Woman with her head exploding. I'm about to spontaneously combust with all of these obligations that I'm giving myself.

When I hear stories from readers regarding their angst about whether or not to do something, it becomes clear that when we tie ourselves up in knots over stuff like whether to send a birthday greeting to an ex, whether to agree to a favour, whether to reply to a text, or even whether a person is entitled to expect whatever it is that they’re expecting from us, we have a misplaced sense of obligation and feel indebted.

When we have what I sometimes refer to as an Overactive Guilt Thyroid condition, we make ourselves feel obliged and indebted with ‘rules’ that aren’t really rules. We may be predisposed to associate these situations that stress us out with us having committed some wrongdoing or with us not looking a certain way if we don’t comply, hence we feel obliged to do stuff that inwardly, we may be screaming, ‘No, no, no! I beg you, don’t put me though this!’

Of course sometimes we forget what the true meaning of an obligation is about and if we remembered, we might actually laugh at what we stress ourselves out over.

  • Are we morally or legally bound to send birthday greetings to exes even when it feels like our heart is hanging out of its open wound as salt is raining down on us, or when they’ve treated us in a less than manner and only sent their greeting to us as an opening to pressing the Reset Button and getting their foot through the proverbial door? Is this a duty or a commitment?
  • Are we morally or legally bound to agree to do a favour just because someone asks and even flatters and/or attempts to guilt us? It only becomes a duty or a commitment when we make it one.
  • Are we morally or legally bound to reply to all text messages, especially ones that already fit a pattern and will only lead to us falling into our own Disappointment Cycle. We’re not obliged to set ourselves up for pain.
  • Are we morally or legally bound to meet the expectations of others, even though they may run counter to our own needs, expectations, and wants, and even if it means that they’re talking out of their bottoms? Beliefs aren’t facts and expectations aren’t duties.

Do birthday greetings create a debt? Do you note each person who wished you happy birthday on Facebook and then hunt them down on their birthdays so that you can repay the debt of gratitude? Is that thoughtful or stressful? Shouldn’t wishing somebody a happy birthday be a simple no strings act that you do just because you want to not because you feel as if the sky is going to fall down and that you’re going to judged? Of course you forget that it’s you that’s judging you because it’s you who gets to decide what is and isn’t okay for you.

We also have to rein in our egos: Is that person’s world going to fall apart if we don’t send that greeting (or meeting other so-called ‘obligations’? It’s too much to expect that the greeting means that much because all we’re doing is setting ourselves up for a fall because we’ll build it up and they won’t live up to our expectations. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t mean anything but it doesn’t mean all of the drama that we’re attributing to it.

If it’s going to cost you your peace of mind to wish someone a happy birthday or you’re going to inadvertently believe that they’re indebted to you in some way (for instance, expecting that they’ll change or validate you), don’t bother. It’s just a birthday. It’s the same for Christmas / The Holidays and other occasions.

You can show thanks for a card (or message) but it doesn’t create a debt that’s repayable with reciprocation either in the form of matching it or even overdoing it with attention, ego stroking, sex, getting back together or wiping the slate clean. It was just a card. If it came from an authentic place with no agenda, you have no reason to feel indebted and they would certainly not expect to avail themselves of your [dodgy] form of repayment.

You’re not obliged to do favours or even to meet people’s requests. People can and will ask but it doesn’t mean that you have to say yes as if, ‘I was asked and so it’s ordained that I must do it.’ Even if somebody has done something for you before, it doesn’t mean that the specific thing that you’re looking to do is an obligation. If you can do it and it’s not an issue to do so and you’re not expecting something back that you haven’t directly communicated, knock yourself out.

It’s just a text and not every text requires a reply. Some people stress themselves out and feel bound to give an immediate reply as if there’s a texting code of practice that demands that they reply swiftly and favourably to shady folk who purposefully choose texting to avoid proper effort and direct communication.

An expectation is a strong belief that something is going to happen but that expectation may be unrealistic and if you comply even when you don’t want to, you’re actually communicating that the expectation was correct, which will only lead to pain.

Be careful of correlating that sense of obligation that you may automatically feel when you perceive someone to have an expectation or request of you, with there being an actual obligation or expectation in existence, when your imagination and ‘worry fish’ may be doing overtime.

If you have an Overactive Guilt Thyroid, when you examine where this obligation and debt of gratitude comes from, you will find a sense of inadequacy. You’re likely an Over-Giver, so each time somebody does something, you feel as if you have to ramp up the effort, or you generally act as if you have to do so much more than everyone else in order to create a tipping point of reciprocation.

As a grown-up, I’ve learned that I can appreciate my parents but I’m not obliged to do everything that they ask or expect of me as a means of paying a debt for coming out of my mother’s hoo-hah or for ‘inconveniencing’ them by being a child or for just being part of their family. It doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate my parents but I don’t feel obliged to keep throwing them my self-esteem as part payment. I also don’t want to operate from a position of fear and helplessness because I’ll end up behaving and thinking like a child.

It is good to practice gratitude because you are showing an appreciation for your life, who you are, and also recognising where people do acts of kindness or life’s blessings in disguise. If you’re tying yourself up in knots and feeling indebted when you really don’t need to, it’s a misappropriation of your energy, not least because you may be feeling indebted where there isn’t genuine kindness or having a disproportionate response.

You may also be breaking your obligations to you in the pursuit of false obligations with others. Don’t tie yourself up in rules that aren’t rules because you will spend your life going against yourself in an effort to conform to hot air.

As a general rule of thumb I’ve learned that when it comes to stuff that basically involves giving and doing something for someone, if there’s an excessive amount of brain and emotional expenditure going out on the decision of whether or not to do it, it’s a sign that we either shouldn’t, or that the reason why we’re thinking about giving or doing whatever it is doesn’t come from an authentic, healthy place. We have concerns and feelings that we may be ignoring and/or we have expectations tied to what we’re about to give or do that we may not even be in full acknowledgement about to ourselves.

Kindness should be reciprocated with appreciation not obligation because you feeling obligated immediately changes what was originally a kind act or gesture into something laced with pain.

Your thoughts?

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156 Responses to Do you have an Overactive Guilt Thyroid? Why it’s time to lose the misplaced sense of obligation over birthday greetings to exes, text replies etc

  1. noquay says:

    Someone once told me “if they (meaning men in your life) do not offer you marriage or a real relationship, you owe them nothing!”. Very true. With the exception of my ex husband, with whom I am still friends, once a break up happens, a guy might as well have fallen off the face of the Earth, they’re gone, I do not owe them squat, much less a card. Had a future faker guy from across the Continent send me a gift a number of months back. I didn’t ask for it, I did not owe him anything in return, including aphone call. I made it clear why a relationship between us was not going to work and nothing has changed. Tonight I am volunteering at an event for our students to which AC will probably be present, I do not owe him even a civil hello. He hurt me badly, lacks either the conscience or insight to apologize for his actions, nothing has changed. I will not engage.

  2. NaiveGirl says:

    I’ve been sitting at my desk making myself sick over this very thing all day today.

  3. Sandy says:

    Lol oh my god, I literally spent all weekend thinking about this! It was the ex ac’s birthday on Sunday and I knew that he would be expecting me to contact him, as after all it is all about “him” but I didn’t :-) there is no way that I want him to have my new number and I realised that while I could think about texting him the urge actually wasn’t there..at all..and that is a huge change compared to barely a month ago.
    In the last phone call he made to me (before I changed my landline number as well) I ended up crying and do you know what he said while I was doing that, that he felt alot better after talking to me…what the hell is wrong with this man??!! I’m crying but he’s happy cos he managed to contact me…then and there is when I just thought fuck this, changed my landline and in the last 3 weeks haven’t looked back :-)

    • Sandy says:

      Oh and I always replied to his texts quick smart when we were seeing each other as he used to get upset if I didn’t and I would be bombarded with texts trying to find out why I wasn’t replying..no problem for him to leave me hanging for hours waiting for a reply though!

      • Tinkerbell says:

        OH, Sandy! I am sooo proud of you. You’re really on your way to bigger and better things. (((Hugs)), Tink.

        • Sandy says:

          Thanks Tink!! I feel I am too, alot has to do with the encouragement from you and the other posters I must admit, don’t think I could have done it by myself if I hadn’t found the support I needed from people who totally understood what I was going through. Big hugs back :-)

    • oregon girl says:

      Like Sandy, I finally had to get a new cell phone with a new number. My MM AC ex kept calling and texting me after I broke up and I BEGGED him to stop bothering me. I don’t know how, but somehow he got my NEW number and was pestering me. I gave up and could not keep changing my number.

      He would also call me at work and email me at work. I asked the computer tech guys to block all his emails so they would not even appear in my junk/spam box. They did that. So MM does not stop, he opens up new email accts with different names like “pleasedon’tblockme@gmail.com” and I have to block those. On and on it goes.

      He puts more time and effort into trying to break through my NC than he ever did into considering my feelings while we were together.

      He works out on a ship, and he would call me from the ship, which has an odd number with extra numbers in it so it cannot be blocked by my phone company.

      I finally sent him a short email saying that if he didn’t stop harassing me, I would talk to the owner of the ship about how he was using the ship’s phone.

      That got his attention. He has not bothered me since I said that.

      I also put myself on anti-depressants and got some anti-stress meds. Every time my phone rings or my text beeps, I get a panic attack, thinking it is him.

      My counselor said I have a form of PTSD from being bullied and harassed so long by an alcoholic, controlling, verbally abusive man.

      We were lovers for 2.5 years, and this break up/push to reconcile cycle has happened over and over. I feel like I am finally free now.

      Word of advice: If you are trapped in this kind of relationship, GET OUT NOW. It is not worth getting PTSD, which causes racing heartbeat, panicky breathing, etc. you feel like you are drowning. It is a serious physical manifestation of the suffering he has put me through. I don’t wish it on anyone.

      Good luck and start healing TODAY!! Hugs to you all.

      • Pauline says:

        Oregon Girl,

        Hope your feeling much better now and are getting over the panic attacks. What a horrible experience and I hope he’s finally got the message and never comes back again.
        Hugs to you xx

      • Sandy says:

        Oregon Girl,

        Same reason I changed my numbers, he is with someone new who apparently over lapped me before we broke up but still he wouldn’t leave me alone..and I so know that feeling when you get a text or the landline rings, the relief when you change your number is huge!!

        You weren’t dating my ex at all were you??!! Lol yep I went through the depression, anxiety, seeing a counsellor as well…and yet strange how they just seem to carry on their lives with absolutley no qualms about what they put us through.

      • Tinkerbell says:

        OregonGirl.

        You’re very smart. That was an excellent idea to threaten reporting him to the ship’s owner or captain. But make sure to do it if he starts up again. I’m so sorry you had to develop PTSD and I can imagine it’s an awful condition. Make sure you don’t drink alcohol while you’re on the meds because that’ll create worse problems. Praying for your full recovery and happiness soon.

        • oregon girl says:

          Thanks, Sistahs!

          I promise not to drink alcohol while taking stress meds. I am trying to take good care of myself.

          The wife knows all about me. They are separated, and she knows everything. She watches his phone records and bank records and emails like a hawk. Going to her to “tattle” on him would only bring her more pain for no reason.

          He is the captain of the ship–used to getting his way and giving orders. But I think the suggestion that I could go to the ship’s owner has shut him up for good–he does NOT want to lose his job.

          You three and everyone else here are part of my coping skills, my support, and my therapy. I value and appreciate you all.

          I woke up this morning and, for the first time in a year, thought: I am single and I am doing ok!!!

          Blessings to you all! xoxox

      • Allison says:

        Oregon,

        I would seriously consider a restraining order. I also believe in cases such as these that the wife should know what’s going on. That put a stop to things.

        You made a huge mistake by getting involved with a MM, but you should not have to deal with harassment.

  4. Lorraine says:

    I’m new to this page and it has given me strength beyond measure. I don’t need to share my story because when I read all your stories, we really all could have been with the same guy. EUMs are shockingly the same. It’s been a scary realization for me these past two months. After five years on/off he went back to the baby mama. 6 weeks NC and the phone calls and texts started. “I love you, I miss you”. Last week was a text asking me to go to the movies that evening. I responded no but if you want to talk about what happened… He replied, I really would like to attend the movies, want to talk, just don’t want to get into anything heavy. Needless to say, no movies, no talk and haven’t heard from him in a week. Is it ok for me to send him an email, telling him exactly what I think of his cowardly, despicable behavior? I feel like I have nothing to lose and maybe it will empower me to tell him off.
    Still close to his mom, do I give her a Christmas gift?

    • Nadia says:

      I say yeah give his mom a Christmas gift, but then it’s probably best to slowly distance yourself from her too. I’m guessing you and her MUST talk about her son/your ex — and that’s just not good for you if you’re trying to move on from him.

      As for him, I wouldn’t bother writing him ever again. He sounds like pure drama! What helped me get over my ex was really deciding and believing that I am worthy – and to literally meditate on that everyday, and feel it in as many scenarios with as many different people as possible. Your life will start to change the more conscious you are of your worth and you start attracting men who will value you – and that’s a GOOD thing!

    • Lilia says:

      Lorraine,
      From the mom´s point of view – don´t do it.

      I am the mother of quite a good looking teenager and for the moment girls are more interested in him than he in them. I do get a lot of “being nice to the mom” from these girls and while it´s flattering, I wish they didn´t. It is plain awkward because I know that while I may find some girls very friendly and “suitable”, if my son isn´t interested in them, there is nothing I can do about it.

      So in the end, it makes me feel sad for them and it reminds me of all the efforts I´ve gone through when I wanted to be with some boy who didn´t want to be with me.

      And believe me, he will know that you gave his mom a present, and he´ll figure you only did it to win him over – even if you didn´t.

    • Sandy says:

      Lorraine,

      You can explain until you are blue in the face but he just won’t care, there is just no empathy for the hurt that these men cause, it’s all about what he wants, not you, not the woman he is with now, just him..the best thing to do is just try and stay no contact, I say try because it is the hardest thing you will have to do right now but it is the best thing for YOU.

      • Apsy says:

        lorriane,
        You hit the nail on the head when you said these men don’t have any empathy for the hurt they cause. I realised this when my AC called me the other day just to save his sorry ass. His wife of one year invited me to lunch with both of them. I could not believe it and it sent me sprialling downwards – was it a joke, did she want to gloat. I declined the invitation and asked why on earth she would want to meet me. When he found out she had writtten to me he was on the phone quick to say he was going to put a stop to this commmunication, that she had the best interests at heart wanting to meet all his friends and she did not know the history between me and him, but she would not be writing to me again.
        He is an AC of biggest kind for sure as he as been sexting me till just recently. He is deceiving his wife and married her and is staying married to her for the advantages to him. Not because he loves her. I was with him on/off for seven years and then he goes and starts sleeping with this woman and gets engaged to her after a two week (or so he says) relationship. Three months later they got married and two months after that they decide to separate. He tells me all this in a long e-mail but prior to that he couldn’t really care about me. I see now he was trying to groom me to take him back in case it didn’t pan out with his wife. He then thinks about it and decides that it is more advantageous to him to stay married, but continues to sext. Till the invitation from the wife.
        NC is the hardest thing, and I realise that is what I need to apply. But I’m still feeling so crap. Angry too that he does not seem to have a conscience or care. My eyes have been opened and ACs are cruel, callous and selfish.

    • Rosie says:

      Lorraine- It’s counter-intuitive, but telling someone off isn’t empowering. It’s like when teachers get angry with students and yell or when parents get angry with their children and yell. It doesn’t communicate power; it communicates a loss of control. You are telling him that he still has an effect on you.

      NC is authentic empowerment. It’s stepping out of the chaos, disrespect, and pain and staying out. You’ll notice a positive change in your confidence as your self-control builds.

    • Pauline says:

      Lorraine,

      Nat has a post about ‘telling them all about themselves – why it’s not your job to list their flaws and crimes’, please read the post before you send him an email telling him what you think of him.

      He chanced his arm to see is he could get back together for a quick whatever while his ‘baby mama’ was otherwise occupied and it didn’t work out for him. Good for you not falling into that trap. Back to NC, you don’t owe him anything.

      As far as his mom is concerned perhaps send her a nice Christmas card and flowers if you are still friends even though she knows you have broken up. You really aren’t obligated to do anything as you are no longer going out with her son. It’s really up to you. I’m sure she is a lovely lady and liked you as well.

      • Lorraine says:

        Pauline,
        Thank you for telling me about that post. I read it immediately and realize its not such a good idea to send him an email. I would feel good for a minute and when there is no response, I would sink even lower.

        I just want to stop having feelings for this AC. It’s so hard. Thank you.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Lorraine.

      PLEASE do not send him an email. He will interpret that as your desire to talk and get back together. And he won’t even be paying attention to what you are saying. You will have given him the ego boost they seem to want so badly. Silence is golden. Maintaining STRICT NC is more powerful than anything else you can do or say. BLOCK HIM on your phones, Facebook, etc. so that he cannot reach you. He made his bed, by going back to the babymama, so he can lie in it with her, for all you care.

      • Tinkerbell says:

        No Christmas gift. She’s not YOUR mother. He’ll read something into that also. She knows what he’s done, so why would she expect a gift from you? Just break all ties and be finished with him and anything or anyone having to do with him. Tell mutual friends you don’t want to hear about his life and not to go running to him with news about you. END IT!!!

        I’ve been where you are. Not the same situation, but I broke it off 3 years ago with a MM after 6 months of BS and never went back. So I know how much it hurts and how much more it will hurt if you stay.

    • grace says:

      Lorraine
      If you can’t say it to his face (either because you’re too scared or he won’t see you), then don’t do it by email.
      Mind you, I’ve said to several people’s faces what I think and they’ve either ignored it, insulted me, or were sorry for a while and then seemed to forget what I’d said!
      You cannot go to the movies with him. He’s an ex. He’s in a relationship. They have a child. It may be okay to meet up for a post breakup talk (and even then I have doubts) but a DATE? No.
      Send his mother a card if you would like. Probably that relationship will be lost, it goes with the territory after breakups.
      it must be extremely hard after five years but you have to build a new life. So it’s new friends, new hobbies, new routine.

    • DunrobINE says:

      Read Natalie’s post about ACTION BEING THE LAST WORD before you do anything…it’s called “The Futility of Pursuing the Last Word” and it is exactly what you need. Then go to her post called “I’m not that woman anymore”. You will know exactly what to do with respect to him. Not sure how you should handle gifts to his mom :)

      • DunrobINE says:

        Actually, Lorraine, the second last paragraph of this post can guide you regarding what to do about the gift to the mom. It requires you to look within….because that is where the answer lies :)

        Natalie says, “As a general rule of thumb I’ve learned that when it comes to stuff that basically involves giving and doing something for someone, if there’s an excessive amount of brain and emotional expenditure going out on the decision of whether or not to do it, it’s a sign that we either shouldn’t, or that the reason why we’re thinking about giving or doing whatever it is doesn’t come from an authentic, healthy place. We have concerns and feelings that we may be ignoring and/or we have expectations tied to what we’re about to give or do that we may not even be in full acknowledgement about to ourselves”.

      • Lorraine says:

        DunrobINE,
        Thank you. That article was perfect. Just what I needed. On some level, I guess I would have been waiting for a response and all he would hear was that I still care and still want him. I definitely will not send him the email. Over it! Thank you for your support. All you women are amazing. I’m so lucky to have found BR!

    • Allison says:

      Lorraine,

      If he has returned to the mother of his child, why are you in contact?????

      It doesn’t sound like this has been a stable relationship, and that it’s time to let go.

      Not only did this man disrespect you -continuing to contact for attention and booty – but he is with another.

      Time to respect his GF and child, and go NC. Forever!!!!!!!!

      • Allison says:

        Also, He won’t care, and it will prove that you are not over him.

        Be loving and respectful to yourself.

  5. Nic says:

    Natalie, your insights are a timely blessing !

    NaiveGirl, I too have been worrying myself sick !

    He has done the disappearing act and I feared it was my own expectations that did it (again)… when will I learn ? I do not need to ask for an explanation just because I feel the obligation to explain it back to him, nor do I need to send another email/ego stroke just to see his name in my inbox. I do not need closure from him because I haven’t felt validated for a few weeks and I feel he owes me the attention I once had.
    A pretzel of my own making thats for sure !

  6. LovefromNel says:

    Hi Lorraine, I am also new to BR and it has been such a blessing. But it saddens me to know that all of us – and we all seem so incredibly lovely (damn that niceness gene!) – have dealt with horrible EUMs who’ve wounded us terribly. My two cents about your situation – I wouldn’t bother sending an email saying what a coward he’s been, and how despicable his behaviour is. It is definitely tempting to have the last word, but actions speak louder than words in these situations (in my opinion). Silence is the best reply/answer to these fools/cowards. Often they are so self-absorbed that they wouldn’t believe a word you’re saying, in any case. And about the Christmas gift to his Mum, I’m really unsure of that one. I’d love to know what others think also. Hugs to you xo (PS this post was really timely for me too – I was contemplating sending my EUM a Christmas Card). Pfff! RIDICULOUS! But after reading this too, I definitely won’t! Hugs to you xo

  7. Beth says:

    Great post, Natalie! I only wish that I’d read it before responding to my AC’s crumb-like email this weekend. Considering that he pretended to be a divorced, single man for the first six months we date (before getting back together with his wife while I was sick in the hospital), I’m now ashamed of myself for replying. Part of me knew that responding to it would only make me upset ( because I know that he’s not ready to change his ass-clown ways, and probably never will). But then another email came, and since it’s the holiday season, I thought that I should turn the other cheek and give him a civil reply. But in the end, it just led to another exchange that left me feeling lousy and sad (and also irritated that I was expending more tears on this awful man). To avoid the temptation of future “obligated” replies, I created a filter in my email that directs all of his emails to a folder appropriately named “Bastard.”

    So, in short, thanks sharing your great insight in this post and others! Your insight on married men ass clowns has helped me remove myself from a toxic situation. I’m praying and hoping that I’ll recover from this heartbreak soon, and when I think of him, it’ll only be with utter disgust and pity (if I think of him at all)

    • Bethd says:

      Beth, this just happened to a friend of mine. Guy pretended to be single. Told her he traveled for business blah blah. My gf heart was broken in pieces. I was suspicious from the beginning as I always am when guys aren’t available on Sat night. How do these guys pull it off? My heart breaks for you. They are the most evil, sociopaths to do this to single women. Continue to keep away from this toxic waste.

  8. Tinkerbell says:

    Good post, Natalie.

    I must ask. Have you started taking drawing classes? You mean to tell me you’ve been hiding this talent all this time? You’ve come a long way from stick figures, when you first began adding the artwork.

    • Little Star says:

      Tink, I wanted to ask Natalie the same question! I like her drawings as well, but my favorite is WOLF, love him;)

  9. Teddie says:

    Lorraine, write this letter but don’t send it! And don’t give his mom a gift, give yourself a gift.

  10. Lorraine says:

    Thank you all for your advice. I know in my heart that you’re right, silence speaks louder. It’s just so hard to understand why he continues to contact me. Ive read the book twice now and I see him in every page. I want so much to be able to feel nothing for him – not there yet. As far as his mom, she calls me. I haven’t got the heart to cut her off. She begs me not to ever allow him back in my life. She knows her son well and has seen him destroy other women. God Bless all of you. I will keep reading and hopefully get stronger. It’s funny, just when I feel like I’m getting there, that’s when a text or call from him pops up. Sets me back every time. Anyway, thank you again. Advice is always appreciated.

    • DunrobINE says:

      Lorraine, if you keep treating yourself with love/care/respect….those little emails won’t be set-backs…your ability to take care of YOU will improve your self esteem and levels of self love. Each time you get an email/text, try viewing it as a gift – it’s an opportunity for you to do something new instead of repeating the same old patterns that keep you stuck. You can celebrate each little achievement of no reply, no contact. After awhile, you will wonder how it was ever difficult to do in the first place. You’ll get there :)

      • Suki says:

        I think the rule of thumb that Natalie wrote is great. If you feel nothing, or only mild irritation [that is, the person isn't getting under your skin anymore], reply, but once only. I got an email from the ex after a number of years. I was mildly irritated. If this was a couple years ago, I would have had an anxiety attack and thought about it for days. I replied to him politely, very short email, banal. He wrote back asking me about my job etc. I just got a new job and realized that if I write him back then he’ll write to congratulate me etc. Replying to an email is a politeness and a courtesy. Exchanging more than one email is a correspondence. I dont care to have a correspondence with him. So I didn’t reply. Done.
        WHat was interesting to me was that I finally feel nothing. It took a long time. During that time I didn’t want him back, I was NC [he broke it in the beginning], but the thought of him filled me with dread, sadness, insecurity etc. Now no more. So just keep doing NC and yes being good to yourself.
        I do think we are obligated to some people – immediate family. We’re also sometimes obligated to good friends. This is just how I see it – if people are close to you, and you have a history of doing things for each other, they have expectations. But if doing something makes you very unhappy or is a real pain, you are in your rights to tell them that and then stick to your guns. What this requires is really knowing your own mind, trusting yourself, and trusting people you love that they will not become total asshats, or if they do you can deal with it. This really improves with practice.
        Someone I know and who was always mean girl to me had a baby shower on my birthday one year [I'm assuming total coincidence]. I asked my counselor if I was obligated to go, it was causing me stress the thought of it. He gave me this look like are you crazy. He said on mental health grounds I’m letting you off the hook. I did pitch in for a gift with friends.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Lorraine,

      Delete his emails before reading. I know you won’t because the curiosity will be too great. But, make sure you cancel any other modes of communication that he might use. It takes awhile to get stronger, but the longer you are in NC, the stronger you will become. There are MANY testaments to that fact on BR. Keep reading Natalie’s posts and the comments.
      Lastly, when his own mother tells you to stay away from him, you don’t need any further evidence that he is no good. When I was in college, the young man that I gave my virginity to was an AC. I never forgot how his mother told me I was too good for him.

      It’s awkward to cut off his mother but if you don’t reach out to her and maintain NC, sooner or later she will get the message. It’s not cruel, either. You have to develop a sense of self protection from hurt and pain. A Christmas gift to her will be a sign of encouraging communication which is counterproductive when you’re trying to move on.

      • suzy says:

        I agree with this Tinks. If we are to learn that our dating habits may relate to mother-daughter-son-mother- father, then hey! NC for Mum as well, she’s told you! That’s just like the AC comments we hear, such as “you’re too good for me….”
        Yep.
        Let our actions speak louder than our words (which should be silence). Tumbleweed says it all. How dignified.
        x

    • Allison says:

      Lorraine,

      You need to block this guy.

    • Pauline says:

      Lorraine,

      Tag his emails as spam and then they won’t be in your inbox. Out of sight and out of mind is the way to go. And please don’t check the spam folder either!!!
      Block any incoming calls from him on your phone and delete any texts that come in, hard I know, but necessary.

      Then all he’s going to hear is crickets …

      His mom knows what a total AC he is and I don’t think she will be surprised if you drop off the radar. You will have to sooner rather than later as the only thing you had in common was her son and that’s all over now.
      Take care xx

  11. NaiveGirl says:

    Sandy,

    Something you said stood out to me.

    “…it’s all about what he wants, not you, not the woman he is with now, just him…”

    A fear of mine is that he’ll be different with a new woman.

    I’m afraid that if he’s with another woman now that he’ll: suddenly want to go out more, be willing to drive across town, take her out for dinner, laugh more, stop taking pills, stop drinking so much on the weekend, be able to call her his girlfriend, not hide the fact that he’s seeing her on FB, change his FB status to in a relationship, not have a problem with erectile dysfunction, not be moody, not be depressed, not go to his sister for everything, not be hung up on his ex wife, let her be someone special in his boy’s lives, want to spend birthdays and holidays with her, invite her on vacations, ask her to marry him, etc., etc.

    Then I’ll have to face the reality that it was because of me that he couldn’t do any of that before.

    • Allison says:

      Naive,

      Please reread that list, and ask yourself why you would want this type of man back after the way he treated you? It’s doesn’t matter how he treats another, if he treated you like crap!

      I’m curious, did he ever treat you well? If not, why would you want/expect someone like this to change? You really need to look within, and understand why you stuck around for this!

      He’s not going to change!

    • Sandy says:

      NaiveGirl,

      I felt like that when we first broke up as well, would he be nicer to her, would he be the person that he wasn’t when he was with me, but you know what I realised and took on board, he was the same with the ex before me, he was the same with the lady before that and he will be the same with her. Men like these DO NOT CHANGE, she will run herself ragged just like I did wondering why she cannot make him happy and you know what I really don’t care anymore, I tried, god knows I tried and you will realise after a while that you did the best that you could, that you too really, really tried and she will really try, and the next one will try, because there will be a next one and someone after that, because he will never, ever be happy with what he has.

      • Lorraine says:

        Omg! You ladies are so smart. I beat myself up wondering if he’s suddenly this great family guy with her and why wasn’t I good enough? This requires work but I have to stop. Really, in the end it doesn’t matter. He’s an EUM AC and always will be. No relationship will work – not with me or anyone else. Getting there ladies…

    • oregon girl says:

      I have a better idea: why don’t YOU go on trips, take yourself to a movie, get your hair done, paint your nails, take a class, grow a garden, paint your kitchen, etc. etc. and notice that you can do that for YOURSELF because you are no longer with HIM anymore!

    • NaiveGirl says:

      Allison,
      The funny thing is I don’t want him back. I just want to know that it wasn’t me. And I suppose there is a part of me that would like him to want to come back so that I could say no.

      We were friends (having not met each other) for a year and half. We talked daily. He was very interested during that time and pushing to meet. I was the one dragging my feet. I say he treated me well…in the limited interaction we had. He made noise about how he thought our relationship would take off like a rocket after we met, kind of eluded to the possibility of us raising our boys together, made plans to take trips, shared everything (his past with women, financial concerns, health issues…he’s always been an open book about his issues) and he was there for me through my own problems (family problems, my father’s organ transplant).
      His ex-wife moved out of their house just prior to us meeting. They still lived together for the boys and financial reasons although she was in another relationship. Looking back, he started to become distant about the time she announced she was moving out. We finally met the month after she moved. Although he says he tried, he had the parking brake on the whole time with the tires screeching. It was painful. He claims that we tried too soon. He also says it was stupid and a fantasy. I tend to agree. But why wouldn’t he let me go and not drag it out soooo long after we met??

      He says now he has unresolved feelings for his ex-wife and family.

      He’s also told me he hates women.

      I stuck around because he gave me just enough to make me think it might work out. That he might change some of his behavior. And when I tried to leave, he would pull me back in. He wouldn’t let go.

      Sandy,
      Not long after I met him, I did mention that he seemed to not show affection. He told me that every woman he’s ever been with has said that to him. He also told me not that long ago that he doesn’t like touching, holding hands, kissing, cuddling. He said he has to be messed up to want to be intimate. Of course, that compounds the whole erectile dysfunction problem(which he supposedly had with the ex-wife too). It’s a vicious cycle.

      He also said his ex-wife told him once that she needed those signs of affection (all women do) and if he couldn’t give it to her she would leave.

      I think I see a bit of a pattern in how he has behaved with the ex-gf before me, and now me when it is time that he wants to leave.

      I feel mean saying this, but I don’t really want him to get better. I want him to be miserable after how he made me feel. Is that horrible?

      I just wish I could label him. I don’t think he fits the Narcissist label, but with all of his family’s psychological problems, I do believe there is a diagnosis for him. I don’t think you can come from a family where your father molested your sister, your sister is bipolar and has borderline personality disorder and your mother is a raging alcoholic and not have issues of your own. I don’t know why it feels like that would make it easier for me.

      Oregon Girl,
      I am making plans and beginning to do things for myself. It is just a slow process and I seem to take one step forward and about three steps back.

  12. NaiveGirl says:

    Tomorrow he has plans to go to a concert at the pub we went to on our second date and our last date. I’m not sure if he is going alone or not. It is making me sad as this was the place we last went to where he asked me out four more times and everything seemed so good…before the bottom dropped out a couple weeks later. Now will he be there with someone else?

    Next week is his birthday. I’ve decided to not acknowledge it but it is difficult. He acknowledged mine a few weeks ago, post breakup. He had his boys sign my card. I feel like I’ll look petty, bitchy, immature, and whatever else for not reciprocating, but I know that he doesn’t deserve my acknowledgement.

    It’s the only slap in the face that I feel that I have the power to give. I want him to realize that I don’t need him. Even though he was being such a good guy and class act (in his own warped mind) by sending me that card, I want him to know I don’t feel the desire to reciprocate.

    Then on the heels of that thought I worry because I won’t get any validation. I won’t get a thank you (may not have got one anyway), I may not hear from him at Christmas or New Years (like I did at Thanksgiving), he may delete me on social media (I’m not ready to severe the ties there yet), He may turn it around in his head so that I’m the bad one (he does that anyway).

    • DunrobINE says:

      NaiveGirl, you sound like what Natalie Lue calls a “tabber”….from her book “The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship”, she says, “You’re a Tabber, angry, hurt and feeling rejected because your relationship is over so regaining a sense of control by devoting your time and energy to tracking your ex via social networking and poking around in his life”.

      He doesn’t need to know you know what he is…YOU know. Validate YOU. Get on with YOUR life. Who cares what he’s up to?! What are YOU up to these days? Focus on what you want…not on what you don’t want. And keep reading Nat’s stuff and believe it. She knows what she’s talking about :)

      • Tinkerbell says:

        OregonGirl and DunrobIne,

        Talk the talk and walk that walk! Amen!

      • Suki says:

        Naiveg, Your theory of relationships seems to be that there is you and there is some guy [there is no third entity called relationship or how we are together]. If it doesn’t work, then you’re a bad person. If he makes it work with someone else, then you’re a worse person. If someone treats you bad, you’re bad. If that person treats someone decent, you’re worse. This is not a good theory to have.
        SO:
        What if you’re you, flaws and all, and you just didn’t get along with this guy, flaws and all? The fact that he [insert whatever he did that made it a lousy relationship] means that it doesn’t matter what he’s like or will be like. The fact is that you two together do not make a good relationship. That means you and the next person might make a better one.
        Even if he converts himself into an amazing person with someone else, even if — so what? He’s still the AC that couldn’t treat you nice and/or that you didn’t really get along with. With two decent people, thats not anyone’s fault, it just happens. If one person was being dodgy, then lucky break you got out so quickly.
        My suggestion – get your nails done, and then do some journaling, countering your negative thoughts, and writing in ways to be stronger. Do it everyday for 20 minutes. You can admire your nails while you do it.

  13. NaiveGirl says:

    Or worse yet…he may be on cloud nine and not even realize he didn’t hear from me.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      NaiveGirl,

      You’re making everything about HIM. Stop doing that. Concentrate on YOU. He’s shown he cannot fulfill or needs or make you happy. You have to do that for yourself.

  14. Sanntay says:

    Unfortunately, I failed in this regard. Received a Happy Thanksgiving text from the at work AC which totally caught me by surprise as his communication with me at work has been so sporadic. I stared at the message for a bit (he’d sent it an hour prior) before buckling to the advice of a friend who was visiting me from FL and knows the whole sordid story. She said, ‘Just say same to you and let it go. He’s just trying to be nice since its Thanksgiving.’ Sent the reply, then wished I hadn’t. Cursed texts! If, by some miracle, he reaches out on Christmas or New Year’s, I will immediately delete. Ugh!

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Sanntay.

      Sometimes friends give bad advice. You have to think for yourself. He’s testing the waters. DO NOT REACT. PERIOD.

  15. ReadyForChange says:

    I had written my story here a while ago. I had been NC for three months, it was so so hard, and I was barely starting to become functional again, when totally unexpectedly, he re-contacted me two weeks ago. He said he had time to think, that I was right about everything, that the way he’d left did not reflect the truth, that he’d been thinking about me every day, that I was the most remarkable woman he’d ever met, etc. etc. I was very suspicious and reminded him of all the things he had said and done previously which seemed to indicate the opposite. But I did give him the benefit of the doubt (we ‘only’ broke up once before), and when last Saturday he asked me to meet this Thursday for a walk and to talk, I said yes. He was sweet and charming, as always. I was nervous, but also looking forward to it. I did not want to allow myself to be hopeful, but I found it almost impossible. Last night I sent him a message just to ask if Thursday was confirmed (since I have to arrange for my animals to be looked after if I’m away). I was terrified sending it, because I already had a gut feeling that something bad was about to come… And he replied straight away that he could not do this. That he is in a dark place, that he cannot be with anyone until he’s finished law school, that he’s not happy with his life at the moment. He apologized for ‘mistreating’ me. He basically reiterated the same things he’d told me the first time he left me, after he had waited three months to tell me that it had been a lie due to fear and he really wanted me!! What the hell? At the moment the pain is excruciating, I really did not need this. My only hope is that, while the first time I’d been left with a lot of unanswered questions and ‘what ifs’, maybe this will help me in time to find the internal closure I need. I am alone and at a difficult time in my life generally, so I ask the lovely ladies on BR to send me some positive thoughts if you can. Thanks

    • DunrobINE says:

      ReadyForChange….keep reading Nat’s stuff. Keep getting support on this site. Here’s something I copied from one of Nat’s blogs that might help you see the light and stick with No Contact no matter what:

      If he does get in touch, he is only doing it to 1) use you for your company and an ego massage and 2) to test if the door is still open.

      Whatever his reasons are for being in touch, the end result will be the same. He will lose interest again and go about his business.

      “Most emotionally unavailable men are narcissists. They are self-absorbed, overgrown babies with the emotional span of a stone. They engage with you not because they’re interested but because they need you to make them believe that they are better than they are.

      You give him credibility and he gets to think that he has still got ‘it’, that he’s making an effort, albeit a vague one to maintain a relationship, and he gets his ego and sometimes sexual needs attended to. He doesn’t want to be with you, he just likes the feeling of you being the Fallback Girl – someone to fall back on when he feels a little bit uncertain about his place in the relationship world.

      Maybe he got rejected, maybe he has run out of people to contact online, maybe he’s not so busy this week and stuck with his own company, or maybe he’s just passing time, but because of his core personality and characteristics of being emotionally unavailable, his reasons will all amount to him behaving as he always does.

      Let go of him and don’t try to reason the unreasonable”.

      Keep the focus on YOU. Get on with YOUR LIFE :)

      • ReadyForChange says:

        Yes DunrobINE, spot on! Luckily there was never any sex (I cannot have sex outside of a committed relationship). Thank you for your support.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      RFC,

      He handed you a load of bull and you fell for it. He didn’t mean a word of what he told you. All he wanted was to know that you’re still not over him and have his ego massaged. Now, he’s gone again because that’s all he was interested in. If it was just going to be a “walk and talk” how long does that take? Why would you have needed animal-sitting? You were expecting more? He disappointed you AGAIN.

      • ReadyForChange says:

        Yes, Tinkerbell.
        I know you are right.
        The animal-sitting was due to the fact that I live two hours away from where he lives (it’s the city where I go to University). Yes, I put myself in the condition of being rejected for the second time. Never again.

    • Lilly says:

      ReadyForChange,

      He just cruelly raised your hopes and then even more callously dashed them. It’s no wonder you’re in such pain. My heart goes out to you. Sending lots of positive thoughts your way and please don’t ever give him the benefit of the doubt again. You’ll get through this. Many hugs to you, xxx.

  16. Apsy says:

    He continues to contact you for his own ego and to keep you in ‘reserve’
    For me it is the opposite – not receiving texts etc making me feel low, but I realise that there is no point in trying to hang on to him.

    Perhpas you can block his number?

  17. Julie says:

    You are all so strong and beautiful. I tried to leave two weeks ago. (I explicitely asked him not to contact me. But I guess that was just another boundary to cross.) Then came the inevitable emails were he professed his love and promised he would be more considerate. I went straight back to him. And what did I get ? A cold shoulder, more boundary-crossing and another dent in my self-respect.

    I’m not ready to leave again. (What’s the point of leaving if I keep coming back ? It’s just damaging). But you are all quite inspiring and one day soon I’ll be ready to leave and not look back.

    Lorraine, please, keep on being strong. It chips away little pieces of ourselves every time we go back.

    • Lorraine says:

      Julie,
      Thank you and good luck to you too. For me leaving was always the easy part because I knew he would be declaring his undying love soon after.
      He knows the worst thing he could have ever done to me was go back to the baby mama. It’s always been an issue even though he swore he felt nothing and would never go back to her.
      He doesn’t know for sure that I even know it’s her. His mother told me. This is why he refused to have a face to face discussion about the past two months. He can’t tell me. What makes it harder is we live on the same block just across the street. It’s a miracle I haven’t run into him. When I do see him again, I so want to feel nothing and wonder what I ever saw in him to begin with.
      Wish there was a way we could erase them from our hearts.
      Thank you for listening…

    • Allison says:

      Julie,

      I think it’s more damaging to stay! Are you satisfied with so little?

      Didn’t you have a life before you met this man?

    • deedeeinamsterdam says:

      Julie,
      Its better to get out of that situation now, there must be a way, a friend to stay at for a while, or a relative. Be strong, you can do it, don’t wait for a final blow, or something so humiliating that you won’t forgive yourself for staying. You will congratulate yourself everyday for the dignity of getting out.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Julie,

      You CAN leave him. You just don’t want it bad enough yet. Even a dog gets fed up of being kicked and will bite the abuser.

  18. Dreamer's47 says:

    I also recommend not writing him anything, just a waste of your precious time!!! I did that once…a really long letter giving him shit, his reality check…oh yeah he knock on my door couple of weeks later to have an ego stroke again, saying he was sorry bablablalblab…..and again I reset the button and again a big batch of pain …he is just not that special to take your own little time to write him a letter that he will read and just trash it, he will only think that he has another shot for a quick F***!

    • DunrobINE says:

      I think we’ve all been on the same path. And we’re all trying to change our patterns. Great support here on this site.

      Here’s a bit of FUN ADVICE…get yourself a copy of the movie “Shirley Valentine” and make yourself a bowl of popcorn and watch it! Be inspired by Shirley Valentine and START LIVING YOUR LIFE! If we gave ourselves even half of the love, care, attention and respect that we have given these men, we’d all be a helluva lot happier and living the life we desire :)

  19. MaryW says:

    Re Lorraine’s quandary. I’m sure it’s generally better not to send a final letter/ email to an ex, but I did do it one time and I never regretted it.
    He was my first boyfriend and first love. He broke up with me but wouldn’t explain why, just that he wasn’t happy. I KNEW (gut feelings and some clues) that there was something else going on but he wouldn’t fess up, even when we both met up to exchange our things – which was heartbreaking but cordial (both crying).
    Eventually a mutual friend told me he was seeing a girl from his work, the same girl he’d mentioned to me several times in the weeks and months before we split. He has had been two timing me with her. But didn’t have the balls to tell me.
    I phoned him, he didn’t pick up, then he turned his phone off. I was furious. I sat down and wrote down exactly what I thought of him and how he had hurt me. I showed the letter to two older friends/ colleagues and they encouraged me to send it.
    Well of course I didn’t expect a response from him, since he couldn’t even pick up the phone to me. And I didn’t get a response. But I did not care, that wasn’t my motive. Besides I was too busy being furious and utterly heartbroken.
    I don’t regret getting those thoughts and feelings off my chest for a moment. For all I know, he threw the envelope in the bin without reading it. I sort of hope he didn’t but anyway that’s my little story. This was all about 13 years ago, and sadly he was followed by many other assclowns. I never felt the need to get the last word in with any other guys in this way so maybe it was a folly of youth. Still, no regrets!

  20. suzy says:

    Natalie. I read this post thinking, yeah ok this one is irrelevant to me….then…light bulb moment. Ive been reflecting on how my experiencec with my parents have affected my dating habits.
    Bingo. My mother plays phone (and life…though this is crumbs) ping pong….mainly not answering or responding. However over the years, I ring her every weekend, shes elderly and feel I should….mmmmm….theres a pattern.
    When she sends xmas/birthday presents I have to jump through HOOPS in gratitude, she ties me in knots. If I donts express gratitude in the most profound way, she head fucks me.
    No wonder I have found communication with AC an issue in the past.
    Thank God, that’s past…..
    x

  21. Tinkerbell says:

    Mary,

    Everyone’s situation is different. It probably was “a folly of youth” and long before BR. We enlightened ladies are telling Lorraine not to send him any email because there’s more power in NC.

    Lorraine, please don’t second guess yourself. He went back to his child’s mother. What more proof do you need that he’s a waste of your precious time? He’s not worthy of breathing the same air as you, much less taking time to tell him about himself. If he cared he’d be with you instead of her. Plus, you compromise your dignity when you take the time to write him to tell him how much he hurt you. Walk away proud with your head held high.

    • MaryW says:

      Yup I recognise that every situation is different. I don’t think I did the wrong thing for me at the time, in all honesty I’m still glad I did it even though it didn’t comply with BR guidelines.

      Lorraine’s situation is different to what I described, and NC was definitely the right thing for me last time around. So just giving my opinion …. rules can be a little flexible depending on the circumstances/ the assclown.

      • grace says:

        Mary
        There’s nothing wrong with sending a letter or meeting up with an ex. It may or may not be helpful but you don’t need to justify it to anyone.
        And I feel letters are different to email, you’re not going to get into the drama of checking for replies every ten seconds, or firing off missives on the hour, every hour.
        My first boyfriend wrote me a letter long long after we broke up. It was very sweet.
        In lorraine’s case, when relationships are on and off and off and on and on and off, at some point someone does have to stop it!

      • Wiser says:

        NC is a great tool, no doubt about it. But no one tool or “rule” fits all situations. That’s where discernment and wisdom comes in. I’m sure there are plenty of times when sending that final letter or having a “last talk” to speak your truth is the right thing to do – in that particular situation. Again it depends on WHY you want to do it and what you hope to accomplish.

      • Tinkerbell says:

        MaryW,

        I don’t think it’s a matter of “BR Guidelines”. I think Natalie simply suggests we do what’s best for us in terms of feeling emotionally healthy and sound. Instead of spending time “telling off” the AC or trying to force a change in his thinking or attitudes towards us, we need to spend that time on trying to improve on our self esteem by making smarter choices for US in which WE benefit without considering him a part of the picture.

        • MaryW says:

          Tink – it was best for me at that time. In the situation I describe, I certainly wasn’t trying to force any changes. I felt that I had things I wanted to tell him. Yes I did spend an hour or so “telling him off” while I wrote the letter but it was cathartic! And that amount of time really was a fraction of the amount of time it took to heal/ recover/ grow, so writing the letter didn’t detract from that process. Writing the letter drew a line under the matter for me and there was no more contact.

          Back on topic, I won’t be sending out any Merry Christmas messages to exes (except one who I am on friendly terms with who wasn’t an AC), and I don’t expect to receive any. I am very stubborn with NC once I’ve made up my mind. My stubborn streak overrides any overactive guilt thyroid, or any temptations to reach out!

          • Tinkerbell says:

            MaryW,

            I understand. Just because I would never have let a man know how deeply he hurt me doesn’t mean that someone else may feel better doing so. I just didn’t want Lorraine to be swayed since the majority felt she should not send him the email. Glad you handled your situation it in the best manner for you. I hope you are continuing to grow stronger. And don’t ever feel because you may be in the minority with your opinion that you are not following “BR Guidelines”. I doubt even Natalie would use that term.

    • Lorraine says:

      Thank you again. Not going to send it. I will leave this AC with dignity and class and not lower myself to his level. I know with certainty that he will call/text again. Just hoping to keep me hanging on when this go around with the baby mama implodes as it has every time before. Want to be over him before that happens. Getting stronger though and I know I deserve better.

      • MaryW says:

        Lorraine, in my post above I wasn’t suggesting you (or anyone in a similar position) should send an email or letter to an ex, was just explaining a different situation in which I found sending a letter helpful. Just to clarify.

        It might help you to write the AC a letter and then shred it. I did that with the most recent AC, fully aware I wouldn’t send it. I set aside half an hour or so, used pen and paper rather than the computer; it felt more cathartic to actually write. It can be useful to keep a journal of your feelngs as well – just get your feelings down somewhere, let them out.

        Do you HAVE to be in touch with him for any reason i.e. for emergencies? I recently upgraded my iPhone software and it now allows me to block certain numbers. Could you do the same with your phone? It might give you some peace of mind and some breathing space. It could also give you a better sense of control over the situation.

      • Allison says:

        Lorraine,

        Did he get this woman pregnant when you were together?

        • Lorraine says:

          No. We had recently met and they were breaking up when she found out she was pregnant. That was five years ago. She moved away twice and the time she got married. Lasted three months and she moved back with one goal, to get back with him. Took her a while but it worked.

          • grace says:

            Lorraine
            This is an unfortunate situation. You see her as the OW, but she sees YOU as the OW. You need to remove yourself, he’s not the prize. He’s the booby prize.
            She seems to like the drama and until the child is 18 years old and beyond, she’s always going to have that over you. It’s too Jerry Springer!

  22. Rosie says:

    Natalie- I echo the others: Your artwork is wonderful! You are a brilliant teacher in your words and your art.

    Like the others, I, too, totally dig the wolf! :)

  23. JustHer says:

    This is amazing timing, because of holiday season which means the ex’s birthday. His birthday is on Boxing Day, so I always spend the entire few days before and after Christmas fretting about whether or not to contact him.

    Last year, I didn’t. (Started NC on 1st Dec 2012), but then we got in touch several times over the year. Now I have started my “proper” NC and not contacted him at all.

    He did not contact me on my birthday this year, but when I broke NC a few weeks later, he asked how it had been.

    FRETTING SO SO much these days about whether to contact or not even though I KNOW for SURE that I should not.

    Urghhh this is just too much of a big deal for something so small.

    • amicrazy says:

      I just received my copy of ‘The No Contact Rule’ book in the mail (see Tinkerbell, I’m getting there!)…and one of the first things Natalie covers is that if you are having to worry/fret/analyze over the decision to say something as simply as ‘Happy Birthday’, then your intentions are not genuine and you should definitely stick with NC. This person is not your friend!

      Your instincts are spot on, trust them!

      • MaryW says:

        Good on you, girl. I forgot my an ex’s 40th birthday this year. He texted me to remind me! Ha. You’ll get to that point where you just don’t care or even forget all together – it just takes a little time. Be patient with yourself.

      • JustHer says:

        amicrazy,

        I realise this, but still find it so difficult for some reason!

        I will try my best to just try erasing my memory and forget about what he wants/doesn’t want.

        Like someone posted above, a part of me feels like he’s going to be having the time of his life anyway and be too busy to notice that I didn’t wish him! I guess one night stands tend to do that to you.

        I wish birthdays didn’t come every year!

      • Tinkerbell says:

        Ami,

        So proud of you! Somehow, I get a sense that you really mean business and will not be getting back with him. I hope I’m right.

        • amicrazy says:

          You are right Tinkerbell. It’s time for a change. I’ve got a great counselor now and am getting back to loving myself first and foremost!

  24. Care78 says:

    My exes birthday is next week. We’ve had an on-and-off relationship for the past 8 years. He’s always the one to break up and I’m always the one to contact him first. The more breakups we had, the longer I was able to go without contact, but I always gave in from fear of losing him for good. He’s very stubborn so I knew if I didn’t contact him we’d never talk again. The times he did contact initially were in forms of excuses, he would never directly come out and say he misses me or anything like that. He’s EXTREMELY stubborn with too much pride/ego. This past breakup was the worst of them all. We decided to live together so I gave up my condo and moved in to his apartment. I noticed destructive behaviour on a trip that we went on and broke up with him (out of anger, not really meaning it). Well when we got home he told me I owed him an apology, when it should have been the other way around. I did approach him 2 days later after I cooled down, but only to apologize for the way I handled a certain situation and what I could have done to handle it differently. He told me my apology was too late and he didn’t want to work it out and told me I broke up with him so he’s accepting it and moving on. It went from him just wanting an apology, not getting it at that exact moment to using something against me I said in anger. I tried for 1 month to try and talk him out of it considering I just leased out my condo for a year. He refused to speak to me and would turn up the volume on the TV to tune me out. He’s always had a communication problem which is why our issues never get resolved. The only time he spoke to me was when I went there to start packing. He asked if I found a place yet and chased me down his walkway for a letter he threw on the table a couple nights before refusing to read it. I thought b/c he wanted to read it that maybe he was having a change of heart so I called him 2 days later and he still said there’s nothing to talk about. Why would he want to read the letter if he just didn’t care?! Anyway, we exchanged messages back and forth with him saying he loved me but that he didn’t want to deal with this nastiness anymore. The anger finally hit me and I told him I hated him and just wanted my stuff back to erase him from my life. I moved out 2-weeks ago this Thursday. I showed up at his place and ignored him the entire time, as he did me. I gave up my condo for this!!!!!! We haven’t spoke since I left that day. He reminded me in one of the text messages that this was all my doing and that I really need to fix myself and that he’s never been so sure of anything in his life. I told him he had major issues and he said he did, but none as big as mine. He always blames me for everything and takes no responsibility. He says he accepts his faults but not his contributions … whatever that means. Anyway, next Saturday is his birthday and it would be the first time in 8 years to not text him. When we’ve been broken up before he has texted to say happy birthday. I just feel like this time is different. I’m still very hurt over all of this and in a lot of pain as to how he could put me through this. I just don’t understand how he could be so cruel after everything I’ve done for him. It’s very hurtful.A small part of me was thinking about wishing him a happy birthday b/c I’m not a mean person like he is, but I feel like if I do I’ll look stupid considering everything he’s done!

    • deedeeinamsterdam says:

      Hi, Care 78, your story rings familiar. I too was so deep in drama I couldn’t think straight. Fact is, you yourself claim he’s mean. Don’t wish a mean person a happy birthday. They are mean, and don’t deserve it. Keep reading Nat’s posts, its terrible to pass time the first few days…Hang in there

    • grace says:

      Care
      Your priority right now is to end the relationship rather than sending birthday wishes. Assuming you do want to end it. If you don’t, why not sit down as adults and discuss a reconciliation properly rather than dropping hints? If it’s because you can’t speak to each other in an honest, grown up manner, it’s arguably not a relationship worth saving.

    • Allison says:

      Care,

      You gave up your condo for this fool, yet you’re considering sending him a b-day wish??????????

      This man has been very disrespectful and hurtful to you. Time to stop the chaos!

  25. Peanut says:

    I have a hard time with this with guy friendships. Sometimes a man comes along and neither of us are really feeling the beyond platonic thing.

    I oftentimes feel most comfortable around guy friends because I feel it allows me to be as vulgar as I please without offending. (I have a mouth on me). Yet, I am downright alarmed at some of the things I can say. I’m caught between not always liking who I am but always wanting to be authentic.

    I generally fastforward these friendships until they crash and I feel burned, then I disappear off the face of the planet.

    I’d like to be mature enough to have meaningful friendships with both men and women. Yet, though I don’t have anything physical with these men friends, I tend to over sexualize convo and such.

    It does get into a really weird grey area where I’m not sure if I want it still, and I disappear. It would be nice to let things organically fold and even fade if need be. Does that happen?

    • DunrobINE says:

      Hey Peanut,
      maybe look into why you over-sexualize and tend to be vulgar. And why you do it with men? I think you should be able to be yourself with anybody. But relationships with men are different…read Nat’s link:

      http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/can-men-women-just-be-friends/

      Are you getting your ego stroked, flirting, etc with these guys that you consider “just friends”…maybe getting some of your relationship needs met being “just a friend”, but really there is something simmering deeper down. I’ve always been great at being “one of the guys”…but if I’m honest, I loved the attention and liked knowing that I was considered attractive and wanted. There was a hidden agenda to my behaviour that I wasn’t always conscious of. Just something to think about and look into maybe.

      I’m sticking with female friends. For me, I find that men are generally attracted and want something more. I’ve got plenty of women friends to do stuff with….and I can be me with them…potty mouth and all :)

  26. Elgie R. says:

    Thank you for this post, Natalie. Specifically for the link about the “Disappointment Cycle”….I needed to read the exchange between Selkie and Runnergirl.

    I no longer accept AC crumbs, but loneliness and fear had me at the door of reaching for the familiar and starting the disappointment cycle again. Those are Selkie’s descriptive words, and they apply to me. Thank you, Selkie.

    It came about by AC texting for a favor, needing to contact a 3rd person that I know – he doesn’t, me mentally saying “no way” and not answering, then, two weeks later, me picking up the work phone when he called and hearing his reasons. I gave him a way to reach that 3rd person that would leave me out of the exchange, but he texts me that he wants to do it thru me. I don’t say no. I haven’t said yes, either…haven’t responded but have been putting mental energy into him.

    My denial of how things would really be if I met up with AC again caused my body to develop shingles last week – I’m sure of it. My body always tells on me.

    AC thinks reset has been hit and is sending ‘miss you sexy’ texts. We have not seen each other in 6 months. I’ve not responded to the texts, so of course he is sending more and more. Can’t believe men over 50 can be so….A-Clowny.

    You know, I feel fear a lot. Fear of being broke and alone. Anyone else feel that? I’d love to feel secure in love and finances. Don’t know why I think that is up to someone else to give me that.

    • Selkie says:

      Elgie,

      I still fear growing old alone, which I think is normal, but my loneliness has changed intensity. I still get lonely but it isn’t like being swallowed up in a dull ache like before, but more of a vague boredom or maybe even a restlessness. I’m not sure if I’ve just gotten used to it or have accepted myself in more ways and have stopped feeling such a pull to fill the void I sometimes feel. Feeling hurt, wondering if I’m being lied to, or crying myself to sleep at night because my heart aches is a feeling I haven’t felt in a little while now, and man, what a nice quiet relief that is. BUT….I think those of us who have reached this level of peace and healing have to be careful to to get stuck in avoidance. Meeting someone and cultivating a healthy relationship takes more than boundary awareness, but takes courage and accepting some risk. Are we willing to take that risk yet and jeopardize this hard earned peace? Well, it depends on what drives us….fear or courage. If fear is in the driver’s seat, then maybe more personal exploration is needed. Time is a healer, or at least it has been for me. I think when we can make decisions based on courage ( instead of fear) and healthy needs (like wanting companionship, rather than someone to save us or complete us), we are less likely to end up in the disappointment cycle or living off crumbs. I don’t see crumbs in my future ever again, but I haven’t given up on finding a wonderful partner. Past AC’s are best left in the past. Why keep drinking the same poison? Move forward, even if it’s barely at a crawl. Healing happens even if you can’t see it or feel it. I was able to tell my own progress by going back and rereading my comment you referred to. I was like, wow….I’ve actually grown.
      Sorry to hear you have shingles. I know they can be very painful. Hope you feel better soon. Although I’ve not had shingles, I can relate to our bodies telling us what’s up. I used to get bladder spasms and esophagus spasms, had scopes done, took meds, etc., but soon after I got divorced and stopped stressing. Poof. Gone.

      • Sandy says:

        Elgie,

        You described it perfectly, it now feels like boredom and restlessness..well said.
        “I still fear growing old alone, which I think is normal, but my loneliness has changed intensity. I still get lonely but it isn’t like being swallowed up in a dull ache like before, but more of a vague boredom or maybe even a restlessness. I’m not sure if I’ve just gotten used to it or have accepted myself in more ways and have stopped feeling such a pull to fill the void I sometimes feel. Feeling hurt, wondering if I’m being lied to, or crying myself to sleep at night because my heart aches is a feeling I haven’t felt in a little while now, and man, what a nice quiet relief that is.”

        This is exactly how I am feeling lately, I am not quite at the fully contented stage but I am feeling calm and willing to let things pan out at their own pace instead of trying to rush things, I am becoming comfortable in my own skin, and like you I am not rushing off to the Doctors every couple of weeks because after breaking up with him alot of my symptoms disappeared..stress can cause so many problems!

        • Elgie R. says:

          Sandy, those well put sentiments are Selkie’s words, once again. Just giving credit where it is due.

          I, too, agree it is BLESSED relief to not feel the angst/heartaches/tears of being involved with EUMs and ACs. I had the ACMM version. I know neighbors watch comings & goings, and it was embarrassing. I was nervous about possible confrontations, because he had a distinctive car, easily spotted by anyone. Nerve-wracking. I don’t miss any of that.

          Yes, my mind also takes stress and turns it into body ailments. Right now, it is sending up giant flares saying DO NOT ENTER – DEAD END AHEAD.

          I found the “I am not that woman” post last night, and it helped ease some stress. After reading it I had the epiphany: I do not have to DO anything, and I do not have to explain myself either. I realized “Hey…I gave AC an option and he 100% disregarded it. Not my problem.”

          Thanks for the well wishes, Selkie. My doc says it is a mild case. I am taking the appropriate health steps and I am using mindfulness in eating and thinking to nurse myself.

  27. Swissmiss says:

    Haven’t posted in a while. Been NC for eight months. He asked to see me, we discussed terms, and I was glad I did it. I did it for myself, not out of obligation, b/c I felt healthy and strong. Risky, I know.

    After the initial emotional rush, I felt nothing. He and his world don’t interest me anymore, and I couldn’t understand how I used to practically faint whenever I would see him. His handsomeness made me uncomfortable…I remembered how women always hung on him.

    More importantly, I realized NC kept me in a kind of limbo land. I knew at some point he would ask to see me, and I waited it out. After a number of months, it was better for me to think the relationship was over, and that I had nothing to say to him that would change anything, rather than look at it as ‘NC.’ I felt more powerful with that approach.

    If I tied him to a chair, held his eyeballs open Clockwork Orange style, and grilled him for hours, he would never cough up anything that would bring me peace of mind. That is my work. I left him because he lied, and even during the 15 minutes I saw him, I thought wow, it is SO good not to be figuring out if anything he is saying is honest.

    It was the same old stuff we all hear: ‘I can’t get you out of my mind’, ‘I made a mistake going back to my wife.” I just let him sling these hooks without even responding. He seemed empty, depleted, just a script. Thanks to BR, we all grow pretty good antennae for manipulation.

    Lorraine, forget his mother. She is not part of your world anymore. The X’s mom had been opposed to him going back to his wife, and was very distressed over it. Good thing I never popped in to see her, as she’s evidently now very supportive of him being home. Imagine if I’d had to listen to how happy they are together! Stay away, she’s a loose cannon that can hurt you badly.

  28. Freedom Tastes of Reality says:

    Oddly enough, I was contacted, out of the blue, by the abusive ex-boyfriend who first led me to BR. We’d been broken up for over two years by the time he sent me this e-mail. We have been no-contact since we broke-up (initiated by me) although I know he still keeps in touch with my parents occasionally. I was aware that he had finished his associates degree at a local community college, but I had asked family members not to share any information with him about my personal life, a request with which they complied. He had sent me a text on his birthday over a year ago and most recently contacted me by e-mail. I did not and will not reply to either those messages or any further attempts to contact me. He wrote to tell me that he had just moved to another city in my state where he was in the process of finishing his degree in chemical engineering (at 35). He mentioned that he had seen me walking down main street “three weeks ago” and that I “looked happy.” (Of course I was happy: I wasn’t dating him.) He said that he was liking the state more and more (one of the issues that led to our final break up – also initiated by me) was the fact that he wanted to relocate. The message seemed manipulative and slimy, especially since he’d already moved four hours away from me, so there was no chance of us getting together for even a casual coffee (as if I would have allowed it). I couldn’t imagine what he was trying to prove by contacting me unless it was a weak attempt at sucking me back into another sordid long-distance relationship. (We were briefly long-distance during the eight months or so that we dated before he relocated, at his insistence, to be with me.) Thank God I did not reply as I am certain that contacting him would only lead to more pain. I noticed that he did not attempt to message me on either my birthday or Thanksgiving after his initial communication. This is also a pattern with him. I’m posting this in the hopes that it may help someone struggling with staying No Contact or with feeling obligated to reply to an AC’s lazy communication, such as text messaging, as alluded to in the article. Great post, Natalie Lue!

  29. Tinkerbell says:

    Care78.

    DO NOT send him a bday card. Let it go. Why are you begging him to love you? Are you really that desperate? Since when is he the only man on earth you could ever meet? You have played the fool for long enough. My goodness – 8 years? You knew he was an AC when you gave up your condo to move in with him, deliberately placing yourself in a position to be more vulnerable and dependent on him. Why would you do that? Sorry to tell you this but you need professional help to examine what is driving you to self destruction.

    • Care_78 says:

      Ok, so I need to be honest. I broke 3-weeks of NC to wish him a happy birthday.It probably won’t make any sense as to why I did it, but I did it more for me. At the end of the day, the way people treat you is a relection of them, the way you treat people is a reflection of you. I didn’t send it to forgive him. I did b/c toward the end of our relationship he turned me into a really mean person and I didn’t want him to have that power over me so felt wishing him a happy birthday was my release. He replied thanks. I did not reply further.I went straight back to no contact. There won’t be any Christmas greeting (even though I’m dying inside) but I feel I get to walk away the bigger person now.

  30. Gina says:

    Care78 when is enough going to be finally enough for you? To even contemplate the birthday wish is bewildering?! You see the reality which you have so clearly described about this person and unless you are not willing to lose this person for good then this unsavoury pattern between the two of you is heading for another 8+ years. We can never nor be in control of anyone else (it would be wrong to even try) other than ourselves so take control of this situation for your own health and well-being and walk away hard as it is going to be for you to do so. I did and so did a lot of women on this site and fear was (and is) definitely not found on the other side. He is expecting you to return like you do, he will be expecting the birthday wish, he will be expecting the usual routine… Show him the unexpected and walk away for good and this is going to mean changing all contact details if you are truly truly incensed by his hurtful ways and ill-treatment of you. When you have broken up with someone, it is going to be a different routine altogether so not sending him the birthday wish is going to be part and parcel of this change in direction for you. I do hope you find it in your heart to start giving a damn about yourself…..

    • Care_78 says:

      Thank you Gina! And thank you to the rest of you for your comments.

      I know it’s hard to understand why on earth I’d even contemplate sending him a birthday wish. I think I’ve almost normalized all of this b/c of the pattern that has been created. I think it always has to do with the fact that when blame has always been shoved down your throat and you’ve been rejected many times, your self-esteem takes a MAJOR hit and you lose yourself, which is what I think has happened here. I’m 35, have a great career (just got promoted), bought a house at 27 which I’m leasing, bought a condo (leasing that now too) and back to living at my parents right now until I figure things out. The only thing I don’t have going for me is a healthy relationship. I’ve been talking to a therpist so it’s not like I’m not actively trying to figure out why I’ve put up with this and why I’ve held on for so long. I think it’s also having relationship before him and me ending them, whereas he’s always ended ours. It’s a little easier being the dumper, then it is the dumpee. I’m his first girlfriend (he’s turning 31) so I think he needs to go out there to realize just how good he had it. I find it very sad how people take advantage of the good people they have in their lives. The people that have always been there for them. Just last year he was involved in a head-on collision and I was by his side the entire time. It’s just unfortunate that being too nice can end up blowing up in your face.

      • Allison says:

        Care,

        It’s not that we were too nice, its that we didn’t respect ourselves enough and allowed ourselves to be treated like doormats.

    • Bethd says:

      Excellent post Gina! You hit the nail on the head. Especially the part about them expecting you to take them back. My ex still can’t believe I walked away from 10 years and had enough of the chaos. Stay strong care!

  31. Tulipa says:

    I am the world’s slowest learner so I have repeatedly made the same mistake about texting on the ex ac’s birthday.
    Mostly I did it out of guilt because he was always so good to me on my birthday no matter what the circumstances he would always do something so when it came to his birthday I always felt obligated to do something, even if it was just a text.
    A lot of the time I went against what I really wanted to do which was to deliver him a great big box of misery.
    Always without fail after sending the text I would feel down and like I had failed to listen to me.
    This year I am pleased to report I did NOTHING on his birthday no e mail, no text, no snail mail, no phone call NOTHING.
    The difference about how I felt was incredible and yes he did stuff this year for my birthday but I was NOT tripped up by guilt. I honestly felt so good because I listened to what I wanted which was not to acknowledge his birthday it had nothing to do with playing games.
    My birthday is not too far away so am curious to see what happens.

  32. Peanut says:

    Elgie R.,

    The age thing is the biggest trap! You wouldn’t believe how many scummy fifty-something-year-old men I see on Facebook making creepy comments on my twenty-something-year-old friends’ pictures. It’s so ridiculous.

    These men indeed have on Facebook that they’re married and even have a big family picture as their cover photo. I wouldn’t ever even friend them. DENY! They look so ridiculous. I hope they know that. Nope!

  33. Genki says:

    Thanks for this post Natalie & everyone’s comments. it truely makes me see I’m setting myself up for difficulties, accepting people who play games/tactics/hot/cold and feeling like I should worry at all about their feelings! Being too considerate and nice about others & not kind to myself. Just tonight separated husband dropped daughter off & we said a few civil words then he said “do u want to talk to me about anything?” I said no, what do u mean? I’m not sure what he meant but most of these comments stem from something like “u ate seeing someone else & not telling me”…. I laugh when he takes this approach, I’m amazed that he cannot seem to comprehend that I left him cos he is a cheating lying boring husband ….not cos I’m desperately chasing some other man!! This is the way he thinks!! Problem is he thinks I think like him & act like him. He says he wants to stop bring a jealous person but he just simply thinks like that & I don’t! Anyways this is a great site to get these thoughts out – I try not to spend too much time dwelling on these thoughts & amazingly it has not been as hard as I thought. Work is busy & my daughter is so cute & I always love the Xmas time of year. I find doing my own things & keeping busy & talking to honest, interesting people the best way to get thru hard times x good luck to all

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Genki,

      Maybe he thought you might want to talk about Xmas plans for the daughter you share. Is that not a consideration?

  34. noquay says:

    Peanut
    I have a good many male friends and yep, sometimes I let the odd f bomb drop, generally when discussing mining and other despoilers of the planet. The trick is to have guy friends be only men you have zero attraction to or whose red flags are so prominent that you’d never accept them.

  35. Stephanie says:

    Ladies,

    What you have to remember when it comes to these guys is any contact with them gives them the ego boost they are looking for. Ask yourself — If these guys didn’t care about you or your birthday when you were with them, why would they care now? Further, why are you wasting time in your life worrying about if they have a happy birthday? Live your life and find somebody who will not only love you and treat you right before special holidays but also love you afterwards!

  36. noquay says:

    Wiser
    Very true about NC. Since I work with “my” problem child, true NC is difficult. I pointedly ignore him or are icily polite, keeping the power in the situation. It is frustrating because colleagues know something is very wrong and AC jokingly tells female colleagues he is flirting with that “I hate his guts” and disses me publicly for being sad though his presence is a huge part of the problem. The other part of the problem is that it seems impossible for me to also move on to another, afford to leave teaching entirely, or accept the old maid role which I dont wanna be. Sometimes I would like to confront him and tell him exactly how it feels when he pulls that “poor me” crap and why I am so down but he would not care and, as a diagnosed narc, probably likes hurting this “old maid”, (we are the same age) putting me in my place emotionally because he now understands he will never do so intellectually. Meanwhile, I remain dignified, aloof, and quietly am taking over his advisees and courses in the one area he and I work together in. I am there for our students, he is not. I kicked him off a committee I chair because for all his talk about wanting to be involved, he did nothing. Just submitted paperwork for funding a multimillion dollar center; the two of us were among the original planners. Now it’s myself and another woman proposing this, I am leaving him out. I meet with the district big shots to sell the project (stress anyone) in two days, he has not been asked to the meeting. Hope this goes; not only will it be great for our students and community, it will be a legitimate reason for me to be off campus most of the time, go to meetings and conferences where one can meet more progressive environmentally friendly folk as my other field attracts corporate nerds. I am doing NC with a weird twist. Really looking forward to the break; holidays are a miserable lonely time now but I can get deep, deep, into the mountains and ignore most of it.

    • Wiser says:

      Noquay, I’m really sorry this situation continues for you with no resolution. I think NC becomes quite difficult when the situation goes on and on with no end in sight. For most of us, NC gets us past the initial hump of the first painful months, or even a year, and then, mercifully, the ex disappears into the past and slowly life moves on. But for you it doesn’t seem like the situation can ever move forward. He’s still around, and you have to see him all the time. So you have to do all that dignified avoiding and ignoring, keeping your emotions in check, fending off memories and fresh feelings of pain and anger week after week after bloody week the same. It must be exhausting. Sigh. It’s a shitty dilemma for you and I don’t have any advice for what to do about it – but hopefully knowing that others have been in the same place and are in complete solidarity with you will be of some help.

      Please be good to yourself!

      • Tulipa says:

        I feel for norquay too.
        It seems like a lot of effort has to go into no contact because the jerk is still around. But on the other hand I wonder if making all the effort is worth it especially when it is someone with a narcissistic personality.
        I’m thinking in my case the ex ac really couldn’t care less if I am no contact in contact or whatever I choose it changes nothing.
        I hate how unfair it is for norquay to always be the one who has to choose between attending something or not, even choosing not to enter the supermarket because he is in there.
        I wonder though if from his perspective he couldn’t care less whether norquay was in the supermarket or not when he is in there as well. (Perphas he is deriving pleasure from knowing to what extent norquay goes to just to avoid him)
        I don’t like the fact that norquay is miserable and her ex is just getting on with things. It is exactly the same in my situation I struggle along and thank goodness our paths don’t cross but I know for a fact it is easy for him to continue on as though I wasn’t even part of his life.
        I wish it was easier for you norquay and you didn’t have to be reminded of your struggle each day.

      • Tinkerbell says:

        Noquay.

        I second what Wiser said. I don’t know how you do it. Thank goodness you are a strong person. I guess we do what he HAVE TO do, but I’m sure it takes some effort every day and I feel for you. Fortunately you take good care of yourself, physically, and mentally. BTW, how is your hen? I hope she survived?

  37. noquay says:

    Elgie
    I think nearly all women fear spending the rest of their lives alone and poverty. Women are highly social beings, much more so than men, and have a greater craving for physical affection. Don’t know about you, but I see so many elder women dealing with both issues simultaneously. Before coming to this town, I was poor, had been disappeared on by the guy who snuck in after the end of my marriage, and was going thru breast cancer surgery and recovery totally alone. Picture a brown chick lying on the floor of her two room cabin, curled up in a fetal position in pain, with her dog and cat as her only companions for days (I was damned glad for those critters), getting up only to put more firewood on. I bet a lot of BR women have been in some version of this.
    I got out of the financial situation by hiding my surgical injury, getting this job about two months post surgery. Paid off the medical bills, then concentrated on getting a solid roof over my head, access to land to grow healthy foods and salt away as much as possible to avoid becoming like the impoverished widows back home. I tell my female students to get the damned degree FIRST before even considering marrying or having kids. No one can take away your education. The loneliness part is hard for most of us; the women of my acquaintance who are alone by choice were brutalized and financially ruined by abusers or have become bitter past the point of no return. Loneliness can be fixed if one has healthy, supportive family and/or a healthy supportive community. We, being (mostly) women here will always seek human companionship. That is normal. When family and community are lacking or dysfunctional, that’s when we are vulnerable to ACs, users, abusers. Not an easy problem to fix.

  38. Allison says:

    Naive,

    The ex came from a really screwed up background, too. I can relate!

    I think that the only thing that becomes important is that he is incapable of treating you, or anyone else in a healthy, respectful manner. Labels aren’t important. It doesn’t change what they put us through, if they have some disorder or another, only that we stayed in this crazy-ass, drama-induced environment, waaaaaaaay too long.

    Please don’t focus on his problems, but solely focus yours, and why you stayed. Make this your epiphany like many of us have, when you do, you will see this mess as a wonderful, life-changing lesson.

    Good luck!

  39. Genki says:

    Thanks for ur comment Tinkerbell. We had already organised Xmas – I’m offin holiday next week! First Xmas in 6 years without the hubby (seperated) I’m really feeling peaceful & looking fwd to enjoying time with my family without being worried that he’s not having fun. I don’t know why he asked if I wanted to talk to him, if he wants to talk to me I’m always open, except if it revolves around getting back together.
    To all the Ladies, I truely second what has been said in regards to being independent – I was lucky I have a good job, good salary I don’t have to stay around if its not in my best interest, my mum always had a good job & she really encouraged us to be independent, that was great, but I think my independence also led me to chose a bit of a loser, a man who didnt have much ambition or consideration of manners or others, he lost his job cos he had an affair with the Supervisors wife so u guess u could say he is not all that clever either!! Haha. Anyways I really thank the stars u had opportunity & took it to build a life that would protect me from having to be dependent on any AC. I will try to teach this to my daughter. And I can see many women on the site are accomplished and independent in their areas & this is a strength that noone can take away.

  40. NaiveGirl says:

    Feel like I’m at the lowest point I’ve been at in this whole fucking experience.

    Got Natalie’s books in the mail this morning.

    Guess I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

  41. NaiveGirl says:

    Oh, holy hell…on page 33 of Mr. Unavailable the typical unavailable relationships are listed. Can you have some kind of fucked up hybrid of these? Just my last “relationship” was a nauseating mutant combination of casual, boomerang, rebound, rehabbing, fantasy, secret and excuse.

  42. Tinkerbell says:

    Genki,

    It sounds like you are really doing well. That makes me happy. Being independent is sooo important. Lucky for me, I never had to teach it to my daughter. She has always been that. She got a job in the hospital at 15 and has been steadily working ever since. Having a good education and making a comfortable salary is tantamount to independence. There’s no reason in the world why a woman in such a position should take crumbs from an AC.

  43. sassysusie says:

    I have a rather extreme case of thyroid guilt as to what to do about my Mr. Unavailable-turned-assclown this week. After a 2.5 year relationship together and another year in hell trying to figure out why a man who doesn’t want me won’t leave me alone to heal, I finally found this website (after I had already ‘told him all about himself’ in a long email and I DID send it…sorry, I didn’t know yet not to!)
    I had recognized both his destructiveness to my soul and my frustrating inability to stay away from him on my own and had gone in search of support, a plan and a way to actually END the cycle with him. I devoured the books and website and went resolutely NC and was finally feeling forward movement.

    Then, I got a call from a friend who learned that on Monday this week, my Mr. Unavailable/AC had an aneurysm Sunday night and was in the hospital in critical condition. Yes, it is as unbelievable as it sounds. Who the eff does this really happen to?

    Less than a month prior, he had informed me smugly that he was ‘seeing someone’. He has 3 children whom I loved and was very close to. It was absolute HELL separating myself from his family, as I had come to love them and think of them as ‘my family’ so I was absolutely beside myself as to how to handle this unbelievable situation. Just utterly UNBELIEVABLE. If he died, and I didn’t say anything or reach out, I would feel just awful and callous and wrong. (Guilt thyroid or normal functioning thyroid?) If I DID reach out, I would be interfering in his new relationship and feel ridiculous for ‘meddling’ even though we had been together for nearly 3 years and new girl has been on the scene only 6 weeks or so. Plus, I would be breaking NC. I would also be giving him (if he lived) the opportunity to suck me back in with this contact! This is like a birthday card x a billion. Ugh. So I texted a work colleague of his that I knew of AC’s condition and although I knew he was with someone else and wanted to respect that choice, would he please let me know of his condition and prognosis.

    The only thing that bothers me is that if the colleague tells him I had inquired about him (especially after the ‘telling him all about himself email) it is going to communicate to him that I still care and he may use it to wiggle back in if things with the new hunny don’t work out, and I don’t want to give him any more cookies for his bottomless attention jar. Ugh. Apparently, he is going to recover, so in my mind, it is going to be right back to NC. Even if he calls or texts to ‘thank’ me for reaching out, or ‘has an epiphany’ from a near-death experience and now he’s changed, or if he cries or whatever. It is VERY hard to resist this guy. He is a brilliant wordsmith and can literally charm the pants off me. Help me stay strong!

    • Wiser says:

      Susie, This is really a no-brainer. You continue to maintain NC, you leave him alone and allow other people to take care of him (assume they are doing this?) Anyone who is “destructive to your soul” needs to stay a million miles from you, whether or not he’s sick, broke, in crisis, the dog died, lost his job or whatever. If you feel bad about not reaching out, then say a prayer for him and commit him to the care of God. You don’t need to be in touch – at all!!

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Sassysusie,

      I second Wiser’s advice. Remain NC no matter what. You are through with him, it’s final. THE END. It’s not your business or your problem what is going on in his life. He chose to have someone else so leave him to deal with himself, her, whatever the hell comes up.

  44. Genki says:

    Sassysusi, what a difficult situation! It’s like a bad movie. But ur approach seemed reasonable to me, u did the best possible in given situation.

    Tinkerbell so glad to hear ur daughter is wise and understands value of independence. Sometimes I think I was a bit silly in my younger years about guys, trying to please all the time, but I’ve learnt & grown a lot, BR is an amazing support

  45. Genki says:

    Elgie & Selkie, I have had the same experience with health….I got very thin when u found out my husband (seperated) was having affair & recently I had to call in to work cos I had chest pain …but Dr diagnosed muscle stretch or stress (thank goodness) & it was just after I talked to husband & spent day together playing with daughter. But I feel 100% over this time last year! Seperated husband has developed a breathing kind of thing when he tries to talk to me he has to take big breaths & tells me he is stressed…I know it’s not good karma but I do think I’m glad he actually has feelings & feels consequences of his stupid behaviour but mostly I try not to think about him at all & try to look after me. As you ladies say it truely is a feeling of peace & not having to worry or step on egg shells makes life so much easier. Whenever I feel like I need some sensible advice I go to BR, Nats posts & all the readers useful advice put me in a good position to be able to manage & move on. Thanks!

  46. Peanut says:

    I broke no contact. I feel dizzy and sick and in part with glee.

    I unblocked my ex and checked out his Facebook profile. Nothing. I have nothing for this guy.

    Other than some mild disgust for some creepy pictures (that I’d feel no doubt looking at a stranger’s), I feel NOTHING BUT GRATITUDE THAT WE ARE NO LONGER TOGETHER AND THAT I FOUND NAT AND THE BR CREW.

    He’s okay. He was an adonis in my book. He’s not that special. NAT YOU ARE RIGHT, THEY AREN’T THAT SPECIAL–NONE OF ‘EM.

    He still has a harem, an ex fannying about for him. He is still the exact same as when we left off. I want to be single, and I am.

    These men can’t make our lives better just because they have some things we want.

    WE HAVE TO CULTIVATE THOSE THINGS FOR OURSELVES.

    Being single is waaaaay underrated.

    And, no, I don’t recommend breaking No Contact. Now I have to wait 48 hrs to block him again.

    This beer is going down quite nicely, as will dat pizza, and a bubble bath to top it off will do just the trick!

    • Peanut says:

      * I felt dizzy and sick that I pinned for two years over this creep. Now I feel good because I am drinking beer and cooking myself delicious pizza. ha!

  47. noquay says:

    Wiser, Tulipa, Tinkerbell
    You’re awesome! Sorry I didn’t reply right away but internet has been kinda sketchy of late. Yep, he does not care weather I avoid him unless it’s obvious and public which makes him look bad. I avoid him and latest conquest for myself as seeing either pretty much ruins my day. Can always get groceries at some other time, eh? Also I understand that confronting him on his “poor me” behavior or criticism of my state of mind is pretty much a waste of oxygen though I am often tempted to do so publicly . As a narc, I am nothing more than something to use and discard like garbage. Some part of him may be glad he’s still causing pain, punishment for my audacity in calling him on his behavior. There really is no way to fix this. The probability of my meeting someone I am actually attracted to while here is pretty much nill plus I will not accept any sort of less than role. I want meaningful human companionship just like any other woman. Things took a new weird twist in this sad pathetic Peyton Place scenario today: went to prepare for my presentation of the project that would effectively insure my near total absence from campus, looked up to address the committee and there is latest conquest glaring back at me. Apparently one of the folks that will be deciding the fate of the project. There was only one set of challenging questions about it and one could probably guess from whence they came. Damn. Yep, looking REALLY forward to the Xmas break.

    • Wiser says:

      Noquay, that’s the really annoying thing about life in a small town and when you’re all in the same professional boat. Not only do you have to see the ex you have to see the “latest conquest” (love that phrase) too. I know. I just had to sit in a five hour meeting with ex’s girlfriend/partner. She’s actually a very nice person, but still. Ugh.

  48. noquay says:

    Yep, Wiser, this chick is at a different campus, same system in itself an island of the educated among a series of overall uneducated mountain communities. Kinda like a weird fishbowl where us women are pretty much socially trapped and those few guys in our system who can cut it, such as AC, get their puck of numerous high end, high income chix. What’s sad here is that I suspect AC fed her some inside info about the project that was not for public dissemination. We share some of the same students, I had students doing site work, some of them may have told him about our labs out there. This chick had some pretty pointed scientific questions and this is not her field. I had the foresight to ask someone who had been in on the early planning stages of this to be present just in case questions like this came up dealing with stuff that occurred before my time. Found out I was presenting the morning before the meeting, found out the process to decide what does or does not get funding changed radically two hours before the meeting. What a miserable, stressed out day. Felt compelled to end it with a double shot of high end whiskey, chased down with pizza; only the best for this babe.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Noquay.

      This may not be a nice thing to say, but I wish something would happen to him so that he would no longer be around to affect you. Even better, I wish YOU could move somewhere else back to civilization where you wouldn’t have to be so alone and male companionship wasn’t so hard to attain. But, I know. You like where you are, regardless of anything else.

  49. Revolution says:

    Noquay,

    *puts an afghan around noquay’s shoulders and hugs her*

    Yep, nothing but the best for our favorite kick-ass BR tough girl. :)

  50. Peanut says:

    NEVER break no contact. NEVER EVER EVER NEVER. I had a couple, yes two beers, and got drunk in my room alone (I am an exceptionally small woman).

    The night has resulted in my crying in heaps while starring at my ex’s facebook pictures while listening to that George Michael song “Never Gonna Dance Again” over and over and over…

    All of this could have been avoided if I had stuck to no contact.

    I feel like I should learn something. I learned that messing with men even through innocent fb messaging can trigger old feelings for your ex. No Unavailable men engaging ever. EVER. DON’T DO IT.

    Imagine me crying alone in leisure shorts acne faced and sobbing to George Michael.

    You wanna unblock?

    DON’T.

    You wanna answer that text/late night bootay call?

    DON’T.

    Don’t drink and George Michael. Don’t drink and break NO Contact.

    • Lilly says:

      Peanut,

      You are so right! I’ve been packing up all my stuff and came across a reference the AC wrote for me for my post grad application. I pushed it aside, but after rewarding myself with a couple of glasses of wine (I worked hard) I read the damn thing. He is literally singing my praises in the reference and it made me so so sad. I thought for a minute that he might have meant what he said and that he really had loved me at one time. I then snuck a peek at his picture on the uni website. On goes the music “Blower’s Daughter’( Damien Rice) and here I am balling my drunken eyes out! Never, ever again. Why did I read the damn thing. Self-inflicted pain.

      • Tinkerbell says:

        Lilly,

        You’re still hurting. Too bad you didn’t go ahead and read the reference he wrote BEFORE having the wine. As I told Peanut below, I will say to you. But also, I think when you’re sad about something the wine although it relaxes you, your mind focuses more on what you’re sad about in the first place. I think we may be dealing with certain issues before drinking the alcohol and then the latter compounds the situation. We end up either behaving in an irrational manner or having a big crying jag. Either way, it’s worse because you’re then beating yourself up for the change in your thoughts or your actions.

        • Lilly says:

          I love you Tink!

          I just applied your question to Peanut: “What was your reason for……”

          I was already feeling sad about having to leave my home as part of the destruction caused by the affair. I think the wine wasn’t really a reward more like a stress reliever. Truth be told he was on my mind with every box I packed! No wonder I read the reference. Nothing I can do to stop this hurt, maybe when I’m out of the house it will be better.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Peanut,

      What was your reason for breaking contact? Certainly you had a reason before you got drunk? Alcohol lowers our defenses and inhibitions and getting drunk obliterates good judgement. But you must have been wanting him and missing him, anyway. Now, you know what your hook is, at least where men are concerned. Don’t get drunk, but if you do, don’t contact past lovers during that time because you don’t want to regret your actions later.

      Don’t get me wrong. I drink occasionaly, but I know when I’m doing it it’s because I’m either very stressed out or depressed over a particular transient situation. I don’t get drunk and I don’t attempt to connect with anyone because I don’t want to talk.

      • Peanut says:

        Tink,

        I was wanting and missing him. I met an acquaintance of a mutual friend who reminded me of him communication style.

        I didn’t contact the ex or anyone while drunk though. Just looked at his Facebook pictures and cried.

        Getting drunk is not a good idea, no. I’ll be the first to admit that, though, I did do it anyway.

        • Tinkerbell says:

          I understand. I did realize it was just a Facebook contact. The liquor just helped you to feel more vulnerable and sorry for yourself. But, you’re doing very well overall. And, at least he doesn’t know about it. Yay!

  51. teachable says:

    Resting & trying to catch up on all of everyone’s news in hoizontal position. You all are hard to read this way!

    Things not perfect here but telling myselg progress not oerfection is name of the game… sigh.

  52. Paris says:

    OH Peanut, NO! You have been so strong and supportive to myself and others. OH well. Sober up and take your own advice! Don’t do it again. Today is a new day! I’m so missing my EUM/AZCLown and I’m so glad I jumped to this post to see…DON’T DO It!

    In the past he would try and contact me so I would think oh he cares. It really hurts when he doesn’t try to contact me which really let’s me know how much he doesnt care!

    So get it together Peanut!

  53. Peanut says:

    Paris,

    Remember when they do contact, it’s not about care, but it is all about their own ego.

  54. Peanut says:

    Paris,

    And thank you, I do need to get it together, gurl! Needed to hear that ;)

  55. […] the issue of how to know when to say no, especially when we have people-pleasing inclinations and wrestle with feeling bad if we’re not able to oblige everyone who asks or expects something of us no matter how […]

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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