loneliness: sometimes the person you're missing is you

“I’m really lonely”, I’m often told either right before or after a painful story that loneliness is supposed to explain.

While sometimes I hear from people who are lonely and alone in the sense that they literally have nobody, I primarily tend to hear from people who are lonely due to a need for a specific type of company (a relationship in the general sense or a relationship that makes them feel X,Y, Z and does A,B,C and possibly ticks some dream boxes), or who just feel lonely due to the relationship they have with themselves – low self-esteem. In the latter situation it wouldn’t matter if they had one friend or a thousand because that sense of not having a place in the world and feeling inadequate would still exist.

I’ve heard from people who felt lonely and then sought out a relationship and then felt more alone than they ever have. Crumbs can leave you really hungry.

Loneliness is hard. It’s something that a lot of people struggle to admit to, especially when we are living in a time of parading faux friendships with follower and friend counts. I think that the way in which we keep in touch has also contributed a great deal to this sense of disconnect. Some people have got lazier as the opportunity to blame super-busy lives or hide behind technology has increased.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, you stop feeling connected to people with whom you used to have a lot in common. When your social circle lacks empathy about your divorce for instance or the break up of your long-term relationship, it’s as if they either don’t feel like they can attempt to ‘get it’ because they haven’t been through it or your changes throw a spotlight on their own relationships.

We don’t have to go through something though in order to empathise. We’ve all experienced loss in some shape or form.

Loneliness is a very real feeling but if you don’t seek to understand where it truly stems from as well as possibly understanding what may be some of your own isolating behaviour, you can end up soothing the feeling in an unhealthy manner and dependent on crumbs especially if regardless of say, your desire for a relationship, you don’t tend to treat you with love, care, trust and respect anyway.

When you don’t feed you and then somebody comes along and showboats with their crumbs, it can feel like finding water in the desert and it puts the other person’s efforts out of context.

The impact of online communication has a lot to do with the loneliness distortion that’s occurring. I regularly hear from spouses/partners who connect with their childhood / college ‘sweetheart’ (more like shiteheart…) on Facebook because they’re lonely in their marriages / relationships, possibly feeling neglected and also seeking to avoid difficult feelings, thoughts and situations. These exchanges provide a fantasy escape.

There are readers broken by involvements with people they’ve never met / seen or who they’ve only met on a handful of occasions but they’ve kept in touch by phone, text, email etc. These situations are surprisingly easy to fall into when you’re avoiding intimacy and protecting you from being vulnerable. These situations may feel like ‘home’.

The only reason why I felt comfortable with some fly-by-night dipping in and out of my life is because it’s all I’d known from my own father. On their return, it was as if, “Daddy’s home!” and of course I wasn’t going to show upset or raise any discussions as I didn’t want to ‘ruin the moment’ by being ‘immature’. The affair was probably my loneliest time – I felt isolated with the secrecy and my own torment.

Virtual connections and involvements with people who dip in and out or who just love a bit of loving from a distance can feel safe and they give a semblance of connectivity and yet eventually, someone will get ‘hungry’.

Mislabelling is also a problem though. People will say that they’re lonely for companionship, which is a sense of friendship and then get into a casual relationship (oxymoron alert), and because over time or even immediately it reveals itself not to be a genuine mutual relationship between friends or even lovers, they feel hurt. Of course they might want to get laid but they need the social connection even more.

Remember sexual intimacy isn’t the same as emotional intimacy and sexual interaction isn’t an automatic precursor to a relationship.

Loneliness is a very real feeling but if you tend to abandon you and suppress your own needs, wants and expectations (people pleasing), this is a chief contributor to why you feel lonely – you haven’t got your own back and you don’t know who you are or you do but either way you’re not representing. It feels damn lonely in these circumstances especially after whoever you’ve been doormatting for is no longer around – you haven’t got you or this person.

Make sure you’re not engaging in isolating behaviour. Common complaint: “I never meet people / I don’t get asked out on any dates Natalie!” I ask about their typical week – work, gym, supermarket, home, work, gym, supermarket, home, work, gym, see mother, home, work, go to the same social place and not really be doing anything that would look like openness and willingness to meet and engage with others, spend day at home, go to church, home and lather, rinse, repeat.

I suggest Meetup.com almost every day to readers, students and friends because it’s a great way of meeting people and trying new things / pursuing interests and hobbies in a group setting without the pressure of analysing the crap out of some dating situation. Sometimes I get, “I’m ‘too different’ to make new friends.” Look, I know we’re all unique but none of us are that unusual. Sometimes making out like we’re the type of person that’s very hard to know is a way of excusing ourselves from trying.

While some happen fast, most friendships take time. Despite what appear to be my extrovert ways, certain types of situations stress me out – like when my eldest daughter started school. After a firm talking to from Em about some of my ‘unfriendly’ behaviour, eighteen months on and I have friends in my neighbourhood!

Sometimes we expect everyone else to make the effort before we will, when in reality, being friendly is a two-way street with an element of risk on both sides.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a relationship but regardless of whether you’re in or out of one, you still have to be your own friend and you have to cultivate the things that you need, want and expect in your own life. Not all of these rest on another party. Having real connections with others is a very important part of your life and by having a healthy relationship with you and fostering healthy connections with others, it paves the way for moving closer to finding a romantic partner if that’s what you want.

Loneliness is one of those feelings where if you scratch the proverbial itch with the wrong scratcher, you will get temporary relief but the feeling will return until you scratch it with the right solution – healthy self-soothing. Until you’re clear on what you feel and why (try a Feelings Diary) and you address it in a healthy manner, the loneliness will increase not recede. This is why people who soothe their loneliness with crumbs feel worse not better, but they still end up bloated on the crumbs and believing that it’s all they can get / deserve.

Work out how you feel and why, make sure you know your own needs etc., and evaluate how you’re going to go about meeting those needs in a healthy manner. What does loneliness look like to you? Are you genuinely uncared for? Do you value the connections and life you do have? Is all of it about a romantic partner or are some of the things you’re feeling, thinking and needing about something else in your life? What is it that you miss and how can you drive this?

Your thoughts?

PS I saw some comments over the past few days about people who have kids essentially not making great friends because they abandon all of their single friends. Not true. I actually had periods of feeling lonely during maternity leave but I, like a lot of people I know, hang out with single, attached and non-parent friends. Three out of four of the godmother’s of my children are single!

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175 Responses to Don’t scratch the loneliness ‘itch’ with the wrong scratcher

  1. paolo says:

    This is an awesome post Natalie…Another one that read like your in my head. And I’m sure others will feel that way too.

    ”When you don’t feed you and then somebody comes along and showboats with their crumbs, it can feel like finding water in the desert and it puts the other person’s efforts out of context.

    There are readers broken by involvements with people that they’ve never met / seen or who they’ve only met on a handful of occasions but they’ve kept in touch by phone, text, email etc. These situations are surprisingly easy to fall into when you’re avoiding intimacy and protecting you from being vulnerable and when these situations feel like ‘home’.”

    Those two paragraphs really resonated with me..I told myself i weren’t gonna print no more of your posts cos the printouts are stacking up but damn it this one’s too good again.

  2. Spinster says:

    This whole post is great, but this part:

    Loneliness is a very real feeling but if you don’t seek to understand where it truly stems from as well as possibly understanding what may be some of your own isolating behaviour, you can end up soothing the feeling in an unhealthy manner and dependent on crumbs especially if regardless of say, your desire for a relationship, you don’t tend to treat you with love, care, trust and respect anyway.

    is the key to ensuring that loneliness doesn’t take over one’s life even more than when one was alone.

    • paolo says:

      I really liked that one aswell Spinster…I think it may be another classic from Natalie.

      • Tanzanite says:


        Thank you

        Natalie-I have to agree with Spinster and Paolo this really is a great post.

    • Tanzanite says:

      Hi Natalie/everyone

      Emotional intimacy,that is the cure for my loneliness.

      I have not had a good day today and have felt disconnected,so I text one of my friends to see if she would be in tomorrow and I would call round for a brew.She text back-

      ” ooooh yes i’ll be in after 1.30pm.Looking forward to seeing you xxx

      The lonely feeling left in an instant and I haven’t even seen her yet,so it’s nothing to do with actually being alone.I think we want to feel wanted and that we matter from the day we are born till the day we die.

      I have no emotional connection with my mother and felt like an outsider in my own family due to her favoritism and it wasn’t until my younger sister grew up that I found some emotional connection.We have a very good relationship.

      I have mentioned I have a male friend and that’s all it is ,it works for me because I get the emotional support.

      People who crave emotional connection are more likely to fall in love with people they haven’t met.When I met the eum online he was telling me he loved me before we even met.When you exchange emails and talk on messenger for months on end you think you really know them.

      The thing I miss about the EUM was the honeymoon phase when the emotional connection filled me up to the brim.The thing I miss about my ex husband is the emotional connection,to me, sex is a bonus in a good relationship.

      Even on this site I feel an emotional connection and less lonely especially when someone gives me some good advice,it sometimes helps me to sleep better.

      I think I can conclude i’m not lonely at all just lacking emotional connection and if I’d have got it from my mother my life would have been completely different.

      Meetup.com is really good and i’m going to one on Saturday.Laws of attraction which should be interesting.

      • paolo says:

        Tanzanite..Beautifully written..I completely agree.

      • pax says:

        Tanzanite…please stop stalking my life and entering my mind at will. I feel just like I just wrote your whole comment (minus the meetup.com bit)! It is emotional connection I miss too and after identifying what it is….then what? I’ve accepted a lot of the past hurt and pain caused by my mother and I’ve accepted the abuse she put me through and the lack of emotional intimacy, but that doesn’t stop me STILL wanting it. I can live without it, I believe, but it’s like an addiction to me, like a basic human need with others…a part of me feels like this is a part of life and not something I must try hard to eradicate, if it feels right for me…but a part of me questions this as my need for emotional intimacy has landed me in bad situations (two months ago I ended a relationship with a drug taking, mentally ill EUM with the help NC)

        Even now I still think about him and I know it is because I miss the emotional connection….wait…I was dating an EUM, he was never emotionally connected! Pah, lol I am as confused as my whole comment sounds lol.

        • Tanzanite says:


          I often think other people have stepped into my mind when I read their comments.

          Pax,you are human you will always want emotional connection,it’s a basic need.We shouldn’t under estimate it’s value and lack of it is now being linked to dementia, regardless of how many crosswords we do. Why should you even try to live without it ? You are as good as anyone else regardless of your mothers words and actions.

          I’m glad you went no contact with the mentally ill drug taker.He has got to sort his own issues out.You are in the right place now. keep reading and getting support off this site.

          I was in the same position as you a few years ago.I got involved with the wrong person.I thought I found this site because of an AC but realised me wanting to be with an AC was more to do with the relationship I had with my mother.Once you get to grips with that your life will change for the better in every aspect.

          I went out for a walk today and I noticed a group of walkers walking towards me.I stopped them in their tracks and asked if it was a walking group and how could I join .I just have to turn up on Thursday at 1 30. That’s how easy it is .

          Learning to live without it is not the way forward.

          I love my music-Listen to change your life by little mix with lyrics.Deep down inside you know your worth it.

    • Melissa says:

      The hard part is figuring out where the loneliness stems from and how to nurture yourself. I feel like part of me is incomplete. I get so much of my self-esteem from whether I am in a relationship or not. So, I know that I have low self-esteem, but I don’t know why, it is just something that has always been with me. I have definitely experienced loneliness when I had a ton of friends. I moved cross country to a place where I have very few friends, but the loneliness is still with me. I am doing everything I can to improve my self esteem. (I am taking college classes, paddling team, knitting group, gym , jogging, etc)It just feels like an extremely slow process sometimes. I still think about my ex everyday. I am NC and it is so difficult. I feel like I am carrying on the relationship in my head (because I am)and I can’t seem to stop it. I don’t know why my mind won’t stop going there. I am looking to him to take away the loneliness, but I know that it is something that no other person can do for me. I just wish I knew what it was that makes me feel this way. Could it be a mild depression? I have often wondered that because my Mom has been on anti-depressants for the past 32 years. Can anyone else relate to the way that I feel. (It’s like something is missing and I don’t know what it is.)

      • Tabitha says:

        Melissa how long have you been NC? Are you properly/strictly NC? I mean no FB stalking etc?
        It really does get better. I am not a psychologist but when I suffered from depression myself, the last thing I could have done was go to all those classes etc that you are. It sounds to me as though it is your low self esteem that is the issue here.
        For me, the answer to my low self esteem issues was to be founf in my family of origin. You mention your mother in the post, would your relationship with your parents be a good place to start? Maybe a therapist could help?
        Finally, NC works. Just take it a day at a time and trust the process :)

        • siena says:

          Hey Melissa, hey Tabitha! I am on the same page that Melissa wrote about and I really KNOW this feeling so well.I have had many unavailable relationships that did not last and I always felt “empty” and got a “high” when I entered a relationship, but often I did not even know the person I was getting emotionally involved with.The last person really did it for me. I have never been so in love…and so dissapointed before, i think it was what Natalie calls the “Epiphany relationship”. I absolutely hit bottom…but I am No Contact since 2 months tommorow!! Not a single word and I am so, so proud of myself. I have focused on all the things I need and also, the feeling you described Melissa, of never being “enough”, moving around and wherever you go this feeling remains. I am very conscious of this feeling now and always engage myself into loving self talk when it comes up telling me that I am a failure (which it still does A LOT!) or compares me to women, which in my mind, do a better job on their life. I am really up for a change. I am SO going for it. This time I want to find a solid place inside my own soul and self and find trust in myself again. Its a long road to go, but well, ladies. I am reading Natalies blog each day and hey,its spring, and we are all going to not just survive but thrive. Love and tons of luck to you guys.

          • Melissa says:

            Good job Siena with NC and good luck with happiness. I am staying single until I get to the root of my feelings. I am gaining confidence and esteem through my new activities. I guess I need to trust the process and know that there is no quick fix. Real change takes time. I didn’t get this way over night.

          • BS says:

            I hope this sounds respectful, and as gentle as I mean it, but how do you get emotionally attached to someone that is not emotionally unavailable? I don’t know if you were really as emotionally attached as you think you were, I think it may be something else…

        • Melissa says:

          I have been NC for two months and we have been split up for four months. I have never gone NC in past relationships, so this it totally foreign to me. In the past, I always feel into the role of “friends with benefits,” but that had made me miserable and the guy and I never would get back together. I was happy to find BR at the end of this last one. To answer your question Tabitha, yes I have gone full NC. We are no longer FB friends etc.

          I am just annoyed that I keep thinking about him. I felt like I had never been happier than when we were together. things were blissfully perfect for 3 months and then he broke up with me out of the blue. That is when I saw who he really was. It turns out he is really selfish, cowardly, and emotionally unavailable when things aren’t on his terms. My mind keeps going back to the good times. My mind wants him to grow up/change back into the guy that he was, but I know in my heart that he won’t for me the person he rejected. It is something he has to do for himself because he wants to. However, whenever I am lonely or anytime my mind is able to wander. I think about conversations I would have with him. I wish that it would stop and the good things in my life would take over that brain space, but they haven’t yet and it is frustrating to me. I feel like I am doing everything in my power to be a happy person on my own, but it doesn’t feel natural yet. I still have a lot of self doubt. And you are right it is probably more of a self esteem issue than depression. I just don’t know why I feel the way that I do. Like how can I have power over my thoughts? Is it just a big process of unlearning the negative beliefs I hold about myself. A lot of which I probably learned form my family.

          • Fifi says:

            Hi Melissa
            What helps me is to realize most (every?) people feel incomplete. Sometimes there’s real peace in just accepting who you are and letting that unfold – for me self-esteem isn’t so much about changing, but about really being myself – it’s when I hide and dissemble that my self-esteem takes the hit i.e. i believe I, as I am, am not worthy. I repeat “i trust myself, i trust myself” internally when uncertain.

            • BS says:

              A friend of mine was always very self assured and confident, I still see it in her at times, then she met this AC, and he’s been a selfish, demanding, blowhard for the last 10 years and she has slowly crept inside herself. Now she is just a shadow of who she used to be. I don’t know if she will ever divorce him though, he can be a real bastard.

          • Tabitha says:

            Melissa I totally understand. Most of us on here have experienced just what you are describing. You want THAT GUY back, the one who love bombed you and made you feel so special and wanted. Well it was probably just a mask, and the REAL him is the one you saw at the end. We both know you do NOT want him.
            Two months NC is still early days so please stop beating yourself up about it. My epiphany relationshit only lasted 6 months and I am now 6 months NC and still think about the dickhead every damn day. However, I am not rocking back and forth with the pain. I am not thinking of him every waking minute. Also, I now see him clearly, for what he really is, rather than my fantasy version of him, which was a combination of the him he faked in the early days of our relationshit, plus all the lovely ,missing bits that I just projected onto him so I could love him more easily.
            Read Nats posts on “Why does he blow hot and cold” and “is it love or is it fear drama and pain.” There is a search engine top left of page.
            NC gives you the clarity (eventually) to see him and your part in it for what they really are. Although I still think of the ex, I think of him in the same dispassionate way I think of most of my exes now. I thought I would hurt and thought I would love him til the day I died. Turned out, he’s just not that special. And neither is your guy.
            Keep reading and keep focusing on you rather than him. Life is short and precious and not be wasted with regret. Learn from it and move forward with a smile on your face.

            • siena says:

              Hey Tabitha,

              I think it is so interesting what you write.I also feel like 2 months NC is only the beginning. Today I told one of friend that I havent seen for long time about the story and it HIT me so hard again. Each time I am reminded of all of it or people talk about relationships, it HITS me like a rock in the stomache.He did all the hot and cold there can be:Future Faking,Fast Forward and then later, manipulative,horrible things!! Like vanishing for days, meeting with his former girlfriend and even sleeping with her, while he was still telling ME he wanted to be with me…. complete horror. When I found out I went NC, but well…. A long story short, I wanted to ask you: what do you do or what did you do, to make you feel better about yourself. I think it is very true what Fifi said up there, that becoming yourself doesnt mean to “change”, it means to constantly remind you of who you REALLY are. I started with many things next to BR, I did another psychological program, went to healers, read books, started jogging and still I will start a therapy and also more sports.I am staying away from men,since all my sense of trust feels so distorted.I feel like I am not even close to trusting myself and trusting others is too difficult..so I want to give myself time.
              Having said all this hard things, I wanted to note that I do view my life as positive and beautiful and that finding myself and the process that leads to that is a wonderful experience.
              How do you manage the thoughts about him and the uneasiness about your own person? I still have quite some trouble with that. Because some people say, you are supposed to let the feelings “happen” and “be” with them, while at the same time it is also said that it is good to cut the “negative self talk”, which I try to do. But then again, the negative self talk goes with the feeling, so if each time I feel bad I tell myself good things about myself, then I dont really let the negative feeling happen….any thoughts on this? How did you manange it? I hope this is easy to understand, I tried my best :) All the best to you!! Siena

              • Tabitha says:

                Hi Siena
                I am hoping others will reply to your post as I am not sure how helpful I will be.
                Well, I had some counselling and I did a lot of work on myself. This is ongoing. I have realized that actually I was also emotionally unavailable. If you read Nats book, which I thoroughly recommend, then you will see there is a chapter on Miss Independent/Miss Self Sufficient which was me. Then I looked at how I had allowed myself to be future faked etc and realised my self esteem had always been very low because of issues with my disordered mother. I had never been allowed boundaries of any kind and was treated as an extension of her, to be abused, criticised and manipulated whenever she wanted. This left me open to attack by the kind of “men” featured on this site ( I don’t mean the lovely men who contribute)
                Armed with all this knowledge I went about setting out boundaries, not only with men, but with friends and family too. This has been a huge change for me and greatly increased my self esteem. If you do just one thing, establish boundaries. As a result of me establishing boundaries, my mother now cannot deal with me and has gone NC with me :)
                Regarding the pain of NC with the ex, I am really sorry but in my case it was just time.
                I did write out a “Big List of Mark’s Many Faults” which had over 40 items on it. That was therapeutic and fun to look back on. To be honest though, it was only when I stopped thinking about HIM and started really examining and thinking about ME that things began to change.
                Now I am glad I met him as although he smashed my heart into pieces, I have learnt so much and am so much happier and ready to embrace the rest of my life. I am 47 and cannot believe I still had so much to learn but there it is. I wish you luck!

                • Tinkerbell says:

                  Siena. What Tabitha has told you is so on point. Every line. The two points I would emphasize are 1) you have to be patient with yourself. Give it time to get over the hurt, pain and disappointment. You cannot rush it. Those feelings which are so unbearable, now, will recede. I promise you. You’re doing well. Just stay on that path you are on. 2) Try your darndest not to fixate on him, where he is what he is doing, what he is thinking, does he miss you does he want you back. It’s all pointless because he had his chance and now IT IS OVER. Repeat that to yourself every time your mind goes to him. “IT IS OVER”. You’ve finished that chapter. Now, all that time you spent on him you’re taking back and giving it to NUMBER ONE – YOU. Actually, Siena, it’s not that complicated. YOU, first is the key and TIME right now is your best friend. Know that we all support you and you are among cyber friends.

              • Mymble says:

                A lot is just time. BR was very helpful – sometimes I’d read a blog entry or post and think “aha!” or even laugh at how much he was just like all the others. But mostly just time and NC. Eventually your brain just gets tired or going over and over it all and even when you do think of him the emotional impact has faded away to nothing. The things that used to trigger me – certain music, things in the paper he was interested in, etc don’t upset me anymore. I do still think of him from time to time but it’s just a tired old habit.
                I don’t talk about him any more to anyone.
                I actually heard him talking on the radio a couple of weeks ago and felt – nothing much.
                Be compassionate towards yourself. Focus on being a good friend to yourself and doing what’s best for you. Not just punishing exercise regimes (though exercise is great) but really enjoyable things with friends and family you’re comfortable with.
                I would be careful about using too much time in therapy to talk about him, after a certain point it keeps your feelings alive and can even “retraumatise” you. (I think, anyway).

                • Teddie says:

                  I echo Mymble. A great deal of the pain is just habitual dwelling and rumination (that inevitably lead to boredom) and to be dealt with like any unwanted habit. We all have a natural defense mechanism, a sort of a threshold, up to which emotions build up, at which one simple says “enough, no more”. And then it’s a matter of making this step over the threshold and then figuring out how one actually wants to be instead. And this is when it becomes interesting, just think of all these options open to you, all these way that you can be what you actually want to be, isn’t it exhilarating?

            • Melissa says:

              Tabitha, I agree with everything you have said. I just get impatient and it just feels like it is taking forever, but I know the more I think like that the longer it will take. Also, I am taking a break from dating, so I feel like I am super aware of myself right now because I have no distractions. But like Natalie says, relationship insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

        • BS says:

          what is nc, eum, what are all these abbrev?

  3. Kaz says:

    My ex did my head in around the topic of how “legitimately” to meet people. I met him in real life, but at the time I was on a couple of dating websites (no success there). He strongly advised me not to use dating websites because only losers and desperate people are there and it would give men the wrong impression of me, that I’m cheap and asking to be taken advantage of. So after he left me for another woman (she was married but he persuaded her to leave her husband for him) I’m kind of reluctant to go back online with those thoughts in the back of my head. I don’t want to be taken advantage of or disrespected by men. I want to be seen as having value. My ex also told me not to go out to pubs, clubs, or anywhere really, as it would “give the wrong impression” of me, ie. that I would automatically be seen as cheap and not a respectable woman. So I don’t really go out at all anymore. Now I feel stuck in my legitimate world of work, gym, supermarket, home, etc. as you mentioned, and of course I am feeling isolated and not meeting anybody new, but at least I feel like I must be a very “respectable” woman because of it. So I kind of feel damned if I do go out (cheap and desperate) and damned if I don’t go out (stuck at home, not meeting anybody).

    • Melissa says:

      Do you only do what your ex tells you to? He didn’t have your interests first when he left you for someone else. He doesn’t seem like the best person to be taking advice from. I think it is okay to meet people online, but you need to be cautious. Look out for red flags. Don’t exchange emails forever, people can be phony. Meet in person after a few exchanges (if you feel comfortable and always in a public place). Ask important questions and really get to know the person before becoming romantic with them. It is also not cheap to meet someone at a club or a pub, but it is cheap if you sleep with them when you’ve just met. Become friends, if something develops into a relationship, great! If not you have mad a friend. I think it is great to be friendship seeking. If something develops later on it either will or it won’t. If you can’t be friends with someone, why would you want to date them anyways?

    • EUM Roberto says:

      Kaz, please understand that he left you for his own reasons… the part about “for another woman that he persuaded her to leave her husband for him” has nothing to do with you. Don’t let his behavior determine your value.

      You define what is respectable to yourself. Your behavior determines if you “give the wrong impression” in any setting – it does not matter if you are on the dance floor or in the bookstore.

      Just go out and smile. Try say hello, introduce yourself :-)

    • paolo says:

      Kaz..So let me get this right..Some cheating asshole with no morals gave you advice on what you should be doing with your life?..Do you not think, I dunno, maybe, ignore that advice?

    • NoMo Drama says:

      “So after he left me for another woman (she was married but he persuaded her to leave her husband for him)…”

      Oh, yea, he’s really the last word on “respectable” wouldn’t you say?

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Kaz, You already flirted with being cheap, desperate and not respectable when you began a relationship with that AC. Ironic that he should warn you about it. Honor YOU and YOUR OWN MIND. Don’t give over your individuality and power to someone who doesn’t deserve it. He’s an idiot and sorry to say it but you are one too for following his instructions to the letter. I’m not trying to make you feel bad. But WAKE UP, girl. NC him and find a healthier relationship.

    • Allison says:


      Why are you listening to someone who cheated on you, and worse yet, with a married woman? UGGGGH! You should not respect or take this guy’s advice, as he has no value system in place.

      He is telling you this, to control you, and lessen your chances of finding a new man.

      Do what you want to do. I know of many successful relationships that have been created on online, but you must be discerning and heed any red flags.

      Are you still talking to this asshole?

      • yoghurt says:

        Heya Kaz

        Aside from the fact that the man is clearly an ass, I’d point out that his opinion of what makes someone cheap/not cheap/respectable/not respectable/a loser/unlosery is just ONE opinion out of seven billion. Just because he thinks like that it doesn’t follow that everyone thinks like that. His interpretation of the Univeral Rules Of Relationships is just one interpretation and, actually, there aren’t any Universal Rules so he’s wrong for a start. We’re all individually bimbling through trying to make sense of it – he’s just another bimbler, and not a very nice one.

        If I wanted, I could spend all day reading Nuts, Zoo and The Daily Star. It’d probably be all of two days before I came to the conclusion that because I am not stunning, don’t have a gap between my thighs, 32GGG bosoms and six-foot legs my best option would be to throw myself offa a bridge and stop blocking the view to all of those REAL women. But why would I? I think that the viewpoint of those publications is horrible, shallow, unimaginative and dishonest, and it’d make me miserable.

        So stop reading this guy’s magazine! – nobody’d buy a magazine called !I Like To Do Other People Down And Break Up Marriages! anyway. Work out for YOURSELF what YOU think is respectable and do it. Or not.

        • yoghurt says:

          …and next time someone says “EVERYONE thinks…” or “All men reckon…” remember that they are talking about themselves. And maybe their mates, if they have any.

  4. Jo says:

    The timing of this article couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I’ve been NC with EUM that I have been involved in a long time friendship. He is much younger guy that has interest in older woman. I made the mistake of letting him “in”. My feelings are very strong and I believe he cares about me but not the way I want. For about 3 yrs I have settled for his crumbs. He’s kept me on the hook. He’s the typical EUM, blowing hot and cold and I find myself in pattern of lather, rinse and repeat. I’m tired…..embarrassed that I’ve allowed this to go on for so long. I’m trying to break the pattern. I blocked his phone# because I didn’t have the self control not to respond to his calls/texts. It’s going on 2 weeks and I’m sitting here feeling lonely…..scared that I may never talk to him again but yet I know this is the best thing for me. Several times today I wanted to reach out to him just to see if he was OK then read your article. THANK YOU!! It’s like a sign from God! : ) I do care alot about him but I care more about me……my happiness.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Jo. DO NOT CALL HIM!!!!! DO NOT. He is not that special. It is all in your mind. Focus on anything else but him.

      • Jo says:

        I haven’t but I won’t say it’s been easy but I want off this ride. I know as soon as I contact him I will regret it. Staying strong……staying the course. Thanks Tinkerbell!

  5. Healing One says:

    Great post. Another reason to check in with ourselves and get in touch with our motives BEFORE taking that call, responding to that text, or returning that email. We might want to blame the guy–but it’s NOT the guy. He will do what he will do. It’s our choice and our responsibility to understand ourselves, to take care of ourselves and to do what’s best for us. Loneliness comes to all of us. How we deal with it us up to US.

  6. Selkie says:

    This post was really helpful. I’m working on making positive changes and come out of my comfort zone by joining Meet Up, changing my daily routine, etc. I’m making progress but it’s slow going, but mostly from my own feet dragging. I’ve considered working with a life coach in this area, but it’s kind of embarrassing to admit I’m socially awkward enough to need help. I talk to people everyday and am friendly but I just don’t know how to grow acquaintances, or new people I meet into real friends. I’m the common denominator in my loneliness, so I know it’s in my hands to make changes for the most part. I’m willing to get uncomfortable to learn how to make friends and make my life more fulfilled. I’m actually sick to death of feeling lonely. I thought I was ready for dating again but I think I may still be too eager for acceptance. I worry I’ll put too much pressure on a partner to fill the void for me. I’ve got to figure out how to fill these voids on my own first. I’m going to start a feelings dairy like this post suggested.

    • Rosie says:

      Hi Selkie, I’ve given my story here a couple times and I don’t know if you’ve read these posts and I won’t bore you with too many details but I spent years (years!) without any friends, subconsciously chose jobs that required very little interaction with people, was out of touch with my own feelings, etc.

      Through lots of therapy and grace from God (I believe) I’m learning to take healthy risks (I, too, recommend meetup.com). It was hard for me to tell my new friends that I was religious as they’re liberals and I’m…well…conservative…and liberal…depending on the issue. Anyway, I was so scared of rejection but I’m finding that revealing my emotions, values, and vulnerability doesn’t scare people away but draws them in because they can relate in some way. All they ask is that I show the same respect to them that I want in return. I’m excited because, for the first time, I have real friends because, for the first time, I know how to be one. Before, my beautiful heart would give and give while remaining emotionally disconnected from myself and everyone else. This wasn’t true friendship. It was boundary problems and misguided “duty”. Now, my friendship is real giving because I know how to say “no” and, thus, my “yes” is a real “yes”.

      Anyway, Selkie, I don’t know if you can relate to any of this but I hope it offers you hope that if someone like me can learn how to develop authentic friendships then there is hope for you and others as well. :) You can do it, Selkie! :)

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Selkie. Didn’t I respond to you on a recent post recently regarding your social ineptitude? Any way, the grace and ease comes with practice. In 2 years I’ve gone from zero (almost) friends to 4 very close women who have my back as I will theirs. I forced myself to come out of my comfort zone and it has paid off immensely. You can do it. Believe in yourself.

      • Selkie says:

        Hi Rosie and Tink,

        Thank you both for your encouragement.

        Rosie, I have been an over giver too and it didn’t translate into real friendships in the end. I’ve kept myself distant, like you did, to protect myself. I’ve limited how close I let people get because I’m uncomfortable and don’t trust. Lots of things to work on, but I’m determined. You reach a point where you outgrow your own baggage and get tired of being in your own way.

        Tink, Yes you did reply to me in the post about how little people I had in my inner circle. I have grace and ease sometimes when I’m feeling good and think, wow, that wasn’t hard but then other times I am like a sinking ship and go home wondering ..who the hell was that back there? I believe things can change so I won’t give up. Thanks. :-)

  7. noquay says:

    Am in class right now so I will post more later on. Right now this particular marathoner is feeling alone, really sad, and downright sick about what happened in Boston today

  8. Georgie says:

    This entry has come at exactly the right time. I cut ‘the relationship’ off 9 days ago (following the demotion from girlfriend, to friends-with-benefits, to bootycall) after 7 months of confusion and a great deal of loneliness. This relationship was not the first of its kind for me, but reading this blog (and the books) has allowed the fog to lift and begin to evaluate myself objectively! Its like freedom! Yes, I am lonely and it has felt like forever. The thing is, is that I have an amazing family who live close by and a few key friends. I have been all about ‘the grass is always greener’ syndrome and then wondering what is wrong with me and why I don’t get invited out, have a group of friends, no one calls etc.

    Thank you for this post, as I see that I need to start watering my own patch! In doing so, I know that one day it will be just as green (if not greener) and one of my own making too. This website has allowed myself to finally live with me and start living with gratitude! It is truly a fantastic place to come and be reminded when we are feeling lonely indeed.

    Thank you so much!

  9. Lucky_Charms says:

    During the first few months of NC I was very lonely. Now, I relish the alone time I have to journal and paint. Hike in the woods. Today marks 5 months of NC, or what I thought was NC, when at noon the AC texts. Now I don’t know if you BR’rs remember the AC, breaking NC on Christmas Eve by chasing me down in the grocery store, telling me his head was effed up and he didn’t know what he wanted. Then on Valentines Day, texting me that, he never lied to me. to which I did not respond. Today, in the next chapter of, “Tales Of An Assclown”, this is what he wrote: “I know I shouldn’t be doing this, but last night I had a really bad dream that you got physically hurt…can’t seem to shake it off and it’s really playing on my mind…Just wanted to know if u r ok? Please reply either way. This is no trick to talk..Just a horrible feeling I’m having, sorry.”
    Oh dear, he’s having horrible feelings. Sucks for him. I didn’t respond. More boundary busting nonsense, and maybe a fishing expedition to see if I would respond to him. But I know too much now. I hope his psyche continues to torture him, because the mental anguish he caused me hurt just as much as physical pain, That being said, I am so much stronger now. I am no way going to find anyone to scratch my itch, it’s going to be a while before I think of dating again. I have found out that I’m ok being alone. I call it solitude, not loneliness.

    • Melissa says:

      Good for you Lucky_Charm! Don’t respond to that text. He is just fishing for a response and he is being selfish bu not respecting your boundaries.

    • Nancy says:

      I like that…solitude…sounds so much more positive!

      My AC has been in his “celebacy and depressed” mode for the last two weeks. That means he’s trying to figure out how to find new supply. He told me that this “protects me from his self-indulgent tendencies and that it’s not a rejection of me, but an honoring because I’m such a “good girl.” Really? It actually means that while he’s out sniffing around, I’m am left confused. But not to worry….once he gets rejected again, he’ll be calling me to come visit…at 9:00 in the evening. Yes, he makes me feel really lonely….but I need to find my own happiness without his crumbs.

    • Allison says:


      Why don’t you block?

    • Tanzanite says:


      You are right not to contact him because of the dream but it could possibly be true.

      I had a very similar dream about my ex husband and I text him the next day to see if he was ok ( we keep in contact because we have a son )

      I think it’s somewhere between guilt and a conscience attack.

      We did have a clear the air talk and we are friends again but we were together for 18 years and he did treat me very well for most of the time we were married.EUM and AC’s don’t deserve that kind of respect.

    • pax says:

      i just LOL’d like crazy.right after I read the part where you describe his text message about being scared you were hurt etc, I mentally said “Psssh forget that idiot, let him simmer in his worry” before I read your comment to his text lol! Stay NC, that man needs to go swim in a piranha infested river. hahaha.

  10. Gillian says:

    ”When you don’t feed you and then somebody comes along and showboats with their crumbs, it can feel like finding water in the desert and it puts the other person’s efforts out of context.

    This could not be truer…this led to me being in a very unhealthy relationship after the death of my husband. I let it go on for over a year, taking fewer and fewer crumbs and still hanging on. I’m picking up the pieces pretty well now and through reading Natalie’s books and reading these posts I am becoming a different person. Today is 3 months NC. It took a large chunk out of my life though and I made a committment to myself that I will never, ever allow that to happen again. I have too much knowledge now. I have used these three months to educate myself and really learn what truly loving oneself means. For certain it means, NO CRUMBS!!

    • paolo says:

      Well said Gillian..I like the bit you wrote about using your NC time to educate yourself..I’ve been doing the same thing.

  11. Mumsthwd says:

    Just what I needed to read today;). Your timing is alway impeccable. Thanks

  12. finallygettingit69 says:

    @ Paolo,

    I have already filled two three ring binders with BR blogs. I am addicted, and it really helps when I want to go back and reread things.

    Great post Nat, this too resonated with me. It’s funny when you stop BS-ing yourself how easy it becomes to see it when others try to sell it to you. I finally told the still married EUM to step off yesterday and cut contact. After unfriending him on Facebook and deleting his # I got the “Hey how are you” text. I wanted to make it very clear that I wouldn’t see him any more and that I wasn’t interested in trying to figure out where I stood in his life and that I was removing myself from it, and got no reply. Funny how they don’t play when it’s not on their terms.

    • paolo says:


      lol..your worse than me then :)
      Though i’m going to need a ring binder very soon :)

  13. Learner says:

    “There’s nothing wrong with wanting a relationship but regardless of whether you’re in or out of one, you still have to be your own friend”

    Natalie – I think this is finally sinking in for me. After years of suppressing my own needs, people pleasing, trying to have all my meets met by a partner, NOT having all my needs met by my partner, giving up on him and trying to scratch my “loneliness itch” with the wrong scratcher (a MM/AC who fed me crumbs), finding BR and going for therapy(phew!), I finally got to the point of being my own friend!

    Nat, I can relate to your feeling that your affair was the loneliest time for you. All that fantasy and fear and frustration, not to mention the mind-effery! Putting my BR knowledge into practice and erecting some boundaries while clarifying my values has been a life-changer. I am actually thankful now for the lessons that my time as an OW has taught me, although a year ago I NEVER imagined I would think that!

    It was when I finally got to the point of being on my own – really feeling that “I can do this” despite grieving over a pathetic NC’d exMM, despite challenges of caring for my daughter, and despite having to pick up the pieces after the huge mess I had made of my life – that’s when I felt ready to move forward, whether I had a relationship or not. I actually said to my therapist: “I feel OK being alone, I am good with my own company, I cannot stand any more crap in my life”, and I meant it! I had planned a year of just going it alone, becoming even more independent, and doing further work on myself.

    Enter my ex-husband. Actually, we separated 5 years ago, and never did finalize a divorce, so he is legally still my husband. (I know, so typically EU on both of our parts). I was hesitant to give our relationship another try at first, but during the time we have spent together caring for our daughter (who has a health issue), I have come to realize that he really DOES seem to have changed. He went to therapy of his own accord, he has worked on his relationship with our daughter, and he has been treating me with love, care and respect (even after I told him all about the exMM debacle). We are still working on the trust issues, and on expressing our emotions, and we have a counsellor to help us through these.

    We are taking one day at a time, and it’s like we are going through a second discovery phase – only as more mature people this time, and without the drama of our earlier years. Whether it works out or not, I know I will be OK. He is NOT responsible for my happiness. I am. I will always remember the role BR has played in turning my life around. Thank you all!

    • EUM Roberto says:

      Learner, you are getting back together with (ex) husband – WOW! I hope it works out for sake of your daughter. Good luck and take care yourself

    • finallygettingit69 says:


      Best wishes! About your ex, it sounds like your eyes are wide open. Sometimes people do change, but the change has to be for their own reasons and only when they are ready. And you are absolutely right, only we are responsible for our own happiness. Keep us posted. :)

      • Learner says:

        Thank you. I love your name, as I also feel that I’m “finally getting it” It’s a great feeling, isn’t it :)

    • BS says:

      what is exMM?

  14. Diana Reaves says:

    This blessed me in so many ways. I’m more than amazed at how you can put all together and it fit right in… Thank you… Thank you… Thank you…

  15. Jule says:

    Amazing and timely as usual Natalie. I have felt the gravity of loneliness and even in a room of people, but it’s been a few years now of getting to know ME and no real relationship and I’m beginning to see that I’m running away from the chances that come my way. I know I need to do better at making myself vulnerable, stop hiding behind my single parenthood as an excuse and stop building an island away from the possibilities of a real relationship. I didn’t really know I was doing it, but I do find myself shying away from the situation when I have a real person, a man, asking me out.

  16. runnergirl says:

    Great post Natalie. After the “Circle of Trust” article, it got me thinking. I’ve mostly cleared out my inner circle which was full of some shady folks and didn’t include me. There are probably four people left in the inner circle, including me, my daughter, my brother, and the bf girlfriend who is on a closely monitored debit/credit system. Although it’s been challenging having my daughter home, she has decided to return and finish school in Boston in the fall. Of course, that is fabulous, despite the expense. Oddly, I’ve been going through some odd thoughts about being alone. When she originally left, the exMM was throwing crumbs my way which I managed to bake into a loaf. This time, I will really be alone. I’m going to have to make sure I keep focused on me and not scratch the loneliness itch with the wrong scratcher…it resulted it a bad rash and a few other issues last time.

  17. runnergirl says:

    One more thing, it just so happened that my cell phone storage was maxed. It was because I hadn’t deleted over 1000’s pages of emails from the exMM dating back four years which I had no clue were still in my inbox. As I went through and deleted everysingle one, I stopped along the way and read a few. Good grief! Talk about a virtual connection with something vaguely resembling connectivity. It was a good experience to see 1000’s of emails that never went anywhere. Except to make me hungry! I’m on a strict cyber-diet. What cyber nonsense.

    • Learner says:

      Runner, the same thing happened to me re: discovering old messages from the exMM. Isn’t it great to read them again with BR knowledge and self esteem intact? Those emails never went anywhere, and now they are deleted forever, as they should be. They can no longer fuel the fantasy with their crumb content and FF and “saying what you want to hear”. Good on you!

    • paolo says:

      runnergirl..I sometimes wish i could read some old messages to my exEU and sometimes AC, with my new BR eyes. It would make for enlightening reading im sure :) Though i wouldn’t trust my dumb nostalgic, in love with fantasy self to not take over. Come to think of it may it’s a good thing i deleted them all on break up :)

      • runnergirl says:

        Oh what a cyber space nightmare that matches the actual nightmare. After deleting everything out of my inbox, I realized I have to delete everything out of my sent box as well. Thus, I have the “opportunity” to see all that sappy crap yet once again. If you want paolo, I can forward it all to you!
        I’ll never again scratch the loneliness itch with a computer. What a mess.

  18. yoshizzle says:

    i have sexual affairs with men who at first make me feel special but really fast make me feel unworthy of their special attention/their love and actually deliberately do things to erode my self esteem (it doesn’t really, but i can tell that is the goal) and make me doubt myself or my confidence. They do this while still wanting to sleep together. Both of them have even admitted their shitty behaviour but seem remorseless. I am trying to work out why these are the types that are attracted to me, why i stick around to prove myself right or wrong, why i prefer this over “nothing” and why “nothing” is the other option when in every other area of my life I am treated well by people (friends, family, co workers, customers, professionals). Granted,since i gained some weight (not enough to ) feel less attractive, but I can’t use that as an excuse because even in my younger slimmer most attractive years I did the same thing. This article was bang on as usual but particularly hit home for me.

    • Allison says:


      I wouldn’t ask why they’re attracted to you, but why you’re attracted to them.

    • EUM Roberto says:

      Perhaps having sex too soon contributes to this pattern. I know it’s hard because we are horny humans, but try to wait to get to know them first. Let them unfold.

      Easier said than done.

    • paolo says:

      yohshizzle..I’m not expert but it sounds like you confuse validation seeking with love? They make you feel like you have to ‘prove’ your worth to them. Literaly.

      You buy into that bullshit and star chasing..They know it makes you chase, so they continue making you feel like crap so you’ll keep chasing..All the while feeding their ego..Not so nice little negative spiral.

    • Rosie says:

      Yoshizzle, yeah, I agree with Allison about why you’re giving these men the time of day. If you grew up with parents who painted you as the “black sheep of the family”, you may automatically take responsibility for others’ bad behavior without realizing it.

      A few months ago, I took a long hard look at my own character and decided to make improvements. I thought that my stronger character would “make” these men respect me. Men’s respect wasn’t my motive for upgrading my character, just thought it would be a fruit of my success. I was wrong.

      When I stopped stringing men along (I strung them along to boost my ego so I was using them too and outright told them to stop contacting me (and apologized to them) they still contacted me. A couple weeks ago, a man contacted me and I told him I just wanted friendship with him and he agreed to being “friendzoned”. Yet, he continued to ignore that we were “just friends” so I told him to stop contacting me. He ignored that too and contacted me to apologize. Yeah, he apologized, sounds ok on the surface but, really, it was another ignoring of a boundary. Another man struck up a conversation with me while I was at a fast food restaurant. He was nice and interesting at first but then got quite sexual with me in conversation even after I told him (firmly!) to stop. I left immediately. A recent man flirted with me, even asked me for a kiss (we just met) and I put a stop to it and he did stop. Another man I told to stop contacting me is still trying to contact me.

      Look, I’m not “that special” nor particularly beautiful nor do I dress suggestively. I’m nice but now give a firm “no” as I don’t want to use somebody nor be used. I’m actually showing respect for him by giving him a firm “no”. Anyway, what I’ve learned since I’ve improved my character is that good men will honor the boundary. Selfish men won’t and it has nothing to do with me, nothing to do with my attractiveness or unattractiveness. The only person I can control is me. I can’t “make” someone respect me. What I can do is to continue to respect myself and the other person by giving a firm “no” to unwanted behavior.

      • High Anxiety says:

        Rosie, we have experienced similar issues. After I became an avid BR reader, I realized I had been stringing a guy along because I felt lonely and he paid attention to me. Identifying my own AC tendencies was a hard thing for me to face. But I brought my questionable behavior to his attention and apologized to him. I then attempted NC, but he kept calling. I ignored the calls but answered one night after three or so months. I tried to reason that he was decent, thus I *should* like him and give him a fair chance. But.. if you aren’t saying Hell Yes about something, say No…
        By asking him a series of questions, I learned that he kept calling, not b/c I’m so special, buth because he is not interested in starting over with someone new. Mind you, any romantic relationship we’ve had has been made up in his mind. He felt that I owed him something. And that if we were to actually date, we should skip to whatever page he thinks we’re on… not to mention busting the boundary I created by repeatedly calling me after I told him I did not want to talk anymore..
        I continue to ignore his calls.
        I ask many questions of any new men that I meet.
        And find that many bring up inappropriate topics in the very beginning – just like they do with you. I find this disheartening, but try not to take it personally.
        I listen to me, and I ask myself if a situation has made me feel uncomfortable and attempt to protect my person like I would protect a child.
        I used to ask myself if I should do things based on whether other people would do those things, but now I ask myself whether or not I actually want to do them. If I do or don’t, then that’s my prerogative :)
        This is my customized way of learning to trust myself.

    • Selkie says:

      It’s not that these types are attracted to you specifically, but rather to anyone who bites when they put out the bait. I’m sure they’ve tried the same BS on other women who simply rejected it and moved on. I used to think I had a beacon on my forehead for assholes to find me, but these same assholes hit up anyone who would listen, not just me. It became MY problem when I gave them the time of day. Even if we find out later instead of sooner, then it’s still up to us to weed these jokers out of our lives. The longer we stay the more we feel invested, but thats just an illusion to. It’s just a fancy sand castle.

      • BS says:

        Did you make conscious decisions about what you were doing? Did you question YOUR motives along the way? Were the answers to those questions satisfactory to you? It’s only a problem if and when you decide you don’t want what is being offered. If that’s not the case, then I would say you probably have ulterior motives, which I would love to hear, but I understand if you want to keep them to yourself. :)

  19. Revolution says:

    What a beautiful post, Natalie. You know, this one felt different to read for some reason. Softer. But still the truth in the good old Natalie-style way you do what you do.

    Also, I agree with the married/single friend mixup. I have single friends and married friends, probably of equal proportion. I also have friends who are married with kids. I cherish them all.

    See….I’m back on topic again, Natalie. 😉

  20. oc says:

    Great read as always, and uncanny to what I’m wrestling with now. I went from not-so-happily involved in a long-distance flame-out fantasy relationship to broken and financially destitute, quit smoking, quit doping, quit drinking, and I am now carving through several major health issues from teeth to guts, to toes. I gained 40 pounds during my depression post-breakup and I’m grinding to work down to a healthy weight. My old social circle doesn’t sustain me because it was essentially a glorified bar scene, and after 15 years of building a relatively “vibrant” social landscape around music and nightlife, I have little to show for my efforts and very few real friends that call or care. They just want me back in my old niche in the community and no one knows how to deal with me now that I’m sober. Apparently I’m not Dr. Funguy anymore. I can’t help but be quietly angry, because I am doing hard work while everyone else parties and stays in the routine, but its a choice I had to make. I hope that it pays in the future, because I want there to be one, and I hope to have one. I would have liked very much to be settled down by now, but apparently I’ve got more to learn and a whole new social circle I’ve yet to discover. Midlife is no joke when you’re on your own, especially is a small town like this one. A whole lot of broken dreams and burnouts. . . Including me.

    The anger and the self-imposed isolation are really what concern me. I want to ease into some new social activities and I’m having a heck of time finding sober people my age that are unmarried. I’m on guard for BS, and that’s not motivating me much to put in the effort. I think I’d like to be with myself a bit more before I venture forth. Summer is coming and I normally I’d be looking forward to camping trips and parties and concerts w friends but instead my days have been turning into months and I’m just feeling old and beaten.

    Not ready yet to return to the world.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      OC. I had to reach out to you after reading your comments. You are to be congratulated for kicking the addictions. It is NOT EASY. I know because I became addicted to very strong pain meds after multiple surgeries. Even though I didn’t need them any more for pain when I recovered, I still enjoyed the “high”. I look back now and realize there are large blocks, important events in my life that I don’t even remember because I was drugged up. I had car accident after car accident. I HAD TO QUIT. So I am speaking as one who has been there. Please don’t become discouraged. What you have done is tremendous and even though you may not see the pay off, now, it is coming. Believe that. If you need to take more time to be alone, that’s okay as long as you use that time productively. Do you enjoy reading? There are many books that will reinforce your desire for a “clean” healthy life. Get yourself a pet if you don’t have one. Caring for another being takes you out of yourself and is very therapeutic. Plus, animals love you without your having to meet conditions, no fear, deceit, frustration, or regrets to cloud up your world. Now that summer is arriving, get out and get lots of fresh air. Take long walks. People watch. Perhaps try to make one friend for starters. There is so much that we can find to do if we just make the effort. You have already done the hard work. I am sure there is someone out there for you. No need to feel “old and beaten”. There is always hope until we are 6 feet under. You have already proven that to yourself. I admire and applaud you. Best of luck in your new life.

    • Tanzanite says:


      You have done so well with your addictions and I wont pretend I know how difficult it has been for you because i couldn’t possibly know.My only addiction is food so I do understand that, but there is some truth in the saying-

      ” if hunger isn’t the problem food isn’t the answer ”

      I would eat whether I was hungry or not but it never filled the empty space inside.Food was my love replacement.At last I’m feeling better about myself,I’m losing weight and I even say i’m not hungry now.

      It does sound difficult for you being in a small town and friends that don’t know how to support you, perhaps it’s time for new friends when you are ready.I was just wondering why you can’t be friends with sober people that are married ? why do they have to be single ?

      ” Luck is where preparation meets opportunity ”

      Giving up your addictions is your preparation all you need now is some opportunities and you have to find them.

      All I can say is keep trying,you have a better future ahead of you and you have come so far.

  21. missmilkie says:

    lonliness is one of the most dangerous emotions to feel…It can often lead to murder of the self. always seek out those who are emotionaly available.. even if it makes you vulnerable.
    this builds trust, empathy amd true intamacy. quality comes before quantity. who needs all those superficial contacts in your cellphone or on your facebook? if you still feel lonely then its all BS anyway. if you have 1200 ‘friends’ and none of them who you’d want to call in an emergency…then theres your (psychological) problem right there. cut the fakes.. and stick with the few that are real and true to you :)

    • Tanzanite says:


      I agree totally.A real friend wants to spend time with you.I haven’t got a facebook account for that very reason.That’s why everyone is lonely, a lot of people are on facebook instead of circulating in the real world.

      Quality is better than quantity.

  22. EUM Roberto says:

    Thanks for helping me realize that i am using the wrong scratcher. Being with a woman for the wrong reasons = wrong scratcher. It’s difficult to stop using wrong scratcher because that loneliness itch is like poison ivy rash and the easy quick fix is to use wrong scratcher.

    The correct scratcher is much harder to find because I have to look inward. It also takes more time to learn and apply.

  23. The hardest part is finding out why I was lonely.

    Probably the only time in my entire life I haven’t felt lonely for a long time was with the AC ex. He gave me what no-one else has, the ability to emotionally connect. But then ofcourse, he also starved me with periods of not seeing me because he “wanted to give me the chance to miss him more” so I’ll “want him” when I did eventually see him!

    Still loneliness is my current description of my life and I really have to step outside and change that. I have started to see that is starts with me, but at the moment, I am in the sphere where I am just ‘too busy’ to make time for friends/people I have met and foster relationships.

    Which is a lie.

    Had this been this time last year when I was still in a relationship I would have made the time to see HIM.

    I think my loneliness stems from the need to feel wanted. Just one person ignoring my text or saying they’ll keep in touch and then not texting, sends me to depression-mode and I take it to being “my fault” and start telling myself that they must not like me/hate me to not respond.

    On a separate note, at the end of this month it would have been 5 months NC, except calls from AC now and then from different phone numbers I don’t recognise. I can’t just not pick up the phone because it might be someone I genuinely know, but every call leaves me reeling! And yet, the period of loneliness subsides whenever I realise he’s called – he still wants me!

    • Allison says:


      Can’t it go to VM? The longer you prolong the contact, the longer the misery and pain.

      • Two of the times when he’s called I have actually been busy and my phone has been on silent so I just got a missed call.

        There was no voicemail so I called back both times.

        The third time it was a “unknown” number.

        The fourth time I put the phone down as soon as I realised it was him.

        Because I often call up companies (work related) I can’t afford to normally miss calls.

        He has now tried four different numbers to contact me and I have no idea how he does this! Is he just buying new sim-cards or something!?

        And the calls are spaced out. So often a month in between. Every time I think “this is it. He’s never contacting me again.” He does. And my entire recovery collapses.

        • Melissa says:

          Perhaps, if a person doesn’t leave a message then it means it is not important. Is it not the most important thing for you to move on and heal? Companies for work would surely leave a message if it was important. You are unfortunately teaching the AC that if he calls your, regardless from what number that you will call him back. So, why would he bother stopping? He obviously has no regard for your feelings. Actions speak louder than words.

  24. grace says:

    “Sometimes we expect everyone else to make the effort before we will, when in reality, being friendly is a two-way street with an element of risk on both sides”.
    Very true. There is NO reason why we should expect other people to make the first move. I’ve been in a few situations that I found intimidating (dance class with teenage girls, new church, work events) and have stepped out of my comfort zone to talk to people first. Most people respond in a positive manner. If they didn’t, I’ve forgotten about it.
    While it’s not all about meeting a man, you’re not going to meet one at home, and you’ll be in a much better shape when you do meet someone if you’re overall content with your life and connected to others.
    While we may be “introverted”, if you’re lonely you’re not as introverted as you think you are.
    I’ve been very lonely, days would go without me speaking to anyone. And even when I wasn’t lonely I felt like the odd one out. I don’t feel that way anymore. I’ve learned that I’m special but not THAT special that no one else will “get” me. Okay, some people won’t get me but I’ve enough friends these days that I find it difficult to fit them all in. I have single friends, married friends, friends who are mothers, older friends, younger friends and even a few male friends (via the boyfriend). They don’t have to just like us.
    I no longer expect friends to be friends for life. Sometimes it’s fluid, people move, their situations change. That way, I can let more people “in”, instead of having huge Best Friends for Life expectations.

    • Lucy says:

      Grace, I am the same.

      I think I cheated myself out of connecting with people by having the ‘friends for life’ expectation. Now my friendships are not all deep or perfect by any means but a change in attitude has taken away some amount of angst. I try to take friendships for what they are, keep my boundaries in check, and not to give a friendship more work than it requires. I still seek deeper friendships here and there but I don’t chase them. I try to cherish what I have at the present moment.

      At 23 I’ve realised that friendships come and go, ebb and flow, and that they are a different beast to romantic relationships. Though I used to see friendships as inferior to romantic love, friendships are now a better salve for any loneliness I feel.

      I like your post. I am shy but I have a new ethos for being the actor in my own life, which quietens some voices of doubt. I find it difficult to initiate conversation with people I don’t know so I’ll have to learn. I am going out on Saturday night and I will try and put what you said into practice.

  25. Annabelle says:

    Although I am comfortable with my own company, it sometimes does get lonely and at times it’s nice to share your experiences with another person. It’s difficult to make friends especially when you are shy and socially awkward but the challenge is there to overcome and you keep pressing on and trying… But at times it’s Just so exhausting and sucks my energy though…

  26. meerkat says:

    Great post Natalie…I am currently struggling with loneliness, self imposed to a degree in that I work abroad (and have for a number of years) and am currently on my own again in a new country. I would not say that I have great social skills but I am able to make friends as I will do here when manage to get out and about a bit more. Prior to this I was fed a crumb diet by a EUM/AC over 2 years to the point where I ended up starving myself and trying to justify good sex as a reason we would stay together (even though we were distance for most of the time). It would be fair to say that loneliness drove me in getting involved with him but I also had very strong feelings that were not reciprocated in kind over time and I essentially became a doormat. When he threw me over for someone else I fell into a heap It was an effort to leave my family and friends and head off to start a new job alone and living in a hotel. The first few weeks away were truly horrible and I will be forever grateful to two people who cared enough to be there for me whenever I needed someone to talk to. The distress and anger I felt at his “abandonment” of me was indicative of a number of underlying issues which are challenging to address through skype. I also find that a session digging into this sets me off for the rest of the day and affects my work. When I feel insecure, under pressure or plain lonely I think about him which makes me feel worse -it is like returning to my abuser for comfort as when I heard his voice or was with him I did feel comforted, even though this was also associated with anxiety and pain. I have been NC for around 2 months bar one lapse before his birthday which he did not respond to. I find that being on my own leaves me with too much time to think and I obsess and spy on what he has been doing. This soothes me temporarily but then I feel distressed and guilty for doing it and the whole cycle starts again. True to form he has lost his mind over this new person who does not tolerate his BS like I did. I ruminate over why her, not me and I return to read BR to get things into perspective as I tend to lose control of my emotions at times which is not good for me or those around me. I know my situation compounds and complicates my recovery and I feel so tired and drained a lot of the time, but I need to work hard to get beyond this so I can recover and move forward.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Meerkat. Don’t just read Natalie’s words. Allow the meanings t really sink in and reflect on how they relate to you and your life. Use the search and find old articles that she’s written that pertain to your concerns. IMO, a therapist might not be a bad idea at all. You are not crazy, OK? You just need help in relating to men in a healthy manner.

      • meerkat says:

        Hi Tinkerbell, thank you for responding. I am seeing a therapist via skype but I find the places I go affect me for the rest of the day. It is hard to do this from a distance and on my own and I tend to do crazy things when I cannot control the feelings I have.

  27. kookie says:

    think it has been hard for me to find any person or group of people i can just be 100% myself with. maybe it doesn’t exist and i should give up this illusion. my friends are wonderful people whom i share core values with but interests wise we couldn’t be more different, so i find myself a little bored in their company even though i love them then i feel guilty about that. the people i have met i can talk for hours about my interests are shady characters i wouldn’t trust as far as i could throw them or people i just don’t really connect with on a deeper level than conversation about X, so i feel like a toned-down half version of myself wherever i go. at this point the only time i ever feel relaxed is when i am with my sister.

    • paolo says:

      kookie. I can relate to that…Iv’e met people that iv’e had ‘things’ in common with and i wouldn’t want to let them in my life because they’re so shifty..This has been a real eye opener to me. Then there are the ones iv’e got near nothing in common with and can be quite boring to be around but the shared values match…It annoys the crap out of me.

      • Lucy says:

        I am no intellectual snob but I find it hard to connect with certain friends, friends I can’t share an interest in reading books with.

        I have realised that I am not seeking people I really connect with because I’m scared of people like me (weird, right?). Part of me doesn’t want to be “found out” as some kind of intellectual impostor so I’m afraid of those who share those interests with me (my therapist tells me this is something which ties into my textbook ‘perfectionism’). That same fear or being an ‘impostor’ has pushed me away from men I’ve assumed are too good for me but who I have a lot in common with. They are great people who aren’t shady.

        I treasure many of my friends and my expectations aren’t ridiculous and we find great ways to connect in terms of our values. But like you, I can be bored sometimes (they no doubt feel the same way about me). Sometimes you can feel like a watered down version of yourself. I try and resolve that by seeking out different friendships to fulfill different needs, because no one can be perfectly compatible with you in every way. But I definitely feel what you feel in spite of using that strategy.

  28. MissDelray says:

    Wow. Thanks for the wake up call. I was doing so well, NC for 9 months with the recent ex when I decided, “hey it’s ok to have sex with the ex ex (other) emotionally abusive sex addict EUM”

    No. No. No. No.

    Sometimes I really think you are in my head, Natalie. Thanks for waking me up from my slumber.

  29. MaryW says:

    This comes at a very appropriate time for me. Last night I asked the narcissist in my life to delete my phone number and move on. He wanted to engage in a text convo when it was time for me to go to bed… and this came after a 4am text message on Saturday which was sexually explicit (the sex side of things has not been on the cards for a few weeks after he ‘realised’ he was not ready for a relationship).I refuse to be his dial-a-wank.

    I woke up this morning feeling remorseful and have almost sent him a message apologising and seeing if we can get to a friendship (which it almost was, but then the middle of the night text message).

    But even when he wants to talk (days go between) it’s just about him and what he’s doing, invariably how he’s messed up with yet another job opportunity. I hardly dare say anything in case he loses his rag with me. He told me to “F@ck Off!” last time we saw each other, with no provocation. This was a reminder of my mothers bullying ways.

    I need some strength to get through today and not contact him. And then not contact him the next day, and the next day after that, etc etc.

    The worst thing is that I cannot delete his phone number – it is literally impossible with an iPhone. I have his number saved under .f@uckoff so that I have a reminder of how terrible he made me feel – it might help me from making a slip up.

    Now on to getting more comfortable with myself without the validation of anyone else… a see a big mountain ahead of me.

    • Jule says:

      You delete them out of your iPhone. I just deleted someone and it worked just fine. If they are a FB friend, you need to delete/block them there too.

      • MaryW says:

        The iPhone won’t let you delete someone completely. When you go to type a text to someone, the deleted persons name will pop up if it starts with the same letter/ contains same letters. I have tried everything.Hence saving his number under .f@ckoff
        He is not on FB but is on the dating website where I met him and I have blocked him there already.

    • grace says:

      Been there. He doesn’t want to be your friend. He just wants you to amuse him at his convenience. Don’t engage.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Mary, WHY for the love of God, would you be tempted to reconnect with someone who told you to F**k off?

      • MaryW says:

        Tinkerbell, it’s because I’m lonely. I liked it when he was phoning/ texting (except the middle of the night sext). He is a Jekyll and Hyde character.
        I can’t accept the “F@ck Off”, and haven’t seen him since then, made an excuse to cancel seeing him and it’s just been texts.
        He apologised for the “F@ck Off” and for texting me in the middle of the night (not for the content of the text) but he can’t see that an apology doesn’t make it all go away.
        He scared me.
        Writing that down helped!!!!

        • Tinkerbell says:

          Mary. I agree that writing down our feelings and experiences helps us come to grips with reality. But, please don’t feel so lonely that you have to stay in touch with him. An apology is still not acceptable. That is an awful thing to say to someone, ANYONE! If he was capable of respecting you in the first place he never would have said that to you. Respect YOURSELF and cut him loose. He’s BAD NEWS.

          • Get Tough says:

            Decent, quality men DO NOT SAY THINGS LIKE THAT to women. Ever. Period. Does this even need to be said? I’ve gone almost 60 years with quite a few relationships and have NEVER been spoken to by any man like that. It would have been such a huge turn-off that it would be an instant and irreversible flush.

            • paolo says:

              Get Tough..I’ve spoken like that and much worse to women before..But they weren’t no ladies, or if they were, they were until the cracks and redflags started to show..The thing about it is, I think it’s bad for the man to let himself get to the point where he feels so repulsed by a woman that he can verbaly abuse her. By that time he should have walked away long before then. Telling a woman to fuck off isn’t very gentlemanly, but i think most men know that if they swear at a woman, then they can expect that it will end things between them…Sometimes a guy will swear at a woman so that she will end it for them because he can’t bring himself to do it..Cowards way out for sure, but i don’t think finding the easy way out of a relationship is gender specific…I don’t think it’s any less cowardice than ending by text for example.

              • MaryW says:

                @Tinkerbell, I know, an apology isn’t enough. He scared me. No one has ever spoken to me like that. I am actually too scared to see him except in a public place. I am annoyed with myself for not challenging him when he told me to “F@ck Off” but I was so shocked! He has no respect for women, he is a misogynist, he has issues with his temper and yes I do need to get a bit more respect for myself.

                @Get Tough: yes, no man had ever spoken to me like that before, and it was ugly.

                @Paolo, wow. He didn’t say it because he is repulsed by me, he is repulsed by intimacy and perhaps by women in general. He didn’t even say it to end the ‘relationship’ – he thought he could say sorry and it would be OK again in a minute. He just lost his temper and said it, with no provocation. I was actually being tender and caring to him at the point. Hence I think he is repulsed by intimacy.

                • Get Tough says:

                  Mary, this is why his response to you is especially vile, as it seemed to come out of nowhere with no provocation. I know that people say some nasty things to each other in the heat of an argument. That’s not what I’m talking about – I’m talking about the mindboggling disrespect (for himself as well as you), lack of manners, lack of class, integrity and maturity (and probably a bunch of other stuff too) that his response reveals about him.

                  Why in the world do you want someone who’s “repulsed by intimacy” if that’s his issue? Sounds like the exact opposite of what a loving partner is all about.

                  • MaryW says:

                    @Get Tough
                    I was thinking about this. I think it boils down to what the article is about and that’s loneliness. I’ve made an effort to reach out to my real friends and need to keep doing so. I wish I’d called him on the “f@ck off” outburst but I was just so shocked. He ended up storming off, complaining about having to “Walk on egg shells” and saying I was “in a huff”. Then apologising.
                    This guy has some sort of personality disorder. I’m no psychiatrist but it seems clear enough. He can be a very nice, charming person one minute and then a nasty, scary person the next.
                    I haven’t contacted him since asking him to delete my number. Thank you for reminding me/ reinforcing why I shouldn’t.

                • Better late than never says:


                  My ex screamed “Fuck you!” at me one night when all I had done was ask him if he had forgotten his jacket in the pub (of course he was drunk, as per usual).

                  I really wish that night had been the end of that relationship. Hell, I wish the 10 times I had broken up with him before that had been the end of it.

                  Funny, no matter how drunk I have been, I have never done that to someone I was with. I now realize my ex is a misogynist who really doesn’t like women at all, is stuck in a 1950s mindset, and is not capable of having loving tender feelings for someone, or accepting them from someone else.

                  I am now nearly 6 months no contact with this douchebag. It is hard but as I am not a big fan of being verbally and emotionally abused, it works for me.

                  Do not make excuses for this asshole or tolerate this type of behavior. And unless “Sorry” is followed up by a complete change of behavior and attitude (highly unlikely), it is nothing but a bunch of hot air.

                  Unfortunately the “fuck off” was probably the honest communication here, and not the apology.

        • DiggingDeeper says:

          “He scared me.”

          I would be scared too, and him scaring you needs to be end of.

          ‘This’ reminds me of a dude I was interested in having a relationship with….: I felt ready to start dating again, and…, so we started communicating with each other through emails, ( he asked me to call him) and it all started out innocently enough (sharing interests…just talking, and catching up), but then the flirting led to the beginnings of sexting, and like you, I enjoyed the sexting, but then he wanted to take it to a level that I wasn’t comfortable with, and it set off a boundary in me,and I was like “NO, I don’t want to get into all this freaky stuff, and when I told him that he got angry with me, and he started berating me in a series of emails, and I was just ‘standing there’, responding with emails saying, “Oh you’re behavior is disgusting”;…blah, blah,” and wait for it–he ‘said’ “f–k YOU,” but he didn’t just say it, he sent me a really disgusting picture illustrating ….

          It just went straight to my core, and “he scared me.” I remember thinking to myself–what kind of a person would take the time to create and then send me such of a disgusting picture? … and say “f%%K YOU,” and all that cussing–he really turned me off, and I just thought to myself this dude has serious anger issues; he’s immature, and he will probably physically abuse me.

          He ‘apologized’, but he said that it was MY FAULT that he got so angry because I was judging him by calling him freaky; he even went so far as to tell me that he knew he had a temper, but still it was MY FAULT because I hurt him and MADE him angry.

          And then, I got triggered back to childhood BS, and I started the blame, shame, guilt, IT”S MY FAULT, if only I had been more clear about my intentions; I mean after all, like you, I initially did enjoy the sexting, so maybe it was MY FAULT because I ‘started it’, and I didn’t tell him that I wanted to pursue a relationship with him…blah, blah, …I was waiting for him to ask me out, and…after all he had never been this disrespectful to me before–did I push him too far? (one false move)…after all, he’s right, I did call him freaky.

          So, yep, SADLY, I was questioning myself–should I apologize to him?

          But, thanks to BR and…,and …and working on myself…and …climbing many mountains, I began to counter the triggering with the idea that he was responsible for his own behavior, and it really was a gift because this situation was so UGLY that I ‘got it’, and I broke a serious pattern, and YOU CAN TOO, but you have to do the work.

          Although not completely convinced of my new beliefs, I flushed him immediately, and I never looked back. I just could not get passed that disgusting picture and the “F*%k you.”

          Now, I would not hesitate to flush this type of guy, and I wouldn’t take the time to “tell him about himself”; I would just go NC.

          Also, I don’t engage in sexting anymore because I think it sends the wrong message, despite how much I enjoy sex,…casual sex just doesn’t suit…values….

          It’s as Natalie says about knowing the purpose of your actions…what is your intention?
          My intention was to go for coffee,… on real dates, and his…YUK!

          Good luck to you.

          • MaryW says:

            @Digging Deeper, thank you for sharing that. Sorry for your horrible experience. What an idiot you ran in to!

            It was also “my fault” that he lost his temper because I kept advising him to relax his leg (he had cramp or something) and it annoyed him.

            Thing is I know a little about this guys past. After I already met him (dammit), I worked out that he went to school with a friend of mine. She told me all about him, what he was like in secondary school. It’s 20 years later but he hasn’t changed. I know it’s about him, but I need to work on myself so I don’t get caught up with people like him again.

            I won’t “tell him about himself” because I am now NC but also because I’m scared of his reaction. He knows where I live. He knows where I work. I could tell him “I know you are an angry little man with issues, you hate women, you are a racist, no one likes you, no one will employ you” but you know what, I actually don’t want to hurt him (or worse still, anger him). I just want him to go away.

            I agree about sexting too. It sends out the wrong signals completely if you want a relationship. And casual sex doesn’t suit my values, either. Loneliness can make you do very stupid things, alas.

            Good luck to you, too and thanks again.

            • mer says:

              When I read this: “. I could tell him “I know you are an angry little man with issues, you hate women, you are a racist, no one likes you, no one will employ you” but you know what, I actually don’t want to hurt him (or worse still, anger him). I just want him to go away.” I just had to ask, that guy’s name wouldn’t happen to be Rapheal (aka Madrid?) would it? If not, these characteristics must be standard for some type of disorder that affects a larger population!

              • Allison says:


                The disorder is called Assholes!!!!

              • MaryW says:

                It’s a different guy, Mer! I looked up narcissistic personality disorder and this guy seemed to tick most of the boxes. He’s worse than an Asshole because he’s scary.

                • Allison says:

                  The point I wanted to make, is that we should not be invved with these type of people , disorder or not. The scary and bad behavior should be enough.

    • Allison says:


      Next time you’re tempted, remember that he does not give a damn about you – only talks about himself – and is simply interested in a booty call. Men who have an ounce of respect for a woman, do not text in the middle of night with explicit texts. Yuck!

      How do you feel after you have an exchange with him? Is it worth reconnecting?

      • MaryW says:

        Hi Allison
        No it’s not worth reconnecting at all. I think I do trust myself not to contact him (though it’s bloody annoying I cannot get him off my phone). I am not sure I can trust him not to contact me. I have felt depressed since I met him. Up one moment but then very down the next, and the lows are more frequent and longer lasting than the highs.

        I am making healthy changes believe it or not – the ‘me’ of a few years or even months ago would have been pandering to this idiot. Finally I told him to buzz off.

  30. Nancy says:

    I am the extreme people pleaser. I give and give and give to my AC, I have a son in prison that is exhausting emotionally and financially, I have a son that is an engineer and working on his MBA, yet constantly needs my attention, I do a lot socially….yet my inner self is lonely. So I DO take the crumbs….especially from my AC. A big part of why I don’t go NC is my huge fear of being lonely. So I am working on what it will take to be happy with myself, not giving so much, and creating healthy activities that don’t leave me barren. It’s tough.

    • Nancy,

      I think sometimes in order to become ‘busy’ we do too much rather than be selective about our passtimes.

      Over the past few months of NC I just threw myself into each and everything I could just so I would have no ‘bored-and-thinking’ time.

      But now, I think it is more important to find the things I genuinely enjoy and spend more time doing those because previously even when I was supposed to be ‘busy’ with something, if I didn’t enjoy it, I still kept thinking about him.

      As to not going NC because of the fear of loneliness – it was the same for me (and others here I’m sure), but it is just a leap of faith that things will get better. I am still lonely sometimes, but better to be lonely than suffering from emotional abuse and AC-behaviour.

      • Allison says:


        Agree with Wish!

        Nothing is worse than allowing yourself to be disrespected. I felt more alone by engaging than I did when we separated. It was nice, when I no longer ALLOWED someone to tear down my self-esteem .

        I would never go back to that place, to simply have someone in my life.

        I don’t understand why you believe you will not meet another man? Did you not have a life before you met this guy?

        • Nancy says:

          This site is SO helpful. He is the king of disrespect and I feel (hope) I am beginning to understand that there calm when he is not calling, sexting, late, womanizing,blah, blah, blah. And thanks for upstarting me to remember how great my life was PRIOR to meeting this man. Wow…that was over 2 years ago.

          And Tinkerbell…you are correct!

      • Tinkerbell says:

        Nancy. You can start kicking him to the curb in your mind. Stop referring to him as “My” AC. Are you proud of it, or something? An AC? If you’re not married to him he’s not yours!

  31. frieda says:

    This came at just the right time! Thank you! I recently left a nearly 4 year relationship with an unavailable man (another of your posts showed me that!) and have been feeling lonely for the daily contact with someone. I met another, so wrong for me in the same ways, but I have that fear I won’t find another. You are right – I need to respect and care for myself. Be strong for myself.

  32. TammyT says:

    I’ve been keeping myself busy and have been doing a most excellent job of enjoying my own company, along with the company of friends. Over the past week though…I don’t know, guess you could say I’ve been feeling the lonely itch (probably just PMS haha).

    Over the weekend, an EUM invited me to his brother’s birthday party. I stopped by for an hour after seeing a show with friends. The EUM was cordial and even a little flirtatious. Last night, we got into a brief text conversation that I initiated and ended. It ended abruptly because I thought back to this place and my past and realized, holy crap, this can of worms is going to taste like all of the previous cans: like mud!

    Ok, so I’m a bit lonely right now. No biggy. I know why: I’m hormonal right now, haven’t had sex in awhile, went on a couple of dates that didn’t pan out, and would like some male intimate connection. The EUM is NOT the answer and will only make me feel worse!

    Thanks for the post, Natalie. Perfect timing. It really hit the spot this morning.

    • Nancy says:


      How do you get to the place where you realize that the EUM is NOT the answer? I get SO scared of letting go…that I won’t have the arms of a man around me, that I won’t ever have sex again, that I won’t, I won’t, I won’t…. But you are correct, every time I get out of his bed at 5:00 in the morning and drive home, I feel worse instead of better. But it doesn’t stop me from doing it again.

      • TammyT says:

        Nancy, it took a lot of pain, reading sites like this one, self reflection, and a bit of therapy to get to this place. It was a long and difficult process, but so very much worth it!

        I’d had enough of the giving my all only to receive hardly anything in return. I’d had enough groveling and allowing myself to be used as a sexual object. I’d had enough throwing my self esteem under the bus. After the last failed relationship with an EU I almost had a nervous breakdown. Then it dawned on me that I was about to crack…over a man. A man! REALLY?! That’s messed up and not at all normal! It was time to work on myself, and so I did. It was difficult and scary, but now I know when someone is EU and choose my happiness, needs, and respect over his. Yes, it gets lonely from time to time, but allowing myself to be mistreated is not an option anymore.

        Nancy, when you’ve had enough and are ready to face your codependent fears, you will find the strength to walk away and turn the focus inwards where it belongs. I hope it’s soon. *hug*

    • Tammy,

      I used to do that too!

      I would be talking to him and suddenly the past would flash before my eyes and I would immediately end the conversation and go ‘cold’ on him.

      It’s easy enough to get caught up until reality slaps you in the face.

      Stay strong x

      • TammyT says:

        Will do, WishUponAStar!

        Oh, just wanted to clear something up…I have not had any kind of relationship with the EUM I referred to. I didn’t even know he was EU until last night.

        FLUSH! 😀

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Tammy. Next time stop and think before you act. “Is this the right move for me to be making? What are the possible consequences of my actions? Why am I seeking out someone I know is no good for me? Is my sexual desire so important that I’m willing to throw out my values and self respect?” Ask YOURSELF first.

  33. Bob72 says:

    Great post – as always :)

    I did this a couple months ago now, but try it if you want to and see what it does for the quality of your existing relationships and the ability to form new legitimate ones… Delete your Facebook account, Twitter, IM, all that other online crap. Text (I do still text alot)… but if you are texting someone on a daily basis try picking up the phone at least once a day when you have time and talk to them. Just try it for awhile and see if it improves those lonely feelings.

    I know I will probably never turn my Facebook back on… all those people weren’t so much my friends as people from a past long ago anyway, and it created a feeling of being pseudo connected for me that honestly left me feeling more lonely and “left out” because everyones life seemed so much more spectacular than mine (which mine is as damn fine as I choose to make it too!!). Why do I need a bunch of electronic peoples approval anyway??? Its bad enough I tend to need real peoples approval lol – thats been my problem forever so I need to add to it?? I had all my “real friends” numbers and saw them on a regular basis anyway – all I had to do was pick up the damn phone or go visit and I could see all the pictures and hear all the news I wanted to, and be in reality to boot! I dont miss it, and now days my home PC almost never gets turned on, unless its to pay bills or read this site.

    I missed the red flags of non verbal communication in my relationship too (along with all the other red flags, because I had no concept of them :))… 80% of my important communication with my ex was through text or IM if we were at work. Even though we saw eachother every day, and made small talk, took care of the kids together etc, we only had a small handful of really good, deep discussions face to face and heart to heart. Even our last days and most of our breakup happened via IM, email, and text. I will not choose a partner for a relationship ever again that can’t pick up a phone and call me or me them, at least semi-often.I really believe what Natalie has said many times – these days of “lazier” forms of communication have intensified interpersonal relationship issues.

    Lots of good thoughts here in the comments too, thanks to all of you :)

  34. Emily says:

    So true. I think people often try to fill this void in the wrong way. It’s an important message.

  35. Jelby says:

    Oh no Oc. It sounds like you’re in a slump. You’re doing amazingly. Don’t forget it’s about mindset and motivation. We are right behind you. Funny how much grief you get for not drinking huh. It suddenly becomes something you have to justify. People just can’t understand it ( or they can and are jealous of your achievements and try to suck you back in to make themselves feel better). It’s the same with anything that betters you. Whether it be drinking habits or self esteem. You have to do it yourself. Be your own best friend instead of your own worst enemy. Give yourself a break. You may not be there yet but You’re DOING it!

  36. cc says:

    hey, kids-
    haven’t commented in a while. *blows kisses*

    i just did a 10-day vipassana meditation retreat. it’s basically you and the inside of your head for 10 days. learned a LOT.

    when you meditate for a week and a half and there is really no input from the outside world, you really see what you’re feeling and where it comes from.

    like….what this and the circle of trust post say… and this is still hard to get my head around, even though i just proved it to myself – everything, and i mean EVERYthing we feel is really up to us. it is ALL our own reactions. we get input from the world, from others, but our reactions are ours and ours alone. hmmmm.

    and – we each are truly responsible for our own happiness.

    so…BR up. we all deserve to be happy. we just need to understand where happiness comes from.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Hi cc. Glad to know you’re doing well!

    • Learner says:

      cc – great to hear from you girl. The meditation sounds like a fantastic way to get in touch with your feelings, and to get more comfortable being with just you. Alone. Doesn’t sound like you had time for loneliness with all that reflection going on. Awesome!

    • Magnolia says:

      Thanks for the reminder, cc. When I was meditating, I knew this better. When I got busy, I forgot!

      • cc says:

        tink – hi!! thanks!

        learner – no, no time for loneliness when you’re wrestling with yourself – which is in itself a good lesson.

        the teacher tells a story of a man and wife who both did vipassana meditation. one day he asked her – do you love me? and she said – actually, i only love me! he said – me, too!

        mags – hi!! yes, the world is already intruding on my zen. i need to keep meditating.

  37. Rosie says:

    So…is there a difference between feeling lonely and feeling alienated? On the one hand, I feel lonely for a man but have turned down all recent offers for various reasons (no chemistry, chemistry but disrespectful treatment, too much of an age gap, etc.) but I don’t feel lonely in the general, big picture sense as I have friends, causes, stronger character, etc. But I do feel like an alien in an alien land. I’m trying to be chaste in my promiscuous, using culture. I’m also nice in a culture that values selfishness and aggression. What to do?

  38. teachable says:

    this is the post which hits the nail on the head for me as to how/why my deceased ex AC managed to worm his way bk into my life. i’d been single for quite a while at the time & was also unhappy in.my employment & thinking of moving.interstate (it turned out to where he was now located). i mistakenly thought having contact wouldn’t do any harm (he wasn’t an AC, at least to my knowledge, when I’d first split w him 17 yrs prior, so I had no idea of the fate I was unwittingly signing up for.) I shudder in hindsight at his emotional cruelty & worse, at myself for not cutting him off for good at the knees at the very first sign of this. I didn’t want to believe that a person who once professed their undying love for me could change so much & be so awful. They can & they were. End of…

    I’ve entered a long period of illness since & haven’t felt ready to date yet. Smoking was a big barrier esp. Well, wouldn’t you know, at 13 days off smoking, I’ve been asked out by my computer repair man. I decided to accept & explained so long as he didn’t mind waiting a couple of weeks so I can put some anxiety inducing medical appoints behind me first. He said no probs. I also said I was sorting out health & $ issues so whilst I’m happy to make a new friend, at this stage I don’t feel ready to date as one normally would. He said tht’s ok too.

    The funny thing is that lonely feeling I used to have left a while bk. Strange as I have no ‘close friends’ I can ring & just whinge abt day to day life to, & not working & being ill, I’m home alone in my own company a lot. I have a few friends I can call & org to do things with but I don’t due to illness & $ woes.

    My (extended) family are ok but dysfunctional. They are no support to me whatsoever. I accept this. I don’t waste time trying to build r.ships with them anymore. I’ve done 2 decades.of that. Let them make an with me for a change. Can you hear.the silence? That’s their effort ie none even in my time of serious illness & duress. I like it this way. No more pretending on my part. I see reality as it is – without the BS.

    Getting bk to tht date which will be just two ppl hanging out & getting to know ea other so as not to be too overwhelming, rather than a ‘date’ as such; I’m proud of myself for saying yes. It would have been much easier & safer to say no.

    Time for me to take a risk. Even just a small one like this… wish.me luck! :)

    • Tabitha says:

      Wow Teach! I know it’s only a date and dating is a discovery phase and all that…….Still, really pleased for you. I am always really interested to hear what happens when BR educated women go on dates with new men. How it affects the way we interpret what they say and do etc.
      Promise you will have a lovely time, and that you will feed back :)

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Hey Teach! I’m glad for you that you’ve accepted a date. I don’t want to burst your bubble, but do you think it’s wise to give him so much personal information, so soon? You don’t know him very well, right? I think oftentimes men (not all of them) put women they’ve just met into categories and treat them accordingly. He already knows your health is currently compromised he doesn’t need to know about your upcoming DR appointments and less than stellar financial status. I just want to see you start out on the right foot since this is obviously important to you. All the best.

  39. At Peace says:

    “Sometimes we expect everyone else to make the effort before we will, when in reality, being friendly is a two-way street with an element of risk on both sides.”

    Nat! I just love you!!!! This post is SO relevant to where I am at right now!!

    Being out of a relationship for the past nine months has forced me to focus on my own issues. It was uncomfortable and unpleasant initially, but I am in a much better place as a result. It helps that I can distinguish between feelings of aloneness verses feelings of loneliness. Taking responsibility for my own happiness, I go online and purchase discounts for various activities in and outside of the area where I live. I have joined meetup.com, church single groups, and have made the effort to extend the hand of friendship rather than waiting for others to extend it to me. When I do not have someone to accompany me on weekend getaways, I go by myself. Northern California is too damn beautiful for me not to enjoy all that it has to offer–even if it means going solo. I have met many friendly people on my solo trips, and I have done a great job of entertaining myself (being an only child, I have had to learn to do so at an early age). When I am at home, yard work, decorating, and caring for my little dog–who adores the ground that I walk on–keeps my mind occupied so that I don’t feel lonely very often. And when those feelings of loneliness sneak up on me, I simply allow myself to feel it, have a good cry, wipe my eyes, and keep on keeping on because I know that this too (the feeling) shall pass.

  40. dove says:

    Great post and perfect timing. I like the part that says
    “Crumbs can leave you really hungry.” That is so true. I have been nc for about a month (its been a struggle, on again off again yoyo thing that I hope I can escape this time), he texted me today for a booty call…I almost bit but declined, felt very sad about it but realize that if I did it, I would hate myself later, and he really isn’t worth it and that makes me sad too…he seemed to have such potential and threw it all away because he can’t commit, plays the poor me games…so much drama that I really don’t need to get into, everyone here has had their own version I am sure. I need to get more self esteem I am thinking but not sure how. I have always been a bit shy, not into going out alone, and I did try meetups, but never met up with any groups. Silly me, the first step is always the hardest. I have faced so many strong winds in my life, when it comes to protecting my family or the ones I care about, and did it well, but when it comes to doing something for me is when I falter.

    • runnergirl says:

      Dove, you are doing great by not responding to his booty call calls. That’s the first step. DON’T BITE. I so get the fact “he seemed to have such potential…”. The exMM had such great potential: If only he wasn’t married and didn’t have a family and didn’t future fake and wasn’t a lying cheat. Despite those giant obstacles, there was great potential? NOT. I was scratching an itch with poison ivy and waking up wondering why I was in such pain. Duh.
      “I need to get more self esteem I am thinking but not sure how.” I have a suggestion: Sign up for Nat’s self-esteem e-course. It is fabulous. It takes work, committment, and foritude on your part. Nat can’t send us self-esteem but she certainly can guide us into doing the work, moreso than any therapist I’ve ever worked with. Sign up…Order her books…read…and open your self to focusing on you. I used to falter in standing up for me too. Until BR! You deserve better than a booty call and you can get better. Flush him. Rub some cortizone on that itch.

    • Nancy says:

      Wow Dove…I get booty calls at all times of the night…but certainly never before 9:00 p.m. And how many times have I got in my car and drove to his house. I have not been in his bed for over almost a month now, and it has been very difficult. But he is the ultimate AC and I need to flush. It’s just difficult. When he calls or text, my phone plays “Jar of Hearts.” Not only does it give me strength, it also lets me know it’s him.

  41. Margaret Lawrence says:

    A perfect post : been there , done that :)

  42. teachable says:

    Good points Tink. He knew already though as we’d chatted (as you do) abt life in general over a few visits previously re computer repairs. I know his (basic) bkstory through this also.

    Actually, it’s one that makes me a bit wary, as he divorced recently, after 26 ys of marriage. He says he initiated leaving the marriage & the marital home is just now (now that $ matters have been settled through lawyers) being sold. I also know he was having some counselling for depression related to the transition a few mths ago. I’ve already said I’m not ready to date as such but I don’t think two people cheering ea other up with a simple outing will do any harm (& I will re-iterate I’m not wanting more than just friendship w anyone atm). I ended up disclosing I am dealing w depression also, although I haven’t & wont give details at this stage, as I don’t think it’s his business. This was BEFORE he asked me out of course. Being asked out was quite unexpected. Will keep you updated!

  43. teachable says:

    I agree Tabitha. I wont go far w this guy though. Just a friend & mayb some socialising. If he’s ok w tht might do us both some good!

    I’m still more focused on ME & making sure I don’t smoke! Two weeks tomorrow!!!

  44. noquay says:

    I am one of those that literally is totally without anyone most of the time due to having to leave my real home, husband, community to move across the countr followed by struggling to make ends meet in a very status concious area followed by more displacement when I moved here. The only meetups are 40-50+ miles away on mountain roads and are mostly about downhill skiing and snowboarding both of which I am against due to their environmental impact. I give a lot to community, charities, participate fully in life but I cannot turn to family or friends that no longer exist and my values are very different from the age appropriate men near here. I recently got back on eHarmony and its been a real disappointment; the handful of men I really liked wont communicate and the site keeps throwing unhealthy men that do not share my values and live 300 miles away. I realize this situation is why I turned to the at work AC: he was the only man within a huge radius of here that shared at least my environmental values, lifestyle, and I was actually attracted to. I really do not want to have to be alone for the next 7 years, when I am 60 and retired but I am also careful not to scratch the loneliness itch with the less-thans, marrieds, druggies and deadbeat ski bums that routinely cross my path. I do wish I could force myself not to want to be loved, cared about, touched for good. I do pretty well being 80% alone all the time, its the remaining 20% that hurts.

  45. R says:

    Nat. From my heart – thank you for this blog. You are making a true difference for us girls. So thank you!

  46. runnergirl says:

    You guys aren’t going to believe this but it is true. I’ve been gardening which is a dangerous sport. I was carrying a giant bag of potting soil and tripped and fell over another giant bag of potting soil, crunching my right hand. I thought a couple of fingers were broken. Then something wierd happened. One finger, my middle finger, got this weird itchy rashy feeling. I was waking up in the middle of the night with this burning itch inside my middle finger. Swear to god. I was up at night scratching my swollen middle finger! I found some cortaid in the med cabinet and started rubbing it on my finger. It’s better now. It was this intense itch on the inside with nothing showing on the outside and on only one finger. Thus I couldn’t go to the doctor and say I have an itchy finger! I’m headed for the cortaid. How wacky is this? I’m not making this up…who could make this up.
    BTW if you have an itch, cortaid works wonders! How wacky! At least the swelling has subsided and it isn’t so itchy. How funny.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Steroid which will relieve itching and pain. Smart of you. Be careful with the gardening. I’m always falling, I trip over cracks in the sidewalk so I can surely understand falling over a big bag of potting soil. But the mind therapy is great, isn’t it?

  47. Peanut says:

    I don’t have any friends right now. I don’t trust anybody, which, in sure means, I don’t trust myself. But, truth be told, I don’t know myself enough to confidentially go for the right friendships with the right types of people for me, i.e., people who share similar values.

    It’s taken about a year to figure out my values. They have shifted over this year of heartbreak and loss. I think they’re settling into this: Authenticity, Spirituality, Care, Balance, and Responsibility. If you’d have told me a year ago that these would be my values, I’d have stared blankly, and said, “Huh?!” I didn’t know a clue about boundaries and how they effect every decision and facet of life.

  48. […] want to continue being treated that way and that yes, you will find healthier ways to scratch the loneliness itch and understand where your feelings stem from so that you don’t end up accepting crumbs and […]

  49. Helena says:

    I read and understand, but I have no idea where to start to put this advice into practice. I am gut wrenchingly lonely.

  50. BS says:

    It all sounds like SUCH a struggle; learning to trust, emotional intimacy, vulnerability, therapy, loneliness, work, courses, books, being strong, resisting, set boundaries, OMG, is there any time to enjoy life after all that? How many pages of rules do you have to check off when meeting someone? It sounds like a science project, not a relationship. Didn’t we all come with instincts?

  51. simple pleasures says:

    BS-our instincts have led many here to have casual sexual entaglements and ultimately broken hearts. A healthy relationship is enjoying life, but it is like a science project requiring research, work, homework, testing of ideas, finding proof of what is true.
    Our traditional guidebooks (extended families, religious institutions, schools, government) are now scorned as outdated adversaries. We are left scratching our heads as to where did our moral compass go? Did we ever get taught one? Why do people opt for superificial instinct driven encounters and fear old fashioned courtship and intimacy? We are
    getting our values taught by the modern media and those who want to sell us a product. They are presenting a view of how to behave, what a modern relationship, family and friendship looks like. They are selling modern society a bill of goods and unfortunately people are buying it.

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.