Typic

Recently, a few people have asked me for advice on a situation that typically goes as follows:

“I’d really like to meet someone for dates / fun / companionship / affection / attention / sex but I’m not looking for a relationship. I like my life right now / I’m still feeling bruised by my previous relationship(s) / I’m super-duper busy and would find it difficult to give myself over to somebody / I have trust issues / I’m really horny / I just don’t want to be on my own. How do I go about meeting somebody? By the way, I don’t want to be with a playa  or somebody who treats me casually and they must be _________”, cue list of requirements.

My response tends to go along these lines:

So let me get this right: You want to start dating but you don’t want it to progress into a committed relationship because you like your life too much / you’re emotionally unavailable and basically not over your ex or your past / you’re busier than a president or prime minister / you have difficulty trusting people / you need to get laid / you basically don’t like your own company so are looking for somebody else to give you self-esteem and to shield you from your issues?

You want somebody who doesn’t behave like they’re in a casual relationship or who isn’t flat out avoiding one, to be with somebody (you) that doesn’t want to be in a relationship which would make it casual and who is in fact avoiding a relationship?

Isn’t this a ‘relationship’ all on your terms? Also, if you’re not interested in a relationship, why are there so many caveats and peeves?

Part of the reason why so many people encounter issues with dating is down to a lack of honesty, as in, we can be very contradictory about our needs, expectations and desires and we don’t all date for the same reasons. While plenty date with a genuine view to finding a long-term partner, many date with the view to enjoying the fringe benefits of dating without the ‘hassle’ of emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally contributing and eventually committing. Sometimes their attitude is, “If they’re that special, my reticence about being emotionally available and committing will disappear”.

There’s nothing wrong with not wanting a relationship. None of us are under obligation to commit and if all we want to do is get jiggy, have a chat, an ego stroke and a sense of someone being there, there are people out there who will take on this role because it’s all that they want too. The problem isn’t in not wanting a relationship; it’s expecting to subjugate people who want something different to your terms.

If you’ve been treated in this way you have to be careful of doing the same to others. That’s your litmus test: if somebody came to you with this proposition, would you be happy with it?

Never has it been so easy to collect attention, to go on a dates that don’t go beyond one or a few, or to get laid – just go on a dating site or lurk around in a bar. If you want a friends with benefits or ‘companionship’ scenario, there’s someone out there that’s only too happy to oblige. Part of the reason why people are dishonest about their intentions is because they know that in saying what they really want, it ‘narrows’ their options to casual which may be ‘too real’.

If you want a quality relationship or would struggle with the emotional consequences of getting involved even if it were casual, you have to step up and deal with your fears so that you can have the relationship that reflects your true needs, expectations and wishes, not some ill thought out contradictory concept that opens you up to more pain.

The type of situation outlined above isn’t particularly attractive to someone, unless they’re the type that gets off on a challenge, possibly because they haven’t got the self-esteem to turn you down.

Why would someone who actually wants to eventually be in a healthy, mutual relationship be with someone who doesn’t? Of course, this is why a lot of people who don’t truly want a relationship intimate that they ‘might’ change their mind or even say that they do at the outset and then find ‘sudden’ reasons to backtrack on something that they weren’t truly going to do in the first place…

Being contradictory is exactly why so many people end up being the ‘Buffer’ in a rebound relationship or the rainy day activity pack in an unavailable someone’s life who just wants to pass time and avoid themselves.

Ambivalent people who don’t know what they want or do know but don’t want to be honest about it, end up with people who are also contradictory or who will exploit their ambivalence.

There is something very ‘off’ if you feel entitled to seek out or have relationship-minded folk while not actually being genuinely available. It’s also a big problem if you continue the involvement on your terms knowing that the other party is being compromised.

If it’s not mutual, it’s not healthy.

If you don’t want a relationship right now or even ever, be honest with you about those reasons so that you don’t end up setting you up for a fall with contradictory requirements, plus it’s an opportunity to listen to you and discover how to meet your own needs, expectations and wishes in an authentic, healthy manner. If you wouldn’t be content with being treated as an emotional airbag, boredom soother, attention supply, or Dialacompanion or even Dialalay, don’t treat others this way and dress it up as on-so-special, because really, it’s not.

Your thoughts?

Natalie Lue is the founder and writer of Baggage Reclaim and author of the books Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship and more. Learn more about her here and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter – @baggagereclaim .

Natalie (NML) – who has written posts on Baggage Reclaim by Natalie Lue.


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239 Responses to Contradictions: I want to date but I don’t want a relationship but I don’t want to date someone who’s casual either

  1. Valley Forge Lady says:

    The ambivlent attitude expressed by the “I wanna play around and not get serious” has been the bain of my dating experience.

    What I have to do is put on my Big Girl Pants and tell these guys …..NEXT!!!!!

    I come here often to get my courage up to do just that!

  2. I guess this applies to me as I am interested in dating as ‘friends’. I want the casual flirting, maybe kissing, but don’t want it to go any further than that as I am not over my ex-boyfriend yet.

    I realise that this is due to low self-esteem issues, but the confidence these ‘casual’ dates give me help boost my confidence and I feel good knowing that I am not as unwanted as my ex made me feel.

    However, the second I feel like the guy wants more, I make it clear I just want to be friends as I don’t want to lead anyone on and play with their feelings.

    It’s just a short-term relief pill.

    • Lia says:

      Yea, be careful. Rebounds tend to be faux confidence boosters, and the good feelings don’t usually last that long.

      • Lia you’re totally right. Because even as I get to know them or am having a good time with them, the second its over, I can’t get rid of the ‘empty’ feeling where all I want is to be back with the ex and get back to feeling low.

        I guess it’s one step and a time and I need to work on myself first.

    • Carla says:

      A type of emotional/sexual “tampon”.

    • Allison says:

      Wish,

      You are leading people on, for the purpose of your ego. This is not nice!
      How would you feel if you were used like this?

      Why don’t you learn to improve yourself esteem on your own, as others cannot do it for you.

      • I have not, as yet, gone further than flirting with any of these ‘dates’. I would hate to lead them on at all because I agree that I would hate for this to happen to me.

        I also know they can’t improve my self-esteem for me, but sometimes all you need is knowing that you’re not worthless and other people DO want you for who you are.

        I think the guys I meet are really nice, but we just lack chemistry at the moment. Perhaps this is denial and what I am really looking for is a carbon-copy of my ex boyfriend.

        But they make me feel like I matter. And I think it will speed up my recovery along with me working on myself at the same time.

        • Allison says:

          Wish,

          Other people cannot make you feel like you matter, as this has to come from you. If you choose to seek validation and self esteem boosts from men, you will continue the same unhealthy pattern.

          Stay single for awhile, get to know and love yourself!

        • Mymble says:

          Wish
          If you couldn’t get a date, would that mean you didn’t matter, to you?
          Is your dateability the measure of your worth?
          Do you feel that other people who cannot or do not date, do not matter?
          Why are you letting other people – men – decide what you are or are not worth and whether or not you matter?
          Do you feel your sexuality is the only or most important thing of value you have?

          • It’s like this: when I get asked out on a date or when guys are interested, a part of my mind goes “HA! So you thought I couldn’t move on after you? Well I’m damn well going to try.”

            The fact that he cheated repeatedly and then moved on within a few days makes me desperate not to be ‘left behind’. I don’t want him to think I’m waiting and pining for him because I deserve better.

            I don’t want them to define me, but I want to know that it is within my power to be able to continue recovering and moving on from an abusive ex. And the dates validate that.

            I am working on my own self-esteem at the same time too.

            • TR says:

              So… you’re dating these men to prove something. Prove to your ex you don’t need him, prove to yourself you can move. But your ex doesn’t care — you need to stop thinking what he’d think of you dating, and you’re not there yet. And these dates only prove that you are willing to be unfair to someone and possibly hurt them — because you are still hurting and unavailable. How do you think these men would feel if they knew the reason you went out when them wasn’t because you were interested, you were justing trying to prove something? Using people who did you no wrong in this way is not recovery. At best, you are temporarlily dulling the pain and giving you ego a boost, and at worst, you are actually delaying recovery and using people.

            • AKAs says:

              Hey Wish,
              I totally get what you’re saying. I think its normal and healthy (after a sort amount of time) to go out casually dating – as long as you’re truthful and upfront I don’t see the problem.

              • Mymble says:

                So if you are being truthful you would say “I only want to go out on dates and be bought drinks and meals. I have no interest in a relationship of any kind, I am doing this to prove to myself and my ex that I can get male attention”.
                I don’t think many men would have any interest if it was laid out like that. Dating implies that you’re open to and actively looking for a relationship.

                • Mymble says:

                  Sorry to sound snarky.
                  I feel I was used, (among other things) as an airbag, a seduction training exercise, and an ego inflation pump, without any regard for my feelings.

                • grace says:

                  Mymble
                  I think some men might have an interest in that! Unfortunately, we tend to come off worse in that deal even if it’s what we say we wanted.
                  I think a bigger problem is thinking that male attention is the answer. I find that it is not. If you’re not over the ex, get over the ex. Don’t avoid it. If your self-esteem is shaky, men can’t shore it up. It’s a temporary fix up job, it doesn’t go deep enough, it doesn’t last and it will bite you in the ass. It makes you very susceptible to cheating, fantasy affairs, future fakers, married men, charmers and players,.

        • Lau_ra says:

          I’ve been there, and I believe many of us in here been there too, when we go on dates just to proove to ourselves that we are *wanted* even if some particular man no longer wants us in his life (and doesn’t matter whether he was an AC, or not).
          But what I understood is that thats exactly how I ended up in relationships which caused me the greatest pain – by being a rebound girl, who is used just to boost someones ego as a proof that they are *wanted* even if some lady doesn’t want them anymore. Why would you want to do things to someone that you don’t want for yourself, huh?
          I have a live reminder what such behaviour does – a friend of mine who has gone through a divorce and obviously feels very hurt by her decision to end things, is a total EUM. Just right after his divorce he started demonstrating “no woman is worthy of me, I’ll revenge them all” attitude, so I actually asked him not to date anyone until he feels healed. He said he constantly thinks of how not to get some nice woman hurt, but guess what he does-now hes casually involved with a single mother! She already developed feelinngs for him and told him that, and he still continues this *relationshit* knowing he won’t reciprocate her love.
          I think such cost of self-matter is not reasonable…it degrades other person to a means instead of being a purpose…

  3. lawrence says:

    Right on, Natalie.

    Reminds me of a discussion my (most recent) ex and I once had. I asked her after we’d broken up how much effort she’d invested in our relationship. She replied immediately: “40%.” I then asked, why did she think she could obtain a 100% partner from that? Wasn’t that violating the laws of relationship physics or something?

    With that 40% investment toward commitment, solving issues, etc., she pretty much guaranteed that she would receive a roughly 40% effort back. And that worked in reverse as well: my ambivalence and lack of commitment earned me…well, her.

    You get what you pay for is the right maxim, I think. That applies to pretty much everything, including relationships. Of course, it could happen, at least for a time, that someone might put in 100% with a 40% person. I suspect that’s mostly an illusion, however. You may believe you’re putting in all or most of the work, but on some level you know your partner isn’t, and there’s a reason for why you’ve chosen this person and why you’re settling for that return.

    • Sm says:

      I agree Lawrence. We pick these people because on a subconscious level we don’t want to give a lot either or we have self esteem issues and think its all we’re worth. I’ve been guilty of both.

    • Revolution says:

      A very intelligent and insightful comment, Lawrence. Thanks for that.

  4. Little Star says:

    I got on well with one guy from Meet Up Group, we exchanged emails every day, and I am going to meet him on Friday. I already told him that I am not looking anything serious or casual. Friends only. He agreed, I did not wanted to give him false hopes, that’s why we should be honest in the beginning:)

    • Earthsky. says:

      This post yet again reminds me of how i got burnt most recently..She didn’t want commitment but didn’t want casual. I was the same..Two people playing lazy relationship via lazy communication (texts and Instant message) and hoping to have something healthy come out of it..Low and behold, It led to alot of pain. What a surprise.

      • Little Star says:

        I do not understand cant we be friends, if both parties want to have friendship why NOT?

        • grace says:

          Little Star
          It’s fine if you have zero to minimal attraction for each other, neither of you wants a relationship with the other, you’d be be genuinely happy if the other person met someone they liked, and it’s not stopping you from meeting anyone yourself.
          However, friends generally don’t email each other every day or feel the need to warn each other off romance
          You’re not doing anything wrong, but be mindful and observant. Saying”we are just friends” doesn’t necessarily make it so.
          Of course, it’s too early to say if this is anything or nothing, and it’s not worth much analysis. But it’s not quite the same as making friends with another woman.

          • Mymble says:

            I am really doubtful about male/female “friendships”. I accept that they can exist, albeit rare as hens teeth, but mostly the man is secretly hanging out for more. Watch them disappear when they get a relationship! And that can be hurtful if you really believed in the friendship and had come to rely on it. Gay men are fine of course no agendas there.

            • Lilia says:

              I agree with Mymble. I´ve had too many guy friends unfold a hidden agenda on me. And looking back, I think one guy I was particularly good friends with (meaning we´d hang out together every weekend) was actually trying to make my best girlfriend jealous after she dumped him for someone else.
              I´m now renouncing to all male friends, except gays. They just don´t have the same expectations as we have about friendships.

              • beth d says:

                I have many male friends and I cherish them. A lot are married but those who aren’t…When they get a gf we double date. I have some of my male friends since I am 12. Have they ever flirted? Hell yea and sometimes I flirt back but we both know it is all in fun and we would never mess up the friendship. One thing is for sure is that you can’t be friends with someone you have feelings for. Something I found out the hard way.

  5. Max says:

    OK – this is a core problem for many of us. How do you negotiate a “casual relationship” that you can get on “your terms.” So far, I think it is Near Impossible. The problem is simple – it becomes a control issue. And then even if you get something close to What you think you want – you feel like you are being used for Sex if you can’t control the pace. Either way – it is more trouble than it is worth!!

  6. yoghurt says:

    This is really interesting – thanks Nat. Food for thought!

    I had to confront my own little contradiction ver this weekend – I’ve finally FINALLY gone NC with my oldest nemesis and biggest AC going; Nick O’Tine (and here’s hoping it’s got legs – 73 hours and I feel nothing but ACE so far though!)

    I’ve been wishy-washying over the decision for ages and ages, in that I didn’t particularly want to smoke but didn’t want to have to stop, either.

    The thought that finally tipped it, though, was the other night when I was reading comments about dating on the last post and I thought “Hmm, y’know, *I* wouldn’t want to go out with a smoker” Hypocritical much?

    And then – worse – I thought “Actually, I wouldn’t be particularly happy about dating someone who was happy to date a smoker, either”. What? Nyyyehhhh?! So basically I’ve had a habit for THIRTEEN YEARS that has prevented me from respecting anyone who might want to be with me. Fab. And then I wander why I’m single.

    From this, I guess I’d surmise that if you aren’t happy about your choices then you wouldn’t be happy with anyone who’d choose you, either. And then you miss the people who would and you idolise the people who *don’t* want you because clearly, to your twisted thinking, they are demonstrating good taste and judgement. Or so it’s been in my case.

    Not wanting to diss the smokers amongst us – specially I’ve been one thus far – but give it up! It’s ace!

    • yoghurt says:

      Not wanting to diss the smokers ***or the date-a-smokers, sorry. As I was both until last Friday…

      • Mymble says:

        Yoghurt
        Im a commitmentphobe with smoking/not smoking too. Can go weeks without and then for no reason start up again. Hmmm a behavioural pattern perhaps :/

    • Lizzy says:

      Love this comment about smoking, Yoghurt. Can definitely relate to your thought process – cigarettes do have much common with assclowns – they’re all promise and no substance while doing you a lot of harm. Life is so much sweeter since I gave up ciggies two years ago after 20 years and gave up assclowns around the same time!

      • jewells says:

        I can identify too lizzy and Yoghurt, I stopped a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been well aware of the idea that smoking was limiting the pool of partners that would date me, plus that good ol hypocrisy that yoghurt mentioned. Also that yes, all fantasy of what smoking was and the reality really sucked. I think the stopping smoking was easier after kicking the assclown habit, as they are the same class. I found this site due to an AC, it helped to bring me into reality, which in turn enabled me to see the reality of my smoking and actually it was remarkably easy to stop. Yay progress! I’m not saying that I don’t have urges, just like the death throes of AC addiction of wanting to break NC for one reason or another. However, just like keeping NC, the reality check of what the addiction ACTUALLY did to me, keeps me from picking one up again.

        • yoghurt says:

          Thanks both :) Now coming up to 100 hours and still going strong!

          I love the cigarette/AC analogy – they ARE assclowns. They string you along, you’re always expecting to feel better than they really do, they cost you money and they make you ill.

          Another thing that I noticed about smoking is that it actively knocks down your self-esteem all the time, because whenever you’re lighting up you’re saying “my quality of life/health/appearance/old age isn’t as important to me as this quick short-term fix” – and when you’re telling yourself that many times a day it must be having an effect on how you view yourself and your life.

          mymble – I’m the opposite, in that I’ve spent about eight months getting around to making the decision but never quite making it until now. Now that it’s made it’s made. I do wonder, though, if I was actually putting off making it until I felt ready in relation to the other things in my life. It’s only recently that I’ve stopped seeing it in terms of “give it up? When it’s the only unstressful and fun thing IN my life?” and started to think in terms of “I really don’t need this and it doesn’t add to what I’ve got”. So I think that it’s something you do when you’re ready and when you’re feeling sufficiently healed.

          • Lizzy says:

            Nice one Yoghurt, keep thinking of ciggies as assclowns and you won’t be tempted to touch them even with a bargepole!

          • Snowboard says:

            “Another thing that I noticed about smoking is that it actively knocks down your self-esteem all the time, because whenever you’re lighting up you’re saying ‘my quality of life/health/appearance/old age isn’t as important to me as this quick short-term fix’ – and when you’re telling yourself that many times a day it must be having an effect on how you view yourself and your life.”

            Very insightful, Yoghurt. I don’t smoke but continue to struggle with alcohol issues. Good luck!!!!!! I’m proud of you, Yoghurt!!!!!!

      • Lovingmemore says:

        Hahaha that just made me realise something ~ I gave up the AC/EUM and smoking at the same time!!! I must say though that giving up the 34 year smoking habit was easier than giving up the 7 year AC habit but I wouldn’t go back to either and as much as I’m starting to feel the pinch of being single, I wouldn’t even think about contemplating dating until I feel completely ready with my self esteem and good boundary functions in tact and without knowing what I want from a man/relationship ~ I don’t want to set myself up for any more uncertainty and I certainly don’t want to put somebody else through that. Surely if your dating you’re saying you’re available!!!! You don’t go on a dating site to meet friends!!!

        • jewells says:

          Here here lovingmemore, I know without self esteem, we’re setting either ourselves or the other up for disappointment. Been on both sides of that fence back and forth over my entire adulthood. Looking back over my relationships, either I was the ‘victim’ of an AC – tho I did normally find it easier to walk away from them until this last one, or I was the AC or at least EU. I’m so glad I have found BR to sort myself out. I thought for my entire adult life that there was something intrinsically wrong with me. Now I have the tools to decipher and do better. There wasn’t anything actually wrong with me, I just needed a dose of education, self awareness and, oh yeah, boundaries and self respect. I believe I may be on to something now :)

  7. Linda Silvester says:

    I find that as one ages and hopefully wiser, what seems contradictory when you are young and/or not sure of what you really want/need in terms of intimate relationships may seem a plausible choice. There’s a new category being hearalded – SWOFTY – single woman over fifty – and then there’s the couples who are LAT – Living apart Together.

    As you say the key is being open and honest about what you are looking for.

    • Kit-Kat says:

      Linda…. SWOFTY…Never heard that term but I am in the category ..Being older, wiser and still making stupid decision on relationships.. Enough already time to readjust my thinking..

  8. Valley Forge Lady says:

    This whole subject makes my blood boil!!!! So many people want to date for the ego boost but are not willing to be emotionally or financially responsible. If a guy is not serious…no sex. AND if a woman is just havin fun and no future intended….she should fork over money for the dates!!!

    On line dating is tough because so many people jump on the sites just to stroke their ego. I am screening hard for the rebound ego strokers…they are not relationship material.

    This is why dating is such hard work…..you have to screen hard to find people who are on the same wave length…and telling the truth.

    I would rather be considered a BITCH (Babe In Total Control of Herself) than some sniveling doormat with an STD and a busted heart!!! I need to find a good man and calm down. Nat..you did and so can all of us if we screen out the Ass Clowns.

    • Lucy says:

      I love what you said, Valley Forge Lady. And that is exactly my experience of online dating. I come across many men who want an ego stroke. And I come across others who just seem a bit damaged and I can’t date anyone who hasn’t learnt to be on their own yet.

      I don’t do it for the ego stroke but the whole dating process online is so much hard work that I’m thinking about closing my accounts. Do you think that’s the best thing to do if I’m feeling my heart’s not in it? I came into it pretty excited and curious and now it feels draining. Most men I talk to online expect the first date to signify the beginning of a relationship whereas for me, I see it as about establishing chemistry and getting to know each other. I don’t like talking forever online but many men go this route. Falling in love without seeing them in person is not something I can do. I want a few messages exchanged and then BAM, “let’s meet up” but I wonder if I’m in the minority opinion about that.

  9. Kit-Kat says:

    WOW…Nat, you have got me thinking deeply on this one.. I use to tell the AC that I wanted a committed ,monogomous relationship and wasnt sure if I ever wanted to get married again. But truth be told, I would have married him, I said that because I thought that was what he wanted to hear.And also,I have this fear of giving up my independence & everything I have worked hard to get. Material things I know but they mean alot to me. I have put so much money into my house which I purchased after my divorce 12yrs ago. I have it where I want it and not sure I want to give it up. He would make little comments about it. Its too small, we have different tast in decorating. Also he is a borderline hoarder, messy housekeeper, cant even park in his garage because there is junk everywhere and attributes it all to not being on his priority list. Anyhoo, not my problem anymore. And with time I have come to realize he just isnt capable of a committed, monogomous,
    relationship like I wanted. All the signs were there I just choose to ignore them again and again.. But it worked for a very long time which has me thinking we were both very unhealthy. It takes 2 to tango.. HMMM guess I have some more work to do on me . I am content being alone at the moment but I really dont want to spend the rest of days alone honestly.
    Anyway ever felt this way ???

    • sushi says:

      Kit-Kat,
      yes, I feel that way too to a degree.
      I do think that you don`t necessarily have to get married and can have a good mutual relationship without marriage – there is nothing wrong with that, it doesn`t mean you are not committed to each other. There are plenty of married people who are not committed to each other at all rather than on paper. I get the fear of losing independance and hard earned financial security…I have it too, but really, it`s more a fear of losing that in another assclown situation. The answer is, I think to be able to feel secure in the knowledge that you are good enough for wanting what you deep down would like and not accepting any watered down versions. When you meet a secure, mature man who wants a real relationship he won`t be putting you in a position where you would risk your financial and personal independance, he will understand. The rest of them, with all other half arsed, semi cooked, not sure what and when they might want what-not maybe agendas can hop on…and try someone else or figure out what it is they want….If it won`t be me…I sure as hell won`t be persuading them.

    • Lovingmemore says:

      Yeah, I feel this way too and feel I have two choices, either keep on working on me and enjoying the journey as much as possible along the way or get back involved in yet another unhealthy relationship and prolong the agony!!! It hasn’t been that long really since I went no contact ~ end of November last year ~ and what I’ve noticed is, that its only since ‘I’m’ becoming ‘healthier’ I’m starting to feel the pinch a little of being single, which I’m taking as a sign that I’m definitely moving forward in the right direction :-) keep on working on yourself sista, we’ll get there because if we don’t, all we’ll get from a relationship is more of our unhealthy/unhealed parts reflected and magnified back at us!!!

  10. Lia says:

    You want somebody who doesn’t behave like they’re in a casual relationship or who isn’t flat out avoiding one, to be with somebody (you) that doesn’t want to be in a relationship which would make it casual and who is in fact avoiding a relationship?

    LOL I literally had to say this out loud just to make sure I was reading it right. It never made any sense to me. I’ve known plenty of people who don’t want to be committed that choose to date people who do. I always assumed that relationships with people who are on the same page are the best ones. Are you saying that some of the non-commitment types who engage in this behavior are doing so because they don’t really know what they want? Are they out of touch with themselves, or are they just picking people who give them more options?

  11. amanda says:

    These are wise words. In the era of internet-dating, it is so easy to future-fake without even knowing it. You meet someone who looks hopeful, you start writing, you feel a connection, and next thing you know, you each know each others’ life stories. It can feel like it is “meant to be”, but you meet, and you realize how unprepared you are to deliver on the commitment-front. We are wisely advised to not sleep with someone on the first date. I think that it is also wise to pace other intimacies, like the sharing of confidences or other information. I haven’t tried dating in a long time, since I know how unavailable I still am, as I unwind myself from a damagaing fantasty relationship, but if and when I go back, my new rule will be… no big e-mail exchanges (or chat sessions). Nothing that creates the false illusion of intimacy. Move the connection over to R/L as soon as possible, providing there is a connection.

    • Lucy says:

      “I think that it is also wise to pace other intimacies, like the sharing of confidences or other information.”

      So so true. I used to over share constantly without realising where I was going wrong. It’s definitely not a good idea. Besides, it’s actually pretty insecure to do that whether online or in the real world. Because then they know all about you and you might not date, and that information might come out to other people around you. Discretion is key.

    • runnergirl says:

      Amanda, I’ve been doing the internet dating thing for 10 months and I won’t engage in more than a few brief emails, mostly about the weather, before meeting in person. If there is one thing I learned from Natalie’s Dreamer book, I’m a DREAMER and can conjure up a fantasy out of whole cloth. May I also add, based on my experience, I can’t tell if there is a “connection” until we meet in person. Thus, there’s no such thing as a cyberspace connection for me. It’s RL or it’s flush. There are guys who just want to chat online forever. Once I suggest meeting, if they persist in online only, I say nighty night. Flush. I’d say the standard for me is about four to five emails about nothing significant. Then it is time to pony up dude. My attitude is let’s see the guy behind the computer.
      PS. I haven’t been tempted to have sex with any of them on the first date and not even the few who made it to the third date. It’s going to take about 6 months to get my knickers off. Good luck to him.

  12. Tired says:

    I know i got to work on me. I have had a couple of blokes ask me out . I know i got a way to go to be fair on anyone eles . I dont want to be jaded or bitter . Im begining to realise a few things , espically that i was chasing a feeling not the actual person . For me its a long way off .

  13. MRWriter says:

    My struggle has been sussing out what the other party wants and really not being true to what I want which changes from time to time. It’s like, don’t make any big moves or flap your arms around or you’ll scare the squirrel away attitude. So then, I pretty much hand the reins over to the other person. When I see red flags, instead of bailing, I coast with a wait and see attitude. Very passive behavior on my part. My only confusion is trying to gauge whether or not they are all in or out before being all in myself and finding them hanging back. I guess it’s one step forward and observe if the other party takes an equivalent step and so on? Since I’ve only experienced someone who wants the fringe benefits but without putting in anything on their end, it’s hard for me to tell.

    I think I’m going to draw up a contract of my terms tonight and stick with it, whomever I meet. I edit and change to fit the other person’s needs, inabilities or buffer their shortcomings.

    I’ve got terms too. Kinda empowering.

    • Iain says:

      MRWriter

      I found the article below very useful in developing my own ‘terms’ (although the author refers to it as a ‘bill of rights’). Thinking about, identifying and articulating my own terms was very empowering, although not half as empowering as sticking to them! Best of luck.

      Iain

      http://sfhelp.org/relate/keys/rights.htm

    • sushi says:

      Yes MRWriter, I think step by step is the way to go. Natalie`s trust debit and credit system. I think you need to be aware of what you want and not be aware to express it and then watch how he unfolds and make judgements. If someone doesn`t match….flush.I used to do exactly what you used to do. I love the trust debit and credit idea and find myself using it in all kinds of situations now. I find it gives me a break from the pressure of having to decide now, gives me time and balance.

    • selkie says:

      MR Writer,

      “My only confusion is trying to gauge whether or not they are all in or out before being all in myself and finding them hanging back. I guess it’s one step forward and observe if the other party takes an equivalent step and so on?”

      I am in the same boat as you. I said almost the same thing in my post about hanging back and watching how they unfold before I do. That would make us passengers instead of copilots which isn’t going to get us anywhere good.

  14. Grizelda says:

    Natalie speaks just as well to the poachers as she does the gamekeepers.

    This 21st century misappropriation of the word ‘friend’ is cloaking a whole world of dysfunction I don’t even know where to start.

    Apparently, so I am told, if a pair of people shove their tongues down each other’s throats and both refer to the other as ‘just a friend’, this is supposed to sound like they’re not just having the lowest form of Bonobo-monkey-like casual sex. That is, sex which is so deeply casual that they are rigidly in denial of the entire act while they are actually doing it.

    If this person is your ‘friend’, then who the hell are you actually just friends with?

    • Lucy says:

      Oh wow! I absolutely agree with this sentence:

      “This 21st century misappropriation of the word ‘friend’ is cloaking a whole world of dysfunction I don’t even know where to start.”

      To me friends are people who truly and deeply mean a lot to me and I don’t use the term to refer to someone I’m casually friendly with. And I hate the term ‘friendzone’ because it implies that friendship is of a lower value than a romantic relationship. My friendships over the years have been so much more important than my relationships with men.

      • yoghurt says:

        I agree too. Friends are brilliant. ‘Being just friends’ is the opposite of brilliant.

        Next time I get an offer like that, I think I’m going to say “Ooo, thanks. You mean that you want to spend lots of time in my company, demonstrate your care and concern for me frequently, be prepared to support me in times of need and all for no physical or sexual reward whatsoever? Just for the pleasure of knowing me? How nice, thank you”. And then watch them disappear in a little cloud of dust over the horizon.

        • Lucy says:

          What do you do in a situation where the guy claims he wants to be ‘just friends’ but that is clearly not the case? I’ve known this guy for years as an acquaintance then suddenly he pulled the moves on me. I told him ‘no’ and that I only see him as a friend. He said he was okay with that. But he keeps sending me emails on Facebook every few days or so and sometimes with effusive compliments which weird me out a little. I reply and we have email exchanges but I don’t compliment him back, just ask him questions. Thing is I don’t need an ego boost from him so how he’s acting is making me feel uncomfortable. It’s about time I want to address this but I don’t know the right way to go about it.

          It was awkward when he pulled the moves on me. He emailed me out the blue and I have to say that I could right through but I allowed some benefit of the doubt. Then on meeting me he practically propositioned me. He is really the most awkward guy who’s asked me lots of advice about being a virgin and how to seduce other women and I do not want to be his weird teacher. It’s not that he’s predatory at all because he’s the sort of guy who values being a ‘nice guy’ sometimes to the extent of having weak boundaries. But yeah he makes me so uncomfortable.

          • yoghurt says:

            If he’s making you uncomfortable then he’s NOT being a ‘nice guy’, and if it’s unintentional then it’s high time he learnt.

            The solution is easy – you just either stop replying, or else (if that makes you really uncomfortable) leave it a couple of days and then reply very briefly, leaving no outs for further development of the conversation. I quite like “Oops, sorry, didn’t see this before. Hope you’re well :)

            In the wider sense, though, it does sound as though you need to sit down and get your head around your boundaries with ‘friendships’, in particular the wonderful world of You Are Not Obliged To Be ANYBODY’S Friend Unless You Want To Be. Why are you wasting time worrying about a weird, creepy-sounding ‘acquaintance’ who wants you to talk dirty to him whilst he unloads his sexual dysfunction in your lap? Ew. Let him go to a therapist if that’s what he needs, there ain’t nobody paying you for this!

            • Lucy says:

              Thanks yoghurt. It isn’t as bad as it seems. I’m certainly keeping cool and friendly with him and not flirting back. But you’re right about one thing: “You are not obliged to be anyone’s friend unless you want to be”. I have to remember that. I’m totally in agreement with what people here have said – male friends are never simply friends. Recently I’ve cut loose with some untrue friends and sought more female companionship. I’ll continue doing what I’m doing with him and hope he slides off but it is excruciatingly awkward to observe what’s going on. Anyway this guy definitely has to learn. You are right. And hey I’m finally in the position to think “this guy and his problems aren’t my problems”.

              Your comment also struck a nerve because it reminded me of when I’ve played the ‘nice girl’ and been excessively hurt by people who didn’t return my overtures of friendship. Now I see that they weren’t mean or against me; they just didn’t want to be my friend. I can make peace with that now and not feel abandoned by those people.

  15. suzie says:

    Wow.. I think I have a fear of being “controlled” so I sabotage potential relationships and/or gravitate towards EUM or players. I realized reading this that I may be dishonest in what I want. How does one stop doing this? Ugh.

    • sushi says:

      suzie,
      improving my self esteem gave me a feeling of being in control of what I will or won`t do and accept. If you have that control you won`t fear losing it to others.Does that make sense?

  16. Crazybaby says:

    Surely anyone who has these criteria is really saying “I know you’re not The One for me but I want a stop-gap til I meet him so I can still have sex / companionship / fun dates in the meantime”…?

    • Little Star says:

      YES Crazybaby you are spot on!

      That what I USED TO SAY to my current AC who I dated for 8 months: “Lets have fun till I meet my Mr Right” and we had fun for 8 MONTHS. BUT when he SPENT his Birthday and Christmas WITHOUT ME, I dumped him. WHAT I was expecting, if in the beginning I was telling him that I was NOT ready, so he agreed with my “Teams and Conditions” and he was shocked when I did not wanted to carry on! I could not do it anymore……..

  17. NK says:

    I have been that person and been the victim to. It has lead to south confusion. Thankfully I seem to be in a place where I can make my feelings clear now and not deal with those not wanting the same. I have recently been stuck in a place where I rely on casual partner and say to myself that I shouldn’t because ultimately I want more but don’t seem to practise this. It’s like a maze I have found hard to escape.

  18. Iamworthy says:

    So insightful! This used to be me. It has also happened to me in a most devastating way. I’ll never do this again. I’ll never play either side. Praise God!

  19. Wise ol owl says:

    Lawrence, your line “my ambivalence and lack of commitment earned me…well, her.” Man, that says it all right there for both genders! Thanks for your honesty. I really liked this man, but he is in that type of relationship with someone else. I don’t know why he stays in it. Now, Ive reached the point where I don’t care anymore and my crush has faded because it really is a turn-off. You put that in perspective for me tho, and I think when you end of with “her” or “him” after not being sure or really there, you realize you don’t want the prize. thanks and good luck to you!

  20. Dreamer says:

    This post seems right on point for my situation..I have been dating a guy for a year now. We aren’t really physically although we occasionally try (he has issues which he won’t talk about with me) but we are exclusive…he tells me he is damaged and he doesn’t know if he can give me what I need emotionally….well I just want a regular relationship? Nothing more… I feel bad for him because I do think he is trying but honestly, how long can do this? I am not young…I am almost 54… It sounds, on the surface like he is taking advantage, but I do think he wants this to work…and I don’t want to end it because I do love him. It just seems very hopeless….ugh. Your post puts a lot of things in perspective but it really saddens me….

    • jewells says:

      Dreamer, only you can answer the question of how long you can do this. Are you relying on his words about your exclusivity? What are his actions? The self admittance of being damaged is telling – it’s getting him off the hook from having to meet your expectations. Is he REALLY trying or are you making excuses? If he’s willing to go to counselling with and without you to work on his self admitted ‘damage’, then there may be a future. Otherwise it’s just an excuse to keep you at arms length indefinitely. My father did this with his present wife, I have no idea how she puts up with him. But then I have no respect for her as she is a complete doormat and enables his behaviour. It took her about 30 years to cajole him into marriage, but then what, she still doesn’t have a warm loving relationship cause ‘he’s damaged’ and as long as she enables it, he will hide behind it.

    • lawrence says:

      Hi, Dreamer. When someone tells you they can’t give you what you need – believe them! I have a couple of virtual friends who’ve been dancing to that tune for years, mesmerized by the hope that their man will eventually find himself or commit to them or work out any number of personal issues, etc., and then everything will come up roses.

      But that day, much like the mirage that stays in the distance before you, forever looms just out of your reach.

      I’ve asked my friends, as I will ask you: Do you want merely a dream of love? Because that’s what people like this offer.

      • McKenzieM says:

        Agreed. When the EUAC told me that he was not going to be able to give me what I wanted or needed in a man/relationship, I took him at his word and bailed a week or two later. I wanted so badly to believe I could be The Exception and we could live happily ever after, but felt like any heartbreak suffered after that would have been my fault as he plainly told me I would not be able to get what I wanted or needed from him.

        Of course, he knew this before we had that conversation, which is part of why he’s an EU AC, but still. He also said that if/when he got to the place where he wanted an actual relationship, he’d consider me an option. I have been NC ever since as even when I was at my worst (and I was in a pretty bad place then), I knew I was worth more than being someone’s “option.”

    • Allison says:

      Dreamer,

      “he tells me he is damaged and he doesn’t know if he can give me what I need emotionally.” This is all you need to know.

      He is telling you that he is incapable of a relationship. Please listen, to spare yourself more pain. Find someone who is capable of a relationship.

  21. Lilia says:

    At the moment I´m quite happy to be on my own. I´m probably still recovering from the worst, most confusing and traumatic “relationship” I´ve ever been in.

    The thing that gets to me, though, is that all my married friends seem to think my life can´t be complete without a man in my life. Even the ones who are unhappily married (one, for example, lives with an abusive alcoholic) have this mindset. They consider being in a relationship to be an aim in itself, while at the moment I only consider it to be a nice bonus and only if it´s a positive one.

    They always try to offer support and sympathy that I don´t need, it´s quite ridiculous. I need to be very alert not to feel sorry for myself when I´m faced with these attitudes. One girlfriend once told me, completely un-asked for, that “at least I have a nice little family”, referring to my two kids and three cats. When I tell them I really am in no hurry to get married again they don´t believe me or joke that “Ah, Lilia has gone insane”. It´s really annoying, sometimes I think I´ve only wasted time on dating sites to be able to tell my girlfriends that I do go on dates.

    • Little Star says:

      Lilia, you are right, I have the same set of friends, and no even ONE OF THEM are happy in their marriages…They keep saying: “Oh poor Little Star stuck- no man yet, no changes in her life”…my response: “Thank you, but I do not want changes what you have, I do not want your husbands, kids, I am happy with my life, I have a job, mortgage free flat, independent and freeeeeeeee”

    • Revolution says:

      Lilia,

      I have heard this type of pseudo-sympathy projection too, but we have to ask ourselves: If we are so obviously content with where we’re at, then whom are these comforters trying to comfort? The answer is simple: themselves. Obviously they are unfulfilled, and the only way they can feel better about their situation is to feel sorry for someone whom they perceive is worse off than they are. That way, if they can see you as a miserable single, then they don’t have to face the fact that maybe a happier, more fulfilled life is out there. Because, well, all that self-reflection and inner work is too damn scary for them. So they try like hell to distract themselves. Thank God not all married people are like this.

      • Revolution says:

        I should also add that the ones who are like this are more often than not *unhappily married*. It’s the “unhappily” part that results in this unsolicited pity party claptrap.

  22. Tanzanite says:

    Hi Natalie,everyone.

    I mentioned in the past I have a male friend who suggested we could be a f*ck buddies but he didn’t want a relationship and I declined.Well,we have been friends ever since.We go out occasionally, we have had a weekend away which he paid for, he phones me regularly in fact he treats my very well.He opens doors for me,complements me when I have my hair done,tells me I look nice when I’m ready to go out.In fact,for someone who says he is not interested, he shows a lot of interest.

    I’m not invested because right from the beginning he said he didn’t want a relationship and I believed him.

    I treat him with equal respect but he doesn’t want to be in a relationship and I don’t want to be his f*ck buddy.We are both honest about what we need and don’t need.If I met someone like him who wanted a committed relationship I would be interested.

    Do you think some people just haven’t got a relationship in them ?

    • beth d says:

      Tan Maybe he just doesn’t have relationship in him now? When I met my current man I made it clear I did not want a relationship and since I don’t do the casual sex thing it could only be friends. I was still messed up about my ex Narc and I didn’t want to hurt him. He was patient and a great friend to me and I changed my mind. It sounds to me like that might be happening with this guy but only you can assess that.

      • Tanzanite says:

        @ beth d

        That is a lovely story and i’m glad it worked out for you.There are lots of relationships that start off as friends first and succeed.I don’t know whether he is changing his mind or just likes being with me.I really enjoy his company, we have a great laugh.The conversation about not wanting a relationship was a year ago.That is why I asked if some men just don’t want a relationship.Are they too set in their ways ?

        • beth d says:

          A have seen many instances where confirmed bachelors met someone who touched their heart and went on to be in successful relationships once they met the right woman. When I met my man all I knew was he made me smile, the friendship flowed without drama, and there were zero games. Totally refreshing after me experience with the Narc. I was so programmed for drama it felt strange but I deprogrammed fast. If someone is an AC/Narc then they are set in their ways because they are hard wired manipulators, liars, gaslighters etc. This guy obviously enjoys your company, was perfectly honest with you and doesn’t seem fit that catagory. I do agree with some of the posters though that it may be time to have the define the relationship talk if your feelings are intensifying or he is preventing you from exploring other options. You don’t want to get in a “timewaster” situation.

    • grace says:

      Tanzanite
      If you go out with him and go for weekends away, you are in a relationship – even if you don’t have sex . What kind of relationship it is I can’t say but don’t kid yourself it’s nothing. It may be worth having one more Define the Relationship talk with this guy, see if he’s changed his mind (it can happen), and take it from there.
      I asked out my boyfriend because it occurred to me that I would be pissed if, after months of friendship, he met someone else. Sometimes you have to take the risk and be prepared to act on what you find out.
      If the thought of him turning up one day and saying “I met a great girl!” makes you feel sick, you’re not friends.

      • Tanzanite says:

        @ Grace

        I’m not sure if I want to re-define the relationship because I’m happy with the way it is.If he says he has changed his mind and would like a relationship I would have to think about it.I don’t think I would be devastated if he met someone else but it would feel like the loss of a good friend.That vital bit of information he gave me at the beginning was enough for me not to get too attached.

        • Tanzanite says:

          @ Grace

          The more time I spend with him the more I realise how nice it would be to be in a relationship with a good man,not necessarily him,he doesn’t want one. ( Deal breaker )

          I have considered saying this-I really enjoy being with you but if someone came into my life just like you wanting to be in a committed relationship I would give it a go.Would you be ok with that ?

          That is how I feel but it seems a bit callous and I don’t want him to think i’m forcing his hand.

          I also really enjoy his company we have a great time together and I might not meet anyone so why say anything ?

          • grace says:

            Tanzanite
            ” I might not meet anyone”.
            I can’t explain the mechanism by how it works, but when I cut off every single male hanger on (as opposed to genuine friends), I met someone in less than eighteen months. It sounds like a long time, but I was only making a real effort for less than a year.
            Maybe I had to feel the need before I could get motivated.

            • Tanzanite says:

              @ Grace

              Maybe I need to feel the need too before I can get motivated.At the moment my only wish is to remain in good health so I can work and look after myself. I’m definitely over my not so young offender and considering anyone else is a step forward for me.I’m not motivated enough yet.

              I’m glad things are going well for you.They’re not all bad are they.

    • nerolijasmine says:

      Tanzanite I think he is pursuing you hoping one day you will give in and have sex with him. For some guys it’s all about the chase. The contradiction here is you have stated ‘friends only’ but have still accepted compliments and weekends away with him paying, don’t friends split the bill? So he thinks he’s still in with a chance. Most guys fancy and want to sleep with their female friends. After he get’s what he wants he will no longer be interested. Trust me, I know.

      • Allison says:

        Tan,

        I don’t understand why he paid for the trip?
        Would you let one of your GFs pay for a weekend away?
        He’s trying to wear you down to get you into bed.

        • Tanzanite says:

          @ nerolijasmine

          We have been friends for about a year now, some relationships don’t last that long.If I was going to give in I would have done it by now.Surely,if it was just sex wouldn’t he be pursuing someone else by now ?

          I can accept compliments off men without having an ulterior motive,can’t I ?

          When we go out we take turns buying drinks/food but on this occasion he had some back pay from work and wouldn’t accept my half towards the trip and we have only been away once.We shared all other costs as usual.I would do the same for him if I came into money.I was trying to make the point he was kind a generous.

          Time will tell I suppose.

        • Tanzanite says:

          @ Alison

          He had some back pay from work and wouldn’t accept the money for my half.Usually we share all costs.

          If I had more disposable income than usual and a gf was skint I would pay for her without question.I would also do the same for him.

          He is’t constantly pestering me for sex and i’m not having to fight him off.We don’t talk about the future.We just have a laugh.

          I have known him a year he hasn’t changed.He is not a narc for sure.

          • Allison says:

            Tan,

            I’m glad you clarified.

            I have a GF who allows a male friend – who likes her – pay her way. Personally, I don’t think this is the right thing to do to a friend, as it is misleading.

            Sounds like you two are good friends! Enjoy!

      • amanda says:

        Yes, it definitely seems like you are due to have a talk with this friend. Do you know what you want from him? Make sure you are clear on this first. Know, going into the talk, that if he can’t deliver on what you need, you are going to have to make the hard choice of (a) settling or (b) walking away from the good parts so that you can stick to your terms. Do you have a good rapport with this guy? Can you talk about your feelings with him? Can you make it clear when you talk to him that if he tells you he wants a relationships, gets you to sleep with him, then loses interest, that you will be devastated? I guess if he’s a real Narc, he might nod and lie, and still carry through with hurting you, but in the end of the day, you can feel good about stating your needs. Yes, by all means, talk to him! Take a risk. Take yourself out of your comfort zone in what you risk telling him about your feelings and your investment. Good luck!

      • Tanzanite says:

        @ nerolijasmine

        We have been friends for about a year now, some relationships don’t last that long.If I was going to give in I would have done it by now.Surely,if it was just sex wouldn’t he be pursuing someone else by now ?

        I can accept compliments off men without having an ulterior motive,can’t I ?

        When we go out we take turns buying drinks/food but on this occasion he had some back pay from work and wouldn’t accept my half towards the trip and we have only been away once.We shared all other costs as usual.I would do the same for him if I came into money.I was trying to make the point he was kind a generous.

        Time will tell I suppose.

  23. Sm says:

    I think casual dating is a complete waste of time for anyone. I have lots of friends and family members whom I like to spend time with and don’t want to waste one minute on someone who is just using me because they don’t have a life of their own.

    • Revolution says:

      I agree, SM. As I get “older,” I find that I don’t want casual relationships of any kind–friendships or romantic. I kind of feel like Braveheart, facepainted and yelling on the battlefield, “Who’s with me?!”

      In my life as it stands now, you’re either in or you’re out.

    • yoghurt says:

      Totally with you as well sm.

      Thing is, a casual relationship is effectively one without care, respect or honesty. I don’t know ANYONE who genuinely wants to spend time with someone who couldn’t give a toss whether they were happy or not, doesn’t like them or allow them to be themselves and lies to them.

      I used to think that, providing I didn’t want to hold their hand in public or talk about weddings, I’d still be entitled to being treated like a human being. Nope…

  24. selkie says:

    As soon as I smell ambivalence in someone, I am losing interest. I want a committed relationship and say so. BUT…..I admit I might behave contradictory to what I say. My fear has me hang back a bit to see how they unfold which is then seen as ME being ambivalent. It’s not fair to make someone prove their intention and interest if I don’t do the same. At some point I’m going to have to trust enough to match them in effort instead of letting them take all the risk first before I will. I don’t want casual, but I end up hearing that I don’t seem interested and don’t chase them enough or at all actually. Fear.

  25. Amy says:

    Sane, healthy dating is like learning how to ride a scooter, or er… skateboard (if you’ve been dodgy about balance in the past).
    I’ve gone on a few dates with this guy I met a month ago. I told him upfront that I wanted to take things very slow because I normally did not go for men who were more than a few years older (this guy is more than 10 years older). I was honest with him, and I don’t think that I lead him on. There was no sex involved.
    I was also upfront with this guy that I would still socialize with, and potentially date other men but that I did not intend on being sexually involved with anyone until I got to know them. Period.
    This just feels so weird to me because normally I would fall into this pattern of serial monogamy – go on a few dates, jump into bed, and then next thing I know I’m in a steady something-or-other with someone who was more or less a stranger to me. However, I knew that I had to change my behavior or I would just keep repeating the same old patterns.
    So now it feels like I’m walking a tightrope.
    I DO actually want a relationship, but I’m never sure how long it should take before it feels “right” because everything I did previously was so wrong. This guy has presented a few Code Amber signs recently, and this is why I’ve wanted to take extra time to get to know him better. The Code Amber thing is that he seems to say he’s okay with taking things slow, but he is displaying some signs of jealousy or discomfort when I talk to other men. Some of the other gals in the same “meet up” group where I met him have said this man has tried to court several women in the group and that he only shows his true colors (he’s fussy, whiney, and gets a bit possessive) once you get to know him.
    I know that I am capable of being emotionally available.
    It just really feels like learning a new sense of balance. There’s this weird dynamic that’s tripping my guilt-o-meter. We’ve had a few dates. The thing is, this is starting to feel like those sad “love at first sight” situations I used to get myself into with men I barely knew except this time the guy is the one going on about the “future” and I’m the one getting a bit spooked.
    I think this weekend was a turning point. I went to a “meet up” event without him. I had a lovely time, talked with a variety of people (men and women), but I suspect he’s imagined I ran off with some Prince Sparklepants because I didn’t return his text message fast enough and/or his feelings were hurt in some other way.
    It’s very difficult. I keep going back to check my own behavior. Have I been honest? Have I been sending mixed messages?
    It really is like learning balance, knowing my own limits. I want the option to date, but not sleep with, a few men before I make a decision on who is relationship material and who is not. The men I date might decide that I am not the right person for them. It’s just learning how to do this whole thing properly without getting myself into a toxic or painful situation, or causing someone else grief because I’ve acted dishonestly.
    Every day a new lesson. I would still rather be alone than jump into a relationship with someone I don’t know well enough. I do know that when I finally meet a man that doesn’t send off too many code Amber or God forbid, Code Red signs and is willing to take things slow – that things will progress naturally.

    • sushi says:

      Amy,
      “The Code Amber thing is that he seems to say he’s okay with taking things slow, but he is displaying some signs of jealousy or discomfort when I talk to other men. ”
      You told him you intend to date other men…I think it might be quite justifiable to feel discomfort that a person you date and are potentially interested in sees other people. He may very well be posessive and fussy, but equally he may be fussy about not seeing people who double date and it may be taken as posessiveness. I think you should value your own opinion rather than other people`s. Perhaps give him “exclusive” time without sex for a bit to see how he unfolds without the insecurity of you dating other people? If he is older than you he may have a different view on multidating to you .If he is secure in the knowledge that you are not a player and still is jealous then best run like a wind.

      • Lilia says:

        Amy, it sounds like you don´t really like him. Maybe you should focus on that – what do YOU feel about him. If you were more into him I´m sure you´d find his possesiveness cute or at least overlookable.

      • Amy says:

        Thanks sushi. I am not dating anyone else right now, just this one fellow. I just did not want to jump into a committed relationship with him because he’s the first guy I’ve really dated after a string of lousy short-term situations with UAMs.
        I am really cautious about this whole thing because I’m not sure about our age difference. He’ll be 60 this year, and I’m in my late 40s. I’ve no real experience dating someone this much older, so it’s a bit different trying to navigate where he is in his life vs. where I am in mine.
        I do think that no matter what, we will be able to discuss our feelings as we go along and if I still find myself uncomfortable about the difference in age after a little more time, I will break things off with him. I just don’t think I know him well enough yet to judge how he is when things are not quite so rosy and new. Who knows, he could turn out to be great and all my worries about the age difference wont matter.

        • sushi says:

          Amy,
          it sounds like you need time without pressure from him or even yourself to make THE decision. After all, at this stage the only thing you need to decide is if you want to meet him next time. Until and if you decide to sleep with him that is. If you have sex with him while still in the not sure zone you`ll be back to your old pattern. If he knows already that you are not dating anyone else ( sorry, misunderstood that bit) and gets jealous of you talking to other men, given the info from the other women, that would be the thing to watch closely for me.In the past I mistook/translated jelousy as confirmation of interest, and it wasn`t, it was a first sign that the man in question was controlling, which is why I said run like a wind. I didn`t, I was already in the justifying zone. Good luck, and relax. He is not the last man on earth.

          • sushi says:

            Amy,
            also don`t worry about how long it “should” take to feel right. As long as it takes.

  26. David T says:

    Except for the part about LYING about what I want, this post has described me. I was not sure if I was ready to date or not, and a series of one off test dates indicates that I am not. No one, even the pretty ones that I clicked with conversationally in my recent dates, really hold my interest, so I guess I will hibernate for another 6 months or so. What drove me to even try is I have this need to hold someone and be held back, and have some physical touch in my life (not necessarily sex.)

    I may be dead before I am ready! I *used* to be ready a long time ago. Something has happened in the last few years and I can’t really pin it on anything in particular. Had one breakup that was hard on me in 2010, but I have never been like this for this long. It isn’t a self-esteem or fear issue; those feelings just seem to have fled for me.

    I told a woman I tried dated last fall, before I figured out that I was still not available, that my heart had become ‘shatterproof.’ It really does feel that way. I am so detached, it is like I have no personal investment in outcomes. I wonder if that is the problem, but I am at a loss how to change it.
    Ah well.

    @Wish…instead of viewing it as rebuilding self-esteem, just accept where you are and acknowledge it is nice to feel close to someone decent and careworthy, even if the love thing isn’t going to happen and wanting to feel close to someone is OK. Be at peace with where you are now and wait and be open for the change to come when it comes. That is how you will become more ready instead of trying to re-inflate a hurt ego.

    P.S. Hello VFW, you post on EMK too, right?

    • This reply touched me so much.

      I get exactly what you mean by ‘touch’. I miss my ex holding me more than anything. Just lying next to someone is what seems to be the thing I miss.

      But I also need to know that love WILL happen and that my first relationship wasn’t my only one.

      It is so difficult to be at peace with a constant dread for the future, knowing that I can get him back the second I want because he wants me too. And that the longer I wait to go back to him, the higher the chance of me losing out on love.

      I just know that even if I take him back, I will be an ‘option’ and he really isn’t willing to give up the other girls.

      What I really want right now is the closeness of a male friend. Just a friend, and I hope that the guys who are interested in something ‘more’ right now will be willing to just be friends with me once I clarify.

  27. miskwa says:

    Folks who do not want to commit often pick others who do, who are not players, because even though THEY want to keep their options open, they do not want the other person to do likewise. Talk about hypocrisy! I gave the benfit of the doubt to an on line guy I liked but was not particularly attracted to and he followed the exact pattern that Nat describes. Stated he wanted a committed relationship, then said he will never marry again, then recanted that when I told him we want different things, wanted to settle in my area but spends his time flitting around 100 miles away while his house sits mostly vacant, eventually,it became clear that what he was in search of was a way station of sorts (with benefits) between flitting about. Felt mighty good to flush that one though in a way it was sad because he may have made a good friend. I do not understand this wishy washiness about what a person really wants. There are lots of folks out there that are committment phobes, playas etc. For cripes sakes, why cant they seek out one another?! I suppose it is because they are trying for quality folks while not wanting to do the work to deserve them.

  28. Lori says:

    Whenever a guy offers this sort of a proposition to me, I counter with:

    “Y’know, I totally agree. I’m actually in love with my vibrator and only want to sleep with it. So if it’s cool, I just would like to date you and let you take me out for expensive dinners. Then I want to cuddle for a few minutes before I go home to my vibrator. No strings. Sound good?”

    No takers. Hm! I don’t see the problem here: I’m only offering them the equivalent of what they’re offering me. A half-assed dating scenario.

    People really hate it when you call their bullshit, don’t they?

    • Sue says:

      Haha!!! Loved your “counter offer”, Lori! I am MEMORIZING this!!

    • remarkable says:

      They certainly do hate the calling on the bullshit scenario…!

    • Grizelda says:

      Hah! Excellent!

      And if the batteries ever run down around 11 at night, you can always reach for your phone and start sexting him — tell him you need him right now for sexy fun, so he has to come over right away, and hurry. And that he needs to stop at the 24-hr shop on the way over for some ‘supplies’ oh and some batteries. Mmm, yeah, bring batteries baby. When he turns up, ask him to push the pack of batteries through the letter slot in the door because there’s going to be a big surprise.

      See if he’s still there when you leave for work in the morning.

    • Little Star says:

      Lori haha, I love it:) It will be priceless to see faces of ACs when they hear this!

  29. Maria says:

    Thanks for another great post Natalie :) I was thinking, the other day, about how much I have not been authentic about what I want but then I have been quick to notice when someone else appears to have been contradicting themselves.

  30. espresso says:

    This site has REALLY turned me off relationships in the sense that I can see that I just wouldn’t want to be in a casual relationship. I would feel exploitive and vulnerable. I didn’t feel that way a year ago. I thought I could be up for a fun fling. That was before I started reading BR.

    Really I think I am afraid to actually WANT another relationship. I don’t think it can/will happen, so why set myself up for disappointment. I am not sure I have the emotional “stamina” to put the energy into building one again. I want but I don’t want. So I guess that says it all.

  31. TR says:

    Actions need to match intent. If you don’t want things to go anywhere, why engage in actions that are designed to go somewhere? Saying upfront “I don’t want a relationship,” to your date is a start, but why are you dating in the first place? Being friends — platonic friends — is one thing, but friends don’t date.

    If your actions do not match your intent with another person — i.e. you are dating but don’t want a relationship — you are being dishonest with that person, no matter what you’ve said at the beginning or later on. If you don’t want to get involved, don’t do the things people do when the want to get involved.

    • Amy says:

      Good point, but how do you get to know someone without “dating”? Meeting someone for coffee and conversation is still a “date”.

      This is what I was blabbing about in my comment above. I don’t do online dating at all. I refuse to “get to know someone” via social media, chat, or email. I meet people at social events (meetups) and get to know them in real life first.

      Personally, I would rather NOT have a man I’m just getting to know lavish me with expensive dinners, etc. I would rather split the tab, this is another boundary I’ve found myself having to maintain.
      So yeah, it’s a tough call because I enjoy going to these social mixers. If a man I meet at one of these events asks me out on a date, I might say yes, but just because I agree to a date or two does not mean we’re a “couple”.
      The same works the other way, just because I’ve gone on a date or two with a man does not mean he’s interested in a relationship with me.

      It’s all about figuring out the new “rules” when it comes to dating. Going out on a date or two does not equal a relationship, that sex is guaranteed, or that the 2 people are compatible.

      The 2 people have to keep talking to each other about expectations / needs to make sure that they’re on the same page.

      • TR says:

        There are different ways to get know someone, and dating does not have to be one of them, if you are only looking for friends. There are plenty of different types of social events and activities to meet people in person that align with your interests. Group activities are particularly good.

        But getting to know someone one-to-one in a format similar to a date is getting into ambiguous territory and can give people the wrong ideas. Flirting should be a no-go if you want to keep things platonic.

        Boundaries aren’t just what you will or will not accept from another person — very often, good boundaries are the actions & behaviours you choose for yourself to keep things as clear and drama-free as possible.

        Personally, I think coffee and chatting is at best a lame date. It’s something you’d do with friends anyway. That might be a good rule of thumb: is this something I would do with a friend or a family member? If so, perhaps it need not be considered a date at all?

  32. natashya says:

    i don’t really understand the concept behind a ‘casual relationship’. it’s like ‘boiled ice cream’ to me. if it’s just sex, okay it’s just sex (good for you if you can do it). but a relationship implies a ‘connection’ to me that goes beyond swapping bodily fluids.

  33. grace says:

    Most of us our kidding ourselves if we think we want casual. If we were happy with that, we wouldn’t have found ourselves here.
    It’s somewhat intimidating to be in a serious relationship, but it’s not disheartening like trying to upgrade a casual relationship or wondering what the “rules” are for whatever arrangement we’re trying to come up with.
    Serious isn’t less fun, it’s more fun. It’s more relaxed knowing that we’re both faithful and committed.

  34. Lola says:

    I have been in several of these interactions where the intent is clearly stated of men not wanting a relationship but wanting all of the fringe benefits of one. Or they are wining and dining me and telling me how special I am and really doing things that go above and beyond but then saying they don’t want a relationship or aren’t ready. It will makes you feel unwanted and partly confused. However my new thing is, if I am confused then its not going anywhere because men make it crystal clear when they are interested and they do want you or a relationship with you. This is a very valuable lesson to learn. I’d rather read it than experience it though lol.

  35. kookie says:

    the draw of casual ,for me,has probably been due to a loneliness brought on by the way my friendships have evolved over the last few years. it was easy to make and keep friends in college, we lived right across the hall from each other or within walking distance. i think if all of us had two or three good friends withing two minutes of us, the idea of casual relationships would seem way less appealing and we’d be more sane in general. your basic emotional and social interaction needs ( someone to tell about your day, someone to watch movies with etc) would be met and to be honest if i have sex once a year i’m good so a quick holiday fling would scratch that itch. there would be absolutely no need to arrange a complex and totally insane prolonged half fake relationship for month or years even. haha. no more.i’m gonna be my own best friend and fill my life up with casual acquantainces to hear a human voice and schedule myself for massage every month to feel a human touch, and dress sexy and hit the town once in a while look gooood to appreciate human desire from a safe distance. no need to entangle myself in something that will end up with either me or another person confused and/or hurt.

    • sushi says:

      kookie,
      Ah, yes, I agree. We miss close friendships and easy companionship so much sometimes and would be much stronger, happier people if these were in our lives at close reach. This is though how I allowed myself to put up with a terrible assclown of a friend for far too long.
      Frankly, it takes the balls of steel to stay the course and not be tempted into some form of assclown situation or another and that`s where NC is so hard when we feel low. To fight I am making more effort to keep in touch and make new friends, boy I have to drag myself out of my comfort zone and sometimes it`s like pulling teeth, and then finding that I`m really enjoying it. I think that when we are happy and contented a great man will just walk into our lives while we are busy enjoying something completely man-unrelated :)

      • kookie says:

        keep at it! drag yourself out everytime.i have a few old friends back home i see every other year and we have a great time but they are not really able to be part of my everyday. i think in the same way i had to lose my fairytale idea about romance i am starting to lose the fairytale element i had with friendship. i have stopped chasing the feeling with friends as well. adult-onset friendships dont have to be BFF forever there for each other 24-7 type friendships like when we were young, and it is liberating to have a relationship with someone where they care for you but ultimately are not responsible for you, you are responsible for you, adulthood sucks. screw staying at home with your thoughts which leads to breaking NC. hold out for someone who is your first thought when you’re happy, excited and positively glad to be alive not for whoever is your first thought when you’re glum/bored/hungry/horny/sleepy/feeling unattractive

        • sushi says:

          kookie,
          “hold out for someone who is your first thought when you’re happy, excited and positively glad to be alive not for whoever is your first thought when you’re glum/bored/hungry/horny/sleepy/feeling unattractive” I`ll remember that, thanks :)

  36. Marianne says:

    It is amazing to read all of these comments. Like most of you I found BR searching for reasons why my ex-EUM blew hot and cold. We had met online two years ago. He was the first person who spoke to me on a dating website. He pursued me and sent me emails everyday then texts then phone calls. He sent his picture. Very handsome but my first thought was ‘cruel mouth, he will hurt you’ I wish I had listened. I fell for him very hard, embarrassing in your forties. We slept together second date – way too early and he manipulated and manufactured a casual relationship with me whilst giving the impression that it was so much more for him and all he could give, given our ‘ circumstances’…I.e children. His ex wife and children live abroad, he stays there every holiday and one weekend a month. Still married to all intents and purposes except physically (sexually). I felt like I was having an affair with a mm even though I believed they were no longer together. It is just his perfect excuse. I know I made mistakes, I was suspicious, I did things I would never conceive of having done before. I was his favorite fallback girl, wonderfully receptive and frightened of rocking the boat for fear of his passive aggressive cold spells. There were always texts from other women, questionable sexual fantasies played out, mostly text interactions…even our fights. He was so plausible to me, although my family and friends saw through him as a sad, controlling, weak person. I am in nc now for three weeks. It is hard… I dream about him still. I miss him which I am angry at myself for feeling. I read BR everyday. I read your stories and they keep me strong. I have even met a great man who knows everything and I am taking things slow with (there are emotionally available, good men out there- don’t let bad experience stop you from opening your heart to one). Each day is a step in the right direction. I almost lost my family and friends. I emotionally neglected my lovely children ( horrified to say I actually resented having had them at times during the relationship as I started to believe I could have been with him if I hadn’t had them, the guilt on that score is unbearable) and I had to take antidepressants to get through the days. I’m not proud of myself but knowing there are other people who understand how that feels helps. I don’t wallow, it’s just not who I am and I don’t want to waste time on regret. Some days I just wonder if these guys just aren’t into us enough then I think but then if you just aren’t into someone and you see them sitting across a table from you tears streaming down your face, clearly in pain because of what they are putting you through then you walk away…you don’t then text that person the week after they say ‘I can’t do this any longer it is too difficult’ and say ‘Well if you would like some lemon and garlic chicken and some hard sex followed by cosying into bed and some gentle sex and then to fall asleep in my arms then feel free to come over’. Hold out for a good guy, a guy who misses you not your vagina. A guy who needs to know who you are before needing to know what your body responds to. I think these AC’s are like the kids at school that will do anything rather than get on with work in class they spend so much energy avoiding having a normal relationship with you that they would be as well just having one. I also think they are like the conmen who believe that if someone is stupid enough to be conned that they deserve it. If you are stupid enough to lower your boundaries and love them, you deserve the shower of &£@! that they pour on you. That said if this has affected you to the extreme where you are now habitually emotionally unavailable be clear about being casual with someone. Don’t put a toe like they did with you and get the hell out if someone falls in love with you and you don’t feel it. I know that I do want a full relationship with someone now. No half measures and I won’t proceed until it is right with a man who wants that too. At the moment a man I have know for over a year and I are taking it day by day. He and I have the same values, wants and needs. It is good, but scary…but scary and breaking our bad patterns is good,  right?

    • Allison says:

      Marianne,

      You have only been NC from this guy for three weeks, and have already started up with someone else?

      You are clearly not over your ex, and seem to be using the new guy as a crutch to move forward- Not fair. It sounds like you completely lost yourself in this guy. Have you considered being alone for a long period to understand what brought you to this place. It sounds like you are afraid to be alone and using someone else as a buffer.

      You’ve created a bad pattern. Please take your focus off of men, and direct towards yourself and family.

  37. Lucy says:

    Maybe this is more of a truth for me than I thought it was. I haven’t dated anyone for over 1.5 years. When I first became single, it was about getting over my ex and finding someone else to date. Then I found this blog and the more time I spent working on myself, the more my issues unfolded and I realised that I needed to spend longer on my own. Something amazing happened and I started to enjoy my own company again.

    Time has brought humility and I know that while my ex hurt me, I also hurt him in a very big way and that was due to the fact that I dated him without really being sure that we were right for each other, and without having dealt with being alone or even realising what I wanted out of life because I was chasing a feeling. This is the first time in years that I’m not chasing a feeling and as a result, relationships for the sake of it are entirely unappealing. That’s where I am at the moment. Maybe this is progress?

    I’ve been online dating for almost a year now and have only been on one date as a result of my interactions there. I feel a bit half-hearted about it and I don’t know why. It’s possibly because I want more of a break from serial dating or maybe the process of it just jars with me a bit. I go onto it for a few weeks pretty excited and then I get bored very quickly and disappear for months at a time. Maybe the work involved in it doesn’t appeal to me? Aargh so I think this post is spot on but I can’t quite figure out where I am. Maybe I should take a break from dating until I 100% know for sure what’s going on in my head.

    • Little Star says:

      Lucy, I think you are not ready for dating and maybe you do need more time to fully recover? I am in the same situation, I told myself no more dating at least for six months…Do you go any other places where you can meet like-minded people?

      • Lucy says:

        Thanks Little Star. Certainly if I have this level of trepidation then there is some work still to do. I want to do the work but having been single for 1.5 years, I don’t know what else to work on.

        When I first became single, I had a lot to deal with in my life. I was confronted with unresolved feelings from a previous abusive relationship. Then I had to resolve my own conscience because of the terrible and self-destructive act of cheating on my last boyfriend. I felt so bad afterwards that I can’t quite figure out whether I’m lovable because I felt neglected in that relationship. But then I was passive and acted out rather than confronting it.

        I found this site, swallowed up as much as I could and I realised that I had been projecting my whole life’s worth onto men, and that I’d gone through my whole life people-pleasing to such an extent that I have to learn who I am again.

        I still want to go on a few dates, not for the ego boost, but because they are useful feedback. I went on a date in December and I think the guy sensed that I was holding back a little and wasn’t quite fully present, which isn’t something I noticed myself until later – that fear of vulnerability.

        As for meeting like-minded people, it’s really difficult because I am almost finished university and spend most time with friends from home, though we don’t click in the most fundamental ways. Because of bad experiences with men at university and my weak character/lack of self-awareness, I only have a couple of what I’d call true friends from that time. I don’t quite have all my resources together to lead a life which is satisfying in all areas. I am lonely sometimes. Perhaps I should work on this?

  38. Lacy says:

    This is me down to the letter Z!!! You read me.My situation was when he was availble and ready I was so scared to accept a relationship because he had left for a mth while after I told him I was pregnant.
    He said he had changed, I told him I was skeptical about his so called change and in time if stuff looked different I would except.It was my fault that I didn’t simply opt out.His proposition was that he mingles and only sleeps with his Baby Mom and if he paid my rent like most of his friends do could he move in and we be a couple.
    Is this the same as not being up front and me being an unavailble person too? I didn’t except the proposition and I think if I did those issues we could’ve worked on, I’m thinking of what could’ve been and I think I blew something good, by not being totally up front about what I wanted.

  39. oc says:

    Great post.

  40. Nola says:

    I enjoy BR and especially this post. The last EUM I dated only advised me after I invested emotions, money, and resources that he wanted a long term relationship but not with me. No reason sited other than don’t take it personally which was very hurtful after the 3 months we spent togther. Then I met, by chance, another woman who dated the same guy before me who was given the same reasoning after the same period of time. So my warning is be careful to those casual daters who disguise themselves as Emotionally Available, Seeking Long-term. Turns out people lie to get what they want (sarcasm).

    • Tracy says:

      Nola, I get it! When I think of ‘casual’ I think of ‘friends’. With my friends I might see them here and there, call on occasion, text only if we are in the midst of making some kind of specific plan, email a joke or two here and there. Then you meet a guy (in my case mostly online because there are NO men in my town, or so it seems). The onliners barrage you with emails, texts, phone calls if you’re lucky. They throw themselves at you. As the recipient of such attention, you ASSUME he’s interested in a relationship, as your CASUAL FRIENDS don’t behave this way. Then, you assume you’re in a relationship and when you make that false assumption, and heaven forbid you let them know, they go berserk and pull way the hell back and tell you, no, no, you misunderstood, I wasn’t looking for a relationship, I just want to have a good time…

      How the hell are you supposed to tell the difference between legitimate interest and the future faking that these ‘casual’ men are dishing out?

      • Sm says:

        Tracy even when you meet them in person they can act like that. I had a guy ask me out on 5 dates, come pick me up, pay for the check then when I turned around and offered to reciprocate by making him dinner, he freaked out and said he was just being friends with me. Well I had never heard this before, so I stopped communicating with him, I wish I could say it ended there. After a week of no communication, he calls and says he was scared and really did want to date me. So I think ok and then date him for 2 months he was a total azzclown, I broke it off telling him to never contact me again at which point he stalks me for almost a year. My lesson from that never, ever give a guy a second chance, NEVER!

        • Tracy says:

          Sm- I always wonder, what the hell are they so SCARED of? For you it had only been a couple of dates and a dinner invite…did he think you were going to propose to him over dinner? I swear, every time I hear a guy say women are drama queens I want to tell them to look in the mirror and see who the real drama queen is.

          • Sm says:

            Tracy that is exactly what I thought, it was just a few dates and dinner. Little did he know, I love to cook and have had many men over for a meal. It was more about me wanting to show off my cooking skills than trying to pin him into a relationship, what an azzhole. You got that right…drama kings.

            • Revolution says:

              Sorry to bust in on your party, girls, but I just wanted to add my “Amen” to everything you guys just said! I wish all guys would read what you wrote so that, even if they’re not like the guys we’re describing, they can tell it to their guy friends who are. Geez, it’s like “Calm the eff down, you’re not THAT special.” And even if we WERE starting to have feelings, that type of childish display would nip them right in the bud. Mission accomplished. You get to be single for the rest of your life, drama king.

          • yoghurt says:

            Hahaha – good call, Tracy.

            I agree with the ‘being scared’ business, cos that’s so very MASCULINE and VIRILE of them – “a potentially slightly embarrassing scenario! Argh! Oh no, save me save me from it, it might GET me!” as they run away screaming in a thin high voice.

            Man up.

            • yoghurt says:

              Sorry, meant to also say that this whole “He can annihilate an entire camp of space robots… but he can’t tell her that he loves her…” is painted as somehow being the ultimate in masculinity and archetypal male behaviour, hence the reference in my last post (I wasn’t just being gratuitously sexist!).

              I see nothing courageous or worthy about messing people about because you essentially consider yourself too precious and special to take the sort of emotional risks that most other people manage to take every day of the week. I do see something of the entitled and immature young teenager in it, however.

              Personally, I think that men are capable of doing better than that. As are women, ofcourse ofcourse.

  41. Marianne says:

    Lucy, it sounds like fear is stopping you from going for it again. That is understandable given your past relationship. I think it why we are all on here. I felt the same, dating again was a nightmare. I met a couple of guys who were just replicas of my ex EUM and I didn’t go back for a second date. Online dating is so formulaic, you get fired up for it and after half a dozen false starts you might find a guy who doesn’t try to shoehorn the conversation into ‘naughty’ waters regardless of the topic swerve. Then you have to date him and ask all the good questions so you aren’t ignoring red flags and in a way I put my new guy through the tasks of Hercules before I could trust that he was available, emotionally available and into me ( all of me, not just my tits, arse etc) but it is worth it. I thought new guy was a bit boring, I kept looking for faults and I realized that I was comparing him to my ex all the time but I recognized that by doing that he had no chance because I was comparing him to a fantasy man not a real one. I stopped that, he stopped being nervous around me and as we relaxed I started to fall for him. It is nice, it is real. He has met my children, he is interested in a future and I am letting him in. It is a real balance being open without being naive, being available with those important boundaries that don’t become walls but if you are on here you know you want it. That’s the first step. My advice is try again. Be lighthearted but conscious x

    • Lucy says:

      Thank you Marianne. I just find online dating so much of an effort. I think it’s because it feels so final to me and it seems like many men want fast relationships whereas I’m a slow burner. Your advice is really helpful. I think maybe being online is highlighting the lessons from here in a really big way, especially related to having boundaries. Sometimes I don’t feel self-actualised enough for dating and then other times I realise that I won’t ever be a woman without flaws and should stop obsessing over whether I’m ready or not. It definitely is a little bit of fear that’s holding me back, and the fact that I don’t know what a healthy relationship feels like.

  42. Kelly says:

    I need to give this a lot more thought. I don’t want to live with anyone/re marry. I would like someone to be attentive and give me ego strokes affection, company and sex. If I am HONEST and am able to find someone who also wants a monogamous relationship whilst retaining some degree of autonomy and independence is that OK? I don’t do online dating. I don’t want casual sex. I want a monogamous relationship where we go on dates and holidays. Where we talk regularly and openly and are supportive and caring about each other.
    Why does it always have to progress to this other level? If both parties are happy “being together/living apart” and nobody is getting hurt then what is the problem?

    • grace says:

      Kelly
      It’s normal for people to want to live together and even get married. People have been doing it for years, even these days when you really don’t have to unless you want to.
      You may want someone who is willing to halt commitment at just the same stage as you are but, for me, I could not find that spot even for myself so I put myself into my relationship 100 per cent. We aren’t living together but we are looking towards marriage. I don’t find the thought scary anymore now I’ve committed to it. It was more unsettling trying to figure out what the halfway/three quarter house would look like.
      Of course I can change my mind. But you can’t change your mind until you make it up first.
      We need to lose the notion that we can have a loving relationship with no risk, sacrifice, change, or compromise. If it was possible, us lot, of all people would have achieved it.

      • Snowboard says:

        “We aren’t living together but we are looking towards marriage.”

        How wonderful, Grace. :) I’m glad things continue to go so well between you two. Many hugs!!!

    • Lilia says:

      I understand Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton have this type of arrangement, that they are married living in separate but joined houses. I know lots of couples who have experimented along those lines, one friend and her partner have separate flats in the same building, so they maintain a certain private space while at the same time sharing their lives. I don´t think there´s anything wrong with this, as long as both agree to this kind of setup.

      • grace says:

        Lilia
        It’s a nice idea but unaffordable for us, and I think most couples.
        Bigger than that though, is a very strong instinct in me to self-isolate. That has been the one obstacle to me in forming relationships, more so than all the assclownery and abuse put together. I don’t give into it anymore because I know where it leads. My father has it in him too and I don’t want the life he has had.
        Someone else’s mileage may vary, but I know myself too well to give myself an opt out.
        I think every human being struggles with independence v coupledom. But for me it’s been really … epic!
        All or nothing. Eek.

        • Lilia says:

          Ooh Grace, I hope you don´t think I was questioning your commitment. I think it´s great that you´re getting married!

          I was thinking more along the lines of Amy´s comment, and how I wouldn´t be too happy getting married as I live with my kids and it would change their domestic life dramatically. They already had a hard time adjusting when their father left us, so I want to keep things as peaceful as possible for them (and me).

          The men in my age-range (40s) are either AC commitmentphobes who have never been married or divorcees with children (the non-children option isn´t very common here yet) who want to maintain a certain privacy with their kids anyway.

          I haven´t encountered divorced men with children who were eager to form a family together with mine. I´ve only seen that happen in the Brady Bunch, lol.

          • grace says:

            Lilia
            No, he’s not proposed yet! it’s too early for that but every few months we seem to find ourselves checking in with each other that we’re on the “marriage track”.
            I know a woman with three kids by three different men who got married so it can happen. I was a lot younger when I knew her and figured she should just give up. I was wrong!

    • Amy says:

      Kelly – I think it all depends on age and where you are in your life.
      One you’re in your 40s and 50s and own property, and/or have kids living with you I think that it’s possible to have a monogamous long-term relationship without marriage and/or living together provided BOTH partners are okay with the arrangement.
      A woman who lives down the block from me is in her 50s and has been dating a fella a few years older for quite a few years. He owns a house, she owns a condo. They’re both very independent but enjoy each other’s company – they’ve worked it out.
      When it comes to things like housing, jobs, and kids (esp for folks who have kids living with them) it becomes much more of a challenge to pack up and move in with someone you’re serious about.
      What I’ve observed from friends of mine is that it really all boils down to talking about expectations and needs (and listening to your partners needs). If both parties mesh on the “needs” thing then I think it can work.
      Oh, and legal marriage (in my opinion) is overrated, particularly if you’re older and there is no plan on having children together. If you’re going to buy property together then that’s a different thing. I know a few couples who have been together a decade or longer without an official marriage. I’ve been divorced twice, and am too old to have children so marriage is not on my mind. Monogamy, yes. Commitment? yes. Marriage and/or living together? negotiable.

      • Tabitha says:

        Thanks everyone. I posted as Kelly but then realised there was already a Kelly. Have had to change handles a few times.
        Anyway, I have had more time to think about it and it is exactly what Amy says. I am in mid forties, have 2 kids at home who will be around for another 5 or 6 years. I just don’t feel up to inviting someone else into our life. I want the peripheral benefits of a relationship for myself without it impacting upon my family life.
        I am really happy being single and am very independent, but I miss the affection/attention/sex/having someone other than mates to hang out with/holiday with. I am going on holiday alone later this year and am really looking forward to it. I don’t actually need a man right now so maybe I should just accept that I will have to be celibate and do without the affection and attention until I am ready to move on. The idea of being old and single doesn’t terrify me. I do prefer the idea of being with someone at that stage of my life though.

  43. Lisa says:

    I really love that picture of the swans.

    The fact is I’m not happy in life. I’m not where I want to be professionally, financially, emotionally, and I don’t want to drag another person into that.

    In the past, I’ve dated very successful men and would latch onto their success hoping to feel better about my crappy situation. Well, it didn’t work. I still felt awful.

    It’s been a couple years now since I had a steady relationship . I want someone there to talk to when I get home, to bounce ideas off, to wake up next to, but I’m too afraid of attracting another EUM. I don’t know if I will ever be happy/healthy enough to attract a nice guy for a stable relationship.

    The EUM felt safe because I kind of knew it would never go anywhere, but for the moment I wanted to enjoy his company—as my boyfriend. The majority of our arguments would stem from our relationship status. He would swear up and down we were “friends with strong feelings for each other.” LOL.

    I refused his friendship card. My friends don’t treat me the way he did. If he wasn’t my boyfriend, he should not have been calling me all the time, paying for me when we went out, sharing intimate details of his life, showing up at my apartment unannounced, cleaning my apartment when I had to work, etc. He would also swear he wasn’t messing around with anyone else, but I think he would start fights sometimes to have an excuse to go outside the relationship. It’s just a suspicion. I never caught him on anything.

    He also said 90% of his friends were female and he treated all of them like me… Yeah right.

    Anyway, he text me yesterday (after 1 month NC from his end because I threw a drink on him ending things) that he didn’t want to talk to me but he missed me. Then he called me a b*tch. What a charmer!

    • selkie says:

      He reached out to call you a bitch that he misses? wow. Classy guy. Ignore him and let him wonder why you aren’t all upset. I wouldn’t even respond to that kind of lameness. That is hot and cold all in one text.

    • jewells says:

      Babe In Total Control of Herself

      It’s a compliment, really

    • Sm says:

      I wish some guy who didn’t want a relationship with me would come over and clean my house LOL… Seriously this guy reminds me of my 18 mth non-relationship. He came over and built a gazebo in my backyard as a surprise for me. And get this! He used one of his harem to help him do it. Unbelievable! But he would insist that we were just dating casually for 18 mths.

  44. Magnolia says:

    Lisa,

    I could have written much of what you wrote. On my own, I’m okay, but kind of feel only I can put up with the degree of anxiety I’m in constantly.

    Whenever I hear myself talk, if it isn’t directly about work, it’s apologizing for being too busy, being too tired, or stressing about some aspect of work. I have almost no life outside work or stressing about it – BR is like my one escape – and I’m embarrassed about that.

    I just found out that I didn’t get the grant to do postdoctoral work that I applied for, so the only option, save leaving academia, is staying here and piecing together teaching, or trying to go elsewhere with no job prospects. I’m frustrated; I don’t love this town, but the jolt of reality around work is sobering; better somewhere I can afford to pay the bills, right, with work I like then somewhere I like with work that I don’t like and that, given all the time I’ve been away from the ‘real’ world, would likely be pretty low-paying?

    Makes me feel like I can’t get into anything right now (who knows where I will be in another year), but I have been single since the AC for two and a half years now. Two and a half years of no sex, no touching, no chatting …

    and all I do is stress and complain?

    I feel very lost and out of control about this. Not relationship-worthy. Though quite lonely for all that.

    • McKenzieM says:

      Magnolia,

      I’m sorry to hear you didn’t get the postdoc work. :( I can kind of relate to where you are with either working or stressing about something. Take care of yourself. You’ll figure out a new plan soon.

      BR is my sole escape these days, too. It’s kind of sad. But I think it’s better to come to BR and read/post than to call or email the EUAC. Thanks to all the posters here for keeping me strong in NC (I passed the one month mark now! :D )

  45. Lilly says:

    I’ve had a difficult time separating the loss of my baby and the situation with the exAC, but I’m finally beginning to do it. I’m not ignoring my part, but for now it helps to know exactly what his agenda was. I just wrote myself a letter from him stating exactly what he wanted from me:

    Dear Lilly,

    I want a colleague with benefits. We will develop projects together and while we’re at it have lots of sex. Working with you will be a perfect cover. We will meet up several times per year at various conferences. I will decide when and where. I will occasionally pay half your expenses. You will be solely responsible for contraception because I refuse to use condoms. If you get pregnant that is your problem and I will have nothing to do with it. Importantly, you must not confuse this arrangement with a proper relationship, although there will be times when I will intimate that I might change my mind. That is, I will at times lead you to believe that we have a future together, but you must never ask me where this is all going. If you try I will cut you off. The arrangement will continue as long as I want it to. If you become emotionally attached then once again, that is your problem. If you bother me with your feelings I will either be extremely cruel to you or I will simply disappear. I haven’t, however, forgotten about your needs. You will benefit from my expertise and contacts in the field. In fact, you need me and without me you will not succeed. You will also, of course, benefit from my expertise in bed. Happy? Now, don’t say anything just be a good girl and sign on the dotted line.

    That’s what I willingly signed up for! It’s all becoming clearer and clearer.

    • McKenzieM says:

      Jesus, Lilly… the EUAC I was involved with could have written that exact same letter to me.

      These guys must really all use the same playbook! Ugh.

      • Lilly says:

        McKenzieM,

        Ugh it certainly is! I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but isn’t it comforting to know that we are not alone.

        • McKenzieM says:

          Agreed. Except, the EUAC wasn’t anti-condom; I guess because he knew he couldn’t continue to be a manwhore if he caught something? Your ex-AC sounds quite douchey. I’m so glad you finally went NC. Proud of you, girl! :)

    • Lilia says:

      Lilly PLEASE always use condoms from now on!!!
      We don´t want to see you getting a STD!

      • Lilly says:

        Lilia,

        I cannot even begin to imagine a next time! If I can ever trust anyone again sex will not be part of the equation until I’ve worked him out and then refusing to use a condom would be a deal breaker. Thank god I didn’t get an STD on top of all this.

    • Revolution says:

      Lilly,

      That letter was painfully brilliant. Thanks for posting it here. The healing process isn’t as glamorous as we think it would be, is it? It’s like we read about these people who make it, chin against the wind, against all odds, to their goals. But what we don’t see is the everyday, often pedestrian struggles, that they endure (and sometimes fail to endure at times). There is no fanfare or ticker tape to tell you that you’re on the right track and gaining ground. But you are, Lilly. You are healing and getting stronger. I’m sure you see it in yourself, and we even see it on here in this cyber-community. Wishing you all the best on your continued health, my dear.

      • Lilly says:

        Revolution,

        Healing certainly isn’t glamorous – lots of soggy tissues and red rimmed eyes. It is a painful struggle, but I’m taking it day by day. There are moments of pure clarity when I feel surges of hope that I’ll eventually get there. I want to feel ok again so I will keep pushing forward. Thanks Rev.

  46. Peanut says:

    Before I met the ex, I wanted a man that would worship me, be obsessed with me, and be addicted to me in the way I had been with a few men in my life prior.

    I wanted all the power.

    I assumed that if they pursued me heavily and seemed super needy that this would set the tone and pace of the relationship: them wanting me all the while I am able to take or leave it.

    Here’s how those beliefs looked in action:

    I met a lonely man in a bar, chatted him up, saw that he was needy and put on my ‘charm dis man pants.’

    Didn’t really matter; he was drunk off his socks. I could have been a cat, and he’d still have had drunken, haughty intellectual babble with me. I’m pretty sure he’d have preferred that.

    I gave him my number and he called the same night to make sure he had the right number, as he was ‘really drunk.’ I thought, ‘Meh, he’s calling right? That means he cares.’

    I became obsessed with him. He was obsessed with an ex and drinking. I gave away all my power and sold my soul for crumbs.

    I am single now and not entertaining any illusions of dating in the near future. My life is a mess. I have freak outs where I go bananas with the tears, as I am processing a lot of old hurts.

    I let my ego drive my dating life and it near drove me into the ground.

    I thought it was okay to treat people you date as sub par human beings, if even that, because that is what I saw growing up.

    It seems really pointless to be in a relationship where you have all the power, and could so effortlessly come and go; I mean how disinterested would you have to be in such a partner that would allow for such low attachment. I don’t want a life full of things I can so easily walk away from anymore.

  47. Magnolia says:

    Ladies,

    What do you think of this observation? So there’s a married guy at work who has been literally paying tons of attention to me; he got me on the regional radio / national network show this week and made promotional video material of me, etc. Last week when he asked to make me dinner at MY place, I said no thanks, I’m going to this school event and he said, okay, I’ll come with you.

    I did not feel like saying: no, don’t come with me. I mean, I sort of felt like saying so but felt as though it would make work weird. He’s in a position of authority. I feel like I’ve been here before.

    Now the media are coming on Thu to an event I’m doing with my students (he arranged this) and so I have met him to discuss logistics over lunch.

    The thing is, I allow myself to confess how nervous I am about all the media attention and about my work stability to this guy. I found myself today going on and on about how stressed I am, how stressed, and oh yeah, did I say how stressed I was? I apologized for dumping on him and he was like, hey, what are friends for?

    The thing is, I think he’s kind of smarmy, still. I was kind of watching as if out-of-body as I went on and on, using him as an emotional airbag, in a way. He didn’t seem to mind. But the thing is, I thought: huh, I’m behaving just as badly as him. He may be sneaking around on his wife, but I find myself losing all boundaries too around my own stress and whining like a child in ways I would never do with my own friends because I would never want to drown them in my rancid stress!

    This observation made me wonder: have I always felt like “letting it all out” with my stress is truly “intimate”? Could my lack of internal fortitude, that has me feeling like I’m “faking” being strong and together when I’m with folks, actually just be an immaturity that expects more relief from stress by venting it than is actually good for a relationship?

    Considering I was sitting down to lunch with an MM, when I could have said I was busy and conducted business by email, I figure I must be doing something to behave at his level. When I was done lunch I was seriously sick of the sound of my own whining.

    Maybe that’s what keeps me out of a real relationship: knowing that a good guy would not put up with all that. A good guy wouldn’t “do anxiety” as grace put it.

    • sushi says:

      Magnolia,

      A MM who professionally is in position of authority goes out of his way to help you, then wants to cook dinner for you at your place. This sounds out of order. All this happens while you are stressed to the eyeballs and therefore vunerable. Isn`t that a tried and tested recipe of MM`s?
      I also think you are being very hard on yourself, it`s human to feel overwhelmed by stress when stress is overwhelming and no human achieves a perfect control and internal fortitude. You are not faking anything, you ARE accomplished and human at the same time. Sounds like he welcomed your complaining, so that was his choice. Magnolia, you are brilliant and you don`t have to be perfect is what I`m trying to say!

      • Wiser says:

        I have a wonderful boss who is married. We have a great working relationship and we laugh and talk and I think I could call him if, for instance, my car broke down and I needed some help. I might even be comfortable talking about a personal problem with him, to a certain extent. But if he ever wanted to come over and cook me dinner, I would instantly be alarmed. This seems very inappropriate to me. I think your gut feelings are telling you the same.

        I know when I’m stressed, I feel small and childlike and want to be soothed – as a child I was best soothed by my strong, protective father and it was the only times there was any real intimacy between us. Sharing your feelings about being stressed and vulnerable with this guy will create a sense of intimacy, so be careful! Sushi is right, this would be a perfect opportunity for a MM on the prowl to make his move.

    • Lisa says:

      Magnolia,

      I feel the same. In the past when I have been with “good guys,” I found myself using them as the ultimate crutch. With the bad boys, I’m so busy being pissed off at them, I don’t have time to think about my own crummy life.

      I find my stress levels are higher than most. I had a very stressful upbringing, and my work/life balance is completely off. I hardly ever take a vacation and when I do take time to myself, I feel “guilty” like I should be working to better myself and my situation.

      In addition to working 2 jobs, I’m also pursuing film/television writing professionally, which is like learning another language. When nice guys look my way, I get nervous. What if we run out of things to talk about because all I ever want to discuss are my job situation and writing? If they are pushovers, they will listen until I drive them into the ground. If they are not, they will see how miserable I am and run for the hills.

      Deep down, I feel I don’t deserve a nice guy. Its such crap, but I don’t know how to change my way of thinking without first selling my screenplay, being financially stable, and working in the industry. I get so jealous when I see my friends progressing in their careers, vacationing, opening up their own businesses, moving up the ladder. However, if the writing thing doesn’t work out, there’s not really anything else for me.

      When I look at the bigger picture, I don’t really have time to entertain a relationship or dating or whatever. I’m just so damn lonely.

    • runnergirl says:

      Mags,
      Runner here…gentle nudge. How do you spell unavailable…M.A.R.R.I.E.D. Conduct your business via email if you have to.

      Very sorry to hear about the postdoc situation. You’ll get it worked out and I understand the stress. Share it here rather than with a MM.

      PS. He is swarmy. He is married and wandering around sniffing single colleagues.
      PPS. I broke my rule and posted before my work was done.

  48. Valley Forge Lady says:

    I have enjoyed reading all of the above comments because it means there are so many people out here dealing with the same frustrations. HOWEVER, it this long thread of responses…there is one word very missing…LOVE. As a Christian I am taught that love is selfless and giving. I am strong in my resolve to find a man who does not choke on the word love and the idea of being totally committed. I venture forth knowing that I am worthy of what I am seeking and willing to give.

  49. teachable says:

    After not smoking for 14 yrs & relapsing while involved with my now deceased ex AC, notwithstanding my health & $ problems, THIS will be my biggest stumbling block to being ready to date again. I wont date a smoker so realise I need to be a non smoker also to best be matched with someone suited for me (ie believe it or not, health IS something I do value greatly & I’d want my partner to share this, including making good choices around food & excercise). So swamped with other issues I haven’t succeeded in any of my attempts to quit again yet. I will though, if I KEEP trying (which I will). Sigh…

  50. Kelly says:

    I am in a situation similar to this .I met a guy on a dating site in September .His profile was simple and he pursued me . Two weeks after we met he threw me a surprise birthday party , followed by courting and talks about business partnerships and of course followed by sex. We were business partners by November, he initiated and scripted all of our dates etc.March this past Saturday he invited me over to address my delusions of grandeur . He wanted to let me know that he felt I was falling for him and having ideas about what we have. He informed me that he was telling me this to protect me, he then went on to inform me that he does not want any restrictions and he does not need a relationship of any kind …. I was dying and engulf with pain which I masked with a smile and politely said I never asked you for anything … Im worried about the business asect anc how it will be affected but I want to disconnect and cut all ties .

    • Amy says:

      Oh Kelly!! This man really takes the King AC prize. How very polite of him to let you know all of this shit NOW after future faking you and convincing you to go into business with the guy. You might want to consider getting legal consul about the business thing – this whole mess will just delay your healing.
      Sounds like your Peter Pan had someone from his past show up suddenly out of the blue, or he has a new ingenue waiting in the wings.
      This is such a hard thing to process sometimes – a guy who “sweeps us off our feet”, plans all the dates, appears to be a real gentleman on the surface only to find that instead of being rock solid, he’s got a head full of sawdust and feet of muddy clay.
      Good luck Kelly… just keep coming back here to BR – it’s helped me immensely!

      • jewells says:

        Yup, ‘doesn’t need a relationship’ huh. Not as long as he’s got the charm and shmarm to entice well intended women into his lair. Sounds like a Narcissist. Work on breaking out of the business arrangement, he will use it to keep you ensnared and carry on doing what he does. It will suck your soul, so get out as soon as you can.

    • Little Star says:

      Goodness me, KELLY! What an a&&, if I were you, I would definitely cut all ties but before that, can you ask him PLEASE where he got this idea that you want to settle down with him?!! Just say, that you never took him seriously, and he was very naive to think otherwise!

  51. runnergirl says:

    This post so used to describe what I used to feel and do without being conscious of what I was feeling or doing. Being Miss Self-Sufficient, Miss Independent got me into the “perfect storm”, an OW. Thanks to you all, I’ve done a lot of digging and I lot of work. I want a committed relationship and I’m willing to be vulnerable.
    I know folks differ with regards to the online dating business and after 10 months, I feel like I’ve met them all. This past weekend, I met two tremendously nice guys (maybe my online screening skills are getting better). Although it was only a couple of hours, there were absolutely NO red/amber flags, no bagging on their psycho ex’s, in fact, no mention of ex’s. It was nice. But…here’s the but…I just felt nothing much. I gave it a day, refrained from second guessing myself, and responded to both their second invitations with an honest, respectful no thank you. Even though they didn’t exhibit any AC/EUM tendencies in the first few hours, it was just a no go for me. I remember Natalie’s comment not everyone is everyone’s cup of tea or something to that effect. There are nice guys out there. It just didn’t work for me this time and that is okay. Many thanks Natalie for your dating advice and for helping me to see that I have a choice, assuming I know what I want. Just because a guy ISN’T an AC/EUM doesn’t mean he’s in the door. Darn, though. I wasn’t contradictory even though I could have and maybe would have been!

    • Lucy says:

      Runnergirl, sounds like you’re doing really well. I have to do the exact same thing – keep reminding myself that it’s okay to reject a lovely guy, because you can’t feel it with everyone.

    • buffalogirl says:

      OMG Runnergirl – you sound like me to a “T”. I also pride myself on being independent and self sufficient. I don’t like having to rely on a man because 9 times out of 10 they are never around when you need them or if they are there are always strings attached when you ask for their help-been there done that. I question myself as to whether I am “EU” because I like having someone around but not 24/7. i need a lot of “me’ and “alone” time. I know this about me don’t know if it is good or bad. Part of me actually likes the idea of separate living spaces and if you think about it isn’t that how most celebrity couples keep their relationships going? I mean they are always apart, on different coasts, or in different parts of the world.Is it any different? I think these days people as a whole really find it suffocating to have someone around them 24/7. I know I do. Just a thought.I have tried online dating-gave it up -it all seemed so phony and I didn’t want to waste my time. As far as dating someone a guy who comes into our work place was trying to put the moves on me but I wasnt interested and my coworkers kept telling me just be friends with him, I said no way I am not going to give him false hope. I am not interested period-deal with it,And I am OK with that. Just because someone shows an interest in you you don’t have to reciprocate. It’s OK to tell them thanks but no thanks I am not interested-move on.Why waste your time and their time? And once they get their foot in the door they never give up. Better to break their heart then to have them break your heart.

      • grace says:

        Buffalo
        I was so happily independent when I met my boyfriend. I’d not had a date in six years. I had bought a flat and was very comfortable and happy. When I told him how much I liked being single he said , “oh dear”. He must have figured I had no room in my life for him.
        It was inconceivable to me that I would be one of “those women” who can’t go two days without seeing her man. When I was on holiday, we missed each other so much!
        We see each other at least four times a week now, everyday would not be too much. It’s actually my independence and boundaries that make this possible, not a lack of that. I’m so sure of who I am, and of where I end and he begins that I don’t feel as though I’m being invaded. I have to say he’s a very grounded, centred person who’s caring yet feels no need whatsoever to control me. We disagree on quite a few things but don’t take it personally. We are not codependent. we are two entirely separate people. We mostly have a lot of fun.
        We still do our own stuff, we’re not joined at the hip.
        The commitmentphobic often talk about needing space, and feeling suffocated. I recognise that very much in my former self, and am sure it drives a lot of EU behaviour. One of my exes would wail about how he needed space. In the end, I gave him so much space I divorced him. (It would have been better if I’d never married him.)
        In a way, married men, long distance men, ambivalent men suit us because they never do threaten our space and independence. But it’s so unsatisfying.
        As for celebrities, dare I say it, they are not like us and I’m not sure their relationships are the gold standard. And I expect that many are quietly coupled up under the radar in ordinary domesticity. It just doesn’t make the gossip pages.

        • Little Star says:

          Grace I am so happy for you that you have such a lovely relationship, all the best to you:)

      • runnergirl says:

        Buffalogirl, Natalie has a fabulous chapter in Mr. U and the FBG on the Miss Independent, Miss Self-Sufficient type of FBG. That is why we fit to a “T”. In fact, Natalie discovered there are so many of us, she would be doing an entire book. (Remember Nat? I can help.) If you can, order Mr. U and the FBG and flip to that chapter. It’s scary how she describes the independent, self sufficient type and how all that independence and self-sufficiency can be a form of unavailability.
        With regards to the guy at work, if you aren’t interested, you aren’t interested. I’m not into breaking hearts or having mine broken. Thus, I wasn’t willing to proceed with the two nice guys. That’s all. I’m not so self-sufficient or independent anymore. I’m into vulnerability and trust, love, and respect!

        • grace says:

          runner
          This independence thing is very interesting to me. My sister and I had a similar childhood (at least my parents were equal opportunity in their abuse and neglect) but she was always adamant that she would get married and have children. She even had the name of her first daughter ready. Me, on the other hand, found the whole concept alien. Even in relationships I was never fully “in” them. I thought depending on someone was weakness, not that I even knew what it meant to depend on someone.
          I prided myself on my enjoyment of LDRs and my space. Funny thing, though, I was nearly always in a freakin relationship so I must have wanted SOMETHING.
          Even now, in a good relationship, I still see my final three years of singledom as the happiest, if only because of the sheer relief not to be hurting anymore. When I told my sister I might be single for the rest of my life she said “Naaaah, you dont’ want to be alone”.
          Age IS a factor. Even in the bible, the apostle Paul urges young widows to remarry but older ones to devote themselves to good works. I think, hang on, nothing has happened to me in my late forties that makes me want love less. In fact, I want it more now I’ve ditched the baggage.
          A friend of mine, at 32, was saying SHE might be single for the rest of her life. She’s a green-eyed brunette, athletic with an hour glass figure. I thought “riiiigght”. I know there are some people, sadly, who are so poorly groomed that they can’t seem to attract anyone but we don’t fall into that category. At least someone found us attractive even if they were an AC. And I’ve seen quite shabby people coupled up.
          I know many older women who are happy single, so I’m not saying it’s not a viable worthwhile option. It may yet be what awaits me. But – our romantic history, our age, does not preclude us from love if we want it. If we don’t want it, or want to settle for a not-quite-committed relationship, I think that is worth looking at (and I say if you want monogamy with someone for the foreseeable future, you’re committed and responsible to each other whether you like it or not). The reasons could be perfectly valid, but if it’s down to fear (I’ll lose my house, I’ll get hurt, he’ll leave me, I’m too old, I might as well be dead) I don’t think that’s right (not in a moral sense, but in that it’s not the most joyful way to live).
          Both of my brothers’ wives have told me they couldn’t live without their husbands. I don’t think they mean it literally but my heart ran cold at the thought of needing someone that much.
          I am starting to know how they feel. Right at the heart of love is our human vulnerability. My boyfriend is naturally much more open and loving than I am. It scares me sometimes, I think how can you be like that? and it puts responsibility on me to step up.
          At least I passed that early bolting stage.

          • Iain says:

            grace

            I really enjoyed reading your comment above (and indeed all your other comments). I’m on a similar journey, trying to remove the ‘in’ from ‘independence’ and your statement ‘Right at the heart of love is our human vulnerability’ really resonated with me. I found the TED talk in the video link below a very interesting view on the topic on vulnerability and hope others do too.

            Iain

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o

            • grace says:

              Iain
              Thanks, good talk. A few years ago I wouldn’t have known what she was talking about. Now I am starting to get it.

          • Revolution says:

            Grace,

            Great comment, as always. I can relate to much of what you’re saying. And I, too, am very happy that you have found a good, healthy relationship. :)

            Two things that you said stood out to me:
            “…I still see my final three years of singledom as the happiest…”

            Hmmm…”FINAL three years.” Interesting word choice. ;)

            And this: “When I told my sister I might be single for the rest of my life she said “Naaaah, you dont’ want to be alone”.” I’ve said, and meant, this statement to people in this last year (being in a relationship that hurts vs. being single forever…IF those were my only two options, it’s a no-brainer) and it’s funny how that can bring out others’ horrific projections. It’s like they can’t fathom that being single would be preferable to anything, genocide included. It baffles me.

          • runnergirl says:

            Grace,
            The independence thing for me runs pretty deep which is why Natalie’s description really hit home. Even though I was a kid, I never wanted to end up in my mother’s position. Five kids spaced two years apart and no job, no education, no experience, and thus totally 100% dependent on a man, who was a serial cheater. Your comment made me realize how much I am still reacting to and manifesting that fear which is now completely unrealistic. Unless I adopt 4 kids (unlikely) or get involved with someone with 4 little ones (unlikely), it’s remote that I would find myself in the same position as my mother, yet I’m still acting as though it could happen if I let a guy in. Thank you for sharing your early bolting thoughts. I know I would probably have the same thoughts if I ever walk in your shoes. Just reading your prior comments made my heart race.
            It’s the vulnerability. Thank you for helping me connect the dots. Still, at 53,I’m afraid of being in the vulnerable position of my mother even though realistically the chances are remote now. Wow. Just plain wow.

    • grace says:

      Runner
      I am not telling you to date just anybody, but how much can you expect to feel for someone in a couple of hours?
      For months my boyfriend made no impression on me whatsoever. I only started talking to him because I felt sorry for him and it was two months after that before I felt any attraction, which was mild at best.
      Now I think he’s freakin gorgeous!

      • runnergirl says:

        Ah good for you Grace. It is so inspiring to hear how things are progressing with you. I’ll bet he is freakin gorgeous. I agree totally about the “couple of hours”. As I responded, rather snarkly, below, there were some hygiene issues that were a MAJOR turn off. With the first guy, I could have spent some time counseling him as to how to dress, bathe, and shave but he’s over 50. I can’t bathe him, shave him, or buy him shoes. As for the second nice guy, who is 56, I can’t teach him to brush his teeth and get him to take care of himself. They were both nice guys but they both needed a steam cleaning, a serious shave, hair cut, a few trips to the dentist as well as the orthodontist. (I couldn’t figure out if the second guy was missing teeth or whether his teeth just needed some serious ortho.) And then maybe a trip to Khols for some clothes. It was like I didn’t want them to touch me. Here’s the but…they were very nice. But, again, it was just plain yuck. It wasn’t that they made no impression, they made a impression and it was contradictory. They were nice and needed a very long, hot, steamy bath for maybe several days or months. I hope this doesn’t sound superficial. It was just yuck. I had to call it even though they were nice.

        • grace says:

          Runner
          Oh dear.
          Thr boyfriend may be prematurely losing his hair but he is clean.
          Shame these men are so clueless but it’s not your job to wash them.

          • runnergirl says:

            Eww, ick, washing them just conjured up an unsightly vision. However, I guess that’s what I’ve tried to do with some former ex’s. It didn’t work, btw. This just triggered a memory regarding the lack of basic hygiene with the abusive narc bf, who was super nice in the beginning. I actually did manage to “clean him up” for a short time. It didn’t stick.

  52. Sheela says:

    Hmmm,got me thinking there,Nat.
    Thanks for this.:)

  53. swissmiss says:

    Runnergirl-

    I’ve followed your story and am really happy for you. Your progress is inspiring me.

    Nat’s post really speaks to me: pretending I am someone else to hide my real needs, which I fear will scare someone off. Better to look cool and confident–and in total control. I have been inching closer to someone these past few weeks and find myself more frightened and insecure than I have ever experienced. I am feeling things for the first time in my life–jealousy, for one. Hide these aspects or reveal them? These are moment-by-moment decisions for me right now. I have to PUSH myself to stay real. He’s hanging in, solid as a rock, but still, my fear is running like an underground stream: how much talking can he stand before he walks? Shouldn’t I just be FUN? I couldn’t tolerate that kind of superficiality in a mate, why do I think he would?

    • natashya says:

      swissmiss,

      inhale, exhale… i personally wouldn’t express feelings such as jealousy. they have most probably to do with your own insecurities. take a step back and try to relax. observe and don’t make the mistake of taking the lead.

      as nat always says ‘people unfold’. let him unfold, but also give yourself the opportunity to unfold. try to let go of attachment to outcome.

      furthermore, if he can’t tolerate what’s important to you (e.g. talking) then he’s not a match for you. if he can’t stand it and walks… let him walk.

      good luck :)

    • runnergirl says:

      Swissmiss, you are feeling jealousy? In the social sciences, jealousy can be defined as an emotional reaction to a perceived threat to a valued relationship. Is there a perceived threat to your valued relationship? Is there a valued relationship? Assuming there is a valued relationship as you say, “he’s hanging in, solid as a rock”, what/who do you perceive is threatening the relationship and why? Talk here…? Gracious I wish life were all about FUN!

  54. Peanut says:

    Max,

    I couldn’t agree more. The whole ‘casual’ thing just doesn’t work very well. Humans naturally progress in healthy relationships, and to not, if there is any consistent contact between two people, means something is obstructed in the situation so that intimacy is blocked.

    The whole ‘casual’ isn’t enough to properly meet human needs, and actually is a distraction from true intimacy.

    Intimacy grows, deepens and changes; it is not stagnate, as we are not meant to be stoic, static creatures.

    • Silverbee says:

      Peanut, you’ve nailed it in a few short sentences. Thank you.

      This subject always brings me back to the scene in the movie “Annie Hall” when Woody Allen and Diane Keaton are flying back to New York from a visit to LA, and they both start talking about how their relationship is not working anymore and they need to break up. Woody’s line is that “relationships are like sharks – they have to keep moving forward or they die. And what we have on our hands is a dead shark.”

      By their very nature, casual, uncommitted relationships are pretty much dead sharks in the water from the beginning. Why bother? All you get is a big, stinky weight on your line, dragging you down with it.

      Even non-sexual friendships require commitment, care, respect, trust and love, and a desire to grow together through shared life experiences, confidences, conversations, etc.

      • Mymble says:

        Silverbee
        Lol! Thats it exactly.
        If you’re not interested in them why bother. And if you are interested, and they aren’t, then you will get hurt. Either way, it’s a waste of your time.
        I’ve had a few long term dead sharks on my line over the years, although they might have looked to a casual observer like live ones.. spending a lot of time together, going holidays, visiting each others families, even short periods of living together. But yet both of us knowing that it was really dead in the water, but too lazy to cut the line and start fishing again.
        (Okay I think I have pushed the metaphor far enough!)

  55. Oc says:

    Hi Yoghurt!

    I noticed you were quitting smoking and I just wanted to commiserate with you. My last gf, (and basically all of them smoked like a chimney). I always felt bad about myself for smoking like you and found myself with partners that reinforced the habit.

    I can say in the aftermath of my ‘devastation’ I haven’t had a cigarette in 175 days which is the longest I’ve gone since I started 20 years ago. Its all part of the new, more loving me, and I am so happy that I slogged through the hard months to get to this point.

    Good luck to you! Its the best thing I EVER did and making the commitment totally changed me as a person.

    Get it!

  56. Tim says:

    “Its OK to reject a lovely guy”. Nice.

    Seems to be a recurring theme. Obsess over all the selfish rats out there, pour your heart out on websites, then when actually encountering any sincere or honest men, reject them instantly.

    You got to laff, really, the hypocrisy of the human condition. And I’m not just talking about women and their attraction for bad boys. Men are the same- they chase after women who are absolutely no good for them, while ignoring those who are genuine and available.

    Thanks for your very insightful writing Natalie. Its also very funny at times!

    • jewells says:

      Tim, I think that statement is more to the effect of ‘just because he’s a nice/lovely guy, you are not obligated to have a relationship with them’. It’s ok to not be attracted to a ‘nice’ guy, keep looking and find a ‘nice/lovely’ guy you ARE attracted to. Otherwise, we’ll risk wind up an AC to that ‘nice/lovely’ guy by stringing them along without having ‘feelings’ for them or pretending to in hopes of developing feelings that may or may not occur.
      Though, I do see your point, as we are here because we wound up with and got attached to ‘bad boys’.
      Yes we are contradictory, we are human, and we are on a journey to figuring all this out within ourselves.

    • Revolution says:

      Yeah….I get it, Tim. As a woman who is genuine and available, I’m ignored for women who cheat and lie and manipulate to get and keep a man. I’ve shown kindness (for the most part) and respect even to the ACs I’ve cut contact with in the past. I am nice, but not flirtatious, with decent men who, for whatever reason (and NOT because they are decent, available guys) I’m not attracted to, so as not to give them any inkling that I’m interested in more. So as not to lead them on, because I NEVER want to treat men in the same cruel way that some men in the past have treated me.

      So yeah, I hear you.

      • Revolution says:

        As a matter of fact, Tim, I’m reminded that my most recent ex used to say to me all the time that I could get away with things and get free stuff, because I’m attractive. My honest response was always, “No, I’d never do that. I’m just not that way.” It’s almost like he expected, maybe even WANTED, a woman to use others. It baffles me, because I never treated him with anything but genuine love, kindness, and respect, even when I politely but firmly cut contact with him after I told him why. Then he started dating a woman who manipulated him every which way but Sunday. Sheesh. Can’t win. I’m still going to be my good self, even if it means I’ll be alone.

    • kookie says:

      if you are a “nice guy” Tim, please stay that way despite the penchant for emotionally unavailable to go for, well, the unavailable.you don’t wanna join this crazy kool-aid party. the WORST assclown/assclownettes are the vengeful, bitter ex-”nice people” sick of coming second best. they are the absolute worse.you gotta stick to your character guns for your own damn yourself and don’t be bitter about being a decent human being.

    • Lilia says:

      Tim, I´d love to meet a nice guy for a change. The only guys I seem to attract are the ones that are in love with themselves.

    • runnergirl says:

      Hey Tim, I hope you’ll check back in. I understand the stereotype of the “nice guy finishes last” but that isn’t what I meant. Trust me, I’m a former FBG who would beat feet across the nice guy offering a loaf to get the crumbs of the AC in the corner. That’s not what I’m doing now. The nice guys had some things I couldn’t do. And, I get to make the decision. And I did not want to send contradictory messages by continuing. Beat me up for that. It is still going to be my decision. I want a committed relationship based on trust, respect, and honesty. I didn’t see that happening. That’s all. Nice, mean, AC, EUM or whatever. Just a no go from my perspective and I get to make that decision because I have choices! The others said it much more nicely. I’m saying it a bit more snarkly. I get prickly when a guy decides that I should be interested in him because he is nice, attractive, unattractive, powerful, lacks power, or is simply interested and nice and therefore I should be interested. It’s pretty patronizing.
      There were some hygiene issues which the “nice” part couldn’t resolve. Period. At 50-something, I simply don’t want to engage with somebody who needs to learn basic hygiene even if they are nice! You can though. Let me know how it works out.

      • selkie says:

        And there we have a great example of how to define a boundary. Yay Runner!

        You are right on the money about how YOU get to decide. Nice guy doesn’t equal obligation. Wanting a guy who is clean isn’t superficial. It’s you knowing what values are important for you and making smart decisions about compatibility based on these values. Nice is wonderful, but it doesn’t trump values. I think it’s respectful to not string a guy along you know doesn’t work for.

        • runnergirl says:

          Thank you Selkie. You summed it up, nice doesn’t trump values or equal an obligation. It’s almost like another form of crumbs, albeit nicer ones!

  57. Anna says:

    People are entitled to find out as they go along… I can’t see the problem with that… I’ve always found the people who come in with an upfront agenda of what they want, without taking the trouble to even get to know me, are all about them and their demands. i like to get to know someone before deciding what level of a relationship I /we want with each other, if any. This doesn’t stop you setting your own quality ground rules about how you expect to behave and be treated… eg. with respect and honesty and I don’t want to date someone who is attached or a chauvenist idiot etc.

  58. Peanut says:

    Tim,

    We cannot accurately make the assumption if someone is ‘honest’ or a ‘rat’ based on any casual encounter. It takes time to get to know someone.

    Often times people are attracted to certain people via unconscious childhood wounds. It is not their fault, but certainly their responsibility to become aware and make better, wiser choices.

  59. Peanut says:

    I have to agree Lawrence, and beautifully stated.

  60. Peanut says:

    Lilly,

    I hurt for you because I know how it feels to be used buy a charming, seductive man who uses bouts of ‘tenderness’ to bait you. All the ‘love’ he shows that can feel so good at the time is just like an ugly worm on a fishhook.

    I’m so sorry, that’s all we are to these men, fish, to be reeled in and cast back out to sea with little to no thought on their part, or emotionally fried in their pan of greasy lies.

    And I must say this: It is very likely he is having unprotected sex with other women, okay more than likely. Not only do these men not think of the emotional consequences of their actions and the havoc they wreak, they don’t think of the consequences of their physical actions either.

    He could be riddled with STDs, even know it, give you every single one of them, and not give two shits. This man sounds very unempathetic to say the least.

    We deserve to be treated better than fish. We are women. We are human beings for god sake.

    Hugs

    • Lilly says:

      Peanut,

      I think you’re right he didn’t see me as a human being at all. His complete lack of empathy has been so damaging. The worst part is that I’m sure he is completely aware of my feelings. He seems to take pleasure in causing me pain. For over a year now I’ve been desperately trying to get him to have some empathy for my lost baby. What a complete waste of time and emotion. It has left me physically and mentally damaged, but I’m pulling myself up from the floor. He recently left me stranded in a different state and although it’s still painful it was perhaps a blessing in disguise. It finally gave me the strength to pull the plug. 15 days (properly) NC today and here’s one fish that has finally wriggled free!

      • Allison says:

        Lilly,

        Good for you!

        You’re right! “It was a [] blessing in disguise.”

      • Peanut says:

        Lilly,

        There are some people who just plum don’t care and don’t care that they don’t care, and never will. It is not our fault nor our responsibility to change them.

        I am so sorry you lost your baby, Lilly. It hurts so much. I know.

        You were a mother and you lost your child. There are few pains in life greater than this. You can heal. Grieve the loss. Give yourself the time, care, and safety you need to
        grieve your baby.

        It’s been near a year since I initiated no contact with the ex. I have fallen off the wagon several times, but he is further from my mind each day. I feel myself being tied to him less and less.

        We are going to make it upstream to better waters!

        Also, I have read your posts, and your tone is that of such a lovely, mindful, and sweet human being.

        You don’t deserve the pain this man has put you through. Step far away and don’t go back. There is better waiting through all the pain. Take care.

  61. teachable says:

    Runner, along the lines of Grace’s post I have a friend who internet dated for about 18 mths. She met a lot of dates, all tossers, she rejected for good reasons. Just as she was about to give up she met ‘Mr I-don’t-really-find-attractive-but-he-seems-like-a-nice-guy’. I asked more about him. He’d kept gently & respectfully asking her out, treating her WELL & there were NO red flags. I suggested she persist despite the lack of ‘fireworks’ & had a funny feeling he was in fact ‘the one’. I actually told her this & she was somewhat doubtful (no real attraction she said) but stayed open minded. Sure enough three years later & they are co-habitating & engaged to be married in the near future! Oh & btw, I finally got to see some photo’s of him & although these things are in the eye of the beholder he looks alright to me! Quite handsome in fact especially when you add the bonus factor that hey, he’s GENUINELY a ‘nice guy’. She too is ABSOLUTELY GLOWING in the photo’s with him & has fallen head over heels in LOVE! It was just a SLOW BURN that’s all which he EARNED by how he TREATED HER instead of the wow factor employed in the blitz & awe campaign of an AC. Just thought I’d share that with you. All the best. T :)

  62. teachable says:

    Euw. Didn’t read down far enough Runner. Sorry about that. I can confirm my friend’s Mr Nice Guy although not a snappy latest fashion type (ugh, BOUND to be an AC, or gay, lol), DID show up on dates for her with all the hygiene boxes ticked. Don’t worry. I checked! LOL

    • runnergirl says:

      Yeah, I’m not looking for “snappy”, just kinda groomed and clean would be good. Great to hear about your friend. I’m also not chasing a feeling and I knew that there was no chance.

  63. teachable says:

    Magnolia, yr giving yrself a bad case of analysis paralysis. Yr also being far too hard on yrself re the venting issue. People have a psychological NEED to just vent sometimes. All that talking about what is stressing you out, creates a release off yr brain’s pressure cooker. In fact this can be much better than just ruminating endlessly to yourself. A true friend will permit us to vent at times when needed. This is not about dumping our toxic shit on peeps. It’s a 2-way exchange in any give & take r.ship.

    Here’s the thing though. This work colleague is NOT yr friend. It was ok to vent but I’d steer clear of any further non work related meetings with this guy ie lunch etc. Inviting himself to dinner at yrs shows he has poor boundaries & I suspect ulterior motives. Don’t be surprised if he’s lining you up as an OW. He’s married. He’s also a dropkick. Conduct yr work business with him but otherwise steer clear.

    Also it makes sense to stay where work you at least like is available even if it’s not a fabulous town. You need stick with sorting yr career out so you can really fly even if this means at first doing something at a lesser level than u perhaps hoped for. Otherwise I’m sorry u missed out on the post doc opportunity. Don’t give up though, keep believing in yrself & all the hard work you have done to get to where you are today which proves how very capable you are & know that there will be other opportunities which will arise, in time.

    Finally, when yr a little less stressed out, if I was in yr position, I’d consider taking up a hobby so BR isn’t yr only outlet. I’m just waiting to get a medical all clear (at least 6 mths or more away yet, MAYBE if I am lucky) but have two waiting ready to go (music & roller derby). I’ve already been to a couple of casual derby sessions a while back & the other women there were really friendly & welcoming. Life feels different when you have an oulet, especially one that brings you into healthy social contact with others. And who knows, maybe yr town will seem like a more happiness inspiring place to be then too?!

    Hang in there Magnolia! This too shall pass & I see a very bright future ahead for you! :)

  64. teachable says:

    Oh Dear. Lisa. I see a lot of how I used to be in yr post. I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news but here’s a heads up. You can’t have it all AT THE SAME TIME. The career, striving for financial independence, breaking into a hard to crack industry & fighting yr way to rise to the top of it AND a loving committed r.ship. Nope. If yr dead serious about yr goals, & I suspect you are, at some point you will have to CHOOSE what to ‘have\go after’ & WHEN. Feminism sold women a LIE which was we could have it ALL. Don’t believe the lie Lisa. It will rob you of yr fertility before you know it & leave you one day looking back & thinking, hell, I sacrificed LOVE for a CAREER?!! Was I insane??!! You can STILL do much of what you want but THINK & CHOOSE VERY CAREFULLY what that actually is & more than this, think of what you NEED (the answer to which will be different for ea person).

  65. lo j says:

    Oh I am laughing! A steam cleaning!

    • runnergirl says:

      I’ve got to ge my carpet cleaned and so the steam cleaning seemed like an appropriate analogy.

  66. teachable says:

    I’ve really been thinking more abt yr post Lisa. I forgot to add, things also depend on if you already have or want (more) kids, as this changes yr workload. I think women now face a generational difference less evident, in the main, in bygone era’s. Despite feminism, we CONTINUE to do the lion’s share of domestic work, including looking after kids & housework in most households, even where both parents work full time. I face a similar dilemna Lisa & I struggle with it. I’ve faced it (prior to getting ill) for a looong time. It led to the same loneliness you describe. Athough I did have a few r.ships, none were for too long & they didn’t pan out for other reasons. In hindsight, that loneliness was part of what made me vulnerable to advances from my now deceased ex AC when he showed up again after a 17 yr absence. Just be careful hey.

    • grace says:

      teach
      Boyfriend cleaned my house for an hour at the weekend, and washes up when he comes over. We don’t live together. He was brought up to do chores.
      My youngest brother splits the household stuff roughly equally with his wife though he works full time and his wife is part time. He just doesn’t want her slogging away at housework.
      My brother in law does all the cooking though he works full time and my sister part time. They have three daughters and he did their hair when they were little, though he drew the line at fancy hairstyles.
      My father did all the cooking.
      I know that women often do most if not all of it, and it is a real problem. Men are often left reeling when their wives finally have enough and leave. But that are lots of men who are willing to share. I can’t imagine that my boyfriend would be happy with me cleaning around him while he plays video games. He’s not that kind of person.
      If income allows it, I think it’s a good idea to get a cleaner.
      I understand that it’s a realistic concern that we’ll end up being a man’s unpaid housekeeper and cook while holding down a paid job. It’s not something I would want. Thankfully, we don’t have to do it. Ideally, our partner helps relieve our burden, not increases it!

  67. teachable says:

    I do have hope Grace. Even in households where guys pitch in though statistically the research suggests women are STILL doing the lions share of domestic chores. Although they’re only stats & individ’s can be quite diff the general trend still concerns me.
    I wont be doing this with my guy (if I can find one!) Mostly b.c I just wont have time!
    I’m yet to decide exactly what I want in a guy though so not ready to date (health & $ issues aside)
    I’ve been thinking of this re my career ambitions. For example, would I be willing to change these for the sake of a.r.ship? I don’t know yet. I can see where it would make sense to (I have a secret ambition to study medicine. Few know about it except an adopted sis I haven’t seen since I was 2 yrs old, my outreack wrker & one friend).
    I’d be mid 40′s before I even START. I may have to move to a rural area to get in via special admission & then practice in remote areas for some yrs upon graduating (which in turn.may impact my ability to get into my preferred areas of specialisation).
    This could radically impact any r.ship. My life in terms of time & location would be spoken for, maybe for as long as up to 12 years! Do I want to do that? It’s a big question to ask myself. Time will tell!
    You give many of us hope though Grace. Thankyou for yr encouragement. x

  68. teachable says:

    Yes Lilly, THAT is EXACTLY what you signed up for. Insulting huh? Stay pissed off, cry, feel sad, numb, be like a crazy woman… cry some more… & when yr tears run out & yr eyeballs need a rest make yrself a cuppa & look forward to yr new future @ yr new uni! Yr doing great Lilly! Hang in there! BIG hugs. T xx

    • Lilly says:

      Teachable,

      Insulting it certainly is. The expletives coming out of my mouth right now ……. well, the less said the better! I most definitely could be described as a crazy woman right now and it’s exactly as you describe, tears, anger, more tears and occasionally laughter! Week two at my new uni starts on Monday and so far I like it a lot. It’s nice to belong somewhere again. Your ambition to study medicine is fantastic and if anyone can make it happen you will. Thanks for the support T and big hugs right back.

  69. lo j says:

    Grace and all… I worked with an elderly, soft spoken, gentleman who said he always helped do housework when he got home from work. He said she’d been working hard all day taking care of kids and the house and she didn’t get to sit down and watch TV why would he??! The point being, they worked together, had a common agenda, the family, the home, and taking care of each other… which is REALLY not abnormal, just maybe in our worlds? I didn’t see that growing up, my family has taken out the trash maybe once (?) and rarely even assists with carrying groceries and will carry one suitcase while my mother hauls around 5, and definitely kept score and
    picked men who did the same, but have met MANY MANY couples who balance chores and childcare etc with ease.

  70. lo j says:

    Oh dear… New phone. My dad was worthless a far as chores went and of course my mother was a complainer to us about him and didn’t want to rock the boat and and walked on eggshells and all the other BS but ultimately stayed with him. I therefore kept score and picked men who played the same game. Or played the role of my parents. Never just “being” or participating in a healthy give and take relationship. But they do exist.

  71. teachable says:

    LOL @ Lilly. I was wondering if the unhinged manaical crazies had hit yet. Glad to hear they have! And complete with a plethora of expletetives? From our lovely ladylike Lilly (giggles)? I’m LOVIN hearin that, cause it means yr pissed (meaning angry), damned pissed, & THAT’S not only totally appropriate but a big sign yr own yr well on yr way to digging that awful man out of yr heart FOR GOOD! Teach is very happy with how the star of team Steel Magnolia is progressing! Carry on! And great to hear yr enjoying yr new uni too! Perfect! :D

  72. teachable says:

    PS I really am quite serious about this studying medicine idea. I first wanted to do it over a decade ago but couldnt as I needed to pay a mortgage off to secure housing for my son & I first. People who REALLY know me (& few do) wont be surprised. Most though will think, huh, I’m sure thpugh. I feel quite strange even talking abt it. Kind of like a little kid standing in rags, with holes in her shoes, who lives in a slum with no money to pay for her education, who when asked what she wants to be when she grows up, innocently looks up & says, ‘a prime minister’. As if the gap between where I came from & where I want to go is THAT big. It’s not of course, & being a Dr would be no where near as hard as being a Prime Minister, but I feel a bit like I was once a bit like that sort of child. I’m not now though. And why SHOULDN’T I become a Dr? At least if I can never address the topic of this post b.c I can never trust a man enough, or mayb if the right one never comes along, I will spend the rest of my life in pursuit of a worthy profession helping ppl & hopefully earn enough $ just in the nick of time b4 my retirement, not to be in poverty!

  73. teachable says:

    My question is, are there guys out there who are ok with being in a committed r.ship with a woman who aspires to build a better life through a career change & who will tolerate a woman studying to achieve that? If not, ppl like myself are left feeling we cannot date, as casual is not an option.

    This would take one special guy I imagine b.c I will be too busy studying to cook or clean after anyone (apart from the basics, I’m a clean, neat & tidy freak by nature anyway, lol). If I DO go after my medicine ambition neither would I have any interest in diverting time to raising someone else’s kids b.c I just will not have time for that (I would be willing to compromise on this & consider someone who had say one child, so long as the child was old enough to look after themselves on a practical level ie an older teenager, maybe 17 yo plus).

    I’m 43 now. It will be another couple of years before I can hope to get into medicine. In the interim I have to finish my undergrad degree (medicine would be post grad), some other single qualifying subjects as well as recover my health & reorganise my finances (which may include selling the house to relocate to a rural area to help me qualify to get into medicine & pay for my tuition).

    I don’t want to choose a career over a r.ship, as such, as I know that would be foolhardy, but is there a chance that someone out there could want someone like me, or would they all think no, she’s too selfish? Note, my motive for wanting to study medicine is that it is equal in years of study to the level I aspire to academically anyway, & for the area of work I wish to work in (which is a healing/health profession), it is the best option which will enable me to provide patients with the best outcomes & types of treatment I want to be able to provide. I also really need to work for myself so I am no longer at risk of harm through workplace bullying. Drs are the top of the tree in health service provision so I figure why not? It’s not a career I’d be choosing ‘for the money’. I’d be entering it too late in life to make any huge difference in that area, once I take into consideration loss of income due to retraining & fees to study.

    So, how to date & get ALL that accross? It feels like a big ask of anyone…

  74. cmh says:

    Usually I’ve been on the receiving end of the not as emotionally available as I am spectrum. But recently I was in the role of not wanting a committed relationship. I had a friend and I stated clearly from the outset my intentions of having something casual and fun but not headed anywhere in particular. In my world casual doesn’t mean to treat people poorly or necessarily sleep around. In fact I’m of the mind that sex between people means you should treat someone better. And over the years I’ve had on occasion a few friendships that ended up including sex and we are closer for it. But sometimes it blows up on you.

    My life is in some upheaval with job loss some financial difficultly and a major move in the works. And I wanted to be stable myself before venturing into another major relationship. Now I care about my friend and enjoy her company. But it didn’t matter because it ended up not being mutual. She really couldn’t handle it well. I wasn’t mean, I stayed on the phone with her for hours processing ‘us’. I hated to be THAT person who gently said I care about you, I like being with you but there isn’t an US, us. There is just our friendship which now has included sex.

    This is a terrifically hard balance to strike. It’s not impossible but you are right it has to work for both people or one person spins their wheels hoping and suffering. I ended it because it was obviously to hard on her and her behaviour started to get a bit scary.

  75. [...] recently saw a post on baggage reclaim and one thing I took from it is “If it’s not mutual, it’s not healthy.” If [...]

  76. [...] if relationships weren’t complicated [...]

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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