When is the thunderbolt of conscience and consideration going to strike?

Sitting with a friend who was close to exploding over her frustrations regarding somebody’s inconsiderate behaviour that had been going on for a number of months, I asked her when she planned to say something. The tumbleweeds and blank look told me all I needed to know. So then I asked her at what point would she consider it impossible not to say something and was still greeted with a blank look. My friend wasn’t going to say anything because she hoped that by remaining passive on the issue but at the same time near burning a hole in her stomach with the stress, that this person would be struck by the thunderbolt of conscience and consideration.

She’s not alone in choosing to keep her true feelings and opinions zipped – I along with many others, have balked at the prospect of saying something or doing something about a situation. It’s like, ‘Why the hell should I get out of my comfort zone and invite the potential for conflict into my life? They’re the one who is being shady! I don’t want to have to speak my mind. I’d rather wait for him/her to be struck by the thunderbolt of conscience and consideration. Plus I don’t want to sound rude / pushy / like I care too much’.

Of course what happens next is a slow uncomfortable screwing over that’s made all the worse by also feeling that you’re screwing yourself over.

This isn’t one of those situations where a person does an out of character isolated incident. We all make mistakes and don’t realise that we’re not being quite as considerate of a person as we’d normally be. In these situations, you can normally say something even if there’s an element of conflict and unless it becomes handbags at dawn and blows up into something much bigger, it will likely be quickly resolved.

We tend to play the waiting game on a person recognising their inconsiderate behaviour, because the person is actively engaging in the behaviour and compounding it. Of course by maintaining our passiveness, the inconsideration becomes the status quo. If there’s what could be considered momentary inconsideration then that person is very likely to recognise it and apologise.

When someone is being habitually inconsiderate, while they might come to their senses on the issue without any intervention from you, the likelihood is that even if they do twig that there’s an issue, they may actually find it ‘easier’ to continue as is. It becomes the elephant in the room and the more stubborn (many of us are afraid of admitting that we’re in the wrong and would rather save face) and/or shady may argue to themselves that if it were that much of an issue, something would have been said, and that actually, that something ‘should’ have been said instead of ‘allowing’ it to continue.

Now of course there is a little truth to this but more in that it’s our job to ‘represent’ and others know our line when we know our line, so if we’re passive, the boundary isn’t known, even if really, it should be. In reality, while it’s very important for us to get our emotional house in order and ensure that we’re assertive when we need to be, the inconsiderate party has responsibility and accountability. Yes we can and should say something when we’re being jacked about but let’s not be mistaken in believing that it’s our job to teach adults how to behave themselves!

The other options – to coming to their senses that is – is that they start avoiding you, which can feel pretty bloody outrageous because it’s like, ‘Hold on a frickin second; so you would rather avoid me like I’m the one who did something to you instead of just acknowledging and apologising for your inconsideration?’ This may make your blood boil even more on the issue because then you feel bad for not having said something and may even start to question who was in the wrong. And then there’s the last option – act up so that you eventually erupt and then it becomes about your reaction, or find fault with you and then their inconsiderate behaviour doesn’t even make it onto the agenda.

Now my friend would rather have literally bellyached over this woman who was pissing her off at work than say something. She believed that remaining passive on the issue was ‘better’, after all, the inconsiderate person should own up to it. Of course it begged the question of how would this woman know that she was being inconsiderate but then in these situations it seems unfathomable that the person doesn’t know because we’re so aware and uncomfortable with it. Of course, I’ve heard too many stories that would suggest otherwise – some people aren’t that ‘aware’… or certainly have convenient blindness and rationalisations.

What we have to admit when we opt to suppress our feelings, opinions, needs, expectations and wants, in the hopes that another person will come to their senses and ‘do the right thing’, is that we’re doing this in lieu of taking appropriate and respectful action. Ironically we won’t flag up the inconsideration but are actually extending and compounding the inconsideration by being inconsiderate to ourselves.

We worry about being rude and you know, if you keep silent and then explode when you can’t take anymore or engage in passive aggressive behaviour, while although you can understand to a degree how this came about, it’s not particularly considerate either. Being rude is being disrespectfully honest or disrespectfully dishonest – being honest is about the truth with respect and actually, you can flag up an issue and even experience conflict without it raining disrespect.

Of course we’re only human and we don’t always handle uncomfortable situations in the way that we would prefer but we won’t keep smarting about it if we learn not to remain passive on the things that matter to us.

Your thoughts?

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

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

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103 Responses to Don’t passively wait around for someone to be struck by the thunderbolt of conscience and consideration – take action!

  1. moving on says:

    I am very guilty of this, with friends and relationships. I tend to hold back to not cause “drama” and in the end I blow up and am so angry and emotional it causes more drama because I have let it build up like a snowball. The best thing to do is be up front. I just went through this this week when my best friends brother (who I don’t know all that well) had to come to my town for a seminar for 3 days and initially had asked to crash on my couch for a night that as time went on he pushed it to 3. I felt uncomfortable to begin with because I live by myself in a one bedroom condo with one bathroom and was trying to be nice with saying ok to one night. When it got to three I saw myself feeling like I was being taken advantage of and inconveniencing myself to accommodate someone who wasn’t even offering a dinner for the favor. I felt good saying “NO” and don’t care what he thinks. Our happiness should be first. I’m learning my lessons on here ;)

  2. Nigella says:

    Definitely, I am adding this to my treasured list of top-ten posts by Natalie. Currently, it is in fact No. 1 on my list because it relates to what I see as a major area of self-improvement.

    One thing I regret not doing five months ago is having a chat with the ex about his sudden change in behavior. I could see that something is amiss but I could not gather the courage to ask him what is going on. Instead, I misguidedly indulged in buying his excuses, giving him the benefit of the doubt, and waiting for him to open up about what he is feeling. How wrong was I to wait around for him. For doing all of the above, I was rewarded with an email break-up.

    The reason I never addressed the elephant in the room is because first of all I could not even tell if there is an elephant in the room – partly because out of habitual optimism I was trying to focus instead on the “good things” in the room & partly because out of fear I was trying not to come across as needy or pushy.

    To console myself, I try to think that had his shady behavior persisted then I would have confronted him and accordingly decided whether or not to stay in the relationship. But at the same time I think it is fanciful of me to imagine this scenario to be so clear-cut. Emotionally, I had invested too much in him. I was besotted & blinded by my own assumptions about his “good character”. He, on the other hand, has mastered the art of the deception. So although I am sure a conversation initiated by me would have helped me gain some clarity, I think he could have nevertheless figured out a way to reassure me and dump me later on. In a way, this is what he did because when I did tell him that though I do not expect him to spend all his spare time with me, I do expect him not to cancel or change our plans at short notice. He pretended to be contrite & faked interest in spending time with me. For folk like him, control and power matter much more than respect and honesty. It has been difficult but I am trying not to dwell on the fact that I got duped and dumped.

    It is what it is. The good thing is that I adhered to my boundaries and that inadvertently sent him the message that I cannot be toyed around with. Yes, I did not handle the uncomfortable situation with him as well as I wish I had. I was confused and scared. Now – learning from my mistake & taking inspiration from this post – I hope that despite my fears I will take action on things that matter to me rather than remain passive & expect others to fess up or fix their behavior.

    Bottom line: the end of the relationship as well as his shady antics did not affect me so much. Rather it was my own naive, passive, and self-deceiving habits that caused me to smart for a long time. Fortunately, day by day, things are getting better as I am shedding these habits & forming better ones.

    • JustHer says:


      Brilliant post! Sometimes, I also think that it was my own stupidity that hurt me, rather than his actions. My naive, silly self who hopped and skipped into the land of ACs.

      I could not bring myself to notice the elephant in the room, either, even when I literally had him telling me he cheated! I was like “oh. No, you’re just saying that, but you really loved me even when you were with her” or “but you ARE sorry, aren’t you?”

      Yet, I never confronted him, until it was painfully obvious to the whole world, but me. How could she not notice, my stupid past self??!

      I am also learning good habits now, even ones which have kept me single and lonely for a long, long time. Well, shit happens.

  3. noquay says:

    I am always wishing that the thunderbolt of insight will come crashing down from the heavens but that doesn’t happen either. I think there was something in an earlier post stating “we teach others how to treat us”; very true.

    • Rosie says:


      ” “we teach others how to treat us”; very true.”

      No. We teach others what we will tolerate.

      • AngelFace says:

        Hi Noquay and Rosie,
        Agree, Agree. Let’s all remember that in damaged people such as narcissists and psychopaths – there is no empathy, no thunderbolts, and no unicorns to fulfill our hearts with love, respect and good treatment!

      • JustHer says:

        I love this!

  4. Sandy says:

    I have never had much trouble confronting him it was the fact I just let him bust my boundaries over and over and over that was the problem. In the end I was a bit like that story about the boy crying wolf and the AC knew he could just carry on doing what he wanted without me actually following through with my threats until one day I finally did what I said I was going to…think it came as quite a shock to him :-)

  5. A says:

    Great post! I’ve definitely done this: someone’s behaviour is so rude that I’m somewhat speechless. And they must know that they were rude, so…what would I even say? Why do I have to say anything?

    The first few times something happened with a particular friend I was confused by it and wrote the behaviour off as being a “one off”. I’m realizing now that I need to speak up in these circumstances – but the part that I struggle with is that this person shouldn’t be doing these things to begin with. This isn’t grey area stuff, rather, it is obviously rude behaviour, and even though I should respond for my own sake…it’s kind of messed up that she’s doing it at all! And it speaks to her character, so maybe this isn’t someone I should consider to be a good friend anyways? I suppose speaking up gives the person a chance to do better (or not). But I don’t like the idea of having a friend who will take the piss as long as she thinks that she’ll get away with it.

    It’s disappointing, and it’s just so unnecessary that I can’t understand it. Most recently she extended this behaviour to my boyfriend as well. Every instance is something where she could easily just text, call or email and there wouldn’t be a problem, but maybe she’s just decided that I’m so “easy going” that she can be completely rude and I’ll be fine with it.

    I’ve avoided saying something because I feel as though I’ll be causing tension or a rift if I do so, but I’ve realized that this perspective isn’t valid. After all, *she’s* the one creating tension by being inconsiderate. I would only be responding to a situation that she created. If I say something, she can choose to do better or not. If I say nothing, I’ll probably just wind up so pissed off by her rude behaviour that I’ll back away and the friendship will be over anyways.

    Also, great insight about the friends who avoid you after pulling something shady – I recognize this in someone as well. Another “friend” who would frequently suggest meeting up and then not respond to me or get back to me as she said she would (to the point where it got ridiculous – and why is she contacting me to say she wants to see me only to flake out every time?). Instead of following up I’ve just left it the last few times – she’s a grown woman, and I have better things to do than constantly be following up with someone who can’t give me the courtesy of a reply.

    The funny thing is, I’ve noticed her backing off now that I’ve stopped following up. I get the sense that she knows she’s been rude and since I’m not playing along like everything is fine, she’s uncomfortable and is just avoiding me. I find it really weird – all she would have to do is say sorry and suggest a plan (and follow through), and it would be fine.

    Alas, people have their issues, and I’ve gotten better at not taking this stuff personally. I still struggle with the first issue though: why should I have to tell someone not to be rude and disrespectful of me and my time?

    • Rosie says:


      “why should I have to tell someone not to be rude and disrespectful of me and my time?”

      It’s setting a clear boundary. Sometimes what’s obvious to one person isn’t obvious to the other person. By telling somebody that her behavior is not ok with you, you’re demonstrating mutual respect: You don’t expect her to be a mind reader and she doesn’t expect you to be a doormat.

      By not communicating to her your feelings while agreeing to wait around for someone you know isn’t trustworthy of your time or attention, you’re making her responsible for your feelings and behavior (not her responsibility). Whether you choose to wait around or not, tolerate rude behavior or not, be upset and resentful or not is up to you. Once you choose to tell her what’s bothering you, what she does with that info is up to her. What you do with her continued rudeness once she’s informed is up to you.

      • A says:

        I agree that there’s value in standing up for myself and letting her know that she’s crossed the line. However, I don’t think that she would need to be a mindreader to realize that she’s being rude.

        I suppose my point is that if this person is someone who is fine with being disrespectful so long as she thinks she won’t be called out on it (which is what I suspect at this point), then maybe she isn’t someone I want in my life.

        I think my anxiety about speaking up comes from my family dynamic and some negative experiences with friends (i.e. speaking up means the other person will explode with anger and things will get worse (my Dad) or the other person will just deny any knowledge, get annoyed and sever communication). I guess I can’t know until I try, and I’m not responsible for someone else’s unreasonable reactions.

  6. jojo says:

    this is my relationship with my best friend at the moment… I have waited for her to see her self interested attitudes only to be talked over yet again today. Cut off, talked over, invalidated…

    I have taken the passive approach, and achieved nothing.
    So, tonight, on the phone , as she continued to judge work issues, I calmly pointed out a parallel issue , which she started to dismiss. Next statement, I started with ,”I know you dont agree but…” and surprise to me , there was a back-down and back pedaling of her initial strong willed stance- wow…
    Something about surrender and not caring anymore and not waiting anymore, lead to a path forward…

    And here’s the kicker- Im no longer waiting for her to respect my individual view, and not walk all over it with hers…and she might just miss that.

    • JustHer says:


      That’s brilliant! Break lose from people who are nothing but bad news in your life – they will never change!

  7. lo j says:

    Oh, after a lifetime of being near without boundaries, learning to own mine and let others own theirs has been such a difficult thing to learn. Recognizing who owns what can take some time but as Natalie pointed out, it usually involves that burning in the gut. Its getting easier to address with others these days. Thank goodness. Now as to whether or not a person will admit to their behavior, but I’ve noticed most of the time, the behavior changes. (And lots of times, mine needs tweaking as well. :-D)

  8. AngelFace says:

    Regarding Speaking-Up. Anyone here want to vote and help on this one for me?

    I’ve been having phone conversations with a new man I’m considering to date, However, two nights ago he called me and said he “had some paperwork to do and would call me back.” He did not call back – did not pick up when I called him on same night. I did not take his calls last night.

    BR Folks: Should I block his phone number now?
    or should I explain to him that I will not accept being told he will call – and then does not call?

    Been down that phone road with a prior AssClown.
    Would love to hear your advice!! Thanks.

    • lizzp says:

      This post specifies *consistent* inconsiderate behaviours and how much we’re willing to put up with before speaking up. Angelface, not enough info in your post to go on really. On reading what there is and your accompanying tone, you sound like you are over -reacting, assuming that this is a ‘first offence’. However, your tone and the solution suggested – block him – makes me think there must have been other dodgy behaviour that you do not mention. Alternatively, if this is some kind of ‘one off’ and he has been consistent up until this point, you could take his next call or call him back from last night and see what he says…but again, just not enough info. The bottom line really is that only you know yourself what your limits are and what is right for you. One thing…I’d suggest that you try to separate your baggage from the exAC when examining your feelings on this and if you find you can’t then it’s too early to date again and there’s a high chance of blowing it regardless of how this man unfolds.

    • Allison says:


      I think you may be jumping the gun a bit.

      Give the guy another chance, if he does it again, then move on. Stuff does come up.

      • Allison says:

        Also, do not tell this guy that you will not accept this behavior, you haven’t even been out with him yet. Slow down!

    • Little Star says:

      AngelFace, I would give another chance, don’t block him yet! Do not mention about calls, just sound usual self, otherwise he will think you were sitting and waiting for his call, that he is SO important;) All the best!

    • Rosie says:


      Maybe you’re not ready to start dating again? The guy said he had to go (didn’t really owe you an explanation as to why as you’re not even dating yet), said he would call you back and maybe something came up. Did he say he would call you back that night? If he said he would call you back, leave it there. By calling him after he said he’ll call you, you weren’t communicating that your time is valuable but communicating desperation. As you’re not even dating yet, you haven’t earned “priority status” yet. Neither has he.

      Imo, it was a little childish and over the top to not accept any of his phone calls when he did call you back on another night. It’s a little over the top to think of blocking a guy you hardly know and haven’t even dated yet.

      Give the guy one more chance. If he is still flaky then cut him loose and don’t look back.

      I’m sorry to be harsh but sometimes reality isn’t as exciting or drama-worthy as we’re used to. :)

    • Pauline says:

      Angel, you don’t know this man, you haven’t even met as yet. Why didn’t you take his call when he rang back?
      You’re not giving him much of a chance to find out if he’s a good guy if you’re going to label him assclown on the strength of one missed call.
      He’s NOT your prior assclown boyfriend so don’t treat him like he is and give him a break, he will reveal himself in due time.

    • grace says:

      Maybe he forgot.

      • Tinkerbell says:


        You’re being very hard on the guy. Why? You’re treating him like he’s the enemy before you even go on the first date. Thin about it. Does that make sense? Imo, you need to slow your roll, as Nat would say. I agree with all the above advice. It seems to be that maybe you need to not date for awhile until your anger and frustration from the last AC is gone. You’re ready to pounce on this guy when he hasn’t even done anything yet to deserve it. Unless, you’ve left out important information. he could have forgotten. Simple as that. You’re not his gf, yet and will never be if you continue quick to anger like this.

  9. Mike says:

    So, am I being passive aggressive with a person if I’m not calling my friend, begging to understand why they are mad at me?

    I have a friend (possibly my ex-friend now) who just went cold, silent on me in the summer. I didn’t know he was ‘angry’ or ‘upset’ with me until I tried to call him several times, text messaged, facebooked and emailed. When I saw him at a party, it was uncomfortable.

    My stance was, it wasn’t my responsibility to figure out why he was upset with me. If he’s mad, tell me. It’s that simple. I’m not about to go after someone saying sorry for something I have no idea what I’m sorry for. And the more time goes by, the more I just don’t care anymore.

    I am an adult and have no time to go chasing after people and telling them how to act.

    • Rosie says:


      “My stance was, it wasn’t my responsibility to figure out why he was upset with me. If he’s mad, tell me. It’s that simple. I’m not about to go after someone saying sorry for something I have no idea what I’m sorry for. And the more time goes by, the more I just don’t care anymore.

      I am an adult and have no time to go chasing after people and telling them how to act.”


      • Tinkerbell says:


        That’s not passive aggressive. Your friend should open up and tell you what’s wrong. You’ve given him ample opportunities. If he’s angry with you and refusing to let you in on what you’ve supposedly done. HE’S THE ONE being passive aggressive.

    • Grizelda says:

      Mike –
      Do you sincerely not know why your friend is upset with you? Because there’s a world of difference between genuinely not knowing why someone’s angry with you (which would obviously make you want to have a talk with him and find out because it’s probably a silly misunderstanding), and actually having a pretty good idea why he’s angry with you but refusing to acknowledge it (and so not having to be in a position to apologise, admit fault, etc). No one should crawl on their belly to someone having a temper tantrum and you don’t want to validate that too much — on the other hand, if they have good reason to be upset with something you said or did, you’d be wearing your proper grownup hat if you were to ask him about it and try to patch things up. It may be that you actually both need to apologise to each other for stuff like this — ?

      • Mike says:


        I can honestly say that I have no idea what I did or said that was so wrong.

        Let me further explain by saying the following, my friend has been done this before, but not with me. We have a mutual friend with whom he is close to. Whenever he is mad at our mutual friend, he goes cold and when our mutual friend chases after him and asks what’s wrong, my friend will say things like, “I shouldn’t have to tell you” or my favourite, “I don’t feel like talking about this now” and than ignore him for weeks until our mutual friend buckles down and apologizes without knowing why he’s mad and nothing is ever discussed until the next time.

        I don’t want to play that game. My other friends have no problem telling me where to go when they are upset and vice versa. This is what I would like to think is what a friendship should be. Not one where I’m made to feel like crap without any knowledge of what it is I did. If he has a boundary that I have crossed (again, I have no idea what I did) shouldn’t he tell me?

        I will admit in the beginning when I realize what he was doing, I decided I was going to be just as stubborn, however as more time elapsed I waivered and did call and text and email and was met with silence. Now I’m just at a point where I’m tired and can’t be bothered anymore.

        • Grizelda says:

          Yep totally agree with you Mike, and Getting It! Once you know that what they’re doing is really game-playing, which is part of their past behaviour, there’s no point in validating it. It’s a cheap power-play and it deserves no respect.

        • A says:


          How old is this guy? I’m somewhat surprised – I had the impression that men were generally more comfortable telling each other when they were pissed off (whereas women are often socialized not to be direct or show anger).

          It was good of you to try contacting him. At least now you won’t have any regrets – you tried.

          I had something similar happen with a friend who has a history of cutting ties with people for little to no known reason. Suddenly she started becoming curt, then didn’t reply to a couple of emails. I reached out and didn’t hear back, so I left it (then never heard from her again). I considered an, “aren’t we good enough friends to have a discussion if something is bothering you?” email, but decided against it. There should be some mutuality in any relationship/friendship.

          • Mike says:

            Hi ‘A’:

            He’s 32, but he might as well be 10.

            I find men generally don’t know how to deal with their emotions so they either go silent or start a physical altercation because they’ve been conditioned to ‘suck it up and move on’ — at least my generation and older did.

            I like what you said about ‘mutuality in a relationship/friendship’. That’s what I had hoped would happen when I became an adult. None of these highschool games. It’s exhausting in my 30′s lol.

      • Getting it! says:

        Grizelda – it’s very easy to honestly not know what you’ve may have done to upset someone if that person doesn’t express anything to you.

        I had a friend who distanced herself from me twice in the last two years for some thing I had done that upset her – but I still don’t know what I did in either instance. I am not an inconsiderate person.

        On the last instance, I realised that this friend is mentally tallying up my what she perceives to be my misdemeanours. I totally get that we’re different people but I realised how stressful it would be to spend time with her and have no idea of when I could put another foot wrong that would cause her to avoid me again. To make it easier for her, I asked her the question directly but still didn’t get any clarification. So, I ended the friendship. It was tough (I do miss her) but it was definitely the right thing for me to do.

        • Elgie R. says:

          Getting it, the only thing you did was annoy her by being yourself. People will hate on you for being friendly, or cheerful, or well-liked, or pretty, or good at your job…..none of which needs to be changed. And they love to keep you in the dark about what “you did” because they know it bothers you more than them.

          Flush. It is the right thing for YOU.

          • Getting it! says:

            Thanks, Elgie :)

            It’s just hard because if I’d known what bothered her then I would have tried not to do it and then we could keep the friendship. I would have tried my best to be considerate of her but I wasn’t given the chance.

            I thought we were each one of each others closest friends. I guess I was wrong about that.

  10. lola says:

    this is an issue I have with my sister and my H. My H is learning that he’s classic passive aggressive (partly why he had an affair too – to ‘get me back’ for some slight he thought I’d committed, amongst other things) and that if he has an issue it’s unhealthy to not mention it, fume and then let the fuming pop out somewhere else. How am I supposed to know what I’ve done if he doesn’t tell me?
    the issue with my sister is more complicated. I made a mistake recently and inadvertently offended by niece. but my niece didn’t say anything (she’s 20) but my sister weighed in. I apologised and also apologised to my niece. what followed I can only describe as bullying. my niece went onto all her social networks with crap like ‘sticks and stones’ comments and basically seeking sympathy and outrage from her friends who otherwise wouldn’t have known of what I’d done. my sister hasn’t spoken to me since my apology and continues to shun me. recently the two of them sent me a late night link to something offensive because they had discovered through other members of the family that I had a new job. my sister was offended that she didn’t know of it (No shit!).
    I have no idea how to deal with this. I have apologised sincerely and that also turns out to have been wrong. I think they’re being childish now.

    • Allison says:

      What did you do?

    • JustHer says:

      Your “H” – I presume husband? – is acting childish. It is about time he learnt about the importance of communication. Two adults in a relationship need to be able to discuss and sort our problems in a healthy way – passive aggressive is not the way forward, maybe you should communicate this to him?

      As for your sister, she also needs to realise that is she continues not talking to you and snubbing you, you are hardly encouraged to tell her good news! Given that, I don’t know what you actually may have done, but the situation also warrants some good communication! Honestly, honey it often just comes down to people talking it out.

      • Tinkerbell says:


        Your husband didn’t go out and have an affair “to get back at you”. Please try to understand that much.

        • lola says:

          I beg your pardon? why the patronising ‘please try to understand that much’ comment? passive aggressive yourself or what?
          I said PARTLY why and ‘amongst other things’. did you not read that bit?

          As I well know he had an affair for very very many reasons. very little of it had anything to do with me.

          we are still together after alot of very hard work and he has gradually learnt to grow up and stop putting responsibility for his life and happiness onto everyone else except himself.

  11. Strongerinthebrokenplaces says:

    This speaks to me because I am a people pleaser that keeps her mouth shut and smiles wjilecseething and plotting revenge. I kiss ass to try to get the other person to think “she is too sweet to hurt, I should stop my horrible behavior and show her how important she is to me”. What I end up getting though is treated like shit and disregarded right up until I blow up and all hell breaks loose. Then I become the monster with no limits or boundry and a mouth that slices better than a chainsaw. It leaves me and my freind /lover/stranger at the DMV wounded deeply. I am so shamed that I do not speak up at the time with the wisdom and tact of a grown women. The scared child in me is is so strong! I will have to practice the adult approach and save a lot of folks drama .

    • Penelope-Pitt's-Thoughts says:

      Yes, my child self gets scared as well, but sometimes so does my adult self, and my child self takes over, and defends, protects…while my adult self is ….

      I’m finding myself asking ME where did my adult self go, these situations are too much for a child to handle.

  12. Grizelda says:

    Conscience and consideration, like empathy, are things that people either have or they don’t have. Some can pretend to have it for short-term gains. Others tell all sorts of stories about all the times they were considerate/empathic to other people (hoping you’ll believe them and assign those nice traits to them). But if it’s missing from their personality chemistry, it’s never going to magically appear.

    I was on the tube in a part of the city yesterday where I never really go. A couple stations along, who should climb aboard and sit down opposite me but about 4 metres to my right? Mr Dangerous Assclown Psychopath, after a year and two months of no contact. Thankfully I clocked him first, before he even sat down completely, and I buried my full attention into typing stuff into my smartphone. After five seconds of going rigid with shock and stress, I realised… hang on. I felt nothing at all. Nothing. No heart-wrenching sorrow, no stomach-churning desperation. None of it. All I felt was a bit of mocking disgust for him. Cripes. Is that it, I thought? Pathetic.

    While I remained deeply fascinated typing something to someone with my phone, I realised from the edge of my field of vision that he finally clocked me– because all at once he started making obvious and overwrought attempts to catch my attention. He crossed his long legs exaggeratedly towards me and waggled his left foot that was pointing at me, waggle, waggle, waggle, waggle, waggle. (“Yooo-hooo!”) And then some more waggling. Then some more. When I didn’t break off from typing this amazing thing into my phone while periodically smiling a little, he slumped down, uncrossed his legs and splayed them straight out across the entire aisle — literally til they were touching the opposite row of facing seats. Then he half folded his legs and then shoved them straight out again, banging his heels on the floor (“plop plop these are my legs, have you noticed my legs yet?”). No response from me, I’m deeply engrossed typing with gusto at the time (which was actually a bunch of nonsense I was banging into the notepad). Only a couple more stations to go til home, so he folded his legs up again and crossed them exaggeratedly, then uncrossed them, then crossed them again (“aren’t you noticing all this commotion going on over here?”). Obviously he had ants in the pants. Or crabs, maybe. He might as well have pulled out a kazoo, stuck it in his mouth and started playing Dixie on it, he was so obvious in his attention-seeking. So there’s one more station and he’s running out of time to make me notice him, so he uncrosses his legs and SLAPs the floor with one of his feet. Waits a moment, then slap-SLAPs the floor once with each foot. No response from me, I’m way too amused by whatever I’m typing, probably a hot n sexy love letter to someone special, right? The train pulls into his station, the doors open, and he gets up dramatically, flapping his coat behind him, exits the door. The doors close. The train and I leave him behind.

    This has had me giggling from time to time for the last 24 hours. What a complete jerk. He wanted me to notice him, why exactly? For what reason? And why was he acting like a seven year old, waving his legs around trying to interrupt my field of vision and stamping his feet so that I look up and see him?Because he wouldn’t have wanted to speak to me or acknowledge me — the whole point of the exercise of getting me to look up and notice he was there so that he could be seen NOT acknowledge me and to test what I would do. He probably imagined that I would get a rush of feelings or something. Maybe hoped to see an upset, wistful or sad expression on my face. What the hell kind of behaviour is that? It’s the behaviour of someone who just doesn’t flipping GET IT. Someone who is so mentally and emotionally immature that he severely lacks the capacity for considering other people and understanding them as human beings. That’s it. The behaviour is there and it never changes. Ever.

    • Revolution says:


      Girrrrrrl. God I loved that comment. From beginning to end. Glad to hear you’re still alive out there and delivering the snark. We need our soldiers fighting the fine fight. ;)

      By the way, I have to admit to a little disappointment: in the States, “clocking” someone means punching their lights out. I assume you are a Brit (ahem, “tube” and all…) and so you aren’t alluding to this definition of terms when you say you “clocked” the assclown when you saw him.


      • Grizelda says:

        Haha, yes I did fantasise about punching him (‘lamping him’ in our parlez)! But watching him in the very edge of my vision making a complete ass of himself was too good a show to interrupt. The few others in the carriage must have thought he needed the toilet badly or something. God I very nearly corpsed when he stamped his foot.

        Ladies (and Gents!) – all I can say is that it’s as if Christmas has come early. This No-Contact rule, stopping the self-blame, identifying and avoiding self-damaging thoughts and actions, knowing how to cope with bad emotional overload, and understanding the weird and unconscionable behaviours of those with personality disorders (and how to seal off those people from your life) — all the topics and methods and perspectives that Natalie talks about — they’re true. They work. She’s right. Everyone here is getting it right or on their way to doing so. Do the rational brain-work, and the heart will definitely follow. Turning that corner is a great thing to do.

        Hope all the puzzle pieces are fitting for you too Rev.

        • simple pleasures says:

          Grizelda, so nice to have you back with your lively posts! I commend you for your resistance at contact, but you are totally “there” now. I have avoided eye contact for 10 months now. The rational brain work is in full force, the heart is following too, but a bit slower than I would like as he was my father figure and had a powerful grip. We are in the same room once a week (I feel for Noquay big time too)and he makes flamboyant gestures, verbal outbursts all in an effort to be dazzling and rebellious to the group. Nobody knows our history, but from comments other have made about his beviour, they say things like, mathprof is “really weird” and a kinder comment, “do you know the mathguy? He’s the goofy one”…to think I was madly in love with the clown.

      • NoMo Drama says:

        I have heard “clocking” used in the US in the sense of ‘stealthily noticing’ something or someone.

    • JustHer says:

      This is hilarious! I can just visualise the entire commotion from this attention-seeker!

      And that too after over a year of NC! What does he think you noticing him will do this time!??

      Awkward situation though, the chances of this happening are so slim, that I’m surprised you didn’t go into shock! Well done, honey!

      Also, Rev, hahahaa as much as I wish that she had thumped him, clocking means realising someone is there and noticing them. Pity indeed. ;)

      • Grizelda says:

        Yes I wondered that too, JustHer — what the hell did he want from me? All I can think is: a reaction. Just a reaction. He wanted to reassure his selfish ego that he’s still affecting me. That would have made him feel important and profound. And, as a psychopath with no emotional capacity beyond the neolithic ones of envy, rage, superiority, lust, jealousy and boredom, he just wanted to see some kind of complex human emotion happen. In much the same way as a scientist puts chemicals together and heats them up, expecting to witness objectively — through the glass safety hood — all the smoking, burning, colourful flares and explosions that he just caused. Well I’m glad I poured cold water over him and his stupid antics metaphorically. And then he had to walk out in the pouring cold rain literally.

        • Stuck says:

          You know ‘this’ is interesting: you survived NC, which is great, well done, but you seem overly ‘involved’ with this guy; I mean you wrote an entertaining story about him, and you’re still talking about him, psychopaths, etc. Sorry, but he did get your attention; you just didn’t tell him about it. And sorry, you don’t really know what he’s thinking. I’m not judging you, mind you. I don’t know you, and…. I’m really projecting because, lately, I’ve been writing a great deal about my ex-AC , telling stories about what happened, and I’ve been thinking to myself at some point I need to close the chapter and let go of him for good. Some of us here are still talking about the same AC, and how he/she screwed us over years ago…, and I wonder, maybe we’re hurting ourselves by keeping the AC alive in our minds. I don’t know what I’d do if I saw my AC on the “tube,” or if I had to work with him every day, but at some point I’d want to be able to find closure, and move on with my life…reach some point of ‘indifference.’

          How long do we need to allow these AC’s to take up head space in our minds?

          They just aren’t that special.

          • simple pleasures says:

            Well, Griz and I are currently surviving NC, and I admit I was
            overly “involved” for… 7 years over a lifetime, I was deeply in love. And occasionally I still talk about him, (only on BR) because he DOES get my attention every week through my peripheral vision. And yes, I’d like to let go of him for good,
            reach the point of indifference.
            If I saw him on the tube today, I would respond exactly as Griz, and like her , pat myself on the back for my success. There is still some hurt residuals because they are still in our
            minds. It is a mystery for me how we can become apathetic and indifferent to someone we had great attraction to and great affection for.

          • Getting it! says:

            Stuck – I think Griz’ story is great because while she is noticing him she is controlling herself. I can’t remember Grizelda’s back story – but, just going by the general tone of many stories of struggle around self control in the presence of some not very nice people, it is probably a massive improvement because she was able to observe him AND manage herself at the same time.

            Certain people, for whatever reason, do take up a lot of our brain space – but as long as there is progression (i.e. moving on from ‘woe is me’ to ‘you go, girl!’) it’s cool. There’s a certain person I ‘dated’ many years ago who doesn’t take up a lot of my brain space these days but whom I wouldn’t stand in the same room with under any circumstances.

            Am I indifferent to him? No, I’ll probably never be indifferent to him because there are too many weird emotions tied up with him. But, I’ve moved on from him and the experience and I learned my lessons. It is what it is.

        • A says:


          I think he saw you and wanted some kind of interaction, but was too immature to just speak to you like a normal human being….instead he had to act like a 2 year old and stomped his feet in the hopes that you would notice him and be forced to make the approach. It’s kind of entertaining that the lack of effort by these guys even extends to saying hello! (Not that you wanted to hear it!)

  13. blueberry girl says:

    I just had a very unpleasant experience with this issue this past weekend. My Mr Unavailable/Wounded Separated Man chose to come to my child’s sporting event and proceed to hit/chat up a woman right in front of my face. I was filled with anguish and jealousy, but I’m back together with my husband after a brief split, and as soon as he realized this, he made a beeline for another woman. He had an opportunity for a relationship with me & rejected it. I felt I couldn’t say anything because he is single (albeit separated), I’m reconciled with my husband but the fact that he chose this setting to act so disrespectfully only confirms my decision to opt out of a very unhealthy dynamic. There’s no way that I would be able to express this to him; my only response is to continue pushing forward and rebuilding my life without him.

  14. Penelope-Pitt's-Thoughts says:

    I tried to talk about the elephant in the room before our big “hand bags at dawn,” but he either didn’t get it, or didn’t want to get it, and I remember feeling uncomfortable about the elephant, a bit lost.

    I started to second guess my values and beliefs. I remember thinking: well, you know you aren’t ‘normal’; something is ‘wrong’ with you after all, so maybe his behavior is normal for ‘normal’ people; maybe YOU are making a big deal out of nothing, so you better not tell him how you feel because he’ll figure out the truth about you. You don’t want to blow your chance at a normal, healthy relationship, do you?–”one false move”

    Funny though, somehow, I opened up to him, I ventured into vulnerability, and I told him, “this is who I am, and this is my limit,” but I didn’t take the ‘vulnerability’ far enough and say “when you do this I don’t like it, and it makes me uncomfortable and it isn’t what I want; I want and need this from you.” Idk, I just couldn’t find the words. Yes, I didn’t want to be rude, and also because I didn’t get I had a right to feel uncomfortable with his behavior in the first place, and I didn’t get that that right alone was enough to enforce MY boundary. I guess I was waiting for an angel to come out of the sky and tell me that boundary 101 of Section 8a of the Moral Code was ‘right,’ and I could go ahead and enforce it. … seeking external validation.

    Also, I think I was afraid of the truth; I knew his behavior was a problem, an addiction or a lifestyle choice, it didn’t really matter; either way, he was going to have to decide if he wanted to change the behavior, and then change it, and I know how hard it is to change, cue to the elephant.

    Anyway, like I said, he didn’t get it; he told me I wasn’t who I thought I was; he tried to define me, and it really hurt me when he did that because I felt dishonored, disrespected, and unheard, and I felt like a weak idiot who had just opened herself up for nothing.

    Then, I began to feel manipulated by him because he continued the same behavior that made me feel uncomfortable, and yes, I couldn’t take it anymore because the behavior escalated, and so I was rude to him; I was disrespectfully honest, (and, it’s almost as if I felt I had to get angry at him before I could justify my right to let him know I was uncomfortable with his behavior…er, was like trying to justify my ‘right’ to assert my boundaries by getting angry at him because that was the only way I would feel comfortable enough to….)

    … and that’s when he lost his temper. And there were just too many hand bags unloaded on me, and there was noooo way in heck I was going to apologize to him because, yes, it would take the focus off of his behavior and put it on my behavior.

    I think the focus should have been on both of our behavior, but if you slap someone in the face, and they turn around, take out a gun and shoot you in your face, no, it’s pretty much game over…impossible to resolve. “Hey, I’m sorry for slapping you in the face.” What the what? I was rude, but dude, you attacked me.

    Sometimes when I get fed-up or tired or frustrated or triggered or lazy…, I can be insensitive, …curt…mean…thoughtless, disrespectful, tactless, and rude, passive aggressive…I tease people–not cool. I’ve been told I have a strong negative affect on other people when I’m in this ‘mode.’ My friends tell me to pull my energy back and think more before I open my mouth. I’m truly blessed to have some strong men and women in my life who have honestly, respectfully broken it down for me, and Natalie this post really resolved it for me, and I THANK YOU. :o

    I’m committed to respectfully dealing with issues and conflicts. I’m striving to improve this bad behavior on my part. I’m happy to own it, and I’ll do better in my relationships.

    The urban dictionary defines tact as tact is a quality and respect, because being an asshole and acting negatively towards others is 100 times easier than making a positive contribution.

    Eh, maybe the a$$hole part is a bit disrespectfully honest, but it helps me get it. ;)

  15. Pauline says:

    If someone is disrespecting me, being rude, having sly digs at my expense I don’t let it slide anymore.
    They get an instant response and not always polite much to their surprise.
    As far as I’m concerned most adults know what they are doing and saying, there’s no real excuse for their poor behaviour.
    I have a ‘friend’ who is very loud and aggressively points out other peoples shortcomings, including mine, at social gatherings calculated to get the maximum ‘exposure’ as she doesn’t behave like this when it’s only a few friends having a coffee. So, she knows what she is doing. I don’t pull any punches with her anymore, I’ve tried being polite which hasn’t worked, so now she gets a full on slap down which is working. I really don’t like having to be like that, it makes me feel sick to my stomach.
    The alternative of putting up with other peoples crap and boundary busting makes me feel even worse. I made a promise to myself to stop the people pleasing, being a doormat and do something when my boundaries are busted.
    It is getting easier.

    • Little Star says:

      Pauline, I like your approach, good for you to putting your friend in her place, so next time she will be more careful what she says and how she behaves! I rid off my best friend recently after 15 years, I used to put up with her for so long and tried to understand her problems (single Mum with Autistic son) but after her rude message and calling me a c&&& because I could not babysit her son! I answered the same manner but without swearing, and I decided never talk to her again, I just have had enough! I do not need friends like that and to be honest happy that I finally told her off;)

      • Allison says:


        She called you a C! That’s horrible!

        Good riddance!

        • Tinkerbell says:

          Little Star,

          I’m so glad you did that! Flush her down the drain, honey. Friends like that you DO NOT NEED. That’s showing maximum disrespect to call you such a disgusting name over a matter such as that. She sounds like a real B—-. Whatever problems she has, nothing can justify what she said to you.

          • Little Star says:

            Thank you Tink, your support means a lot to me x I work full time and I have obly couple of days off and sometimes I just cannot help, as the little boy is special and he needs professional person to look after him;(

        • Little Star says:

          Allison, yes, she did! I had NC twice, once ONE YEAR and another one for four months, I thought she would learn, but she did not! I just could not take any longer and I decided to cut her off from my new exciting life;) Thanks to Natalie and her posts, I realised that I do not need all this madness, not only with my two ACs but with some friends too!!!

      • Pauline says:

        Little Star,
        Good for you! It sounds like she got a bit pissed when the free baby sitting didn’t eventuate. You don’t need people like that in your life. She’s not your friend. Keep flushing!

    • Allison says:


      Good that you put the bully in place!

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Yaaaay! You go, Pauline. Whether she is addressing you directly or being an obnoxious a– in a group, somebody needs to speak up and slap her down. Maybe she’ll start to think for a minute before opening her big mouth.

  16. Tracy says:

    When we deal with people with personality disorders, it’s very hard to understand how they lack in empathy. It’s mind-boggling. Just these week I had to be in court with my ex, again, over his failure to provide financially for his children (he hasn’t seen them in 3 1/2 years, got the court to allow him to NOT help pay for college, and was trying to weasel out of the $12,000 he owed in unpaid child support). He actually showed his ass up to court, dressed like a homeless man (the court wasn’t buying his act), and was found in contempt. While this may sound like a victory, the MOST amazing thing to me was that in the 3 hours we had to spend in the same room he NOT ONCE asked about his children. No “how are they?”, “How are they doing in school?” or “Tell them hello for me.” Nothing. It boggles my mind, yet it just goes to show what Nat has said…you can’t expect everyone to have a conscience.

    • Grizelda says:

      Astonishing, Tracy — when you stand back and look at it in the way that you have, yep you see it all there in front of you. There’s no point in applying normal empathic values to those people. No point in saying ‘ooh maybe he’s just embarrassed, maybe he’s just afraid of his deep love for the children, maybe he’s hurting too…’. Rubbish. He can’t be embarrassed, he can’t feel deep love for anything at all, he can’t be hurt emotionally because all of those things require empathy, conscience, emotion, etc. He has none of the wiring, chemicals, human equipment, whatever, to experience anything of the kind. However what he does possess is a cunning understanding of how to stir such emotions in empaths, and how to manipulate that to his own benefit. The situation you witnessed is a prime example of the weird sort of ‘you must feel sorry for me and give me what I want and deserve, you revolting emotional human-types’ double-headed cartoon characters they are.

  17. Agoria Paige says:

    Oooooooh this used to be me. Hard body, as they say. I’ve spent a few years on my own, and have since learned to speak up for myself, and have even developed a very low tolerance for people trying to wipe their feet on me like a doormat. And once again, this article comes right on time in my life, as I’ve just had to tell someone off for being crazy inconsiderate, and although I did second guess it and go along with it for a little while, I recognized these behaviors from past relationships (inconsiderate behavior, denial, gaslighting, actions not matching words, I’m not a priority until I’m gone, etc.) where I hung around entirely too long. And because two and a half years is not enough to undo a lifetime of a doormat lifestyle, I even apologized afterwards for it, firstly because I felt out of character, and secondly because I felt chastised by his minimization of the whole thing.

    The conclusion I came to today, after praying on it (and even shedding a few tears of self-pity over not being able to find a decent, well-meaning guy) was that I needed to be more respectful of the intelligence of others. Not because this idiot knows best–he doesn’t. But with intelligence comes responsibility, and if he’s nearly as smart as he seems to think he is (and then half-that for as smart as he says he is), then he knows how inconsiderate he’s being. He knows that all of this affects me. And even if he doesn’t, he sees my reactions to all of this, and he hears me explaining myself and how I feel, and explaining my reactions to his behavior when he pretends not to understand, and at *that* point, he would have known. It’s not that he (or she or whoever it is) doesn’t know–it’s that he doesn’t care! So I’ve decided that rather than hang around for an opportunity to needle him with my passive aggressive energy, or wait with baited breath for him to realize what a jerk he’s being, I’m going to treat him like the intelligent guy he is, and even one better–like the intelligent guy he THINKS he is, and not only hold him responsible for his actions and demand respect for myself, but leave him be! Because he does NOT need me to sit around and baby him and make excuses for him when he, as a grown man near his thirties, is perfectly capable of making his own decisions, whether it be to pull disappearing acts and press the reset button or acting in a way that’s considerate to me and others. It gives me perspective, and seriously cuts down on that period after the fact when I’d be waiting around for him to feel some measure of remorse. I have better things to do, and so do you! LOVE this article! Thanks Nat!!!

  18. Elgie R. says:

    I won second place in a department Halloween costume contest, and the P/A administrative assistant mis-spelled my name as “Ellen” in the publicity department wide e-mailing. I was pee-ohed that my name was wrong since I strongly feel it was not an accident…decided to let it go, rationalizing ‘the people in this department know my name’…then realized I was still thinking about it 5 minutes later. So I emailed the P/A saying “Who’s Ellen? My name is Elgie.” To which she replied “Oh, i’m sorry!” with a chagrined smiley face. To which I replied “Apology accepted.” She did not open my reply email until the next work day.

    Next time I saw her she apologized saying she was so concerned about getting my last name right, she messed up the first name…ha ha ha. We were in the lobby and two other people were there. I replied “But the publicity mail went out with the wrong name…ha ha ha”. %itch.

    I am very glad I addressed her behavior and I thank BR for teaching me that it is OK..even mandatory…to address things that nag at you. I’d probably be feeling angst over her slight and giving fake smiles to her had I not addressed it.

  19. noquay says:

    The at work AC does a low level version of this every week at our meetings. He will sit next to me, always try to interject something into the agenda last minute, always wanting to have the last word when I speak. He always used to make a show of checking his phone for messages during the meeting, presumably those from latest conquest(s) because he is notorious for blowing off students. I have started checking my messages if he sits next to me, thoughtfully scrolling up and down, nodding my head etc. Probably ought not to dothis as I am the one that runs the meeting. He was kinda flirting with another new employee before one of these meetings while I am setting up the room and she said “you are so sweet”; he laughed and said “Noquay probably would not agree with you”. I looked up, gave him my very best piercing Blue Stare (a dark chick with bright blue eyes can do a REALLY good piercing stare) and sweetly said “and why, pray tell, would that be”; he found something else to do really fast. Griz, I too thought you’d decked him when you used the term “clocked”.

    • Grizelda says:

      Noquay I can’t imagine how irritating he must be for you on a daily basis. “Noquay probably would not agree with you” — oh what a clown of the ass. How inappropriate to advertise at work that he and you ‘have previous’ and also insinuate that people should feel sorry for him because you don’t hold him in highest esteem. Probably for a reason which he pretends is a complete mystery.

  20. noquay says:

    This douche doesn’t pldeserve to breathe the same air as you. While it probably is a good thing he hasn’t seen his own children in a long time as he sounds as though he is a horrid role model, how in Hades could someone not wish to care for their own flesh and blood?! Unfriggin believable.

  21. espresso says:

    Briliant post. I probably wasn’t as good as it as I thought I was but I got completely WORN DOWN trying to “bring up” issues where my ex husband (long long term marriage) broke my boundaries, didn’t show empathy respect or appreciation. I tried everything – you know, the “I messages”, the giving support before I named my distress, showing HIM consideration, empathy and appreciation, talking about his “problems” ad nauseum (always the victim) initiating and going to therapy, reading books and learning and trying to apply problem solving techniques overseen by therapists. It was hopeless. His blocking, attacking, guilting, blaming and deflecting techniques were far too sophisticated for me and I just didn’t understand the totality of this or how “good” he was at the game. Natalie once said that he always played the victim and would attack furiously until he could re-assume that role (the self esteem course…fantastic). Now that I see this clearly it blows my mind how much how he always does this …for everything.

    No matter how much you confront a person or bring up things that distress you, even in the best way possible it doesn’t fundamentally do any good if the person doesn’t want to or sees no point in your perspective and doesn’t really care about what you say. My ex confused me because he always said he did. It is bewildering to get those mixed messages and over the years, while my gut just screamed, I became numbed out by my confusion.

    So I didn’t take the only action that was open to me which was leaving the marriage much earlier even though I wanted to. There were so many reasons (my own sense of self, my being confused, my kids and my financial insecurity) that kept me around. Thinking back now, I think it would have destroyed the family because he would have been an ac the whole time. Now it is only me dealing with it.

    But my counsellor said something that really hit home for the first time this week..that is, that I BLAMED MYSELF for not being able to get my ex to “see” that he was incongruent and that he wasn’t treating me with love, care and respect. And I STILL have aspects of that when he treats me poorly in our business relationship – what is wrong with me that I can’t manage this person, that it makes me sick to confront him or to bring things up when I have been well schooled in how distressing this is. It is like being emotionally tasered and I am not kidding so I just do not see any value in doing any of it anymore which leads to me not wanting to have any contact at all with him in the future, even for business reasons because by not bringing up poor treatment I have been silenced again. Anyway, I think I am finally getting that even if I had been perfect perfect perfect in every way I never would have been treated in the way I deserve as a person. Natalie wrote a good post on this before, “It’s not about you” but I don’t think I totally got this until now.

    Sort of thinking aloud here but I guess what I am saying is….ending relationships is the only solution.

    I really also relate to the comment about being rejecting you when they have done a wrong to you. I have had that happen to me a few times in my life.. “People who have wronged YOU sometimes never forgive YOU.” Even though you were the victim… doesn’t make sense but it happens.

  22. noquay says:

    Yep, as latest conquest lives in another town and the pass is closed, making the trip 3x as long, he is probably in need of another chick to massage his lil ego and he is pretty much limited to new hires. Unfortunately this woman is now really distant towards me. Another potential friend lost due to him-sigh. I’ve got my interaction with him down to once a week at these meetings. He needs to regain two years worth of lost credibility and respect caused by essentially not doing his job. At this same meeting, he had been given a project to work on and he asked if anyone wanted to help him; absolute silence. Since there was an attempt last year to force him into accountability that resulted in crackdowns on those of us doing our jobs and lots more, he is experiencing a lot of resentment. Th
    He is probably looking for another ego stroke; latest conquest lives in another town and the pass has been closed, greatly increasing commute time. He has to befriend a new hire because he has burned so many bridges here. At one of these meetings he asked if anyone would like to help him on a project he was assigned to – utter silence. Since we have all been sort of collectively punished for his lack of followthrough and work ethic, most of us just want him gone. Unfortunately the women he was telling this to now treats me a tad cooly-sigh. Deja vu. I have noticed since I called him on his behavior, he now approaches, unavailable women, married or partnered in some way. Luckily I have to deal with him only once a week most of the time although there is some overlap in our respective teaching fields.

  23. noquay says:

    There are a good many reasons why these AC s continue to constipate our brains: often they not only emotionally but also financially devastate one. Think of Tracey trying to get back paid child support. Espresso and the loss of a business. Due to the cowardly actions of my grad advisor, I lost a job, a first author publication record (absolutely necessary for science PhDs), my marriage, the ability to remain in my home area, being plunged into poverty and threats against my life. Major stuff whose effects alter careers, totally change lives and future opportunities. Two: proximity. If you have kids together and/or shared a home, still live in the same town, they’re in your personal space. You run into them in the tube, here in this small town, you run into them in the grocery, post office, restaurants, parties, events. Also you run into folks who were or are both your and their friend. As I was lonely, vulnerable, and stupid enough to respond to the advances of a colleague, I run into him at work, college wide events along with his current and past conquests. This is why I now adopt a strict policy about any men I date living far away so that should it go south, I never need see them again. The last point: it ain’t fair and we want justice. The majority of us on this site are older and women who seem very alive, vibrant, bright, insightful, mostly healthy. When the relationship ends, which true, may often be a good thing, the other party, if male, quickly finds another that suits his fancy; we don’t. As women, particularly successful ones, demographics are not in our favor. It doesn’t matter how much you do the personal work, heal, improve your self image, get out there, often your only choices are to settle for a guy that is not even close to what works for you or resign yourself to be alone. I am talking not so much about physical attraction (also important) but stuff like being financially stable and responsible, taking care of ones health and dealing with, rather than attempting to hide, major health issues, being up front about relationship issues, general integrity. We wind up wit”less than” or we wind up alone. True, we should be able to function perfectly well alone but we are also sexual and social beings who crave love and affection just as much as anyone else. Justice: so we watch our respective ACs ride off into the sunset with their latest, often taking a good many of our mutual friends with them. Like Nat said previously, these folks often land on their feet, again and again while you struggle to regain composure, some sort of life, often financial solvency all of which may take years or perhaps you never do get back close to where you were. The friend I alluded to in a previous post having a similar issue to Tinkerbells ex, had been brutally attacked seven years ago. The perp was acquitted due to lack of evidence. My friend has thousands in medical and attorneys bills, will never be 100% healed, while the perp got to skate scot free due to a wealthy background anda team of lawyers. My ffriend still seeks justice years later, I don’t blame him. Nope, life ain’t fair but we surely wish it were and it would be a lot easier to move on if it were.

  24. Tinkerbell says:

    Hi Noguay,

    You speak of these other women treating you cooly. Is it because YOU know there was something between the two of you once upon a time, or because he’s been running his mouth about you? Or is it a little bit of both? I just ask because your r/l with him is quite some time ago, now. I guess in your environment of such close proximity, mix of cultures, lifestyles etc. A few years can seem like only 6 months. Am I right?

    Your posts always amaze me and I have to admire how someone in the “so-called, civilized” US would actually choose to live such a primitive lifestyle when you could easily do better, well not “better” but differently. I know you’ve explained the reasons why you’re stuck there logistically speaking for now. I hope some day you will move to another environment that you can enjoy equally without such isolation and lack of compatible individuals intellectually and spiritually. I think it becomes critical as we age. You’re a tough one though, girl. Be happy, and good luck. (Hugs), Tink.

  25. Tinkerbell says:


    I completely agree with dating a guy who is some distance away, for the same reason. Deep in my subconscious, I was thinking about the “at work AC” and the fact that you HAVE TO SEE HIM. That’s why I said I hope that eventually you will be relocating to a more populous environment where you have at least more of a choice from the male population. Petie is 2hrs away and with his condition to boot? What was I thinking? He’s a friend, and that’s all it can ever be. So sad to hear of your friend who was so brutally attacked. That’s just evil. They must have been lovers?

  26. Peanut says:

    Conflict is a day to day occurrence. You’ve gotta get used to it. When you do you transcend the headache. Fun, friendships and love can arise out of conflict. And, yes, so can endings and fights and drama. Even on the drama end, we always have the choice how much to engage.

    With my education and career move, I experience conflict all day, erry day. In the arts if there was no conflict, it would be boring as hell. There would be no innovation, growth, or substantial dialogue. Conflict spurs growth; growth spurs evolution. We need it. Without conflict we’d all be infantile walking dead. Life would be pointless. There would be no meaning. To anything.


  27. Lavender says:

    Love this post. Probably one of my all time favourites. What I find most relevant to a recent situation I went through with an incredibly rude and inconsiderate friend is the ignoring part. Why do they start to ignore you? Is it because they feel bad and if so, doesn’t that mean they are good people, just a bit socially incompetent?

    With this friend of mine, he was always late, always saying rude things to me, insulting me, making fun of me, acting better than me and then when I said something about it in a really kind way, I just said, I notice you are acting a bit strange with me lately, have I don’t anything to upset you? After that he has been really distant and not talking to me at all.

    Did I handle this the wrong way?

    • grace says:

      You handled it perfectly, he is very emotionally unavailable and unable to deal with any uncomfortable feelings, or likely any emotion. Hence the flippant behaviour and multi-women. I’m glad you got out of that. It’s best you just let this drop, you can do way better.

      • Lavender says:

        Thank you Grace. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for all the posts you’ve written to me and the guidance, it’s really helped me a lot.

  28. noquay says:

    I eventually will be in a less populous area near the shore of Lake Superior but without the negative stigma of this town and within safer driving distance of more progressive small cities. My dude is also 2 hours away and nope there was no relationship between them; she was in the same intentional community and is mentally ill. Just saw your earlier post. Although pretty well read, somewhat cultured, I am a serious outdoors woman and biologist. I don’t espouse the television and convenience life at all and have lived in the city/burbs and was miserable. I am a farmer and environmental activist, academia these days is just how I pay the bills.

    • Tinkerbell says:


      I understand. You have to be YOU no matter what. I was just hoping that eventually you’ll be in a better to position for the right man to mozy on by and the two of you form a deep,loving r/l. I’m such a romantic, I know but it becomes more of a priority the older we get. It will be exceedingly hard for you becuz men of your ilk are few and far between. But there’s always hope. xx Tink.

    • Wiser says:

      Noquay, I live on the shores of Lake Superior so I was wondering if your comment meant you are coming here sometime soon or were you speaking of after retirement? If you are in my general area, I would love to meet you if you’re interested.

  29. teachable says:

    I took action alright. Psycho mother banished to NC land, this time FOR GOOD. A huge relief. Very clear on why (has accused me of LYING abt being covertly sexually abused by two of her b.friends as a child – without asking any details of what happened even ie decided I was lying on the basis of ZERO knowledge of the facts, not even WHICH boyfriends I refer to, & also accused me of lying abt her physically assaulting me as a child after an episode of incest by a member my sisters fathers family as well as on other occassions. ie denies ALL physical abuse of me despite state records documenting this when I was very young! Also failed to show 1 iota of empathy care or concern tht when I finally just now, 31 yrs after the fact, found the courage to disclose tht the incest & sexual abuse had occurred).

    Moreover, when my mother involved my two aunts in making any of this their business (!) I confronted both & told them in no uncertain terms it is not. They were not in my life when any of these events occurred, & do not know ANY of what my mother has put myself or indeed my son through in life. One aunt was astute enough to stay out of it & the one who wasnt at first baulked & then was very apologetic. For the 1st time in my entire life SOMEONE in my family is giving a shit abt ME for a change. Neither here nor there to me. I’m quite happy to offload anyone else incapable of love & kindness! Ugh!!!

  30. teachable says:

    ps I dont mean to sound harsh. family.matters to me but iv never really had one & the little iv had has caused me deep pain & suffering. I now remind myself often. teach u were taken frm yr mother b.c she was threatening to MURDER u as a small child. I have vague recollections of sadistic events like psuedo attempts to do so before being permanently removed aged 3. I keep telling myself. The woman was going to MURDER YOU as an innocent defenceless child. She is NOT a mother. She is a MONSTER.

  31. noquay says:

    Wiser, where on the shore do you live? Real home is on the south shore. I go there on occasion when I can afford it and will retire there, at least that’s the plan thus far. I miss her.

  32. espresso says:

    Noquay…a great analysis. I think we are just a little “two early” in the evolving of men …well perhaps I am being optimistic. But really, don’t want to be negative because actually I am an open and enthusiastic person, but what I see around me after a relatively long life, that many men are quite lazy and feel entitled and don’t feel that they need to or even want to put much energy into relationships or their emotional development. Many of them are still in battles with their mothers and feel that women are too controlling. I look at my ex and he would SAY he is enklightened but really he is very thoughtless and really hasn’t done any hard work in the relationship or with ANY relationship for that matter.
    I run a research firm and a few months ago was directing focus groups with fathers and mothers who had recently separated (yeah, kind of ironical). The women gave a lot of thought to separating, their first priority was their kids and they immediately engaged with other women, groups, and services in order to cope and find inspiration and support. Men described themselves as being totally “unaware” there were problems in the marriage (and this was UNIVERSAL among the men) until the woman announced one day at breakfast they wanted a divorce AND they saw themselves as total victims, isolated, without support and lacking in skills after the separation….their major antidote was playing sports like taking up rugby or something. No questions asked about this!! A colleague kind of snorted when she heard these results and said, yeah well, how ARE men going to develop if they keep going along in the same way basing male friendships , not on real communication, engagement and mutual support and learning, but on “doing sports or projects together”. (not putting this down completely but should this be IT?) Not rocket science guys. Men have always been the masters and we have been the slaves…and even if a man is a comparative slave he has always had his “wife” to beat with the stick. This WAS our recent history and is still the reality for most women; it is no wonder that we struggle. And this is why I have always thought of BR as actually being revolutionary.

    • grace says:

      Don’t know if this will make you feel better or worse but I know more than a few men who are devoted to their wives, make sacrifices for them, do things for them and often/usually put their wives first.
      I’ve seen it up close so it’s not just a facade. Two of them are my brothers. In a way, when men genuinely love, it can be quite uncomplicated. They are very loyal.

  33. Jasmine says:

    Just broke up with someone after three months. After not knowing where I stand, being messed around changing dates, shady FB goings, exes female friends.
    He would never make time for me, I would initiate contact, we only saw each other once a week for about 4 hours, usually at his place when I stayed over. He made time for that. Sometimes he would be tired after going out with his friends or being up all night on the computer, and would try to get me in bed at 11 o’clock! He was snoring by 12! Then try and get rid of me quite early in the morning, making excuses doing his paperwork, seeing relatives but I knew he wasn’t. I didn’t see why we couldn’t hang out for a bit.
    I started to have doubts and he revealed even more red flags. One morning whilst I was still in bed, he was messaging on fb- who does that?! and he suddenly ran into the toilet with the computer which I thought was odd. I mentioned it looked weird and he said I needed to go to the toilet, I though why couldn’t he have just left it, unless there was something he didn’t want me to see. He came back and I said it looked a bit shifty but didn’t push it.
    I noticed posts on FB saying his female friends were ‘beautiful’ giving them compliments, searching for affirmation from them. “Oh you are so sweet”. The other thing which bothered me was he gave his ex a compliment saying she looked “stunning”, the day after we had first slept together. He apologised said that he wasn’t trying to get back with her, but wanted to remain friends.
    So after seeing each other and sleeping together for a few more weeks, there was still no sign of being ‘officially’ boyfriend and girlfriend which worried me to where I stood.
    One evening after I had got home, I sent him a message to tell him I had got back safely. I sent him a few songs and he made excuse that he was going out shopping. When he had had all day to do that. I said “it feels like you are trying to avoid me”. “I feel like you don’t pay me much attention afterwards”. He became quite angry with me, saying I should trust him. Even though I had initiated contact every time then he would lose interest, make excuses and seem distracted.

    This weekend we went out for dinner, then back to his place. Listened to some music and had some wine. He said he was keen to head to bed pretty soon, it was about 11. I still hadn’t finished my wine! Just started chatting about his previous relationships, if he had ever lived with them etc and then he changed. He would normally get upset when he spoke about his ex, which worried me somewhat. So I quickly changed the subject. I asked him where we stand and he said he sees us as ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’.
    Now he mentions he’s getting tired and would like to go to bed. I say but I still haven’t finished yet! Then he starts getting really annoyed, well I’m tired and want to go to bed and being quite demanding, I say I feel like you are just using me for sex. In hindsight I was a bit drunk and probably shouldn’t have said anything but I needed a reaction to understand where I stood. Then I was just under a complete barrage, he would not see sense, calm down or accept my apology. So he calls a taxi and sends me home!

    The next day he calls me saying I have previous relationship issues, I should take time out from dating as I’m not ready. I need to regain confidence, I’m paranoid and insecure and blow things up out of proportion. When he gave me reasons to doubt his integrity. He said I made him feel like an uncaring bastard who was just out for one thing. This was our first and last disagreement, seems a bit harsh to finish it like that. He said I can’t be with someone who acts like a spoilt child when I want to go to bed at a certain time. Or if I need to pop out for something.
    He comes across like a sweet, caring gentleman but I saw a very different side to him. Very melodramatic, intolerant, aggressive and argumentative. He was unwilling to compromise. He also deleted me from FB which was very mature!
    Anyone’s thoughts? Who’s overreacting here?

    • grace says:

      Boyfriend/girlfriend means different things to different people. Hell, wife/husband means different things to different people! Bottom line, he wasn’t kind to you, would not make any plans with you, didn’t initiate anything and was interested in other women. If you want to continue with that, he’s your guy. Otherwise, stay broken up.

  34. oc says:

    Most people don’t change the behavior for others. I’ve found at 38 its almost a waste of time to say anything to anyone about their behavior because its a take it or leave it deal with almost everybody.

    “I’m sorry” is an outdated phrase in this brave new world.

  35. noquay says:

    Yep, you are right; finding someone right for me, who respects my intellect and my lifestyle might nigh well be impossible at this stage of life. I was lucky when I was married; retired Dean who had a serious social and environmental conscience and took care of himself! Loved it that I was interested in homesteading loved to discuss books, that I hated TV. I have been doing a lot of reading on “rewilding”, really looking at what society will become post petroleum. Been following “the Archdruid Report, Wild ancestors, cluster@#$ nation, Farm Hack” and others. Since I am never going to settle, accept the “old maid who volunteers for everything but still craves real love” role, any sort of nun-like celibate life, I am seriously considering the “scorched earth” approach where once I retire to the vast north woods, I also retire from society. Perhaps my problem is constant exposure to a world where you are supposed to be, expected to be coupled while such is, for me, now unattainable. I do well on my own, have all sorts of living skills most don’t have, learn quickly. It is the trying to get “out there” in a world where yes, a good many men and society in general, have serious issues that are not being resolved. Its not being physically alone, it’s being alone in a crowd and the expectation of others that I be OK with this, the lack of closure, apology for crap behavior. Maybe I just don’t belong in society anymore, perhaps like many other large, wild mammals, I don’t do well in captivity.

  36. PurpleLily says:

    Im having a weird issues with someone I met while overseas – but have been emailing every 2-3 (or longer depending on what he’s got going on..uni, travel etc). At this point we are friends (nothing more had been discussed + I wont do LDR) but I do like him and I am very aware that as nice and deep as the emails might me, they arent F2F conversations.

    I sent him some cookies for his birthday from here – he was travelling on his birthday and replied to my “Happy Birthday” email with “I’ll tell you all about my trip as soon as I get a free evening :)” and “I think your mail has arrived, I cant wait to open it tomorrow!:)”… That was close to 2 weeks ago. No email so far. I know I sent it for him to enjoy, not to be thanked..but I cant help but feel annoyed. I think it is a bit rude to not even send a thank you?

    Hes never said or done anything in past that is inconsiderate or mean but again, I dont know the real person. Perhaps a thank you is coming, just not right away…but am I being too sensitive by wanting to hear a thank you within a couple of days for sending him something? I know my rules are not your rules are not his rules..but..

    I hate that Im thinking about stuff like “Did I say something weird in the note? Did he not like the cookies…?” AGH! I did a lovely thing and my mind still wonders about these things!

    • Jasmine says:

      Email contact isn’t enough to maintain a connection and given the distance, why waste your time. It may be nice to receive personal emails and feel like you are making a connection. But maybe he’s not as bothered as you are? Actions always speak louder than words. He has someone who sends him cookies for his birthday and he can disappear for 2 weeks, without thanking you and you will still be waiting around to hear for him? What are you hoping to receive in return?

      • PurpleLily says:

        Thank you Jasmine. So so true.

        Lately I have been wondering if this all a bit of a “waste of time” for him and maybe Im too little a fish for him to worry about? I do accept that I put in a lot more into this than he does and perhaps over 6 months of emails, he doesnt really bother as much anymore?

        I think this not hearing a thank you bit has really, really made me annoyed…(and angry and hurt). Im usually a happy, calm person and Ive been out of sorts since this happened. I hate that I feel this way, that someone can make me feel this way. But again, thats because I am putting a lot into this. I need to reassess this whole thing and my expectations and my attached hope to this and him.

        Thank you Jasmine :)

        • Jasmine says:

          No worries :) It’s not nice when people make you feel like that, but it’s best see it for what it is. You have to find out who’s worthy of your time and who isn’t.

        • Allison says:


          Ask yourself where this can go if he lives long distance?

          I also believe it to be very unappreciative that he has not thanked you properly. He is showing how much he values the friendship. I would cut him loose because if this starts early on, it only get worse.

          • Tinkerbell says:

            Purple Lily,

            You said in your initial post that you do not do LDR’s. But, this is exactly what you’re seeking, wouldn’t you say? The guy may be genuinely too busy and genuinely views you as a casual acquaintance only. When you think about it, how much more can it be? For me, if I’m entertaining romantic notions about a guy, emails hardly support those notions or sustain them. Forget him, and look for someone local.

            • Tinkerbell says:

              Also, Purple, HE DID respond to you after you sent the cookies. Maybe he didn’t specifically address receiving the cookies, but he didn’t completely ignore you either which could be MUCH WORSE.

  37. Elgie R. says:

    Purple Lily, you are desperately seeking validation, and you’ve cast your pen pal in the role of master validator, imo. Your words are saying that you see inaction on his part as some indictment against you – that you’re not good enough. You keep throwing little “see how nice I am” behaviors at him and waiting like a puppy dog for a return “good girl!”

    He could be feeling a little smothered. He could really just want a pen pal, not a full on relationship.

    I don’t think he owes you an immediate thank you. It would suffice for him to say thank you whenever you two exchange emails again.

    Consider the possibility that you have created a relationship in your head, and this irritation over a lack of response about your cookies is totally disproportionate.

    It seems to me that a lot of us jump to AC/EUM conclusions when maybe the guy just is not pursuing us because he has other things on his plate. Or he just wants casual. Or he thought you realized it was casual and he actually has real interest in some other person.

    We all know we should not be giving with expectation. But most people do give with expectation, which is why I rarely accept a drink from a guy at a pub….want to avoid all the hidden expectations. I also realized I am a codependent who felt betrayed by people who were not as nice to me as I was to them. Until I realized that they did not ask me to be so supernice, so why in the world do they owe me anything? That’s when I learned I needed to find – and exercise – my boundaries.

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