Everyone has the potential to be nice....until you want or expect something from them that they don't want or have to give. Many BR readers are venturing back out there and dating again, and of course, if you’ve had your hands burnt in an unavailable relationship or have even encountered behaviour and situations which left you shaken or questioning whether you can trust yourself, you’ll be ‘on guard’ for anything shady while at the same time latching onto ‘nice’ signals. One of the things that readers remark about is how someone that they’ve just met/reconnected with, or been on a few dates with, is ‘potentially’ a nice person. If they go on to do something that doesn’t fit with your vision of nice, it can send some of you into a tailspin or have you questioning your judgement.

Here’s the thing: We’re all potentially ‘nice’ people on those first few dates. In fact, everyone is potentially nice but in reality, everyone isn’t.

Most people put on their best drawers, are charming, funny, accommodating, and may even seem like you have a lot in common. In essence, we showboat our best Let Me Impress You Selves because we want to be liked. OK that and we may hope to get another date and on the shadier side of things, we may have our eye on getting a shag, an ego stroke, and a shoulder to lean on. These things are difficult to come by without behaving halfway decent *initially*…unless the other person ignores unhealthy behaviour.

It’s only the most deluded who don’t actually recognise that certain types of behaviour and characteristics are not actually attractive or healthy, or the ones that are shady and looking for a quick hit, that will show you their arse (figuratively, OK and possibly literally) very quickly.

If you’ve ever interviewed someone for a job, unless you’re letting people walk in off the street, you have a pre-screening process where you work off first impressions based on certain information gathered through a telephone interview, a CV/resume, application form, or letter. It could end up being that none of the people you select to go forward are ultimately right for the ‘role’ but what you do is based on what is presented, candidates where it’s immediately obvious that they’re not the right fit are removed.

Now there’s every possibility that a portion of these ‘candidates’ were misguidedly overlooked but bearing in mind that you can only work off the initial information that was given by them and your own judgement, you have to let this be. You can’t miss what you never had. Obviously you could decide to call them back up or ‘give them a chance’ but that may not change what you originally gauged.

If you recognise that most people are ‘potentially’ nice, you can relax, go through the discovery phase of dating, and let the situation unfold.

Just like with the job candidate, some will show themselves to be wrong for the role of friendship or a relationship but you know this is the case. You expect this not because you forecast doom but because you forecast reality, a reality where not everyone you meet is someone you can wind up in a relationship with.

If an employer had one job and tried to hire all the applicants irrespective of their aptitude for the role, that would be pretty effed up.

Stop latching onto a few arbitrary things displayed or conveyed in early conversations or dates, thinking ‘Bingo! They’re a nice person’ (whatever nice means) and immediately assuming all sorts of things about them and then feeling like you judged them wrong if they stray from your vision.

Let’s be real – Even if you have really great judgement, you cannot immediately know what someone will or will not be, hence why saying you’ve fallen in love at first sight, is like saying you fell in love with an illusion and air. It’s giving yourself too much credit for your powers of judgement. Yeah you can often smell a rat from a mile off, but some people are actually pretty decent folk with relationship habits that rule them out of a relationship with you.

I assume most people are decent until shown otherwise and then adjust accordingly. I don’t feel disappointed if they turn out not to be ‘nice’, because instead of starting out by building them into something off a few ‘nice signals’ which is basically Betting On Potential and blowing smoke up a strangers bum, I start from scratch and let the person ‘build up’ through the discovery phase – this is when you’re getting to know someone.

If you don’t like what you know, you bounce. Case closed.  

Many people are going out there with a pre-constructed vision of ‘nice’ and then based on what appear to be subsequent ‘nice signals’, inflating the vision further, and then feeling disappointed. The danger is that if you’re the type to latch onto things and make a big deal out of them and then assume the person is automatically in possession of *other* qualities and characteristics that you deem attractive (people constantly do this with common interests, appearance, intelligence, sex, chemistry etc), you’re not in reality about who you get involved with.

Assuming things about people you meet and Betting On Potential and then being pissed off when they fall short, is like going out with a fully conceived Lego person based on your vision and then having to remove the bricks when they don’t stack up and then being pissed off with the gaps, even though the person isn’t what you built anyway.

Dating is a discovery phase. As you get to know them, if you’re in reality, you gradually build up a picture of who they are instead of leaping ahead and assuming who they are and having to reorganise your vision.

In this way, any picture that you have of someone is consistent with what you actually know and in context. This means, yes you may have thought they were great from day 1-20 but if on day 21 they do something that completely contradicts what you felt you knew and/or it’s code amber or red territory, you can say “It’s a shame as I’d thought they were whatever and whatever but hey, we’ve only known each other for 3 weeks/been on a few dates. It’s good that I see this now” – remember you can judge a situation without having to judge them.

When you spend time around someone over a consistent period of time in a range of situations, then you discover. I remember a reader being shocked at how disrespectful her partner was when they were out. I was like “You only discovered this after seven months?” She said “We spent most of the time in bed or in our apartment for the first six months…”

I’m not saying that they’re not nice, but going on a date or two or even seven isn’t all there is to discover about a person. Hell you’re always discovering (just at a slower pace as the relationship progresses) but there comes a point where you can rely on what you’ve discovered to be a predictor of what is to come – this is only something that comes with time…and of course reality. You can’t hurry this.

Your thoughts?

Check out my book and ebook Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl in my bookshop.


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159 Responses to Everyone has the potential to be nice…but you’ve still got to go through the discovery phase of dating

  1. Natasha says:

    This so reminds me of a Chris Rock saying that goes, “When you meet somebody for the first time, you’re not meeting them. You’re meeting their representative.”

    I’m not going out on a date in my beloved velour pants that I wear for house cleaning/snowstorms/when I’ve had a bad day and I order enough sushi to feed a family of six. I’m going out in a hot dress, damnit! (This is kind of a shallow example, but I’m going with it.) So, let’s say the dude then thinks, “My homegirl Natasha can DRESS.” and then it hits the three month mark and I don’t even comb my hair. He’s made a discovery! Same thing with personality traits – it takes time to suss them out.

    Of course there are things that are so abominable that whatever “nice” things have gone down before are then moot. As my Dad says, “Even the biggest asshole on this earth can be nice when he wants something enough.”

    • brenda says:

      Natasha,I was just talking to a freind today about first meetings,and how we truly are never our authentic selves…I Mean I love to walk around in my PJs all day on my days off.I dont comb my hair,wipe the make up off from the day before,and honestly I dont care!!!lol..Yet when I am going on a date,I am looking smokin hot,and If I continue to see them and if they call to come for a coffee at my place,on my days off,I am randomly walking around my house in Heals????lol…Oh it makes me laugh to think what I have done in the past….Today if I get a call to stop by I may comb my hair!!

      • Natasha says:

        Brenda, I work from home and a lot of the time I am working away in a decrepit sweatshirt and yoga pants all day haha! Personally, the only time I’ve worn heels at home by myself is if they were really tough to walk in and I needed to practice in order to avoid doing a face plant in public! Other than that…errrrrrr, not happening. In the past I have coordinated outfits for a drop-in too – I am rolling my eyes at myself right now 😉

    • Tracy says:

      I don’t even brush my hair…

      I love that. If any guy saw what my room looked like right now (laundry and stacks of books on my bed, clothes in heap on floor), they’d think I’m some sort of Crazy Cat Woman. OF COURSE, you put your best food forward.

      But as I read somewhere, any NORMAL man will overlook unbrushed hair (as long as it’s not the norm, of course), a slightly untidy room, “casual wear” (again, as long as it’s not “the norm”), because it’s YOU they want. Not the trophy, not the easy lay…you.

      • Natasha says:

        Love it Tracy! I’m the type of crazy woman that has to have perfect hair, a perfect outfit and an apartment that I spent two days cleaning if I’m seeing someone. This is obviously ridiculous, because normal men are okay with having a hair out of place/a speck of dust in the corner! I think it’s because I felt so insecure around everyone I’ve dated, because I knew they sucked and didn’t have any genuine respect for me. It was like, “Maybe if I look perfect, you’ll realize I’m not so bad!” It’s foolishness, I tell you.

        p.s. I have laundry stacks in my kitchen right now haha! SEXY.

        • EllyB says:

          Several guys I knew (not all of them exes, but rather what I’d call “toxic acquaintances”) claimed I “didn’t dress sexy enough” or I “didn’t look polished enough”. I always wondered: Many women look far less polished and less sexy than I. How come they have boyfriends or even husbands???

          I guess the answer is simple: A healthy guy doesn’t criticize a woman for not being “sexy” or “polished” enough. If they want one in sexy clothes, they pick one. If they want a polished one, they pick one. If they want one who is casually dressed and easygoing, they watch out for those qualities. And so on. It’s that easy.

          Criticizing somebody for who he/she is is always toxic behavior.

          • RadioGirl says:

            “Criticizing somebody for who he/she is is always toxic behavior”.

            I completely agree, Elly. And even more toxic is criticizing the very things about a person that they were waxing lyrical about and praising to the heavens at the start of the relationship. Or is that just Grade A Assclownery?

          • Natasha says:

            EllyB, that was so awesome – you’re one wise woman. I totally agree that, “Criticizing somebody for who he/she is is always toxic behavior.” Well said and so incredibly true. These guys that are criticizing looks/career/religion/family, etc. are, in my humble opinion, nasty pieces of work!

          • Mango says:

            Yes! Well said.

          • tracy says:

            My recent EUM/ex bf of 1 1/2 years ALWAYS found something wrong with me. It was like he had radar for my flaws…a zit, a rough patch of skin, a spot on my shirt, a hair out of place, the extra dust in the corner, the not sterile kitchen…if it was there, he found it, pointed it out, and would “reassure” me that he wasn’t DISGUSTED by me, though his actions showed otherwise. I tried being PERFECT, because his ex wife, and three previous girlfriends were all PERFECT. Too bad I didn’t stop and say, “Clearly, they were perfect. They got rid of you.”

          • grace says:

            Do you get Gok Wan where you live? He does a makeover show for women and time and again he works with women who’ve had breast cancer, had babies, put on weight, lost too much weight and their husbands all say “I think she’s beautiful. I wish she would believe it”. And even I’m thinking “Erm, she does NOT look that good”. But their husbands don’t see a woman who’s “let herself go”, they see someone they love.
            Love is blind, but not in the way we practise it (ie overlooking all their mistreatment and placing too much value on crumbs).
            Still, it does a woman good to dress up nice, do her hair, wear make up if she likes. It appeals to our creative side and it’s fun. FUN – not something you do desperately to please a man who keeps shifting the goalposts!

      • NML says:

        “any NORMAL man will overlook unbrushed hair (as long as it’s not the norm, of course), a slightly untidy room, “casual wear” (again, as long as it’s not “the norm”), because it’s YOU they want. Not the trophy, not the easy lay…you.” Very true Tracy. And let’s not forget that it cuts both ways – it’s not like these guys don’t have their own foibles too. I know some people who are scruffy or not that fashionable that have happy relationships.

    • SM says:

      Natasha, LOL that was exactly my thought when I first started reading this post…Chris Rock saying “you are not you on a first date, you are the ambassador of you”. Greatest quote ever!
      So true, this is why its important to “slow your roll” when dating. And dont let someone drag you into to ‘speed dating’. I dated a guy who told me he had a lot of respect for women. After dating him a month I met a group of his friends, their kids, wives etc… These guys, mine included were cursing some really awful nasty words, saying somewhat explicit sexual things to the other guys women and talking about bedroom antics with children present. It was totally inappropriate and might I add that I am a Christian. I’m no delicate flower but jeeshh… Where was the respect he said he had.

      • Natasha says:

        Oh SM, that’s the worst – when the friends are dolts and they bring out the guy’s inner dolt. You know it’s bad when you want to be like, “Lady present!!”

      • NML says:

        As is mentioned later in the comments, no man, no *person* that truly respects anyone or anything goes around making announcements about it and advertising themselves. It’s Those Who Doth Protest Too Much.

    • Karina says:

      Natasha…I like how your dad thinks! And right on with thr Chris Rock saying as well. I’ve realized this lately. I Am seriously considering a hiatus from dating and my idea of nice has to him reality a lot quicker before I feel like a fool for believing an ass when he comes up with dirty tricks. This post is spot on as usual!

      • Elle says:

        So funny that you mention the superficial stuff. Both the AC and recent ex had a distinct moment where they looked at me and were like, (and this is almost verbatim) ‘you kind of don’t care what you look like, do you?’ I suddenly became this dirty, ugg-boot-wearing beggar in their eyes. Mind you, I hadn’t gone nuts in the early days – maybe a bit spesh (good spesh), so, they too filled me in with their own fantasies. Actually, both of them had said that they liked having a pretty girl by their side, and I remember thinking ‘who are you talking about? that’s not a real person’ (should have been thinking RUN, but that’s new take-home). See, that’s the thing, we not only act on our best behaviour, we can also often see the other person as our best self too. They were thinking, ‘I like having myself (my best self) by my side!’

        Cool post, Natalie. Spot on, as ever. Thank you.

        • NML says:

          Elle, one of the things your exes show is that two people can at the root of it have the same issue but come in different packages and display some of the similar behaviours in different ways. At the heart of it though, the root issue is the same – unavailable. For a long time I used to tell people “Guys like me because they’re attracted to my appearance and because they think I’m outgoing, ambitious, clever etc and then gradually they stop liking me because of how I look, and because I’m outgoing, ambitious, and clever…” I’d ‘have’ to dampen down my personality and not be ‘too anything’ looks wise to appease them. But then I, like a lot of women *am* guilty of the same thing. I’ve liked men for their unavailable qualities but wanted them to behave like an available man. When I decided to embrace who I am, my attitude became “If you want the opposite of me, eff off and go and get that.” You will meet someone who will love and respect you as you are and won’t make dumb statements.

      • Natasha says:

        @Karina – I’m on a dating hiatus myself! For me it’s more that no one’s been doing it for me – which may be saying loud and clear, “Not ready!” I totally agree that when I start dating again, things will be moving at a snail’s pace! So glad you enjoyed my Dad’s wisdom – he doesn’t say much about these things, but what he does say is always brilliant!

        @Elle – So true!! The guys I’ve dated have never complimented me on any thing other than superficial stuff and I’m sure were expecting full-on glam at every moment. Both of those guys are jerks for saying that to you, because I doubt that any of them are rolling around in tuxedos to go the grocery store! I love how they felt the need to point out that they like a pretty girl on their arm – I mean, doesn’t every man?! Who the hell comes out and says it? I can’t imagine saying to someone I was dating, “You know, I really like having a handsome man around.” I’d sound like a tool…just like those two!

      • NML says:

        Hey Karina, I don’t think it will do you any harm to have a hiatus or at least slow down. I was talking to a few single male and female friends the other night. Do you know the word that all of them said without realising? They like attention. Honestly, I couldn’t keep up with the various dates and escapades. I was like “How much attention do you all need?! Where’s the effing fire?” Give yourself some attention – get a hobby or more of them, get free and clear of the past drama, get to a positive place where even if they do eff up after a couple of dates or so, you don’t give a shit because you know you’re not banking on a stranger to puff into your life and make it all special.

    • Mango says:

      I thought about this, and realized, I’m just the opposite! I don’t go out to clubs/bars/fancy parties, and I haven’t done online dating….yet, so I meet the men I date just out and about in the world, doing mah thang. Since I care for dogs PT, I’m quite often wearing fleece, covered in dog hair. Let me tell ya, that is a hard look to rock!

      Then, a few weeks later when I do the hair, nails, lips, and werq the hot red dress, they realize, OH, there’s a sexy, sensual side to me too. Shazam! I figure if I show all that up front, they might have that expectation of me, and I can’t, nor do I want to live up to that all the time. It’s funny, for the looooongest time, I wanted SO much to be thought of as the ‘pretty girl’. Then when I realized I really was, I let go of it, and put out vibes that said, ‘hey, I’m also really smart, witty and kind too!’

      • Natasha says:

        “It’s funny, for the looooongest time, I wanted SO much to be thought of as the ‘pretty girl’. Then when I realized I really was, I let go of it, and put out vibes that said, ‘hey, I’m also really smart, witty and kind too!’

        Hell YES you are Mango!! :) I love your whole comment! Personally, I was acting a fool because the guys I was involving myself with never had anything nice to say other than looks-based stuff…and I had a serious self esteem deficiency going on. I wasn’t good looking at all as a teenager and so I wasted a lot of time as an adult feeling paranoid that I wasn’t attractive enough. Wouldn’t you know, if you’re worried about that stuff…you attract guys who are superficial. There I was, undervaluing my best qualities in favor of obsessing over whether my highlights looked brassy. It’s like, “For real?!” I think one of the main reasons I kept taking back the last loser was because he said I was funny (Once. When he was drunk.), so I went delusional and thought, “Oh! He likes ME for ME.” (He didn’t.) Excellent food for thought sister!

        • Mango says:

          Hahahaha, thanks, Natasha! I think that will be the new tape in my head. Instead of the loop that has 18 different permutations of ‘Mango Fail’, I’m going to replace it with more inspiring language and say ‘Hell YES you are, Mango! Try it!

          I so, so SO get the low self-esteem. Oh, that makes me sad to think the men you were with were so focused on looks when you are OH! SO much more. We all are. It sounds as though you’re valuing those other pieces of yourself and it’s lovely to observe.

          Don’t let the naysayers get you down. You want to be with those who support and believe in all of you, not taking notes on your highlight maintenance. Hugs to you!

    • NML says:

      I *love* Chris Rock – I’d forgotten about that line Natasha! Your dad is 100% correct – most assholes are not going to behave like complete assholes immediately hence the Future Faking. Take someone that beats the shit out of you – they wouldn’t do it on the first date. No, they’d lure you in, often put you on a pedestal way up high, Future Fake, start doing some covert stuff that you think “Oh no they didn’t!” (oh yes they did) and then BAM! If people who only want one night stands said “I just want to screw you and never speak to you again”, the amount of times they get laid would dramatically shrink.

      Ultimately as long as your representative isn’t a rapid departure from you that would be a violation of the trade descriptions act, you’re good to go!

      • Natasha says:

        I love Chris Rock too!! I’ve also believed for many years that my Dad should get his own talk show, where people come on with their relationship dilemmas. After they’d finished with the backstory, he could look at them and say, “The hell’s the matter with you? He/she’s a loser. A loo-ooo-ooo-ser. Don’t waste your time. Are you hungry? Eat something, you’ll feel better.” and then he and my mother could bicker for ten minutes about whether or not she puts too much salt in everything. Award winning television right there!

        It’s so true about representatives – I never had one of my fool exes show up on a date and say, “Nice to see you! Just so we’re clear, I plan on being useless. In fact, I’m going to front like we’re in a relationship, but FYI, I’ll just be eating up the clock until I get bored or are you start behaving like we’re in one. Boy, are you going to wind up disliking my ass! Anywhoodle, white wine or red wine?” Speaking personally, I find that the main difference between me and my representative is that she has a much greater tolerance for uncomfortable footwear. Bless her heart!

        Since it’s Friday, it’s time for a giggle from Mr. Rock himself :)


  2. Joy says:

    I can’t even begin to tell you how much your blogs and although seemingly obvious, tips and suggestions, have helped me. I am in the process of going through another u nfolding of what I didn’t know about the person that I held in so much esteem for so long. I have found so many things out about this person that although they shouldn’t, shock me. It’s a very strange thing to learn why I may have created a person I thought out of the very little ‘potentials’ I had to work with. When there is no contact, and enough time has passed to see the light, (again) and especially in which even more is revealed, it is truly a god send that there is no ‘wanting’ from the other party. I still battle with the why question of why didn’t he want what he had with others with me, but if he’d wanted that with them, there would have been no ‘me’ in the picture to begin with.
    It’s also so strange that someone can have so many friends but be so awful at intimate relationships; like two different people in platonic v. romantic relationships. Better yet…to learn that I spent so much time of my own life betting on potential b/c of who I was with him and who I truly want to be without him. It’s all a very ugly and uncomfortable process to go through, but I pray that it is a faster process than it has been previous times before. Thanks again, so so so much for your truth and insight.

    • brenda says:

      Joy,I struggle with the Why thing to!Why did he do this or that,why is such an asshole!!lol…I dont really ask myself too much anymore,because when I do I Am allowing my self to much time focusing on him..somedays it was like a tape that kept replaying in my mind,and no matter what I did I could not turn it off.In time I slowly turned the tape to side 2 and started hearing diff things,the truth or reality of it all!
      I struggled most with having no closure,and you know what I dont need it,he could not respect me while we were together,he certainly in not now that we are apart!I say good riddance to bad rubbish..
      Big hugs from Canada..

    • NML says:

      One of the things I often say to people Joy is “Don’t let the friends fool you”. Not only do you not understand the dynamics of these friendships but as anyone who has ever been messed in the head over a friends with benefits situ, friendship and romantic relationships are two entirely different relationships. There are also many questionable friendships and if there is one thing I have seen readers do time and again, and many others, it’s to latch on to symbols of status and social proof. The truth is you don’t know jack about his friendships but at the end of the day, he doesn’t have to shag them or be ‘intimate’. He may also find it far more necessary to play the game and keep up an image with them than he does with his ‘romantic partners’. “I still battle with the why question of why didn’t he want what he had with others with me, but if he’d wanted that with them, there would have been no ‘me’ in the picture to begin with.” – and there you have it. If it was that great, he’d still be there and there wouldn’t be several of you. I’d count yourself lucky.

  3. Lynda from L says:

    ‘You can’t hurry this…’

    I know that I ‘m not ready to date again because I’m enjoying a ‘discovery phase’ with myself. Dating has realigned itself in my priorities, I plan to catch up with friends I put on hold because of my last relationship and push on with career stuff. At the moment I am entirely enough for me.
    For the first time ever… I feel that there is no hurry.

    • metsgirl says:

      “For the first time ever… I feel that there is no hurry.”
      I can relate…it’s a great feeling isn’t it?

    • Karina says:

      Lynda…after a really tough year for me emotionally and physically painful…I’m starting to finally think like that. I have a feeling God or a higher power has better plans for me and this time I don’t wantto hurry. Just like my gym trainer said to me today after finding out my spine is messed up: “no need to stress out, this is a long term commitment with you and your body, all to be healthy.” Kudos to you!

      • Lynda from L says:

        Yeah, it is a brilliant feeling Metsgirl/Karina… I actually feel really well physically just now as well. It’s not something I ‘m going to let go of lightly.To infinity and Beyond Girls!!

    • NML says:

      Well said Lynda and it’s fantastic to get insights into your growth and transformation. I feel a real sincerity in your endeavors – not faux recovery. You’re really taking care of you – yay!

  4. Maya says:

    This post (and the last) are timely.I last posted in August about the guy I was dating.I certainly experienced ‘nice’ behaviour for the first two months and a lot of fast forwarding too (‘i love you’s, ‘here’s the key to my flat’, ‘you’re mine and no-one elses’, ‘i’m prepared to work hard to make you happy’ – when I showed doubts about us early on, and explained why.). I started getting comfortable, pushing my doubts aside.Then he got ‘stressed being up for a major job promotion’ the affection stopped and instead a irritible, moody character emerged. I supported him,said nothing about his change/how hurt I was till he got his job.He didn’t see where I was coming/argued with me about how he could not believe I had issues. We glossed over the fights/were sweet before I left for a month.He soured a halfway into my trip,contact became next to nothing.Like he was annoyed I went away and enjoying a milestone in my career.Wrote here when I was away, and I am ashamed to admit I am still with him.You all told me the nice behaviour at the start was not real, but my fear of getting my decision wrong stopped me from walking.Felt my travelling was not good for the relationship and we might resolve things when he was not stressed,he would miss me when I was gone and realise he had been hard on me. As I write this, I feel like a fool, as his bad behaviour continued.I sat down and tried to talk about it a couple weeks after returning, it became an argument about me being ‘selfish/ immature/ demanding as he just was not being ‘overly nice’ as he was in the beginning and I could not expect that to have continued. He even felt I was being demanding asking him to sit next to me to talk. I walked out on him then he called me back, hugged me and then carried on as if nothing had happened even though I said the talk/ argument had a bearing on our future. I went to end it soon after as things did not improve and he said (for the first time)sorry, he knew he had been ‘a bit of a dick’ and begged for another chance. He said he would give me faith and he ‘was that nice guy I met’. I wanted to believe him, and agreed to give him a 2nd chance (though it seems like I have already). I have so many doubts and he certainly has not gone back to that ‘overly nice guy’ but he has been ‘nicer’. I just feel so anxious about ending it. I don’t know if I expect too much, and when he is ‘nice’ I do feel relieved.I feel messed up and trapped and fearful of making a decision.

    • SM says:

      Maya my last guy was like this. After the initial ‘niceness’ phase he became very moody, withdrawn, limited affection, started acting like I wanted too much from him and really I didnt, I just wanted to have fun and not be a party to his issues. We had been dating less than two months, I thought we should still be in the light hearted phase but no, I was having to deal with some major stuff that no new romantic prospect should have to deal with. It all boiled down to the fact that he is emotionally unavailable and I’m afraid your guy seems to be too although I’m sure you know that. I did continue dating him for five months altogether and it never got better. There were moments of the ‘niceness, or rather him acting like he wanted a relationship with me’ but they were very short lived and continued to get worse. I remember when I was dating my exhusband, literally he was all into me for the 18 months we dated til marriage. There was no moodiness, he didnt withdraw from me, he didnt think I was needy if I asked for more time together, I didnt even have to ask for it. He never once made me feel like I was bothering him. Even though the marriage did not work out, I try to remember that time now when I’m encountering these eum’s so I can remember what two people being emotionally there looks and feels like.

      • Tanzanite says:

        Hi SM

        Your situation sounds similar to mine.I want to thank you for the last bit of your post.

        I was married to a man for 18 years who didn’t want the marriage to end ,he never found any faults with me or complained about my behaviour, ever.I almost forgot I was in a successful marriage for a long time.

        I have just read” who’s pulling your strings”,it is fantastic !

        Thanks again

      • Maya says:

        Thank you. Everyone says this, and I went to meet him this weekend trying to be strong and he was being ‘so nice’ it made me let me guard down. Argh. I feel like running away…

    • grace says:

      Let’s take this job analogy a little further. Are you a surgeon? I don’t know much about that field but here goes:
      You’re recruiting for a new surgeon. Guy turns up with fantastic CV. Interview goes really well, he’s keen, a good listener, enthusiastic, says all the right things and more. You take him on. He’s terrific, all the nurses like him. Patients think he’s fantastic. Then, he skips surgeries because “something came up”. He leaves a scalpel in a patient. Twice. Then a straightforward procedure goes horribly wrong. You get the sneaky feeling that he’s a fraud. Do you a) fire him or b) keep him on because the interview and first two months were SO GREAT!

      • Melinda says:

        Grace–brilliant analogy!

      • Mango says:

        Ditto to the brilliant analogy!

      • NML says:

        Brilliant Grace, just brilliant.

      • Maya says:

        Hi Grace, You do make me laugh with your sharp witty comments! Yes I’m in the trade, and you are right. Spot on, in fact. We wouldn’t be employing a shady surgeon! It’s funny how you can let standards slide with the job of your companion. It’s just hard to be faced with someone saying ‘hey that was me, that good guy, I know I messed up but give me a chance’. You see the potential and want it to work, but then you just can’t forget the part where ‘he left the scalpel in’. Ouch!

    • Lynda from L says:

      Maya, your post will ring bells with many of us on site ..Its like you’re still hoping that the perfect,better,attentive guy will re-emerge but if you really sit down with yourself you have to face the fact that that guy doesn’t exist. Only you can decide if you ultimately need to walk but for what it’s worth, and I ‘m sure you know this, you are describing hot/cold blowing to a tee…
      When I read your words it’s like you both improve your game to stop the other walking…then revert back when the danger appears to have passed. This is classic EUM/W behaviour and I ‘ve been there too.
      Finally what you said in your last sentence is crucial you said;
      ‘ I feel messed up and trapped and fearful’… Maya, being in a loving relationship is not supposed to feel like that…

      • Maya says:

        Hi, thanks for your comment to me. It means a lot. I know what you mean, and I feel like I am the messed up on. And now he is trying to make things work, but my past experience with him leaves me so many doubts it makes me anxious. I almost feel like there was no point me giving him another chance if I am not actually giving one. I just spend my time, thinking ‘is this right/ should I stay/ is this genuine’, it’s painful going round in circles. I don’t think it is his fault (this time), as he is making more effort, but I was so used to that moody harsh guy, I am waiting for him to come back as soon as things get comfortable again…. I feel like maybe I am the EUW and when I entered the relationship I was open and ready for love. Now I’m scared of going forward yet can’t seem to walk away. Anyway, thank you…

        • NML says:

          Maya, you must make a decision – it should allow to answer questions, reach a conclusion or make a resolution. If you don’t do some or all of these things, you’re wasting your own time and his. You have to make the decision to trust before you return to this relationship. If you can’t, let it go. This means you have to trust that he is a man of his word. If it turns out afterwards that he isn’t, you let it go, no questions asked. What you can’t do is have it both ways. You are being non committal, something you don’t like being on the receiving end of. It’s not that you’re wrong to have your concerns but you have to ask yourself if you have so many concerns that you can’t make a decision and either put yourself in or out wholeheartedly, why are you going through this, because I can tell you right now, if all of this is a very convoluted way of avoiding making a mistake, that ship has sailed. The mistake isn’t in making a decision – it’s in not making one and making shady, commitment and rejection avoiding choices as a result of it. I appreciate that there are pressures from family but in truth, that has got shag all to do with why you haven’t made a decision; it’s an excuse. I can tell you right now that if you stayed with him behaving as he did previously, you either wouldn’t be getting married or you’d be making a very bad marriage. Surely you’re not that desperate.

          I should add – nothing you’ve told me so far tells me you *had* a healthy relationship. You had a good dating and even early relationship, but let’s be real, it has barely gotten out the gate before trouble started. This isn’t to take away from what may have been a good experience, but me thinks you doth protest too much and have talked yourself into this relationship.

          I know people who have got pregnant at three months, been run down, lost a parent or sibling and all in the first few months that are still together after years. I’m not saying that work isn’t stressful but come on now – how the hell would he behave in a major crisis?

    • tracy says:

      My ex EUM bf year and a half sooo fast forwarded…nightly calls from the get go, I had a date EVERY weekend, even week nights, he wanted to meet my kids ASAP, and have me meet his. I walked on water in his eyes. I should have been wary that he had NO friends

      When his dad died six months in I was there, he relied on me for support, I helped clean out his dad’s place. The memorial service was a month later, his dad was huge in the advertising biz, so it was a huge NYC deal. I helped with the arrangements. I had to leave work early that day, get into NYC, change in the train station, got to the service, he ignored me and sat and hung with his ex wife all evening. When he finally acknowledged my presence, all he could say was, “Your shoes look too tight.” Seriously.

      IT NEVER GOT BETTER. He didn’t want me at his house for Christmas, even though his family expected me. He treated me shitty on my birthday. He ‘forgot’ about the birthday party for my kids and was a no show. Yet he expected to be invited to all my family functions. He expected that I would show up when he was bored and lonely. And, like a jerk, I did.

      I felt LOUSY all the time. I drank too much before going to his house because I knew I would be faced with “critiques” of my life, finances, figure, etc. all in the name of “helping” me.

      To sum up, it’s all emotional abuse. Between criticisms, he would remind me how nice he was, how good to me he was, how much better it was to be with him than getting “out there” again. Then he dumped me. Best day of my life.

      • Maya says:

        Tracy…. Thank you for your comment. What you said is my worry. I know that period when he was horrible, I was so down. It was only for me keeping my own life and friends that I was ok. It felt like emotional abuse but now it feels like he is trying to make things better. I feel messed up, I don’t know how I can draw a line under everything or if it would be stupid to do so and just walk away.

    • NML says:

      Hi Maya, I remember your story well. I felt weirded out in this comment by the time I got to ‘you’re mine and no-one elses’. The difficulty here is that neither one of you handle doubts – one ignores and the other brushes them off with promises he can’t keep. The thing is, if you’ve only known someone for a couple of months and you have all these doubts and you *tell* them, you’re saying “I feel uncertain about you and I’m not convinced by you either.” While there’s something to be said for voicing doubts, there’s also a lot to be said for addressing the source *of* the doubts. You tell some of these guys that you have doubts, they’ll only go into fever salesman pitch. They’ll want to convince you without actually having something to convince you *with*.

      Here’s the thing Maya – why are you so afraid of getting something wrong? For a start, he’s not the last man on earth by any stretch of the imagination and you had real, genuine causes for concern. You were two months in, not two years in – why wouldn’t you listen to you? It’s not about feeling like a fool because that’s just unnecessary but you need to *address* your doubts and get *out*. This whole situation is unpleasant – a good, healthy relationship looks and feels like a good healthy relationship. He hasn’t been a bit of a dick – he’s been a lot of one. This is too much shite for such a young relationship – you could never trust him to take this relationship forward as you have no foundation. When most healthy people would be enjoying the honeymoon phase and slowing down into really growing and moving forward while getting to know, this man is behaving like a tit.

      You have no choice but to make a decision (read http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/can-you-make-stick-to-a-decision-if-you-cant-you-have-commitment-issues/) You are being non committal – it’s time to woman up. You can only make a decision on what you already know – you know a lot. It’s time to woman up – this man doesn’t own you, he’s *not* that special, and you’re not that desperate.

      • Maya says:

        Dear Natalie, Thank you for taking the time to write to me. It means a lot. It’s funny, I actually had read that same post you sent me a link to and identified with it. I ask myself the same thing. You asked ‘why am I so afraid of getting it wrong’? Well, for one thing, this guy is the first guy I’ve felt like I *had* a healthy relationship with, and that time when his ‘actions and words’ matched and he treated me well, was the first time I felt relaxed with a man. I remember, despite the niggling doubts that perhaps we hadn’t quite clicked, and he was a little quiet for me (and found myself not so bubbly around him), that I focused on how ‘my usual type’ didn’t work for me and that he treated me well. I saw potential for us to work, and if things had continued that way, I would certainly end up with him. When things changed, I was sad. I thought it would go back to how it was. Now he is trying, he has admitted he was a ‘bit of a dick’ and we talked again about ‘us’ this weekend. I told him I was anxious that he might go back to that cruel guy, and he said I upset him too with nearly breaking up with him. Natalie, I also fear our foundation is weak, but I have not had many successful experiences with men. Is it not possible for him to be genuine? Or is he saying whatever he can to keep me. I keep trying to imagine him being my future and things going back to how bad they were and then regretting staying. Yet I fear the unknown. I am getting a lot of pressure from my parents to settle down (cultural)… They will not force me, but I am scared I won’t meet someone suitable, it took so long for this to get so far. I don’t want to go forward unless I have confidence and faith in us as a couple. I know he won’t cheat on me, or hit me, and he tells me I expect too much but he wants to make me happy as he knows he hurt me. Now it feels the way I am is stopping my happiness and my head is going around in circles with indecision. Are my doubts fair, and in the end, will he revert back to the character he showed me? I feel like I am being unfair to him by expressing my confusion again, yet not ending it. I am not sure what it will take for me to commit to a decision and stick to it…

        • Magnolia says:

          Oh Maya, I feel for you. I am reminded of how I sat in my living room crying to a friend of my roommate, who I barely knew but was staying over, that I felt so trapped and didn’t think it made sense to go visit my bf’s family when I had so many problems with his behaviour, but of course his offer to fly me to the States to meet his whole family made him seem so ‘nice,’ so genuinely interested in making it work. I went, I met the family; we flew to meet mine; I ended it a couple weeks after that. I think you will end this eventually, as the whole thing is clearly too emotionally volatile. But that doesn’t make it easy right now.

          What strikes me is how when I was where you are, a guy saying “you want too much” seemed like a reasonable thing to say, and it made me consider whether I in fact did. Now, when I read you writing that, I’m like, well, guy, if you think this woman wants more than you think is reasonable, why don’t you drop her? Why are you staying there, telling her to change what she wants?

          It’s like you saying you want to tango and him saying he wants to couch surf, and him telling you you want ‘too much.’ No! You just don’t believe you can find someone who genuinely wants to tango, so you’re willing to be talked out of what you want. Meanwhile, he gets what he wants? No, no, no.

          You’re suffering from not being confident about the relationship, which comes from not being confident in yourself. You’ll never feel confident about a relationship that was chosen when you still didn’t know your own mind. When you choose to make yourself a priority, the course of action will be clearer and easier than you expect.

        • grace says:

          None of these things make this a worthwhile relationship:
          not cheating
          not hitting you
          (and by the way, many men/women have been taken by surprise by both these things)
          cultural pressure
          your previous bad relationships
          a couple of months of decent behaviour
          As for making a decision, none of us has a crystal ball, we can never know with 100% certainty what will happen. We can only do our best with the information we have. And we need to trust our gut. It’s not about right or wrong, it’s not as cosmic as that. There’s only what you decide – there’s no Greek chorus following you with a running commentary. No-one else gets a say – it’s YOUR life! And he’s not the last man on earth.
          At the very least, keep a written record of his “crimes” – every missed call, broken promise, insult. Not to show to him, but to remind yourself.
          That’s what helped me break it off with the MM. When I looked at the list I realised that a) he was the same as every other asshat and b) I really had enough information already.

        • Natasha says:

          Maya, I think you have so much going for you and, if you’re not happy (I wouldn’t be either – I second what Nat says, he sounds like he’s being a lot of a dick), there is so much better out there for you. I totally understand how you feel about the pressure to settle down and not meeting a ton of guys that you’re into, but honestly I’d rather have people suggesting I join Match.com (happens frequently!) than be dating someone that’s making me miserable. My mother always says, “The beginning is the wooing period. If he’s acting up early on, lose him. The guy that’s a pain in the ass at months 2, 4, and 6 is going to be an absolute nightmare when you’re married with a mortgage and children.” Believe that there is happiness out there for you – I sure do! *Big Hugs*

  5. Gina says:

    Good points Natalie!! Paying close attention to what they say about their previous partners/relationships is important as well. Do they bad mouth their ex? Blame them for what went wrong in the relationship? Do they talk/indicate that they wish things would have worked out with their ex? It is best to hold back becoming emotionally attached and so quick to jump in bed with someone until you have seen how they behave in different settings and with different people. Know yourself and know what YOU are looking for in a partner. Once you do, you will be better able to spot someone who is not a good fit. Sooner or later people will let their guard down and show their real selves. If it doesn’t come out in
    the wash, it most certainly come out during the rinse.

    • NML says:

      “If it doesn’t come out in the wash, it most certainly come out during the rinse.” – that made me snort with laughter Gina. Wise words!

  6. EB says:

    Wise, Wise, Wise.
    Great post N !

  7. brenda says:

    This could not have come at a better time!Nat are you secretly stalking my thoughts??lol..
    I have been doing some dating lately,and it has been for me a Getting out of the house thing!However,I cannot believe how intuned I have become in regards to Men,thier actionsand words..
    Just the other night I went on a date with a Man I knew in the past,we have been out a few times,and he is recently going thru the same thing he was dumped!!I know the pain as we all do,but I am here to fix myself and to grow in maturity and reality.This Man is holding on to something that never was to be in the first place!I guess thats where he is at,but not where I am willing to be.In the past I would have seen this as a mission to helpthis poor soul,Mabye I am sounding harsh,but really No one is that special.What really thru me for a loop was lastnight,I asked him what attracted him to a woman?What he said was very indicitive to who he is…”I am attracted to a persons look and social status”Ok fair enough I thought thats your thing,probably why hes been married twice and single att 55!!!Time to call that a day!!!

    • NML says:

      Brenda, let me tell you as your Relationship Bank Manager, you ain’t got anymore Florence cash in the bank and I’m denying you an overdraft facility! You’re not sounding harsh at all – there’s nothing about this man that says “Please take me on a second date”. I’m glad you bounced this superficial (and deluded) man!

  8. Natasha says:

    It is so crazy that I thought of myself as an intelligent girl…but I had NO common sense in my past relationships. This post makes total sense but I have acted in ways that defy reason. I let myself get fast forwarded into having a baby with someone in six months! He convinced me after only two months that he was the love of my life. He said I was the one…even though he didn’t even really know me. When he got to know me, he didn’t even seem to like me! Or rather, when I got to know him, I didn’t like who he was turning out to be. More and more I thank my lucky stars that he was jerk enough to dump me. It took me down…but it knocked some sense into me too! Baggage Reclaim knocked sense into me and keeps reinforcing it :-) Thanks Natalie.

    • NML says:

      Hi Natasha, I think you could get over the 6 months if what he said he loved, is who you are, and what he got to know subsequently, he loved and respected. The fact he backtracked and you discovered that you didn’t like him suggests that this relationship was over before it really got started. I think you could believe someone had got to know you if you had got to know *them* – neither of you had. His behaviour was a blessing in disguise. Now run!

  9. Mika says:


    Thanks for writing this. I think the in the first stages of love, we’re all looking through rose colored goggles. Eventually, when those goggles come off, you’ll be seeing your partner in a different light… warts & all.

    In a brand new relationship, it’s soooo easy to put your partner on a pedestal…. however, that’s when most people make their first mistake.

    Yes, your partner is HUMAN just like you… they will have flaws… just like you. When you begin to see you partner as “not” perfect, the reality can be SHATTERING. That’s why it’s so crucial to remember that the person you’re getting all dolled up for that evening… poops, burps, have fears & flaws JUST LIKE you lol.

    Plus, by taking them off that pedestal, you’re in a much better state to share humanity with them– allowing a deeper and *more real* connection. I’m not saying you shouldn’t dress to impress.. just remember to see them as a person with their own fears, faults and down falls . You wouldn’t want someone doing that to you… because you KNOW that you have your own faults as well and it’s just WAY too much pressure (and UNREALISTIC) to measure up. Just my thoughts :)

    • NML says:

      Hi Mika, you’re very right about pedestals and it puts an immense amount of pressure on the relationship, not least because aside from creating unrealistic expectations, it makes the relationship imbalanced. It’s got to be mutual and real. We don’t need to inflate people – if someone is that great, they can be great on their own two feet on the *same* level as you – not elevated into an unrealistic place. I also don’t think we need to shock ourselves. Yes things calm down but it shouldn’t be a drastic difference – it should be a period of a deepening connection where the reality of you both unites, not divides you and causes you to question who you’re with.

  10. Mango says:

    The thought of going back ‘out there’ makes my tummy hurt and my head spin. Ugh. I cannot wrap my brain around even the idea of it. It does not sound even remotely appealing. I want to go straight to snuggling on the couch and ‘how was your day, sweetie’ phone calls. My last excursion out into the man forest was because he was someone with whom I had history. We already knew each other so well. Well, we all know how that fairytale turned Grimm.

    I’m probably going to wind up a crazy dog lady. Just open the gates of the animal shelter and let ’em out! Besides, I’m almost 50.

    Ha, just kidding. I really don’t think it’s too late for love. I don’t. Just not in the mood, and not hungry for anything. Ok, maybe sex 😉 When my appetite returns, it will be sated with an entire 9 course Italian feast! I can not, will not, dine by crumbs again.

    Today is ex EUMan Unit’s birthday. Holding strong….but I’m feeling wistful. And cranky.

    • Arlena says:

      Nothing bad about being 50, mango!
      The other day I watched a comedian. She referred to an animal shelter, and yes, there was this special dog, well, you couldn’t say he’s pretty, no, overweight, no manners, lots of bald patches already, grumpy looking, an ear missing and he starts growling at you and that is the moment where your eyes get watery and you think “Poor boy, must have had a poor childhood” and whoops, before you realize it, you know it deep in your heart “IT’S HIM” and you take him home…

      Okay, let’s name that breed “Grimmer dogs”.

      Moral of the story, mango, when your time of picking a dog has come, choose wisely and don’t make the same mistakes you did with men. Cheers to happy 50 and hold strong today and beyond ;D

      • Mango says:

        No, nothing bad at all about turning 50! It was all tongue in cheek.

        Ah, but those are exactly the kinds of dogs I like. The blind ones with bald patches and three legs. The ones that others don’t always want. They just need a pile of love. The difference with a dog and a an EUM/AC, is that a dog *can* be loved from an unhealthy place, to be a loving, wonderful, stable companion. The EUMs /ACs? Not so much.

        I will probably always want to rescue the ‘unwanted’ dogs. Though, you are absolutely correct in that I will most definitely make wiser choices, and not make the same mistakes with men. Thank you for the well wishes!

        • Michelle says:

          I have the same love for the dogs. My past two have been strays I found out while walking. They are sometimes slow to warm up at first, but they always come around after a little TLC. Then they’re your best friends for life.

          Haha, I guess I expect the same thing with some of these men I meet! I never thought of it that way. I expect my love to change them, so they will love me in return. Unfortunately, it does not usually work that way.

          I have a problem with knowing someone for two minutes and having a “feeling” about them. I can’t stop thinking about them and get attached way too quickly. Then, when they start throwing up red flags all over the place, I get upset, but it somehow makes me want them even more.

          I haven’t dated in about four months. I’m too scared that I don’t know how to judge character or hold my emotions in check. I keep telling myself, just think of the guy as a friend at first. Everyone tells me that is the best way to start anyway. They’re probably right. It would take the pressure off and allow you to keep your senses about you. I’m really going to try this the next time I meet a guy I like.

          • Mango says:

            Hi Michelle,

            Ah, yes, I think many of us have expected the same thing from men, and much to our dismay, it does not always work out that way. I understand the fear, yet, I feel the more we trust, care, love and respect ourselves, the sooner we say ‘Thanks, but no thanks. I deserve better. I am worthy’. And mean it. Be gentle with yourself; it takes time.

            I wish you well on your journey. xx

        • dawn says:

          I always had a huge soft spot for homelses dogs, felt sorry for them, wanted to love them and hug them and take them home, make a better life for them, make them all better! Heavy Florence Nightengale effect. Thing is that is fine to be that way towards a helpless animal that IS dependant on humans to provide them with care, shelter and love, it just isn’t a good when you act like that with men. I recognize that seems to be a pattern for me, I find the guy that is hurting and I want to make him all better, and when he bites and snarls at me instead of getting out, I try even harder to make him happy, start blaming myself for his behavior towards me, try to change so he will act differently all the while not realizing he’s the way he is because of his own issues, not because of me. Hard lesson to learn. I have unhealthy relationship habits and I am determined to break them. I was conditioned as a child to tolerate “biting, snarling” people because I was a kid, I had no choice, I couldn’t leave my situation, I was totally dependant on my parents. I learned that in order to get love you have to put up with however people treat you, because if you don’t you will be abandoned. I didn’t want to be abandoned. I think that is why I tolerate bad behavior and get involved with men who are unlikely sources for a healthy relationship. It’s a hard not repeat this dynamic. You want their love, affection, care, but you’ve got to stop and realize you don’t have to tolerate abuse in order to get love. That no matter what other qualities you think you like about them (good chemistry, sex, whatever) if someone treats you like crap, you better get working on getting the hell out and away from them. Don’t be all up in fantasy land thinking that you can change his behavior and you will live happily ever after. I have learned so much here, and for that I am forever grateful.

    • NML says:

      Hi Mango, whenever you feel wistful, remind yourself of all of the reasons why you’re not together – it’ll kill that wistfulness stone cold!

      Unfortunately we can’t fast forward to that stage – trust me, many of you have tried, including myself. We keep trying to skip the getting to know and fast forwarding to our version of intimacy – not gonna happen. And LOL re the sex. WHoever he is had better watch out!

  11. AngelFace says:

    Great comparing a job interview with dating a man. I dated my X for 14 months & one reason was that he was out of town for like 2 months at a time. The twice daily phone calls were addictive and I looked forward to hearing his voice… Oh, but there were warning signs from the start and he often said very mean things, and called me names – to like discredit me and to hurt me. I even knew that he was being very sadistic and I was being very masochistic – and not in the sex-game kind of way. But I was so addicted to him.

    When he was in town he didn’t spend any of the holidays with me and I was like WTHell? And I’d only see him a few times and the majority of it was sex. He is single, he is a player, and has women all over the place – I’ve been finding out. Then he would leave town for work, and our routine calls would go on.

    I did not evaluate the list of his good characteristics with the bad. The list of the bad completely out-weigh the good. I was future faking! Hoping we would marry and be together in our old age?!! If you are reading this, please picture a beautifully made man, 6’6″, creole mix, sweet voice, bright and clever, always smelled good, playful, and a great and intense lover. I wanted him and I was hooked on him, and I went along with so much abuse (which I’ve listed in other posts so won’t bore you).

    I should have noted all the early warning signs & I should have left the relationship quickly. LIVE & LEARN. Now almost 4 weeks of complete No Contact. Yes, I agree that dating is interviewing. I hope I interview and find an even better and even sexier man – one with all the qualities that would make for a real love relationship and marriage.

    • NML says:

      AngelFace, what makes long distance relationships so attractive is it’s like honeymoon period on repeat. That is until one or both start to expect more. If all I had to do was show up periodically and then have a load of phonecalls, how easy life would be. But you can’t share in one another’s lives fully and it’s one thing if you were in close proximity for an extended period before it became long distance, but in the early months or first year, it creates false intimacy and unrealistic expectations. You just can’t see and experience them in a variety of situations. Don’t Future Fake yourself – it’s not worth it.

  12. Foxy Cleopatra says:

    First of all, NML you are nonstop awesomeness. Your relating and dating insight is invaluable. It’s so true that time eventually reveals all. And if we pay close enough attention, we too can be skilled in the arts of A) effectively managing our expectations of others and more importantly motive checking ourselves on the regular and B) sniffing out everything from a temporary false front to douchebaggery of highest order.

    The lightbulbs is starting to blaze brightly!….

    • NML says:

      “sniffing out everything from a temporary false front to douchebaggery of highest order. ” Hilarious and right on Foxy!

  13. colororange says:

    I know I’ve been sucked into “oh he’s so nice, this must mean he’s the one for me” before. It honestly hadn’t occurred to me then most the guys were being on their best behavior on the first meeting because that’s just the thing to do. I’m normally nice when I first meet someone. They don’t get to see my angry, PMSing, the world can go to hell mood right off the bat. Lucky for them. It is annoying at times though because I wish it worked to where we could see the real person asap. But then, I doubt any of us would be in a relationship if that were the case :). We have to let others in on our personal madness slooowwwlllyy. We can’t force something to grow before the seed is even in the soil. Yeah I need to remember that when the urge to jump head long and overboard from the start creeps in. And just because someone is being “nice” doesn’t mean they necessarily are.

    • Elle says:

      Love the idea of personal madness. That’s funny. You know that’s the one thing ACs and real EUMs won’t let you in on: their personal crazy. Of course, they’ll still take it out on you, but they feel somehow it’s the most precious and yet shameful part of their whole existence.

      • Used says:

        I wish there was a “love” button for these 2 posts!

        And, a lot of the time, those EUMs son’t even know what their crazies/demons are!

    • NML says:

      “We can’t force something to grow before the seed is even in the soil.” Very wise words Colororange although many have tried with Fast Forwarding and Future Faking. I’d also like to add, just because someone is ‘nice’, doesn’t mean you *have* to date them.

  14. Lilli says:

    Natalie your post is so apt, as I’ve just found out that my ex who dumped me three weeks ago ( and it wasn’t the first time he’d dumped me ) has been for months seeing other women.
    In fact his front line picture on the online dating site is one I’d taken off him sitting on my couch and the other photos are of him on our recent romantic holiday together.
    It is devasting but a much needed reality check for me, I’ve discovered that underneath the nice guy exterior is a man who lies and cheats.
    It has taken me 18 months to discover this but now so much about the inconsistencies in our relationship make sense.
    Thanks for your posts

    • Larissa says:

      Lilli –

      What a complete douchebag, using pics his recent ex-gf took to advertise his skanky self online! You are so well rid of this turd! He sounds like the kind of classless jerk that cuts the woman out of a pic and posts it online on his profile, but you still her arm around him …

      You certainly deserve better than that cheating, lying tool.

    • NML says:

      Lilli, jaysus, that’s one cheeky bastard! All I can say is be thankful that you’ve offloaded this toxic waste out of your life. None of those women are ‘getting’ him either. He will just keep lying.

      • Lilli says:

        Thanks Larissa a and Natalie … you’re comments have cheered me up after a day of moping and pining for the relationship.
        He is a waste of space and thank goodness I know that now instead of wasting my time with that jerk.

  15. Mango says:

    P.S. I will, however, consider a cabana boy.

    • Elle says:

      You’re super, Mango. You’ll get through today. Try not to give it too much meaning. It can just be another day, like it is for me and other people, til, of course, cabana-boy comes round and cooks linguine for you.

      • Mango says:

        Awww, thanks, Elle. I’m fine about it all, really. I just don’t feel like dating. Now, if Johnny Depp were to land his chopper in my yard to whisk me away to his secret love nest in Mexico, that’s another story! Wait, cabana boys know how to cook?! 😉

  16. Lia says:

    I figure we all try to put our best foot forward when we want to make a good impression on someone, but I doubt that those of us with good intentions are all that calculated when we do. My problem is with those individuals who dripfeed you little tidbits of their real personality so you can’t really tell if they’re having a bad day or what(hey, I figure we’re all entitled to one of those every once in a while). However, it is very hard to be someone else all the time. From experience, I’ve found that their real personality was slowly clawing its way out from beneath the surface, and if I didn’t heed the warning signs in time, I would be in for some real pain. I used to be the type of person who appreciated when someone showed me their bad side, sounds sick but true. I used to figure that if he showed me the undesirable parts of himself, it must mean that he trusted me enough to let his guard down and be who he truly was. Made me feel so special! Fast forward to now, I now know that I kept a lot of garbage men around me because I was so stuck on how they were being themselves with me, but neglected to realize that who they were really didn’t work for me. And while I do appreciate someone being authentic with me, I don’t have to be up so close anymore to take it all in when it comes to not-so-nice men. If I should choose to admire that view, I do so from very far away, otherwise risk getting burned. Had to learn that lesson the hard way, this post is a reminder to never have to learn it again…

    • NML says:

      Hi Lia, my idea of putting my best foot forward is making an effort with my appearance, being sociable, friendly, conversational – it sure as hell isn’t putting another *person* forward.

      I get what you say about the whole bad side thing. It was pretty much my exact thinking like “wow, he must really love me to be brave enough to show me he’s dodgy side”. And you know what? Was I free to be myself warts and all? Oh heeeeeellll no!

      I’m all for people being authentic because at least you know where you stand but if someone is authentic at being a tit, it’s time for you to roll instead of being “Ah! How cute! They’re being a tit and they don’t mind doing it around me”.

  17. I totally agree! I also think that anyone can be nice when things are going their way. What really marks someone out as a decent human being is when they can be nice even when things -aren’t- going their way.

  18. laura says:

    Wow, its like fate, that this post has appeared today, after I have decided that a guy I went on two amazing dates with, is actually not over his ex and I’m ‘ bouncing’…and the fact I’m putting myself first, not chasing an illusion has empowered me so much, I actually feel good for chosing me. The situation in brief, met guy online, met up, he paid for a 3 course meal, very charming etc, second date, cooked me dinner in his appartment, had a fun time just talking and had a cheeky snog.arranged to meet again. Then he basically disappeared, got the odd txt but generally I felt in my gut that he wad emtionally unavailable. I have experience with these types so I recognised the signs.appearing into me then cutting contact.well I did the same, I refuse to Chase anyone.
    Anyway major no no’s that my detective skills homed into were his comments about his ex, sayin she went crazy, his comments refering to last girl he saw, she’s also went crazy, the txt he sent me by mistake which wad meant for the ex, funnily enuff me and the ex shared the same name and both are nurses, weird huh? And I had a feeling that he wasn’t coping with being single, so was using dating websites to fill the gap.

    Sod that! Yeah he was hot and cooked a mean pasta , bur I’m hot too and can cook and I’m over my ex and live myself enuff to not put up with shady communication.
    Before I found this website back in Feb, I was with an extreme future faker,I had never heard of e.u guys….then when I found this site , it opend up my eyes…been an amazing tool, thank u ever so much.even tho I’ve realised all my exes have fallen under that cat……onwards and upwards
    Thank u for helping me grow

    • NML says:

      You totally called this one right. A man with two crazy exes Laura? I mean what are the odds? I know a guy with about ten of them. Don’t they realise how ridiculous they sound? This guy is behaving like the crazy one – flush!

  19. Arlena says:

    Men themselves refer to this initial “having to be nice and charming” as “playing the Amore Casper” and often they hate it. It’s the show to reel us in, and come on, we know, that all the candles, smiles, roses, compliments, gifts are flattering (really?), but rather unimportant. Bit like background music, not more. Ever said “No” and the guy went through an immediate Jekyl-Hyde transformation and started screaming and tossing all kinds of ugly labels at you?

    The male is about producing results. If something works they use it and give us even the Amore Casper. Unfortunately too many women place a lot of value on this artificial stuff wishing it to be consistent instead of getting consistency with the substantial stuff. There are TV shows that cater to this romantic nonsense with huge and unrealistic demonstrations of undying love in the oddest of odd places and it gives me the creeps when I see all these overly dimensioned heart-shaped lemme-impress-you-thingys get thrown from planes, burnt in fields or advertised on house walls or they even dive and put the candles on some sea grounds. Women overwhelmed, tears in eyes, hands clasped over their mouths… How nice!!!
    After that our Amore Casper usually returns to his usual beer drinking, belching, sports watching, balls scratching relaxed ways, job’s accomplished and he switches into calorie saving mode… How nice!!!

    Knowing what we want and honestly advertising what we are looking for and who we are, clearly stating what we expect and listening to what he is willing to provide at his stage of development and circumstances would get both genders better results and respect for each other. If we even can lay aside our own gender glasses and accept that the opposite gender is OPPOSITE and very different from us, we might find new excitement in this discovery and a new understanding for each other. This would interest me, everything else – FLUSH

    • JadeSesame says:


      I don’t know if my ex-EUM hated being Amore Casper, on the contrary, I think he derived a thrill or power from it– playing the artless man-child charmeur (“you’re so beautiful”, “you’re so educated”, “wow you have such a complex mind”, “you’re so sensitive”, “am I boring you?”), causing women to drop their guard, open their hearts and confide in him (prelude to falling in love). Actually I believe it might be the only way he’s capable of relating to women, anything more is too real, too much effort, too mature, too authentic, too demanding, too boring, too stressful, in his books. Couldn’t ascertain his intentions for the longest time– it clearly wasn’t sex he was after (I always thought that this would be what men were after and it confused me when it wasn’t the case), but it was securing the knowledge that a woman could be so enamoured and singularly devoted to him, having full confidence that she would willingly sleep with him whenever he wanted it. Or cook him a great dinner.

      As to being upfront in communicating what we want from each other, I think it’s a nice idea in theory but it often doesn’t happen that way. Human beings can be extraordinarily complex and we can espouse to want one thing on one hand, but our subconscious pulls us in other directions, or maybe, we think we know what we want but our actions complete contradict what we intellectually believe in (which then calls into question the whole premise of the original belief)… at least, I am becoming more aware of my own schisms.

    • NML says:

      Very insightful Arlena. I think it’s true that our own actions help to align us or opt us out of situations. When I became very clear about who I am and what I want, all this Amore Casper shite wouldn’t get past me because it didn’t feel real. Before, when I was trying to escape myself and my own life and hitch my wagon to a Mr Unavailable, these guys could tell me anything because I wanted something, anything. When you’re clear about what you want, people can’t come along and talk shit and not deliver. You’ll also think it’s weird when they say or do this stuff because it will seem false or fast, or both.

  20. Brooklyn says:

    Oh! Right on as always Nat! When he started out, it was sweet, attentive, polite….then a few “bad days” …turned into female bashing, degrading, horrible blonde jokes regarding my intelligence, and raunchy raunchy rauncy sexual comments. I thought I had set him off. How could this “nice guy” have gone so wrong so fast? Turns out he put on one heck of a show for about the first few months. Clearly NOT enough time to judge who I thought –or wanted–him to be. In public, he was still very lovely, funny and polite…when we were alone –WHAM! Mr. Toxic. Lesson learned, I’ll dig a little deeper b4 I allow some jerk into my heart (and panties)!!!

  21. Emma says:

    A man will generally either tell you or show you who he is pretty early on in the dating process. It is up to you then to take on board what he is communicating to you. I sense that here at Baggage Reclaim (readers and those who post comments), many of us are afraid to interpret what these men are putting across out of fear of perhaps ‘missing out’ or ‘being too harsh’ (Natalie has mentioned these issues in many of her previous posts :)).

    I have been in this boat. The last relationship that went disastrously wrong for me … on the third date we discussed our past histories where he admitted to having many previous sexual partners (having ‘used them and run away the next morning for fear of them asking his number’), open relationships … etc. etc. … I didn’t want to judge him based on his past (everyone has one) … he had said that he had changed and ‘wants a relationship’ … what worried me the most however is when he started to brag about being an excellent ‘manipulator’ …. all this on the third date. It wasn’t long until he began pressuring me intensely for sex.

    Anyhow I kept going out with him and it didn’t end up well at all. I always felt uneasy with him especially after those initial admissions. I wish I had of saw all that for what it was rather than trying to interpret it in my own scewed way so I could hold onto him because initially he appeared ‘nice’.

    Everyone is nice in the beginning because they have to be to hook you in. But generally there are warning signs.

    • Michelle says:

      I totally agree. All of my jerk exes showed me right away what awful people they were. I mean, incredibly stupid, immature, crappy behavior with inappropriate sexual jokes, rude comments, the whole nine yards…yet I did not RUN like I should have. Why didn’t my mother warn me about dudes like this? LOL.

      I would usually decide after the first date that they were shady and not respond, but they would keep texting, emailing, etc, and finally I would give in because I was lonely. Never again! FLUSH!

  22. Sheila says:

    This may not exactly fit this article completely but for me right now, I am not sure if I even want to bother anymore. Making small talk which leads to award good byes. Maybe to several other days and eventually a night at his house where you meet his habits, his face mask for his sleep apnea, and probably the remains of his last relationships. I just don’t really have the motivation anymore… And I am only 38 ;(

    • Mika says:

      It sounds like you’re about to give up on dating. What may help you right now is focusing on what you want to happen rather than what you don’t want to happen. By your statement, you’re focusing on the negative aspect of dating and how all the effort isn’t worth it– that right there is focusing on what you don’t want to happen.

      How do you expect to actually find a good guy with this kind of mindset? I know that dating can suck sometimes, but do no lose hope. Aspire towards positivity. Remember, stay positively present as well.

      The whole point of dating is to get to know someone to see if they’re a likely match to be in a relationship with you, if not.. than you move on. Don’t settle for whatever you get.

      By being in the present moment, you’re in a better mindset to enjoy the reality of ‘what is’. Where as if you are focusing on the future or past too much, you’ll be missing out on opportunities to connect with someone on a deeper and authentic way. Don’t give up hope because what you make of RIGHT NOW will create yesterday…. not your future.

  23. Anari says:

    @ Sheila,
    I don’t have the motivation any more either. I was just discussing this very issue with my therapist. It almost seems pointless to get to know someone better when you’ve had a track record that hasn’t been successful. Everyone is on their best behaviour in the beginning, but true colors show up and I don’t think I can do this again. I’d rather just be cordial, and not even try to get to the next phase in dating and just be single. In the end we only have us to rely on. Bitter comment to a wonderful post. Sorry…

    • oriana says:

      Sheila, Mika another one here as well. I don’t really care anymore, I focus on myself and my life as it is, and curtail any yearning to find a partner. One thing for sure, I stopped many bad habits after finding BR… I tell myself that I’m in a limbo stage, stopping a way of being that hasn’t been replaced by a new way of being yet – that’s my only consolation, and in the process I don’t want to date.

  24. Sugar and Spice says:

    I’m really trying to work on this cuz I ‘m sooooo romantic, and when a guy shows up acting like a prince, I want to believe it, so I do…. I have good boundaries, so I get rid of most of the frogs, but when the guy is giving me what I want…ooohh, somebody please slap me cuz I will put up with a lot to get the “goodies,” and that’s it; I want the goodies, so I’ll put up with some of his crap (the crap seems minor compared to the goodies…was that a boundary he just crossed? oh, well, I’ll just ignore it, rationalize, come on, show the poor guy some compassion, change him…don’t be judgmental…that wouldn’t be spiritual), and then oopsey, I’ve fallen for the guy, and then I realize he isn’t the guy…the guy is the fantasy I created in my head, so I walk away from the guy cuz he’s out of goodies, or the crap level has just gotten out of hand, translation-he won’t do what I want, so I’m going to bounce–I tried to change him and failed, even though my superficial level of self-awareness tells me that not only can I not change anybody, but I don’t have a right– but, oooh the hell involved in getting over a fantasy….

    I’m so glad I found this site cuz I’ve a great deal to learn about relationships, and I really enjoy reading the comments…gives me hope. :)

  25. jennynic says:

    This is where trusting your own judgment is so important. Looking back at my bad relationships (almost all of them, sadly), the guys were nice to me in the beginning but if I am honest with myself, the waring signs showed through early on. I chose to either ignore them or rationalize them. If a guy brings me little gifts, is very affectionate and does thoughtful things but then makes jokes that demean women and can’t understand why I am offended, doesn’t show up , is condescending, has anger issues (insert my list of boundaries here), etc…..red flag. If boils down to the niceness being self serving and the underlying feeling for you is disrespect, it will show if you pay attention and stay in reality. If pointing out that something is offensive to you gets you insulted…….heed the warning. A guy I dated years ago used to tell me I wasn’t girly enough and always tried to change me. He would insult my appearance all the time (my appearance was fine!). So…..when I finally dressed up in heels, makeup, etc, for him, he would ignore me and act like he didn’t even notice. Instead he would shift to criticize my manners. I couldn’t win with him. I ended up feeling like shite all the time, even though he cooked me dinner, bought me gifts (sexy underwear because mine weren’t sexy enough), invited me to Thanksgiving with his family, and was ‘nice’ to me in lots of ways. All these nice gestures were on the heels of telling me things like how I ‘could’ be pretty if only I would wear tighter clothes, and that he couldn’t always believe what I said because I was wrong a lot. In my desire to be in a relationship, any relationship, I put much more weight on the nice things he did, than the things he did to tear me down. In hind sight, I can’t believe I gave this guy the time of day. uugggh.

    I am in the early stages (three months) of dating a new guy and am taking things slow. It’s actually calming and much more of a pleasant experience. He has been nice to me consistently, and as we get to know each other, I’m not seeing red flags. He isn’t perfect, but is human with moods and different opinions, but is respectful and genuine. I’m trying to really pay attention but not be too critical. It feels like this time, I’m actually developing feelings for him and not for who I want him to be, or only his great points…

    • kirsten says:

      hi Jennynic
      Been there as well with “Mr Critisize””I know how that one goes, nothing is good enough and in my case we were on and off for 3 years before I walked for good.
      Happy days you’ve found a new guy, I think I have too :). He has been my friend for a year so I’m a little unsure how to proceed with the whole dating thing, seeings we know each other pretty well anyway, but at the moment every time we see each other I feel CALM and somehow PEACEFUL (holy shit lol) and it’s great. Eyes and ears open though but yeah I’m smiling. Hope it goes well for you too :)

    • Sugar and Spice says:

      Hi jennynic,

      “In my desire to be in a relationship, any relationship, I put much more weight on the nice things he did, than the things he did to tear me down.” That is exactly what I do: I ignore, rationalize, etc. the boundary breakers because I want the good things that he is giving me, and it is something that I aim to stop doing….

      In slowing things down, I met this guy, and we spent some time together, and although he “seems” like a nice guy with some seemingly nice qualities, I am just not interested in having a relationship with him. After I realized this, it made me sad because I wanted to want him….Staying in reality sucks because I could easily start a relationship with this guy, try and change him, and let my fantasy of him take care of the obvious lack of compatibility, but I am going to stay in reality and respect his right to be who he is (not try and change him).

      I am so tired of living in my imagination…would be so unfair to us both, egotistical, wrroooonnng and crazzzzzzzzzy and self-destructive…. I won’t go there….

      Thanks for your comment; it made me think about how much more self-discovery I need to do, and how much more work I need to do on my own life, etc. I want to be in a relationship; I really miss male companionship, but until I can share my life with someone, instead of trying to get my needs met by a man…I feel like I’m just an assclown on the prowl, and I don’t want to use any more men to meet my needs…not a nice thing to do, so…., but thanks again for a nice comment…been struggling…your comment helped a great deal…:).

  26. susan says:

    @ SM’s comment – SM said she dated a guy who *said* he had a lot of respect for women, and then she found out otherwise. I am almost 46 (married for 4 1/2 years and divorced) and I’ve found this to be true in my experience with men. When they say they respect women – this is a red flag or at least an amber flag. Any guy that feels he needs to state this early on before you know him well and can see this for yourself … is suspect in my book. They are trying to bait you. Trying to suck you in so that you think they are a “nice guy”. “I’m a nice guy – I really am”. I’ve also noticed this when they say they’re *not* something early on.

    • JadeSesame says:

      The very very first encounter with the ex-EUM in 2009, he invited me to his flat for drinks, after having met me only once for breakfast with another friend. I said yes, then hesitated (recalling my mother’s cautionary words), and texted back suggesting that we meet in the park instead “because I would be more comfortable in a public space, that I still didn’t know him that well yet”. When we met, he declared himself as a GENTLEMAN and assured there was no need to worry when I was in his company. I profusely apologized for casting doubts on his integrity, that I didn’t mean to suggest he had dishonourable intentions. Ha! He must have been chuckling in his heart. The first instance of me being sucked in by him trying to be a nice guy. Another early instance, he offers to push forward breakfast just to accommodate my schedule and I think to myself, what a sweet thoughtful man, willing to sacrifice 45 minutes of staying in bed longer in order to spend time with me. How truly stupid on my part.

    • Michelle says:

      This is so true. A good guy will not need to “advertise” that he respects women. His actions will convey it naturally.

    • SM says:

      Susan you are correct. He also said he never lied and he turned out to be a massive liar. I have never once felt the need to tell anyone that I dont lie. Never crossed my mind.

    • tracy says:

      Interesting what you say. I recently had a few dates with a guy who told me how “empathetic” he was. He stressed this because he had an argument with a female friend (hmm…could he have a harem?) who accused him of NOT being so. The following night our area had a huge freak snowstorm, I lost power for 6 days. In that time, he didn’t contact me except for a text about meeting again, but when he texted the following Friday about where we should meet, and I replied that the lack of contact during the week led me to think he wasn’t interested and I had made other plans, he texted back that I didn’t know how to have fun, and HIS life had been so HARD all week because his kids had no school (HE had power all week).

      Not once during the week did he inquire if MY child and I were OK after the storm.

      And he wonders why he doesn’t seem empathetic!

      • Fearless says:


        He doesn’t seem empathetic because he’s not! My EUM was similar – he’d only enquire about certain types of things, things about other people, work etc – things he didn’t feel any pressure to be responsible for or guilty about; it was about maintaining a comfortable distance and managing my expectations of him. He would never ask questions that involved anything approaching “how are you?” – out of fear that I might actually tell him! Also, they just don’t really care. It’s only really hitting home with me now after a long time of NC just how true that is – that he just didn’t care about my problems, whatever they were at any give time; and that’s also why he made no enquiry about them.

  27. Katie says:

    Lol Natasha, your comment about cleaning for 2 days before a date made me smile – it reminded me of how – as well as having my hair done and buying something new to wear I even got my carpet professionally cleaned when I was meant to be seeing the ex AC. Madness! Guess I thought if everything was perfect he might be more interested… But he didn’t turn up to even see it half the time. Seems funny now but it didn’t at the time when I was sitting there fuming with my clean carpet! Lol

  28. JadeSesame says:

    Great post that touches on a core principle of dating, the importance of being attuned to the other party’s behaviour, dating with awareness and presence of mind.This is something to bear in mind in order to safeguard our good, trusting selves. “I don’t feel disappointed if they turn out not to be ‘nice’, because instead of starting out by building them into something off a few ‘nice signals’ which is basically Betting On Potential and blowing smoke up a strangers bum, I start from scratch and let the person ‘build up’ through the discovery phase – this is when you’re getting to know someone”.

    Being led astray by a few superficial “nice” signals is something that I can relate to. I confused empty signifiers with something that signaled more depth/ meaning, inflating the significance of these words. My ex-EUM was always complimenting me on how gorgeous I looked, what great taste I had, went as far as saying I was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. He was great at dishing out pseudo gentlemanly chivalrous compliments, seemed to be attentive/ interested when I was with him in person. But there is a difference between a practiced, generic kindliness (I now believe his was mimed, all scripted, he was such a consummate well-rehearsed flirt that he knew exactly what to say to women to evoke desire, with the right intense gaze, posture, tone of voice, ) vs. true, sincere, affection and appreciation of one’s personality. I thought he was so “nice” giving me free concert tickets, but a friend pointed out that it was simply something convenient, nothing that he had to go out of way to do.

    I don’t think of him as “nice” now. All that was undercut by extended periods of callous behavior, shitty abuse, yes I’m calling a spade a spade (not the indecisive vacillations of a romantic hero or a conflicted artistic soul/an emotionally-scarred divorcee who just needs to be restored through the love of a good woman); this summer, when I was in a relationship with someone else and the ex-EUM happened to be in town, he texted me past midnight saying “I would love to see you always. But your boyfriend is here. You can come over now if you wish”. Getting hot over me in summer just because there was another male on the scene and with the ending of that relationship (a mutual, amicable decision), he disappears because it isn’t exciting to be the solo-pursuer anymore. It’s true, “you can’t miss what you never had”. There is nothing to miss about him. I do not miss being mistreated. Was all emotionally distraught and mourning the loss of my hopes/dreams for 2 years, but I confused this with missing him. It’s true “dating is a discovery phrase”. I tried it, had a sense of what he was about, but I didn’t want to admit I was wrong about him (i.e being wrong about myself), wanted to believe the best in him.

  29. Fedup says:

    I watch my friends with their boyfriends and I realize how bad my last relationship was. My friends boyfriend didn’t start insulting my friendfir no reason after 6 months. My friends boyfriend didn’t start treating my friend like shif for no reason, after 6 months. Why do guys do this?

  30. Kmac says:

    So, I’m out there trying to wear big girl underpants and date after being chewed up and spit out by a guy I had a relationship with all by myself. It has been about two months of cold turkey no contact since the day he called me at work to break up with me. In some respects, I’m not ready, but I am feeling the need to practice something different in my life. And that, namely, would be deciding to go on a second date even though celestial choirs were not singing on the first. I’m still not stalwart when it comes to this idea. I would love to hear lots of stories from all of you about sparks that suddenly flew on date 4, or 6, or even 20. I know there is no formula for it, but there has got to be something other than hearing the celestial choirs on the first date, letting them drown out the warning signs, and diving off into a shallow pool only to end up smacking my head on the concrete. So, I’m trying it. Had a date last week. He was a class act in every sense. And no, this does not mean everything, I know. Love the Chris Rock reference! There is much to discover. But one thing struck me after that date: I felt a little sad, because I really didn’t feel any physical attraction, but I was also struck by the sense that the heartbreaker, Mr. Over the Top Chemistry, made NO attempts to impress me compared to this guy. It’s grounds for more exploration, I think, if he’s willing, too. Some of you are thinking: Of course! Why wouldn’t you see a guy who treated you so well on the first date again? But for most of my life, if I don’t feel THAT feeling on date one, I can’t be bothered. And even that sounds so self-centered. Just trying to find some solid ground here. Would love thoughts from anyone who struggles with the same thing.

    • grace says:

      Looks aren’t everything. It sounds obvious but many of us have acted as though it IS everything. We’ve thrown ourselves at men who are offering nothing more than good looks and charm, and sometimes a bit of wit. These are not valuable things.
      You wouldn’t pick an employee, doctor, babysitter, dogsitter or even a friend based on those criteria.
      I can’t say if you should see this guy again. Probably not if you find him actually physically repulsive.
      I will say, though, with almost 100% certainty that for women with low self-esteem being treated well is a complete and utter turn off. Men have noticed it – that’s why you hear them trot out cliches like “treat em mean, keep em keen”. In your heart of hearts do you actually WANT a mutual, committed relationship or do you prefer drama, validation, sexual chemistry, the status of being seen with an “alpha”, and the thrill of winning someone over?

      • Kmac says:


        It’s not about looks at all. I’m not turned off by men who treat me well! And I don’t think chemistry is a dirty word if you happen to feel it with someone who can have a healthy relationship. This certainly was how I felt with the man I married, and with at least one other. Not all healthy relationships last. The question was much more about whether or not that “feeling” can develop over time. I’ve never really explored that.

    • SM says:

      Kmac I’ve learned that if I am immediately attracted to a guy on the first date, that it is a clear indication that he is emotionally unavailable. Because that is what attracts me to a man. They could be attractive or unattractive but if they give off this aloof strongness then I am hooked and I am tired of going down that road. I’m forcing myself to change because if I dont, I may as well give up ever having a good relationship.

      • Lynda from L says:

        Yep, SM…Thanks for the reminder, aloofness and a touch of arrogance used to intrigue me, I saw it as a challenge. What it really means is distance and an attitude of entitlement and I don’t need that anymore.

      • grace says:

        i know what you mean. if i find him attractive straightaway i actually need to take a step back, not forwards. he may not necessarily be EU, but SOMETHING will be off – probably with me!

        • Fearless says:

          I agree with the above. Yes, it’s a worry, and I can’t force myself to fancy someone when I just don’t. I work in same place as this really nice guy who I sometimes think would be a great date; I know him well enough to know that he’s a decent bloke- clever, funny, kind, caring type of guy and single – and maybe if I actually fancied him something may have transpired between us… but hey-ho, I don’t. Now maybe if he were more aloof and a bit of a shit..?!

      • Kmac says:

        Thanks, SM. I’m definitely in the same place. Although I have had that feeling with men who are available, I’ve had it far more times with ones who aren’t, and it even feels different…there’s an addictive quality to it. I’m so tired of it, too. I’m still even having such a hard time up in my head getting over the last guy because of it. At least I’m not acting on it, which is progress, I suppose. Tonight he’s mixing sound for a band in a nearby bar, and I know this only because of the band’s schedule. It’s the first time since 2 months of no contact that I will know where he is and when in a public place. I need as many Don’t Do It’s! as I can if anyone is reading this. So far, I’m picturing him with a young chick at his side, and while that’s creating a lot of pain and anxiety, I think it will keep my away. It very well could be the scenario, and how pathetic would I look walking in? I will rise above.

    • Eloise says:

      Also struggling with this, Kmac. It’s why I’m not dating at the moment. It got to the point where new dates were just making me really miss the ex and feel like I’d blown all opportunities for a happy and fulfilled future! However no harm in going on a second date IMHO if you feel ready for it.

      I’ve taken a dating hiatus to work out why I’ve been attracted to the guys that I have and what’s best for me. I still think chemistry is really important for me, but have come to realise that the ‘je ne sais quoi’ of what I am looking for in someone is changing as I become more *self aware*… Decided the other day to scribble down a list of my Dad’s traits to see if there was anything remotely freudian in my previous relationships! Discovered that; (a) I didn’t consistently know how my father felt about me – he was erratic in his love and affection, (b) he was exciting and unpredictable to be around, (c) he was occasionally verbally and physically violent towards me and (d) I sensed his unhappiness and wanted to make him feel better. BINGO – he was like a large number of my ex’s. Thing is, I’ve come to realise my dad didn’t make me very happy when I was a kid. He made me feel ‘needy’. He was exciting and fun to be around and I have a strong bond with him (now), but he couldn’t (at that time) give me the love and affection that I wanted…neither have the ex’s. So, I’m trying to re-work the ‘chemistry’ formula, but it’s not easy and is taking time.

      What I will say is that – a girlfriend of mine split with a guy who she swore was the ‘love of her life.’ He was unreliable and one day he just disappeared (he’d done this before, but this time she had the balls to end it). She met someone else three months later – who was the opposite of her ex in all respects. He was keen and she initially wasn’t. It took a couple of months for her to get keen. (She says they didn’t even kiss for the first 6 dates and he didn’t push it!) But she did ‘fall in love’ with him and four years on is still happily with him and they have a couple of kids.

    • Lynda from L says:

      Hmm…when I read your post Kmac. I wondered if you were thinking of how you ‘looked together’ with this guy?
      A few articles ago a woman on site talked about how she had so much in common with an unsuitable, frankly uninterested guy because of how they were both good-looking and essentially how others would perceive them. It struck a few bells with me as this was important to me when I was younger. I remember looking in shop windows with this guy I went out with at university, and comparing our reflections, sorting hair etc. We were in love with a joint image of ourselves as if we had created a picture.
      Age is a great thing, as I’m sure it’s softened my arse and given me a few wrinkles round the eyes its also softened me up to the possibility of kindness,integrity,shared values, consistency and the hope that I ‘ll get them again. They may come in a package thats a few pounds over weight and wearing a dodgy shirt and I may wait a few months to feel a spark but I can wait….
      In my opinion you should go on the second date…who knows he may be thinking the same thing about you? Maybe you didn’t light his fire completely the first time either? Good Luck

      • meagen19 says:

        “and I may wait a few months to feel a spark but I can wait….:
        That’s me. But- that’s not a lot of guys. When you meet a (normal) guy, say, on a dating site, he’s there for a reason: to meet a girl and start a relationship. He’s not gonna wait 10 dates to find out if you like him. I dated one recent guy twice, thinking I don’t feel any sparks but I’m willing to go out again and give this a shot. He didn’t feel the sparks either- mostly ones from me- and didn’t want to go out again. How do you say to a guy- hey- I’m used to EUMs AND I’m not attracted to you, but will you give me a few more dates so I can figure out if you’re right for me? Uh…yeah that will go over well.

    • Caroline says:

      Oh man. I would love to hear from NML about this one because I am in a similar situation. Tonight is date 2 with a guy who’s not really my type, physically. I feel like an attraction could build, but at the moment I’m lukewarm. I enjoy his company, I like him enough to go out with him again and see what happens.

      But here’s the thing. My most recent relationship with a guy who wasn’t my type…fizzled. There was nothing wrong with him and he cared about me a lot and treated me very kindly, but it was a struggle to carry on a conversation and the sex was not good. It was like I could see how smart and funny and great he was, but somehow when he was WITH ME…it just didn’t happen. I remember there was almost a chemical element — I didn’t like the way he smelled. It had nothing to do with hygiene — I didn’t like the way he smelled just out of the shower. So I ended it after six months. And I still feel bad about that because I wonder if it’s something wrong with me, that I dumped the one guy who was unambiguously into me.

      So here’s the thing: I’ve had plenty of experiences with men who were easy to talk to, fun, handsome, great in bed, but no good for a relationship. But how do I know when it’s the other way around — he’s a good guy but I’m just not enjoying it? How do I distinguish between not being attracted to a good guy, and not being attracted to someone BECAUSE he’s a good guy?

      • Leisha says:

        Caroline: #1: If you don’t care for someone don’t have sex with them. If you don’t like their smell you can’t make yourself like their smell…you can’t force yourself to feel attraction but you can force yourself to take time and get to know someone…there’s no fire and no law that states you have to go out at all…take time feel it out in various circumstances…what’s the rush? If he’s a good guy you will find out if he’s wrong for you you will find out…For example: I know that it’s tough waiting to see what type of bits the man has and if he uses them well, but trust me, you can work around certain things if the equipment is functional…I used to worry about the bits quite a bit ( I’d be wondering if they were capable of hitting my spot and how disapointed I’d be if they couldn’t, however, that’s something you can be creative about if the two of you are willing to really “play” )b/c they come in so many various sizes and capabilities…but truly once you go to sex you lose the ability to discern as well…take your time.

  31. runnergirl says:

    Well I’ll be darned. I finally thought that Natalie had posted something that didn’t pertain to me since I’m on men-o-puase (not my term but the term of another great BR commenter that stuck with me) and not dating. Today, one of my favorite 20-something female students came up after class and wanted to know if I was open to dating. Since this is the second student in one semester that is into match making, I entertained her. Apparently, she thinks I “dress really cute” and I am “totally cool” and “I’m such a great catch becuase I’m so smart and cute”. Kids! Although at 52, I’ll buy being described as “cute”. She is match making with me and her geology prof at the college cos we seem to have a lot of common interests and she admires us. Apparently, I don’t need “Match.com”, my 20 something students are on the job. Also apparently, I may need to start thinking about dating at some point in the future. I think I still need more time to get my boundaries in place and more time to build my self-esteem. I’m pretty clear that guys may appear “nice” on the first few dates, of course. I certainly don’t show up on the first few dates wearing my favorite work out gear and I’m really “nice” too. It’s ironic that I didn’t think this post had anything to do with me because I’m not dating. As usual Natalie, it does and leads me into the future. For all your readers who are approaching 50-something, it may be when life begins?

  32. A says:

    I’ve found that the men who protest a bit too much about a woman paying for something (i.e. “I was raised to believe that a man should pay”) are the ones that have serious issues with money….in other words, they end up being incredibly cheap and pushing you into paying for everything.

  33. Sheila says:

    @ mika… Oh, I hear you. Lol. I have told myself those same words. I took time out from dating and relationships this past year to work on me, my life, and what I wanted to enjoy out of both of them. In that process I found out that I liked being single and not dealing with the headaches, things I did not enjoy about sharing in a relationship… Ie (the remote, deciding dinner, etc). And the longer I stay single the more I am sure I am going to want to be that way. Hardly anyone can turn my head anymore. Guess living in Alaska does not help. (the goods are really odd up here).
    I joke with friends and say that I will have to wait for a widow because all the good ones are taken and there is some truth to that. At my age those that are keepers are kept and the EUM are the ones out there still in swimming in the pool. I am not opposed to meeting someone but they will truly need to be exceptional. …and the odds of that arent as good as the others ones.

    • grace says:

      I’ve been single for over five years I think (not really counting) and it still feels like a novelty. I love being home alone, watching my fish, knitting, , doing a bit of exercise, cooking myself a meal, tidying up. I am still filled with joy getting into my comfy double bed BY MYSELF and snuggling down. I do get lonely from time to time but no way as lonely as I was when I was in a relationship.
      For a long time I missed the ex and was looking for a replacement. Now I don’t miss him anymore, I don’t need a replacement or any man for that matter.
      By the way, a good friend of mine has been with the same man (her one and only) for over thirty years. He’s good to her, they love each other, they are married, they have two children, he’s promised she can retire early and he’ll look after her financially, and even she says that if anything happened she wouldn’t bother with finding another man. She says they are hard work!
      I think women do all right without men, ironically, despite the desperate measures I see here. Of course, if you want children it’s a different ballgame.
      While it’s good to have recovery time, I think it’s possible to leave it TOO long and become TOO used to being single. But if I had met someone within a year of two of the ex it would have been a disaster.
      I’m happy with how things are going.

      • EllyB says:

        @Grace: “While it’s good to have recovery time, I think it’s possible to leave it TOO long and become TOO used to being single”
        You are basically saying one can “unlearn” having a healthy relationship. That might be true, but I guess many of us have never learned to have one in the first place.

        I’m now convinced all relationships I experienced as a child were completely toxic: mother/father, mother/grandparents, father/grandparents, me and my parents, me and my grandparents. I’m pretty sure my grandparents had toxic/abusive marriages too. My guess is I had a narcissistic mother plus a narcissistic grandfather on the one side and a narcissistic grandmother on the other side.

        I’m in my mid-thirties, and I’ve almost always been single. There was one serious relationship that lasted three years. Everything else was flings, dalliances, one-night-stands and similar stuff. Whenever I was single, I had unhealthy fantasies about EUM/AC/MM (luckily, I gave all that up after discovering BR this spring). Not pretty, but easily explained by my traumatic childhood.

        I don’t thing I “unlearned” anything during that time, because there was nothing to unlearn (at least nothing good). However, I think I can still learn how to have a healthy relationship, but I have to start by having a healthy relationship with myself. If I stay single, that’s okay. The one thing I don’t want is repeat the past.

        • grace says:

          It’s not that I’ve unlearned how to have a healthy relationship, I didn’t know it to unlearn it. My friendships are better though, and my relationships with family. I think if I did have a relationship I would handle it better in all kinds of ways, but I don’t know for sure because it’s untested!
          I have simply got used to being single – my own routine and living on my own – and the things that drove me into a relationship before no longer apply (need for validation mainly). I would also go into a new relationship as a way of “getting over” the previous one. Of course, that motivation has long died.
          For me, before starting a new relationship, I would have to ask myself the very basic question – Why am I doing this?
          And it seems a huge question!
          But I certainly don’t think it’s too late for you (in your 30s), or even for me.

          • Fearless says:

            Am with you Grace on that comment. I have never lived with a man – ever – and I’m 50 now. Yes, I spent many years with a flip-flapper EUM – but I wasn’t “with” him; he actually was not around all that much – less than half of the time I would think – unpredictable and inconsistent – you know the rest. I never considered myself “taken” (yes I was emotionally invested but that was the sum of it – I was officially single and considered myself single – and so did he! lol!).

            So I have been single (alone, at least) most of my life – I don’t know anything different. Last time I had a “normal” boyfriend/girlfriend relationship I was 25 yrs! That’s half a century ago! And now that I am not chasing love from the EUM anymore, don’t know what it is I’m supposed to want! I have had a child who’s now 22yrs (father wasn’t ever in the picture), so am not a woman looking for marriage to start a family…I too love my bed all to myself (I hated the EUMs snoring! When he deemed to call!)… so yes ‘why am I doing this?’ would be a big question. People here talk about if they’re dating or not – that is something that never occurs to me to do – or to pro-actively go after, like dating sites etc. That’s all alien to me. I don’t think I’m normal in that respect – but who knows. I don’t know anymore quite what my problem is or even if I have one.

            Sorry – think I’m now way off topic.

    • jennynic says:

      Sheila, I lived in Alaska for ten years….I hear you! Lots of men, if you like fugitives and the smell of fish. No, but seriously I’m sure there are lots of good men around, still a little weeding is necessary. The adventurous and rugged man abound up there if you like that kind. But the crop is always the same, not a lot of new folk moving in.

    • Fearless says:

      “At my age those that are keepers are kept and the EUM are the ones out there still in swimming in the pool.”

      It must work both ways – i.e. same for the men too then, so that all the available women that are keepers are kept and we (at a certain age) are the EUW ones still out there swimming in the pool! So there should be, theoretically, men out there bemoaning the same problem as you Sheila. Take heart!

  34. princessindistress says:

    some people are really so good in hiding their true colors, intentions or agendas to other people especially in the getting-to -know phase of the relationship. they’ll do everything to convince their prey that they are “nice” people to hang out with or make friends with just to get what they want – shag, ego booster, have a toy or a puppet in all the sense of being abused if they happen to be a control freak narcissistic. ironically when they’ve got what they wanted, different kind of things, attitudes, behaviors will start to surface; revealing their true self and boast about their true reasons of being “nice” in the first place and that’s only the time that we get to know the “real” person just right after you’ve given it all: your love, time, money and yes, body. It is undeniably a good feeling when you are pursued, someone is do things for you, showing and making you feel how special you are but i believe that in these times that someone is making us feel how great it is to have an ultimate admirer of our great personality, there were moments that we could sense some red flags, that our gut feelings and inner voices are shouting at us but we tend to ignore them and instead we give the “nice” persons the benefit of the doubt. we are being equally “nice” or often times “nicer” to these people that we forget to be “nice” to our own selves first so that we won’t suffer from deceitfulness and hurt and pain and miseries; which is what these “nice” people are truly serving us on our plate. thanks NML for the reminder. lesson learned… though the hard way. =(

  35. ixnay says:

    Can I just say that the quality of the comments on this site, the insight, wit, wisdom and empathy — consistently higher than any discussion forum I’ve seen online.

    And I’m wondering if there’s a correlation between empathy, complexity, intelligence and insight, and being a magnet for unavailables. Especially the ones who come back and back and back.

    And I’m wondering whether it’s our good qualities as well as our damage that draws us in turn to these situations.

    I mean, how can so many seriously quality women, who have given so much thought and compassion to their relationships, be consistently treated so poorly? I am really struck by this. I thought I might be the only woman like me who was in this situation. Not only am I not the only one; there’s more resonance for me with more people who post here than I’ve ever experienced online.

    • grace says:

      It’s not our good qualities that draw us into these relationships, it’s the “damage”. Though I shy away from that term as I want to avoid any suggestion that we are a) damaged or b) that we’re tortured romantics. At it’s most basic – it’s just bad habits we learned. I know plenty of intelligent, articulate, thoughtful, empathetic people in happy relationships. What they don’t do is make someone else’s issues all about them. He’s a drug addict? That’s my problem. He drinks too much? My problem. He cheats? My problem. He hits me? My problem. He blows hot and cold? My problem. No, it’s not your problem – bounce him! You can be a good person and still refuse to take on this stuff.
      I agree that we are a magnet for unavailables. Partly because of our good qualities, but mainly because we have poor boundaries.
      Yes, the quality of discussion is particularly good here. I think it’s because we’re moving past the “woe is me” stage and the “all men are bastuds” phase, and taking a good hard look at ourselves. And the credit for that has to go to Nat.

    • Fearless says:

      I agree completely with what you say about this site – it’s all thanks to Nat’s hard work and the ethos she cultivates here. I also picked up on this part of your comment:

      “I mean, how can so many seriously quality women, *who have given so much thought* and compassion to their relationships, be consistently treated so poorly?”

      Speaking for myself anyway, the trouble is that I did not and have not given “so much thought” to my relationships – or perhaps ALL the thought I did give was all the wrong kind of thought!

      It’s the quality of thought we give to our relationship that counts – not the amount of thought – I spent years thinking about how to get the EUM to make good on my bad investment in him when I should have been thinking about why I was wasting my time with him and why I wasn’t folding. Any other woman who was giving the right thought to the problem would have folded – or bounced – long, long ago!

      Also, it’s not really “compassion” that we are showing these men (or women) – it is simply very poor boundaries (as Grace has said, I think) and trying to show them how wonderful we are so that they love us back… most of what we do in these kind of relationships, I have realised, is not in order to “give” to him (in an altruistic way) but is actually to “get” something back from him and we think the more and more we give that one day, one day, we’ll get it back. We don’t.

      I think now – thanks to what I’ve learned here – that my problem was poor boundaries combined with crappy self-esteem combined with a dogged determination to get back out of it what I felt I had put in to it. I didn’t get it.

      • JadeSesame says:

        @Fearless, am with you on this! Giving to the EUM in order to get something from him (love, respect and recognition), that we should really be giving to OURSELVES but were clearly not doing so in the first place, which led us to seek it out from an unavailable, doomed source. There’re certainly parental undertones here and issues with power imbalance: why do we even have to prove/convince someone else that we are wonderful, precious, funny, loving etc.? why do we need someone’s approval? why is their “rejection” of us so terrifying, that we become doormats, willing to do anything to appease and pacify them into staying? This isn’t the domain of mutually healthy adult relationships based on equality. I never really had an awareness of what boundaries were about, had no idea they were even necessary until reading about it here and I never thought of myself as someone having poor self-esteem, but evidently I do. Probably that’s why I was off-guard. I’m glad I’m discovering all this, in my late 20s (I wish I’d read all this earlier) and there’s so much emphasis on this site about knowing yourself, knowing your values (where an emotionally available healthy person will probably attract another) that I continually read and reinforce. It’s the part about discovering one’s own lack of self-love that is particularly difficult, depressing and can lead to prolonged self-pitying. (think there was mention on this site too, about escapism and avoidance of one’s own problems.. certainly easier to take flight and seek refuge in another’s).

        I get the feeling that some breeds of EUMs are quite good at sussing out high quality women, the egocentric/narcissistic ones especially know how to recognize “a good woman’s love” . But yes it is predominantly our poor boundaries that make us vulnerable and susceptible to these painful, destructive situations. Some of us tend to over-empathize, over-identify, over-analyze a situation. I think that having good boundaries, mental awareness and positive self-image consciousness is the first step in doing so, the best kind of EUM/AC repellant possible.

  36. Wizzy says:

    I have seriously chilled out in my dating, letting things unfold. I met a guy for lunch and a two days later later we spoke and planned a night out. I called him to confirm the time and headed out. Then he kind of vanished!! I finally got him on the phone (on my way home) he sounded drunk and begged me to wait for half an hour….I didn’t, I went home to bed, wondering how I am still meeting these assclowns?!!!!! I get what Natalie means in this post…I am still very attractive to assclowns….I think I suffer too much from fear of rejection and low self esteem. Back to the hiatus to find my self esteem.

    • NML says:

      I wouldn’t even think of him as an AC but what you have done is spot on Wizzy – you’ve conveyed ‘I’m not the kind of woman that you can flake out on, be incommunicado and then expect to hang around for 30 mins while you get your drunk ass out. No thanks’. He’ll think twice before he pulls that shit again and you know what? So many women on here worry about what they’re missing from something that didn’t even get started properly before it crapped out. In this case, it will be him.

  37. snh says:

    This post, and all the comments, have come at a brilliant time. I’m also starting to date right now. There’s one guy in particular that I’m spending my ‘dating’ time with. What I discovered during the period where I was repairing the relationship I’d broken with myself (by staying so long with my ex) was that in order for me to be ready to date my 5 dating/relationship Must Have’s (which I wrote down) didn’t just look like the OPPOSITE traits of my ex. This insight was a revelation for me. Of course I couldn’t see me ex in any of my 5 Must Haves – :) – BUT they weren’t just traits that me ex lacked. They were 100% values that I absolutely needed in someone I would invest my time in. I’m clear now, more than ever (and for me, that’s pretty amazing – since I was the indecision QUEEN!) that my life is looking for a complement -AND I’m really just not interested in taking stuff on that isn’t workable for me. I don’t even have the energy or the willingness to explain why something is unworkable anymore. The other revelation I’ve had recently :) is that while the guy I’m dating hasn’t presented any amber or red flags yet, I’m *not afraid* if does present them, even in say 3 months! If he turns into some red-flag wearing emotionally unavailable future faking lunatic (lol) I’m VERY clear that I will not even explain why I’m leaving. I will just bow. I think it’s because I get what dating is about now. I may sound really harsh here but for me dating isn’t about love – at all. Love is what CAN emerge from dating. It is not the guarantee of dating, nor should it be the goal I think. Dating, as you’ve said Natalie, is a discovery phase. Right now, I enjoy the anticipation of meeting up with him the same way I enjoy the anticipation of my motorcycle lessons – they are things that add value, that complement, my life. Actually I’ve actually started writing things down after my dates with him. Sounds very unromantic, I know, but it works for me. :) It’s so that my tendency to rationalize or deny potentially red flag behavior doesn’t get the best of me. I write down things that fulfill on my 5 Must Haves as well as things that didn’t sit well with me. It’s like my dating cheat sheet during this “recovery” period… :)

  38. Artemisia says:

    “When you meet somebody for the first time, you’re not meeting them. You’re meeting their representative.”

    I like that, for finding out who is hiding behind the PR there is dating and there is after the first time you have sex with the person. A guy will be a prince for the chase and after sex will revert to being a toad. I remember the guy who could not get his clothes fast enough in the morning. He was really flexible, “ he did not show that amount of flexibility (physical and mental) last night “ I thought. He did not call back and I was glad, it was not always that clear cut, sometimes I really liked the guy and called, called, called, to nothing, or to be met with many lame excuses, and sometimes to be called back out of a blue when the guy wanted an itch scratched. Hello self-loathing.

    People leak their true nature even when trying not to, by their body language, or what they say when relaxed or when their defenses are down. Nothing like getting naked with someone to know their true nature and intent. One of my friends was dating this “nice” guy, one night very drunk he put pushed her head on his lap, in a bar and told her “do me favor, I really need a bj, it’s my birthday soon”. I laughed when she told me because I assumed he was history, I stopped laughing when she told me – he wasn’t himself that night, in Vino Veritas I said. He turned out to be a hopeless nob. Told you so was not necessary, because she knew all along but chose to overlook his flaws, hoping for the pony. I have been there, it’s not fun.

    Toxic Men by Lillian Glass is pretty good.

  39. Magnolia says:

    Just thought I’d follow up to say that the guy that I went on two dates with, whom I told about my uncertainties about my own readiness to date when he asked about seeing me again, kind of let me have it when I emailed to say thanks, I had fun, but I don’t see a romantic relationship here.

    He was angry that if I knew I wasn’t ready, that I had wasted his time. He asked me to take down my profile until I was ready, and said, “you decide if you’re ready on your own time, in the privacy of your home.”

    I think it’s a bit much to blast me for wasting his time when we spent a total of about six hours together (“I know after the first date whether I like someone; I don’t have to spend seven hours with them,” he said). But I did take the point that I need to have the balls to own that if I’m not going forward, it’s because I’m just making a decision.

    I was uncomfortable, I got cowardly, and went into “it’s not you, it’s me” mode. I allowed myself to doubt my own judgment, thinking in a way that it was kinder, but as NML wrote recently, I was just afraid of exercising my judgment. In the end, that made him feel used and like he wasted time on someone unavailable, rather than feeling turned down legitimately by someone available.

    I apologized. Lesson learned.

    • grace says:

      Meh, what a prima donna.
      Sometimes you don’t know you’re ready until you try it. Yes, it’s a bit hard on him, but he was also perfectly within his rights to say to you he wasn’t feeling it if that was the case. Two dates, neither of you owes the other anything except what you gave – a brief explanation.
      And whether you get turned down by someone available, unavailable, bipolar, depressed, a hollywood actor or a sheet metal worker, or someone with eight eyes and a tentacle, it’s gonna hurt a bit. There’s nothing you can do to avoid that.
      It’s not a big deal. His getting mad and telling you what to do is an amber flag though, so I think you did the right thing.

      • EllyB says:

        @Magnolia: Grace is right. Maybe your gut instinct said “no” to him for a reason. Consider it progress.

    • NML says:

      Magnolia, I have to say, I read your comment and did wonder who the frick this guy thinks he is ordering you to take your profile down. I’m not saying he can’t be a bit upset but talk about overstepping the mark.

      There’s some things you can learn from this:

      Stop oversharing. There’s no ‘great’ reason to give so forget about looking like the good guy. You didn’t need to tell him you weren’t ready to date – you just needed to tell him that you weren’t interested in taking things further.

      You don’t need a detailed reason – sometimes you just don’t feel it. Psychoanalysising yourself or being interrogated about the whys isn’t going to do either of you any good.

      See his behaviour? This is how I see some BR readers behaving – ‘We went on several dates! How dare you say you don’t want to go on more dates! That’s time I won’t get back you know. Don’t let me see you looking happy or walking around town with someone else. Remove your dating profile immediately and prove to me you’re not lying.’

      Magnolia, this is not the man for you. Ironically, it doesn’t sound like *he’s* ready to date. Don’t worry about it and save the detail for a relationship.

      • Magnolia says:

        Grace, EllyB, NML:

        Thanks for the thoughts. NML, you have indeed stated exactly what to take from this. A lot of the wisdom of recent posts comes together in the repeated action of deciding, and communicating a decision without justifying. Nat, I think a lot of what you describe around stress (getting used to too much of it) can be said (and I think you did say it) for uncertainty and indecisiveness. I just have been so used to questioning my own judgment that it barely registers that I felt a need to defend my decision to a dude I have known for six effing hours?!

        Some perspective: I squirmed and justified for a good two minutes with this guy, before getting in the car. My ex from a while back, I squirmed and allowed negotiations for almost six years. Progress!

        • runnergirl says:

          Yes, yes, yes! “I just have been so used to questioning my own judgment that it barely registers that I felt a need to defend my decision to a dude I have known for six effing hours?!
          But it registered…that’s the point. It registered with me too. It is about communicating a decision without justifying.
          For once in a blue moon, I’m not cringing. I hope you aren’t cringing either Magnolia. Talk about progress. Although mine is via cyberspace and yours is real. Keep up the great work. No more 6 six years of squirming, justifiying, minimizing, rationalizing, and treading water in a cess pool. Sometimes a spade is just a spade. Good call Magnolia. His nice guy facade sure took a toser.

      • runnergirl says:

        Wow Magnolia,
        This guy spent a total of 6 hours on two dates and feels entitled to what precisely? Thank you for sharing. I’m thinking you may have dodged a bullet. Sheesh, what would he expect after 9 hours, a baby? Congratulations. I see it as progress for you too. Sounds as though he may have some work to do though. He wasted 6 hours of his life? Does he run a country? I’m with Natalie. Flush. His reaction isn’t about you, it’s about him.
        Natalie, thank you for turning this around. I can totally see now how dating has to be a discovery phase for both parties and a few dates does not mean there is a relationship or should result in feeling entitled to more. I’ve been working on understanding this from my perspective but it helps me to see that he has to have the understanding too. It’s also helpful to see how to exit without oversharing and explaining. Not interested in taking things further is perfect. Thank you.
        Signed: Learning from the Ground UP.

  40. Spinster says:

    My challenge in the past was either taking a “few nice things” & running with them, or being so weary of scumbags that I sabotaged anything that could’ve been decent. And I think that it’s tricky with the “few nice things” because in my experience, for the most part I’ve not dealt with scumbags (there were 2 whom I later realized were scumbags but that’s it) so the men weren’t outright abusive – they basically looked good on paper. Looking back, I’m thinking that it was their ambivalence – looked good on paper but their hearts weren’t in the relationship (or whatever our status was) – that kinda got me in a bind because it was “good enough”. But in reality, it wasn’t good enough.

    So while it’s hard NOT to take a few nice things and run with them, I’m more aware of when I begin doing that and say to myself “Spinster, calm down.” (Since I’ve not been in a relationship in a long time, I apply this more so for regular people that I meet.)

  41. Sharon says:

    What do you think of a guy who you are on your fourth date with and as you leave the resturante he passes by someone he know? And stop…doesn’t introduce you and you stand there like an ass. BTW, all the date’s he wore a ‘sports team jacket’. The last being a Red Sox in New York Yankee teritorry. (For those of you living across the pond-this is a negative attention getter).

    • Natasha says:

      Sharon, your comment made me burst out laughing – I’ve lived my whole life in Red Sox Nation (I’m a football fan though haha!), so I totally get what you are saying. I think these sound like social gaffes, but more importantly, I’m getting the sense that you’re not that into the guy. Early Dating Days are supposed to be fun, so if you’re annoyed by him, I’d say maybe you’re not feeling him?

  42. Fara says:

    Natalie, somewhere in the “Landmarks of Healthy Relationships” article you mention that intimacy will not happen “If one or both of you are doing things to protect yourself from being vulnerable”; I have a question about this part. It is sometimes confusing in the dating phase, to when is a good time to open up and put the guards down to be vulnerable; I think naturally every person has walls around them and is cautious about when to put them down, specially if they have experienced a relationship with an unavailable person before; you don’t want to just be vulnerable untill you know the other party’s intentions. So, if I am trying to protect myself before I open up and he is trying to protect himself before he opens up, how could we know the other person is an available one and can be truested emotionally so that we become more open too? I am willing to be vulnerable, and I am not really fast into being open too; when I meet a man and I am taking my time to know them, normally after a few first dates, I will be called a bit distant and mean from them because I do seem to have walls around me, I think they mean both sexually and emotionally; when we get to the point that I start to put my walls down and be vulnerable that is the time I find out the other party is getting distant; so that makes me even more cautious about not to put the walls down early; does that mean I am avoiding being vulnerable in the dating phase?

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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.