There's no point in being in faux controlI’ve released my first companion guide to Mr Unavailable and the Fallback GirlThe Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship – and I wanted to share an excerpt from the moving forward section as I see so many readers (fantasy relationship or not) rendered helpless by trying to control the uncontrollable, seeking perfection, and choosing ‘safe’ but unavailable and often shady relationships where they don’t have to put themselves at major risk. This excerpt is from the chapter Getting Control Under Control…

I can tell you right now, that most of the angst that people experience around unhealthy relationships is about not being able to get inside the other person’s head, to control their opinion, what they’re thinking, and what they’re intending, and the inability to influence and direct another person’s behaviour by throwing your love, attention, sex, imagination, and even texts at them. You’re not about to be able to read people’s minds or take over the controls, so it’s you that has to get a grip on trying to control the uncontrollable. The funny thing is that when you align yourself around people who have similar values and are a reflection of a healthy relationship with yourself, while you still will never know every thought in their head or be able to control their actions, you have a greater sense of trust, both in you and in them, which allows you to get on with exerting influence over your own life.

Love is not about having the power to change or control someone. It’s also not a power struggle so rather than vying to control a relationship that you feel has left you helpless, it’s better to go and be in a relationship where you can accept and respect both you and them, that you’re both copiloting.

I know it feels like everything is about you because you are you and it’s your life, but not everything is about you. The only thing that is about you is you and your actions. Everybody else’s actions are about them. You’re just not that powerful that you’re making people be and do certain things. You’re certainly not causing a radical change in personality – people be and do what they’re already inclined to do. The world is not manoeuvring to your I’m Not Good Enough Record – people are far too caught up in themselves.

Learn how to trust you.There’s no easier way to feel out of control than by placing all of your trust in others, and very little of it in yourself. You learn how to trust you by exercising your judgement through experience. This is how you learn to have confidence in yourself because you can trust you to look, listen, and act in your own best interests. It also means that even in the face of ‘bad news’, you’re OK because at least you hear and see and know it’s bad news and are acting upon it so it doesn’t become something considerably bigger and unnecessary.

When you learn how to trust you, you learn to trust your capabilities in various circumstances. I, like many, have told myself many times in the past that I couldn’t handle something and then subsequently became obsessed with being in control of ‘everything’ to prevent me from having to deal with what I was afraid of. You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for.

Perfection doesn’t exist. There’s no such thing as a perfect life or a flawless human. Trying to control ‘everything’ in an attempt to make things the way that you view as perfect, is far from ‘perfect’ behaviour. Many people spend their whole lives not appreciating themselves or their lives because of a goal of perfection. When you relax into yourself and your life and seek to feel good and happy instead of perfect, there is a whole life waiting for you to enjoy, including bouncing back when things don’t always go how you’d like.

You do not need to get all of the details of your relationship ‘right’ or look for ways to correct them through new encounters – let yourself and your experiences unfold. Let even your ‘mistakes’ unfold because you’re too busy trying to correct along the way, often using your ego as a basis for your actions, before you truly see what insights you can gain from the experiences. If you keep trying to control everything, you just don’t step back enough to have an objective view.

See the wood, instead of the trees. When you’re busy trying to control other people’s opinions or actions, or limiting yourself in limited relationships so that you don’t have to stretch you emotionally, you miss the big picture – that this relationship isn’t working for you, or that you aren’t actually getting any genuine happiness and fulfilment out of these unproductive uses for your energy, or that your life is passing you by. Is it really worth devoting weeks, months, or even years of your life trying to ‘correct’ a person’s opinion or win back a relationship that is over for good, healthy reasons?

?Pseudocontrol isn’t control; getting behind the wheel of your life and driving it is. Being in control in your head is of shag all use to you – you need to be influencing and bringing about change in your own life, through your own actions.

Look at what you’re trying to control in others – how could you create this in your own life? One example is that when you try to devote your energies to controlling the opinions of others, it’s because you are exerting little control over the opinion of yourself – you’re just letting your negative self-talk run riot. Another is when you try to control another person’s agenda and keep tabs on them because it feels like they’re off creating their own life while you’re stagnating. Stop tracking them, stop stagnating, start creating your own life. Watching over them isn’t going to do it.

Remember that when you refuse to accept that the relationship is over or attempt to coerce them into doing things your way, you’re attempting to control their agenda and possibly even bombarding them with attention. This will alienate you. Breakups are not a democratic decision and people have their own agendas, which means that they don’t need your agreement to break up and you have to step back and get on with your own agenda, without them. In a mutual relationship, you have a joint agenda. Stop wrestling with this person for power – let them go.

Practice acceptance. I don’t mean accept bullshit behaviour, but what I do mean is to accept how things are, instead of rejecting it in favour of complaining about how you want things to be like how they used to be or how you believe they should be in the future. You cannot control the past and you certainly only have control over what you choose to do in your own future.

Accept that you cannot control others but you can control you. This is natural, normal, and nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn’t mean you’re not good enough or that you’re a failure or that you should have tried harder or whatever else you’re telling yourself. There is no person on this planet that you can control other than you. When you recognise that you don’t have this power, while your first instinct may be to feel helpless, what you need to give way to, is you not blaming yourself for other people’s actions and not being able to do something that nobody other than abusers can do, which means that you can claim the power that’s rightfully yours. Trying to control others does create a feeling of helplessness but every day you have to make a choice between being helpless by trying to control others you can’t control, or being powerful by empowering you in your own life.

Nobody else should be directing or influencing your worth or your life other than you. This is the same for everyone else, so you need to get on with assuming responsibility for yourself and leave everyone else to do theirs.

Your thoughts?

The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship is now available from my bookshop along with with Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl.

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238 Responses to Excerpt From The Dreamer & the Fantasy Relationship On Getting Over Controlling The Uncontrollable

  1. Once again, your post came at a perfect time. My Mr. Unavailable won’t stop writing to me and I won’t stop writing back! I KNOW this is a fantasy relationship that will never go anywhere. This post reinforces the fact that I have to put any energy I’d put into manipulating him to do what I want (which he never will anyway) and direct that into my own self-improvement, self-awareness and self-love.

  2. MaryC says:

    I tried to control the uncontrollable by being a doormat. I thought if I spent all my time and I do mean all my time showing him my love which meant sex, being there at the drop of a hat, giving up myself worth, putting with being the other woman to the other woman he would see my worth and come running back WRONG. All I got was to be a doormat.

    I found out the hard way that Nat is right the only person you can control is yourself. I also learned if I have to put that much time and energy into someone other than myself I’m not interested. If a relationship needs that much work from the start why begin it.

    • Bermiegirl says:

      “if a relationship needs that much work from the start why begin it.”
      Thank you so much for that. It’s the one thing I consistently remind myself of. The honeymoon period should at least be a honeymoon period! If they can’t make their way through the early hearts and flowers stage without causing you stress, it will only go downhill from there.
      I think the hook is purely and simply this: trying to disprove the legacy of “I’m not good enough”. Unfortunately it is doomed to failure from the get go for 2 reasons. 1) if they don’t treat you well at the beginning, they’re not going to change for you and suddenly prove that you are so amazing and worthy that even THEY changed to keep you, and 2) if you feel deep down still that you’re not good enough, the universe (and ACs and EUMs!) have a not so funny way of agreeing with you!

      • anon says:

        I ended up in an abusive relationship due to this very problem. I looked around me and saw other people staying together for several years while I had only ever had short relationships lasting a few months… this plus my low self worth led me to ‘prove’ that I too could ‘do’ long term relationships. I really wish I hadn’t bothered. I am still dealing with relearning social skills that were wilfully eroded along with my confidence over ten years ago. No exaggeration. I have recovered in many ways, but not completely even now, even after lots of therapy and counselling… 2.5years of mind-f***ing and imposed sleep deprivation along with systematic degradation and unpicking of my social skills that had taken over 20years to develop at the time… well it takes a long time to get over something like that and fix it all. All the changing I did to make that man happy didn’t work- there was always something else wrong with me, always something else I was doing wrong. My biggest mistake was to look to a man I was with to teach me how to be in a long term committed relationship. I should have sought professional advice on this instead. I think that my relationships were short lived or abusive because I was not being careful about picking a decent match and a decent man to share my life with. I have a long way to go… but thanks to this site I no longer feel like I am a ‘failure’ at relationships. I am successful at getting out of bad relationships that don’t serve me.

        • tired_of_assanova says:

          All the changing I did to make that man happy didn’t work- there was always something else wrong with me, always something else I was doing wrong.

          A common theme I hear on here is transform and modify yourself to induce change in the other party. That IS fantasy control. You can’t change someone!

          Relationships are about acceptance!
          No acceptance, no relationship!

          It’s like, “if I morph and modify myself, and place myself next to my partner, I will induce change within them.” This is like trying to exercise powers that nobody has! It is like putting a rotten apple into a barrel of good apples and expecting the overwhelming number of good apples to somehow magically turn the rotten apple good again. This is IMPOSSIBLE! Instead the rot spreads and more damage is done – so the whole barrel becomes infected and the damage is magnified.

          NML is right – when someone is assanova, placing The Most Perfect Person On Earth (TM) next to them will not stop them being an assanova. In fact, it is like feeding a dangerous predator!

          • tired_of_assanova says:

            I might add, the wrong types of changes are happening to the wrong party as well. If a person is an assclown, THEY need to change NOT you.

            I wonder if this all happens within our minds, as Fallbacks always seem to have a special, non-rational logic installed (I know I did). I wonder how many of us would/have actually confront the other person and ask “If I did more cooking/cleaning/piled on the sex/became a slave, would you change?”

            • grace says:

              Oh my, thanks for the giggle.

            • P. (former doormat) says:


              I did not ask that question, and did all the above, assuming that’s what is done in marriage. In the end I had to leave because I could not keep it up, aside from various other problems… First I went to a Dr. for a consultation because I was getting palpitations, exhausted etc., and he offered me Prozac, saying: “There is nothing wrong with a little dish washing.” That shook me, since I *knew* I could not do anything more to have him treat me better or love me or work on our relationship. Even after our divorce he kept telling me I never loved him enough…

            • Tulipa says:

              I agree, but don’t we also have to ask ourselves what would we do if these acs and eums did change did step up and say I want a proper relationship, where would that leave us?

              For me I’d become the assclown I wouldn’t cope and be running away.
              I wonder when we bend over backwards trying to be all that they want deep down we already know we are doomed to failure.

        • ixnay says:

          I have 2 thoughts about the changing thing.

          1) In my experience, it’s not so much I wanted them (thinking of 2 similar men here) as I wanted the good/loving side and not the critical/angry side. Both men were really clear which sort of behavior was rewarded. Both men liked me to be outgoing and self-sufficient and were intolerant of doubt, insecurity, and sadness. While I can be outgoing and self-sufficient, I also have a depressive, insecure streak and really want a supportive partner at those times. Not only could they not be supportive, they got contemptuous. I have a theory that that is their own disowned, shadow side and it’s not an accident they chose me to “own” and reflect this “weakness.” Since I admired their brazen self-confidence, I, too, joined in the contempt of my weakness.

          At the same time, part of being with someone is respecting their limitations. If they could not tolerate insecurity, would it be a good partner to respect that and not inflict it on them?

          In both cases, what happened is that I have this rebellious impulse to test them somehow, and would, even knowing the consequences, express doubt or depression. It was kind of a bid for empathy, like a dare, can you handle this side of me?

          They couldn’t, but instead of then opting out I opted more insistently in.

          2) The first guy I’m thinking of, somewhere in the breakup process, said, in genuine anguish, “I hate how you twist yourself to please me!”

          Both men ended up with women who were a lot more demanding and “bitchy” than me. It turned out that while both men were controlling, what they really wanted was an even more controlling woman. I even had the weird experience of the first guy seeing the second guy treating me badly and saying, “My girlfriend wouldn’t put up with that for 2 seconds!” — seemingly forgetting that he himself had treated me that way. He said, “You’re too soft.”

          Takeaway: I want a man who won’t need me to be a hardass in order to treat me well. It’s not my thing.

          • Mymble says:

            I have thought about this too. But I think everyone has doubt, insecurity and depression to a greater or lesser extent. In some of my relationships I have been the domineering confident hardass, and in others the “needy”, anxious type. I think it comes down to how confident you are in the relationship. If you feel they have all the power and are in some way “better” then you, then you act that way, I certainly did. The MM actually told me I was “neurotic and full of unresolved anxiety”. His reason for saying this was that I was having difficulty sleeping. Now with anyone else I would quite literally have jeered in their face at such a ridiculous assertion. I would actually have laughed in their face and told them to fuck off, and rightly so. But I didn’t with him. I bet the new girlfriends don’t go partying all the time and don’t allow themselves to be guilt tripped about it. Why should anyone?
            What I am saying is that you seem to have decided that you are one particular type of person whereas I would guess that like most people you have different modes and ways of being depending on the situation.
            And I think EVERYONE not just you needs kindness and support in their darker moments, which all of us have.

            • P. (former doormat) says:

              Ixnay and Mymble (BTW I enjoy your forays into anthropology),

              I got that, too. I found my old diary from 20-something years ago where I wrote my ex told me:” I was unfaithful to you because you let me run all over you.” However, on further reflection, that seems like an excuse and a manifestation of such men’s own insecurities. If they really *need* someone to control them, they have issues with believing in themselves. IMHO.

      • Fearless says:

        “if you feel deep down still that you’re not good enough, the universe (and ACs and EUMs!) have a not so funny way of agreeing with you!”

        Yep. When trying to maintain NC, Natalie/BR helped me with the first thing I needed to get in control of: my validation seeking.

        The irony is that while we are looking for him to let us know we are worth something he too is looking to us to let him know what that something is. And we tell him, ‘Crumbs? Yes, thanks’. And we hope he will disagree, presumably based on some other evidence that we are not communicating to him – but there isn’t any.

    • cherry says:

      this is so true, its as if we are conditioned to try to please our partners or loose them – I remember thinking at the start of my marriage that I would be the perfect wife, that we were true friends and life partners, I thought if I kep the home clean, cooked, supported him in his work, didnt spend on excessive make up, ie be high maintenance , scrimped and save because I thought we were looing to our future, kept myself looking good and gave him what he wanted sexually, he would appreciate and remain a good husband, he put on such a convincing persona whihc he kep up for years and years, and was seemingly the perfect husband, albeit he never showed any passion for me(red flag, that I took the wrong way thinking he was a mild inexperienced man, not a player?) – after all isnt that what all things you read imply , its re inforced that women should not let them selves go, should look after their husbands needs etc.
      It has taken me so long to realise all that happened is I made life so easy for him, that he could indulge his dark side confident that I adored him and was easy to hoodwink. while I scrimped for our future I see now that gave him the leeway to spend on his indulgances
      I realise the more I tried to keep him happy, by playing his sordid games – the more it gave him the idea that my boundaries were like his – the times I indugled him the most, thinking I was fulfilling his needs, showing I understood him, so he wouldnt need it elsewhere are the times he was in fact looking elsewhere, as if I was the starter, appetizer, he used me..getting him ready for the main course. I was trying to control his behaviour, trying to second guess him – all to no avail, but to make me feel more of a failure because the I pimped myself up, the more I degraded myself for him..the easier he seemed to find it to look else where, I spent all my time trying to change myself in order to change him – and it never worked and never will I now realise, reading these blogs I am letting go of the snooping, the trying to find out what he may do, has done, is thinking of doing – I thought if I knew what he was thinking and caught him out I could change the outcome – all that happened was I have become a door mat, not appreciated as loving unconditionally – but someone seen as easy to hoodwink constantly playing catch me if you can,
      I realise its not me, its him with the…

      • P. (former doormat) says:


        are you still married to him?

        This part of what you wrote really resonated with me:

        “I thought if I knew what he was thinking and caught him out I could change the outcome – all that happened was I have become a door mat”

        I think when you realize what is going on that is the first step to getting better.

        • cherry says:

          I am, have been with him since we were 18 – I dont know if I read here to get the strength to break free from the relationship, or whether it just helps me come to terms with reality andhow to cope working on myself and not trying to change him, it just makes me stronger knowing where I have been going wrong and how to sort my self out – I feel more in control these days- of my self, of my obbssessing and the bad thoughts I have always bombarded myself with about myself,

  3. Tea Cozy says:

    Ooh, downloading it as I type right now. I’ve been chomping at the bit for this book — the title alone told me it was required reading. Plus, my electronic copy of Fallback Girl is all dog-eared and needs a break! :-)

    Thank you so much for your terrific work, Natalie. Looking forward to a good read this weekend. (Also, I really appreciate you offering the book in pdf format — it works great for me.)

  4. finally getting it! says:

    Thank you for coming into my life. Your blog is literally an answer to a prayer! I started NC 10 days ago because I needed to take the power back. Anytime I find myself composing an email or a response to a text, I find myself erasing and deleting it and then carrying on with my day. This is because I now realize that by replying or reaching out, I’m trying to control him into giving me some sort of closure. By remaining silent I have kept my dignity and my power! I have actually felt light-hearted in the midst of this life transition! My friends are marveling at how I am handling such a major break-up and it’s all because of your blog. Thank you! I just bought Mr Unavailable just to support your mission…. getting No Contact Rule next…. what a blessing you are!

    • Fearless says:

      finally getting it
      another tip I found worked for me: I’d type the email/text I imagined I wanted to send him (usually late at night after hours of obsessing!), then instead of clicking ‘send’ I’d save it in ‘draft’. Every time I did that, without fail, the following day I’d see things with a clearer head and would click ‘delete all drafts’.

      • ixnay says:

        I have a sort of draft diary. If it still expresses what I want after abt 24 hours, I mail it to myself. Reminds me of how circular my thinking is, as I see I had certain realizations months or years ago.

        I also email myself encouragement.

        “Dear Ixnay,
        It is not your job to figure out how eum loves. You are a good person. You did the best you could.”

        In 2006 (!) I found a forlorn missing you email from the previous woman. I wrote myself “Dear Ixnay, If you are sending emails like that six years after the relationship ends, I will lose all respect for you.” The problem is (and I’m sure she shared it)… the relationship never really ends.

        • Tea Cozy says:

          I used to send myself those supportive emails, too. I’d talk to myself the way I would a close friend — with compassion and encouragement. It’s very effective. Thank you for the reminder — I’m going to write one right now. (I’m having a lot of emotional backwash from a recent, unwelcome crumb-contact from an ex.)

          I also keep scribbled notes in shoeboxes, buried in my closet, written when I was in the throes of breakup angst. I don’t open these boxes often, but I would if I were feeling really tempted to contact an ex. Something about seeing the spidery, jagged scrawl of my penmanship when I was in so much pain really reminds me why I had to cut contact.

  5. Lia says:

    “Accept that you cannot control others but you can control you.”

    I definitely needed to read this, like right now. I feel like I need to detox my brain after getting into another argument with my mother. Typical control freak who somehow manages to sneak in a few digs whenever my day seems to be going perfectly fine. For the past few months she’s been trying to set me up with men that I’m not interested in dating. I don’t like being set up for one, and but even if I did, it would definitely not be someone who she set me up with. I told her to cut it out and she basically lets it be known in no uncertain terms that she thinks that I should be starting to think about marriage, and how it makes her feel since she always thought that I would be the one child that would be married with kids by now. For crying out loud, I’m only 25, and I really don’t think that I am prepared to be in any relationship like that at this point in time. It just frustrates the hell out of me because I feel like for the past few years I’ve been in a power struggle with her to get her to back off and just let me live my life. It’s hard to just accept that this is the way that she is, overly opinionated and pushy. I feel like I’ve been spending so much time trying to get her off my back that I haven’t really been able to embrace where I am in life right now. It sucks.

    • P. (former doormat) says:


      My m. lives in a different country and last time she visited, not only she *made* me go on dates with men I had broken up with before, she also insisted on seeing them, and when I did not come home at a certain time (she was not alone and I did not specify a time), she called me many times on my cell and then went outside looking for me and walking around my car to see what I was doing. I had to write this because now I see it as unbelievable.

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      Typical control freak who somehow manages to sneak in a few digs whenever my day seems to be going perfectly fine.

      Yes, this is another theme in my life. When you have low self esteem and feel you are not good enough or good enough to control your life, you become vulnerable to OTHERS taking control over it for their own purposes – abuse!

      Your mother is causing drama and trying to teach you repeatedly that if you don’t comply, you’ll have a hard time. Little different to Mr Unavailables who blow hot and cold to teach us to expect less so they can abuse us. I have the same problem with passive aggressives – I just do not know how to handle them – because they get out all these compliance checklists and super-stringent rules and are ridiculously exacting that it is absolutely exhausting trying to skip to their beat. In fact, IMPOSSIBLE.

      It is horrible and downright scary to have someone project their unrealistic expectations on you and then bust the boundaries and get into your control room and start playing with the dials and controls. It is a violation of your identity and sense of personal independence and self-determination. Similar situations occur in Domestic Violence (which I have experienced too as a child and growing up).

      It’s hard to just accept that this is the way that she is, overly opinionated and pushy. If she wants babies and that amazing relationship, why can’t she do it herself?

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        I also wanted to follow on from this – people who do gain unauthorised access and get into our ‘Life control room’ often can be trying to right the wrongs of their past vicariously through us and use us an an image of themselves or to do what they missed out on.

        My father was a narcissitic, abusive (in all senses – every category of abuse you could think of, he did it) assclown and Mr Unavailable. He is THE SOURCE and THE REASON why I have these EU issues I do have today, even though I was totally unconscious to this as being the cause. I thought that as I had got out of a DV situation, that that’s where the problems would stop. After all, day-to-day I no longer had to deal with violence, control and abuse. Surely then, everything would be fine from that point onwards? WRONG.

        He wanted me to be a lawyer and work in his business and do this and that, shape, mould, control and plan my life and would always get up at me when I didn’t comply and he would justify it by saying ‘My Father hit us/did this/did that’

        One day I managed to have some talk – I don’t know how I managed to do this – but I discovered that he basically was trying to make me him, saw me as himself as a child, and wanted to basically do all the things he wanted to do as a child to make up for his deficient past. So the garbage from three generations (i.e. my Grandfather, who was also an abusive asshole) and things in the 1920’s or 1930’s were having an impact on me, even though ultimately it had nothing to do with me and wasn’t even born at that time UNBELIEVEABLE

        Abuse can be passed down the generations by parents seeking to right the wrongs of their own history as the past. They see you as who they were when they were a child and try to make be and do and model you into this fantasy child state to make the decisions they would have wished they had/had not made at the time.

        You’re a different person. They don’t see that.

        • ixnay says:

          I hear you, toa.

          My father was abused. He never told me about it; I extrapolated it and my mom hinted. He also wrote an extremely thinly disguised autobiographical novel (the lead character had his name!) that, when I read Angela’s Ashes, I thought hold crap this is my dad’s book! Same period of history, same geographical location, and same poverty/abuse.

          Anyhow, toward the end of his life (which was short), he called me and out of the blue said, “I promised myself I would never do to my children what was done to me. But I did , didn’t I?”

          • XFBwoman says:

            ixnay and TOA–I just want to say, I love your comments because they reflect/express so much of my own experience. Thank you for taking the time to write them and for being so articulate–something I have trouble doing myself. NML’s posts help me so much andI get something out of all the comments, but I wanted to say a special thanks to you. And thanks to all of you who open up here. I feel less alone!

  6. brokenhearted in LA says:

    thank you so much for this post.
    at a moment when i feel very, very fragile, plotting in my mind how i’m going to go act out by breaking no contact after 8 months off-contact, i need every bit of wisdom i can get.
    if i break no contact to go on yet another round (the 9th time, for the last 7 years!!!) i know where that will take me.

    i love what you say here:
    “You learn how to trust you by exercising your judgement through experience.”

    EXERCISING GOOD JUDGEMENT. that’s what i need to do, especially at moments like these. not throwing all my 8 months of incredibly hard effort to stay no-contact, to move on, to deal with my pain to become a whole person and live a better life, in a completely irresponsible sweet-fuck-all gesture.
    becoming somebody i respect starts by caring. doing something like that responds to “who cares because i sure don’t give a fuck about my life”.

    thank you again and may the force be with me and keep me from fucking up my own life.

    • anon says:

      Maybe you are feeling a little bit lonely right now. I know that I am. But I also know that this feeling will pass on it’s own if I hang on in there. I am considering getting a dog to focus on until I am ready for a relationship.

      • Catherine says:

        Anon . . . if you ever want to experience the pure, unmitigated joy of unconditional love, then you are wise to consider the possibility of getting yourself a dog. Make no mistake, though. Such a vulnerable little creature will require a huge commitment of your time and energy. My little dachshund walked steadfastly beside me as I grieved the death of my husband four years ago. She structured my days and because I live in a condo, she got me out and moving FOUR times a day – regardless of the weather. I had no choice but to shift my focus from my own pain to her basic needs. In return, warm, close cuddles were always on offer and she would race to my side when it was time to lick away salty tears. I continue to slowly heal – not interested in a relationship of ANY variety for the time being – but as I do “the work”, I’ve never felt more grounded in my life.

      • Anon says:

        A dog is a serious (12- 20 year) commitment. They are co-dependent and need a stable family for life. Do a dog foster at a local shelter if you are getting the dog for a temporary focus until you are ready for a relationship. Or pet ownership.

        • P. (former doormat) says:


          I agree about the commitment and not using it is a “fix”, a “toy”. I have to check that in myself, looking at the pictures of cute dogs on the shelter website and thinking about “saving” them. I somehow feel that would just shift my own insecurities into a different area instead of processing them.

    • FX says:

      brokenhearted, I’m sorry you’re hurting so much after so long. May I ask what the current circumstances are that have you considering breaking NC after 8 months? It interests and concerns me because I, too, have been in a long-term yo-yo relationship. I’m not as far along as you at NC but I’m sure there are others here who may benefit from your NC story, too. And, maybe we could also better offer you advice and support if we knew.

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      It took me 9 months to recover, and I had to throw every resource I could get my hands on to do it. I’ve been through the pain, it is like you lose part of yourself when these assclowns leave and you want to chase them to get it back – but if you chase them, they steal even more from you!!

      All the major damage that occurred, happened in the second phase when they returned after rejecting me and then demoting me to occassional-weekend-cuddle-friend (read:ego stroke) while they had licence to whatever they please because they had suppressed progress.

      I guess the only advantage for me was that they went NC – many other readers on BR don’t have this luxury, the shady ex/assclown is chasing them for round 2 of nightmare on assclown avenue.

      I accepted a work secondment to a different city for 2 months during my grief process. I still felt bad but the distance and scenery was nicer. Intensive psychology and even anti-depressants (see a professional) may also help. Yoga or walks can help too – the impact was so bad, to stop myself going crazy, I’d walk around the city.

      It is easy to beat ourselves up and go into self-destruct mode to prove to ourselves how important they were and also tear or hair out and go crazy that our FAUX control didn’t actually work. It’s like ‘what? faux control isn’t working’ *pressing buttons wildly* and then blaming yourself for faux control not working, not realising that it is FAUX control. FAUX people!! You cannot change someone to be what you want them to be or fit some pre-conditioned fantasy. Best to leave the modelling for art class!

      • Teddie says:

        I too have found that movement and exercise do wonders indeed, Tired! I think it comes down to the intensive breathing, you literally breathe out the crap out of your system.
        I took up resistance training (weights) and not only did it intensify the cleansing process (yes, breathe in while relaxing, breathe out while tensing, out the crap, in the norepinephrine!), and I totally see a difference in terms of bum and buttock size!

  7. broadsided says:

    Great all around article/excerpt amd I look forward to reading the book. Words near the end really struck a chord – i.e., breaking up is NOT a democratic decision! Too often have I seen women beg and even pray that the man has a change of heart. Finally when my last guy broke up with me for the second tome, it was “fine, move on AND don’t come back again.”

    The funny thing is that while I’ve taken time to get over him, and have decided not to date or have a boyfriend for awhile … two weeks after our breakup he’s with another woman. Uh, is this the typical male – especially one with a clamoring harem? Wow

    The overriding message is to not try to force the hamd. So true.

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      The funny thing is that while I’ve taken time to get over him, and have decided not to date or have a boyfriend for awhile … two weeks after our breakup he’s with another woman. Uh, is this the typical male – especially one with a clamoring harem? Wow

      Keep them mean, keep them keen. Mr Unavailable has a queue of on call instant hookups/LTR candidates just waiting in the wings. That’s the other issue I had with the AC and it just came back to me. Even though we were alone together most of the time, I could SENSE the presence of other people everywhere. He’d drop little hints like “oh earlier today i was seeing this person for a chat” and blah blah blah, and in my mind, I’d be like “what? more people? more competition? who is this person? what is he doing with them? who are they?” so many questions.

      iPhone was going off all the time too, and a few times there would be someone attempting to phone him very late at night (like 9-10pm ish). Wouldn’t let me look at it and closer to the end the phone was always face down on the table.

      • Stephanie says:


        My AC did similar things, he would say things like, my friend Is coming down from the country this weekend, (I would be thinking what friend?), or I met up with my friend this week, I would think when, where? I never questioned it, only internally to myself. Although I failed that all important touch test, I spoke to him every day on the phone but yet he would always wait until he saw me to tell me about meeting up with his friends. He would never mention it otherwise. When I think back and reflect it seemed like a subtle but passive way to tell someone, hello I have another life, with other friends and family that you are not a part of!

        As for his iPhone I only ever actually laid eyes on it when we were in the car because he would connect it to play his music. Otherwise I never saw that phone!

        • Stephanie says:

          One more thing, on our 1st date, whilst driving to the restaurant his phone rang, it was a female because the name came up on the display in the car. He never called her back whilst we were out and ignored the call. We were out till at least 10pm he just put his phone in his pocket. At the time I thought he really wanted to be with me so nothing else mattered. He told me he was single so I assumed this woman was a friend just calling at an inappropriate time. This should have been a red flag that I was about to hook up with a major Player! Instead I dreamt about how lovely he was and how wonderful my life was going to be with him. :-(

          • tired_of_assanova says:

            Yes, if only instead of dreaming how wonderful our life would be, we imagine ourselves in the gutter sobbing while they screw someone else, we’d be far closer to reality.

            • Shannon says:

              omg the iPhone turned over on the table. I remember watching a movie with him once and it kept going off. I took one look at it and he turned it over very quickly. And the only time I ever heard him on it was when he came back from his dog walks. (Always women, always “friends” and I was the bad guy and the “jealous” one for asking questions)….such bs. Next time I feel like I’m in a competition like that I’m opting out asap.

  8. Tess says:

    Oh my gosh, “Trying to control others does create a feeling of helplessness but every day you have to make a choice between being helpless by trying to control others you can’t control, or being powerful by empowering you in your own life.”

    When I think of my heartache with the AC and my feelings of despair around our breakup, it’s been that I can’t accept that he won’t do what I want him to do – I’ve always gotten what I want, or it seems that way, and when he denied me “him”, it’s just frustrated the hell out of me. And made me focus on getting the control back. I need to accept it and do as you say, Nat. Stop wrestling him for the power – Let it go.

    Thanks- again

  9. runnergirlno1 says:

    I’ll be downloading ASAP. I’ve waited for this. Natalie, you are so brilliant. I don’t know where I’d be without you and BR. You have a gift and thank you for sharing.
    Now, what I do? Do I do my grading or ditch everything and read?

    I want to read. There is nothing better than Natalie. Way, way better than Tolstoy.
    I’m really happy for this new ebook.

  10. Elle says:

    Such a great piece of writing, Natalie. This captures precisely when I knew I was screwed: when I was trying to keep someone by being excessively and unnaturally attentive and caring. It’s not that I don’t have those qualities, but it was the forced and manipulative nature of it – I desperately wanted an outcome, when I was actually far out in unsafe territory by then. Meanwhile, he just sat back, watched me and blocked it all. Then, coming to terms with the meaning of this sent me nutty: “The world is not manoeuvring to your I’m Not Good Enough Record – people are far too caught up in themselves.”

    Am in a far easier, happier and fruitful relationship now. It’s early days and we’re being sensible and gentle about the future, but we’re both invested, we’re both being equally caring and attentive, and we spend most of our time being supportive, making each other laugh, and getting on with the practicalities of our lives – family, work, friends, creative pursuits, and real adventures.

  11. happy beginning says:

    Can’t wait to read it. With the help of this blog, I have started to control the controllable (me!).

  12. Teddie says:

    I immediately bought the book, totally looking forward to getting some more sense knocked into me, thank you Natalie!

    I was involved in a fantasy long distance relationship with an unavailable attached man for 4 years (not proud of it as it was wrong on so many levels and totally unhealthy for me because he was EU!). I had the sense to bow out 1.5 years ago, he called me “inconsiderate” for making such a “hard and final cut” and claimed it was never an affair for him but real feelings. We both offered and accepted the friend card because we have business dealings as well (big mistake to allow the fantasy to happen in the first place, I know and it had never happened to me before or after, I learned my lesson). Last time I saw him was 10 months ago, since then, occasional calls, SMS and e-mails, mostly initiated by him. In the meantime, he has left his LTPartner and kids and is already in a new liaison with somebody I know had already been in the wings (he’s a very handsome and sought after man).
    The strange part: for some weeks now, he’s been sending me messages like in the fantasy times: how are you, I hope you’re good, thinking of you, I wish you good night, sleep well and kindest, kindest regards (or a similar thing, we communicate in German). Yesterday, he wrote to me, in response to my point-blank question that was in response to a good night e-mail sent at 23.50 h, as to whether he is “together” with this woman I had heard already about, he wrote that yes, they are together. Thanks to Nat’s site and materials, and my daily studies of this blog, I have become wiser not to make a big deal out of this type of shady communication, and yet, two things are preoccupying me: 1. why this burst of attention after a relatively calm period interrupted only by Christmas/New Year wishes, this gives me a pretty uneasy feeling; 2. I’m tempted to tell him point-blank “I don’t wanna be in your harem”. NC would of course be the ideal solution, however, even if I keep ignoring his messages, at some point I’ll have to take his call if only on business.

    I guess the wisest thing to do is to read Nat’s new book first!

    • Fearless says:


      suggestion: if his calls/texts are not to do with business then ignore, ignore, ignore. He’ll soon get the message. These kind of texts from him late at night (and at anytime) are not only very inappropriate and boundary busting, it is also willful mind-effery.

      • Teddie says:

        Thank you, Fearless, this is certainly sound advice! I’m sure his new passion, the one he openly admits to being “together” with, knows about his messages to me, so he’s effing two women, if there’s only two that is.

        I’m at page 40 of Nat’s new book, a very difficult reading, gotta say, after 10 minutes I get up to do some breathing exercises! I so totally recognise myself in all types (how is this possible!) I start panting.

        • Teddie says:

          Oh, I omitted “nothing”, yes, I’m sure she knows nothing and definitely would not approve.

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      Last time I saw him was 10 months ago, since then, occasional calls, SMS and e-mails, mostly initiated by him. In the meantime, he has left his LTPartner and kids and is already in a new liaison with somebody I know had already been in the wings (he’s a very handsome and sought after man).

      There you have it readers. How on Earth are you going to control someone (the ethics of controlling someone to one side for a moment), when they can’t even control themselves.

      I always thought that people with long term partners were in that position because they knew what a healthy LTR was and what it would take to have one. Clearly NOT.

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      I’d suggest taking steps to move to another part of the business or pull out of the business entirely. It’s a business – it’s not that special – and certainly not that special that it is more special than *you*

  13. Lumos says:

    This is great timing – a casual relationship of 3 1/2 years is probably ending (through my angry attempts to regain a sense of control over the situation – I like him but always feel that I have less control or power in the setup). He ended it after 3 weeks of me angrily hounding him to get him to understand my point of view and claiming to all my friends that I wanted him to end it… Anyway its been torturing me since he did – because he isn’t ending it respectfully with open communication like I think he should and I am trying to make him end it my way! So now I am stuck in should I have said, I should have done and I still feel out of control of the situation and still want to come back and fix that! And then I realised I had no control over him – or his responses… None whatsoever – could say whatever the hell I liked – I couldn’t make him give me back the power I had given over to him. I am just so sick of wondering what he is thinking, getting angry about what I think he is thinking, getting hurt by what he wasn’t doing, feeling powerless no matter what I tried to do – I just can’t change the situation at all – and given I dont like the situation that hurts. But the lesson is that I need to stop giving control to controlling men in order to have them want me – and then whinging to them about how bad it makes me feel and how its all their fault and they should fix it! I need to accept that I need to stand by my values and let them go if they don’t accept it – not fight with them for power over the situation so that I can make them give me what I want from them! Power struggles are horrible, exhausting and they get you no where. From now on I am politely sticking to my principles, explaining my position clearly and letting the rest just unfold… It doesn’t make sense for me to claim to love a man – and then spend my time with them fighting over power and control of the relationship. Accepting that I stick by my principles and wants and then let them make a choice to join me with those principles or to leave sounds a lot less stressful and angst then what I have been doing. Although of course in the middle of writting this post he texted a nice text – however I have said no more sex unless its exclusive other wise friends if that workds. We will see. I am not getting back into a casual situation with him though – he…

    • Bermiegirl says:

      To be perfectly honest, that sounds like far too much drama and scattter action! Take sometime out and don’t date anyone for a while. From the little you’ve said, it is clear that you have lost your centre. The minute you feel you have to issue an ultimatum, is the minute you should be walking out the door.
      You sound new to BR. Have a look through Nat’s posts and work on finding yourself before you try dating again.

    • LIFE GOES ON! says:

      Don’t worry :) great thing is that there have been times like these and there’s comfort in knowing that this too shall pass and you’ll start feeling a lot better, if you allow yourself time to deal with what you’re feeling right now. I also used to argue with my bf a lot, trying to explain myself and make him see things from my perspective, but I realised that you can’t help someone that doesn’t want to be helped or stubbornly refuses to see what you want them to, Its like asking a colour blind person to appreciate the beautiful rainbow in front of them. Just know that you’re not alone and that they’re not worth it, YOU’RE WORTH IT. I grew tried and the thought of getting back together with my ex makes me exhausted, because I told myself that I don’t ever want to feel like that again, because they’re holding you back from being the person you deserve to be and that’s someone that’s HAPPY :).
      Stay strong !

  14. LIFE GOES ON! says:

    Wow!! could not have said it any better Natalie! This makes so much sense. I’ve just come out of a 3 and a half year relationship with a guy who I thought I saw a future with. I was always the one initiating everything, always trying to make things work or fix them, but I recently decided that I had enough! because you can’t teach a pig to sing and even although I always expressed how I felt when things weren’t going that great, he never really did anything about it. I was so caught up in trying to make him see where I was coming from and why I was so unhappy, that I never thought of just calling it quits and taking control of my own happiness for a change. I was tired of not knowing where I stood with him and decided that instead of standing around and waiting, I SHOULD START WALKING and I did. I could never understand why he wouldn’t do what was necessary in order to make things right, he always just accepted things as they are but I never did. I felt like a stuck record, having the same conversations about the same things with no breakthrough…I exhausted myself so much and eventually had my relationship epiphany; I was in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable guy!! His excuse for everything was ” I don’t know why I’m like this” or ” that’s just the way I am”. I constantly felt miserable and anxious because I couldn’t get things right and blamed myself for them. I knew what I deserved and would fight for it, until I grew tired of it and finally decided to leave because I wasn’t going to risk waiting around any longer for something that was never going to happen. I owe it to myself to be happy and to consider my future and when I thought about a future with someone like that I felt so anxious and worried and that wasn’t normal. I no longer feel anxious and insecure and I am so glad that I finally reached this point.

    The other night he tried calling me and left a message saying that he wanted to speak to me because he had a bad day and he felt lonely. Usually I’d be sympathetic and be there for him, except this time I decided that I couldn’t care less because I’m not an option he can call up when he feels like it. He made it clear that he wasn’t going to do what was necessary and last time I checked we broke up. SELFISH MUCH.

    I’m moving on with my life, one he’s not a part of and I’m focusing on myself for a change!…

    • Fearless says:

      Life Goes On

      I enjoyed your comment; it sounded exactly like me and my entrenched half-arsed relationshit with the EUM (I stuck with it for ten years – on and off, of course. )

      For the longest time, I too
      “I was so caught up in trying to make him see where I was coming from and why I was so unhappy, that I never thought of just calling it quits and taking control of my own happiness for a change. ”

      I think I eventually did know really that the whole thing was a piece of pish; I pretty much stopped trying to make him see where I was coming from, I was very averse to speaking about him at all to anyone because I knew that any other woman would have kicked him to the kerb many moons ago, and I became increasingly humiliated by it all, and very frustrated with myself that I was unable to ever end it for good and get in control.
      My overriding feeling now is one self inflicted humiliation. I can’t bear it when people so much as mention his name – it makes me cringe, makes me feel like I have to conceal some horrible, incomprehensible crime I committed. : that I allowed a man to treat me so disrespectfully for so many years. It’s humiliating.

      • Fearless says:


        … and I hate what that relationshit reveals to me about myself. And that what it tells me about myself now, he must have been aware of all along. And why would he not be?! Ugh.

      • yoghurt says:

        “My overriding feeling now is one self inflicted humiliation. I can’t bear it when people so much as mention his name – it makes me cringe, makes me feel like I have to conceal some horrible, incomprehensible crime I committed. : that I allowed a man to treat me so disrespectfully for so many years. It’s humiliating.”

        Fearless, I could’ve written this, in fact reading it made me cry (end of a tough week, but still…). I also feel bile rising when I think about him and everything that happened – it actually makes me feel sick. A colleague brought his name up recently in the staffroom and I totally took myself by surprise with how visceral my reaction was – it took a lot of effort to shove it under a verneer of professionalism and smile nicely.

        I try to remind myself of the following:
        a) insofar as my actions were my responsibility, it wasn’t my fault that I had so many mistaken ideas about relationships and the way that I ought to interact with others.
        b) being a human being and having so many ingrained ideas, I wasn’t going to cause massive upheaval of my psyche and change them all unless I had a really really manky and painful experience – probably tinged with humiliation because I find that especially difficult to deal with. This was it, and it had to be unpleasant or I would’ve just carried on in the same way all my life.
        c) for all that I was doing the wrong things, I DID show immense stoicism and inner strength through the experience… those are good things to have, even if they are bad things to misdirect.

        I hate dealing with Son’s father now – no matter what I’ve tried to do or say or change or tweak I’m powerless (hey! That theme again!) to change his opinion of me, which at best is that I’m not worth thinking about and at worst is that I’m a nuisance.

        BUT I don’t have to see myself through his eyes. I don’t have to see myself through his family’s or his girlfriend’s eyes either. I don’t have to see myself through the eyes of anyone who might look at me without knowing the whole story and think “wow, what’s wrong with her that she got treated like that?”

        I only really have to bother about my own eyes, and I know what I did, why I did it and what I’ve done since to stop it from happening again. Anyone who sees it differently to me is a misinformed twerp :) It’s hard to remember sometimes, but…

        • Fearless says:

          sorry to have made you cry! And thanks for your tips.

          • yoghurt says:

            Nah, it’s a good thing. The sooner I cry over everything that I’ve got to cry over the sooner I’m done and can just be happy. :) So thankyou.

            I had a good old bawl driving to work today thinking about how ashamed I am/how humiliated I feel and so on and so forth, believing that I’d never feel alright again about ANYTHING, and then I got to work and normality and thought “nyeh, it’s really not the end of the world when you put it into context”.

            I think that I just need to face and accept and grieve for that particular aspect of it – prior to this whenever I’ve thought about the shame side of things it’s either a) turned into a fantasy in which I don’t have to feel ashamed anymore/ didn’t happen/has a secret meaning that isn’t embarrassing but that I’ve yet to understand or b) turned into a conversation where I tell him how ashamed I am and he turns into a writhing mass of remorse.

            Facing up to it and saying “yep it was humiliating and I feel awful about it, but I got through it and I’m okay” is a fairly new one to me. But a good thing, I think. Acceptance vs denial, bargaining and using fantasy as a drug to escape reality = A Good Thing.

        • A says:

          All well said, Yoghurt.

          “I don’t have to see myself through the eyes of anyone who might look at me without knowing the whole story and think “wow, what’s wrong with her that she got treated like that?”

          As for the above quote, I think anyone outside of the situation looking in would ask what is wrong with HIM that he could treat someone so horribly. Granted, we have our lessons to learn about why we stick around for crap treatment, but I think that anyone with sense would save their judgment for the individual wreaking pain on someone they are supposed to care about, and feel compassion for the person who was at a low point and unfortunately put up with poor treatment from someone she cared for.

          • yoghurt says:

            Cheers A.

            You’d think, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately they don’t… or least enough people don’t for me to struggle with the concept of Virtue-Being-Its-Own-Reward. When I look at how the situation turned out for him, compared to how it’s been for me, I often come to the conclusion that I was the baddy. Without knowing it, I was obviously the Wicked Witch Of The West and now I’m getting my just desserts.

            If I try to change the dynamic or demand some recognition of the fact that the whole situation was pretty awful for me, it just makes it worst – then I’m REALLY made to feel like the Wicked Witch of the West.

            Aside from the fact that the Just World Hypothesis is obviously a load of old cod, the bother is that I was so complicit in his treatment of me that it’s very difficult, now, to separate out any particular example of awful behaviour that I didn’t at least partly facilitate.

            So really, the only solution is to stop thinking about it at all, and to stop interacting with him except at a bare, civil minimum. I know that *I* don’t like the way he behaves and I don’t like the way that he treats/has treated me. I don’t like the way that he avoids taking responsibility for it in order to justify his current circumstances and his view of himself and the situation. But I can’t change him, I can’t change the way that he chooses to present the situation and I’m sure as hell not dragging myself down to his level to spread my own version of events.

            Anyway, when I look at my life without him in it, it’s nice and I’m happy. The trick is to keep minimising his importance until he occupies the smallest possible space on the periphery of my conscious mind – that way I can crack on and make my OWN view of myself a reality by LIVING it, not endlessly justifying it.

      • LIFE GOES ON! says:


        *BIG HUG* …Everything really does happen for a reason and some of the biggest lessons in life are learnt the hard way. I know it hurts and I find myself getting annoyed and wishing that I had ended things sooner, but I find as women we tend to be more hopeful; thinking that things will change, but sometimes the things we can’t change end up changing us. I know that the relationship changed me a lot, I was no longer the person I was before I met him and that’s when I decided that I need to take control of my life. Everything comes suitable to its time and I guess our time is now :) I know I’ve learnt so much about myself after everything that’s happened and its only going to make us stronger as individuals! Don’t be so hard on yourself though, the important thing is that you’ve moved away from it now and yes, we’ve learnt things that we might not like about ourselves, but if this didn’t happen we wouldn’t know and we’d squander our lives living under a cloud of impending doom. It does hurt and it is hard, but I told myself that I never want to feel like this again and I can only move forward if I make peace with my flaws and honor my strengths. Forgive yourself and forgive him (this doesn’t mean you condone what an ass he is and you don’t have to say it to him) but all of the negative emotions you’re feeling right now has to go at some point and I found that when I forgave him and myself, all of the resentment and what’s happened is now in the past where it should be, and that made it easier for me to move forward. I am still in the process of healing and I have my off moments but I don’t feel angry with myself anymore. Never mind what others may say or think about you, regarding what happened, important thing is that you let go of the relationship, because you know what you deserve :) …try not to think about the negative things all the time, its like letting someone you hate live rent free in your mind. Think about your future and where you’d like to be:) but give yourself time to get there:)

        • Fearless says:

          Life Goes On

          Thanks for your comment and support. Appreciate! (And you too Yoghurt). I think I have a problem with negative thinking. I don’t feel in very much control of my life. I feel I am coasting and avoiding. I’ve been swithering for three days about whether or not to apply for a job vacancy that has come up (My own indecisiveness drives me mad!). on the one hand I want to go for it cos it’s tons more money/I’m skint/ I want out of the job/school I am working in/I’m fed up with my life as it is, on the other hand, it’s an even longer commute/would be a high pressured and stressful job/applying for jobs takes a lot of time and effort/I don’t believe I have a great chance of getting it/I worry I’d regret it if I did get it…. arrgh, for eff sake, Just decide!

          • yoghurt says:

            I know that this is a bit of a prevarication – sorry – but I think that we’re in the same line of work and here’s my twopenceworth (how’ve I worked out healthy attitudes to work before I worked out healthy attitudes to relationships?):

            – Think about the new place in terms of whether it’s right for you, not vice versa – that way it doesn’t matter whether you’ve a good chance or not.
            – Apply, it’s a hassle and an effort but it’s a good way of evaluating your practice and working out new areas for improvement/bits that you’re not happy with, even if it comes to nowt. Strive. Striving is good.
            – Make your decision based on as much information as you can gather – you don’t have to accept the job until you’ve been to interview and so on – that’s your dating phase.

            You can commit to sniffing about for new options without committing to one place. Think of it like dating without diving into a relationship with the first person who comes along :)

          • runnergirlno1 says:

            Hey Fearless,
            You can control the job opportunity, unlike flogging the 3-legged donkey. Back in November, I was in the same situation. Although I like where I am and I like teaching, there was an opening for an admin position. Unlike your situation, however, the position would pay about the same, require more work, and probably a move. One of Grace’s comments regarding Natalie’s post about choices/options in dating helped me. If you apply and are selected for the position, you don’t have to accept it. You have a choice and the interview process goes both ways. You get to see if the new job would be a proper fit for you too, like dating. Instead of focusing on whether he likes you, do you like him? If after the interview, you decide that it’s not a good fit for you, you can look elsewhere (or not). As Natalie says in this post, you can learn to trust you. You can act in your own best interest by exercising your judgment through experience with guys and jobs. After realizing that I could control me and I had an option to decline the position, I did apply and have an interview April 25th (public sector hiring practices are as slow as the human gestation period). Usually there are 60-70 applicants and only about 6 will be invited for an interview. I’ve already decided that if they can not offer me more than what I’m currently earning, I’m not going to incur moving expenses and work more hours for the same (or less pay). It’s a boundary. Also, I’ll be evaluating whether I want to work there. You can set boundaries around this job too. Just because they select you, doesn’t mean you have to select them…boy I wish somebody would have told me that years ago about guys!
            Applying for jobs does take a lot of time (so does dating), but maybe investing some time applying for this job will pay off in the future, particularly if you want out of your current position. I looked at the preparation as another form of taking care of myself. If someday, I want to move into admin or politics, I have to have a current CV and good interviewing skills. Of course, the analogy is the same with perhaps, one day, finding a healthy partner. It takes some preparation.
            Watch the negative self-talk…”I don’t believe…I worry I’d regret it…” Trust you. What’s the worst that can happen if you are in control and trust you?
            I hope this…

            • A says:


              Just thought I’d be one more voice saying to go for it and send the application. It is a hassle, but I find that applying for one position means that when the next one comes around, your materials are nearly ready to go and it’s far less work. As others have said, you don’t have to take the job if you don’t want it in the end, but why screen yourself out at this stage? (Also, three days of indecisiveness sounds like more work than just submitting the application! 😉

              • Fearless says:

                “(Also, three days of indecisiveness sounds like more work than just submitting the application!)”

                ha ha! Yes, exactly. I realise now that I am also put off because I worry too much about what other people will think of me (especially if I didn’t get an interview or the get the job; I stopped applying for promoted positions a few years ago because I went for five or six interviews and was never successful; it took a great toll on my stress levels and my sense of self-worth – and I felt embarrassed among my colleagues; I also became extremely anxious at even the thought of another interview, so I gave up and stopped looking.)

                Thanks for your support.

            • Fearless says:

              Runner and yoghurt,

              Thanks. I appreciate your good advice and have read it over more than once. I know I need to stop with the self-doubt and the second guessing and worrying about yet another dunt to my self-esteem. I need to work on my procrastination and my ambivalence. I am beginning to see that it is necessary to decide/to commit to a course of action – whatever it may be – as any outcome is way better than the angst that comes with being in a protracted state of indecision. That goes for jobs and for relationships!

    • Same Boat! says:

      Thank you for your comment. I also recently got out of a three and a half year relationship with an emotionally unavailable man. We lived together for the last year and a half of the relationship, and as soon as things started to progress into the next phase, he panicked and bailed. I was completely heartbroken — beg, pleaded, thought I did something wrong, etc. He said our relationship was an “A-” and that things weren’t perfect and that something was missing. It’s taken me a while to realize that he was what was missing from the relationship, and these are his issues, not mine — I just enabled him to get away with the bare minimum for way too long. (Hindsight is a bitch and looking back, there were so many red flags that I should have picked up on). I’m trying no contact and it’s going ok, but I still have days where I just miss his presence. I guess I just don’t fully understand how this relationship was so meaningful to me and so meaningless to him. It’s disheartening, but I know this will be an important time for some self actualization and will give me the opportunity to truly understand what I want for myself. One day at a time…this will pass and we’ll all be stronger people from it.

      • LIFE GOES ON! says:

        Same Boat

        I say good riddens!! I also had a similar issue with my ex, I wanted to know that he was committed to our relationship and not just say meaningless things to me, for example that he saw a future with me and that I am the girl he loves, blah blah blah, words are just words until proven in action..but anyway I think this made him freak out a little, but any sensible person who’s been going out with someone for that long would want to know where their relationship is going and I never did, because I felt that I made him a bigger part of my life than I was in his and it made me sad. However, I explained to him that it wasn’t marriage I was looking for, I just wanted to feel secure and safe in the relationship and marriage would come at a later stage. To me marriage is like planning a holiday and you would have to sort out all of the travel arrangements (flights etc) before you reach your destination, but our arrangements weren’t in place, so I couldn’t even consider marriage because there were so many things that were wrong about our relationship. I always tried to make things work, but being the selfish person he is, he only did what was best for him and not for the relationship and that’s when he decided that we should go our separate ways, but that was after I already told him that it’s over.

        I too felt crappy about myself and thought that there was something wrong with me, but when I think about it now, there’s something wrong with him…EUM’S HAVE LIFE ISSUES, they don’t know how to deal!! and they’re a lot more messed up than they think. Sometimes your knight in shining armor is just a retard in tinfoil.

        I remember telling my ex that “you are your own problem and your solution” I wasn’t going to spell out what he had to do anymore, because someone else needed to be taken care of and that person was me, I wasn’t listening to myself and my needs and I am also my own problem and my solution; my problem was wanting him to see where I was coming from to make me feel secure, my soluti0n was pulling the plug and listening to myself for a change and taking control of my own happiness and not allowing someone else to determine how much or how little happiness I’m going to get.

        Whenever I feel sad or like I’m about to go down memory lane and miss him, I think about what Natalie said in another article “If someone didn’t treat you with love, care, trust, and respect in the relationship, you can be damn sure that they will not make a friend of any reasonable level once you’re out. The same person that doesn’t give a damn about your feelings isn’t going to give a hoot when it’s over. They’re not thinking about you; they’re thinking about them.”

        So continue with no contact because he doesn’t deserve any more of your time that he’s already taken. Focus on yourself and allow yourself time to heal, You’re not alone :)

        • Same Boat says:

          Oh thank you for that. I think whenever I feel sad now, I’m going to think, “Sometimes your knight in shining armor is just a retard in tinfoil.” Awesome. :)

  15. grace says:

    I’ve put down my control baton and feeling much better for it. I didn’t speak to the crush for three weeks (it wasn’t NC, the obsession was killing me and I didn’t know what else to do), during which time I bumped into him once, another time he ran after me in the street, and another time he tried to talk to me after church. Each time I just gawped at him, confused that he wasn’t following the script. Then I realised *gasp* what I’m thinking is not what he’s thinking. I can’t control him with my thoughts. We are two separate people.
    I gave up trying to control my feelings and, bizarrely, the anxiety is under control. I thought that letting go would open the floodgates but the problem wasn’t the feelings, it was the trying to control them. Now, when I feel the anxiety climbing I say out loud to myself “stop” and I shake my head. It’s just enough to steer me away from the obsession. I get some funny looks on the train though.
    I’ve got more energy now for my friends, home, exercise etc. Trying to control the uncontrollable is exhausting, even if all you do (especially if all you do) is sit home stewing about it. Just do something else. It feels like we MUST spend x hours a day or all day playing it out in our head or the world will fall apart but a) we don’t have to do it b) it doesn’t achieve anything and c) is actually counter-productive. Obsessing about it doesn’t give you more clarity, it gives you less.

    • Fearless says:

      “Obsessing about it doesn’t give you more clarity, it gives you less.”

      I have found this too, Grace. Obsessing has kept me awake at night (not recently, I have to say). I also did that in spells when I was in the relationshit too, so it has meant lost sleep, disturbed sleep; obsessing left me feeling exhausted, lethargic, ill, unable to cope well with work and daily life, distracted, lacking in concentration, unsociable, isolated in my own ‘crazy’ mind, confused, lost, depressed, hopeless and more. I feel much more clarity now, unless start obsessing again. Like you, I give myself a shake and think about/do something else. Trying to control the uncontrollable makes us ill.

      “Practice acceptance.” Amen. Thank you Natailie.

      I complained long and hard and bitterly to myself for years about what I wanted the relationshit with the ex to be like, about how things could be/would be/ should be… if only… if only….
      I didn’t want to accept the truth. It was too painful, so I shirked it. Oddly perhaps, in other areas of my life, I have been quite good at accepting things that I know I can do nothing about – I have been described as ‘resilient’ more than once, but for some odd reason, I have found it incredibly hard to accept that regarding this EUM that I am not man mountain, that I am not wonder woman,, that I have to let. it. go.

      I think I am pretty much at the total acceptance stage now. My thoughts and motivations are now focused on what my future now has to be (with him not in). I don’t picture him in my future now at all – not even in my fantasy mode (which I do not do any more!) and i do not picture going back. My trouble now, i the main, is that now that i do not picture either of those things any more, I have no picture of what my future is going to like. When I try to I find it hard to see anything there that pleases or motivates me. I knew letting go of the fantasy of a future with him and facing the reality of getting in control of my own future would be very hard and painful and lonely. It was. It is.

      Thank you for all your hard work. It is so very much appreciated. You have helped me more than you could ever imagine.

    • P. (former doormat) says:


      I was trying not to think about so-and-so, and it was not working because I was instead thinking “I should not”, and, in fact, trying to control my feelings. So I just let it go and allowed myself to think and to cry and told myself I would do it till I got tired of it… Forcing myself into activities did not work at all. I guess a bit different from what works for you in that sense.

      • Fearless says:

        I think what you’re talking about is not unhealthy, we have to feel our feelings and work through them, give ourselves permission to cry and to grieve – there’s nothing wrong with a good cry, but it is the *obsessing* that is very problematic. It’s not good to be tossing and turning most of the night, perhaps night after night, obsessively trying to unravel ‘what the eff happened’.

        When I first went NC, I was so troubled by my own obsessive re-runs of the relationshit, trying to make sense of the insensible that one night after finally falling into a disturbed sleep I became aware in a half sleep/half awake state of a screeching scraping noise running through my head combined with a full on image of great jagged shards of crashing broken glass craping across my brain. That was the manifest reflection of what I was doing to my own brain! I came to, shook the sound and image out of my head (it took some time for it to dissipate) and told myself that enough was more than enough. If I found that in avoiding the obsessing, I feel more peaceful more able practice acceptance, more rooted in reality and more in control what goes on in my own head.

      • grace says:

        I still think about him a lot but I’m not obsessing anymore. I don’t know your situation but a problem for a lot of us is that we don’t know the difference between grief (or even just fancying someone) and obsession. And when we’ve been trying to mindcontrol a relationship (or even just a crush) we can quite easily carry on mindcontrolling when it’s over/not going anywhere.
        Grief is necessary, healthy and healing. Something about it feels “right”. Obsession is just horrible and pointless.
        It took me three years (probably longer but I don’t dare count it up) to stop crying over the ex). There’s no way now I would just let myself follow my own timetable. It’s not about being impatient but I know my capacity for enduring misery. I just can’t let it settle it on me.
        Everyone is an individual and heals at their own rate but I say that if it’s been longer than six months without a marked upturn it’s time to take ourselves in hand. It’s spilled into the danger zone.
        And NC all the way!

        • P. (former doormat) says:


          (and F.), I do believe it is individual, but it can take up to 2 years of grief, and more for some. I believe that I was obsessing when I was in the relationship (and probably after), and after the breakup I tried to move on too quickly, and also did not realize that it was all tied to my divorce. Then I tried to follow well-meant but ill-advised advice of “get out there and have fun” when I was not in a mood for either, and that might have delayed my healing. I finally stopped listening to people and let myself just have the emotions… I am glad that some thoughts are still OK. Thank you for your support.

        • Fearless says:


          Am sorry to be off the topic. I don’t mean to be nosey – but when you mention this significant ex, Grace, do you mean the guy you married or the playa? (or someone else?) (I presume not the texting dalliance with the MM?). When you refer to this ex I always wonder who you mean. Forgive me,I have to have the reference/the context or I am easily confused! :)

          Me too – if I let myself follow my own timetable (don’t take control of myself) I take forever to get out of or get over anything! (clearly demonstrated by the ten years I took to get myself away from the now ex EUM). Once, years ago, when I was lamenting and wallowing in the misery of a break up for way too long, an uncle of mine who I am very close to told me ‘you’ll get over it when you want to get over it’. I kinda knew what he meant, yet I didn’t, cos I was still crying over the same guy a year later. I assumed I must simply not “want” to get over it yet cos my feelings had not gone away!

          Someone on a posting I read earlier today said that you take action when the pain of getting out of it/or moving on from it seems like less than the pain of staying in it. This is true for me. I wait until the balance of pain shifts; I go with the least painful. But I think smarter people act with their heads and are not slaves to their feelings. I have been a slave to my feelings. It never really occurred to me to question/control/take action against my feelings – maybe by engaging my brain! Actually it never occurred to me that I was a pretty stupid person. It does now. That’s the worst part of all of this.

          • grace says:

            I meant the playa. The MM dalliance I don’t even think about, it’s not on my radar except as an illustration. Thankfully I had BR by then.
            It’s not about stupidity, it’s about whether you have the skills and the support to deal with it. My sister gives her two daughters a lot of emotional coaching. We’re not born knowing this stuff.

        • runnergirlno1 says:

          Grace and Fearless, as always, I so appreciate your comments and learn a lot from you as well as Natalie and everyone else who posts. I like your distinction between grieving and obsessing. Since I’m a dreamer and can add a fantasy layer, I can stay stuck forever. Since he has his feet mired in cement and is a future faker, we mesh perfectly.
          I’ve finished my grading and now get to download Natalie’s new book. Natalie, you are my incentive to get done with my work so I can focus on me. I worked all day to get done with my grading so I could read your new book. Can hardly wait.

          If you don’t mind me asking, how do you do it. You are planning a wedding, raising two amazing kids, and releasing a book? You are simply amazing.

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      People! If you are going to use your fantasies, at least fantasies about something useful!

      Dream up a big button with the labels:

      OPT OUT

      How big are the buttons?
      What colour and shape are they?
      What will happen when you press them?
      Do the buttons light up when you put your hand over them?
      Do they make ‘declined’ or ‘wrong’ buzzer sounds when you press them?

      Happy Flushing!


      • Stephanie says:

        I’ve always been someone that over thinks and tends to obsess about things. I annoy myself with it. I’m very much near to the point of acceptance but I still take time out in my head to think about him and wonder why he disappeared. I don’t want to be with him because I no he is no good but he still crosses my mind everyday. My life is slowly filling up again (like it was when I met him) but even if I’m out having a good time he crosses my mind. It’s really annoying because I know he don’t give a shit about me. I’m really trying.

    • sm says:

      Grace, your situation with the crush reminds me of a similiar deal of a friend. A guy at church was showing her all kinds of attention, calling her to chat and to make sure she was every singles/church event. He would call and say ‘let me know what time you’ll be there so we can walk in together’, things like that. He never once asked her on a date, she consulted with her ‘couple’ friends and they assured her he was interested, she consulted with me and I told her he was not since no date was ever offered. So they did this dance for months and you know how it ended? Right in front of her at a singles event where he, again, had her meet him, he asked another girl out (went on to date her for a year). She was furious and acted like a jilted lover for months. I sympathized with her because I saw how he basically used her so he wouldnt have to be ‘alone’ at church. Her ‘couple’ friends, however told her to get over it because they were never dating anyway and he just treated her like a friend. Imagine that, after they told her, he was in fact romantically interested or he wouldnt spend so much time with her. Lots of lessons in that one, if you have to guess a persons interest, they arent interested. Dont let a guy book up your time and keep you from getting what you want, because he will darn sure be getting what he wants. Trust your own gut not everyone elses opinions. And on and on and on. Guess what, she’s married now and pregnant.

      • grace says:

        Thanks sm, I appreciate it. My situation is way more lowkey than your friend’s. We don’t call or text or arrange to meet. Realistically, it’s nothing more than the usual chataround that everyone does after church with a walk home bolted on cos we live in the same area. He can be chivalrous but he was brought up that way and he has sisters. I have younger brothers – I know that dynamic and that’s how it feels. I haven’t consulted with anyone (except on BR). The time he’s taking up is in my head, which is down to me. I was the one who initiated our friendship. I COULD kick myself for it, but the alternative is never to speak to a man again, which seems drastic.
        Whether he’s interested or not, I won’t think about anymore but I assume he’s not. He is no more friendly to me than he is to anyone else. In the meantime I get on with my life, which I’m enjoying.
        Right NOW, I’m the happiest I’ve been in a while and I’m gonna enjoy that. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I told the pastor today “I’m happy but I wonder if something will go wrong” and he said “No, no, no -rejoice!” That’s my job now, to be happy. I suffered enough, my whole family has, but we done good.

        • runnergirlno1 says:

          Off topic Natalie, but I want Grace to know that I planted a pepper garden based on a comment she made on a previous thread about planting a garden and I have my little pepper plants named. I have my Grace pepper plant as well as others named after you all. Here’s what’s on topic, I can’t control the weather. Suddenly we have rain. I can barely control the snails and the little nasty slugs, which remind me of you know who. I want my little tiny pepper to grow and I can’t stop fertilizing them, which will kill them, reminds me of you know who. At some point, I’m just going to have to let go trying to control nature and see if they grow. Arrgh, why can’t I make my peppers grow and make the ex MM realize how wonderful I am…only kidding about the ex MM but the analogy is the precisely the same. I can’t control my pepper plants or the exMM. But I am fantasizing about my wonderfully delicious homegrown peppers…better that than him!
          Grace, I’m glad you are back to enjoying life and are happy. Sorry you went through the fantasy with the crush. BTW, the stud muffin at the gym hasn’t shown up in months. I only think about him when I read your posts. Be happy, you’ve done good. And you have a pepper plant in So Cal. named for you.

          • grace says:

            aw, that’s very sweet.
            and the peppers will grow. what i learned from gardening is that plants want to grow. it’s inside them. we just provide the right conditions and let them do their thing.
            If something is alive, it will happen.

  16. Urfabnat says:

    I love reading your blog. It’s not that there aren’t other sites, but you just do it soooo welllllll. You are 28? That is a hell a lot of wisdom for someone your age..

  17. Eternal Summer says:

    So excited to have a new book from you, Natalie :)

    Amazing, as I was just discussing with my therapist that I do not interact with people as they are; I interact with who I THINK they are. I choose the qualities I like & ignore what I don’t like. Then I am shocked when their actions don’t line up with my fantasy of them! Makes life very painful, indeed.

    OK, now I’m off to read! YAY!!!!

  18. Urfabnat says:

    I fully endorse the NC strategy proposed on this site. But in my case when an EU sneaked back into my life with ‘woe is me’ tales about his marriage, and then created a situation where I was suddenly the OW, I decided I would not let him disappear this time without remembering me forever — as a BITCH. I exposed his duplicity to people — I am sure he never would have dreamed I would do such a thing. I even toyed with the idea of blowing the lid by going to his employer. Boy, was I furious!!! I know one thing for sure, the creep will never be able to forget me, and never be able to remember me as a ‘sweetheart’; and possibly a jackass will be staring back at him in the mirror for the rest of his life. Sometimes, I love myself.

    • Polly says:

      Great that you feel good and have got him of of your life. I do think though sometimes if we behave in ways that are outside our values they are still controlling us in a way. I had all sorts of thoughts of exposing him in a soap opera style moment but I knew that I would end up feeling like I gave him even more power. Like he would think God I must be really special that she would go to those lengths. So I walked away and disappeared instead.

    • Mymble says:

      I like the idea of the jackass staring back in the mirror, hahaha!
      I did once get my own back on an ex, who treated me like shit and cheated on me. That is a very funny story for another day! Overall however I think it can be a dangerous path to follow, you can end up losing your own dignity, or worse. In the attempt to make them look bad you can end up looking worse yourself. Is it not also continuing to engage with them so might lead to a temporary ” high” but feeling worse in the long run?

      • P. (former doormat) says:

        Yes, Mymble, it will feel like *you* broke *your* own boundaries to get that fleeting high. You will have a good story to tell – a story everyone will listen to and laugh or praise you, and forgets in three minutes. Not worth it.

    • Tea Cozy says:

      Forgive me if I’m misunderstanding: this guy is married? If so, then it’s not possible that he “suddenly” created a situation where you were the OW. That was a built-in feature from the get-go.

      While it’s great to have your own back, and stick up for your values, I don’t think it’s so great to drag outsiders into it. Your issue was between you and this guy. Why smear the pain on to others who had no hand in it?

      I’ve done similar myself, so this isn’t a holier-than-thou comment. What I found, after the initial flush of adrenaline and “Yo go, girl!” righteous anger wore off, was, I felt a bit creeped out by my own drama-seeking actions. I won’t be doing THAT again. Better to just give him the silent treatment, and keep my dignity.

      • Mymble says:

        Tea cozy & P
        You must have misunderstood; I’m not entirely sure how you can have done. I made it clear that I have no intention of doing anything. As far as dragging third parties in i wasnt thinking so much of that as actually telling him face to face what i thought of the things he did an said and the way he behaves. I never even had an argument or reproached him in any way even though he did mislead me in a number of respects. That I regret, i wish I had expressed myself at the time. Not that it would have made the slightest difference to the outcome, in fact it would only have hastened it, but I would have felt like less of a doormat. I would rather he remembered me as an angry and indignant woman than a beaten, defeated one which is what I was. That moment has long passed I don’t even want to say it to him now even if I got the chance and I certainly am not going to do it in an email. And yes I do indeed know that theres no such thing as an honest cheat, I read and understood it, consequently I ended it and am nearly 5 months NC now.

  19. starr says:

    Thanks so much, Natalie–for again hitting home. Your thoughts and words are so helpful to those of us flailing around trying to control the uncontrollable. Time to take a deep breath and allow things to unfold…

  20. lo j says:

    Still here!! Lol! Absolutely Eternal Sunshine.
    With my growth I learned optimism but forgot that others weren’t there and projected that on them. AND I was not in reality, because I didn’t know HOW (poor boundaries still) and missed the Forrest for the trees, judging words over actions, etc. Now when I feel the urge to control the actions of others, I know to step back and look at the big picture. In this last relationship, the times I tried to were when he was showing HUGE signs of unavailability. I will not talk anymore. I’ll walk. FYI, I’ve been called controlling on more than one occasion in relationships with EU men. Its their inclination to fear being controlled and I believe they will orchestrate that scenario.

    • P. (former doormat) says:

      Yes, bc they are insecure so they feel the need to control the situation by accusing others of that, and of “drama”. I might have mentioned this before but I had a self-proclaimed EUM tell me I could not join a meetup bc one of his exes was a member.

  21. lo j says:

    Sorry eternal summer. On my phone. Oops!

  22. teachable says:

    lumos. u can do this the easy or the hard & excruciatingly pain prolonging way. the lesser of the two evils (as both involve pain, only one to a much lesser degree & shorter duration) is to reject the friend card (it’s just a back door sure to lead to back on again), flush & go no contact. I believe that such change only occurrs when the fear of change becomes less than the pain of staying the same. I hope for yr sake u hit that tipping point sooner rather than later. Good luck.

  23. teachable says:

    great stuff life goes on! i have another theory. twats who make no effort to meet our legitimate needs in a r.ship fail to do so because frankly dear, they don’t give a damn, about anyone but themselves. harsh but true because actions always speak louder than words 😉

  24. teachable says:

    broadsided. when a new romantic partner enters the picture so soon after a breakup, my suspicion she is an OW he started up with before the actual breakup. just a thought.

  25. blueberry girl says:

    Natalie, I’ve received so much emotional support and and inspiration from your writings. This new e-book was written for me, an escapist seeking attention, validation and love from unavailable Houdini’s. I am determined to break this long-standing pattern of self-destruction.
    So looking forward to reading! Thank you!

  26. teachable says:

    I have to say Nat, I am totally guilty of having a fantasy r.ship with my ex. He lived interstate & I was in the early stages of plans to move there even! What a fool I was! He ALMOST moved here also but I put a stop to that after one of many displays of jassassery whilst he was down visiting me. This has only happened to me once so I dont have a pattern of it (aside from ONE long distance r.ship w someone oseas after which I declared never again & havent repeated) but it galls me to think I was so nieve as to fall for xAC’s stupid game. I am SO relieved to have kicked him to the curb for good this time. Finally I’m now able to focus on attending to my own needs!

  27. Holly says:

    Ah i can really be so hard to accept that there are things out of your control as well as asserting yourself in the respect that you can control you…and take action. Last night I broke NC with the AC. Not by contacting him directly..but by snooping on his FB. I had stopped two and a half months ago so you can imagine the horrors that I uncovered. I went on after a few drinks and an attempt to move on with someone else went horribly wrong. So not feeling too good today (understatement) because it has really just sunk in that he has moved on and forgotten me. I have not made any attempts to contact him in months but neither has he. He didn’t put one once of fight to save our relationship. I couldn’t and can’t control him (nor do I want to, I want someone to be there of their own accord). And I don’t want him back because he didn’t treat me well and we were incompatible…and what I saw on his page didn’t affect me as it would have say 4 months ago….but it just made me realise that I have to start taking control of myself. Because my life is still the same as it was almost since we broke up and his life is fantastic. I just don’t know how…and I feel exhausted at the idea of having to start over.

    • Mymble says:

      They don’t call it fauxbook for nothing. It’s just advertising. He’s not all that and neither is his life. He will still have problems and worries that won’t be laid out for all to see on FB. My AC had 600 FB friends. So what. I know what his real problems are and they are nowhere to be seen on FB.

      • Stephanie says:


        I’ve been there during my low moments of wondering what he was up to after he disappeared. I checked his fb page, did it make me feel better? No. It puts you back, because you imagine that they are living a wonderful life without you. It’s not always the case. FB doesn’t mean a thing, people create a image of having fun with lots of friends but it’s just not like that. Vow never to look at it again, I have, because I don’t want to cause myself any additional pain whilst I’m on the track of loving and appreciating myself.

  28. Teddie says:

    I’ve read Caitlin Moran’s “How to be a woman” recently, and she says, with much humour, that “women obsess and imagine possible relationships all the time… When we discuss the great tragedies that can possibly befall a woman, once we have discounted war and injury, it is the idea of being unloved, and therefore unwanted, that we wince over the most… Sometimes when I tell men about the way women think about potential relationships, they start to look very, very alarmed. Discuss the same thing with women, however, and they will give a shamed bark of recognition.”. Ha, ha, we are all there, all the time, imagining.

  29. Teddie says:

    Page 67, “crumbanality”, you’re brilliant Natalie!

  30. Beth says:

    I have wrestled with the concept of ‘controlling control’ for the last 10 years, and only now that I am relaxing the vice like grip I had on myself and my quest for perfection and getting relationships right every time, have I started to feel genuinely happy.
    I realise now, that I am not to hold myself accountable for the actions of others, nor must I assume that just because I have good values in love, that others will to. It just doesnt happen. People truly can be sh*t beyond your worst nightmares, but you dont have to hang around, just walk away and keep on being you.
    Lastly, I will no longer self harm and discipline myself because ‘it didnt work out’. I deserve better than that – and I have the confidence in my own actions that it was nothing that I did wrong.
    To use an analogy close to my own heart; when I’m showjumping my horse, if he knocks a fence down, I dont pull him up, dismout and collapse in tears…I ride forward, I focus and look to make a better, stronger approach to the next fence, all the while in my head thinking ‘Chill – This is easy – Yes we can do this’.
    Horses….So much less complicated then men haha X

  31. Thalia says:


    Totally relate to the phone thing, constantly bleeping with texts while I was with him, very secretive about his phone and suspicious about mine.

    It’s over now, and I’m bored and at a loose end. It’s a Sunday afternoon and I don’t know what to do with myself. There’s no going back but it would be great to know how to rebuild a life when friends have all settled down and are no longer so available to go out.

    It’s weird this time round grieving the relationship seems to involve grieving every relationship that didn’t work out.

    • Teddie says:


      allow me to suggest a Sunday afternoon pass time and possibly more: there are some great free online courses here, Princeton just now added some:

    • cc says:

      i feel you. my friends all seem to be getting married, getting into happy relationships, having babies, and i have been feeling like nothing more than a tool with no relationship prospects on the horizon.

      but i’ve decided to think of this dry spell as what i need right now to just sit with me and learn to make myself happy. so what i don’t have relationship prospects! that’s not what should define us.

      but i know exactly how you feel, it feels like CRAP at first. i’m not saying its easy. and we all do really, really want a partner for good and healthy reasons. but i also realize that, for me, i have wanted one for unhealthy reasons – like distracting myself from the mess i always thought of myself as being.

      i’m not a mess, at least no more of one than anyone else. neither are you. so just let yourself grieve and be bored today and don’t judge yourself for it, maybe that’s what you need to be doing. or go do something, anything, and don’t judge yourself for that. you’re brave enough to admit how you really feel, and to admit it to all of us on BR, no less. be proud of that. realize all you’ve learned. think of a couple things that you like and plan to do them. you don’t have to fix it all today, in fact, you don’t have to fix anything.

      just realize its your life and you get to drive it. a partner does not define you, in fact must NOT define you. and you’re not actually alone, not at all. you have us all here, at least. we truly commiserate.

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        It’s over now, and I’m bored and at a loose end. It’s a Sunday afternoon and I don’t know what to do with myself.

        I know that it feels like everyone else is getting the prizes and that you’re not and also feeling bored. But I have this to say: this is also a fantasy – that everyone else is on easy street and you’re not.

        This is your time to rebuild yourself. Society teaches us that we are not good enough if we don’t have a trophy husband or partner to parade around and ‘prove’ ourselves to the world. The number of friends who have commented ‘oh, you don’t have a partner’ just adds to the pile of societal expectations. Everyone asks and over time the pressure on you to conform grinds you. It is irritating.

        Some of the loneliest, hardest and unhappy times in my life was when I was *with* someone, with someone who didn’t treat me with basic decency or contribute or even commit to basic efforts. They DETRACT from your life. It is like being suffocated!

        It is also easy to fall into the trap of feeling that everyone is partnered spending time with their partners and yes, it is true that some people put ALL the focus on their partner and absolutely neglect their friends for their relationship, you know what? YOU can ask them out and if they decline, go and find new friends!

        In the months after my split from Assclown Assanova, I grew irritated that my friends weren’t really wanting to go out each weekend and do things. I started to wonder if they were my friends – but what I did is realise that if I wanted to find friends that were out at clubs each weekend, I needed to go to clubs each weekend. So I forced myself to. I met the most wonderful people and they introduced me to other people – so now we do things every weekend and they make my pile of old friends look like homebodies! If someone blacks out in your friends network, make a new one who WILL spend the time on you.

        I’m spending so much time doing stuff now, it is very hard to keep up and I hardly have time to think about the AC in between all of these social appointments!

        • Stephanie says:


          Well done to you! This is exactly what I’m trying to do. When the AC disappeared on me I realised all my friends are hooked up, married or have young children, so unfortunately they don’t have the time or money to socialise as much as me. I’ve made a couple of new friends and even went out last night with one of them and met their family. It felt good to make a new friend as it feels as though I’m moving on. All my friends who I still do love dearly are homebodies as well and are quite content in their relationships, Socialising and meeting new people is the last thing on their minds. I’m quite shy when i meet new people for the first time but I’ve had to put myself out there and try and live my life.

    • XFBwoman says:

      You’re not alone, Thalia. So much of my life revolved around him and his activities for the last 7 years that now I am left with very little in the way of my own activities and people to do them with. Except myself. I take it day by day and hour by hour, read here, move forward as best I can, and try to find things I want to do on my own (they are few, but I have hope that it will change over time). This will pass, and I can use this ‘down time’ to get a better foundation for the good times to come.

      • happy beginning says:

        Thalia, I’ll add another voice to chorus of people who hear you. I think there’s a big difference between being lonely and being alone. Other people make me feel lonely – the ex AC did whenever he decided to pick someone else up and dump me until the next booty call, friends do when they ditch me for some guy, or when I’m around people who are not my cup of tea.
        Now I am more alone than ever, in transition between going NC and getting my life back on track, but feel more peaceful when alone than I used to. You are the constant thing in your life, better live with yourself and love yourself, whatever it takes and however long it takes, otherwise *when* you meet someone new, you will act with fear. This site is such a huge help, I think I’d be lost without it.

        • Thalia says:

          Thank you all for your replies. It really feels like starting over (again), a daunting prospect that makes me feel like a rabbit in the headlights sometimes. Yesterday was not a good day. I have to get back to basics, watching what I eat and not giving in to negative thoughts. There’s so much to be grateful for, so much potential and possibility in life, and it’s comforting to know others are going through the same thing. Let’s hope the upset and trauma is leading us all to happier times!

  32. cc says:

    i have to get something on the record. thanks to anyone who actually reads it.

    its been about 3 months since the EUM and i broke up. it still hurts, but much, much less and in a completely different way. and i’ve realized all the good, healthy reasons why we broke up, how crucial it was for me to say NO to him. it felt like chewing off my own limb, but i did it anyway to get out of the trap that was partly of my own making.

    and today is 30 days since, after writing probably 100 unsent letters, i couldn’t resist sending him an “i can’t believe i’m emailing you this, but i have to because, while i realize its disrespectful and inappropriate and i’m not asking for anything, i’m fully aware that you did x unforgivable thing, and i have to say it to YOU.” which made me feel better even though i wish i hadn’t had to send it. i had to tell him. don’t even know if he read it, and it really doesn’t matter. i needed to say it, i tried to get it out in every other way that didn’t involve him, but that wasn’t enough, so i said it to him.

    so that’s 30 days of No Contact. and it does feel like a milestone. i’m not struggling with the NC, the silence is actually helping me, teaching me. i feel better, clearer, stronger. and prouder. and i’m actually letting it go more and more.

    just sayin’. thanks, natalie, and thanks to all of you.

    • Thank God for That says:

      From the sounds of it, that letter came from a good place. You know you can’t get him to see things from your perspective, but to offer it to him in a measured way, I think, was a worthwhile thing to do. And it sounds like whatever the result is, you’re moving on regardless. Well done :o)

      I’ve written about 4 unsent emails, a couple of them VERY angry, and last night’s one quite calm and contemplative, but still, I know there’s an element that is trying to force my perspective on him. If I ever wrote something that I knew was completely selfless, I would send it. I still care about the guy – and mostly not in a wanting to control him to appreciate me kind of way…but there is still some of that, admittedly.

      I think it’s sad to think that anyone is irredeemable – I’ve come to accept there is a difference between wishing someone would change for you, and hoping that they find a better way of doing things for themselves, independently of you and your interests. I’m trying to work towards the latter, because I think that holding onto hate and resentment for the EUMs and ACs is eventually a barrier to our own progress. Of course, it is essential to acknowledge the hate and resentment for what it is – a big warning that something was very wrong with the relationship – I just feel that with time, and once the healing has progressed enough, it can be possible to appreciate these guys aren’t truly evil, just very, very selfish and messed-up, and completely inappropriate relationship material in their current state of mind. True, some of them never change – my dad has not, and I doubt he will. But I don’t believe it’s *impossible*. That would be too damning.

      Lol, I got a bit distracted there…but anyway cc it sounds like you’ve started making that distinction between forceful change and compassionate hope, which I think is great.
      With the most recent EUM/AC, I’m almost there (although the last few hurdles will be the hardest I think).
      As for my ex EUM/AC from two years ago, there’s still so much hate and resentment tied up in it…maybe because I was so invested…but in the end I realise those feelings are really anger at myself for letting him treat me that way.

      • cc says:

        thanks for that. and, yeah, you’re right, once i allowed myself to admit to myself that i hated him, i think i started to stop hating him, to be able to be more understanding and less damning about it – he’s not evil, he’s just emotionally crippled…and, well, yeah, very, very selfish. i know even that sounds mean, but its completely true.

        and yes, the email i wrote him was from more of a good place, i was proud that i wasn’t raging, in fact, i carefully went through it to ensure there was no anger in it before i sent it. because even though i was giving him my perspective, i was not trying to get him to agree with it, and i wasn’t seeking a rejection retraction, and i wasn’t putting all the blame on him. i accepted blame. but i HAD to tell him i knew what he did.

        if he changes, if he doesn’t change – i’d like to say it doesn’t matter to me, because it still does a little, and i’m not at the point yet where i can generously hope for him, because i’m still a bit pissed off…but none of that is where i’m placing my emphasis. i’m placing my emphasis on me and my life, because i can finally say, with complete honesty, that what i want even more than i want a partner is to just have a happy, joyous life. and i can give that to myself. i don’t have to be dependent on someone else for that. and i don’t want to be.

        thanks for writing, TGFT . i’m taking inspiration from what you’re saying about holding on to hate/resentment and not forcefully trying to change someone. the latter is really where its at. we need to be able to, as NML says, accept reality and live in the truth of what people are giving actually us, not what we wish they would give, and trust ourselves that we will take care of ourselves whether the news is good or bad.

    • Tea Cozy says:

      Do you have a game plan in place in case he chooses to respond to your email? Or, if he chooses *not* to respond?

      If it’s just a “one and done” gesture, and you can stick to your NC guns from here on out, you’ll be saving yourself a world of hurt.

      One thing I’ve found helpful for myself in maintaining personal accountability is to keep an eye on how I justify my actions. When I say, “I *have* to do something,” I try and catch myself, and say instead, “I *choose* to do this thing.” Makes it somehow feel like I’m less at the mercy of some invisible forces, and holds me responsible for the outcome to my choices.

      • grace says:

        CC, thank God
        Be careful of taking the high ground and of trying to be good. I’ve done that myself and just got more hurt. I don’t know the men you’re dealing with but they can be dangerous and all your goodness and kind thoughts for them won’t protect you. Try to imagine what a kindly father or brother would say if you told them your story and how you plan to tell these men about themselves. There would probably be cursing (not at you).
        Walking away without a word is not failure and it doesn’t mean you hate them or resent them. Sorry, I can’t remember who posted the bible verse but it’s apposite:
        Do not give the holy thing to the dogs.
        Your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions, your heart, your good wishes. Don’t show it to these men. Keep them safe for someone who deserves it.

        • cc says:

          thank you, honey. in fact, my kindly brother and an (resolved, now-platonic, friendly) ex told me, when i described the ex-EUM’s treatment (no abuse or anything, just unacceptable levels of basic care and respect), that they were “indignant on my behalf” and offered to beat him up (i declined, with grateful thanks). when i told them i sent that email, they said “ok, not sure why you needed to expose yourself to him like that, but ok, you said what you had to say”.

          but yes, you’re right about walking away without a word, and if i felt i could have resolved what i needed to in any other way aside from sending that email, i would have. maybe eventually i would have on my own and was just too impatient. anyway, as i replied to Tea Cozy, i expected, and received, no reply, and count myself lucky for that. i probably dodged another one. but i honestly wasn’t seeking his validation.

          if it helps, there was another guy after this EUM, for just a few weeks, who turned out to be a real prize of an AC bullshit artist. i simply said to him “i can’t do this anymore, let’s just say goodbye nicely.” and walked away without further word. and have barely thought of him since. so, i am getting better at it.

          but thanks for being concerned.

        • Mymble says:

          I agree very much with that comment. Why should I be hoping and praying for good things and spiritual development for him? I wish, for myself, not to wish him harm, and not have any desire to do him harm. But I don’t want to be emotionally invested in his wellbeing either. I think how he would feel if I said that to him; “I wish you well.” . He would love that, and it would confirm for him a) his view of himself as a truly wonderful guy whereby even when he treats a woman badly they STILL love him and b) his view of me as a sap.

      • cc says:

        tea cozy-
        i didn’t have any expectation that he would respond, i sensed he wouldn’t, and so i didn’t have a game plan for what i’d do if he did. its been a month, and he hasn’t responded so far, so i see the chances of his responding, or making any contact at all, as zero, or close to. i’m comfortable with NC from here on out. partly because i need to focus on my life, not him, and partly because i don’t see there being any healthy benefit of contact with him, ever. he’s no good to/for me.

        i know what you’re saying about “have to”. yes, i did choose to send that email. nothing else seemed to clean out what i needed to say. it felt like i had no other choice, but of course my choice was to *not* send the email. but yes, i chose to, wishing i were in a different place where that didn’t feel like it was my only choice, realizing that by making contact and showing him what i was feeling/thinking i was making myself vulnerable, and accepting that vulnerability as the potential cost of sending it. i totally accept that responsibility. …i think i lucked out that he didn’t reply. and i certainly don’t expect any apology.

        as i say, for all i know he didn’t even read it. truly, his reading it or responding to it wasn’t the point – the point was my saying what i said to him in it. it was a self-validating act. i’m really being honest about this – i did it once before, years ago with my mother, when i told her, with no thought of a constructive reply “look, i’m not even blaming you, but the fact is you let dad abuse us, and that’s reality. i’m not going to pretend it’s not any longer. i’m not asking for anything about that, but i will not participate in your fiction that it didn’t happen.” and once i said it, truly with no thought of receiving any validation from her, i felt free.

  33. a little wiser now says:

    This is another great article from Natalie at a great time in my life. I have been in an long distance relationship off and on again with my EX-BF who also happens to be EU. I have been trying to get him to see my point of view and worth over the years but now I know that my opinon of myself is the only that matters.
    I completely know about the control thing because he and I have been in a power struggle ever since we were actually physically together (15 years ago). I keep thinking he will change and finally a few months ago it hit me like a lightening bolt that he really won’t and doesn’t want to. The dynamics and rules of our relationship have changed but I still keep going back for crumbs. Each time there is that much less that he is offering. Which further drives me to try harder to get what little was offered before. I feel like I have lost all my self respect and self control. I know, sad isn’t it.
    The last two years I have wanted to see so bad and quite frankly still do. A big part of me still seems to need the validation from him. All those years of being rejected have taken a toll on me and my self-worth. I feel like this is my only attempt at closure. But, before I decide to see him I would like to attempt the No Contact again.
    My biggest fear is the all consuming grief that eventually becomes depression scares me so much. I put up with all his shit just so that I don’t experience the deep depression that I fall into when I completely shut him out of my life.
    I have been in therapy since last August and it has helped tremendously. I have learned so much about myself and there is more work to be done.

    My question to you gals out there is how do you cope with the loss and fear that seems to come after NC? I have tried everything: exercise, therapy, trying to distract myself with friends, reading (especially here) and support groups. About the only thing I haven’t tried is praying. Thoughts? Advice?

    • cc says:

      please, please, please, don’t see him again. you don’t need to. he will only make you feel like shit, WORSE than you do now. there is no cheese up that tunnel.

      the loss and fear of NC come from the undiscovered, uncharted territory of your new behaviors. that is ok. STAY in the new behavior. please do not go backward.

      what you need is 1) continued repetition of what you’re already doing over 2) time and 3) add in some added belief (doing it through prayer is fine) that you truly deserve better. because you DO.

      i grew up with a horridly abusive father and a submissive mother that let him do whatever he wanted. he took the 5 of us apart (i’m the youngest) like we were made of legos and put us back together wrong. he and my mother together were like the Invalidating Duo – we were not allowed our feelings, our bodies, our minds, our privacy and lived in a sicko false reality, aka, “what is happening to you is NOT happening to you”. it was very crazy-making.

      so now my first two rules are: 1- Identify Invalidators and 2- Do Not Seek Validation from Invalidators. these are hard to follow because we are terrible at validating ourselves, and we seek EU relationships (in repetition of early abusive constructs), and then seek validation from the EUs.

      DON’T do this. your ex is an *invalidator*. he will never validate you. but you DON’T need him. you only think you do.

      you need YOU. stick with you. you are already building good habits. just stick with the new habits and brreeeeathe through the fear and the loss. you will heal. you just need to create new history with yourself so that you will learn to trust and comfort yourself.

      please, please, please – do not see him again. please.

      • cc says:

        ok, more…

        the loss and fear of NC also come from going cold turkey on his *attention*. for me, attention is like crack. and i panic, literally, that my life is going to implode into a black hole of misery and solitude, like i’ve been exiled onto an ice floe in the middle of the arctic.

        i have learned to handle this. again, brreeeeeathe. you don’t need HIS attention. you need YOUR attention. make yourself laugh. tell yourself jokes. give yourself hugs. write a letter to your inner child (you think i’m kidding) and tell her how much you love her and how you’ll always be there for her. and then DO it. learn to love yourself unconditionally.

        and, when you’re better, go find the attention of a REAL man, one who can truly give of himself. ….not somebody who is such an a$$hole….

        • Fearless says:

          It’s a horrible irony that we find it hard to take control and dump these men because of the attention we get from them because we actually do not get any attention from them at all (or barely at all, and the attention we do get is not even about us, it’s about him! it’s the pathetic amount of and the kind of ‘all about him’ attention we get that’s part of what makes them crappy relationships. We may crave attention from them – but we don’t actually get any.

          Part of sticking with NC for me was that I wasn’t getting any attention anyway and I knew it – I hardly saw the guy and when I did, it was really all about him – so what the eff difference did it actually make not to see him at all. And the truth is it made very little practical difference to my daily life; in fact I’d go so far as to say no difference at all. And now that I have been NC for a long time I see very clearly what sparse little crumbs of eff all I was sticking around for.

          These men have nothing for us. We are so busy buying into the fantasy of his potential that we fail to see that in real life, in actual fact, he has nothing for us. We are chasing nothing and pining over nothing. NC is a lot about just dumping the fiction we have sold ourselves that this man has got something we want. He doesn’t.

          • cc says:

            you’re right. which is probably why its not hard for me to keep NC with the EUM, either. the contact we did have, when we had it, was substandard and unsatisfying – so even though i miss the relationship/t, i do not miss that feeling of dying of thirst in plain sight of water.

            • Stephanie says:


              You are so right. I struggled with NC from the get go because he went NC on me and never gave me any closure or reason, we didn’t argue or anything he just stopped contacting me. Its been around 6 months now and we have been in contact once (he threw me a crumb last month in the form of a text). Don’t know why I found it so hard because when we were dating it was all on his terms anyway. He only saw me when it was convenient for him, he wasn’t really interested in getting to know ME. It was all about him. I bought into the fantasy and ran wild with it.

              I’ve no desire to break NC because I know the damage it will cause, but I must admit I have my off days (like today) when I wonder what went wrong.

          • Mymble says:

            I thought a lot about this, why did I feel so devastated to lose him when I never had him and I only rarely saw him, mostly it was emails? On a day to day basis it made no difference except i wasnt checking my inbox all the time, and who wants to be doing that anyway? As you say it is an indication that I was living far too mug in a fantasy world. Even when it was still going on I understood that, at some level, and I felt the answer would be mindfulness and meditaion practice and I started going to classes. One of the teachers, when talking about the practice said that meditation isn’t just to help straighten you out internally, it is also to help you make good choices in your life. Its purpose isn’t to medicate and help you deal with the pain of bad choices. It has a moral dimension too. It was as if he was reading my mind, because I had felt but not expressed to myself the “wrongness” of using meditation in order to deal with self inflicted unhappiness.

      • Tea Cozy says:

        That was a terrifically helpful post for me to read, cc. I come from one of those families myself, and it’s ongoing work to stay in the present and create a new history with myself (I love how you put that). Thank you for articulating it so well. The reminder to breeeeathe through the fear was timely, too.

    • Fearless says:

      A little wiser now

      I hope to help you a little by telling you that (as far as I can gather from your comment) that you have tried everything other than getting right behind your decision to stick with No Contact.

      “But, before I decide to see him I would like to attempt the No Contact again.”

      “but, before I decide to see him”. No, no, no, Wiser. When you are right behind your decision you will not be saying this kind of thing because you will know that you will NOT be deciding to see him. No matter what.

      The word “attempt” is also a dead give away.

      When I was struggling here with the concept of NC (for the same reasons you are) Natalie reminded that I was not behind my decision and until I got behind – emphatically behind it – I would always only be a skip and a hop away from breaking it.

      You need to draw an emphatic line under this relationshit. What you are doing is “trying” NC and seeing how long you can bear it; you have it always in your mind that if it feels too hard you can always change your mind and go get your crumb fix from the crumb man. If crumb man died you would not be able to break NC; there’d be no more crumbs for you. What would you do then? Starve? No. You would have to accept it. You would survive. You’d do more than survive. You would thrive. It helped me to think of my NC in the same light as a death – in the sense of *final*, so that no matter what I felt about being NC I had to get bloody well on with it, cos ultimately, like death, I didn’t have any other option. Why? Cos my Crumb Man was sucking my life out of me and unless I got out I was done for, for good! Same goes for you. It’s not about punishing yourself – it’s about saving yourself. Don’t “attempt” NC – do it, BE it – no matter what – if for other reason because you have tried everything else, as you say. Everything, other than the only thing that’s going to get you out of the shit. Stop fighting it. As Nat says here: Practice Acceptance.

    • Tea Cozy says:


      I’m deep into Nat’s latest book, and there is a chapter on abandonment that I think speaks particularly clearly to your situation — esp. the fear you’ve expressed. Please give yourself the gift of this book, if you haven’t already, and when you get the urge to break no contact, immerse yourself in it instead.

      Be brave, you can do it.

  34. Teddie says:


    I’m relatively new here so not as wise as some, but getting wiser every day too!

    I’ve notice several times Grace explaining that even in the unlikely scenario that such people change, they would not want to go back to you, they would want somebody completely new. I’ve seen this so many times, particularly in cases where the woman has seen her man through a particularly challenging period, once the pressure is off, the tension is released and what happens is he needs a new partner. This effect is almost predictable, it’s scary!
    Once you’ve changed yourself, you won’t want him back either. Therapy, self-care, etc, is great, but a more constructive change is what you need. I’d look at what can be done in other areas of your life: re-qualification, courses, obtaining new skills, a new language, a career change, how much of that is doable right now?

    • cc says:

      imo, what teddie is saying is right, do something else completely different for YOU.

      and yes, he’ll probably want someone different….but *don’t* think about that right now, it probably hurts too much. this is ok. what’s important is to take the focus OFF him, and put it back on YOU.

    • grace says:

      Wiser, Teddie
      It’s too risky to wait around for someone to love you when they’ve already treated you badly. The dynamic is screwed. I’ve gone back to a couple of exes who changed but, in the end, I left them. It’s a mess. You’re trying to build something out of crappy materials, it won’t stand up. What do you actually have – disappointment, hurt, pain, mistrust,disrespect, bad memories, low self-esteem, denial, stubbornness, rejection and fear. Our dreams and fantasies can’t trump that because THEY ARE NOT REAL. And face it, you don’t actually love him as he is (why would you?) I don’t really want to fight his corner but in a way you’re not respecting who he actually is.
      And also, sometimes they change FOR THE WORSE. It’s like the rot sets in. I’ve seen that happen too.
      Leaving the player did trigger a major depression for me, I’ve had depressions over nearly every break up. I even got a mini-episode from crushing on someone who so far has done nothing wrong – the Amish wouldn’t see anything wrong in his behaviour. You need to get underneath what’s causing these depressions. The light came on for me when I said to my counsellor “I don’t think I’m depressed because of him, other people break up without going into three-year depressions. It must be something else”. And it was.
      When I was crying over the crush, underneath it all, like a riptide was the fact that my mother didn’t love me. If you can separate the real reason from what you think is the reason, it does help. It hurts like hell though but worth it.
      And was it worth being depressed for three years to get over the playa? Abso-bloody-lutely. He was killing me.
      NC, there’s no getting round it. And if you fall off the wagon, don’t use it as an excuse to chuck it all away. Get back on and carry on.

      • yoghurt says:

        Amen amen amen.

        Before Son’s father was on the scene, I was with a borderline-alcoholic for six years. He was at a tolerable, sustainable level of EU for most of it, except at one point in the middle where he (due to difficulties in his life) treated me appallingly for a number of months before finally breaking up with me in the foyer of our local. It was pretty horrible, but after about six months – during which I didn’t eat – he apologised, explained and I took him back, whereupon he settled down a bit, committed to me a bit more and was happy.

        Happy ever after? Nope.

        To my annoyance, the self-esteem that he’d wrecked did not magically reappear when we got back together, and I spent about a year being unable to talk to strangers without having social anxiety attacks and other such fun. It took about two years to grow back to a healthy level and when it did I realised how unhappy I was with him and left. “Disappointment, hurt, pain, mistrust, disrespect, bad memories, low self-esteem, denial, stubbornness, rejection and fear” don’t just magically disappear, even if the commitment actually happens.

        So then I spent about six months quite content to have casual relationship until I fell into the clutches of Son’s dad. SSDD. or no, actually, worseshitdifferentday. It didn’t matter who the bloke was or who was actually in my life, I still didn’t like myself at all and lived in fear of being ‘found out’, and THAT was the problem. The men were just props to that.

        Anyway – wiser. The point of this is that I suspect that whatever is at the root of your grief and depression, it isn’t him. No one person is that powerful. But you can’t find that root and deal with it until you’ve removed the distraction that he’s providing.

      • Teddie says:

        Thanks, Grace, for your oh so wise words!
        It’s true, we hope for changes that may turn out to have been for the worse. We all know how things like money and power can corrupt one, and it does not even take much!
        About the depressions: one very dangerous side-effect is that they make us particularly susceptible to fantasies and dalliances with EUs as a form of self-treatment. And, yes, the depression can be down to something completely different, something suppressed.
        So, safety first, ladies, beware of those oh so tempting quick fixes!

        • cc says:

          please write back to us and tell us you won’t contact him. what fearless said was dead on – you need to have faith in yourself and get behind your own NC.

  35. runnergirlno1 says:

    A Little Wiser, CC, Grace, and Fearless,
    I’m only on page 50 of Natalie’s Dreamer book but it’s been an incredible 50 pages. (Thank you Natalie for your help.) I know I have the negative default mode tapes playing based on previous posts by Natalie and you all. Here’s what I discovered today, I also have the fantasy dreamer tapes playing in order to avoid acknowledging the pain of the loss of what could have been. Breaking NC and/or replying to him has been an avoidance technique for me to avoid dealing with reality. Natalie, I was surprised to see how much of a dreamer I actually am. Whenever I didn’t like reality ( he had to be with his wife or was “busy”), I simply flipped on my fantasy dreamer switch and planned dinner for the next time we could be together. Total avoidance technique, plan dinner! Hello Dreamer! He even used to say, “it’s not about the menu”. You are bang on as to how you describe dance of the dreamer and the shopper/dreamer. What has struck me in the 50 pages is how many times I’ve bookmarked “avoidance technique” with respect to me as well as to him. I really didn’t realize maintaining contact even minimally via cyberspace and/or tabbing was an avoidance technique. As you described the Shopper’s ideal mark, I cringed. Then, when you described how the FBG also chooses her mark carefully to avoid vulnerability/intimacy, I had another aha moment. Oh yeah, I chose the most unavailable Mr. Unavailable and he did the same. We were the perfect Mr. and Ms. Unavailables while dreaming that we were soul mates. In some regard, we are soul mates. We are perfectly unavailable soul mates!
    The first 50 pages has been so enlightening. I’ve said in previous posts that finally the pain of being the OW outweighed the pain of being without him. I see that for me, contact is an avoidance technique in
    order to avoid feeling the pain of the loss of what could have been. I’ve spent today and will spend god knows how long acknowledging and feeling that pain. I can’t avoid it any more. Now the pain of avoiding the pain has gotten too painful to avoid! Does that make sense?

    Goodness Natalie, you are too brilliant.

    • Tulipa says:

      Runnergirl, I think when I purchase the book and read it I too will be very surprised about how much of a dreamer I really am.

      • happy beginning says:

        Runnergirl, I haven’t had the chance to read the Dreamer book but you convince me I certainly should. Today my negative tape was playing so loudly. I spent all day telling myself I’m not good enough and that I’m no good at my job, just because someone is taking a while to get back to me and despite some people saying encouraging things. I wish I could give my ego a rest, stop looking for validation, and just get on with it. What your fantasy comment makes me think of is that the times when the ex-EUM distanced himself from me and disappeared, I always thought he was just caught up in obligations and people were pressuring him but he really wanted to be around me. That was fantasy – he might have encouraged it to some degree but really, with all my claims that he was an ostrich, I buried my head in the sand too, just not enough to erase any responsibility or emotion like he did.

  36. runnergirlno1 says:

    Oh and Grace, Natalie does a wonderful job with “Crushes” in the new Dreamer ebook. A must read. Natalie you have done an amazing job 0f putting things all together and provided such context. The dance of the Dreamer and the Shopper correlates so perfectly with the dance of the FBG and Mr. U, yet again. Sheesh, you have me pegged totally and we’ve never met.
    So, I’ve resorted to replaying Ziggy Marley, “Got to be True to Myself.”

  37. teachable says:

    I did the same thing. I wrote many, many emails explaining what AC had done to me, how he had lied to me, disrespected me, disrespected the OW he’d effd over also (I didn’t find out about them until the end) & I don’t regret it at all. My xAC did some truely terrible things, including trying to entice me to suicide (I had & am still dealing with, major clinical depression related to health issues) in order to try to keep his infidelity hidden from the OW. He had a history of child sexual abuse, was diagnosed bi polar whilst I was with him (I had insisted he get a psych evaluated on the basis of my suspicion of this – which turned out to be confirmed), was an active sex addict (I had no idea about his behaviour with this but certainly did by the end!), & addiction issues (which he claimed were in 6 yrs of remission but were not). As such other emails I sent were ‘understanding’ in nature but all this did was give him the impression I still cared. I don’t regret sending those MANY emails (I sent them for ME not HIM) but the final one made my position clear before going NC permanently. At the end of the day, it takes what it takes. He only got that level at attention & effort from me as I didnt know about the (multiple) OW & I was forever trying to convince him to go into residential rehab so I could let go without worrying he was going to OD. In the end I realised we can lead a horse to water, but we can’t make it drink! Now I’m just relieved to have FINALLT gotten rid of him once & for all. If I’d known he had all those issues on board when he first reappeared in my life (after a 17 yr absence) I would not have given him the time of day to begin with (I was drip fed). Just be glad you’ve gone NC now & enjoy the process of moving on. I know I am! x

    • cc says:

      he sounds awful, i’m glad he’s out of your life, and i’m sorry you went through all that. yes, if i had any regret, its that his ridiculous ego would process the email, again, if he even read it, as attention. but honestly, i don’t care so much. its almost as if i’m in AA or something, i’m so proud of my 30 days, and more proud of the fact that i care less and less every day.

  38. teachable says:

    I LOVE the crying in the gutter knowing they just screwed someone else analogy! Yep. That’s just what a relationshit with my xAC would have been like if we’d moved to the same state! Ugh!!! FLUSH!!!!! FOREVER!!!!!

  39. A Very Transformed Caterpillar says:

    Just popped back after many years away to take a peek, not because I needed to but out of genuine interest. Like the layout changes, Nat, very slick.

    It’s safe to say this site gave me the tools to change my life. I was very confused and angry when I came here, and realised I had some asshole “friends” as well as the love interest hurting me. She’s right. Just let it go, you can and you have to. Once you take a proper look at yourself and stop hiding behind excuses things are a lot clearer.

    Nat, if you see this, the butterfly is still flying her colours rather contently in a massive garden (actually with a pretty sea view). My thanks eternally.

    Eventually, ladies reading this, you’ll stop coming to this site because you just won’t need to, and that’s irrespective of whether you have a new relationship or not. Just let whoever it is causing you such pain go their merry way and never look again, because that’s when you can start looking at YOU and healing you.

    I could talk about the morons in my past but… what’s the point? What was the very air I breathed crippling me once is literally about as interesting as the off side rule in football now :)

    In contrast, I am in a new relationship (well, two years now) and whilst it isn’t all hearts and flowers he tells me he loves me every day and I know it is true. He disappears off now and then to do something, and it never crosses my mind that he is cheating on me – well because I know he isn’t. He’s got a geeky hobby, so without looking or checking I see the proof that he’s doing what he said. Same thing, I went on holiday last year on my own (deliberately so, to follow my geeky hobby) and the only complaint I got was that he missed me. The idea I might play away never entered his head, and rightly so.

    How does he know this? He went through the bloke version of being messed around, and he spent a couple of years on his own – same as I did – finding who and what he was and then not letting anyone cross the line.

    These people who play games and hurt you, well water finds it’s own level and unless and until someone breaks THEIR heart they will never understand. They are not your problem, you’re addicted to an emotional masochism that helps you define yourself.

    It doesn’t have to hurt and my final comment has to be the support of the last line of the comment…

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      In contrast, I am in a new relationship (well, two years now) and whilst it isn’t all hearts and flowers he tells me he loves me every day and I know it is true. He disappears off now and then to do something, and it never crosses my mind that he is cheating on me – well because I know he isn’t. He’s got a geeky hobby, so without looking or checking I see the proof that he’s doing what he said. Same thing, I went on holiday last year on my own (deliberately so, to follow my geeky hobby) and the only complaint I got was that he missed me. The idea I might play away never entered his head, and rightly so.

      Reading this, I couldn’t help but be struck at how plain and refreshingly boring it sounded. Unlike us, where high drama, fireworks, secret people and all that drama is going on like an action thriller!

      These people who play games and hurt you, well water finds it’s own level and unless and until someone breaks THEIR heart they will never understand. They are not your problem, you’re addicted to an emotional masochism that helps you define yourself.

      So beautiful.

    • cc says:

      yay for AVTC! i honestly look forward to the day when i get weaned from BR. i’d rather just be able to love NML than need her, which i still very much do now.

      • Stephanie says:


        Thanks for sharing this with us, its inspiring. I will never ever forget Natalie and all the knowledge she has shared on this site. But I am looking forward to a time when I don’t have to visit as often, but can pop in and visit like you have and give uplifting advice.

  40. theseamstress says:

    I’m too impatient for the Kindle version to come out…Hurry Up!

  41. Gina says:

    This really struck a nerve with me because it’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the past few months. It’s been really terrible and I struggle most days to move past my situation.
    I was dating someone who lived a couple of hours away from me who doesn’t do long distance, so what we had was in essence “casual.” I never felt disrespected or anything, but it was always a battle within myself of “Why am I not good enough for him want to be with me exclusively? Why won’t he try long distance with me? Surely, he’s had some bad past relationships, but why transfer over the pessimism?”
    He recently moved even further away for a job to live with his ex and her husband. Awkward situation that’s for sure. I’ve been feeling almost abandoned by him in a way, that he chose to go to his ex even though she is married. He did move for a job and everything, but I’m being told that he misses me, misses that, gets jealous, etc. And I sit here annoyed because he doesn’t have to miss me or be jealous if we could just be together. But he made his choice and I struggle with it almost every day now. I feel like I”m trying to show him my worth, not directly, but waiting for that text or a message….or some sort of showing of “I miss you and this was a mistake, let me come back.”
    All I know is I’ve been trying to control the situation by constantly wondering what he’s thinking, why this, why that….it’s maddening. I want it to stop, I desperately need it to.

    I’ve been struggling with the notion within myself that I’m not good enough for him to choose to be with me, that he went to his ex (the one who got away) and I struggle with it. I keep wishing that he would have given us a chance and wondering if I’m someone he cares about like that. She may be married, but he chose to go to her. I feel rejected in a sense. Despite his rare jealousy and “I miss you’s” I still feel unworthy.

    I don’t know how to shake these thoughts, any advice?

    • Gina, his actions aren’t about you. I would feel helpless if all of my power and worth was tied up in an external object living hundreds of miles away (or wherever) that was Unavailable *anyway* and shameless enough to move in with his ex and her husband. This is about your relationship with you and the fact that you are choosing a powerless position. Instead of accepting false information as fact, accept that this man is effed up, was effed up before you were with him, and accept that he’ll be effed up whether you stay or go. He hasn’t chosen her over you – he’s taken up a lodging arrangement in a long shot situation where he doesn’t actually have to be available. She’s married to someone else. His actions are not those of someone who wants to be available to anyone. Instead of pumping up this jackass by waiting around, cut him off and put your energies into you, even if that means getting professional support.

      • Gina says:

        I just started seeking professional help, but I don’t even know exactly what help I need, I know I need to deal with this and my own issues, but I’m not even sure what they are specifically.
        I’ve let this situation eat at me for months now and nothing seems to be helping consistently. It’s a good day here and a few bad days there. It’s like waiting for that text or sign that he has feelings for me. But I guess those feelings aren’t enough. I’m afraid he did choose her and I wasn’t good enough. It may not be about me, but it sure feels that way. Why would he be jealous? Tell me nice things? They’re only nice for a short time because then I realize he chose to be there with her. He took the easy way out to work for her an her husband. He’s lonely, but he didn’t have to go there. I feel that I am not good enough, he could’ve found something else.

        • Gina, this could have all been nipped in the bud almost immediately but because you are blinded by your ego, you proceeded.

          This man said that he doesn’t do long distance relationships. He stated his position – it has nothing to do with your worth as a person. He said he doesn’t do long distance. Most people don’t. In his case it may be down to previous experience of it or it may just be down to knowing that being unavailable and long distance is a recipe for disaster. You chose to ignore this – that is where your problem starts because you couldn’t respect his choice even if it didn’t make sense. By proceeding with the involvement, you communicated that you were OK with being in a casual relationship. You had a choice – you chose this ‘relationship’.

          It is not him who has abandoned you – it’s you that has abandoned you. You feel entitled to something from him that was never on offer or promised.

          I doubt his decision to move was one taken lightly especially to go and work for his ex and her husband. It suggests that he’s in a desperate place. Either that or he has no shame. You don’t know what governed his decision to move – do you know his financial situation? Do you know his motivations? No you don’t.

          Ultimately it’s a job in a world where the economy is generally shite. He moved for a job.

          He hasn’t chosen her over you – he was not in a relationship with you because it meant he could make decisions about his life without restrictions or being held accountable or responsible for his flip flapping ways in his involvement with you.

          As far as he is concerned, he told it to you straight at the outset. You are one more woman who ignores what someone says because you don’t like the answer, and then ignore what someone does because you don’t like the meaning and remind yourself of something that they said. His actions and words don’t match. They never have. It has got absolutely nothing to do with you.

          I suggest you talk with your therapist about why you feel abandoned by a man who you weren’t in a relationship with. It is no doubt niggling at an old rejection and abandonment wound that you need to resolve. You also need to answer the question of, why when there was no relationship on offer and he proceeded to behave as he did, were you still there? When you answer that question, you can start to move forward. This has the hallmarks of a fantasy relationship. It is time to reconcile how you thought things ‘should’ be with reality.

          • Gina says:

            You’re right, and I’ve thought about most of what you said before about not listening. But the things he said besides the distance led me to believe that we were going to see where things would go, as we were taking each day as it came (best way to explain it).

            My question is what do I do from here? Cut contact? Remove from Facebook? He never said or did anything to me personally for me to do this…but would this be the best for my own sake?

            Thanks for your input, your site is really helpful.

          • tired_of_assanova says:

            The touch test – is it a fantasy relationship?

            1. Distance in space (in another city/on exchange/overseas) or time (i.e. shift worker + you as a day worker)
            2. Crumb communication
            3. A moderating excuse
            4. Can’t physically touch them 3x per week on separate days, consistently over a period of weeks.

            Touch Test: FAIL

            this man said that he doesn’t do long distance relationships. He stated his position – it has nothing to do with your worth as a person. He said he doesn’t do long distance. Most people don’t.

            This is your get out card Gina. I too am guilty of flying past a red signal and then having a mega emotional train crash / wreck. He’s already displayed the signals of disinterest but he has put you on a contact supply drip to keep you as an option if and when the need arises for you. He can’t commit to being with you, and he can’t commit to NOT being with you. He drips out just enough contact to keep you alive. I wonder if he’s doing it to someone else as well?

            • tired_of_assanova says:

              He should have come out and gave a clear, definite ending. But of course he didn’t- this sets off the drama meter. So you must close the door. I’ve had many fantasy non-relationships. One was with a guy who went on exchange for an entire year, and just before he jumped on a plane I said ‘can I date you when you come back’, and his reply was, laughingly, ‘Oh yes, you can try again when I come back’.

              BR readers, that and a whole heap of crumb text from the beginning kept me going for an ENTIRE YEAR carrying a torch on fantasy crack, with contact dripping from his travel blog. I even kept the texts in my phone, refusing to delete them, like these crumb texts were precious gold or platinum.

              I did move on to other unavailables during this time to numb myself from the pain, but it was excruciating. I’d cry and think ‘why isn’t he choosing me?’ He didn’t close the door – 10 months in I started to feel very sick emotionally and tried not to look at his travel blog any more. For the record, we never actually had sex either! Fantasy relationships may fail a lot on the intimacy criteria of a relationship, and indeed, with my latest assclown, he wouldn’t touch me after we slept together – I was put on cuddle supply while he had free licence to screw around and chase other people.

              Of course, when he did find someone while he was overseas on a work conference, he had no trouble relocating everything and flying around the world to London to be with this person. How do I know this? In the final, dying days, we bumped into each other and he and I had chips together and he told me all about it! That’s what really effed me over – its like he was trying to be friends but NOT trying to be friends at the same time. So confusing! It effed my mind up royally.

              Worst part about this is that he got to label me as crazy. It would have all ended had he said ‘look, I’m not interested’, but they *never* do that, WE have to close the door, against our own fantasy/un-reciprocated feelings, and that is hard to do if you’re a fallback operating on ’emotional logic’ rather than ‘rational logic’.

              What made this situation even worse, is that when he did come back, he said nothing (but held a party for everyone else), got with someone else and then bumped into him in the street – with someone else.

  42. teachable says:

    Thankyou Cc. It was one helluva ride I could have done without :( The total damage to all areas of my life has been ENORMOUS. Anyways… he’s gone for good now & that’s the main thing. I’m glad you no lo ger care what your x thinks also. Who the heck cares what they think of us? Let THEM worry what WE might be thinking about THEM, I say (which although no doubt they flatter themselves otherwise, is in fact zippo, nada, NOTHING at all because they’re not worth even a square inch of rent free space in our heads!) We’re near similar NC time also, so it’s helpful knowing someone here is at a similar (early) stage to me. 😉

  43. teachable says:

    Grace & Mymble
    I have a karmic way of putting my (non)thoughts for xAC re the future, into words. I hope (or pray if that’s more your cup of tea) that he ‘gets all that he deserves’. A totally neutral statement of course! ~grinz~

  44. teachable says:

    He’s a manipulative AC. He’s just managed to wheedle his way into the HOME of his MARRIED ex (who presumably HE described as the one who got away). Her husband has no spine & is a damned fool. You are not. My advice is FLUSH!!

    • Gina says:

      What if he finds someone else over there? Then it’ll be worse, as he did choose that whole odd situation over me

      • Sunshine says:

        So what if he does? While you’re worried about who he’s choosing and what he’s doing, who is running your life?
        So what if he chose that ‘situation’ over you?
        I learned an important phrase a couple of years ago, and when I remember it, it serves me so well: “Thank you for showing me who not to be with!”
        It’s kind of like being on a game show, and you want the Fabulous Life that you are *SURE* is behind door #3…he has locked the door, won’t let you in, and is pretty much putting orange cones out front, flaming batons and jazz hands saying, “THERE’S NOTHING BEHIND THIS DOOR!” but you are Just So Sure that darned Magical Fabulous Relationship is behind door #3 that are hurting yourself and making yourself crazy over it. You can make it about you all you want, but essentially the truth here is, THERE’S NOTHING BEHIND THE DOOR!

        • yoghurt says:

          “It’s kind of like being on a game show, and you want the Fabulous Life that you are *SURE* is behind door #3…he has locked the door, won’t let you in, and is pretty much putting orange cones out front, flaming batons and jazz hands saying, “THERE’S NOTHING BEHIND THIS DOOR!””

          sunshine, my keyboard is covered in tea and I’m still sniggering That’s brilliant! Aside from making me laugh like a drain (I think it may have been the jazz hands) it’s SUCH an accurate description of what they do!

          “essentially the truth here is, THERE’S NOTHING BEHIND THE DOOR!”
          …and ain’t that the truth…

          • Sunshine says:

            Yoghurt, and don’t we just get mesmerized by the flashing red warning lights sometimes, instead of just heeding the warning!

            I’m still sniggering over the 3rd date guy from yesterday who was SO SHOCKED that I minded that his wife of 13 years had just moved out Sunday.
            “Is this awkward? Is this a problem??!!!!”
            Um, yes.

            Gina, if you can see your way to this…I’m making light but I know I know I know how terrifying the feeling of letting go of all of those hopes and mental pictures feels. It really feels like you might die, like something Very Bad will happen if you let go. That there is an actual *something* at stake that you might lose, which might even feel like a body part.

            I went through a bout of letting go recently, and what kept going through my head as that anxiety and fear kept coming up was, “Has hanging on like this EVER worked before? Has it ever ACTUALLY gotten me what I want?” which made me laugh because of course the answer is no. I have held on and like Natalie says, “flogged that dead donkey” until it was dust, trying to squeeze a relationship out of my imagination through sheer force of will.

            It is exhausting. And it doesn’t work.

            • Gina says:


              You put it well, it’s like I’m scared to let go. I want to let go and I NEED to let go. I’m not in any delusions about that.
              Hanging on is pointless for many reasons in the situation.
              It feels as if I do let go, he will find someone else or just move onto his next friend and start something with them. Then it will feel like I have missed out on something. Typing that out makes me realize it’s kind of silly, but it’s how I feel at the moment. Like for some reason, I’m the defining factor, but in reality he is pretty effed up as Natalie said…so I should just take it for what it is, an effed up situation and he will be effed up for a long long time.

              • Sunshine says:

                Notice how typing it out makes it seem silly? Keep doing that…write out the whole story and all of your fears and get them all out on paper. It will help. When these thoughts run around in our heads, they seem so *real* and so foreboding and they build up momentum like a freight train.

                He probably will find someone else or move on to the next friend or whatever…so what? There are 7 billion other people on the planet, and at least a few thousand of them would meet your needs. It’s a blow to the ego, sure, but that’s all it is really. It’s not life threatening and he’s not making off like a bandit with your only chance at having love and a wonderful life.

                Since he doesn’t really want a relationship with you it’s BETTER if he’s out of the picture, which frees you up to be available to focus on building your own wonderful life for yourself, which no one person and especially not an unavailable man, has the power to take away from you.

                • Gina says:

                  All that you and everyone else is saying is true, I know deep down…but him not wanting to be with me makes it seem as if he found someone else in the near future it would hurt a lot because right now I feel like he chose a dead end situation over me. And how online it seems he flirts with almost anyone, I wonder what’s wrong with me at the end of the day.
                  This pain comes and goes. It’s terrible, really.

        • Fearless says:


          “There’s nothing behind the door”. That’s it. It took me a very long road of NC to finally see that point for what it really meant. It’s like wanting to find the bucket of gold at the end of a rainbow. There isn’t even an end of a rainbow.

          • runnergirlno1 says:

            Oh dear lord ladies, you are so spot on. There’s nothing behind the door. Simply nothing. I kept knocking, he kept saying there’s nothing here. I kept knocking cos I was going to make something there. It’s been really difficult for me to accept that there is simply nothing behind door number 3. At some point even my fantasy escape ran out. Even I could no longer fantazie

      • grace says:

        You are completely missing the point. This isn’t about you. And it’s not about you being in competition with his ex.
        He doesn’t do long distance relationships and now you’re complaining that he doesn’t do long distance. You got into a casual relationship and are complaining that it’s casual. You’re like someone who gets a job at McDonalds and complains that you don’t like burgers. You COULD stand there flipping burgers all day long and wonder why McDonalds don’t make healthy gourmet food, you could take it very personally that they ignore your desire to cook organic Italian. Or you could quit and get a job more suited to you. He is who he is and McDonalds make burgers.
        You are barking up the wrong tree.
        You are not in a relationship with him and that is why he doesn’t treat you as if you are in a relationship. I don’t go to a place I don’t work at and demand a pay check.
        I’m trying all these different ways to spell it out to you because you’re in a deep fog of fantasy.
        Nat has said it all very well but, yeah, I just wanted to stick my oar in as well.

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        Gina, are you on crack? Watch what happens when I change the focus to you, your question transforms itself into:

        What IF GINA finds someone else that loves, cares, trusts and respects her, lives close by, and they have an amazing relationship unlike anything experienced with an EUM or AC and forgets about this unavailable assclown that never contributed much anyway and is still poking her for attention?

        Hard to hear but you’re unavailable, and are actively avoiding a proper LTR. FLUSH HIM and then I’d suggest considering a psychologist to pick through why fantasy relationships work for you.

      • cc says:

        it can’t *get* any worse. its already as bad as its going to get. and you need to let him go.

        reread what NML wrote – i know it hurts, but you must take off the blinders. the guy is UNAVAILABLE, always was, and was from the get go. he did not choose ANYthing over you – he was never, ever available. and he said that. and there in fact was never any real relationship.

        and you need to see how odd his new situation is. at best, its of necessity – he might have no other place to stay – and at worst, its not just ‘odd’, its entirely, disgustingly screwed up. ew, he’s living with his ex-wife and her new husband, ew! you need to see how potentially gross that worst case is. you don’t want someone like that.

        either way, it nothing to do with you. it is entirely to do with him.

        example – the last guy i dated messaged me online telling me we were made for each other. courted me like mad, called me every day, professed loyalty, monogamy, and a sterling character. when, after two whole dates, i proved reluctant to invite him to stay with me for SIX WEEKS because he had no other place to stay in my city (and i suspected lack of housing was the main reason he pursued me in the first place), he ended up staying … drum roll … with his EX. who doesn’t have a couch. come to find out he was sleeping in her. bed. with! her! horrified and morbidly curious, i asked “so…you’re clearly pursuing me…are you keeping it platonic with her?” he said, “i’m not comfortable discussing that because (get this) that would be disrespectful to *her*.” huh?!? so i said “well, in that case, i’m not comfortable having any further contact with you”. and ended it.

        do you see? he didn’t *choose* her over me. he’s a morally flexible (jobless) assclown lothario pig who pursues women because they are convenient for him. and he tells them whatever he thinks they want to hear. he came that way.

        i’m not saying this guy you’re stuck on is a pig, but he didn’t choose anything over you, he was never available to you in the first place.

        trust me – you need to talk to your therapist about why you even think this guy was ever an opportunity. and why you need to take his behavior as evidence of your intrinsic value. and why it feels better to hold on to him in your head rather than let him out of it and find a guy who lives nearer to you and who is…

      • Fearless says:

        Gina, it won’t be worse – it’ll be just the very same. You imagine you are a contender in a competition with him that you simply *have* to win. You don’t. And you won’t. There is no competition here, just you, by yourself, trying to climb a greasy pole. He’s just doing what he wants to do. You are not even figuring in that – he is too EU for you to figure in much of anything he does! And since you are not in charge of him you have to learn acceptance – maybe start by accepting his choices are what they are, whether you like them or not. Also – your value/worth has got nothing to do with him.

        • Gina says:

          Well, first of all I have to say thank you to all of you ^^^ kind of like a verbal slap in the face, but a very well deserved one. U appreciate the advice, it might finally be clicking and with help for my therapist I believe I can be rid of all of this BS.
          I’ve basically lost a lot of respect for him since he made his decision, I base too much of my own thoughts and projec them onto others. But you’re all right, it’s got nothing to with me and I need to move on in many ways.
          Your stories and words are really helpful, it’s a little harsh but it is what I need because I know I am with more than this.
          Thank you all.

  45. Laurie says:

    This is definitely me. I so often try to control and manipulate people’s opinions of me so they think well of me. Yesterday at church, there was a time in the service when congregants were invited to meet community group leaders and sign up with their small group. I had spoken to the pastor earlier about wanting to get involved, and he recommended a particular group and gave the leader my name. I went up to talk to her after the service. She looked me up and down, glanced at my left hand before proceeding: “We’re mostly a group of young couples with children. I mean, you’re welcome to try us out, but it may not be a good fit.” I was mortified and wanted to ask where the group of young, single outcasts met?

    I guess it fed into my fears and insecurities about there being something horribly wrong with me; as soon as a guy gets close he’ll abandon me, etc. I recognize that my last relationship was unhealthy, but I’m still dealing with a lot of shame and insecurity because he rejected me. I didn’t make the same mistakes as I did in my marriage–I made sure of that. But it didn’t matter. I just made different mistakes. I guess the perceived judgment from the church woman just triggered a fear that by now I should have found someone who loves me, accepts me and is committed to me. I’ve come so close–two times now–and each time I lost it. I know it’s not all my fault, but that rejection has done huge number on my self-esteem. I tried to *control* my ex and get him to issue a rejection retraction. Sometimes it worked (temporarily) but it always left me feeling even worse about myself. I’m never going back to that again. I just want to be able to salvage what’s left of me.

    • Laurie,

      1) Your pastor is the second in command at church. He knows your status and it did not matter in his suggestion for the group. He’s not to know that the woman in it is a judgmental tit.

      2) She didn’t actually make the final judgement about you – you did. You have a problem with being single and unmarried/divorced whether she glanced at your hand or not. You’re the one who is ashamed and you’re the one who has attached the meaning and run with it.

      It would have been more appropriate to say with a big fat smile “Thanks but I’d like to try this group – pastor what’shisname said that this was an ideal group for me. I hadn’t realised that it was a prerequisite to be married with kids but if that’s the case, I can always let him know and ask him to suggest a different one”

      • P. (former doormat) says:


        that is a great comeback, but don’t you think when L. gets in the group that the group leader will resent her for being persistent?

        • grace says:

          Laurie, P
          I think worrying about what someone might think is a neverending downward spiral. After all group leader did say
          “you’re welcome to try us out”.
          So try them out. Who knows? YOU might hate THEM! (though that’s not what church is about).

        • cc says:

          i LOVE how people like that church lady have the gall to call themselves “christians”.

          laurie – if what you said is 100% accurate, then she’s a defensive, high-handed diva. who the hell is she to keep you out? and…turn it around….notice how her behavior is defensive? what’s she afraid of? might she be married to an AC who cheats on her? from *church* no less?

          NML’s right – don’t give that biotch your power.

  46. Laurie says:

    Thanks, everyone. I know I’m responsible for my actions and reactions. And I know I can’t control how people act and react to me. I have no desire to be a part of their group after all that. I feel bad enough about myself already, and until I start feeling better about myself, I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to be around people who I allow to affect my self-esteem negatively.

    I just feel very vulnerable at the moment. NC has helped a ton, but I’m still struggling with feelings of worthlessness, and even with tons of work, those feelings aren’t going away. Being around women like her isn’t really helping any. Once I’m in a healthier place, I’m hoping things like that won’t get to me as much.

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      You build up self confidence by setting boundaries and then rejecting people when they bust them or attempt to cross them. That’s right, YOU get to whack the assclowns and EUMs with the rejection stick for a change!!

  47. teachable says:

    Him sending texts & claiming to miss you etc Gina is what’s known as ‘stringing you along’. That is, feeding you B.S to keep you hooked so he can keep USING you when convenient to HIM. I know. It was done to me in a long distance sitch also. He has zero committment to you so you have to decide if you’re willing to allow yourself to keep being used by him. You don’t need to wait for him to SAY anything to ‘justify’ ending it. Judge that by his ACTIONS, & then extricate yourself from this painful situation. You deserve to be happy. He does not make you happy. End of.

  48. runnergirlno1 says:

    Natalie, I haven’t reached this section yet in your new book but I can see after only 50 pages how this excerpt fits into the context. You are really consistent in offering a new mind set to relationships as well as life. I really wanted to control everything and thought that if I just tried hard enough, I could make things, everything work and march to my beat. I’m really starting to see that there is only one person marching to my beat and that would be me. I can’t make the exMM do anything other than what he is doing. I can’t make my daughter do anything other than what she is doing. And I can’t make my pepper plants grow. Only thing I can do is focus on me and figure out what I am doing. I’m starting to get that what the exMM is doing and what my daughter is doing may have nothing to do with me. They are completely separate individuals with separate lives from me. As always, I’m grateful for the consistent message, their lives aren’t about me, my life is about me. Why can’t I focus on what I can control, which is me! Not them. I can’t even make my pepper plants grow. Okay, I get it. I need to focus on me. Arrgh, it’s so simple, it’s complicated.

  49. teachable says:

    PS I second NML’s point that LD r’ships DON’T WORK. I’ve had one. Didn’t work. End of (& NEVER again – most especially not a NON-relationshit with any ex’s like xAC who landed me here on this site! In fact ALL ex’s are now TOTALLY OFF LIMITS! i.e. There’s much wisdom in the saying they’re ex’s for a REASON!!)

  50. teachable says:

    or MANY reasons even

    i.e. mummy’s boy / very polite but just wanted a root man / ‘too cool for school’ uneducated muso man who hasn’t got 2 cents to rub together even though he’s now middle aged & his time in the spotlight passed two decades ago, with zero motivation to better his job prospects (!) / mentally ill druggie xAC …. NOOOOO!!!

    I’m not sorry for a moment I moved on from any of these people. I was & am too good for all of them (not that I’m anything spectacular in any particular department – I am however an honest decent woman who treats others with respect & dignity)…

    Once I’m done rebuilding my life I intend to date a totally different ‘type’ of person. I’ve taken myself off the market for 2 years a total restoration job from the ground up & that is all I care about now. Getting ME sorted & returning to full health & self esteem !

  51. FoxGlove says:

    Am I involved with an Assclown? Am I being one myself?

    About a year ago, I started talking to an old college lover online — we’ll call him H. I know, I know — shady from the get-go, especially since we are both married. My husband knew all about the situation and was ok with it, his wife did not. She knew we talked (or so I was told), but not how often, or what about.

    Our contact became very frequent — chatting online nearly every day, sometimes late at night — then progressing to talking on the phone (at his request). To be honest, it felt like a new relationship — his name popping up in a chat window gave me butterflies in the tummy. So, against my better judgement, I’d begun to trust him and I caught feelings. He said he had too, and would often talk about how he wished we were married — could have a baby together, etc… he seemed sincere, and I’m still not sure that he wasn’t.

    I shot down this kind of talk and made it clear that I wasn’t leaving my husband and kids. Pretty soon all the lovey-dovey talk stopped and we became “just friends.”

    This was both a relief and a dissapointment to me. I knew it wasn’t right, but at the same time, I really miss him in that way. He still contacts me several times a week, and we just talk about our lives — nothing sexual, though. Recently, we went nine days with no contact — I was upset at first, but I reallized that I want to be more independent of him, so I began to see it as a good thing.

    This week, he’s back in contact — which I’ve been limiting. I feel as though I want my space, but I enjoy his company and want to be friends. He’s been very apologetic and offering explanations for the 9 days of no contact — but, really, I was ok with it. I admit that I do have feelings — but I think friends is a good place for us right now. Do you think this is even possible?

    If I’m completely honest, sometimes I don’t take his calls and make him chase me a little, especially if I feel he’s neglecting me. I have definitely been guilty of manipulation and game-playing, too. Am I emotionally unavailable myself?

    • jd says:

      You are playing with fire. This is on the verge of an emotional affair; you are both married and this man shouldn’t be calling you.

      • FoxGlove says:

        I agree, jd — although, at times, I’d say that, for a time, it was even more than on the verge of being an emotional affair — it had become full-blown. I’ve suspected for quite some time that we might be using each other for emotional support/intimacy that we’re not getting from our spouses. Still, I think we genuinely enjoy each other’s company — is it crazy to think it’s possible to be friends?

        • Yes it is…

          I’m sure you do both genuinely enjoy one another’s company – you’re both mind and chat screwing each other. But you’re also playing games and emotionally unavailable. Keep playing with fire and you will get burned. You’re lucky your husband will put up with this BS when really he shouldn’t be. You’re both cheating. You get a really good sense of who people are and what they do when they’re faced with problems – yours and your ‘friend’s’ behaviour tells me that you don’t solve problems – you seek attention from others and avoid your problems.

          • Mike says:

            Thanks for this comment Natalie, I particularly like:

            “You get a really good sense of who people are and what they do when they’re faced with problems – yours and your ‘friend’s’ behaviour tells me that you don’t solve problems – you seek attention from others and avoid your problems.”

            No other words have hit the nail on the head more than the above. Wow is all I’ve gotta say. This WAS me and my ex, seeking attention and avoiding problems.

    • grace says:

      You’re not friends. it takes more than not having sex to make a friendship. You both crossed the line, nuke him.
      And no more hot and heavy talking online. Talking online is how these shady situations arise. There’s something strangely compulsive about it that just wouldn’t happen in real life. You are in a fantasy relationship.
      I am friends with a MM that I used to work with. We don’t talk online, we don’t facebook, we don’t text, we don’t call. We email twice a year with updates on work and family. That’s what appropriate looks like. Kinda small, ordinary and a bit boring. Not this dangerous drama you’re playing out.

      • cavewoman says:

        Hi Grace! “That’s what appropriate looks like. Kinda small, ordinary and a bit boring.” this is so well put! Whenever there’s talk of friendship but “small, ordinary and boring” sounds disappointing, NC is absolutely necessary. OF COURSE after an affair or a relationship or even FWB, who wouldn’t feel gypped by the real boring ordinary deal?! Worse, to keep up the friendship appearances, at least one party will be faking big time. So much emotion and energy spent when we could be doing something constructive.

        FoxGlove, I’d say treat your enjoyment of his company as you would any addiction. Before this started, were you feeling lonely by any chance? — Good luck!

        • FoxGlove says:

          Cavewoman — yes, I was. In fact, before this all started, I remember specifically thinking, while a friend of mine was getting texted all night by her own innappropriate online relationship — “I wish someone wanted me like that…” I’m a mom, and I’ve been married for many, many years … it was very hard to resist the pull of someone who seemed so wild with desire for me. I just hadn’t felt that in a long time. Such a cliche, I know…

    • Spinster says:

      You are MARRIED. He is MARRIED. Eject, flush, goodbye.

      I’d highly suggest working on yourself and your own marriage. If your marriage is beyond repair, then work on yourself, by yourself.

  52. Gina says:

    So my question now is, do I go NC? Even though we were never exclusive and he technically never did anything to me that was disrespectful…is it best to just go NC? Have no conversations with him about it? The whole situation of him moving in with his ex and her spouse, him telling me he misses me at times, flirting online with other girls, most of this through text….how do I go about ending it the right way?

    • grace says:

      sounds to be you’re looking for another excuse to talk to him. And he IS being disrespectful by saying he misses you when he clearly doesn’t and by flirting with you and other women when he’s got nothing concrete to offer.
      If you absolutely must make a formal announcement simply tell him “I’ve decided that this doesn’t work for me anymore and I no longer want any more contact with you.” Then delete everything.
      You don’t have to break up with him because you’re not in a relationship.
      Illustration: Let’s say there’s a company down the road I would like to work for. I hang around outside. I chat to the security guard. I got a brochure from HR. I made a follow up call . I even had an interview but never got the job. I call HR every now and then in case something has come up. Sometimes they take my call; usually they don’t. If I decide to give up on them and try my luck elsewhere, do I need to tell them?

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      Hi Gina.

      My heart goes out to you. I know it seems almost mean and cruel to go NC and that you could maybe just keep them in your life a little longer and hey, maybe you might have made a ‘mistake’ and they’re really not that bad and if you just give it a little time it will all blow over and things will get better – but let me tell you from experience, it doesn’t work this way. It is so sad to see myself in other people – you seem like a nice, caring person, who wants to act ethically, but please cut him off for your own sake. If you don’t you will sacrifice yourself – and what for? A few texts?

      You say that he hasn’t done anything disrespectful, but there he is with his harem of ladies, with him running after his Ex who is Married PLUS he’s keeping you on crumb communication pseudo-relationship support. It’s not right. Have you considered seeing a professional to talk over this? Does someone else know?

      • Gina says:

        I am seeing a professional about this, but I don’t know how helpful it is. Most of what my therapist told me, I’ve read from this site and its readers.

        I have decided to go NC, but am still struggling with it. After I decided to go NC I felt a sense of relief, because I’m finally taking control of the situation…it’s just hard because there is always the thought of “what could be.” I don’t want to seem like a cold person, but I also know that nothing good will come of this except my own further heartache.

        I guess I always felt like I was his “top option.” Saying that out loud disgusts me, I don’t want to be an option for anyone. But I always got mixed signals from him. Him saying he doesn’t want to be in a relationship, pursuing me from an online dating site when he KNEW way before we lived a couple of hours away and yet he doesn’t do long distance, the way he was when we were together, all these things are so confusing.
        I just can’t HELP but think to myself, “well he knew I lived far away to begin with and said I was worth the distance….and later he tells me he can’t do long distance. why not me?”
        I don’t want to “diagnose anyone” I don’t know if he has any issues, is he really EU?
        This all just hurts…it’s like on Facebook he posts things and tags different people sometimes for attention, or something I don’t know….I’m just so hurt, I thought he wanted to be with me…I don’t know what his motivations are, I know he was desperate for a better job and more free time….but I thought he wanted to be closer since he didn’t want to lose me…and now he’s with his married ex.
        This all just hurts too much. I feel like I did something or didn’t do enough for him to want to stay with me.

  53. Gina says:

    I guess I want to know if NC is warranted…
    when we first had the conversation about where things were going and he said he didn’t want a relationship, he also said he didn’t want to lose me because we didn’t have a “real chance because of the distance.” That’s probably why I stuck it out, seeing if things would change…He was also hesitant about relationships because he said that from his experience it never ends well and he can’t be friends with his exes because it starts out as friends and then blew up in his face…so is this someone who really is unavailable who doesn’t want to lose me while he’s with his ex and her husband in case of something not working there…what’s real and what isn’t?
    Is NC really warranted here?

    • grace says:


    • A says:

      The NC is for you so that you can move on. He doesn’t want a relationship. He also “doesn’t want to lose you”. Well, too bad for him. He wants to keep you around without offering you anything. It’s not fair to you, and hanging around giving him access to you all the while he gives nothing –it’s not going to make him change his ways. If the man moves to your area and has gotten past his issues, decide then if you want to give it a shot with him. (Notice that in addition to distance being the issue, he also has a problem with the idea of a relationship anyways b/c “they don’t work out” and he can’t remain friends after a break up.) Multiple excuses=not promising.

      Right now you’re not available for a healthy relationship with anyone else because you’re holding on this man who has told you he does not want a relationship. I know it’s hard but if you keep holding on, all you’ll be left with is regret.

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      Gina, when I first came to BR, I found some of the posts hard to accept and even shocking. Natalie (sorry in advance!) sounded like a bitter, angry lady who found fault with everything, and upheld standards that seemed so high that it seemed like, why would anyone do that? Multiple dating – everyone I know does that. Staying friends with exes- everyone does that. Trying to get back together with a reluctant somebody…

      But that’s what Normalising Poor Behaviour does to you. That’s what listening to the media, hanging on online dating sites and taking your value cues from ‘society’ does.

      He said he didn’t want a relationship = If you want a relationship, you won’t get it from me.

      I don’t want to lose you = I want to stake a claim on you, put you on ice and add you to the harem. If he doesn’t want to lose you, why isn’t he moving in with you. Have you asked him this?

      He blames distance – I’ve known people to leave everything behind and move entire continents for the person they’re crazy about. This guy is shielding himself and hiding behind secondary excuses.

      Like Grace says, do NC, not just for him, but your own sake. It will hurt and you will likely go through the entire grief cycle. But when you’ve gone through it once, it will be easier next time around.

      • Gina says:

        Like I stated above, I have decided to go NC…but that only makes it easier for a little while, I do feel like I’ll be missing out on something. Like I am mean for wanting to stop talking/be friends.

        He’s had relationships in the past and said that I was worth the distance before we even met. Once we started seeing each other and about 4 months into it I asked and I got the “Relationships are messy, distance doesn’t work, I don’t’ want to lose you…etc.” I feel like I wasn’t good enough.
        Too many mixed signals, even after he moved in with his married ex.
        I’m worried that now that I’m NC he will eventually ask me what’s going on, or even worse not even care at all. I don’t know…but I can’t fathom thinking that I meant nothing this whole time.

        • tired_of_assanova says:

          I know it seems mean. It felt mean for me too! But if you are an access-all areas unconditional door mat, he will walk all over you. BR readers may recall that my ‘relationship’ with the AC was mostly electronic. It really slapped me when I had to go to the psych office and explain everything I found myself saying ‘yeah and on facebook he said’ or ‘we were online chatting on IM and…’ or ‘he texted and’. This was the guy that lived an hour away, he had no issue driving over to visit his friends, work or get laid, but he never came through my front door once.

          He said you were worth the distance before you even met. What does that even mean? Anyone can say anything. If you were really worth it, why is he moving as far away from you as possible to live with his married ex? And he’s already hooked you in with a Poor Pathetic Me Whine (PPMW) tale of lame-ass woe.

          Are you exclusive? Do you know if he is dating other people? Is he chatting with other people? Where there is one person on electronic crumb supply, you can be sure that there are multiple others.

          My fantasy relationship took so much from my – my identity, self-respect, my work performance and for the first time in my life, I knew what it felt like to be used and devalued and not cared about.

          I couldn’t fathom that I meant nothing at all either. But that is the truth. It was so confusing because he was so nice, but his actions and lack thereof were just awful. He was so toxic.

          • Gina says:

            I understand now, that anyone can say anything…but something like this “If you were really worth it, why is he moving as far away from you as possible to live with his married ex? ” makes me question myself…”If I was really worth it” implies that I’m not worth it and not good enough for him.
            We are not exclusive, it was a “see what happens as each day comes” type thing. I know that I should have ended things then, but I was hopeful. He said that, but was acting in other ways towards me that made me believe that things were kind of progressing.
            And then all of a sudden, this job offer comes along from his ex and 2 weeks later, he moves. He already had a job, albeit one that he didn’t like very much. But from what he told me before I cut contact was that he wasn’t even sure about him being paid!
            He hasn’t ever done anything to put me down or said anything, which makes me wonder if he’s really EU.

            • Fearless says:

              You say that “He hasn’t ever done anything to put me down or said anything, which makes me wonder if he’s really EU.”

              Yes he has. You already mentioned one very clear example in an earlier post:

              “I asked and I got the “Relationships are messy, distance doesn’t work, I don’t’ want to lose you…etc.” I feel like I wasn’t good enough.
              Too many mixed signals, even after he moved in with his married ex.”

              This doesn’t work/I don’t want to lose you/I’m moving even further away – to live with my ex

              He is a walking contradiction. We imagine we are waiting for him to make up his mind – come to some conclusion – finally know what he wants – and let it be me! What we don’t realise is that what we are getting and experiencing from him in the ‘right here and right now’ with him is all it is ever going to be because Mr Ambivalent is WHO he is. Gina – this IS it. Do yourself a very big favour and vote with your feet.

              • Fearless says:

                Also, Gina, you say this:

                ”If I was really worth it” implies that I’m not worth it and not good enough for him.

                The poster who used this phrase does not mean you are not good enough for him. It is you who thinks that you are not good enough for him. The guy isn’t even thinking on those terms – he hasn’t done the sums! He’s thinking about himself – not you.

                It’s not about ‘not being good enough for him’. You ARE good enough for him. That he is not with you or choosing to be does not make you not good enough for him. He is UNAVAILABLE. And that has got nothing to do with you. It is a serious problem that he has with his relationships and is completely independent of you and what you are or are not worth.

                The real problem here, that you are yet to realise (keep reading BR and you will!) is that it is YOU who thinks you are not good enough. Not good enough to be with a man who is capable of appreciating your actual value and offering you the relationship you need and deserve. If YOU thought you were good enough you would not be giving this guy any more of your time or emotional investment.

                I used to complain and believed that my ex EUM didn’t think I was good enough for a decent relationship with him, which I now see was pretty silly because he didn’t actually think anything – I now know that if he did think anything it was that he knew I was well good enough and it was actually him who wasn’t good enough for me, what with all his flip-flapping contradictions and hot and cold and neglectful behaviours; he KNEW (even if I didn’t) that he was a total arse, and I bet so does this man of yours – it was actually me who thought I wasn’t good enough for something better than the pain I was experiencing with him. I needed him to think I was good enough so that I could believe it too! I now know that I CAN believe it – all by myself. Now that I can believe I am worth way more than his nonsense, I no longer consider not having been good enough for him – of course I was! I was too bloody good for him! You’ll see the same thing, in time. Keep reading.

        • Polly says:

          It isn’t that you meant nothing. It is that he doesn’t have the capacity to form an intimate relationship so will do what he can to dodge the discomfort of it. That is who he is and that won’t change by you waiting around. You can’t make that happen. Men like that would rather lose the relationship than put themselves in that uncomfortable vulnerable position. They give mixed signals all the time – to draw you in to a position comfortable to them when you get too close they push you back. The signals seem mixed to us but it makes perfect sense to them because it keeps you in that holding position.

          It doesn’t mean he’s a complete jerk – just looking after himself emotionally at your expense. It is likely to always be like this Gina. You are doing the right thing. It is painful but it won’t last and it is the right thing.

          • Gina says:

            I don’t get it though, he’s had relationships in the past. Why is it that he didn’t want anything exclusive with me? I don’t want to wait around anymore, maybe if anything he’ll respect me and maybe one day realize what mistake he has made.
            He sent me a text the other day, no “hi, hello, how are you.” Just straight into talking about himself…I did not reply and felt guilty all day for it.
            I feel very low, like I’m turning away something that could’ve gone so much better. And yet, I don’t think I was good enough for him because he moved away and even before that it was the same. He told me he didn’t want to lose me, that he really liked me, etc. Ugh.

            • grace says:

              he doesn’t want to be exclusive with anyone or he wouldnt be jerking you around. Exclusive people are just that – exclusive. They don’t have dozens or even a few possibilities hanging around.
              You are obsessing. We are all telling you the same thing but you won’t let it go. I understand what you are going through having just been through it myself. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Starts on that lovely day when you wake up and aren’t thinking about him. Even if you do think about him ten seconds later, it’s in that ten seconds that the corner is being turned.
              I am free of the obsession and it is absolutely wonderful. Don’t fear what will be left if you stopped obsessing. It’s good stuff.
              None of your agonising and worrying is fruitful. I suggest you do other stuff, even if it’s just watching dvds or going for a walk. Yes, you may still think about him but at least it will be parked further back in your mind.
              The texts are so lame. Come on, you’re a grown woman analyzing and agonising over — a text. My 16 yo niece doesn’t do that. And yes, she’s got a proper boyfriend . One she sees with her eyes and hears with her ears. Texting is rubbish. Nuke him. Mind you, there’s so little there, nuking is overkill. I expect a peashooter would see him off.

            • Sunshine says:

              He’s just not the right guy for you is all. Topline data. He could be the most available man on the planet, and you could be the most worthy and desirable woman on the planet, and none of that means anything because you simply are not compatible.

              It’s not about you.

              “It’s not about you. To continue to make it about you is like having an incredibly strange codependent relationship with the universe while having delusions of blame-absorbing-grandeur. Your personal results from your actions are the mirror that you need to hold up to yourself.”


              He can really like you, and not want to lose you, and that can even be true, and STILL not mean that he is willing or ABLE to give you a “mutually fulfilling, co-piloted relationship.” You are adding meaning to words that isn’t there, and getting hung up on the words that you DO want to hear while ignoring what you don’t like, “he doesn’t want a relationship.”

              All of the waffling and wondering what this has to do with you and your self-worth is only serving to continue to keep you disconnected from reality and avoiding letting go of the fantasy and thoughts (and really you are hung up on the thoughts and possibilities – none of what you fear losing is actually REAL) and feeling your deep feelings of loss, rejection and grief. It is very common for those of us who don’t value ourselves to feel tremendous guilt when we protect ourselves with boundaries and move on. It’s very uncomfortable at first, but the initial pain of change will pass and you will feel better. Being more in touch with reality will help you see these situations in the future for what they are early on, and you will not even bother with them.

              Another article from Natalie that could be illuminating:


              Do a search on this site for, “it’s not about you.”

              Read EVERYTHING on BR, actually. Your mind will internalize the clarity and messages and start to filter into your understanding over time even if you don’t get it at first.

            • Polly says:

              Well these things are complex and every relationship is different but I would say the easiest way to tell the difference between whether he is unavailable or you are just not someone he wants a relationship is whether they end things respectfully or keep you hanging on while they blow hot and cold and keep you as an option. I wouldn’t be blinded by the fact that he has had relationships before. Lots of men and women hold down long term relationships and marriages while being unavailable. They still blow hot and cold and keep their options open and drive their partners crazy. The outside world doesn’t always see it though. Which ever one he is still has the same outcome for you though unfortunately.

              You are worth it. You are worth putting your efforts into someone who wants the same thing as you. You are worth more than wasting your time over someone who, for whatever reason, won’t give you the relationship you want. Be strong Gina and don’t waste any more time waiting around.

            • Fearless says:

              (I’m not stalking you – just seem to be catching most of your posts!)

              You don’t know what his ‘relationships in the past were like’. Maybey the fact that they are ‘in the past’ is a good indicator! Flip flappers flip flap in all their relationships. When I first met my ex EUM I remember him mentioning how his previous g/f slapped him on the face. I asked him why she did that and he said ‘because I wouldn’t communicate with her’. Eeewww. I think he was warning me.

              Gina, I think you are the one who will realise what a mistake you made with him and that what he realises will be be of no consequence.

              My ex always went straight into talking about himself too. They are ‘avoiders’ and so are we. We are just avoiding different things (or are we?!)

              You feel you are not good enough to deserve him. Well, you are right – you don’t deserve him. You deserve better than him.

          • Fearless says:


            Well said! That’s the problem exactly.

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      Fantasy Relationship Touch Test:

      1. Distance in space or time – tick
      2. A moderating excuse – tick
      3. Crumb communication – tick
      4. Failure of the touch test – can’t touch them physically three times a week on separate days of the week over a number of weeks – tick

      Fantasy relationship!

  54. Working Hard says:

    Can I ask for a word of advice on this topic, I don’t know if it’s exactly on topic, but I’m struggling with this right now. I broke it off with my EUM (which he definitely is, and I’m somewhat of a typical Florence Nightingale..) after a relationship of nearly 3 years, with a lot of push and pull, breaking up, making up situations.
    I broke it off little over a month ago, and he knows from previous times I am conducting NC as he recognises it and knows where I ‘got my inspiration from’: BR, he found me here last year.
    The reason I broke it off is because (well, I was tired) he stayed out all night till late in the morning drinking with 3 women I know but I don’t consider my friends, at one of their’s home. In fact, I have a lot of difficulties with these particular friends as I would call them frenemies and they make me highly insecure. He knows this very well. He claims nothing happened, and since I doublechecked I do believe him. But it was enough for me to not to trust him, I have had issues to trust him before, through various similar behaviour of this kind. I’m doing quite well with the NC, haven’t broken it, but last night a mutual friend said he stays home all the time (which I don’t believe) and he thinks he did nothing wrong and I blew it over nothing. (I didn’t ask for this information and made it quite clear she shouldn’t mention him again)
    But I feel that over time I’m getting more insecure about the ending because the anger fades.
    What do you do when the anger fades, and the memories of bad behaviour fade and you start to question your own reaction knowing that they crossed a boundary. He said he didn’t understand why I blew off the relationship and he turned it around saying I was agressive, selfish and had ‘serious issues’ he couldn’t help me with. Somehow because of that I started reading these blogpost in a way as if I acted the jerk, not him. It’s got me all confused. It’s allways been like that actualy, he’s playing victim and I start to believe him.

    • Polly says:

      Try not focusing on the one event that led you to cut contact but all the other reasons why the relationship wasn’t working. You have talked about him being emotionally unavailable and the push me pull you nature of it. Maybe you could write about all the other things that he did that upset you and left you feeling wanting and frustrated. Because even if you forgive and forget the late night drinking incident (and if it was a one off event in an otherwise healthy relationship then you may be right to do so) all the other things will still be there and you will be getting back on the merry-go-round. Focus on the reality of the whole picture of the relationship and see this as a catalyst to bring about the ending rather than cause itself.

      • Working Hard says:

        Thank you Polly, I do hear what you’re saying.
        As I do understand I shouldn’t overly fantasize about the good stuff, it does hold me back from moving on by doing so. And no, it was certainly not a one off event, not identical but all similar and many times the reason why it broke off, by either him or me.
        His last rescue attempt was to take us to counceling, but that didn’t feel right for me, it just didn’t and maybe that makes me selfish? Something broke within me with his last escapade. We were talking about a Great Future, but having a child with a man going off like that, I just couldn’t see myself do it (anymore). What if he would dodge his responsibilities the same way when having a mortgage and young baby? I couldn’t see myself coping with that. Or taking that risk. And that is the main reason I think.
        “Focus on the reality of the whole picture of the relationship and see this as a catalyst to bring about the ending rather than cause itself”
        The words are so wise and read so clearly, but I can’t seem to hold on to that advice for long enough without daydreaming again. Ugh. This has been a huge support in many ways but in other ways I don’t always recognise things in the posts what then makes me doubt my very own issues with the EUM and makes me insecure.
        Mindcracker. But at least I’m not tired of the work needed to be done on myself, to make myself become more EA. I hope one day I’ll make it. I have taken leave from work to focuss on this, I spend my days writing in daytime and doing something nice with a friend in the evening. It’s a start.

        • Polly says:


          The way it worked for me was in stages. First I had to ‘get it’ – have that awareness of the truth of the situation. It then took a while to gain the strength to know that NC was the only way and then I had a gradual phase of getting properly behind that decision. Initially it was driven by anger but slowly this shifted – the anger and rawness about the particular incident fades but this gets replaced by an acceptance of the futility of the whole relationship and gradually you just get stronger and it gets easier. I am six months the other side of a truly horrible experience. I can look back now and the absolute worst point for me was about a month in of NC – the initial high (I seem to remember someone else describing it as this) of feeling empowered / liberated etc fades and the nostalgia, doubts and emptiness kick in. But if you can look forward another 4 or 5 months and if you stick with it and do the work I can almost guarantee 😉 that you will feel much much better x

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      Keep a journal and feelings diary. I do. I can tell you why I broke up with that the guy years ago, because it is all written there, right down to the date it happened. I won’t forget all my reasons!!

      Excellent also for when they bump into you years later and act all nicey nice. ‘Hey, do you remember that time I thought we were dating, but you were seeing other people and you disappeared for an ENTIRE MONTH only to resurface with a text, remember that?” Hahahaha!

      • Working Hard says:

        Hey Polly, TOA,
        yes, I keep the diary, but I tend to get stuck on still focussing on him e.g. ‘I felt this way because he….’ and then I linger on about him. I think he was a troubled soul (well, he said so), who himself got stuck on being a ‘troubled soul’ and he’s doing therapy to ‘accept’ he’s like that instead of taking the advice (and the hints he gets his environment) and working on solving that. He’s therefor going into therapy to feel better about being like that, more, he’s going in to learn to ‘cope with the fact’ he’s EUM rather than solving it. And what I got out of that in our relationship was even more distance and closing up by him because he felt he was doing his part, only he actualy became more arrogant about him acting the way he did. And I struggle with (the wrong focus yes) feeling sorry for him. I really do. It kinda breaks my heart. I feel so sorry for him, because ‘he’s not thàt bad a guy’ *sigh* I need to work on focussing on myself instead of him. It’s another way of continuing our relationship. I know that. But I can’t seem to stop doing it. As you probably notice :-S I seem to get all the wrong emotions (anger, hurt, pitty = for him) rather than dealing with my own person. (I’ll read ‘get out of stuck’ once more I guess)

        • tired_of_assanova says:

          Many of the posts on BR did not make sense to me or stick because I was in the denial phase, the information just could not get through to my brain.

          I took myself off to the psychologist, very expensive, but worth it. At my first consultation, they treated me as if I had just had a standard break up, but what I had to do was go back again and tell them that while I wanted to talk about the break up, I wanted to spend most of the time talking about the broader recurring pattern. That’s when I started getting somewhere with them.

          I was stuck for 7 months, while under a dating ban (now lifted) and seeing a psych weekly and under NC and reading BR daily and NC rule mail (phew!) in fantasy LaLa. Only when I saw the AC in the club with someone else (new victim) did the fantasy really shatter. Even as late as 7 months down the track, I was still making plans to ring the assclown up and try to be friends. I spent 6 months 24/7 ruminating with my thoughts going into obsession overdrive – it was so loud that I had to buy an iPod and put music on to override my thoughts. Three months of my journal is dedicated to pure rumination and coulda, woulda shoulda. It was the hardest thing I have ever done – and at least my AC cut me off- many other readers don’t have this luxury.

          Don’t feel bad, drop into a psych and let it all out. Cut off all contact, totally is worth it.

        • Polly says:

          Don’t give yourself a hard time WH. It takes time to work through. You don’t go from being obsessed with someone and being madly in love (and I use this term loosely – lets say ‘having intense feelings’) to suddenly focusing on you. It takes time and work. He may very well be all those things and it can’t be great being him – but that has to be for him to deal with. Feeling sorry for someone is fine but not when it results in a negative impact on you.

          You should focus on how the relationship made you feel and moving from things that make you feel bad to things that make you feel better.

          It doesn’t matter why he is like he is. What matters is you feeling good about you and being happy and at peace. I know I spent bloody ages trying to analyse mine and look for reasons why he is like he is. Now I just tell myself – he treated me badly and he has some characteristics I dislike. End of. But I have a few months on you. Like I said, it takes time.

  55. runnergirlno1 says:

    Hey Natalie,
    I just howled and cried a bit when I got to the section of the book where you describe the characteristics of a dreamer. “Very routine-gym, work, supermarket, gym, work, supermarket, gym work supermarket, do the same thing, gym, work, supermarket…lather, rinse, repeat.” Are you spying on me?
    I know you’ve told me at least 100 times, seek some new opportunities. So I took the day off work and ventured an hour and a half north to interview for a new job. What a wonderful experience. Of course, since I have a good job that I like (I’m very grateful and fortunate), I was not desperate and doing the “pick me, pick me” thing. There is no” job void” to fill. I just relaxed, enjoyed the difference in the day, and the possibility of a new opportunity or not. I didn’t fantasize about the new job one drop. And I kept thinking would this be a fit for me? Clearly I can’t know for sure after an hour and half interview with 7 strangers but it felt good. I felt good. I can now see what you and the others are talking about with regards to dating. I can see that meeting a guy when your life is full is very different from what I’ve done in the past. There was a void and I expected him to fill it based on a fantasy.
    In any event, thank you. If I get called back for a second-level interview that would be great and I’d enjoy another day outside my routine. If not, I now understand what you mean about seeking new opportunities. Who would think a job interview would be relaxing and fun! Is it possible dating could be relaxing and fun?
    Love the new book and the new perspectives. Thank you as always for sharing.

    • cavewoman says:

      Thanks Runner#1 for asking the question, is it possible that dating could be relaxing and fun. I will not even date until my answer is a resounding yes. Positive, not compulsive. I just cancelled a first date. I realized that I agreed to meet much too soon, just because he asked and he seemed decent. I wasn’t actually ready, and it took me days to even notice that. No way was it going to be relaxing because I was already not in tune with my own needs of how to pace it.

      I have been applying for jobs too. Unlike you though, I am in fact quite impatient to leave my current position and I have been searching furiously. I interview, it goes well (as do the first few dates in the case of men) and I get obsessive during those few weeks of the committees doing their slow motion hiring thing. You are so right. I do fantasize about the job for the first week or so. How much better life would be… As the process winds through HR, I start having second thoughts. Maybe it’s not the perfect job. Perhaps they don’t want me. Maybe I should keep looking. And I do; I apply to the next one before the first place makes a decision. At one point I thought I was getting multiple offers and panicked because I had no idea which job I actually want. If the jobs were men, this would be typical unavailable behavior! I need to chill out already! :)

      • runnergirlno1 says:

        Hey Cavewoman,
        Good to hear from you. Good for you for getting in touch with yourself before you went on the date, even if it took a few days to notice. Sounds as though you are trusting yourself. That’s a really good sign, date or no date. Most importantly, notice how it wasn’t about HIM that YOU weren’t ready yet?
        With regards to job hunting, that is what is so brilliant about Natalie’s work, it applies to all areas of life including dating, job hunting as well as choosing a wedding dress. Sounds like chill time is in order on the dating front and the job hunting front! Natalie’s new Dreamer book is really great for chilling.
        I didn’t do any of my typical OCD thinking this time or even fantasize about how wonderful life would be if only… Since I’m perfectly happy in my current position, any job offers would have to meet or exceed the status quo. I think that’s what made the experience so different. There’s no void on the job front. I also have boundaries around accepting a new position. My boundaries give me the confidence and the ability to trust myself. I want to keep re-living that feeling. I think it was the feeling of NOT chasing a fantasy and/or NOT chasing a feeling and NOT feeling the need to prove myself worthy. The hiring committee made up of seven strangers was NOT directing or influencing my self worth. It was lly unusual but nice. I’m starting to see that what I’m doing with respect to a potential career change can be applied to dating. First and foremost, there must be no void that I try to fill with some fantasy dude. And no random guy can direct or influence my self worth. And I’ve got to have boundaries. I know this is BR 101 but I’m a slow learner!
        Hang in there Cavewoman. It’s slow going sometimes. It’s better to be learning slowly than chasing a fantasy who is EUM/AC/MM.

  56. Fearless says:

    I’m reading the book – still trying to digest what I’ve read.

    I didn’t think I had fantasy relationships. Err, wrong again Fearless. I knew I fantasised about the man I wanted to be with or was “with” (e.g. ex EUM), but since I was largely conscious of doing it – like daydreams – I didn’t think I was having a fantasy relationship, as such, just a daydream about it! (if that makes sense).

    I’m definitely a dreamer. I have always day dreamed about some crush or another since I was a teenager. But I knew it was fictional. I didn’t know it was a problem. I do now! My daydreams/nightdreams about how I wanted the relationship with the now ex EUM to be or to look like were remarkably detailed – I could play out whole imagined scenarios in my head (not every day! Just sometimes. It has to be said, I did this less and less and less as the relationshit went on) I knew I was doing it. I was perfectly conscious of it – like a hobbie! I sometimes would tell myself ‘this is probably not healthy, Fearless, – if anyone could see inside your head right now, they’d think you were bonkers! But hey, I know I am just fictionalising and it’s entertaining me for a minute, so what’s the problem (eeek, or so I thought). In contrast to the extraordinary detail I could paint into the ‘dreaming’, the reality with this ex EUM was very vague/hazy – just as you say in the book Natalie. This point you made startled me when I read it. So true. I hadn’t thought of it like that before.

    Now that it’s been brought to my attention I have been looking back into the recesses of my memory – childhood/teenage years/twenties/thirties… Oh God – now that I think about it I have been a daydreamer all my life and not just about boys/men, about lots of things. My daughter said to me a few weeks ago when we were talking about all these daft glamour girl celebs who have written novels ‘why don’t you write a book, mum?’ And I said, ‘Och! I don’t have the imagination to write a book!’ Ha! I might think on that again :)

  57. runnergirlno1 says:

    Holy Crow Natalie, I’m reading the section in your new Dreamer book, “The Truth About Lies” and the “Long Shot Mentality”. So absolutely true with regards to me. Here’s a line that jumped out at me: “Whatever you believe has caused you to end up being a Dreamer and a Fallback Girl, it’s not what you believe is absolutely true in the wider sense, but what you believe is true in the context of your beliefs and the type of relationships you engage in.” Dear lord, of course I engaged in fantasy relationships and faux goals so as to avoid failure. I got involved knowing up front that there was no chance. Then I flogged him and myself when the no chance came to fruition. Oh yeah, I most certainly slipped my unavailability in through the back door of his unavailability.
    This is a great book Natalie. So many great insights. I can’t read it quickly and can only get through about 5-10 pages and then I have to stop and think.
    Natalie, you are a brilliant author and an even more brilliant observer of human behavior. Ladies this is a total must read even though it may take a while because it’s chock full of wonderful stuff. It sent me back to unloading more baggage.

  58. rana says:

    u r of wisdom

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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.