that I needed and still sometimes need to constantly have something to worry about so that I dont focus on myself, on thinking about what I want, and on taking responsibility for my present life, on validating myself, and on acknowledging myself. I think that counseling and anxiety regulation helps a lot. Note; recently found calmness is also why I am single. It is hard earned and I am afraid to jeopardize it. Its lonely if you are emotionally healthy but came to emotional health later in life… you like being emotionally healthy and you know what its like to lose it. Makes you cautious.

      • Mymble says:

        Very thoughtful comment.
        Like you I am in a fairly quiet place emotionally, at the moment, without a lot of anxiety and obsessing. I am dating, but sometimes it occurs to me that I may be avoiding getting emotionally involved because I fear getting into that downward spiral again. Which is often triggered by sex. So, no sex, no kissing, totally the opposite of my usual MO.
        What’s the point in dating though, if I can’t/won’t take it further?

      • Hina says:

        Thanks Suki. You are right, I think worrying became a pattern for me as a child. There was a lot of domestic violence in my home. I now suffer from anxiety from time to time. I think this is when I start obsessing about things. It is not constant, in fact it is not happening much now, just once in a while. I am glad you are finding calmness in your life. That is what I am striving for.

    • Pauline says:


      You’re looking for rational answers and you ain’t gonna get any, you had a few drinks, enough said. In vino there isn’t that much truth, it wipes our boundaries out and we do stupid things. Yeah, been there done that a few times myself Lol! No harm done so don’t beat yourself up, it happens but don’t do it again ok!

      Why do you keep thinking about him? Because you can and your mind is in a rut going over the same old crap. Every time you start to think about him, say STOP and try real hard to think about something else. Keep practicing and it will get easier. Or you can put one of those thick rubber bands on your wrist and give yourself a decent snap that hurts to interrupt your thoughts.

      • Hina says:

        Thanks Pauline. I find I keep myself busy for the most part and don’t think about him like I have in the past. In fact I had been doing really well until his fiancee called me up and opened up a can of worms. Then I started thinking of him again. I think I would be further on down my road if she hadn’t cut in front of me so to speak! She revealed a lot of things that hurt me further than I had been hurt already. And just the fact that she didn’t seem like a very nice person herself and that is what he is choosing made it all real and in my face again. But I am settling down into the fact that if he is choosing a jerk, then there is another reason we were not right together. Bu the biggest thing is all the lies. Just accepting that it was all lies takes a minute to digest. But feeling better. If I feel like emailing him again, I might put a rubber band around my head! haha

        • Sofia says:

          Hina, or just unplug your computer or internet connection! Believe me I typed few text messages to him this week. I typed messages but didn’t type his phone number ( I deleted his phone number from my phone right after the breakup but I remember his phone number by memory unfortunately I have a good memory for numbers). So I would type up a message, look at it and then delete within a minute, thinking, “and what I am trying to achieve? remember all the BR site posts and articles – it will bring you to square one and cause the cycle and pain all over. Have some dignity now!” I erase the message and put the phone down and FEEL GOOD!

      • Sofia says:

        Pauline, that’s one of the things I noticed: thinking and obsessing about him, about the relationship, the beginning, the middle, the end, the breakup AND what and with whom and where he is now, it’s all becoming a habit thinking of him. It’s like even through taking a shower, having a breakfast, taking care of my daughter, working, doing all the routine things in the evening, hobbies, everything, it can become a habit to think of him. That’s a scary part especially if you have obsessive tendencies. I just realized recently (after reading some material on the subject too) that we have to be careful not make it a habit because thinking of him and the pain, doubts, regrets, can become a habit and it will be hard to let it go because THEN you will REALLY have to face your new life without him. So in a way, besides emotional healing and grieving and recovering, we need to intentionally start “manipulating” so to speak our brain to train to not think of him. Rubber band on your wrist is a good training exercise. This doesn’t mean denying your feeling or shutting down the pain. No. Fully experience this especially in the first few weeks/early months, but then consciously do try and train your brain to push out thoughts of him because you have to. Otherwise this can become a year+ long obsessive habit, which will be harder to get rid off. Almost like overeating , smoking or other bad habits. Maybe, I am just brainstorming, in the near future, when I catch myself that he is in the background of my thoughts always, I will say, replace thoughts about him with what I will read about today, with whom I will meet this weekend, what movie I will watch, what I want to learn this week, etc. Replace it with a thought of doing something else or thinking of something else. And practice it. That’s what I am going to do starting now. I am still recovering 9 weeks into it, but this idea just came to me that gradually I need to replace my constant thoughts of him with something else. There will be no denial or shutting down the feelings because in 9 weeks I have felt a lot and suffered and cried my share!!! So now and very soon it is time to start concentrating my focus and thoughts on something else until gradually and surely he will be pushed out of my thinking patterns. I like my plan!

    • Tinkerbell says:


      Ask your self why you’re drinking enough to get drunk and then exhibiting foolish behavior. It appears you have a problem with alcohol, using it to relieve your inhibitions so you can behave in a regretful manner and then blame alcohol consumption. Focus on YOU and getting your mind, and consequently, your life sorted out. His narcissism, lieing and cheating is not what you should be considering a priority. You cannot “cure” him of these ills. Work on yourself and let him work out his own issues separate from you. It seems that NEITHER of you are stable enough for a healthy relationship.

      • Hina says:

        Thanks for your concern Tinkerbell. I really have not been drinking much at all over the past several months, I think that is why 2 glasses of wine affected me so. And I haven’t drank any since then either. I don’t think I would’ve acted out, drunk or not if he wasn’t heavy on my mind at that moment. Like I said above, he wasn’t for quite some time until I talked to his fiancee. Just accepting that every thing he said was most likely a lie is shocking. Anyway, no i am not out to cure him or have anything to do with him. That is why I was kicking myself over such a silly email. But yes, I am working on my issues and part of that is realizing mistakes happen even during a period of growth. So just moving forward and not dwelling too much on it. It is helpful to be able to post during my low moments on here. I think that helps in the moving forward part. I am not dating; am concentrating on my life and family. He is apparently getting married to someone who seems perfect for him (she seems naracisstic too) so I am sure it is not healthy. But yes, that’s his problem and her problem, not mine.

        • Sofia says:

          Hina, I wrote (in my past relationships, not with the most recent one) a fair share of stupid breakup emails. And I was sober. Alcohol can make one do stupid things if they can make the same stupid things while sober. Intoxication part is irrelevant I think unless one has a serious issue with inhibitions when all the insecurities and fears come out once you are under influence, but you hold everything in when sober. That’s a problem then.
          In any case, please don’t beat yourself up over the e-mail you wrote. It’s okay. You know what amazing is that we spend so much time pondering what we said or did, about every word we uttered, while they go on with their lives without giving a minute of thought about us, just for the fact that they are male (and men tend to shut down their emotions when relationship is over on THEIR terms, typically), and for the fact that they are with someone else, if they are. While we spend hours and days and months of our lives getting over them. I just thought about it again today and felt sad. Think about it clearly and realistically. Do you think he ever spends this much time thinking of you and what went wrong/right? I am certain my ex doesn’t. They just don’t. It’s over – it’s over.
          I have started disliking the “move on” phrase because I have been trying it so hard 9 weeks post breakup and being NC. What about a new phrase and new terminology? What about “continue your life” or rather and better ” living” ? “Moving on” means more like you pick up your pieces or divert your route and make an effort to live AGAIN. What about “living” – meaning you are still who you are this present (better self though no doubt) and you are living. I like that better. More empowering and grounded. Less indicating of so much adjustment on our part. We still have ourselves as we have always had. We just chose not to notice at first. Now we do. We are living our lives.

          • Sofia says:

            I meant not “breakup” emails – but postbreakup emails, breaking NC. Important distinction. I wanted to clarify that.

        • Tinkerbell says:

          Good, Hina. Take care of YOU. For most of us that’s enough to handle. You’ll be okay. Good luck.

  6. Lucky escape says:

    Omg omg omg!!!!!! I quickly read this article before going to sleep and i just had to give short reply…. nat and all u lovely people on this site have given me soooo much strength and hope when i felt nc was about to fail! Its been nearly two years but feels like yesterday! This article puts in words what i was unable to do… the mind games… the charm!!! Lying with a python.. spot on! I suffered and my family too and im nearly fifty thought i had met them all!!! Nat ur site is fantastic and thank you for makn sense of it all…i am now equipped and ready to enjoy my life again! Take care all xxx

  7. Stephanie says:

    I left one long term relationship that was horrible. I was horrible in it. I promised myself I wouldn’t get into another ‘real’ relationship until I learned to be happy and satisfied living by myself. Until I made a whole, contented life alone. That way, I knew, I would not live in fear of being left. I would know that if I could make a happy life for myself once I could do it again and would not be tempted to put up with unacceptable behaviour. I would have the courage to draw and maintain healthy boundaries in a relationship.

    It was the best decision I ever made. Matched only by my decision to get involved with the man I’ve been with for the last 17 yrs. Gawd what a keeper. We’ve had hellish times. Life lays things on you. He came with baggage, darling.

    Together we raised and buried his severely disabled daughter from age 6 – 16 from , who became a daughter to me. And his other daughter who was angry when I met her at age 4 and was still a misery when she went to live with her birth mother at 14.

    Rule #1 No swearing at each other. (isn’t that basic?)

    Rule #2 No criticizing. (don’t choose me and then try to change me)

    Rule #3 No “You can’t do that’s” (we’re not each other’s parents, and if the person we’re with doesn’t know how to behave we shouldn’t have chosen them in the first place)

    Rule#4 Make each other laugh. (comes naturally, or should)

    I love your column. Share it with friends often. You’re bang on. Every time. Glad I found you.

  8. Rosie B. says:

    And Nathalie, what does it mean if people always tell me i am charming??? The last guy i dated told me i was charming and that he’d always go for charming ladies. I wanted to run so badly at that moment. Am i crazy to think it is also a bad sign if someone tells you that repetivly?

    • Gina says:

      Rosie B, Nat has mentioned “There’s a big difference between somebody who as a result of being authentic, they come across as a really enjoyable person, whether it’s in a brief interaction or over a consistent period of time and somebody who actively seeks to use their charm in order to gain an advantage where they may even be able to run rings around them with effery.” Where do you think you fit as charming in light of the above can be good and bad. That is, if one knows oneself to be the former then that comes through quite easily and subsequently people will compliment one as charming. The same applies when one uses charm to gain selfish advantage, people can see through that immediately and subsequently the charming remark will be mentioned in a non-complimentary way.

  9. Nic says:

    I have been reading for a year or so and recently realised that my issues weren’t man-based as I had assumed so often… my ‘issues’ were best friend based. My narcissist mate is charming in every sense of the word, flirty (with men I’ve liked), cute (has to be the best looking in the room) and clever. Charm personified. But recently she has let her cover slip and has been cruel to the men in my life, cuts me down about my choices in them and oh my, does she leave me drained ! I leaned on her very heavily the last few months and her flattery covered her manipulations. Funnily enough I stopped calling and I haven’t heard from her either, she had gotten her way (broke up my relationship).
    Its been a blessing, reading so much from this site to be able to identify traits in people other than romantic partners (of which my choices have been pretty awesome thanks)

  10. cd says:

    Another great article. The sad part is, a lot of us (self included) probably wouldn’t be able to act on the insight until after the pain. Better late than never.

  11. NBH says:

    He is charming. He regards women as conquests – though his ever-encroaching alcoholism is making him less charming (as far as I can gather; I haven’t spoken to him for more than eighteen months, but this is a small town). But in the early days, I ignored the fact that I was having nightmares about him, and that I had persistent indigestion when I was with him. My body and my subconscious had his number very clearly, and I certainly won’t be ignoring them ever again!

    • Brandy says:


      Physical symptoms DO happen! I had a ton but was so ensnared I didn’t realize until he was gone. I too, had indigestion- terrible sharp pains in my stomach, pain on my left hip when we’d have sex- became unenjoyable, painful cramps during periods & generally worn out & tired.

      After he left- IT ALL vanished! And I can actually work out now!

      I too had nightmares but it was more about my self conscious trying to tell myself to wake up- he was killing me.

      Lesson is: I will pay attention mentally to what’s said but I will for damn sure also listen to my body as a backup!

      • Hina says:

        Bandy, that is a big lesson for me too. Listening to my body! In reflection, I see my body knew all along what it took my brain and my heart forever to realize and accept.

  12. Princess says:

    I needed to read this today. He just discarded me like I didn’t mean anything to him. Hurts. But now I understand why. I’m in NC now for 90+ days…

  13. alfour5 says:

    I am three months out of a relationship with a charmer. He told me my “status” changed and he just wanted to be friends. Then he immediately started dating someone else. I thought I was in love and later found out he constantly lied to me. The kicker is thst he keeps trying to get back in my life with excuses to text me. He still wants to be friends and I can’t. I don’t answer his textx so he texts my best friend to see if they’re still friends. Pathetic. Sadly though I feel so rejected and can’t stop thinking about him and wht he’s doing. Any suggestions for getting over him?

    • rachael says:

      ask yourself, ‘do i want to be with someone who is okay with lying to me?’

    • Allison says:


      You, and your friends should be blocking him. This will help you move on.

    • bethd says:

      Please don’t consider the friendship card. He is a louse and you don’t want nor need his friendship. It will give him access to mindphuck you. Take it from someone who knows as I did the friendship thing for 3 years post break up. And yes I NC’d him for first 6 months so thought I could handle. It was worse than anything I endured during the relationship, hindered my healing process and almost ruined my new relationship. Please stay far far away from people who have mistreated or devalued you in any way. They add zero to your life and suck your good energy! Being friends with them only enables them to think they are good people. They are not! Wolves in sheeps clothing……

    • Di says:

      The suggestion is to realize, he never loved you and that it’s control. No Contact is the best way to get over him and that might mean breaking free from all who know and associate with him, until you are emotionally ready.
      Good Luck

  14. Mike from Oztralia says:

    Thanks Nat, and dear gawd this rings true for me as well!

    These traits in men would be deemed charming, and in the female equivalent “vivacious”, “lively” and “flirty”. That was the Miss Unavailable to a tee.

    When we meet I was swept away by it all. I hung on every word. “Wow!” was my reaction.

    I remember on our first date I asked her about her plans for work and living over seas – for in conversation she revealed a history of changing jobs.

    Having a child means this is an important question. Having someone stick around matters.

    “No I’m not planning to move” were the words.

    Six months into dating, she reveals she is miserable in her job. One of the options she looks at? Living and working in Hong Kong. She gets as far as the interviews, and in a position to take the role. We ended up talking about her choices for weeks… then she decides to stay. She finds another job. The third one I’ve seen her take in the limited time I’ve known her.

    That was a 6×6 foot red flag waving in my face, but I allowed my hopes and illusions to keep me seeing what was going on.

    It was the first of a pattern of threatening to leave.

    Was it a lie? Possibly not to them at the time. It most likely felt like “the truth” to Miss U.

    Miss U had a big personality, and would command any room she entered. She would readily and easily bond on the first meeting with a complete stranger. But, she never had any close friendships maintained over time. Instead she would have many work and professional acquaintances. I saw her cycle through an entire set of friends during the two years we were together – literally, five or six people “disappeared” and replaced with a new social set.

    I’d never seen anything like it before – but thank gawd I learnt the warning signs!

    Again Nat thanks for this. It is so helpful.

    • Nic says:

      Mike, it is amazing to me to that my friend cycles through friendships just as often and could bond with complete strangers too. The decision making process that they chose is also interesting… she has had to chose between stable and promising and shaky startups… guess which one she chose ?

      • Mike from Oztralia says:

        Lemme guess? ;)

        Because it is part of the commitment phobia – wanting a relationship/friendship but never believing it will last. Thus when it ends it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

  15. Karen says:

    Jeeze, you nailed it. My ex could charm a cat off a fish truck. Her M.O. was to charm, seduce, use, dump, recharm and repeat. When she tried the third time I finally called her home to tell her to get lost. Her wife answered. The assclown was so cocky and chickenshit she had her wife answer to spare herself the lecture. So I asked the wife to please tell the assclown to stop contacting me to be her Other Woman. I wasn’t interested and wanted her to leave me alone.
    Hmm. Like magic, no more contact.
    Charmers will make me suspicious from now on.

    • bethd says:

      Charm a cat off a fish truck!!! lmao Love it Karen….I use to tell people my ex was so charming he could sell used rubbers and make a fortune LOL

  16. NJC says:

    My charmer was a performer, a real one. On stage musician and vocalist, comedian, etc. He claimed to
    love me more than anything and to just want to be with me. I was insanely attracted to him. Unfortunately so was every female, all ages, as he had this maternal draw, and everyone ‘loved’ him. He knew how to “work” everyone in the room so they were in the palm of his hand. I had left my jobs, my home, etc. to move in with him so he could continue his work. I am an intelligent and accomplished woman. I was far too sexually attracted to him. It started to hurt shortly after we moved in together. He simply had razor sharp antennae for women. He did nothing overt except he could not withdraw attention from them and needed to know that they were noticing him if they were anywhere in the vicinity. I was waiting, dying for his affection all the time. I went through all the idiotic and anxious
    hypervigilent behaviors: did he really love me? did he want to be with someone else? He was unable
    to be comforting or soothing around this issue. But the big clue was his finely honed charm and charisma. The mind-messup for me was that everyone else found him wonderful and I was literally traumatized by the relationship. Trying to relieve the pain hooked me further into the relationship and it took me way
    too long to get out — to leave — only to take him
    back twice more in hopes that I could finally get that crumb I was waiting for. Beware of over the top sexual attraction! That is all well and good, but it can
    mask rationality, especially with a superficially warm and inviting personality. And with this type, the self-esteem necessarily goes down the tubes, as you wonder “why doesnt he love me like he did at the beginning? ”
    To check my reality, I did the unthinkable and contacted his ex-wife. She and I are now extremely good friends and he is gone.

  17. NJC says:

    important to add that my father, who had very destructive issues, was an extremely charismatic ladies’ man.

  18. Firefly says:

    My former AC and I were talking (after we had stopped seeing each other) and he was pretend complaining to me about how long it took for him to get me to have sex with him. I said why, how long does it usually take for you to get girls to sleep with you? He said by the second date. I said wow, how do you manage that. He said I’m charming…

  19. Firefly says:

    He WAS charming. I used to tell my girlfriends about the things he’d do and they’d say, Oh, it’s just like that movie The Notebook. Ha! It was. He would literally sweep me off my feet. It was freaking awesome! But then he’d disappear! Or blow me off. Bottom line, he wasn’t consistent. Blowing hot and cold when it suited him, to get what he wanted…sex. At first, my people pleasing patterns kicked in. I would wonder where he went and if I did something. It took Natalie’s books and blog for me to finally start to get it. (It was because of him that I found Natalie!) It was never about me or us. It was ALL about him. Thanks Natalie, for this post. :)

    • Lynn says:

      Firefly – I think if you are thinking ‘this is too good to be true’ it is. Comparing things to movies especially The Notebook…ugh…that’s a red flag in my book now. My ex eum thinks love should be like the movies….that’s hard to live up too and he’s seeking something that doesn’t exist.

      • Firefly says:

        Hi Lynn. Not sure where in my post you got that I’m thinking too good to be true. Maybe you missed where I said he’s my FORMER AC. I just shared what he told me to possibly give others insight into some of the motivations of “charming” people… Cheers!

  20. TLB says:

    Natalie, I’ve been reading BR for years and never shared “my thoughts”. Tonight, this post made time stand still for me. I’ve been mourning my failure over the loss of a charmer who disappeared once after getting what he wanted and came back a second time and did it again this time ghosting for good and leaving me in severe self-loathing pain from his 2nd silent departure. While I am still angry with myself for allowing myself to believe it would be different the 2nd time, your post helped me to start to believe that he might not have been as “perfect” as I imagined. I’m still not done hurting, but I felt a lot less confused. Please send me good vibes to get there sooner than later. Thank you very much…as always.

    • bethd says:

      Hang in TLB This is the MO of a psychopath/Narc/sociopath or whatever label you want to pin on these disordered asses. Google Silent Treatment…You will see the same pattern and countless women seeking help. This was the main reason for the end of my relationship. It happened on and off for 10 years. I tried everything including silent treatment back and him crying on his hands and knees for me to talk to him. It’s exhausting if you keep playing the game and you will lose yourself. You can’t win against them. I wish to God I had BR and the knowledge I have now when he was pulling this stuff. My heart breaks for every women that has been touched by him and others like him. But you are armed. NC is your best friend!You can do this gf!!! Peace and love are around the corner :) Hugggs xo

      • tiffrbug says:

        I think we were in the same relationship! Mine lasted about a decade too. The worst was when I realized that he knew how awful he was being to me (I never thought it could be intentional because I always try to see the best in people). I tried the friends thing too. Wolves in sheep clothing is completely accurate. Bad!

        • bethd says:

          tiffrbug We definitely have in common that we were looking for the good in them. Charmers come of Ohhhh so sincere and they are usually very funny too. Yea Im staring to believe they get off on hurting you. I once heard my ex listening to messages in beginning of my relationship. He saved a few groveling messages of women begging him to call. Why oh why didn’t I realize how f’d up that was!!!! How the hell does one guy who ain’t all that have all these fatal attractions?????

    • Ciembi says:

      Hi TLB,
      Your post resonated with me. I have spent the past year mourning the loss of my male “best friend” who, like yours, disappeared on me after getting what he wanted (one-time sex). This person, who used to charm the pants off me and be all over me all the time, suddenly was the busiest person on earth and eventually vanished out of my life without explanation or breakup or closure or anything. So cruel.
      Still, in the past year he has contacted me twice, once six months ago via email to ask for my cellphone number with some excuse, and the second time two weeks ago, when he called me at my workplace. The first time I responded, sent him a text so that he could have my number – he never used the number to call me or even acknowledged my message. Was I angry with myself and hurt for falling like an idiot to his lousy contact. The second time (his calling at my workplace) I did not take the call. I have no idea what he wanted to say, but it must not have been very important because he never tried to call again.
      I am so tempted to take his next call, but it is stories like yours that serve as a warning of what to expect from “charmers” like these: he just wants to see my reaction, or whether he continues to hold his power over me, or whether I continue to believe he is the best friend there ever was in spite of this unacceptable disappearance, or maybe he is bored and has nothing better to do and he feels special getting any attention he can. Or all of the above. I have to resist the temptation to second-guess, to doubt myself, to still want to give him the benefit of the doubt. It is so hard, I so understand why you would give him another chance. And how much it must hurt to be treated again in this despicable manner. Disappearing on people after using them is NOT ACCEPTABLE. It is not decent behavior and we owe these creeps NOTHING!
      I send you a big hug and the best vibes – hang in there, TLB, you are not alone and we will get through this.

    • Eartha says:

      Sending you GREAT vibes!

  21. visualgirl says:

    I cut it off pretty quickly, but definitely felt the pain and do describe that creep as “charming” and “narcissistic”…a big “so true” to this excellent article.

  22. FinallyCaughtOn says:

    OMG! This was the most perfectly timed read of all. I love your site and have been following it for years…but this really hit home! I have spent so much time wondering, analyzing, rationalizing etc.and THIS put it all together for me finally. It is EXACTLY what I fell for – charm. I spent three years in an on-again-off-again relationship with an AC and ‘click’ after reading this, I know now WHY and WHY I am better off now that it is over.

    ” Somebody who is a genuinely lovely person who you’ve gotten to know over time, isn’t going to drain you out and suck you dry. Unfortunately, people who are stuck on somebody they regard as charming, end up having less self-esteem than what they entered into the relationship with, and also feel as if they’re broken due to this person withdrawing their attentions and affections, or even ‘chopping’ them down with their behaviour and comments.” These words sum up my situation precisely. I never suffered from low esteem until after the AC chopped me down time and time again. Why did I allow it????????????? Now I understand why and now I can really begin to heal and move on to my new, improved life.

    I feel like a huge weight has been lifted and I feel unburdened, enlightened and for the first time in months, happy. :) :)

    Thank you Natalie, for your wisdom, courage, insight and your desire to share and help all of us become better people: in or out of a relationship.

  23. Shanna says:

    JGP and Hina I can 100% relate to what you both wrote! This article and many others have been immensely helpful!

  24. Elizabeth says:

    How do you make peace with your past? How do you forgive that your father was not there for you much as a child or a teenager? I met Mr. Charming. I was deeply attracted to him and he did not lose his charm even when he playfully (no pain) slapped my face 3x in couple of dates. He smiled and my first shock was gone. Also, after he pushed for sex and got it (my fault anyway), he disappeared. Now, 3 months later he contacted me again. Suddenly, he misses me..How can people play this much with others minds? How do I let go? I am confused. I wish I could give him a piece of my mind this time. But at the same time I still like him.

    • Allison says:


      He’s simply looking for another hook up. If he liked you, he wouldn’t have disappeared.

      You need to address why you’re attracted to someone who treats you like shit! Also, he can play these games, because you’re allowing it.

      Time to gain your self-respect back. NC!!!

    • Bella says:


      I’m experiencing the same thing and I’m 45! I’m kicking myself because I allowed him to charm me! I was lonely and fell for his charming words.

      Go no contact on him. He’s an AC! You deserve so much more! Kick him to the curb and move on with your bad self! :)

      You can do it! And keep coming back to BR for support.

  25. Marian says:

    This is absolute genius. My dating life summed up. My dad is the exact critical/narcissist parent you speak of. And now my one goal around him is to be me and not give two shits about catering to him. I feel brand new and ready for a relationship, hopefully with the down to earth and straightforward friend whose advances I tossed aside because they were too normal. It’s time to open my heart and let him in, if he deserves it :)

  26. Anne says:

    Gosh, every time I read one of Natalie’s email articles I get goose bumps. I don’t know how she does it, but it’s as if she is a bug on the wall of my life! Natalie uses every adjective or comparison I’ve ever thought of and every thought I’ve ever had with regard to guys today!

    Two examples of this are what Natalie referred to above as guys having a harem – the EXACT word I’ve used to describe what these creeps today want, and “future faking” – which I have also used in the past, even before I happened upon her articles, and which for years I’ve described to friends as these creeps purposefully injecting words in a conversation with the rehearsed intent of manipulating your thoughts and making you believe that they see a future with you so that you spread the legs quicker than you normally might, if you would even do it at all.

    In the 5 years since I stopped dating altogether and stopped trying to meet a life partner, or at least a monogamous boyfriend with whom I could have a long-lasting relationship, I have achieved a pretty good level of internal peace and serenity. It was very rough at first because I was resentful of these guys, as well as of the bimbos that spread the legs for these guys – after all, it does take two to tango, as the saying goes. The women who sleep around with these useless creeps are causing problems for the rest of us by making these jerks believe that they’re God’s gift to women, that they don’t have to be with any one of us to get what they want because there are many women willing to have sex without a true relationship and an appropriate level of commitment from the guy, and ultimately these guys think that we’re all tramps – and treat us as such.

    In any event, the bottom line is that we really don’t need these creeps, and when we get the feeling that we’re a bit lonely and we need a sniff of testosterone, and when we’re sick of all the women’s groups that we go to activities with – then it’s time to do something different: hit the gym, keep busy with a hobby we really like, go to a movie, go to a co-ed potluck party somewhere, go to a concert – do whatever it takes to let the feeling pass and keep on moving forward.

    Internal peace, quiet and serenity are too precious to lose just to be with some guy that most likely will end up being just like the ones we were with before. This was a point driven home to me, yet again, just a few days ago I got the inkling to say “Hi” to some guy I’d met at one of my groups.

    I have no romantic interest in the guy, but I thought it would be nice to have a male companion to social events once in a while, and he’s pleasant enough for that. I emailed him to say “Hi” and touch bases after a while of my not attending the group activities where we’d run into each other in the past, and to which he had given me a ride twice. He emailed back within the hour and said that he was involved with some volunteer group that was putting on a guitar concert and that I should attend. He asked me how I was doing and if I still went out with the car group. I emailed back and didn’t hear back from him when I asked him to let me know more about his involvement with the guitar concert because it sounded very interesting. This is the type of guy that keeps women at arms’ length. As soon as he even gets a distant “whiff” that a back-and-forth interaction might develop, he disappears. This is like all the rest of them out there – they can’t hack even a weak shadow of a “serious conversation” because it might develop into the woman wanting a “relationship.”

    So, back to my “no man zone” and happy to do it!

    • Better Off says:

      Anne, I believe a consenting adult can do what she wants with her body but you hit the nail on the head with this:

      “The women who sleep around with these useless creeps are causing problems for the rest of us by making these jerks believe that they’re God’s gift to women, that they don’t have to be with any one of us to get what they want because there are many women willing to have sex without a true relationship and an appropriate level of commitment from the guy, and ultimately these guys think that we’re all tramps – and treat us as such.”

      As long as there are females willing to be with these males in the manner preferred — commitment free — they will never get it.

      All we should do is take care of ourselves, and let karma take care of the Narcs, ACs and so on!

      • Mymble says:

        Better Off,
        No, women didn’t make the EUMs the way they are and it isn’t up to women to fix them or “starve them out”.
        A woman isn’t a tramp because she chooses to have sex out with a relationship. Her choice isn’t about you.
        There are some men looking for casual and some who are not, same with women. The point of this is understanding what you’re dealing with and acting on that information appropriately – whatever that means for you.
        As it happens, I’m not having casual sex, (or any sex!) but if I wanted to di so with another single consenting adult I don’t see that it’s anyone else’s business, or that I should refrain because if I did the man might somehow be forced, by scarcity, to commit to some other woman.
        That’s absurd.

    • Mymble says:

      It’s his right not to continue the conversation, he doesn’t owe you, and doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with him. Or you, for that matter.
      Don’t take it personally or feel the need to blame someone or see it as diminishing you in any way.

      • Camillah says:

        Yep, Mymble I completely agree.


        You sound disappointed that this guy didn’t respond to your email. I can understand being disappointed, but honestly, to both judge and indict women you don’t even know, calling them bimbos, and professing women are somehow responsible for men’s behavior. What the what now? It’s also pretty insulting to men. You are making so many outlandish assumptions here–it’s crazy making.

        This guy doesn’t have to respond to your email if he doesn’t want to respond. For some reason he chose not to respond; who knows why?

        Why does his not responding send you into such of a tailspin? It’s just one guy who didn’t respond to an email. Think about it.

        I’m not invalidating your feelings. As I said, I understand you are disappointed–feel that, and give yourself a hug. Hey, I think it’s great you took a risk though. Don’t let it stop you from taking another one. Hang in there. ~:)

  27. camille says:

    This perfectly summarises my 3 year relationship with my now ex narcissist and all the reasons why I fell for him and stayed in the relationship for so long desperately trying to make it work. It was a nightmare. 3 years of psychological abuse at the hands of a mesmerising highly talented jazz musician who fronted the bands and presented the evening’s entertainment to the audience. The most charming and amazing manipulator of audiences. Natalie’s description of what happens when you’re in a relationship with a charmer is 100% spot on.

  28. happy b says:

    This is a matter too close to my heart. The charmer I’ve dealt with recently wouldn’t pay me compliments, nothing as cheesy as that, but the alarm bells started ringing when he took an apparently deep interest in my background the first time we were alone together. I’d already felt a connection and almost like I wanted to share these things with him, but truth be told, I knew it was more likely a way of behaving for him than some unusual connection. He also surprised me by being so smooth at this time, while at other times he seems too busy and like his life is chaotic. I now see him as controlling.

    My ex was a textbook case of that python
    “I’ll discard you for a bit, let you get a bit more confused admiration and fear in your veins, go and bleed someone else in my harem and then pop back to you for a top-up”
    His charm was cheap, I remember him telling someone he’d been working alongside for just a few days that he loved her, he would say he had so much love in him and couldn’t limit himself but the truth was he had none and would devalue it by being so easy and promiscuous.
    He was an expert at chopping down, I was totally sucked dry and don’t know how I found it in me to quit him. But once you see it’s all pretence and you’re shacking up with a python, there’s no going back.

    So this is a warning ladies and gents! He was an extreme case and I don’t think there are many like that, who pick on women when they’re at their lowest to get even more dependence crack from them and then move on to someone else in the harem. But this person I’ve met recently shows that variants of this behaviour are not so unusual. Don’t feed their greedy egos!

  29. Yoyo says:

    I meant what underlying issues do these charmers have? It’s pretty obvious they do it to get what they want

    • Gina says:

      Yoyo, perhaps this perspective (following link) may give you some insight http://www.toddlertime.com/mh/terms/charming.htm
      It is mental review so that in itself speak of charming personalities (when used for selfish gain) as disordered.

      • Gina says:

        On top, charmers adore admiration and attention from male and female alike. It is the pretense that truly sickens me.

        • Mephista says:

          They love attention and adoration because they’re narcissists (or even psycho or sociopaths). Therefore, the only way to kind of get to them is to withdraw any attention from them once you realise what and who they are. This also means no final countdown, explaining to them how they hurt you, asking explanations how could they’ve treated you in a certain way etc (because you’re giving them an excuse to call you a drama queen/ king). Another good reason for total NC then.

      • Princess says:

        Funny I went through that link and it said something about seeking admiration in large crowds. This reminded me of how my EX embarrassed me at my friends 40th birthday. They had asked all her friends to come out and dance around her in a circle. Notice I said HER friends. So I’m out there dancing with like twenty women and I see my ex from the corner of my eyes breaking through the circle to dance with my friend who was the celebrant even BEFORE she had a chance to dance with her husband! I was so embarrassed and when I tried to tell him he was out of line he got so defensive. Worst off he can’t DANCE! But believes he can. Good riddance!

    • Louise says:

      Charming to control, is a mechanism to defend against oneself. Like all good narcissists, deep down they truly hate themselves, feel deeply scared, and have developed these false selves because they cannot be authentic. It’s all smoke and mirrors, and they may on the surface get what they want, but when the camera is turned off, the audience have left the building, they cry themselves to sleep. This doesn’t mean we should feel sorry for them, and allow them to trample over us, but it does mean they are deeply unhappy people who should be avoided at all costs. Damaged men are dangerous !

  30. Camille says:

    “When we start being kinder to ourselves and work on healing those parts of us that ‘activate’ our still wounded younger self, no one can come along and showboat with their megawatt flattery because we won’t be waiting for somebody to come along and give us praise, attention and even permission to have an existence. We won’t be trying to fill a parental void with a romantic partner or putting the past on repeat by trying to right the wrongs of the past and prove that we’re enough to some fly-by-night or cruel person, when we are already more than enough. “Charming” tends to be a precursor to code red problems – don’t ignore the reality of what is going on because ultimately, charm can only cover that up for so long.”

    This last paragraph of Nat’s post is brilliant because it is so accurate and says it all in a nutshell. Nearly all of my previous relationships have been with charmers and, with hindsight and from finding Baggage Reclaim, I now know why I’ve fallen for these narcissistic dangerous charmers over and over again –

    …”the wounded younger self….blaming ourselves for other people’s behaviour….We’ll be highly responsive to praise because it’s the whole being given a cracker after not eating for six months in the desert. A charmer speaks to that part of us that looks for validation and approval, which in turn activates our pleaser…”. Sooo true.

    I’m working my way through Natalie’s self-esteem course and her people-pleaser course. It’s hard trying to fit in all the learning and bullshit-free thinking around work and life’s demands, but I’m going at my own pace and getting there – many light bulb moments and much courage needed, but it feels good, and as Natalie as said many times – “good things don’t feel bad”.

    • Gina says:

      Camille, I have cut and paste the last paragraph as I too agree in its accuracy. The “….and even permission to have an existence” hits home as I was made to think and feel that I didn’t exist by the exes, father, siblings, friends, colleagues… Fortunately I have come to a self-realisation that heck I do exist (and not needing permission to be so) and I do mean a lot to me which is very refreshing and much needed. I will reiterate Nat’s wisdom that you mention at the end of your last paragraph in that it certainly does not feel bad loving me, it indeed feels exceptionally healthy and wealthy lol.

      • Gina says:

        Oops that was the first paragraph that you mention Camille, rather than the last mentioned above, that I have cut and pasted into my journal notes.

    • Hina says:

      Camille, all of those statements really spoke to that wounded child in me. I am thinking of taking the self-esteem course too

  31. Camille says:

    “We make the mistake of believing that we will be safe with this person (which is like nesting with a python)..”

    Nesting with a python! I love it – I laughed out loud!

  32. Noquay says:

    Yep, guilty as charged. My at work AC charmer came at a time when I was super vulnerable. Trying to make a life in a redneck mountain town, horribly lonely for intelligent discourse, sick of being constantly berated, cut down by a local ex reship, then friend, who felt he needed to do all he could to bring me down to his dropout, ex druggie, level. And he was/is one of the better older singles here. After pretty much ignoring me for two years (red flag 1), when he turned on the charm, I fell for it like a ton of bricks. This dude is a diagnosed narc and had been hooking in female colleagues for years. Like I have stated before, he is quite tall, very good looking, very articulate, financially responsible, has a good job in an area where nearly all older single men are uneducated, socially inept, very unhealthy, and financially irresponsible. He has his pick of high end, educated, healthy women and will continue to do so while we female counterparts have to settle for either being alone or accept an overaged, unhealthy, child in need of financial support. Demographics can really suck. For all the pain he caused, I still miss the good conversation, the (false) camraderie, feeling cherished by another, someone I actually wanted as opposed to the local seekers of meal tickets that seem to gravitate to me these days. For now, I am working on me; trying to make myself more attractive, even thinner and in better shape, working on my home to up its resale value, in hopes that there is something better out there.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Hi Noquay,

      It appears that you do miss this chap. I think it is because there is no one remotely eligible for you to seriously consider in your locale. Remember that. I love coming on here and reading Natalie’s articles and posters comments. However, I do find that doing so has a way of bringing you back to “stuff” you’re really finished dealing with and should no longer be giving any attention. I think you strongly resent his position of having the “pick of the litter” and probably that you ever fell for his charms. You’re a fabulous woman with a lot going on, so you don’t need to give him any headspace. I say these things because I’m a little surprised that you still mention him for lack of anyone else to talk about. Now that spring is here I hope you will be able to meet someone suitable online so that you’re able to enjoy decent male company on your intellectual (etc. level. It may be just a spring/summer fling but it would be good for you. I think most of us enjoy male companionship even if it is only a friendship. We can distract ourselves with other issues and projects only so long. We have our needs and unfortunately they don’t just dissipate.

  33. Stephanie says:

    The funny thing about the so-called charmers is once you peel back the layers they have no substance. The ex-EUM/AS would brag he wanted to be a lawyer, even though he never finished college. He acted like he was this big intellect, when he really wasn’t that smart. Didn’t have a stable job or car, but thought he was the cream of the crop.

    I remember when I finally start to see him for what he was after he invited me to “new” apartment” which was nothing more than a small efficiency with hand me down furniture (not judging)!!. I realized he was nothing but a “dick and a smile”. That’s all he had to offer was his faux charm because underneath all that there really was nothing to write home about.

    • rewind says:

      OMG…that is the perfect description..”a dick and a smile with nothing else to offer.” I need to write that one down!

    • Bella says:

      “dick and a smile” This made me laugh!!

      Thanks, Stephanie! I must have been with your ex-AC’s brother. My ex-AC is retired yet is barely making it on his pension. His apartment is sparsely furnished…no couches, or bed. And he owns no car.

      What the “L” was I thinking when I got with him??

      However, he was highly intelligent and was quite charming. And, I happened to be extremely lonely. Not a good mix. :(

  34. JeniP says:

    Wow, this post is so helpful for me. I can totally see how and why I have been attracted to charmers in the past, having seen them as ‘not a whole’ because I didn’t see myself as a ‘whole’ . . . one does it so unconsciously . . . it’s so releasing to enjoy being me just for being me, without worrying about ‘wasting time’, ie not constantly pursuing validation in romantic relationships. In fact, it is the biggest investment of my time to learn how to be my own best friend, to love myself, to give time and space to me and to take responsibility for my own needs when in the past I have not done this. I love spending time with BR! It’s like having a chat with a non-judgemental friend, one who isn’t going to let me off the hook of responsibility to me. I’ve learned so very much since starting to read BR four years ago.

  35. AfroK says:

    You made me laugh about the AC acting stuff from “The Notebook.” He sounds like he read from the same AC instructions manual with mine. Mine reached a point of being too obvious. Eg.One time while having sex he quoted word by word, Wesley Snipes character (Shadow) in the feature film “More Better Blues” and I kept thinking “gosh did i read this somewhere?” Then he said, whilst imitating the movements This is not what I say, this is what I do”. My mind went “ha! More Better Blues.” Now if you know the movie, and the bit I’m talking about, then imagine a white Australian guy with strong Aussie accent, breaking into a cool black American accent. Lol! He was the epitomy of fake.

  36. Lydia says:

    I have just ended a three year relationship with a ‘charmer’ and cannot even yet begin NC because we are stuck living with each other for another month. What a fantastic article which puts into words what I have been feeling for the last three years. An absent father and a mother I was always trying to please led me to always being attracted to ‘charming’ men. They should come with a huge warning sign. I feel drained of every bit of spirit, personality and pep that I once had. I cannot see out of the woods just yet but Natalie, thank you so much for writing this article.

  37. Lorraine says:

    It’s funny. If someone were to ask me to describe the AC, the first thing I would think of would be charming. They just have a way. They know exactly how to charm the pants off of anyone, literally…

    But behind the charm, lies an empty soul. Nothing to give. NC shows us this if we allow it to last long enough. The more time I’ve had without any contact, (2 months) I see what a fake and a phony he was. I still have days when I beat myself up for being so naive and falling for it all. Always hoping, hoping hoping for the potential to arrive in him. Never happened, never will. There is no prince waiting to step up for the right woman…

    Sometimes I feel like I won’t be able to trust another man again. Or worse, trust myself to choose the right one, the good one. I roll my eyes at every man I see right now, thinking probably another AC.

    Hopefully that will wear off sometime. Until then, I keep reading BR and keep learning.

    • bethd says:

      Please don’t beat yourself up Lorraine. These guys are good not only at charming but at gaslighting, twisting and distorting our reality. They target smart women because it is more of a challenge to them to fool a smart women. My Narcissist almost had me convinced I was a Narcissist. I remember saying..”I never got treated like this in my life by a man” He proceeded to tell me I thought who I was, was cocky (for establishing boundaries mind you) and was spoiled by my ex hub and others blah blah….then when I would dump him he would come on spoiling like no other with expensive gifts, vacations. It was crazy making, drama and plain out nuts and looking back I truly feel like it was the craziest “addiction” of my life. It certainly wasn’t love as I thought. I am in a peaceful, trusting, respectful relationship now yet the scars of what he did will never leave completely. A small part of me misses the drama and hot sex that comes with these ambiguous relationships but that is for a fleeting moment. I got all the closure I wanted as I told him off, vented every bad thing he did to me, resisted every hoover by explaining the damage and even called him a narcissist to his face. All that does is send them into pity mode hoovering. Nothing and I mean nothing works except to understand they are permanently disordered and go NC!!! Accept it and learn from the experience. Peace is around the corner :)

      • Mephista says:

        “He proceeded to tell me I thought who I was, was cocky (for establishing boundaries mind you) and was spoiled by my ex hub and others blah blah….then when I would dump him he would come on spoiling like no other with expensive gifts, vacations.”

        He loved me so much even though I was “controlling” and “always wanted to get my own way” when I told him I wouldn’t tolerate his disappearing tricks.

        I laughed at him then and I laugh at this story even louder now. Now I just think he’s bonkers and has undiagnosed mental health issues.

        Well, at least you got hot sex and expensive gifts. I didn’t.

        • Bethd says:

          Mephista mine also said those exact words. Controlling….want your own way. They project their issues on to us! The sexual chemistry was part of his charm. He knew how to seduce and that was just another tool in his bag of tricks. Plus lots of make up sex. The gifts were only because I played hard ball and he used every trick in the book to reel me back in including the pity act. My gut instinct was there is something so off about a man who consistently pulls away when things are better than ever. I never bought into his busy executive bs. I smelled shady and it is awful to be on unsteady ground so I was always in flight mode. I just wish I knew what I know now. I was def involved with a classic narcissist.

  38. Sparkle says:

    The exAC used lots of charm to groom me and manipulate the Rshit to his advantage. He’s very slick and a master at it. I have to admit, we had fun. But, every date was like a first date. No progression, no real substance. He just had no interest in any investment beyond the basics required to get his one foot in the front door. The charade worked for a while, but then I started to feel the shallowness of it all and it began to turn me off. I realize 10 months post NC, that this is how he rolls with everyone in his harem. He does what he wants, when he wants and every girl is replaceable.

    • bethd says:

      Sparkle Wow Isn’t that is the rough part!!! My Narc was so much fun and we really got along well when together! Every date was great till the end. That is what is rough to get out of your head. But that isn’t real or life and you are right….no progression. In between the dates is the major problem……Ughhhh Those damn disappearing acts.

      • Sofia says:

        bethd: yes, I had a lots of fun with my ex too. Always felt like first time. But between the dates – it was still shallow too (as well as on the dates – very superficial). Predictable and consistent though. No disappearing acts. My ex was not AC. Very reliable, actually. But totally EU. Or maybe just using me. I will never truly understand.

    • Sofia says:

      OMG, Sparkle, thank you for sharing. I am not alone! My dates with my ex were always like first, well 3rd dates, for sure. Some familiarity, but still like fresh dates. SHALLOW!!!!! I was looking for a good word, yes, perfectly that. It’s always on the the surface. Even after 6-7 months together? Really? We are going out and having the same level of conversation we did during the first month of dating? About interests, music, etc? Avoiding talking about something on a deeper level? I felt like I never knew who he was after almost a year. Like it was always this semi-formal, semi-familiar date, concluded by sex and me leaving early Sunday morning because I didn’t feel comfortable and I knew he wanted to be left alone in his space, not to hang out being cozy and cuddly all day long and doing “boring” couple things together like shopping or just being lazy together on a Sunday. Never happened in one year. Why?Because that would lead to intimacy and letting his guard down. Going out on a Saturday night, couple drinks, and shallow conversations followed by sex – that was safe. OMG. Thank you for bringing this up, Sparkle. I wonder what important fact about my relationship I forgot to word: that’s it – SHALLOWNESS. And he said during the break up that his relationship with me was deeper than with his recent ex. With her it was shallow. Imagine that??? How much more shallow can it get? My ex by the way never lived with anyone by his 35 years of age and never committed to anyone. Hmmm….. that’s deep…I wish I would just STOP wondering whether it was shallow because I was not a match for him (but why he went on for a year ..) or because it is shallow with everyone.

      • bethd says:

        Sofia It won’t be any better with the next. The issues aren’t going away. Probably worse! Take that to the bank :)

        • Sofia says:

          Thanks, bethd. :) Another reason I love this board is because we can share our opinions objectively. We don’t know each other, we are not friends. We present the facts and we evaluate situation from an outsider perspective.
          I figured if he didn’t manage to even TRY living with anyone this long , there must be something off. There must be no one perfect for him and every relationship he has is shallow and argumentative. Another thing: he doesn’t like to compromise and admitted that himself. He doesn’t know how to, obviously living alone all his life. Also, he always said that he used to fight and argue with his exes and me. That’s not true. What he calls “fighting” is me not agreeing with his opinion and expressing mine. It’s me establishing my boundaries and saying my point and having my own view points on the subject. The conversation would get heated and he would later say, “But we argue a lot.” Well, yes, it’s normal, does he expect everyone agree with him and have the same opinion as he? He might as well date himself , then there will be no arguing with anyone. Of course he is so sensitive about “arguing and fighting,” because it makes him aware that he is in a relationship or there is a pending one. That someone wants to get close to him, to cross the shallowness, get inside him, become intimate, argue and fight and find a common ground. It’s a relationship. It takes work. Much easier to run away saying, “we are too different and argue a lot.” And that was said to me, who is the most compromising person (yes too pleasing and doormat too – in the past anyway, I am getting better! thanks to my epiphany relationship, Natalie, and this board). I don’t see how he can build a relationship with anyone if any kind of confrontation or argument is avoided at any cost. Even our breakup was very peaceful because there was nothing to fix. Nothing to work on because he didn’t express any concerns. He just decided to finish it. He even finished it shallow, if I think about it. No tears, no emotions, nothing much. Oh well…

  39. Mymble says:

    For most of my life I instinctively avoided charmers. I never joined the throngs of fawning admirers around them. At some level I realised that there was absolutely nothing to be gained and everything to be lost in pursuing a relationship. In fact I’d often make a point of snubbing them slightly, to prove I wasn’t one of their poodle lapdogs.
    With the MM I fell for I broke my usual pattern. Because of the circumstances under which we met, he didn’t have his harem around him and I stupidly let myself believe that I alone appreciated him and that he understood me in a unique way.
    He put in quite a lot of effort to begin with and was very persistent, until I’d fallen for it hook line and sinker. I thought I’d found my soulmate. Then started distancing himself, disappearing for days, and eventually weeks at a time. He’d still be checking in very occasionally, as I think he was someone who liked to hoard people and know that he had an inexhaustible supply always available whenever he needed it.

  40. Brooklyn says:

    Life is time. And now that a lengthy separation has occured from a dangerous and unstable man, I can finally see the light. I wasted a good portion of the last seven years with someone who not only used and abused me, but nearly destroyed my identity and spirit. Healing is coming slowly, but hopefully. Many thanks to this website, to all who are responsible for it, and to all who understand the meaning of empathy and compassion. Now in touch with my feelings again, I have the skills and experience to teach people how to treat me. Never again will I fall for a sadistic, controlling, immature, self-centered, and uncharming, BPD narcissist.

  41. RP says:

    My ex AC was a gold medal charmer. My now partner is way more easy-going and approached me more like a friend when we first met. We are both climbers so we got to know each other through our sport rather than dating per se. During the beginning stages, I think I knew he was becoming interested but the “cookie-starved” child in me occasionally caused a few wobbles of self-doubt. I guess part of me was still looking for that validation so readily available from the AC sort. I am so happy I was familiar with Natalie’s writings, together with her words of wisdom, I managed to grow beyond my personal insecurities and enter into a substantial, cosy and loving relationship.

    • bethd says:

      “My ex AC was a gold medal charmer. My now partner is way more easy-going and approached me more like a friend when we first met.” Exactly my scenario now. I wouldn’t trade the peace and trust for all the excitement in the world….

      • Sofia says:

        bethd: the same question to you. Don’t you feel like you don’t have any those pesky old insecurities and fears left once you are with a person who delivers and acts doesn’t just speak or hints? That’s my feeling that when I meet a good person, I won’t even have to worry about insecurities. I had the feeling before. I know how it is to be in peace with yourself and in a relationship and trust the person not worrying if he is going to bail out in couple months. My ex-husband was a good person, only it took me 8 years post divorce to understand that (after I went through my share of ACs and EUs, with the last one being an epiphany one).

        • bethd says:

          Of course the pesky insecurities are gone. You are on steady ground finally because there is mutual trust, respect, love. I have never had a relationship like this including post breakup. Most breakups end and you rebuild. Not with these types. They never go away especially if you end it!! I read something once…not sure where..but it said the minute you start playing detective, trying to figure him out etc etc…get out. I was playing detective from day one with this guy! Me and my friends called him Mr Big. Matter of fact he eventually knew it and started calling me Columbo LOL I had such unhealthy patterns I started normalizing them. Actually Natalie had a good post about normalizing bad behavior.

          • Sofia says:

            oh wow, bethd, it sounds like me again. A detective. I occupied a lot of time trying to figure out his behavior. You bring up a good point. There should be no trying to figure out what is happening. It should be all clear and in front of you. And it’s good I know how it feels from my two relationships. Exactly. The insecurities are not there when you are in a trusted and mutually respective relationship and moreover when you feel and see (actions too) that the person wants to be with you. He won’t limit his time as much possible to see you during the week. He will try TO FIND as much time as possible to spend with you. It just makes sense. And you see all these actions, you feel it. You are calm and you know this is the person who loves you and wants to be near you. There is just no doubt, so there is nothing to fear. Unlike with my ex-EU, I doubted all the time, whether he is into me, whether he will stay in this country or go (contract job with interestingly “no contract term” – EU kind of job contract I guess), or where he will go. I so wish sometimes I could warn all his future ladies to run. He will break many hearts. What hard is that he is nice, intelligent, funny, caring and dependable and predictable, consistent, no disappearing acts. BUT, it is always so shallow, so the same , no progress, no commitment. It is a permanent date. It just never goes anywhere. It is on his terms only and once you start pushing a person like that they back off. That’s when all the insecurities triple and multiply. With a person who has you in his heart, fully available for you to share his life with you, there will be no place for fears and insecurities. I know it. You are right bethd. Totally agree.

            • bethd says:

              “It is on his terms only and once you start pushing a person like that they back off.” Exactly!! Thats why you can’t be friends with them either. The friendship is also totally on their terms. Even if you get to the point of indifference where you think you can…they will still frustrate you and you will feel the inbalance.

              • Sofia says:

                bethd, yes, I agree! Why would I want to be a friend with him if we didn’t have a balanced relationship as a couple? I don’t need a friend like that. Plus someone who erects walls and barriers and you can’t get close to them. Can’t know their true inner self. What’s the point of such friendship?

                • beth d says:

                  No point!!! Trust me since I tried more than once post breakup. It’s just as frustrating if not worse. You get nothing out of it and he still gets the fab you. :) You are totally on the right track Sofia :)

    • Sofia says:

      RP, that’s my concern that when I am ready to start dating and will meet a good man, what if my insecurities pop up? I am working on myself right now and learning, but I am thinking that it’s not a short-term process.

      Yet, I am thinking , with a good solid person, with whom you see a progression, no ambiguity about his intentions to commit to you, there will be no insecurities, and if there are any, you can safely talk it out with him and he won’t get scared or pushed away and he will reassure you in a positive way, right? I had two good relationships, first my marriage and my second few years after my marriage. If people love you and are supportive, you don’t have insecurities about the relationship. I always felt very confident in both of those relationships. I never had to fear anything because the relationships were predictable, safe, and consistent. There was progression , commitment, intimacy. I didn’t have any insecurities or fears popping up. There was nothing to doubt! So I guess, I answered my own question..But would like to hear your opinion about how dating a certain person affects/acts up your insecurities, while dating a person who is available, makes you calm and confident about the relationship.

      • RP says:

        Dear Sofia,

        The whole “working on yourself process” is an ongoing one whether we are in or out of a relationship. After doing NC for about 1 year with the ex AC I started to feel ready for getting to know people by doing hobbies or dinner together. I did not see these interactions as dates really, more like, getting to know people without any expectations about the outcome. For me that was key to being calm. However, when I started becoming more intimate with my partner, I did have some baseless insecurities due to my past experiences with ACs but was able to discuss these with him. These little wobbles dissipated very quickly as I got to know him better. Like you described in your good relationships, his consistent behaviour and total trustworthiness gave me no reason to doubt his feelings and intentions. If someone loves you authentically then they are not gonna be put off by some insecurities and mistakes (as long as you don’t cross their boundaries, and even if you do, they will be ready to address this with you instead of pulling off a disappearing act). You don’t have to police your own behaviour the whole time as is the case with the typical AC.

        Meeting a great man does not mean you won the jackpot, which is what I believed when I went through the AC phase. Not the case with a decent man. Now I have too much time to think about my own personal problems, like the fights with my unpleasable parents (especially mother) and the fact that I cannot find a job I like. I do love being in a cosy relationship but I still have many other problems and insecurities to deal with. That’s life and a REAL person understands that. So basically, my answer to your question is that if you and “future him” are good for each other then you will feel it and so will he. Just being you IS ENOUGH.

        Wishing you all the best Sofia!

        • Sofia says:

          Thank you, RP! How did you meet the person you are with now? I am thinking that when I am ready to date, I don’t even know how to meet people. I am thinking that meetup groups and meeting friends and new people is the best way to go. I might start joining some groups soon just to meet new people because I am not ready to date. It makes it safer, I agree, to develop a friendship first.
          I see what you mean your insecurities started resurfacing once you became closer to the person. That thought crossed my mind too. That I will become anxious about various things, especially now, after this last hard experience, I will be afraid to get closer. However, I can do it slowly and gradually, without busting all my boundaries at once, like what I used to be doing with every one of my exes. Yet, those who cared about me and loved me, didn’t care about my insecurities or lack of boundaries. I mean, with them, I didn’t even display insecurities because I trusted them and knew I was loved and knew their true intentions. The lack of boundaries – I mean my honesty and openness – and they loved these qualities of mine that I was always myself. Never hid anything or pretended. I am the way I am. You don’t like it – leave it. So, people who love you, they won’t be scared off by your fears, anxieties. If things become serious or troublesome, as far as your personal problems, like you said, people who are authentic about you and want to be with you, they will discuss any problems or concerns. You will work it out. They won’t break up or complain that you are pressuring or pushing. In fact, with people who love you, you won’t have to do any pushing or pressuring. No need. The person is there with you and not going anywhere. I miss that feeling. Feeling of safety, security within a relationship like that. And you feel confident, lovable and strong yourself. Within or outside that relationship. It’s not a validation thing. It is the fact that you are being yourself completely and you are loved for who you are. Brings you peace and stability. With ACs and EUs , you have to watch everything you say and do all the time. It’s such a hard work. You try too hard to be liked, to be approved by him. So much work… RP, thank you for your kind words. I know what a good man is like and I will recognize him. Not sure what happened to me last year, throwing myself on EU like that. Quite embarrassed to remember how I acted for the entire year. Looking two months back I am shocked. Was it me? Who was it? So strange how one can change so much in just couple months… Best wishes for you too, RP!

          • RP says:

            Dear Sofia,

            Damn, I just answered you but lost all the text after forgetting to insert my email..

            To sum up what I said:

            I definitely agree that you should put yourself out there and get to know people in a real life setting (avoid online). However, it can take time to make friends or find a romantic interest so make sure you participate in something you really like!

            My partner is employed at the company where I used to work. I knew him by sight but we only got talking at my local climbing gym. Within 2 months we were a couple. Maybe I was a bit lucky but ever since I moved back to Europe (I met the epiphany AC when living abroad, in a not so stable country), I did notice that I no longer found myself in the company of ACs. Maybe I met them on occasion but filtered them out really quick (and vice versa). In the end, I think that the situation that I have now resulted from a combination of living in a more suitable geographical location and me working on my issues (I would still give more importance to the latter though).

            I would like to ask you why you think you fell for an EU or AC after experiencing good relationships? Just curious because all my previous relationships sucked.

            Thanks so much for your warm response Sofia!
            big hug,

            • Sofia says:

              RP, I am sorry you lost all your text! I always copy before I click “post comment” because it happened to me before. Losing a big post or an email is so frustrating!!!
              Yes, I will try that – meeting new people and possibly a romantic interest. Because I have no interest dating right now and can’t even imagine being romantically involved with anyone, I am certainly not in a hurry, so that is good. I will find some groups with an interest that I share. I have never been to a meetup group, but I will try. I don’t know how else do you meet new people? I will never do online dating again. Ever. There I met EUs and ACs ONLY. I met such people in real world too though.
              I agree with you that geographical location perhaps doesn’t matter. Working on your issues does. However, still, probably it helps too to have familiar surroundings, knowing you are in a familiar place. When you say, “working on your issues,” do you mean actively seeking to understand your past and present behavior, reactions, relationships, how you react to people? I noticed since after my epiphany with EU and reading this board and several books on the subject, I think about my thought process now. Whether I talk negatively about myself, whether I get overly excited (liked used to) when I feel I am validated through external sources. I am more sensitive about my relationships with others and feel now when somebody crosses my boundaries. I know when to say No and to keep my boundaries intact and be comfortable about it without feeling that I am doing something wrong. I try not to feel that I am responsible for others’ bad moods, actions, or words. I used to be too sensitive to others’ moods, tried pleasing everyone, and avoided conflicts. Now I am learning to be less sensitive so to speak, not to take things personally and have my self-respect in place when somebody says something or does something that affects my boundaries. So, I guess, that’s how I am working on my issues.
              I fell for my EU because he just seemed too nice and perfect and I didn’t know he was EU until recently! I really didn’t even know he was EU until after the breakup and started reading this site. But the good point is that why I fell for someone who didn’t treat me right and Iknew how it is to be treated differently. I think what happened is that when I was treated well by my ex-husband (a good relationship) I didn’t recognize it and didn’t appreciate it. I was too young and I fell out of love and was bored. I hadn’t had much experience prior to marrying him so I didn’t know any better. After I separated from him I dated couple ACs and one AC+EU, which was painful. I fell for him because I just separated from my husband and I was very lonely and inexperienced too. I didn’t know that not all guys are nice like my ex-husband. I was so used to being honest, no boundaries, vulnerable, open, no fears, no insecurities. I was like that with my husband – being myself and bare, and because he loved me, he accepted me wholly the way I was, with all the good and bad stuff I had. Now, this guy, AC+EU (I am talking about not the most recent guy – epiphany but the one 6 years before it) was the most immature and selfish person. younger than me, irresponsible and spoiled. I didn’t know any of that. I just fell in love and it was rebound but meanwhile I did fall in love. He left 2 years after to pursue his professional goals. Then I dated couple times unavailable strange people (really short dates 2-3 times or roughly one night stands sometimes, not even dates). Then I met a great person and had interest in him. He fell in love with me and treated me very well. He was 20 years older than me though and eventually in 9 months or so I realized that I don’t see our future together because of the age difference and I never had strong feelings for him. I didn’t promise him anything and we never discussed any future. It was a casual rather but exclusive and respectable relationship. it didn’t work out, but I know what it is like to be with a man who loves you and respects you. You feel confident, empowered, strong, cared for, beautiful, cherished. You have no fears. In fact you feel with that someone the way you should feel when you are single. Strong and powerful on your own and strong and powerful in a relationship or perhaps even more confident and powerful because good relationships charge us and bring the best out of us. In a bad relationship – our energy and inner are drained , our psyche is sucked out. We are being slowly murdered but keep dragging ourselves. Anyway, so the last one , the epiphany one… Who knows why I fell for him. I would like to say , “love is blind.” I wish it were that simple. Maybe it is that simple. One thing I know for sure I will never have an EU or AC relationship again. Few dates to find it out, yes, never anything prolonged.

  42. Hope says:

    Hi Natalie & Baggage Reclaim Members:
    As I was reading this, I couldn’t believe how right on every word was!!! My ex was very charming and was always the center of attention at every gathering, but little did people know the true person that hid behind that charming smile, but it wasn’t until a Friday night on March 14, 2014 that the true person showed who she really was. I never thought that the woman that I loved so much, and gave so much to could turn on me like a mad dog.
    After a 18 months of having my self-esteem torn to shreds and being rejected in every way possible and finally being kicked to the curb because she had “moved on” and stated how she “did love me” all this after taking payment for a trip that was supposed to be a chance for us to start over. I was totally surprised to realize that I had been taken for a fool….again by this person.
    The final frontier happened that night, when after words were exchanged, she got in my face and proceeded to say nasty things. The only thing I remember was her saying was, “I was beneath her” That stayed in my brain and it was at that moment that I hit her in the face with a glass. I was arrested, and just had my last court appearance.
    I’m out of $700 and I’m in therapy. At the age of 47.
    I feel like I lost some of me, and I am hoping to get it back because I was happy with me before her, and I’m praying to get me back but better.
    Thank you Natalie for giving such insight to the problems of the heart.

    • Mike from Oztralia says:

      This is why NC is so important, not only so we avoid being controlled by others – but just as importantly we can control our own reactions.

      The temptation to confront, show them your anger or tell the ex the “the truth” can do more harm to yourself.

      There was some discussion on the previous post’s thread about this question: “Why not confront the ex and give them your anger?”

      More often than not the AC, MU and BPD will attack. They already know your weak points and will retaliate with the most withering and hurtful responses they can muster.

      It is the old Buddhist maxim: “Rage is drinking poison in the hope of harming the other person.”

      I can see you are doing the very necessary work to deal with your anger and the consequences of your actions. I would encourage you to continue this process, and read Nat’s book and her posts.

      But don’t claim the victim title for yourself. We choose these relationships for a reason. Why we choose them is what needs to be unpacked in order to avoid such situations in the future.

      When in such confrontations the best thing to do is walk away. Staying in such situations only leads to escalation.

      No matter what these people may do, or how justified we feel, always maintain your own dignity and grace.

      You can walk away knowing you’ve acted the better person.

      For me, every day, I can say to myself with sincerity that during my relationship with Miss Unavailable I acted in accordance with my values. In giving the ending dignity and grace, I was the mature adult.

      NC is not about punishing the AC/MU/BPD. It is about protecting yourself.

      • bethd says:

        Very true Mike. In the end I walked away with dignity. Been there done that with “telling off” crap. Besides I think he liked when he could get a rise out of me. Mine absolutely loved drama. I refused to give it to him at the end and I knew who I was dealing with. One of the first things I learned on BR was NC is not to punish. I know now I learned that tactic from him with his silent treatments so then I learned to do it much better. We take on their pathology sometimes. NC has to be permanent to bring us out of the fog to see clearly what we are dealing with.

        • Sofia says:

          bethd: NC is not to punish – absolutely! Who could ever think it was. Two mature adults break up, and if both people are reasonable enough, it doesn’t even have to be said that there is NC. Perhaps for good. It is to protect yourself and let the other person heal as well. Because even those initiate the break up with you because it’s not working for whatever reason, they hurt too. They did and might still love you, but it’s not working and won’t work whether for a lack of commitment, feelings /priorities changed, etc.

          • bethd says:

            Sofia I had the hardest time with NC. Before BR I inadvertently used it to punish since I would end up back with him once he came on strong. I am embarrassed to tell you how many times I broke NC with him and fell for his hoovers. He was really, really good at the game and he knew how to attack through my heart and mind. He was charming and seductive and I didn’t know about EU/Narcs etc. I believed he came back because of his undying love for me but now I know it is mainly about control and winning with these types. I have recently had business dealings with him after a long time of NC. My boundaries had to be super strong. If I gave him an inch he would be weasling in. He said to me please call me if you need anything as Im always here for you. I say thank you but I’m fine. Business over and now back to NC Byeeeeeee Narcooo

            • Sofia says:

              bethd, I read you and others about the same thing: that their exes come back and disturb the NC. Mine never contacted me. It has been two months. He said, “let’s meet/talk in couple months. call me if you need me. I am here for you.” I never heard from him and the fact that he doesn’t contact me, it is “easier” for me to maintain NC. Well it’s not easy at all . In the past 3 weeks, I was about to break it. In the last 3 days, I texted a message for him, but erased it immediately without entering his phone number. It is so tough, and please don’t feel bad about breaking your NC. The person is still there bothering you, and that’s hard. If my ex contacted me, I would be seeing him right away, going out and having sex. Not hoping for any future, but just to be next to him. I would still do it, yes. I am still vulnerable. I am glad he is not contacting me. Yet I still wonder. Whether he doesn’t care at all after a year relationship. Is giving me space and time to heal? Or doesn’t care either way? I don’t know and will never know. I just try to be strong and maintain NC. The 3rd month they say is the hardest. I am trying my best and go to this board a lot in the last few days. Keeps me sane and keeps me NC.
              And again, reading yours and others’ posts, makes me think that mine was kind of normal. Decent and mature breakup and no games after. Which makes it harder, can’t blame him for being AC or EU after the breakup right? But why did he break up? NO commitment and I am not the right person for him. Those were two answers. I remember I was talking to you bethd, I think, about shallowness. There you go. Where can shallowness progress after one year? no where. everything just ends.

              • bethd says:

                Sofia Yes you are lucky he isn’t hoovering. Not to scare you but mine contacted me after 4 months NC twice in the first few years we broke up. Both times he called me at work using different phone lines. Hearing his voice was so tough and I made the mistake of hearing him out. I never broke to the extent I went back to him but I did meet him for drinks a couple of times in those first few years supposedly as friends. It was so counterproductive but I had moved on to someone else pretty quickly and I couldn’t hurt the him so that kept me strong. I have wrote on this blog alot about the mindphuckery that occurred post breakup. I really think Nat and the BR community kept me sane during those times post breakup as that is when I found BR. Use this time to get strong and put the focus on you. Exercise, eat well, spoil yourself!! There are plenty of guys around who will not mess with your head and with whom you can have an authentic relationship that will touch your heart with love instead of pain/confusion.

                • Sofia says:

                  bethd, this board keeps me sane!!! And people like you. I couldn’t do NC without this board. I have supportive friends, but I feel it is not enough because they are not in my shoes this exact moment. They can’t relate although of course they care about me and want me to recover and wish me best. My strongest support I find here.
                  After 4 months! I would think if you don’t hear from them 3 months or so, it’s definitely over. I wonder what makes them call. Did you get intimate with him too when you went out for a couple of drinks (sorry if asking too personal questions). That’s the scary part. Even if he called me and asked to go out (which he said let’s do in couple months when he was breaking up), I am wondering how to resist the physical connection. That messes with your head a lot. Anyway, I should not even wonder that. He will not contact me. I am confident. So yes, I am lucky he is not calling me. I hope he never will. How soon did you move on with someone else? After 4 months postbreakup?
                  Yes, exercising and spoiling you is great. It’s the weekend and Friday night like today when I get very low. Today I am ok though and I need to celebrate that! Every evening I am not sad because I am not with him, it is a step forward to healing.

                  • beth d says:

                    Sofia, No I didn’t get intimate with him and actually had a nice time with him as friends just as I always had a nice time with him. I did end up kissing him a few times. Of course it was confusing and more craziness. He did his weasle thing eventually and tried to press reset but I never did break thank God. The friendship was nothing more than a demotion. I would hear regularly then not hear from him for awhile…It was nuts and I would NC him again. It was a faux friendship and it added nothing to my life except angst. It took me awhile to realize that contact with him equaled pain. I found BR about 2 years post breakup when I was going through this cycle and it really did help me to end it. You cannot be friends with these damaged people. You are VERY lucky you are not hearing from him.

                    • Sofia says:

                      Oh wow, bethd. You were strong, going out as friends, yet kissing and resisting the “reset” button being released. Was he with someone at the point when you two went out? Didn’t you feel jealous if that was the case? Yes, I guess I am lucky that my ex doesn’t contact me. But it makes me think… He was a decent one and again I keep torturing myself that I messed it up although everyone tells me otherwise. This self-beating has to go and I have to accept it takes TWO to make it work.

              • Tinkerbell says:


                Don’t feel the “you were not the right person for him”. When a person is EU it doesn’t matter who you are to him because it’s HIS problem. You could be strikingly beautiful and have the kindest most devoted nature there is but if he can’t give you what you want and need it doesn’t matter to him what you have to offer.

                The other point I want to make is that he is quite aware of how much you cared for him. 2 or 3 months is not long enough for you to rule out his attempt to draw you back in. And, he may not even want you, but just be interested in seeing if he still has the charm to get you back again. Therefore, be very wary. He should be blocked from all contact with you. If you run into him by accident, just keep it moving. No smiles and generous greeting necessary.

                • Sofia says:

                  Tinkerbell, just noticed your post. I haven’t visited this article’s posts in a while. Thank you for your advice. He did contact me asking how I was and telling me that he is there if I am ready to meet (ready to meet??). I politely answered that I am not ready to meet as friends yet. I need more time healing and wish you the best. No response since that. Yes, dangerous. I will never know what he meant but I guess it just what it is. Checking how I am and being clueless that he needs to leave me alone for months or a year at least, if not for good.

                  I am thinking about blocking him, but I don’t think he will contact me. He is done, I am pretty sure. Sigh of relief….

  43. Kelly says:

    I’m in the midsts of a cathartic moment after reading this. It’s so dead on. My mother held me to unattainable standards, no matter how well I did, she expected more. At least to my mother’s credit, she is a very successful woman herself, and she held me to high expectation to see me succeed and her actions were never deliberately malicious. Unlike my boyfriend from hell….
    I’ve always gushed about how charming he is. Charming? What is charming? I can’t even define that attribute other than he made me feel special and melted me into a pile of brainless goo. He’s even revealed to me his exact tactic with women, what to say and how to act to make them swoon. He had it broken down to a science and even though I knew it was orchestrated like a carefully planned military strike, I thought of it as a genuine quality.

    Within the first month of our 2 yr relationship he started with the I love you’s and wanted me to move in with him. I wanted to but something inside me wouldn’t let me (thank goodness!). He wanted me to quit my job, and wanted support me, “Isn’t that what every woman wants?” he’d ask. Um…no. Remember my overbearing mother? She taught me to never have to rely on a man, I’ve worked hard for my dream job and he wanted to take it away. Eventually, the cutting down was in full force. He always told I was stupid, called me names, he hated my job because it regularly involved me attending events and being around celebs (pretty sure he didn’t like rich, attractive, famous men around me) even down to my nail polish…one day he actually called just to request that I get a mani… the night before I didn’t have polish on and it wasn’t pleasing to his eye. As crazy as it sounds, not only did I get a mani, I would from that moment on never let him see me without perfect nails. I was becoming a Stepford wife. I found myself dumbing myself down around him so I wouldn’t challenge is manhood. He’d completely objectified me, although he never congratulated me or even acknowledged any of my accomplishments, or good qualities, he’d always tell me “The one thing you have going for is your looks,” and he enjoyed toting me around like an accessory to him an attractive woman on his arm made his narcissist stock rise. Eventually that led to me constantly trying to look “perfect” around him, all I have is my looks right? And if something was wrong, it must be because my lips weren’t glossy enough. So pathetic. I honestly don’t even know who that person is, it’s embarrassing. Then last March we broke up and had NC for 6month, he contacted me on my birthday and charmed the pants right off me, again. I was even better “trained” this time around, I did everything perfectly and fed me enough crumbs to keep me around. That lasted 6 months until 3 weeks ago when he broke plans with me, and something inside me snapped. I wanted to yell, scream, throw a fit, but suddenly I decided that none of it was worth my time and I just…poof… disappeared. He didn’t deserve a good bye text. It may not be the right, mature move, but it sure feels great! He’s tried to contact me and I’ve ignored. It’s very empowering, and I feel relieved and happy. I don’t why it took me so long to get to this place but I’m so glad I’m here. And I credit this site for helping me see all the things I was so blind to.

    • Mike from Oztralia says:

      Likewise, I also had a father whose approval was never forthcoming and had impossible standards for myself and my sisters (and everyone else now that I think back. Everyone else on the planet was neither as smart, clever or good looking as him. And yet in all aspects of his life he was either a failure or mediocrity).

      And yet, like so many of these types they feel far short of their own expectations. Indeed they are even less abiding of boundaries and standards.

      Their own inability to control themselves means they project their anxieties onto others.

    • Lynn says:

      kelly – GOOD FOR YOU! I am proud of you…you deserve so much more…he is a douche…I want to punch him in the face.

    • Sofia says:

      Kelly, you are GREAT! Congratulate yourself for getting rid of that jerk. He reminded me my ex in some instances. About nail polish, the color of my clothes, the style. Criticized every bit of me. It was always jokingly/teasingly, like it’s not serious, but it lowered my self-esteem each time, with every “innocent tease.” No man ever treated me like that. He would say, “you are too sensitive, I am just telling you my opinion. you take things too personally.” Well, all I know is that nobody ever “teased” me like that. I was not used to that but I was in love with him so I chose not to pay attention much but it did its deposit, to the point where now, 2 months NC and postbreakup, I look at women, those who you are younger, more petite, slimmer, have those features I think he likes, and who are maybe more fun, “better” or whatever more than me, I feel down! I can’t believe this happened to me. This is the first time in my life that I look at another woman who might be in his taste and I imagine that he would like her over me. I can’t believe how much of his criticism gradually but surely eroded my self-confidence. Like I said, I had never felt like this with any man. Luckily the relationship didn’t last for than a year. Imagine living with a man of “gentle teasing” like this, who slow and gradual poking is literally ERASING you. I dodged the bullet. Certainly. I hope I will recover shortly and get back to my own self. Confident, beautiful and lovable.

      • bethd says:

        Sofia Hmmmm You actually sparked something. Mine did the same thing with those teasing, cute remarks. Insidious abuse in a way The worst was when I had a knock off pocketbook of a famous designer and he bought me the real version the next time I saw him. He clearly was telling me it was so bush league to buy a knock off. I clearly told him I don’t give a shyte about designers and if I like something I get it. I shrugged off those kinds of incidents but I think they bothered me deep down. “Certainly. I hope I will recover shortly and get back to my own self. Confident, beautiful and lovable.” You will!!!! Two months is nothing and the toxicity of this ass will be gone soon and you will back stronger and more confident than ever!!!

        • Sofia says:

          Yes, exactly, bethd, that’s what I used to do too. To shrug off the comments. But they did deposit gradually inside like a heavy weight that started weighing on my self-confidence. I used to think I was interesting, engaging, funny, smart, beautiful, fit, sexy. With him, although he did compliment (very rarely) on my physical qualities, I started feeling less and less of each, while previously and without a man around (before I met him) I felt fine about myself. I can’t believe how one man can affect a woman this much. Also it makes me think that HE must be having so many insecurities himself if he picks at other people for any reason. When there is nothing even to pick at. I read in the book “He is Scared, She is Scared” that these people criticize you because that’s how they make sure they protect themselves to explain themselves later they didn’t choose you because you are not what they need (flaws, imperfections, etc). Your ex pointed that you should have bought a designer’s pocketbook. Just think about it and reverse it (this idea JUST came to me). Could you talk and treat your significant other like this? Telling him or even just commenting on clothes he wears, music he listens, movies he watches, how and what he eats, stores he shops in etc. I never criticized any of my partners. I chose them because I liked who they were and their habits and things were them and I liked them. And when irritated, I kept to myself. We are all different and it’s fine. you don’t have to pick on people if you don’t like something about them. It’s their personality and expression, no reason to bring up the differences/dislikes even teasingly and jokingly. His sarcasm (although I am sarcastic myself and understand humor well) wore down on my eventually. I am so self-conscious. I hope I will recover and stop noticing women who might be attractive to him. I can’t believe I am feeling this way. Never did in my entire 36 years of life. He needs to go down from the pedestal fast. And I think he is going already. I just started thinking today and yesterday that he is actually NOT THAT SPECIAL. I used to read Natalie’s articles on this subject that but it didn’t ring the bell yet. Now, within couple days, something hit me.. But he is not that special. Why do i think his tastes, ideas, life style are so precious? Why he is so important? Good questions I am glad I started asking.

          • bethd says:

            “he is actually NOT THAT SPECIAL. I used to read Natalie’s articles on this subject that but it didn’t ring the bell yet. Now, within couple days, something hit me.. But he is not that special” They aren’t!!!! Not at all. They just know how to play it. It psychological warfare LOL My ex was attractive at best but he was balding for Gawd sakes. When I met my him I had two guys after me that blew him away in the looks department. And they were nice guys too!!!! I wanted this JO and wouldn’t give the others a chance. One thing my ex Narc did for me was force me to explore and learn about myself. Yeaa I always loved bad boys, fixer uppers and challenges. Now??? No way!!! Nat’s Fallback girl book teaches you a lot about yourself for sure.

            • Sofia says:

              bethd, my ex was very attractive. And he knew it. He didn’t act arrogant or cocky, but he knew it. Thinking of which, of course, why would he ever settle. So many women he can get. But is he worth it, I am thinking now. He never brought out the best of me, like my good relationships did. It seemed all he did he wined and dined me, had great sex with me and then in between teased and criticized me. With fun and intelligent but superficial conversations in between. Maybe I am having “aha” moment in the last couple days… I hope this will last! All I can think now, that he is not THAT SPECIAL!!!

    • bethd says:

      Yayyy Kelly….Pulled the rug right out from under him. They never see it coming either as jerky as they are. Hold tight as you will hear from him. You did the right thing and avoided a whole lotta heartache in the future. :)

  44. Tinkerbell says:


    My response to you would be similar to Camille’s 1st paragraph. Once you’ve done the work on yourself and have reached a higher level of self esteem and self respect, your judgement in choosing a man will definitely improve because you will be more sure of yourself. Your skills in creating an emotionally healthy life will become much sharper. It’s still just a short time yet since you kicked the AC to the curb. I haven’t been able to keep up closely with your posts now that I’m relegated to the computer at the library, but are you really maintaining strict NC and do you refrain from going to the same area and risk running into him? I hope not because those actions are essential to your burying the past and moving on. My Motto is strive to BE the person you’re hoping to attract. Good luck.

    • Nigella says:

      “Be the person you’re hoping to attract.” Brilliant motto, Tinkerbell.
      Saved it on my phone and came up with the following things I need to work on.

      To avoid people with a charming *persona*, I need to BE a better judge of *character*. Be more discerning, judicious, more skeptical.

      To not fall for the flattery of a charmer, I need to BE more confident and emotionally independent. Should not depend on anyone else to make me feel better about myself.

      To stay true to my standards and needs in relationships, I need to BE honest with myself & others about what I really want.

      To stand up for myself during conflicts or unnerving situations, I need to BE straightforward and firm about what I feel & think.

      To teach people how to treat me with respect, I need to BE more accepting of myself and assertive about my boundaries.

      To overcome my fear of failure, rejection, and inferiority, I need to BE more competent & committed to my goals.

      Good Heavens! Got a lot to do. Got no time for charmers.

      Hope you are doing great!

      • Mike from Oztralia says:

        “Be the person you’re hoping to attract.”

        I second that one.

        Put it on a t-shirt ;)

        And some good follow on affirmations.

        • Nigella says:


          Taking inspiration from you and turning above peremptory instructions to self into positive affirmations:

          I am a good judge of character & capable of seeing past the persona of an individual.

          I am immune to flattery because I am confident about who I am and emotionally independent.

          I am honest with myself & others about what I want & need.

          I am straightforward and firm about what I feel & think during conflicts.

          I am learning to accept myself.
          I accept myself.
          I am assertive in my dealings with all types of people. I am not afraid to assert my boundaries.

          I am competent & committed to my goals.

          Oh wow. Just a few changes in form – and the tone & content improves in meaning so much.

          • Mike from Oztralia says:

            I’ve been writing (and borrowing) affirmations and putting them into my phone calendar – so around 8am each morning a message pops up to remind me.

            The act of writing them down, and having a reminder is helpful

    • Lorraine says:

      Thats great! I will repeat that to myself often. “Be the person you’re hoping to attract” I’m getting there Tinkerbell. I feel more peace each day.
      Thank you.

  45. Pauline says:

    I’ve never been impressed by smarmy, slimy, Teflon coated charmers. Call me strange but men and women like that turn me right off.

    The ex AC was the opposite of charming, rather gruff and seemingly straight up and that was one of the hooks that got me in.
    He also hates women for whatever experiences he has had in the past or present, as I found out to my own detriment.
    He must have awfully low self esteem and doesn’t like or think very much of himself because I came to understand that showing an interest and liking for him meant there was something wrong with me. Funny how you can see this when the dust settles.

    Has anyone ever struck this kind of guy before?
    I’m not much up on personality disorders but I’m wondering if this is normal with AC’s, EU’s and the rest.

    • beth d says:

      Pauline Check out NPD Narcissists tend to dislike women deep down and love to frustrate them. Many are very insecure deep down though they will appear to be confident and arrogant.

  46. Noquay says:

    I won’t be doing on line this year. Twas a huge waste of both money and gas last few years and I really cannot afford it. I will try and meet better dudes when the big races are here, that is all. I am really close to just plain giving up. Trying to accelerate the fixxup of my house and prepare for the harsh reality that I will have to bail from society altogether eventually rather than accept the “old maid” role. May well be alone for good but it will be on my terms which does not include continuing to serve a society where I am not valued and does not meet my needs. Fukkit. I dont really resent but am kinda hurt, almost, that this AC who treats folk badly gets to move on, quickly and always and ol Noquay who tries so damned hard to do and be right gets not only aloneness but plagued by down and outers waving a veritable plethora of red flags. Lonely and stalked simultaneously. Bizarre. I miss being able to have a convo on my level, to speak my truths, to talk about the environment. Maybe I have waaay too high of expectations of others, but for a woman whose life was threatened, whose life was horribly altered, because of speaking truth about environmental issues, not being able to be yourself, speak your truth, is huge. I don’t miss ACs “slick Willie” player act, and will probably not be able to forgive his very public humiliation of me for a long time. I will never be fooled this way again; indeed last summer I met a racer who, like AC, hid a girlfriend; I walked away immediately and, more importantly, though I was very attracted, I did not attach emotionally at all. I do miss the part of the AC who seemed to understand where I was coming from, to whom I could speak freely. But then, maybe that was an act too. Hope you get a new laptop, we miss you girl.

    • Tinkerbell says:


      I can understand your bordering on giving up. It’s so hard at our age to find and keep someone who is really honest, sincere, who is genuinely the person you think he is. Were it not for your environment I wouldn’t have bothered to mention online. It just seems like the only option for you. But hopefully when the races start you will be in the right place at the right time for sparks to fly. LOL! When I said “we have our needs” I wasn’t even talking about sex, as you probably know. Just being able to enjoy the company of a man, stimulating convos, sharing ideas, and laughing can be very gratifying and just DIFFERENT from same sex company. Mr. Special has slowly become more of a very close friend than anything and I wouldn’t trade him in for anyone else. It’s very comforting, more so than all the ups and downs of a wild love affair. I’m too old for that.

      • noquay says:

        Yep, Tink, we have our needs and I so do wish the right to have those needs was seen as valid. Also that if we, due to our age, race, whatever, are undervalued by society at large, that our right to walk away from said society was seen as both valid and necessary. I just am sick of being told, as an older woman, that my wanting quality companionship is something I should put aside and that I should obediently become one of those do-gooder perpetually single older women who run everything and get little appreciation in return. Screw it. You realize that NO ONE has the same expectations of older men?! My version of Mr. Special is kind of a friend too and that is all that is possible from him. Not even sure about that now as we had a bit of a dust up about his family’s treatment of me, and ya know, that is OK, I have plenty of other stuff to do. As remote as it now seems, I do wish I could meet someone GENUINELY charming, articulate, functional because, yep, I do value quality male companionship but I am at a place where I cannot feel hopeful or optimistic.

  47. TLB says:

    To Bethd and Ciembi, thank you for kind, caring, supportive, and empowering responses to my post. I did not expect that and it felt like a little gift from heaven. You both helped me tonight…which was much sooner than later :). Hugs back…and gratitude. TLB

    • Bethd says:

      Anytime Tlb …..besides Nat the posters on BR helped kick my ass when I first came on. My ex was hoovering then and I was confused. I took his coming back as “true love”. It was anything but. Love is not pain. That was one of the first things I learned on here and boy was it an eye opener. Hang in there!

  48. Peanut says:

    It’s really natural to want to be with someone warm who we can have fun with. If who you’re dating is authentically fun–great!

    But problems arise when someone puts on a facade (of any kind) to get what they want in the moment.

    Some men/women figure out what women want to hear in order to get an ego stroke or sex.

    For the most part, charmers are readable. They have an unmistakable cheesiness to them. If you feel like the flattery someone is dishing out makes you want to barf, please do–on their shoes.

    Worthwhile people take a bit to know (not eons), but it just takes some time to get to know people.

    Warm, thoughtful people don’t put it all out there at once because they don’t have to.

    Life requires a full range of ways of being–and some aren’t so pleasant. A charmer wants to make you feel good as not to fuck with their ego supply; it has nothing to do with care.

    An emotionally available person will risk rejection for the sake of their own health.

    Charm wears off, character grows and lasts a lifetime.

    It’s funny. The best artists at my school are the ones who never talk about it/don’t brag, etc. (not me). They have no reason to overcompinsate. Same goes for prospective partners.

    Instead of being cheeky and stuffing you full of flattery, a truly interested man/woman will be more concerned getting to know you as opposed to telling you what they think you are.

    And you must remember that just because someone flatters you, doesn’t mean it’s true. Somebody told me I was a genuis the other day. I let my ego soar for a few seconds before I told it it was time to come down.

    I am not a genuis by any means. But I am hard working. What people say about us is not who we are.

    I had a man try and charm me into some ‘erotic’ facebook messaging. His idea of erotic and mine are very different. I think the history of controversial photography, while he seems to think it means initiate+charm=instant ego erection. Erm…no.

    I shot the ‘sexy talk’ talk down pretty quick, then revisited my decision and sent him an ‘erotic’ tale. Not his fancy I guess. Perhaps he’s not partial to imagery of him running pantsless in boots and a shirt to McDonald’s where I feed him a big mac, he gets sick, and sleeps on my floor.

    He no contacted me. Stat. Smart man.

  49. Peanut says:


    Okay, this guy’s behavior is bananas. I am trying so hard to refrain from saying what I think you should have done after he ‘slapped’ you. I would have bit his fingers off (Okay, don’t do that.)

    Maybe something like, “That is not appropriate. I am going to state that you are not to touch me further. We are done here.” You leave and you no contact this creep.

    This guy is bad news–a mess.

    And it’s not your fault he pressured you for sex! Yes, we must have clear boundaries and protect ourselves, but stop blaming you for this guy’s weird and base behavior.

    No contact. No contact. No contact. Please no contact. Stat.

    • Chutzpelady says:

      I might add: boyish charm, seemingly vulnerable, totally honest, but after I fell for those “qualities” – the real him emerged: chopping, cheating, void of empathy. Next time I hopefully laugh and RUN!

    • Tee Tee says:

      Phew! I wasn’t the only one that had a visceral want to gag (after i slap him right back) response when reading this. I thought, wait what 3 dates? Joking or not, too soon unless she’d said she liked shit like that. I felt my heart race faster when i read that bit.


  50. Susanna says:

    Natalie, I think you summed me up here to a T. Thanks for shedding light on parts of myself that I really tried to shut out. Yet again, you’ve done a wonderful job of summarizing charmers and who is drawn to them. How do you post the perfect topics and the right times always!?

  51. Phoenix says:

    Timing is everything & the timing of this post is heaven sent for me. I broke no contact & am paying the price. I wanted to believe I was the exception to the rule. All his exes were of a similar personality to him and physically totally different from me. They all moved him within a few months into their relationship to keep him from “playing the field” as he put it. I refused. He poured on the ” charm” and I being vulnerable & starving so desperately wanted to believe that I “mattered” to someone in this world. He is a narcissistic egotistical alcoholic lazy immoral fake. Three years ago I decided to remain “friends” with him despite knowing better. Complete hell. He expected all of the benefits of a relationship despite the fact that I refused intimacy. Every time I stood up for myself , he tore me to shreds. Having grown up with a Borderline Personality Disorder mother & a distant father I accepted crumbs whilst twisting myself into a pretzel trying to be there for him as a supportive “friend”. I found out two days ago that when I was being intimate with him in the first three years he was with well over ten other women. And countless others since. The last 3 years he never misses an opportunity to try to charm me.telling me how different I am. How my ex hub was an idiot to let me go. How beautiful I am etc etc etc. Telling me if I
    let him move in he will stop drinking and whoring
    around and will devote himself to me. Belch !! Intellectually I knew he was a faker and it was all lies but my heart refused to accept it. I am so angry at myself for letting this pathetic loser destroy the self esteem I worked so hard at establishing when I left my 30 year marriage. I feel worse now then I did then. This post is so accurately written and has spoken volumes to me . As have all of your responses! I am so grateful to you Natalie and for all your followers for being so brutally honest. Time to put my big girl pants on and learn to love myself right this time. He was my first love back in high school who “found” me 30 years later (just in time for my divorce – VULNERABLE!!) hence why I “fell” for his lies. I sent him a text two days ago ( actually about 10) as that’s how many it took to tell him exactly what I thought of him. His response 5 hrs later -” just got a new phone – text me if you get this text” I did not respond as I’ve said all I’m going to say to Mr. Assoholic. Again, thank you for this post and the timing of it. It so perfectly describes the hell I’ve been living its scary! Cheers to stopping these people from hurting us anymore !!

    • Hina says:

      I’m sorry Phoenix. I relate to what you have written. I, too, suffered from neglect and unhealthy boundaries from my parents. I thought I was bigger than blaming my childhood for my problems as an adult, but as I am learning, it is all related and you can’t escape it, just grow from it I guess. Please don’t feel too badly for falling for his lies. You weren’t lying and so why would you expect him to be? As humans I don’t think we are expecting lies and deceit. I know I wasn’t. Even though I have been lied to and cheated on in the past they were incidences, not an ongoing manipulative farce like mr. uk pulled on me. Hang in there. I think especially when you met someone during a time of innocence and idealism, like high school, it is easy to believe they are the same person. But they aren’t. And now you aren’t either. You are growing xoxo

      • Phoenix says:

        Thank you Hina! This is so true ” Please don’t feel too badly for falling for his lies. You weren’t lying and so why would you expect him to be?” That’s it in a nutshell ! I am sorry to hear we share similar stories & that you’ve been through so much :( however we will be stronger for it & will live a life with integrity & self respect ! Something I don’t think they will EVER achieve! Take Care of yourself – sending ((hugs))

  52. Phoenix says:

    Wanted to add- I’ve cried more tears these past 6 years to last a lifetime over someone so unworthy of me! I refuse to shed one more drop. Instead I will rejoice that I was one of the lucky ones that dodged this bullet :)

    • Shelly says:

      Please, everyone, look up the traits of a Narcissist and how to spot one while youre still dating….in fact, maybe this could be a topic of a new article for michelle.

      I was married to one…and this current article describes one to the tee.

      Watch out!

  53. Eartha says:

    “chasing the beginning” Yep, this sounds like crack cocaine addiction. Chasing that high will keep you in a world of hurt. I’m living the hurt with my boyfriend who happens to be the father of my 16 year old daughter. Sometimes, I don’t even understand why I love him.

    Last year I found out he cheated on me, we break-up every other day and our daughter can’t stand when he uses bad language to express himself. He constantly brings up our past history berating my mother who despises him, and the fact I married someone else(after he left us), had a child with my ex-husband(a son) who he(my daughter’s father) absolutely refuses to acknowledge in any way. This action hurts our daughter because my son is her brother. When my daughter & I go visit him(he won’t come to my family home) I can’t bring my son with us. And after all these years he still doesn’t see a reason why we should get married. He says, “you’ve already been married.” He doesn’t have a stable career(struggling musician), no financial assets at all, no car and lives in the same housing project for 20 years. Why did I go back to him? I wish I knew.

    I will continue reading Nat’s blogs & your comments to gain insight & hopefully enough strength to leave him.

    • Sandy says:


      I really feel for your son, he must be quite hurt that he has to be left behind and is not accepted by this person who you are putting before him.

    • Chutzpelady says:

      You hurt your kids with your indecision to leave this horrible guy!

    • Allison says:


      What in the world do you get from this???

      You have shown that you’re not looking out for yourself. but it’s high time you start looking out for your kids. This is an abusive situation!!!!!!

      You want to marry this clown? Cmon!!!!

      You need to get rid of this loser, as he’s screwing with your kids mental health!

    • MaryW says:

      Eartha, be glad he doesn’t want to marry you! Why would this even be a topic for discussion when he behaves so diabolically to your children, let alone you?
      I really do hope you do gather the strength to leave him.

    • Hina says:

      Eartha, I really hope you find the strength to leave this man, your daughter’s “father.” There is a balance between doing for yourself and doing for your children. It shouldn’t be all one or the other. But you are doing for yourself which in turn is harming both of your children and you as well. DON’T put this jerk before your children. He is so not worth it! Ask yourself, do I want my daughter to marry a man like this? Do I want my son to turn into a man like this? If the answer is NO (which I hope it is) then leave. It is for your children’s future and yours. It is for a peaceful present. It is for love and respect and joy in your family. You don’t have that now.

  54. M says:

    Hi Phoenix, sorry about your misfortunes with this guy. I don’t drink but what I’ve learned from reading popular psychology books like “Co-Dependence No More” is that alcoholics can never be fixed and should be avoided at all. I am sorry to say but the way you describe him contradicts my common-sense definition of “charming” even in the context of this article above.
    “Telling me if I let him move in he will stop drinking and whoring around and will devote himself to me” – come on, how is this charming????
    Don’t ever let his man talk to you again, he is so pathetic.
    Read the “Co-Dependence No More” book, it explains why you feel this way about him and how to stop yourself from continuing.
    Hope you will get rid of this drunkard for good one day. As much as I sometimes disagree with descriptions of EUM/AC behaviors by some readers here, I strongly believe alcoholics are lost cases no matter how you put it.

    • Phoenix says:

      Thanks M for the advice on the book! I shall look for it ASAP! Just to clarify the bit about charm – I don’t find anything he says charming at all anymore ( I had blinders on in the beginning & due to my abusive childhood & marriage – any nice comment was like a big tall glass of water!) – I just meant HE thinks he’s being
      charming! The only reason I had remained friends with him the last 3 years was because I felt OBLIGATED to “help” him because of our history and because I always try to see the good in people and try to live by example. I no longer feel this way. I’ve since learned my co-dependency just enables this behavior.

  55. Afrok says:

    I married a master charmer. So charmers can actually go as far as keeping their “happily ever after promises”. Except the “happily” bit exited in a hurry after he succeed moving me into his turf..his own country. I wish I knew red flags then, and vocabularies like “fastforwarder” because I was fastforwarded in a few weeks of meeting online, we were talking marrying and him gushing I deserve to be “treated like a princes because that is who you are.” Cheesy stuff which after getting married and him subjecting me to all manners of abuse(I don’t want to retraumatise you with it), he would revert to and go “I worship the ground you walk on.” Words just escape their mouths and I think sometimes they don’t even think they are saying it. This man I still resent because he continues his cruelty long after I summonned my pieces of scattered self esteem to leave him to save my son from a home of abuse. He is a very cruel man. I still remember the first time he came to my country, I had nightmares all night of him strangling me, not being real etc. Apart from controlling and not wanting me to see friends on my own, he would be excessively charming to them. One time he really hit it off with my then close friend and I felt like a third wheel at a dinner table, until my friend got turned off when he told her “you do look really fuckable!”. When I had my son and him leaving me locked inside the house in pain with no support. The first time I allowed my two girlfriends to come and see me with the baby, he even closed his office early (he never did it for me and my son), then showed up with 3 bunches of flowers, one for me and two others for my friends, quipped with “I only buy flowers for HOT ladies. ” I can go on and on….now I feel a bit uncomfortable when a guy showers me with out of the blue complement which before BR would make me smile until it aches. Like yesterday I went to the bank. This particular bank officer was nice and chatty which I attributed to “great people skills.” As I went to the office the questions got more personal and I got easily comfortable and we were chatting and laughing like old friends, and comparing notes on the great artists and performets out there today and back then. He had already said how hot I was and how he can’t believe how he has relaxed his professional muscles on me etc. By the end I had his business card with his personal number for “catch up” and possibly attend a concert. With a weired squeese of my hand he said byebye, punctuated with a sleazy wink on his part. The buoyant I felt lasted the distance i walked to reach my car as red flags kept on waving like no tomorrow. No future contact from me.

  56. AfroK says:

    I am a firm believer that my child is a deal breaker. Even if a man loves me until Aussie winter turns warm, If he doesn’t love my son, he can forget about me. I had a man promise me future, and has a son my son’s age. A few months down the line he mentioned that he doesn’t see his role in my son’s life, even stated that my son “irritates”him and he can’t play the father role to him. He couldn’t stand the attention and space I give my son, which included allowing him to express his feelings about things. According to him, I give my son too much power. There were others issues eg.blowing hot and cold etc but his attitude towards my son tipped the scale. It didn’t help that after that, he’d act overly charming and complementing my son and other over the top fake niceties towards my son. It just creeped me out and kicked him out of our life.

    I openly told him If he can’t see his role in my child’s life I can’t see his role in “our” life and can’t be with him. He tried to backpeddle on his statement saying how he didn’t mean it negatively but nope, I can’t knowingly gamble with my son’s life. I better be single for a long time than put my son through abusive home (even with his dad).

    I’m sorry to say but you are giving your boyfriend a priority over the wellbeing, happiness and comfort of your own children. Why is he that special that he would come between you and your son, and between the relationship with his sister?

    You have mentioned that he refuses to acknowledge your son, which hurts your daughter because that’s her brother. You can’t even get your son to visit you? Why do you allow that? Why do your son’s needs come second to AC?

    To top that, you have stated that he is a cheater, liar, irresponsible for his own life.
    So why is that your main concern is that he should marry you?? It sound like even his daughter doesn’t respect him due to his behavior. I like your daughter’s maturity in valuing the relationship with her brother. You need to support her in that and forget what AC feels about it because he is not that special.

    I do believe your children deserve better than that. You really need to ask yourself why you still want to have this man despite your good incite on who he really is. You come across as having a good perception of the situation you are in and what kind of individual your boyfriend is. It is your solution that freaks me out (marrying him). I get that he is the father of your daughter, so what? He doesn’t seem to be ruffled by it in his selfish world.

    I believe you need to kick that AC to the curb and do the ground work on why you were with him despite all the Assholery he has exhibited. Most of all concentrate on building the relationship with your children before it is too late.

    Good start you have posted here, as it shows you realize it is not OK. Please stay in BR as the community cares in here. You will have both tough and tender love but all intended to support you.

    Good luck. Xx

    • Mike from Oztralia says:


      Thank you for sharing that story. In so many ways your experience parallels mine. My Miss Unavailable promised a future bit struggled to form a bond.

      She started making some nasty comments about my child, like your ex a classic example of some one projecting their own fears and anxieties onto the child.

      Like wise Eartha, those of us with kids trying to date or form new relationships have a double responsibility. To our selves and our kids.

      I’m ashamed that I almost believed Miss Unavailable when she started calling my kid a brat and “spiritually obese” (what ever the feck that means. I live modestly).

      I trusted this person. Hade great hopes for a future. Post break up my anger about this had grown. But at least I have clarity, and won’t make the same mistake twice.

      What matters for me in selecting a new partner is this: they ave to be more than just a great girl friend. They have to have life partner qualities. Resilience, compassion, empathy, tolerance and respect.

      We all all deserving of such relationships.

      Keep processing and reading the posts here Earthsea.

      I left. A bad marriage and suffered recent heart break. But you know what, both me and my daughter are the better for it.

  57. Jenn says:

    Reading this article has helped me realize that the relationship I ended was the right decision. I met my ex back in Sept, we dated for 4 months before making it official. Everything was good, he was supportive, provided, took care of me, always made me feel like I was in a pedestal. He seemed like he had everything together. Well after Valentine’s day, hell broke loose. His ex wife started up and was giving us a hard time. To the point during the drama he had given me keys to his place and asked me to move in. We decided to wait till June but I’d stay here and there. Well after 3 weeks, he came to me and told me we need to step back so he can sort his issues with the ex wife & take care of custody for his youngest. So I gathered my things and left. We had talked about still seeing each other weekly to still have our relationship going. He agreed, suggested the day. But then he disappeared, shut down. In 3 weeks only seen him once. Came down to where I decided to end it because I didn’t deserve that treatment. And now, he’s seeing a new girl and moved to a new place. Mind you, I hadn’t had a boyfriend in 8yrs because I needed growth within in order to provide for someone whose. Boy was I a fool. But good riddens.

  58. Charm kept me with my ex-fiance right up to the week of the wedding. He was all wrong for me because he was full of charm and zero follow-through. It has taken me nine months to extricate myself from that charm ~ He has a smile that turns on like a light bulb; and he is always soooo happy to run into me! That smile and his openness almost weakened my resolve to stay away; but, nothing about him has changed. He simply lives in the moment with no depth or emotional connection to a woman, certainly not to me. He was a hard lesson learned. I had to come to an understanding that his smile wasn’t “validating”; it was condescending and self-serving. I’m glad it no longer has an effect on me. http://www.hushhushheart.com

  59. Tinkerbell says:


    This guy is all over the place. He doesn’t know what he wants. Why would he ask you to move in with him before he finalized the issues with his ex wife? He then talks about continuing your relationship and then shuts down and disappears? How can you hang your hat on such irresponsible and unreliable behavior. He needs to grow up and manage his life effectively before attempting to draw anyone else into the mix. I hope you’re NC.

  60. shattered says:

    The ex AC was just as Nat describes – in the beginning. I hung on and was nice to him for far too long – 3 years in fact. He was just a womanising user. I’ve been NC for months, ignoring the odd chatty text from him. Two weeks ago he sent a text out of the blue, saying it would be nice to meet up. I replied ‘thankyou – but no’. That must have insulted his narcissistic ego because he replied ‘see if I care’. You’d think that would that now- but no – he’s started sending chatty texts again about what he’s been doing. Thick skinned or what? Unfortunately I have to see him occasionally as we’re both on the same committee. He acts as if we’re old friends, while I’m chillingly polite and only speak to him if I have to. I once thought this man was madly in love with me and it is hard not feel angry at being two timed (or in my case several-timed)and duped by a lying player. But it can be done! Time really is a great healer. I’ve joined a meetup group and made some good (female) friends and been on some great outings. I’ve just joined a gym to get in shape for the summer and booked a holiday abroad with 2 friends from Meetup. I’m not interested in meeting another man – my experience with the AC has made me very wary,but my life is so much better without the worry of him in it – and I never thought I’d be able to say that!

    • Princess says:

      @shattered we must have been dating the same AC. I will use your line when next he contacts me. I’ve been ignoring him.

    • Mymble says:

      That’s great, the best revenge is to be completely indifferent. The fact that he felt the need to be rude to you when you turned him down, shows how they depend on being able to get their little ego strokes here and there when supplies are running low.
      Wouldn’t you be better just blocking him though? Or getting a new number and “forgetting” to pass it on to him?

  61. Princess says:

    My ex charmer was nice to me. He treated me like a princess. Called me several times a day. Always wanted to know what was going on with me. Told me he loved me everyday and told me “all” his secrets. I even had access to one of his credit cards. That’s why I felt it was a relationship. I now realize it was because he trusted me. It wasn’t love.
    However there was no progress. When I was breaking up with him he said the relationship had “progressed” over the years. I asked him how? After five years he still hasn’t told his family about me. He refuses to be friends with me on FB. (Now I know why. He had a FB relationship going), there is no engagement ring, no planning to move in together. Nada. He only let me into certain parts of his life. Also I told him him referring to when he and his “future wife” to my face is a big insult because it means I am just a space holder and after five years he is still unable to say “yes I want to marry you” he said his reference to future wife meant it could me. Then I responded or NOT! Either way told him I have no more time to give him and he can enjoy his time with the FB chick and whomever else he was seeing on the side. I only knew about the FB but I’m pretty sure there are others.

  62. MaryW says:

    Natalie, thank you for this post. I read it straight away but needed some time to absorb. I have often asked myself why I fell so fast and deep for the last man I dated and it’s because he was so bloody charming. Not having the best self esteem, I lapped it up and didn’t see it as a red flag at all (there were plenty of other red flags, but the charm and chemistry seemed to outweigh the other things – until the full extent of ‘him’ became evident). I remember describing what I thought of as sweet flattery to my therapist (when I thought it was going well) and she replied “how do you feel about being objectified?”. I had no idea, no clue that I was being objectified. I was, at the time, amazed to have come across the man who thought I was the most amazing being ever.

    Another man “R”, a friend who is also friends with my oldest friend from secondary school “B” (both gay males), has just started up a big drama B. For no legitimate reason other than jealousy, he has blocked B from twitter and Facebook and effectively ended their friendship. He tried to involve me, but no! I have boundaries these days! I was describing R and the scenario to my therapist and she asked why am I friends with him? My reply – he’s charming (!). It’s a friendship I’m keeping a close eye on from now on.

    And the next man who tries to ‘charm’ me by playing the guitar and singing (badly) to me will get short shrift from me (the charmer’s MO, apparently). I’m looking back and feeling stupid but I learned a lesson from the charmer. And I’m building up my self esteem so I no longer need or want validation from someone else.

    Thanks again Natalie. I love this article despite it making me cringe!

    • MaryW says:

      Sorry, meant to write “has just started a big drama *with* B” (I mention that they are both gay to indicate that there’s no romantic link between me and either of these men).

    • lizzp says:

      In my past ‘charm’ acted on me and for me as a gap filler. It was the outward presentation of an illusion and behind it there lay a void that was dissonant with the false implications and deceptiveness of my own and/or the other person’s charm drenched words. This article makes the point too that as far as charm goes as with most other things it takes two to tango. If we are susceptible to the charms of others to the extent of blinding ourselves then we too are looking to “avoid” “a void” within and try to fill it with the illusion of the other’s charm and our own need for this illusory prop. My younger self was readily susceptible to the charming but I did learn that lesson earlyish and well and as with a few others here, for at least 10 years I’ve been impervious to the ‘charming’. The moment I detect it in the love/relationship department I feel turned off. My father had his issues but being a charming, fake bastard was, luckily for me, not one of them.

      The experience that brought me here last June, though not a case of over investing on the basis of his false charms, was nonetheless filled with deceptive illusions on both my side and his – we both had voids we were trying to avoid. Doomed, doomed and doomed to damnation and back.


      It is nice to read your words and I am so glad to read that your hard work is paying off. I still get cringe times too and suffer from retrospective embarrassment as Nigella and Wiser have put it from time to time. I do feel though that my own hard slogs are providing me with new understanding, some grounded peace and self acceptance. I am far, far away from any thought of dating and this is just not an issue. I am too busy living, doing and being in my present. And planning and even fecking activating and commencing goals that were once on the fantasy shelf named “One Day”. I am not immune to pain by a long shot, nor do I expect to be. But my pain and regrets, the hurts I have brought on myself and the hurt (including him)others have caused me are more in perspective and pass often with the time in which I feel them. Perhaps I am not carrying them with me as much. They do not fester inside anyway.

      In all honesty there are days when I say to myself my oh my what an effing capable woman you are and I am truly proud of myself. BR seems to be acting as an anchor of sorts at this time, even though I have progressively much less time to be here. I’m so happy to read of all the positivity you are bringing into your life. MaryW, I always think of you/imagine you with warmth and best wishes.oxo

      • MaryW says:

        Oh Lizzp, the charming words were definitely filling a gap, in fact a huge crater. It was definitely a case of taking two to tango, I recognise that now. I had just started therapy, so I knew I had to work on myself, but I suppose I was still hoping for a quick fix in the shape of a boyfriend. Big mistake. This was the first big Charmer I had ever met; past boyfriends or men I dated tended, if anything, to be choppers rather than charmers (which is more in keeping with my upbringing – my Dad is ogre but he is no charmer either!).

        I have no intention of dating at the moment either. I am trying to make new friends instead (I started my own meetup.com group – pretty good for a woman with social anxiety!), though that is actually quite tough in itself because my boundaries are completely different to where they were a year or 6 months ago. I don’t put up with crap, and I am more likely to flush a dodgy potential friend but find it hard unless someone does something clearly outrageous. This is a current dilemna actually, with a female friend, but off topic.

        I am taking time out and building myself up again. I am taking the time to get to know my parents better, too. I visited them on my own (no siblings or nieces and nephews to provide distraction) and I felt I got to know them better. I have a better understanding of who they are as individuals rather than as my parents, and it makes me less angry and more understanding about their less than perfect parenting. I even managed to broach the subject of my early childhood trauma, mum’s disappearance for 3 months when I was age 2 (I remember her being collected by the ambulance, to have bed rest followed by delivery of my sister). She acknowledged that it was a “terrible time for everyone”. Again, I am understanding this incident from her perspective rather than dwelling on my own “poor me” version of events. My therapist helps me understand abandonment issues.

        I still get pangs of pain and yearnings to reach out to the man who I met last summer, but apart from one silly occasion (I sent him a message, and it was either not read or just ignored – thankfully), I am learning to sit through those feelings. They are just feelings. They pass. And then I am grounded again and realise what a terrible combination we were. Neither of us in the right state or frame of mind to attempt a relationship.

        Well Lizzp, can I just say that I truly admire you, I often read the advice you give other people here and nod my head. You helped me through some dark days, weeks, months last year (your words really meant a lot to me, and still do) and you clearly help others here, too. That in itself is something to be very proud of.

        Here’s to us, two very capable women :)
        And of course to Nat! x

  63. ThreeDLife says:

    I am always amazed at how accurate Natalie’s articles are in describing the EU and ACs of the world. The AC I was with on and off for a year and a half was a charmer. I am now working through WHY I let myself be charmed. He came on so strong at the beginning, with lots of compliments and future faking. The rest of the story, as Natalie observes, was “a rollercoaster of pain where much of the relationship is going to be about chasing the beginning (when there was Fast Forwarding and Future Faking) and also about recouping the validation, adoration, and intensity that they get when the charm offensive is switched on.” This is so spot on!

    I had not dated in 6 years since my husband passed away suddenly, so I was very naive. I was vulnerable to compliments since no man had really paid much attention to me over these years. I was raising my son and not in the mindset to date. I had to go through the grief cycle and heal.

    When I met the AC, I had tried online dating and didn’t know the pitfalls. I thought it would be a nice way to have fun and start enjoying life more. I met a guy who called me beautiful and told me I deserved to be treated like royalty…but these were just empty words. He future faked me, promising a life together, but they were only false promises. It really hit home for me when I saw him do the exact same thing to another woman on facebook. But, I persisted in denial and fooling myself that this “relationship” had a chance of succeeding. I now know I was chasing validation from external sources.

    I’ve been working very hard on getting my self esteem back. I’ve made progress. By staying NC and the passage of time, I no longer have any urge to contact him, see him, or give him the time of day. I see him for what he is, a maniuplative user who wants what he wants when he wants it. I am no longer tempted to check to see what he’s doing. I have become indifferent to him. I’m going to celebrate this milestone, and hopefully in the future I won’t even think about the past or his hurtful actions. That will be my next milestone. One step at a time!

    • MaryW says:

      I think you answer your own question about why you let yourself be charmed in your second paragraph. You were vulnerable. I was vulnerable but for different reasons.

      Well done with the progress you’ve made! Reaching the stage of feeling indifferent is so liberating isn’t it? What a weight off our shoulders!

    • Sofia says:

      ThreeDLife: Congratulations on staying NC and staying strong. How long have you been staying NC? Has he contacted you? At which point of time did you become indifferent. Of course everyone’s story is different. I guess I keep hurrying the time when I become indifferent to my ex. He was EU. I met him online too. I was very naive and charmed by him. There was no future faking or fast forwarding, but there was a lot of fun and great time during the first 3-5 months. Then it went downhill and I kept chasing the beginning for the next 5 months or so. I like what you say, that you see him as a person who manipulated you and used you and did everything on his terms. I had an expiration date at about 6-7 months mark, but I kept pushing and lowering my expectations.

      • ThreeDLife says:

        Thank you MaryW, I appreciate your kind words.

        I have been NC with him for 10 months. After the way it ended, I would be surprised if he had the nerve to ever contact me again, since I called him on his B.S. and he continued to lie and deny everything even when faced with the facts. It became very obvious he was lying and I don’t think he can admit to himself that he is a compulsive liar.

        I was naïve and, as MaryW says, vulnerable. Like you, I was also charmed, as he expressed such an interest in me, flattered me and made me feel special. That is, until he felt he “had me.” We also had a lot of fun during the first 3 months. and I did what you did — chased the beginning even after it went downhill and he started retreating.

        Ever since the “love of his life” dumped him (10 years ago), the AC had a series of 3 month relationships and guess what? He repeats the same pattern over and over. In fact, I let him press the reset button 3 times. And take a stab at how long each of them lasted? You guessed it! 3 months!

        I know everyone’s healing cycle is different, but it took me about 8 months to feel indifferent. It’s very freeing. Now I just have to get beyond even thinking about the hurt he caused me and just go live my life and be happy.

        All the best to you,

        • Sofia says:

          ThreeDLife, I can’t imagine what you went through. The person I was with didn’t really lie but in a way he did by stringing me along. Although his explanation would be ‘I was not sure if we are good together or not.”Yes, not sure for the whole year. Knowing I want something more than an exclusive casual permanent dating. I haven’t processed yet how much hurt he caused me. I just live in it, but strangely I have no anger against him. Just mad at myself for both: not seeing for what it was and dragging it out and chasing him in the end.
          You are saying that around month 8 you felt indifferent. That gives me lots of hope. I think the same will happen to me. Someone told me it takes around 9 months to get over a heartbreak. Some kind of spiritual healing time.

          I wonder how it’s even possible to get into a relationship and trust anyone anymore. And I never had trust issues. In fact I used to be so naive and no boundaries. Now, everything changed.

          Yes, my ex’s the longest relationship was around 1,5 years. He never even moved in with her. Broke up because she wanted progress and he found the reasons that he was not committed and they were too different or incompatible or something like that. The same thing he told me. His job requires him to move from one place to another. So that’s what he does. Lives in one place 2-4 years, finds 1-2 relationships that last 3-6 months, “heals,” and repeats the same thing over and over again. He told me about his “typical” relationship lasting 6 months. That’s why I am making the conclusion.

          The person at 35 never lived with anyone and is not “ready” yet, he said. At 35? Really? He will never be ready. He will end up alone. And so will your ex, with his 3-month pattern. like you I should have listened. We both were clinging to the romanticism of the beginning and accepting fewer and fewer crumbs by the end. I made an ultimatum for him to decide whether he is sticking around or not around 1-year mark. He bailed out. Finally. Over. No more anguish and torment. Just need to sort out through all the pain and emotions. Good luck to you and best wishes to you too. We might talk again here on this board. It has been helping me a lot to come here.

  64. no_more says:

    I have been reading BR for a few weeks. It has helped so very much. I also have been NC for 9 weeks. It has been empowering. At first, I thought I was going to die of the pain. But now, I am seeing things differently.

    It will take some more time, but I am getting there.

    My question is this: the majority of you on here have had their AC call or try in some manner to keep contacting them, trying to drag things out for THEIR egos, or whatever, and I INTELLECTUALLY realize that him not even trying to call me is good. But what if they never even TRIED- and jumped TWO DAYS later back with their ex?

    He was kind, considerate, didn’t drink, called several times a day, wanted to marry me, but when several red flags screamed at me, and I left – he didn’t even seem
    upset. I am better, but still confused on why I wasn’t even worth a text or a second glance after 2.5 years.

    I am torn between anger that I am still thinking about this, and relief. But mostly anger.

    Any suggestions to get over this bit?

    • Wiser says:

      No More, My ex also dumped me without a second glance and was on to the next woman TWO DAYS after assuring me what we had was real and that I could trust him. He never looked back. I remember that for quite a long time I was actually envious of women who wrote that their exes wouldn’t leave them alone. Surely that was a sign that they were “worth” something if they were still being contacted, right? WRONG. I want to reassure you that this is all about how HE processes his feelings. Some people are really good at compartmentalizing their feelings, and when something is over for them, it’s over. They never look back. I suspect this is more a kind of denial and lack of empathy than anything else. This has absolutely nothing to do with you and your worth, or how important you were to him at one time.

      Then there are others who feel guilty about their actions and know they were a shit. Contacting you would remind them of this, so they prefer to stick this knowledge in some dusty corner of their psyche rather than deal with it. They avoid future contact not because you’re not *worth* the effort, but because they don’t want to feel bad about themselves.

      Some others may actually leave you alone out of respect for you and the knowledge that further contact would be hurtful for you. In a way this is a sign that they DO acknowledge your worth and they think highly of you.

      The bottom line is that you don’t know what’s motivating your ex. And it doesn’t matter. I’ve come to believe that continued and unwelcome contact from exes who break it off is more a sign of NO caring, NO respect and selfish laziness than anything else. Be glad that this guy is leaving you alone so you can heal and move on!

      • Di says:

        I agree with you explanation Wiser. I after always being the one who came back realized that he knew he was shit and was letting me know I wasn’t as strong as I projected, he actually told me once that I would wound up hating him. I now believe that he has been doing this for years.

        • Sofia says:

          Di, my ex told me that too during the break up. That, “you will soon remember about me as ‘that bastard.’” Although I didn’t express any negative emotions during the breakup or during the relationship for that matter. There was no hatred ever. He said that probably feeling guilty and bad about himself. He said, “you will find someone much better than me.” Now that I think about it it sounds like a person with a low self-esteem. Or because he felt guilty. I won’t analyze it anymore. I have done enough in the last 9 weeks postbreakup.

          • Allison says:


            I think that you give him too much credit. I honestly believe that if people feel guilty about their behavior, they will make some changes. I think that he knew he was a jerk, and that’s simply who he is.

            • Sofia says:

              Allison, I think you are right. That’s my problem: I give others too much credit, believe best in people, lower my standards, and forgive everything to everybody at once. But I am left with the feeling of responsibility and burden. Not completely for everything, but because I let go easily the misdoings of others, I am left with too much weight on my own shoulders. For some reason, I feel like if I say to myself that he is a jerk and he knows it (which is true actually and he admitted himself!!), it will be easier to move on for me. Like, “it could not be that simple.” I have to dissect and analyze and make sure two sides are responsible. I wish it were that easy to say that he is just a jerk, but you are right, he was a jerk in many ways, and SO MANY people told me during the relationship and after. People here who read my posts and replied, no one said that he was a nice guy in any way. And I told my story honestly and gave him good points too. I do give him too much credit. Something to think about today, Allison. Thank you for bringing this up. Oh and one more thing, I read in one of Natalie’s articles and somebody responded to one of my posts and they said about their own experience that YOU JUST HAVE TO SEE AND ACCEPT THE PERSON for who he was. Honestly. So you can stop holding on, even partially, trying to find good sides in him, trying to “control” the past or imagine the future. Really, our minds are very powerful. But emotions get involved and we are back ruminating. Minds can control a lot if not everything. Cognitive psychology. I can say ( and I know it’s true) that he genuinely liked me (not loved obviously), he had great time with me, but in the back of his mind he always knew this would not go anywhere because he doesn’t want commitment at this time or ever, I am not a person for him for whatever reasons HE ALREADY KNEW from the beginning but didn’t reveal to me (they showed up in red flags which I chose to ignore), and he overestimated his ability to develop a long-term committed relationship. Casual, exclusive, predictable, consistent, yes, he could do. But this kind of relationship don’t go on for too long. The other party will want more intimacy and closeness. A couple like relationship. Not a permanent dating with all on his terms seeing each other. So that’s where people like he back off, although he perhaps didn’t plan all of this intentionally. He just doesn’t and can’t do otherwise. He is perhaps incapable of forming a lasting intimate bond with anyone. Which he admitted himself (!!) that he might be alone for the rest of this life. Why didn’t I listen? Exception to the rule – I thought – I was, which makes me think, so many ladies here think , including me, that we are exception to the rule. You would think that means we have confidence in ourselves, that we think we are so great that we will win this one over. It means otherwise though that our self-esteem is not that good if we keep fighting for something unattainable, which we in our guts knew from the beginning. Again, goes back to the core problem of wanting to get validation about our existence and goodness from someone else. How sad. My main thing I am working on right now is to feel validated through my own self. Not someone else or the circumstances. Tough if all your life up until 36 you feel otherwise. Sorry for a long post. To conclude: your comment is right on the spot. He was just a jerk as far as relationships go. Absolutely. I sympathize with his next date/current girlfriend. The amount of criticism, distance, and barriers I got and the resulting ambiguity and confusion… Today I woke up thinking – I feel such peace and relief. I don’t have to wonder anymore where our relationship is going, why he doesn’t want to introduce me to his family after one year, why he doesn’t want to share activities he likes with me, like going to sports events, why he runs away so fast and never stays at my place, never has anything spontaneous with me, why why why everything on his terms , timing and level of his comfort … Because he was a jerk. :)Well, not just that, but close enough. Thanks, Allison.

              • Tinkerbell says:


                Your behavior that you described at the top of this last post is classic “doormat”. You don’t want to be that. There is no pleasure in it and nothing to gain because the man will just accelerate his poor treatment of you, if for no other reasons than to see how much you’ll take and find humor in it. I continue to do a lot of reading in addition to all of Nat’s posts. Not having read everything you’ve posted, and therefore not knowing if they will be helpful to you, but two excellent books I’ve found are “Women Who Love Too Much” by Robin (?) Norwood, and, of course, “Boundaries” by Drs. Cloud and Townsend. Lastly, I’ve gained much insight into my Mr. Special reading all about introverts. They truly are different beings from most of us and because they can be so frustrating to deal with they’re often misunderstood. Now, if your guy is a jerk, I’m not saying that you should be looking for reasons to give him a gazillion chances to do right.

                • Sofia says:

                  Tinkerbell, absolutely. I recognized only during these last weeks that I was a doormat most of my adult life. Except for when I was married to a decent guy. The rest of my dating life was me being a doormat. I did read the book by Ms. Norwood and that was at a time I was dealing with AC, but I was still too young to understand. Evidently, I had to go through lot more and the last epiphany experience to realize that I was a doormat and love too much those who don’t even deserve it. And my kind of love was not even love but expression of my pain and insecurities and unresolved problems from the childhood. Romantic, idealistic, rose tinted glasses. Not love. Infatuation. Love should not be dramatic and painful. It should be steady, empowering, and realistic.

      • Sofia says:

        Wiser, I agree with every category you described. I will never know who my ex was. It could be any of the three. perhaps that means I didn’t know him well enough, how he felt about me, and because the breakup was unexpected. You are so right saying it doesn’t matter. And that no_more and I are actually lucky that they don’t contact us so we can heal and move on. It is the most painful way in the short-term but it works in the long-term. If I maintained contact with him now (and I could because he immediately offered me friendship), this would prolong the pain substantially. Yes, lucky us we don’t stay in touch with our exes, no_more. Wiser, you summarized the idea very well. Thank you!

      • no_more says:


        Woke up this morning after a good weekend, feeling a little blue. Your post helped. I think my EX is probably a combo of all three. Plus, when they are off “charming” their way into another’s graces, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for working on themselves and worrying about the damage they have done to someone else, does it?

        Thanks for the much-needed support!

    • Stephanie says:

      No more,

      His ex was his fallback when you left, further he may have been seeing her while he was seeing you! These guys don’t like being alone. Don’t determine your worth based on if he calls you! He may never call, but him not calling has nothing to do with you.
      My ex didn’t call me for about month (the first time, 2 months (second time) and waited over a year in half the third time. By then I could careless about him and was perfectly okay if I never heard from him again. As for the ex, there is a reason why she was an ex! She probably saw the same things that you did.

      • Sofia says:

        Stephanie, your ex contacted you in 1,5 year after the third time? What are these people thinking I wonder? After so much time goes by, why they contact us? I have an ex like that who contacts me every 3-6 months. And we broke up 6 years ago. Why? I don’t know. just to check if we are still friends and to get an ego stroke I guess.

        • stephanie says:

          Actually he called to let me know he was getting married! Then proceeded to ask to see me!! All I could do was laugh and decline his offer cuz it only proved what I already knew that he was a jerk who not only had no respect but was selfish.

          • beth d says:

            I had to LOL at this Stephanie What a JO! I have to admit some of the things they do post breakup really do turn you off to them for good. Mine once established contact after a long NC and told me he had a connection with some woman. He proceeded to tell me about her. I had moved on with my man by then and he was just trying to get to me I realize. I said good then you won’t bother me and we can both move on. He said ohhh well when it comes to you all bets are off. eweee You have a connection and once again your hitting on me? It just lets us know the extent of their shallowness and what scum they are! It also enforces the idea that having contact with them means they have access to mindphuck you.

            • Sofia says:

              bethd, well, maybe I give my ex too much credit, I think though he won’t contact me at all and especially won’t say anything about his personal life. On some level he did have respect for me although he didn’t value what I had to offer. So I won’t go through any of that drama. That helps.

              • beth d says:

                Sofia You dodged a big time bullet by his lack of contact!!! Revel in that fact :)

                • Sofia says:

                  beth d, indeed! Right now it doesn’t seem like it, but intellectually I do know I am lucky he doesn’t contact me. I still need some time to heal to appreciate the fact that no contact from him is a good thing.

          • Sofia says:

            Stephanie, wow… I am sorry, but that guy is a loser. My ex has respect for me to never do anything like that. It has been 9 weeks NC… We will see. But I have over 100%+ confidence he has left me alone for good.

    • Sofia says:

      no_more: I have the same thoughts. Mine was not an abuser, drinker, AC, or anything really bad. He was consistent, polite, kind, and predictable. No disappearing acts, no drama. However, with all the niceness, he kept his walls up and I could never get close to him. He avoided or couldn’t have emotional intimacy and our relationship felt like a permanent date a lot. So eventually I had the last ultimatum commitment question and he bailed out. I am too about 9 weeks NC and have not heard from him and do wonder too. I am guessing actually NICE guys, although EUs, will leave you alone even though they might think of you and miss you, because they respect your healing and space. Because it’s a mature way to deal with a breakup. Perhaps your ex and mine ex will contact us in couple months or sometime within a year. I do know it’s better for me he doesn’t contact me (and he knows it I think), I still wonder, will he? Then I ask myself, if he does, what will I hear? An offer of a friendship? (which he did during the breakup) Hearing how he dates someone and moved on fast? No, I don’t want to hear either. Why do we want to hear from them now? To see if they are missing us? your relationship was 2,5 years long. Mine was just a year, but still it hurts. Like for you, these 2 months of NC were so painful. It was physical pain. Still is. I still pick up the phone and text a message with no number typed in and then I delete the message. So tough to not even say “hi” when you are used to talking to him several times a day – like you did with your ex. It is extremely hard to get him torn out of your life so suddenly and no word. How is it possible. Don’t they miss us? Don’t they still love us in a way? I think when you love someone, you will always love them in a way. Maybe differently, but there is always a place in your heart for people whom you used to love. I will always have a place in my heart for him, I know that.
      And another thing, guys process emotions differently. Actually they don’t process them at all. They switch to something and someone (maybe) very fast. They don’t dwell and analyze like women do. Most guys anyway. So, that’s why it appears they moved on immediately and don’t need to contact us. They just separate things very well and put their emotions out of their psyches very well. We as women can’t do that.

    • Sofia says:

      no_more: to add – so he started dating someone immediately? Why you broke up with him? What was the reason for the breakup?
      Anger is normal. It’s a part of healing. Just like the pain you are dealing with not being able to talk to him and see him, anger is a part of it. I haven’t had much anger. I did some, but not much. I wish I had more of it. I am afraid I turned some missing anger into self-blaming and guilting myself during the first two months (could have, should have, if I didnt’ say this, if I were this or that). A habit from childhood to take responsibility for everything. I figured that one out and am working on it. It’s healthy to be angry, don’t worry. It will pass too. yes, NC is empowering. There are some hours (I still live a day at a time) during the day I feel like flying I feel so powerful. Then there are hours and DAYS I cry I miss him so much. It is very hard. We are on about the same schedule. They say third month is the worst but the last of the worst phase (first 3 months). If you feel like texting /calling him, please go to this site and read the forum and post something. Anything. We are all here to listen to you, to respond to you and to support you. This board was my savior the first couple weeks after the break up. Then, particularly in the last 2-3 weeks I have been coming back here and posting every day almost. It helps tremendously. Sometimes I think, why I keep reading and posting on the subject. Am I not just recycling over and over? But no. I think it’s helping me and you now , then it is working. When we are healed , we won’t need to come here so often and recycle so much. We are in the BR site time phase of our postbreakup. It will get better.

      • no_more says:

        Sophia, Stephanie, Beth d., thank you all for the comments and encouraging words. It helps.

        Long story short: my EX and I were both married, I divorced and he never did, despite being separated for over 3 yrs. (Own apartment, finances legalized, etc.), but they had three kids and he kept using that as an excuse, vague responses to my increasing doubts he would get divorced. We broke up three times in the 2.5 yrs. First time he did it by email (the jerk), second time it was kinda mutual, and this last time I totally initiated it. I just up and left because he became distant, indecisive and cold. Wishy-washy and red flags that I had ignored for the whole relationship just REARED up and hit me at once! He also is a complete and utter hypochondriac, and quite frankly I had had it being his Florence Nightingale, too.

        However, we did have lots of fun together, he was very kind and supportive- when it was good timing for him! Actually, in retrospect, I gave 80% of the time and he was pretty selfish overall. (Writing it out at this moment really makes me see that!)

        Anyways, to make a typical! story short, he began to miss his kids again, and I could see that the relationship was going no where, so I cleared out, blocked him, deleted him, defriended him and have tried to focus on just me!

        I did get three measly Skype messages about three weeks into NC, but I DID NOT listen to them, and blocked him on there as well.

        I even went NC with his wonderful parents. They were the ones who told me he had got back together with his “dreadful” wife two days after I left.
        It is the two days that still it is bugging me. HOW SHALLOW!

        I accept responsibility for my decision to get involved with a separated man. I was vulnerable after a long, unhappy marriage, and can see he Fast forwarded me, and future faked.

        There would be nothing good to come out of EVER talking to him again, but despite ny determination, there is still that wee bit of me that would love to know he misses me some.

        That is what I am trying to fight at this point.

        I cried TONS the first 3 weeks, actual rocking back and forth and sobbing.

        But not so much the last 6 weeks. More, being angry at myself and him.

        Just having this site to read and support, knowing it’s going to be okay helps on bad days.

        That two days thing just sticks in my craw, though- what a jerk!!!

        • Sofia says:

          no_more, this guy is very confused. He is torn and not doing justice to anyone: You, his wife or himself. He can’t make a choice. He is not doing it intentionally. It’s just a wishy-washy personality. He goes whereever he feels like at the moment. Seems like everything was on his terms, his mood, his “determination.” I had a little bit similar experience. Not with my most recent ex. With another one. I had an affair with a married man, which I am ashamed to admit. That was 6 years ago. I can’t imagine now to get involved with a married man. Now, no_more, your story is different, you got involved with a separated man. I am bringing up my story, just to give you an example of a similar very confused man, who contacted me recently by the way. So I had an affair with him for about 7 months. He was telling me he was thinking of divorcing his wife. I didn’t want him to divorce his wife, it was his idea. I thought we just had an affair. Gradually I fell for him although all we did is having sex in my apartment. I can’t believe it was ME. Well, nowadays, after the last epiphany relationship, I can’t believe it was me even 2 months ago. Anyway, he stopped seeing me because he felt guilty. However, he maintained contact with me on and off. To make sure I am there. He was unhappy in his marriage, yet he was not sure if he wanted to be single and whether he wanted to see me at all. I waited for about 6 months with contact on and off (but not seeing each other) and then I gave up. Then this man comes back into my life, contacting me, saying he got divorced BUT he still lives with his wife in the same house. “Because he wants to be close to his kids.” Ok… he inquired me about my life, etc. So then, he would reappear once a year every year. Recently he reappeared about 6 months ago. I was in the relationship then with my most recent ex. He wanted to meet for lunch. I said, no, I am not interested. He was still divorced and living in the same house with his ex-wife. She even brought her bf over and he was fine with it. There was some kick to it. He enjoyed his wife having another man. I won’t go into that, but you get the picture. So, recently, after my breakup I completely went NC with every ex of mine. There were 3 who contact me once in a while. I kept silent, which is very unlike me. Usually I chat with them friendly once in a while. So, he kept contacting me for 2 months straight in a row, I was silent. Finally, I responded thinking, ok, going out and chatting won’t be bad. I don’t have any feelings left for him anymore anyway. So we decided to meet this Saturday last week. Goes one week and I thought he would follow up about meeting tonight. He remained silent even though persistently chasing me for 2 months! Well, the thing is I don’t care, and I go NC with him now FOR GOOD. But what it shows is that wishy-washy, flaky people don’t change. He was indecisive 6 years ago, he is still flaky now. He is someone who will always remain not here, not there. And that’s why no_more, don’t wait for him, don’t think he will change. People like that don’t. They are not evil or manipulators. They are just weak human beings who don’t know what they want and whom they want at any given time. Whatever floats their boat.
          I can relate about the first 3 weeks of rocking and sobbing. Crying TONS and going to sleep crying and wake up crying and thinking of him (my epiphany most recent ex). Then, next 3 weeks were ok, strangely, but then next 2-3 weeks (last 2-3 weeks) were hellish all over. Well now, week 9 – I have been feeling better in the last 2-3 days.
          The board and communication here help me tremendously. I couldn’t survive without it. And I get a good feeling here. It’s not spiraling and all over analyzing and digging. The experience I get here is that of healing and hope. It has been wonderful to have found this site and people like you, no_more.

        • Sofia says:

          no_more, I reread your post and wanted to add: Yes, there will be no good talking to him. He will waste your entire life by behaving exactly the same way. I know what you mean about having good times with him. That’s how it goes. These people are not monsters, they are kind in heart, but they are just tormented within and not sure about their decisions. They would rather make no decisions at all.
          The way he broke up with you the first time is lame. It’s not only lame, it’s betrayal. It’s cowardy. Repulsive. Breaking up is hard but it should be done as humane as possible. The first breakup anyway. After that, when things don’t work out again and again, one can just walk away, that’s understood without words even. My ex (not the most recent one but the one that was married – 6 years ago affair) broke up by not showing up anymore. Disappearing. Then reappearing on the chat and feeding me lies and hopes. And I kept waiting for 6 months waiting for him to divorce and reappear.I was such a fool. I can’t believe it. At least I have progressed with ACs and EUs. My last one – the epiphany one and the very last EU in my life – broke up with me decently. Face to face and with follow up if I needed to talk out more. No disappearing act. upgrade in EU! Haha. And the last EU or AC for that matter. I would rather be single for the rest of my life then accept crumbs and disrespect. Goodbye all the ACs and EUs of the world!

          • no_more says:

            “Upgrade in EU”! That made me laugh. I did the same thing! From an alcoholic, horribly unresponsive husband to a kinder, more demonstrative but still UNAVAILABLE one who was a huge jerk as well.

            My next relationship is now with me.

            • Sofia says:

              no_more, I know, I am laughing myself! At least we made some progress even during those years. We went from really bad to not so bad. But now finally we are done with all of them. No more lesser bad. Only good starting from now and on.

        • Bethd says:

          No more. It’s going to be ok. You will learn from this and you will be better than ever. Day at a time. You are progressing. We are here for you. (((Hugs)))

          • no_more says:

            Beth, Sofia..It just helps a lot talking it out and seeing in writing that you’re not alone.

            People make mistakes, like us in not setting boundaries and them for treating us badly, and flaking out.

            I think, even in the last few days, that I don’t want him to call because it would halt my progress, and it would serve no purpose. Even if he showed up at my door and said, “I’m divorced, let’s get married right this second”, I would say no. It is over. There is no going back, and while, a part of me is sad I lost a person who I loved very deeply, it wasn’t a REAL relationship and it never will be.

            On the bright side, I know what and how I would respond in the future (“Married? Get away from me), and I am learning my inner voice should never EVER be ignored.

            As NML says..getting involved with a married or separated man is a NO WIN situation. It never will be.

            I will NEVER allow myself to be second best again. With anyone.

            Thank you all again and ((Hugs)) back to everyone.

            • Sofia says:

              no_more, I get a tremendous amount of support here too. Reading yours and others’ posts help me healing and writing and responding and getting responses to my posts is the best healing and better than therapy, I think. In the last 2-3 weeks i have been having hard time, so I postponed reading on the other subjects and concentrated on reading and posting here most of the time when I have free time to read. It is like a life line, seriously. I know how you feel.One of my exes from far past, as I wrote in my previous posts yesterday, was married and then he got divorced but STILL lives with his wife. One thing is when a person is divorced, moved out, healed and done, then he is perhaps ready for another relationship. Another thing is when they are still living with their wives! They are not there, not here, and it will never change. It is such a drain for you. While they enjoy being wanted by both women. I know how hard it is for you. When I was with a married guy, who was “about to get divorced,” my life hung on expecting for him to get divorced. I built pretty castles thinking of us together. While he never planned to get divorced. well, he did eventually, but he still lives with her!! While she brings another man into her home! I wrote about this in one of my posts. He got in touch with me recently. I am absolutely indifferent to him now. It has been 6 years. So, I thought it would be ok to meet for a drink and talk, to get distracted. Actually not sure why I even agreed to it. Maybe my last ACs from 6 years ago are flushing out slowly too as I am flushing out my most recent decent but EU guy. He texted me yesterday at 23:30 p.m. saying, “I thought we were supposed to meet today.” ???? He has not changed at all. Lazy, selfish, wishy washy. BAck then, I would find excuses for his behavior, apologize for him, try to schedule another Saturday and wait and wait for him and play his game. I thought to myself, wow…. this person has not changed a bit! We were going to meet last Saturday but all week before that he never followed up whether we are meeting or not. Instead, he texted when Saturday was over already to say ” I thought we were supposed to meet.” I was about to put him on NC list and ignore list as I did before several times, but because I am indifferent to him, I didn’t mind responding and I said, “I didn’t hear from you so I understood there were other plans.” He said, ” you should have texted me anyways, I was sleeping all afternoon.” I wanted to laugh out loud. He pulled the same phrases and excuses 6 years ago when he didn’t feel like meeting, YET he maintained lazy communication with me by text/email, to make sure he is still liked and wanted by me. Now, this is a classic AC. And these people NEVER EVER change. I deleted his message and ignored. It was actually funny to go through this little exercise. I realized what a world of difference it is now for me. I won’t tolerate even a tiny drop of such behavior towards myself. He thinks I am still the same me, who will wait dutifully for him and take any excuse. it’s truly amazing how these ACs think.

              On a downside, I got emotional today and wanted to see a picture of my ex – the EU epiphany one. I don’t have Facebook account but you can still look up people’s pictures in some cases. I typed his name and saw his picture and I felt sick to my stomach and started crying immediately. I am so not over him. I wish I didn’t have internet connection sometimes in cases like this. Two months is not enough, obviously. You know this feeling when you look at his picture and he feels so close to you like nothing ever stopped and you are still together. This is so incredibly hard. It brought me such pain looking at his picture. Upset my mood and I was ok in the morning today. I really have to be strong and avoid looking at that picture just like I am avoiding contact. I can’t imagine what his contact would do to me. If even his picture makes me sick all over.

              • beth d says:

                Sofia Sending you hugs too!! No looking at pics or stalking on the internet. Thats as good as breaking NC. I even had to delete old emails, texts and voicemails so I wouldn’t get tempted. You and nomore are very early in the game. I promise you this will get better and the fog will clear. They are “nothing balls” and NOT SPECIAL Real love is soothing, solid, loyal and life affirming. These guys gave none of that!! You will come out of this better than ever. Promise :)

                • Sofia says:

                  Thank you, beth d:) What a great way to start a Monday. You are very encouraging! I do feel like I broke NC by looking up his picture. Luckily I don’t have Facebook account, so I don’t have to have all the defriending/stalking drama many people do (I see now how possible and “easy” it is having a virtual “access” to them). I deleted all his pictures and threw away the items I had from him the minute he walked out of my place after breaking up.

                  That was a wrong thing to do – to look up his picture. My advice to those who are fresh in NC (0-3 months), DO NOT LOOK up his picture. Will hurt the same just like if you were to go somewhere on purpose knowing you would find him there. Stalking pretty much, although internet seems innocent, but it’s the same thing and does you no good.

                  I feel good I admitted my blunder here. Makes me feel better.

                  It’s like rubbing in salt in the fresh wound – looking at his picture. It messed up my entire Sunday and triggered me to text him, which I didn’t do. Day 65 of NC!

              • Lynn says:

                Sofia – no more googling or looking at stuff. Do you have anything electronically that still needs deleted? I forgot I had a picture of my ex on my work PC and decided to delete it awhile ago and the funny thing is when I was deleting the song by Goyte ‘Somebody I used to know’ was playing. And the line ‘your somebody I used to know…’ played at the exact time of deletion. I thought that was funny/ironic. Just remember – it WILL get better. I didn’t think it would…but I am doing much better. Just keep trudging through the feelings…its the only way to heal healthily so you will be ready to meet someone that is healthy. :)

                • Sofia says:

                  Lynn, luckily I don’t. I deleted all the pictures from my computer and phone (never had developed any real pictures) within the same few minutes he left after he had broken up with me. I don’t have any social network accounts and that HELPS!!! I appreciate now especially being “disconnected” from the “real” world, so to speak. Otherwise, I KNOW it, I would stalk him, if after two months, I could not help it but sneak at his home page picture on Facebook. I didn’t really think he would change his picture. Just wanted to see his face and “feel” he is still alive. Like seeing his picture on Facebook tells you anything about where he is, how he is. Social networking can be illusive.
                  Anyway, that was definitely a bad idea to look him up. Took one day to recover and I am still thinking of that picture and hoping not to look at it again and cry. And then I thought to myself, why I am crying? Because he is so beautiful, successful, hot, etc, etc? Did I forget how he made me feel like I was never good enough? I received MUCH MORE critical, teasing/joking remarks from him (innocent he thought) than compliments. I had to beg for compliments myself, hahaha! And what I am crying for? Am I missing the emptiness after our permanent dating on the weekend was over? Am I missing how every time after sex, he would get up within 3,5 minutes to take a shower (never failed) to clean off my existence of him, symbolically speaking? Never to cuddle, play, feel cozy? What am I missing? His cold beauty and charm? I really thought about it today on and off and thought again, thanks to my friends and people on this board and Nat’s articles, that I DON’T MISS HIM. I miss the idea of love and a relationship I created in my head. No more looking at his picture. I will try my best when I feel like it. And yes, Lynn, thank you, I will keep reminding myself that keep going through all the feelings. No burying, no denying, just feel everything through to heal healthily and it will pass. Thank you for so much for your support. Made my day when I read your post earlier today.
                  I like it how you deleted a picture of your ex while and that line came up. :) That’s ironic how sometimes some songs, words, incidences happen while you are doing something relevant. Happened to me before when I was thinking about my other ex few years ago, the epitome of AC one, and the song came up in the store by Chris Isaac, I was thinking, “Wow, it has been a long long time I haven’t heard from that AC, thank God.” And Chris Isaac sang, “It has been a long long time.” And AC contacted me shortly:) That’s a different story though:)

  65. no_more says:

    *By the way..He was very, very charming at first, but the last six months..not so much.

    • beth d says:

      No more He is was guilty. My ex did the same thing to the woman he was seeing before me. We fought about it. He said I don’t want to hurt her anymore than I did. Such cowardice Another red flag I ignored. You have no idea that he is actually doing you a favor. The ones who keep coming back are usually Narcissists who come back for control and winning purposes. There is a good chance you will hear from him once his shiny new penny wears down. Thats when you will really need to be strong. This isn’t about you. This about a pathetic excuse of a human being.

      • Sofia says:

        beth d: you think they are not contacting because they are feeling guilty? Maybe. I don’t think mine doesn’t even care. That could not be true unless he is a sociopath and he is not. I will never find out why he is not contacting me. Perhaps I will stick to Wiser’s first category description where she says that some people just compartmentalize – when it’s over, it’s over for them. But in truth the feelings are buried deep and denied. Also, lack of empathy is my ex’s “strength” and also he always covers up any negative and conflicting feelings. Always pushes away the negative and used to call me negative when I simply talk about emotions, bad or good and show how I feel. He was always even, controlled. So I see how a person like he could just put all the emotions away. Over means it’s over. That simple.

  66. AfroK says:


    I completely agree that it is a projection of their own issues and insecurities. Really, that would explain why they view our kids as their rival hence the competing with them for our full antention.

    How cruel for your girlfriend to call your daughter that mean name. That is what comes from a mouth of a bully, not a potential mom to be. You should be glad that she is not near your daughter because she sounds like she would have slowly but surely eroded your daughter’s self esteem with labels like that.

    Like you said us adults with kids have to date for two. We have our kids to out to, not just ourselves. And it is easy sometimes to focus on how we feel about the person, and how they profess to feel about us. But if their love isn’t big enough to accomodate who they know is the most important person in our lives (our kids), you start to wonder how genuine their love is. And I think if it comes down to that, even if the sun shone from their bottom, we shouldn’t hesitate to be there for our children and drop these kind of mean characters out of their lives.

    • Mike from Oztralia says:

      Thanks for that AfroK. Your words are just the affirmation I need.

      The past few months have been hard, but getting better. When I experience the nostalgia filter I remind myself: wait, what where those words again? What did she call my child?

      I’ve had this peculiar mix of grief, anger and even guilt for letting someone like that get that close to my child.

      Didn’t we have some good times?

      Miss Un even admitted she felt it difficult to “share me”.

      I used to use the mantra “I deserve better” as a circuit breaker for ruminating on the past.

      But now I think I will change that to “WE deserve better”.

      My girl and I deserve better people than that.

      It’s been about 10 weeks now. I’m getting more moments of clarity and calmness. I’m having some notable successes in my personal and professional life. I’m having greater (and more extended) periods where I don’t think about Miss Unavailable and the past.

      Time and NC are doing their work. In a way it feels like a toxic venom is slowly leeching from my system. As it leaves if hurts, and even creates with drawl symptoms. But then I feel like the very necessary healing is underway.

      • Noquay says:

        Mike from oz
        You put it well; withdrawal from a toxic addiction, one that slowly seeps from your system. I think after a charmer, one of the worst things is the understanding that most folks aren’t terribly charming, articulate, good looking. Though they may be really good people, it is hard to accept that many decent folk are going to come off as kinda boring until one is fully done with “detox”. Yep, and in your case, what is best for your child is #1. Children do not listen much to what one says, but rather to how one acts.

      • Lynn says:

        Mike – you just reminded me of something when you said she felt it difficult to share you. When my Ex EUM would have his daughter and she would cuddle with him I would for some reason get jealous. And I think I just figured out I knew deep down that the love he has for his kids, he would never technically have with me. I know its different love but I wanted to be as important as his kids I guess. The only two people he cares about really are his kids. He told me when we were together he was 75% in the relationship … we talked about moving in together etc. Not sure how you can be in a relationship at 75% and consider moving in with someone. I wasn’t ready so we postponed that discussion.

        Anyway – I always wondered why I would be jealous of his daughter when she would cuddle with him. I loved his daughter…and thought it was ridiculous to have those feelings. Now I think I get it.

      • Lilia says:

        Mike and AfroK,

        Thanks for bringing this up. I realise I´ve always been a bit reluctant to bring someone new into my kids´lives, and I´m figuring that is why I´ve tended towards EUMs. They are safer, in that they don´t have any intention to take things seriously, so there is no risk of them having any important involvement with my children. All my involvements post-divorce with my kids´dad have been extremely EU, with no stability whatsoever, far less commitment.

        I guess I´ve always felt that any “normal” relationship with a man would be very damaging to my children, because there would be this pressure to choose between him and them. I can´t imagine a man to adapt to my family as it is, and to accept how important my children are to me. It´s like I would have to hide them from him, somehow. So that is in part why I´ve gotten involved with these flimsy wishy-washy guys who had no intention of ever meeting my children anyway.

        I seriously hope things can be different, and that there are men out there who don´t object to a woman with this kind of baggage. My experience hasn´t been too good, when I didn´t have children I had a boyfriend who was jealous of my cat! And of my parents, and friends, and whomever…
        My ex husband had some issues with his own children as well, it´s like he wanted to be mothered by me too, and didn´t want to take on a father role.
        Anyway, I also see a lot of people who remarry and the new partner is very hostile towards their kid. Perhaps it´s too much to ask, for someone to be kind to their partner´s child?

        • lizzp says:

          “Perhaps it´s too much to ask, for someone to be kind to their partner´s child?”

          Is that a serious question? No. No, that is not too much to ask, Never. Though I do think it is equally maybe more important to ensure the new partner is *capable* of actively respecting our children. Children need the significant adults in their lives to demonstrate good boundaries. And just as the incoming partner needs to respect the relationship between the child and the parent and slowly build their own relationship with the child based on trust and respect, the child needs to be (age appropriately)encouraged to respect the relationship between his/her parent and their new partner. That is of course on the proviso that the new adult relationship is basically a mutually respectful/healthy one. A child will rightfully resent being forced/told by adults to respect his/her parent’s new relationship when it is obviously a disrespectful/otherwise unhealthy dynamic.

          • lizzp says:

            “I guess I’ve always felt that any “normal” relationship with a man would be very damaging to my children, because there would be this pressure to choose between him and them. I can´t imagine a man to adapt to my family as it is, and to accept how important my children are to me. It´s like I would have to hide them from him, somehow. So that is in part why I´ve gotten involved with these flimsy wishy-washy guys who had no intention of ever meeting my children anyway.

            I seriously hope things can be different, and that there are men out there who don´t object to a woman with this kind of baggage.”

            I’m not sure if I am reading the context wrong here, but I don’t think baggage is a good way to describe our children or think about our children from a previous relationship or marriage. Not in the context of pondering our potential new partner’s expectations anyway. But really, in any context. Our baggage, to my mind, is emotional, the stuff we carry unawares from our past, not actual people. Not our ex husband and his fatherhood phobia but our unresolved feelings about that relationship, not our children and their various difficulties, characters etc but our unresolved feelings about our own childhood or our unresolved/unexamined feelings around being a parent to our children or what becoming a parent has meant to us.

            As to the feeling/fear of having to choose between your children and a relationship, that is something that is worth serious attention. Sure there are men out there who might have such an expectation but that’s not the issue. I think you need to be asking yourself where this choice bizzo as an internal pressure comes from. An adult intimate relationship and a parent-child or new partner/step parent-child relationship are two completely separate and bounded relationships in their own right. If you are clear on this then you won’t have any trouble kicking any dating partners who are not to the curb

      • no_more says:


        My ex allowed his wife to use the kids emotionally and verbally over and over to get at him during their separation. He never put his foot down. She would tell the kids they were getting a “New daddy” and he wasn’t going to be their dad anymore. Used to make me crazy when he wouldn’t stand up to her about NOT TORMENTING the kids. He whined about it, cried but NEVER took action.

        Bordered on abusive in my mind.

        Having said that, it sounds like you were no where near being like that, you went into protective mode for your daughter, and you are more determined than ever to do right by her.

        Good for you! Stay strong!

  67. AfroK says:


    “WE deserve better”..I like it. Another mantra to put on that t-shirt and please print a few!

    You are doing really well for 10 weeks and you couldn’t be in a better place than BR. It has taken me a few years to start seeing clarity and start a recovery journey from the impact of the abusive marriage. BR is God sent, If I didn’t discover BR, I would still be in the dark.

    Forgive yourself on how you handled miss un attitude to your daughter. Your daughter is safe now and you seem to have learnt from the whole experience, which will help you to respond differently in the future, has it to happen again (I hope not).

  68. teachable says:

    Not sure why but charmers are a total turn off to me. I suspect due to growing up needing to be street smart to survive I can just smell a mile off they stink. One guy I dated was a little charming but they can never hold up the charade long with a woman who is grounded in her own athenticity & genuineness. I watched the mask slip & kicked that one to the curb quick smart! Charming to me is just sleezy wrapped up in a nice word. YUK!

    • bethd says:

      Teach I hear ya but charming encompasses many things. When they are charming funny, smart, and the hot thrown in there its tough. I told my ex right out of the box don’t bs me cause I smell it 2 miles out and we laughed about it. Even though he is a huge narcissist one thing we always did throughout our relationship was laugh alot. It truly clouded my judgement when he begged for friendship which is why I had so much trouble with NC.

      • Mymble says:

        I agree, charmers aren’t necessarily obvious flatters. The MM was extremely good company, clever, funny and subtle. He was a good listener and very observant. These are great qualities, or rather abilities, to have, but unfortunately he used them for bad purposes and was a total narcissist.

        • beth d says:

          Mymble Exactly the same scenario with me right down to the total narcissist. Excellent listener, clever, great company and yes very subtle. Was not an obvious flatterer and was a great conversationalist. I loved talking to him for sure which made me think I could be friends with him after I had NC’d for awhile. Mistake! He definitely used his great qualities for bad purposes!!

    • Revolution says:

      Same here, Teach.

      • Teachable says:

        I knew I saw you here somewhere Rev. Big bear hug Missy and hoping you’re going well! Teach :)

  69. Karm says:

    “When we’ve experienced an excessive amount of criticism in childhood (or we perceive certain experiences as a criticism of us), we tend to gravitate to people who are charming. We’ll be highly responsive to praise because it’s the whole being given a cracker after not eating for six months in the desert.”

    Thanks again, Nat! I’ve very recently come to this same conclusion about myself–that I tend to gravitate towards people who activate my people-pleasing thyroid due to receiving lost of criticism during my childhood and teens.

    It’s not a very pleasant conclusion, and I find that I have this problem will all my relationships, not just my romantic ones. I even have this issue with complete strangers.

    Thanks for this really blunt post. I needed it. It’s hard to fight my ingrained pattern to put others on pedestals (usually “charming” others who in the grand scheme of things aren’t worth my time)…and I think I’ll have to battle it for the rest of my life.

    But, hopefully, with your as ever helpful posts, some therapy, and self introspection, I’ll get to the point one day when I don’t let that little I’m-not-good-enough voice dictate how I live my life, who I choose to have deep relationships with, and how I see myself.

    Much <3! Keep up the awesome posts!

  70. Nigella says:

    Yup, the ex was a quintessential charmer. Through his charm & charisma – his artful use of language – he’s able to befriend people, including those in positions of power. To win favor, he can charm birds out of the tree, except those skeptical and self-assured enough not to take his bait. From the get-go, I could see that people were drawn to him like bumblebees to a honey pot. They buzzed. He beamed & basked in their company. Since I’m attracted to leaders – rather than groupies, followers, or bumblebees – I liked the image of him not brownnosing, pawing, or fawning over others. I assumed that this *image* demonstrates his *independence*. Overtime, I realized that he is in fact embroiled in co-dependent friendships: he and his friends used one another as distractions from their problems and romantic partners. During our 2.5 months of dating, four of his friends broke-up with their gf or bf and turned to him to handle what he described as their “drama” and “woes”. Later, I realized that like them he was accustomed to breaking-up & shacking-up with someone new. Like serial rebounders, they leap-frogged from one relationship to the next. I also realized that – despite his ability to get a lot done on his own – the Liar is, due to his narcissistic tendencies, massively dependent on others for their approval and attention.

    Gradually, I realized that he narrated stories in which he cast himself as the likeable & much-loved leader of the pack – as the one shouldering greater responsibilities than others – in order to impress & perhaps intimidate me. For his success, popularity, and intelligence, I respected him. But instead of respect, care, and encouragement, I think he expected submission & adoration from me. To feel secure & superior to me, he needed me to offer him the sort of uncritical approval, admiration, and attention that his mates supplied to him. Did I worship him in bed? Did I tolerate his insufferable need for control & adoration in order to get a dose of sex? Did I overvalue him because of my dependence on him for sex? Yes, I made this mistake. Otherwise, if truth be told, his achievements & admirers did not impress me enough – even though they initially *hooked* me to him. Equality is important to me. In a relationship I expect to be on equal footing with a reliable and caring *partner*, not a boss or cult figure in whose presence I have to be subservient. Since I chose not to play second fiddle to him – or act as one of his bumblebees – he lost interest in me. I began to realize that the Liar, instead of being in egalitarian relationships, preferred to be in hierarchical ones in which he usurped the dominant position, scripting the terms of the relationship for both parties.

    Because I didn’t accede to his terms or demands, he abandoned his former efforts to charm me in order to pursue me to meet his friends. It unnerved me that a few times he said things such as: “I want you to meet all my friends. They are a *big* part of my life. They’ll be so *jealous*. I can’t wait to show you off to them.” I liked meeting a close friend of his. But I needed more time to get to know him before involving more people in our relationship. I had to be sure that he wasn’t using me as a show pony. The moment he understood that I won’t rush into meeting his friends, he stopped feeding me his charming words, phone calls, and emails. In response to the first sign of conflict or disagreement between us, he stopped appreciating my efforts to connect with him and started to search for flaws in me. In the absence of onlookers, our relationship just did not mean anything to him. I mattered to him only if he could use me to shine a brighter light on him. I could be dead wrong but I think the ex is only a little if at all *aware* of the extent to which he (a) needs an audience to adore, admire, and fear him, and (b) uses his friends as buffers between himself and his gf for his distancing act. To *avoid* sharing his concerns or resolving issues, he runs to his friends under the pretext of helping them. I feel sorry for him for his dependence on bumblebees, and I shudder to think of how he could have injured my self-esteem and derailed me from my goals had I continued to tolerate his inconsistent behavior or agreed to meet his friends in order to please him. It hurt a lot that he dumped me. But unlike his former gfs, I’m glad I didn’t get the boot from him after 1-2 years of a sham relationship.

    The charmer, I noticed, started to act like a sourpuss after he heard I was being recruited by a top firm in my field. It saddened me to sense that he could not – despite trying – feel happy for me. It also dawned on me – though I denied it at the time – that he resented the affection and support I received from several good-hearted people in my life. Next time, I need to ensure it doesn’t take me so long to see through charmers and their personal agendas. Maybe someday I’ll love someone who’ll love me for who I am – and not for what I can *supply* to them in their insatiable quest for fame, excitement, power, and approval.

    • Noquay says:

      Sounds like he understood he was much less than you and was trying to cut you down to his level.

  71. Lilia says:

    Thanks for your comments. I wasn´t thinking of my children as baggage – just a language misunderstanding!

    I think I´m just very put-off by the people with kids I´ve seen around me who get into new romantic relationships. There is always a lot of friction between the new partners and the (step)kids. There are even films about the phenomenon, I can think of The way way back, but there are others. There are even fairytales about this! Think Cinderella, etc…

    And as I see it, as a mom I will always put my children first, simply because the bond with a child is much, much deeper than a romance. I´ve yet to come across a man who will accept that I´m a mother first.

    I´m very judgmental about women who will emotionally (or physically) abandon their kids so as to maintain a romantic relationship. I´ve seen this happen in my own family; my father´s new partner left her teenage son with some relatives so she could go live abroad with my father. The poor kid is now 23 and so severely depressed he hasn´t been able to do anything with his life. Plus, he is overweight and an alcoholic.

  72. Diane says:

    My guy was never really “charming” he was more the Heathcliff type — dark, brooding, mysterious. He’d look at me the way Ralph Fiennes looked at Kristin Scott Thomas in The English Patient. Like he wanted to eat me alive. The gulf between reality and fiction is so strong and wide that I think women should never watch “great love” stories. I think it sets up enormous expectations that can never be met in the real world. This is a man who looked at me like I was the soul mate he’d been waiting 10 lifetimes for — but he wouldn’t inconvenience himself for me in the slightest. Oh, and he had a sneaky and perpetual interest in other women. So, yeah, reality. Ain’t it a bitch.

    • beth d says:

      “This is a man who looked at me like I was the soul mate he’d been waiting 10 lifetimes for — but he wouldn’t inconvenience himself for me in the slightest. Oh, and he had a sneaky and perpetual interest in other women.” Ughh boy does this sound like my ex!! Is he from the NYC area? lol It truly reflects the tactics of a covert Narcissist.

  73. Smoking_Mirrors says:

    I’ve been negotiating a deal with a formidable opponent, who seemed courteous, cordial, respectful, and competent.

    I fully expected him to fight for his clients’ best interests, but I thought he was a decent guy who would act honorably. But, I also thought he was behaving aggressively, pretending to be ‘nice’, and setting me up to screw me over on the deal.

    Well, he tried to screw me over, and when I called him on it, he assured me it wasn’t his intention; his contract was standard for the industry; he’d been using the same terms for years, but he wanted to know what I wanted; he wasn’t a mind reader afterall. I remember how good I felt when he asked me what I wanted; promised to give it to me; and complimented me on my legal prowess. I felt in control of the situation; it felt good to be heard, listened to, and then to resolve the issues–my ego was stroked, and my younger self was basking–so annoyingly giddy–in his praise. I’d been activated, and now I felt attracted to him, but I knew I wasn’t attracted to him; yet, I vowed to keep our interactions strictly business; I assured friends I just like men.

    Within days, he reneged, and the only promises kept were mine to him; And that wasn’t even the worse part of it: he tried to screw me over again, and then he started in with some crazy making. He would ignore my requests, and keep hammering away for his. Then, he would try to re-negotiate terms we had already settled–death by a 1000 cuts. I’m meticulous and well organized, so he failed. But then, he upped the ante with some good ole fashioned gas lighting, and with my spidey senses on overload, I shut the deal down, and headed for the hills.

    I’m angry at him for trying to f–k with my beautifully healed mind. His lack of integrity really disgusts me. I’ve been wondering what wound I need to heal. What is it? I love ME. What do I need? Am I going to have to live with this pattern for the rest of my life? Or maybe it was just a little stumble. I’m not angry with ME, but I’m concerned.

    This experience really solidified my relationship requirement of good communication, amongst other things. It reminded me of all the times I screamed as a child just wanting to be heard…trying to make sense out of the words yelled back at me from a crazed mind. Sadly, I think the hook was just him being nice to me, a true cracker, so edible when your own parents fed you shit.

    It’s strange, but I think my younger self just wants me to be nice to ME. Maybe it’s the way I talk to me.
    Why can’t I just be nice to me? Why all the shaming and never ending tough love? How about a drama free, loving conversation, instead of a constant reprimand of how if I hadn’t done this or that “YOU wouldn’t have fucked up”? I read somewhere that the shaming and fear of the critical voice in our heads is what keeps the ‘disease’ alive. I’m thinking: guess what me, I’m good enough.

    I’m going back to the bargaining table because it is my job, and I’m looking forward to completing this project with renewed strength.

    • beth d says:

      Smoking Mirrors “I’m going back to the bargaining table because it is my job, and I’m looking forward to completing this project with renewed strength.” You go girl. Burn that shaming and fear and knock em dead! Good Luck!

    • Sofia says:

      Smoking_Mirrors: I reread your post and found a contradiction (if I misunderstood, I apologize). You say, “I’ve been wondering what wound I need to heal. What is it? I love ME.”

      And then you say, “Why can’t I just be nice to me? Why all the shaming and never ending tough love? How about a drama free, loving conversation, instead of a constant reprimand of how if I hadn’t done this or that “YOU wouldn’t have fucked up”?

      Which part do you believe more in?

      I never even asked myself if I love myself. I started asking just couple months ago. Being 36 that’s still not late at all. I don’t even know what it is to love myself. That’s why I think I got involved in shady relationships while didn’t appreciate the couple good ones I had. Exactly, I think, because in the good relationships I was loved and respected and that felt weird and unfamiliar. In shady relationships I accepted crumbs and that felt right.

      You sound like a very intelligent, confident and a strong person. That’s why the second part where “Why can’t I be just nice to me?” caught my attention because prior to that paragraph I thought I had been reading someone who loves herself.

      It seems (maybe) it’s difficult for you to forgive someone and yourself for whatever perceived or real mistakes that happened. From your post, I can’t see clearly what exactly happened as far as a romantic relationship went. Maybe if you write more details, we can give you a more constructive advice and/or support.

      By the way, if it makes you feel any better: You have an excellent command of English. Your writing is brilliant.

  74. Smoking_Mirrors says:

    Hi Sofia,

    Thank you for the feedback.

    Yes, I love ME, so I’m going to refrain from mistreating ME when I make a mistake.

    Sofia, self-love is easy. :)


    • Sofia says:

      Smoking_Mirrors, thank you for the link. Exactly what I needed! I am going through not just one transformation: learning to love myself but also going through a spiritual discovery where love of oneself is not ultimately the goal, but it is a foundation of course for something higher than ONESELF. That’s a different subject, I won’t go into it. Both of my transformations are positive and focused on my life. And that’s what matters. I am happy for you, that you choose YOU. :) That’s my goal as well!

  75. Genki says:

    It’s been a while since I commented…it’s astounding how similar these guys are!! My ex husband was not charming in the sense of the word but he had to have control & people’s adoration. He was the brooding type & critical of so many things. There was a comment that someone wondered why their ex didnt want to get back with them…the fact that my ex now realises all the wrong & hurtful things he did & wants to get back with me infuriates me…, I’ve asked him to leave me alone I only want civil contact for our daughter but he continually bombards me with questions about getting back together completely ignoring my requests to stop talking about it..,it just shows me he hasn’t changed, again it’s all about him, not about leaving me in peace because he already hurt me enough with his lying & cheating….he still wants to be in my life…it makes me want to smash him…to try to get him to see what he is like…but I try to walk away in peace my life is really so much better now without him, more fun, more relaxing, more money, less stress!! It’s amazing all that sexual attraction I once felt is gone – I don’t miss his rubbish & manipulation & criticism (didnt like my short skirts or my friendly personality) haha I look back now & can’t believe I listened to any of his rubbish over my instinct. I had the dreams too – even around our wedding time 6 years ago but I didn’t listen to myself. A big & serious thank you always to Nat & BR readers.

  76. hbabe says:

    Thank goodness for this blog and for Nat’s no nonsense articles and advice! I’ve just gotten back into dating and initially with a few stumbles are slowly trying to know ‘good’ men and steer clear of assclowns/playas! Am always wary of a guy who’s words never match their actions…can never plan in advance and uses flattery as a way to get what they want!

  77. Demke says:

    Wow. I used to turn to drinking when I felt the withdrawal from the ex, and blamed myself for it… And then in almost like a panic mode of the thought of him seeing other women, or just not wanting me anymore. I just can’t believe that in reading others stories, Im not the only one who turned to alcohol to cope with the flip-flapping – it’s because it wasnt normal behavior! On both parts. It was like I went into hiding and obsessed over him (but would back off… Give him his space, not initiate contact, and wait for him to come back). So… He would never see me sweat, but behind the scenes I was putting on a good face, while dying inside. I think these men are so egotistical and self-centered. They don’t care what they’re doing to other ppl’s emotions. On the flipside, finding my maturity as an ‘adult’, adjusting my attitude, and writing down my feelings (instead of drama-blasting him), and focusing on my goals and purpose in life – which is to raise two well balanced children who feel completely loved and accepted, and not caring about what others think of me, diminishes that drama. I couldnt entertain that stupid crap if I tried, that fear and need to feel validated by people who are really undeserving of my time, doesnt exist anymore. It took me having to grow up already… Stop being a complainer and dweller… And putting my focus on where it belongs… Myself and my kids. We tend to have tunnel vision when it comes to these men, when really… If you were to look around and compare, you could find a dozen more just like them. It takes maturity, no more dwelling and obssessing, and focus on creating goals for yourself towards what you really want in your life (but you have to ‘believe’ it), and really being your own boss and not giving an eff what others expect of you to move away from unhealthy/negative involvements. If I can do it, anyone can.

  78. Sofia says:

    Very well said, Demke. I feel I grew up in the last 2-3 months like I had not yet in my 36 years of life. Finally. Amen. I feel so much happier now (except going through the natural pain of healing, but that will go away). Looking for another job. Want to change my career. I feel good. The whole life is ahead. And I focus on my child and me. It’s our life. I am whole and happy. With or without that someone.

  79. Reli says:

    This blog (in it’s entirety) has literally saved me! Now I know I’m not crazy, delusional, or a complete moron…but I do have some things I need to focus on to repair my self-esteem. I can finally knock him off that blasted pedestal I built for him out of my own blood, sweat, and tears!!! I can take responsibility and most importantly take my power back. An absolute life-saver. Thank you.

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!