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When I first started writing about emotional unavailability five years ago, a common problem I experienced and encountered with so many others, is that we don’t really understand our feelings and connect the dots to what we’re experiencing and factors that may be impacting. This may be because we are out of touch with our feelings and not used to vocalising and validating how we feel, but it may also be because we’re very practised at ignoring any ‘difficult’ information so that we don’t have to experience conflict or make difficult decisions.

At the time when I was connecting the dots about my own emotional unavailability, I was also working on my health after struggling with the immune system disease sarcoidosis. I became super aware of my body and how I reacted to foods and as I started jotting down notes about what I was eating, I thought it would be handy to also keep notes about how I was feeling and the circumstances surrounding it. One of the first things I had to acknowledge was that I found interactions with my mother emotionally and sometimes physically draining. With a guy I dated I realised I was very neutral and hanging back because he was so over the top and self-involved that I would mentally leave the building. When I thought back to the ex with a girlfriend, I realised that often after I spent time with him, I suffered with migraines.

I started suggesting to readers that they too keep Feelings Diaries and I remember one woman in particular emailing me to thank me for giving her back her sense of self and saving her time. She’d been convinced that she was crazy about a guy she was dating but after tracking how she felt, she recognised that not only was she dating the same guy, different package, but that she was very anxious around him and very enamoured with who she thought he was, not who he actually was. She ended it, continued keeping a diary, and a few months later ended up in a relationship with someone who she was totally at ease with.

A Feelings Diary is an empowering opportunity to learn about and connect with yourself.

It’s basically keeping a journal or ‘notes’ on your feelings to help you understand and process them by identifying shifts and what triggers a change in mood so that you can pinpoint how different factors are impacting you, such as:

How you respond to specific fears.

The impact of the other person.

The impact of events and incidences.

Shifts in your mindset and how you react to these.

Anything that feels familiar.

Red flags.

What you perceive are the consequences to experiencing the feelings.

For the purpose of making a Feelings Diary a really productive and simple task, I’ve found that it’s best to stick to short notes and include bullet points as it makes it far easier to spot patterns so that you can find ways to tackle them rather than being hijacked by your feelings.

Common situations where you should be using a Feelings Diary are:

When you are building your self-esteem and striving to be authentic in your actions and interactions.

When you have trouble identifying what you feel and why.

When you are primarily fear driven and experience a lot of anxiety and bring drama into situations where there is no real need for it.

When you’re No Contact or just generally broken up and are trying to process your feelings and work through the loss.

When you’re tempted to get in touch with an ex.

When you feel that there are problems in a relationship and/or are contemplating ending it.

When you’re not sure how you feel about someone.

When you’re starting to date again and ensuring that you don’t get carried away and love and trust blindly.

When you’re feeling down.

In your Feelings Diary, you need to capture:

Mood – What primary emotions are you feeling? Do you feel good or bad? Down or up? What is your general mood? Write down a few words if you need to and note if there are any conflicts. For instance you may say you’re happy but at the same time afraid. Acknowledge why you feel afraid. If you think there is a consequence to what you’re feeling, note it. For eg, If you associate feeling angry with a consequence of confrontation which you try to avoid by suppressing how you feel.

Eg, Are you happy, sad, elated, flat, depressed, angry, disappointed, horny, bored, vulnerable, afraid, anxious, frustrated, powerless, enraged, helpless, aggressive, incapable, resentful, jealous, possessive, ashamed, bad, good, optimistic, pessimistic, empty, embarrassed, passionate, excited, affectionate, loved, unloved, secure, hopeful, sensitive, hyper-sensitive?

Event – To get a sense of how your mood relates to what is happening in your day to day, note any events/incidences surrounding your mood. Where were you? What were you doing? Was there an occasion? If your mood suddenly changed, what exactly were you doing/experiencing at that time? Noting the event may remind you of other emotions you were feeling.

Example – It was their (your ex) birthday/You had a run-in with your boss/You spent the day doing nothing.

Trigger – What has been the trigger for these emotions? This is your opportunity to make the link between how you feel and the days events. Eg Sad. Quiet day at work. Had a lot of time to think. Sometimes the event may feel like the trigger but try to identify something specific about the day/event/incident that sparked your mood.

Lesson – Is there something you’ve learned from these three things (mood, event, triggers)? This is a bit like joining the dots. You may not learn something every day, but if at a later date, you experience something familiar and you feel it’s important, make a note and see if you can spot a pattern. For example, I’ve learned that when I feel pressured (but not super pressured), I’m very productive.

Common lessons:

When I’m bored and am not occupying my mind and my time, I get nostalgic about my ex and feel tempted to break contact.

Being afraid of cutting the tie with someone because you feel vulnerable,

When I feel angry and disappointed with myself, I comfort eat to make myself feel better and then feel ashamed and even more angry with myself.

When I feel inadequate, I react to this by being defensive, aggressive, and attempting to control others which crosses boundaries and ends up isolating/alienating me.

I’m upset that they didn’t call because I feel unloved and am afraid that I am being abandoned but recognise that I’m getting very carried away.

When they say they want to do something with someone else, I feel rejected because I think people who really love one another should only want to be with each other in their spare time.

Example of a Feelings Diary entry:

Example: Jan 6th, Bored, lonely, and anxious. Decided not to go out last night so had a lot of time to think about Y. Started thinking about the good times. Wonder what they’re doing/if they’ve changed. Felt hopeful and excited. Texted. No response yet. Starting to regret already.

What they can learn from this is that when they opt out of opportunities to be with other people, there is the potential to end feeling lonely and bored which gets the mind meandering to thoughts of their ex. They get nostalgic, get hijacked by their imagination, and act on impulse and text to stem the boredom and loneliness and then regret it when they haven’t heard back yet and are filled with the familiar anxiety that comes with waiting around for an ex to reply.

If you want want to work on being emotionally available, a Feelings Diary is a great way of helping you to capture, acknowledge and experience your feelings so that you don’t shut off parts of you. It will also ensure that you validate how you feel and connect your thoughts with your actions and what results, so that if there are things that you’re experiencing that you’d like to change, you can focus on finding solutions to improve how you feel or the situation. Sometimes you’ll even discover that when you’ve thought you felt a particular way because of someone or something else, it may actually be because of an internal dialogue you’re having, which may actually stop you putting undue pressure on a relationship. You may find that an event triggers a familiar negative feeling from your past and basically revisits old wounds. You may also realise that you’re really not as happy as you’ve been pretending to be with a situation or person, and that’s OK, because now you can give yourself permission to acknowledge those feelings and actually do something about it.

Your thoughts?

Check out my ebooks the No Contact Rule and Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl and more in my bookshop.

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74 Responses to Figure Out How You Feel & What You’re Experiencing With a Feelings Diary

  1. Movedup says:

    Nat – been doing that for years but the problem that I
    didn’t even see until I did the painful read over all the journals
    from the last twenty years looking for my pattern – I had been
    telling myself in my own handwritting to do what I should have
    done, i.e. leave the relationship, stand up for myself, lose this
    loser etc… but I didn’t listen to me. There it was in black and
    white and absolutely right but I didn’t follow my own gut instinct.
    That was serious indicator to me that I really didn’t trust myself
    enough to listen to my own thoughts. I have been gone for years…
    absent from my own life for years. I still journal on a weekly
    basis just to check in with me. I have stacks of them going back to
    the 6th grade. There are years were very little was written and
    months blank and others that are cram packed. Especially helpful to
    know that I do remember what happened – I wrote it down – these
    things happened – I didn’t just imagine them. I am not crazy… I
    was just lost.

    • JustBeing says:

      Are you me, Movedup? I have journals from 6th grade as well, always a joy to go back and read how far I’ve come, but scary to read where I acknowledged red flags and still chose to ignore them!!Thanks to this website I have learned I am EU as well, and keeping a journal on this new aspect of myself has been truly enlightening. Coming to discover I pick men who need me, therefore will never leave me, has been like a light bulb going off. And these men never really have the qualities that I need/want in a relationship, yet I chose them anyway!!Bango- there’s my emotional unavailability coming thru. Feeling I don’t deserve an entire package…geez, I better go grab my journal…..

  2. MaryC says:

    When I started NC over a year ago I started a
    journal/diary, I’d never had one in my life (56yrs) and it amazes
    me when I go back and read what I was writing then as to now. The
    pain/sadness/fears have all been replaced and it doesn’t hurt to
    read those passages anymore, it shows me just how far I’ve come. It
    first started out as a letter to my ex that wasn’t going to be
    sent, Nat’s advice, and it became my daily routine. Page by page I
    let my heart pour out, some days it wasn’t more than a few
    sentences while other days it went on for hours. One thing I
    noticed early on was no matter what I wrote I did feel better
    afterwards. There is something about writing that is theraputic.
    Its like a good cry.

  3. runnergirlno1 says:

    I’m a writer, but I’ve found I can’t write. I”ve been in NC
    for 18 days and it still hurts. I’ve written my angry letter and
    did not send it. I’ve written my long term goals, which do not
    include being involved with a married man. But, it still hurts.
    There was a little relief from a website regarding the 5 stages of
    grief. Someone suggested that you put your thoughts of “him” in a
    “box” and your thoughts of a future in another “box”. And be
    conscious of the thoughts of placed in each box. Perhaps this is
    similar to keeping a diary. It was not a good day. Writing is
    important. I don’t want to write him anymore, I want to write
    me…but I don’t know what to say.

    • IdiotIam says:

      Its too early. You will hurt for a while and the pain will only slowly fade away. I am also a writer and found that it doesn’t necessarily soothe me to write things down, but sometimes the thoughts run wild and I force myself. This guy will and can never give you what you want, so its important to remember that he was not GOOD to you. He did not respect you or the relationship and he did not put you first. Put yourself first and you WILL be better.

      • runnergirlno1 says:

        Thank you. I think I may need to revise my goals. Instead of tryng to find someone to “make” me number one, being number one with me and respecting me should probably be my main goals right now. I’ve been in such a fog, angry at him for not putting me first and respecting me, I forgot about me.

        Any suggestions as to the actions one would take to achieve those goals? I know maintaining NC is first.

        • IdiotIam says:

          If you can maintain no contact you are actually lucky. I see my EUM almost everyday at work, which slows down the process. So, if that is not in the way, you are well on your way to recovery. I found that I was too hard on myself and by the sound of it you’re too. You want to speed things along and get out of the fog. Having been with an EUM is an emotional nightmare. Slow down, eat well, exercise, go for a walk, see your friends, be compassionate with yourself first and foremost. And as Nat says in this post, do write out your feelings if you can. Hang in there and hugs to you.

          • runnergirlno1 says:

            It may be the Universe…fortunately we no longer work
            together and he is out of town four to five days a week now. Thank
            god. You nailed me. I’m about speeding things along and getting out
            of the fog as quickly as possible. I’ve got a burger simmering for
            dinner. I do the opposite and don’t eat when I’m experiencing
            stress. Additionally, I go to the gym too much as well. I skipped
            the gym today to do some work and I did a feelings journal entry.
            Thank you for being there.

      • JJ2 says:

        Hurt for awhile????? It took me TEN FREAKING MONTHS to wash
        the crap out of my soul. My friends kept saying, “you should start
        dating” but I didn’t want to do that. When you try to “date” when
        you haven’t “Washed the crap out of your soul,” you end up being
        way too vulnerable in dating. I’m 95% healed, but there is still
        the 5%……. As I said in another post, I did keep a feelings
        diary, but the file got corrupted and I lost it. I was really mad
        when I lost that file.

        • Elaine says:

          10 months, JJ2, I can relate. It has been 13 months, today. I still think about him ever day, but in more of an unemotional way. Still some sadness, but not as much and I can actually start to picture myself with someone else. It is accurate that the pain just gradually subsides. Never imagined that this experience would have been this painful and I know that it is mostly my fault. Jumped in with both feet way too early in the relationship and will never make that mistake again. So grateful for this site and all of the amazing advice. Happy New Year everyone and congratulations, Natalie, to you and your family. I wish you the happy life that you deserve.

          • JJ2 says:

            @Elaine, yes, I jumped in way too early based on an
            experience that was rather unreal and not conducive to developing
            relationships anyway. I don’t know whether it was age (in my 50’s)
            or what, but I’ve never had a relationship give me this much pain,
            and I’ve had bad boyfriends before! Just never a PSYCHO like the
            one I dated. But as Natalie has said in other articles, I can see
            that this relationship went back to my own family dynamics.
            @IdiotIam, yes, I knew what you meant. I’ve just never had it take
            so freaking long to get over something. It got to a point where I
            couldn’t talk to anyone, as everyone thought I should just be
            “over” it.

        • IdiotIam says:

          JJ2, when I said “hurt for a while” I didn’t put a timeline on it, because we all have our very own. After we extract ourselves from a relationship that is not going anywhere, we end up bitter, angry, resentful and feeling like we lost chunks of our life. The sad reality is that WE also played a major part in this by letting our boundaries be crossed. I agree with you that jumping into dating after such a horrid breakup is not the way to go. You cannot speed your healing along, as much as all of us would like. Nat wrote a great post on healing that helped me a lot.

  4. lydia r says:

    This is AWESOME!!!

  5. namaste says:

    I love the way you break it down into steps for us. This is
    so helpful because while I’m good at journaling my feelings I’m
    also good at procrastinating putting the lesson learned into action
    because I get hijacked by my feelings and caught up in my old
    pattern of taking the easy, familiar, comfortable road. Thanks
    Natalie. You’re a guiding light.

  6. AliceB says:

    Having had a controlling mother, I don’t know how to think
    and feel for myself at times. A feelings diary is a great way or
    starting to rely on yourself instead of looking outwards. But it’s
    not something that happens overnight. For example, once my bf did a
    disappearing act for two weeks (he was angry with me about
    something), no discussion, no contact. Afterwards he apologised and
    we moved on. I decided in my own mind though if he ever did that
    again for that length of time, there would be no coming back. So
    fast-forward a year later and he’s done it again, 5 days so far.
    I’m thinking why give him two weeks? Surely even 5 days is a
    cruelty too far. But then I wonder if I’m unreasonable. In other
    words, I’m always looking for a baromoter ‘out there’ instead of
    relying on how such-and-such makes me feel.

    • Audrey says:

      @AliceB: As well as doing a feelings diary, do you think it
      would be a good idea to write down the pros and cons of this
      relationship? I find doing that gives you more clarity on what you
      are accepting and putting up with that makes you unhappy. And this
      disappearing act is very cruel and cowardly to boot. Once lesson i
      learned with these type of men is that you tell them they have done
      something that has upset you and they go ahead and do it again
      anyway!!!! They completely disregard what you say. Mind boggling
      indeed. If you have grown up with a parent that’s controlling, they
      do the same thing don’t they – disregard what you say. I think
      disregarding what you say is a way of controlling you and the
      relationship really. And, a decent, caring person would not
      disregard what you say but would be careful to not
      “re-offend”.

      • used says:

        First time around, he waited out the 2 weeks b/c he thought that that’s the max time period that you (or any woman) would wait before considering other options/men, and, mind you, during that time, he was probably waiting for a Worried You (to Apologize for Fear of Losing him)! Then, when the 2 weeks expired, he came crawling back, with the apology you rightly deserved (which he KNEW you deserved–he KNEW he was wrong).

        Hence, likewise now, he KNOWS the 5-day-wait right now is wrong, too! The time period will (probably) (and predictably) become 2 weeks, the maximum time period that he KNOWS has been previously ALLOWED.

        Jesus Christ once told his FAther, “forgive them–they know not what they do” b/c the public was aroused with scapegoats, political stuff, etc., which contributed to the Crucifixion.

        Well, here THEY DO KNOW WHAT THEY DO. DON’T FORGIVE THEM.

      • JJ2 says:

        speaking of a parent who disregards what you say…… I
        went to counseling in my 20’s and the counselor said I was never
        “validated” by my parents. I thought was was a bunch of BS malarky.
        When I was in my 40’s I figured it out. My parents DIDN’T validate
        me because I wasn’t a “regular” kid. I was a bit….. “different.”
        Mom didn’t know how to deal with me and swept the stuff under the
        rug so as to appear “just like the others.” I think my Mom has self
        esteem issues and she wanted her family to be “just like the other
        familes” and when ever I exhibited signs of NOT being “just like
        other kids” she would do a “rug sweep” and I would be
        frustrated!

        • grace says:

          JJ2 I felt the same way, that my mum didn’t love me because
          I was difficult to love. It’s rubbish. All kids are “different”. No
          kid is “regular”. I’ve four nieces and am struck by how quirky,
          funny and downright weird they can be. They are dearly loved and
          that’s how it should be. All over the world parents will love
          children with disabilities, some of them downright heartbreaking.
          It wasn’t you; it wasn’t your fault. You were a little girl, how
          could it be? If your parents don’t love you, it’s a perfectly
          normal reaction to feel unlovable and to bring that into adult
          life. You won’t be aware of it as you don’t know any different. But
          we can get past it; at least these crappy relationships prompt us
          to put ourselves first and make ourselves happy.

    • grace says:

      AB – five days is unreasonable, for what it’s
      worth.

      • AliceB says:

        Thank you Audrey and Grace. In his defence, I didn’t actually say back then ‘if you ever do that again you’re history…’ but evenso. I think it’s BS. Maybe time for the BS diet!

        • NML says:

          To be fair AliceB, I don’t think you *need* to give someone a warning that something so blatantly obvious that its disrespectful will be greeted with a ‘buh bye’ should they repeat it. He’s not 3 – he KNOWS it’s inappropriate. He’s lucky you took him back. Of course the upside of saying is that they recognise the consequence of repetition. That said, he didn’t fall out the sky and suddenly wake up emotionally unavailable in a relationship with you – he’s done this dance MANY times. He’ll know he’s history, when he is history! 5 days – complete pisstake. I can understand how people end up giving the benefit of the doubt and a second chance on this dubious blatant red flag stuff, but beyond that, it’s game over no credits.

          • AliceB says:

            “He’ll know he’s history, when he is history!”

            You have a great way with words Nat! I’m ready to kick this nonsense to the curb and start the new year with a clean slate, willing to learn, with an open mind. Thanks for spelling it out.

        • outergirl says:

          Hi Alice B [and everyone else]. If you are unsure of your
          own decisions, as I sometimes am, I give myself permission to make
          that mistake. Something I was never allowed to make growing up in
          my ‘mother’s’ house. Make that mistake! Cut him off too soon! So
          what?? 5 days is too long anyway. My EUM [and IM = immature male]
          would cover his disappearances with ‘oh I was soooo busy’. Yea,
          well we’re all busy. p.s. in the states there’s an awful movie
          coming out w/Natalie Portman wasting her talents. It’s called No
          Strings Attached. Yep, it’s about the FWB who I guess, turn it into
          happily ever after. Ugh..makes me want to barf..sorry.

  7. AME says:

    Yes, your emotions tell you about what is really going on,
    don’t they? I have realized that every time before I saw my ex, I
    felt anxious, very anxious…almost desperate to make everything
    OK. It was exhausting to be on edge all the time. Then, I mistook
    the anxiety for passion or excitement, but it was just anxiety.
    With my husband, all I feel is calm happiness. Quite the contrast,
    and a much more salubrious one.

  8. Sunrise says:

    Thank u natalie. I will start today :)

  9. grace says:

    This is extremely useful during NC, especially the early
    days. It’s helpful to go back over your week/month and see that not
    every day is a bad day, even if it’s dire, there is usually a good
    day, or a good morning/afternoon/ evening. If every day IS a bad
    day, that’s useful to see too. That’s when it may be time to see
    the doctor if it’s affecting your sleep, weight, work, family life
    etc.

  10. LostAgain says:

    Hi… I’ve been reading the posts for a few weeks now… Was involved with a EUM/AC for 5 years, he broke it off, I got married 10 years ago to a great guy, just recently thought it was “ok” to drop back in & say “hi” to ex since surely the fires have been extinguished–NO WAY! I should have been keeping an emotional diary & tracked WHY I felt it necessary to “drop in” on ex in the first place! To show him how “happy” I am??? All the old sparkly feelings were there, I tried so hard to impress him, to show him that SOMEONE appreciates what I have to offer and that he missed out, and one thing led to another. Oh yes, the “fireworks” sex was still there, but along with it came an on/off “booty call”, “show you off to my friends” ego stroke for him. After 4+ months of this, my “sane” side took over 13 days ago–finally! I told sent him a TEXT MSG saying I was NOT happy with him & this is not working for me. (Wow–the “old me” would’ve INSISTED we meet face-to-face in hopes of him changing my mind!) He sent back “It sucks to hear you’re not happy with me, but I understand. If it isn’t working for you, then it isn’t working.” These guys don’t change. Everyone hang in there! It’s such a relief to know we are not Weak, Insecure, Needy, Spineless women (and men)! But, these “relationships” bring that out in us! Just like food—if it makes you feel bad–SPIT IT OUT!

  11. PJ says:

    There should be a Feelings Diary app! (-:

    I’ve not used this format…which I will in the future, but it was so interesting, while going over my journals written during the EUM saga, I noticed that while he was around and we were engaging, although I had thought those were the ‘good’ times, I was actually worried, tense, panicky and distrought most of the time. But after the initial uncertainty and pain of his disappearing acts, I began to write about other topics, and actually reflected a growing, deeper sense of peace, calm and contentment – even relief! And those were the times I thought were ‘bad.’ But they weren’t! They were difficult, yes, but somehow better for me emotionally – on a deeper level. It takes time to be able to look back and see that – unhampered by those deafening fears of abandonment. Journalling is a great tool!

  12. CC says:

    Great post Nat! I’m a year NC and feel like a completely different woman than the girl that was hooked on an EUM for over 2 yrs. prior to that. During this year of therapy, journaling, and an avid reader of this site I soon realized that every single moment I spent with that EUM my stomach was in knots… I never ate a bite although most of our outings involved lunches or dinners, I literally had zero appetite. I rationalized this feeling to be “love”. One time in anticipation of him picking me up for lunch I was getting ready and suddenly ran to the toilet to throw up. Wow. If that wasn’t my instinct giving me major red flags! I also journaled every few days on advice of my therapist and I have to agree with every point you’ve made above. It helped me immensely and it’s a process… the first 3-4 mos was spilling out the sadness and included writing letters to both my mother and father (that I never sent). Then like an onion your feelings change, slowly for me, but it was a lot of understanding what being EU meant and what my role was in everything and how to take control of my emotions and my life! I just wrote in my journal today and here’s what life and my feelings look like now… “feeling calm, centered, strong, independent, gracious… looking forward to spending time with my girlfriends and an exciting new role at my job for 2011. Yoga has been extraordinarily helpful and I look forward to these classes everyday. I will worry about dating when I feel like it.”

    Wow… this compared my entries 1 yr ago. I never would have thought!! Thank you for everything you do Natalie. I am so grateful.
    CC

  13. Lynn says:

    @ Lost Again: Um, I am not sure I know how to say this, but
    it doesn’t sound like your recent situation has much to do with bad
    behaviour on the guy’s part. Let me see if I have this straight:
    You’re married. You’re married, you went behind your husband’s back
    to the old flame, and “one thing led to another”? That’s the kind
    of not-taking-responsibility language we accuse EUMs/ACs of using.
    So then you participate in an affair for four months (you don’t say
    whether the old flame is now attached), but you get tired of being
    his “on/off booty call”? Was he supposed to treat you like you were
    in a full, committed relationship? And his response to your text
    message to break it off (we also count lazy text-message break ups
    as AC behaviour, see NML’s post) doesn’t sound irrational, it
    sounds accepting and basically fine with it. You’re the one having
    the affair and you text your outside guy to tell him you’re not
    happy with HIM? His response sounds fair to me. If I’ve got the
    details right, then you are behaving like the AC right now. You
    describe your husband as a great guy. He deserves better.

    • MaryC says:

      Kind of like when Chelsey Handler ranted about Angelia instead of about Brad, he’s the one that cheated not her.

    • LostAgain says:

      Lynn, you’re right. I know I have big issues myself. Alcoholic/EA Dad–same song as quite a few others. I DO think journaling helps us see what is “behind” why we make the hurtful, selfish, “going in circles” choices we make. I’ve made some horrible ones & trying to dig out right now. Friends will also tell us the truth–thanks.

  14. Lynn says:

    Sorry to have gotten away from the topic at hand. Some
    thoughts and caveats about journalling. I write for a living and
    have always journalled, so for me keeping a journal didn’t turn the
    light on as far as helping me break with the ex. Writing calms me
    down, so at times I would use journalling to talk myself into a
    “place of acceptance” of his troublesome behaviour. More than once
    I’d feel anxious within the relationship, and journal my way into
    feeling okay with my situation. If you’re not used to journalling,
    it’s a great tool for getting to know yourself and seeing your own
    thoughts on paper. If you journal all the time, and use the
    practice as a brain/emotion dump, I’d warn against writing as a way
    to avoid dealing more actively with your feelings. I have gone back
    to journalling more consciously, thanks in large part to what I’ve
    learned here. The big aha for me was finally realizing that “not
    feeling totally sure” or “not knowing how I feel” was NOT the level
    of comfort, security and support I wanted out of a romantic
    partnership. For the longest time, I wrote in a lost, helpless
    voice, as if my bad feelings were me not being able to cope with a
    ‘normal’ situation. Writing was the only action I took to make
    myself feel better. Eventually, I grew to realize that I was
    ‘normal,’ my bad feelings were the healthy, ‘normal’ response to an
    unhealthy situation, and that I needed to do more than write about
    it. There was a period where I mostly wrote: you will get out of
    this. You will be strong. It will hurt like hell. You will survive.
    You are getting more ready every day. Now I force myself to write
    about my good feelings, my successes and my interests. I want to
    figure out THAT pattern and do it like crazy! I still write in my
    journal (or on blogs!!!) to procrastinate doing the hard work that
    needs to be done in other areas. Okay! Back to work!! :)

  15. Anusha says:

    I need a advice about something that is going on with me.Im
    sort of involved with a guy at my work but this week he made
    something very weird.When my friend(that knows about me and him
    since I told her) asked him about me,he denied the whole thing.He
    said that we are just friends and there is nothing going on.He
    admited to take calls from me and that he have called me too but
    made it seems all “friendly” and like if I was getting things wrong
    by thinking that we were having something.Obviosly my friend told
    me about that and when I confronted him he said he just did that
    cause he didnt want her to know about us.That “that is something
    between me and him” and that he didnt want people at my work to
    know about that.I understand where he is coming from after all is
    forbidden to have relationships between the workers where I
    work,specialy between people from his sector and mine.But even so
    that let me wondering and now Im not sure on who to believe.What
    you all think,should I believe on him?

    • Ms A says:

      I think you should not believe him. The first thing you
      said was that you were “sort of” involved. This usually means
      nothing good and that someone has 1 foot in and one out. The guy
      then denies the existence of the involvement to your friend and
      then makes up a story about it. None of this is good and you don’t
      need to put up with it . Someone who was available would have had a
      discussion with you about the work situation and you would know if
      it was or wasn’t a relationship.

    • grace says:

      Anusha If your friend works in the same company as the two
      of you and the relationship is VERY new, then it COULD be okay for
      him to deny it. Though a better response may have been, “I can’t
      really talk about it, you know how it is here”. Even better, you
      shouldn’t really be caught up with what you said to her and what
      she said to him and what he said to her and what she then said to
      you and what you said to him. That’s basically gossip. Do you have
      reason to feel insecure and to doubt him? The two of you need to
      have a plan as to how you will handle this going forward. You can’t
      keep it secret forever. That’s not a plan.

      • Anusha says:

        Yes the relationship is new,it just started a few weeks ago actualy.And my friend work with us yes.I told him that I have told her about us and that was fine leting her know cause I trust her and know she wouldnt tell anybody but even so he did that.When she told me about all that he had said I got very angry with him and even asked him to just delete my number from his phone and never call me again but later on he talked to me and explained things.So now we are talking again and exchanging calls.What I found most weird was what he said to her.He could have just said that there is nothing going on between us and not made it seem that Im going after him while he isnt interested.That is what bothered me the most.But I guess that maybe he just did like that cause he knew that my friend already knew about our calls so she probably wouldnt believe if he had just said “there is nothing going on”.

        • NML says:

          Personally Anusha, I would take this recent incident as a red flag that is asking you to proceed with caution, keep your eyes open, and not disproportionately invest in the situation. I appreciate the awkward work situation but particularly after your previous relationship, I would caution you about being involved in something that has a lack of acknowledgement. The difficulty here is that I’m not sure that you should have told your friend because she did end up having a conversation with him about it. What you told her was between you and her. Why is she quizzing him? Your friend was gossiping and getting involved and has put you both in an awkward situation. However that’s not really the core issue. 1) If you told him that you had told her, it mystifies me as to why he would feel the need to deny it. 2) He could have downplayed things, but if he has made you out to be someone who is pursuing him and getting the wrong end of the stick, that is disrespectful. You have every right to be weirded out by this. I think you need to stop talking to your ‘friend’ about this as it’s a conflict of interest if you all work at the same place (tell a friend unconnected with him or work) and I think you need to take your time and say to this guy that while you appreciate that (for now) he’s going to deny the relationship, in future, you would appreciate if he doesn’t make out that you’re pestering him and he’s not interested. Totally unnecessary.

          • Anusha says:

            Thanks Natalie and the others for the advices.I might add that is a casual relationship and that he is married.Im not in love with him(and neither plan to be),Im just atracted to him and enjoy going out with him.I have no idea why Im doing that(I never did something like that before),I guess is to take my mind away from the problems with my bf.Since I started going out with him I dont care anymore what my bf does(or doesnt do) or how the relationship goes.

            • NML says:

              Anusha, are you on frigging crack?!

              Let me say something to you (and you know I’m not going to billy bullshit you) because you and I go back quite some way on this site as well as a number of readers who followed your journey:

              You are on a very self-destructive path. You have moved from one illusionary relationship to being in a secret casual relationship with a work colleague which basically equals more illusions. You’re also being deceptive in your original story. If you tell a work colleague that you’re shagging a married work colleague, the married guy is going to deny it. Period.

              Why are you doing this? Because you are avoiding the feelings of rejection about the other twit by being involved with this guy at work. When this all goes pearshaped, you will have bigger problems on your hands.

              • grace says:

                Anusha

                I almost got involved with a married man. I realised I was on the slippery slope to crazyville when I found myself wondering why he wasn’t calling, didn’t show up, blew hot and cold etc. It’s cos he’s MARRIED, doh! How can he act like a proper boyfriend when he is someone else’s husband?! This guy, whether he is crapping on you or on his wife, must always be crapping on someone as long as this continues.
                I am stunned that you think his being married makes it better because it’s casual and you won’t fall in love. You are in total denial of what’s going on here. You are having an affair with a married man. You are trampling on a marriage because you have “no idea” what you’re doing. You better get an idea and fast!
                When this hits the fan at work you will be in big trouble as he must protect his back and will do everything he can to make you look bad.
                Get out, get out before even more damage is done.

                • Anusha says:

                  I dont think he is worried about others thinking that he
                  cheats,cause he is always making a move in pretty much every girl
                  there.Actualy that was how this whole think started,I bet with my
                  friend that he would go for it if I said I was interested and my
                  friend said that he wouldnt and that he just did that to look good
                  and like “he got every woman” but that he didnt realy had the
                  courage to cheat his wife.Then the whole thing became serious and I
                  started to get involved with him.Anyway I have been feeling a bit
                  guilty and bad about this whole thing so I might get out of
                  it.

                  • Anusha says:

                    Plus I realized that I just suck on relationships.I just
                    seems to go from one bad relationship to another and always end up
                    disapointed and unsatisfatied.I guess I should just become a nun or
                    something like that.

                    • NML says:

                      Anusha, that’s nothing if not a tad dramatic. For a start two relationships doesn’t spell the end of time and a life in a convent. Daring a married colleague into whether you can pull him is a sucky decision i.e it was an active choice. You don’t suck at relationships as you’re not in one. What’s not your ‘strong suit’ is doing things that give you the opportunity to treat yourself in valuable healthy manner and being accountable. Nobody has made you be with this guy, after what you’ve experienced a shady relationship with a married colleague is the last thing you need, but it is the *choice* you’ve made. You’re not a leaf in the wind – you’re the driver behind the wheel. At least own your choices, good, bad or indifferent – you might *actually* start to take care of yourself.

                    • Anusha says:

                      Thanks Natalie,I know this was my own choice.And it wasnt
                      just two bad relationships,it was a string of them.It started on my
                      teens and is going on until now so more than 10 years already.Until
                      today I never had a relationship that could be considerated good
                      and that I was happy with.And one recuring thing on them and that I
                      wanted to ask for your help to understand,is the chasing.Why on
                      most of my relationships Im chasing people around? Why I always end
                      up in relationships where people wont do their part and I have to
                      end up doing for them? Im just so tired of that and realy wish you
                      could tell me how to keep it from happening.

                    • Anusha says:

                      Well it seems the MM isnt all that interested after all and
                      Im starting to think that he is playing with me.He said he would
                      call me tonight but has passed 50 minutes from the time he suposed
                      to call and nothing yet.Actualy since monday I have done most of
                      the calling and when I do call he sometimes wont answer(and never
                      call back later) or seem on a rush to hang up.Im geting realy fed
                      up with that.This lack of participation and chasing around was what
                      bothered me most with my relationship with my bf and so Im not
                      realy in the mood to go trough that all over again.

                    • grace says:

                      Anusha
                      At the risk of sounding like a nag (and Nat I understand if you don’t post this!), it’s not about whether he is late calling you. or whether he returns your calls, or whether you are chasing him. He’s married! What do you think he’s going to do? Take your call while he’s cooking dinner with his wife? Return your calls while he’s watching tv with her? Say “Sorry darling, I’ve got to call my mistress now”. This is what having an affair with a married man is like. And for someone who is “casual” you are sure bent out of shape by this. Chasing him and watching the clock for his calls is NOT casual.
                      Wake up to what is happening here. You straight back into your old behavior patterns.
                      He’s married. He can’t be your boyfriend. He’s not your boyfriend? Why would he call you?
                      He stood up before his family and her family, and made vows to her before God and the State. Where do you fit into that picture?
                      Stop chasing him. Stop calling him. Stop having sex with him.
                      However bad you feel now, it’s nothing to how bad his wife would feel when she finds out. This isn’t all about you. But even if you have no consideration for his wife at least preserve yourself and your dignity and STOP.

                    • Minky says:

                      I agree with Grace – why, if you want a relationship, are you involved with a married man? You’ve gone from an EUM to an AC! Anyone who will cheat on their wife is an AC of the highest order! Take time out and work on yourself and then go for someone decent, who is unattached, who proves with their actions that they want to be with you and only you. Anything less is not worth bothering with! Someone being attached in any way should be an unegotiable red flag and should have you running for the door, not sitting by the phone!

                      Sorry to nag too by the way. :)

                    • runnergirlno1 says:

                      I don’t want to repeat what everyone has said about this
                      situation but I would like to lend my support. I’m in day 26 of NC
                      with my ex MM after 2 years and it started just like yours, without
                      the “dare”. Just casual and fun or so I thought. Like you, I
                      thought I could handle it. It became the worst 2 years of my life.
                      Oh sure, it was fun when we could be together and we were together
                      a lot. But, when we couldn’t be together because he was married and
                      with his wife, it was sheer hell. It sounds like you are getting a
                      very small dose of the sheer hell while waiting for his phone call.
                      It’ll get worse if you continue. Even though he told me I was
                      number one, I was always number two because his wife was number
                      one. I sat home while they went out, and at first, texting was
                      enough to get me through the night and maybe a phone call when they
                      were done for the evening. That didn’t last. Then I started
                      throwing jealous tantrums, as though I was entitled to something.
                      Clearly, I wasn’t. I was the other woman. We were both deluded, in
                      denial, and living in fantasy land. But mostly it was me. I was
                      acting as though he was cheating on me, when in reality, we were
                      cheating on his wife. At first, the good times we had together
                      would make up for the times he was with his wife. It got bad
                      though. Since I was walking around in a deep state of fog, I didn’t
                      realize how bad it was getting. I wish I had been keeping a
                      journal, it may have helped in facing reality sooner. I wish I had
                      journaled what I felt like when he couldn’t call or pick up because
                      he was with his wife, particularly because we talked on the phone 4
                      or 5 times a day and he would always pick up (even when he was in
                      important meetings), unless he was with his wife. We texted as well
                      all throughout the day and night. I could tell, however, when he
                      was with his wife because the texts would stop, mostly. I wish I
                      had journaled what it felt like when he couldn’t be there because
                      he was with his wife. I hear anguish already in your writing and it
                      triggered those former miserable feelings for me. My anguish and
                      despair got so bad, my denial finally cracked but it has taken a
                      huge toll on me. I never thought it would be like that. I never
                      thought that I would put my life on hold, waiting to see whether he
                      had plans with his wife or could be with me. I’m 51, with a success
                      daughter, a successful career, independent, and could date anytime.
                      It happened so seemingly subtly. I would be so happy when we could
                      be together but I could never really know because it had to be last
                      minute. I was, of course, the other woman. I hope I’m not beating a
                      dead horse here. I’ve been through 3 divorces, 36 hours of labor,
                      law school and the bar exam. Nothing, nothing, nothing was as bad
                      as being the other woman, in my opinion. I’m with you. I hear your
                      pain already. Hugs.

                    • Fearless says:

                      Anusha, I think Nat (and others) has said everything that
                      needs to be said (now, and quite plainly, many times before). I
                      would though like to add that you need to understand what it is
                      that constitutes a “boyfriend”. A man is not your boyfriend just
                      because you want him to be or because you deide to refer to him as
                      your “boyfriend”. The internet guy that you call your boyfriend was
                      not your boyfriend, and neither is this married man that you are
                      chasing. I never once – not in all the years I knew him – did I
                      either think of nor refer to my ex EUM as my “boyfriend”. Not to
                      myself or another living soul did I use that term in reference to
                      him. Why did I not? Because HE never called me his “girlfriend” –
                      it was a phrase he avoided – and I noticed this! You need to stop
                      acting out what YOU simply wish to be the case and start SEEING,
                      noticing and acknowledging what is in front of you. It seems to me
                      the reality of the situation is very much lost on you… it’s bad
                      nough that a married guy should be chasing you but if it is, as you
                      say, you who is calling this married guy up all of the time then
                      perhaps you should ask yourself why you are doing this? Is it not
                      even a tad humiliating? What do you think he is making of your
                      behaviour? Do you think he is “impressed”? Flattered? You may find
                      that it will irritate him and at some point he will tell you to
                      stop pestering him… how might you feel about that? I have been
                      reading your posts since I found Nat’s site here, and I wonder how
                      much of Nat’s blogs you are actually reading and, if you are
                      reading them, how much of them you are trying to put into practice
                      – I am not saying putting into practice is not difficult for most
                      of us, but most of us are trying to learn from Natalie’s (and other
                      posters’ experience) and make progress, however we can… Yet you,
                      Anusha, seem to be stuck in a repeated pattern of very bad choices
                      and you seem unable to recognise that it is your own choices that
                      are causing all of this… you have, I assume given up on the
                      internet chatter “boyfriend”, and a good move that has been, but
                      you have walked (no, ran) into an equally hopeless situation with a
                      man who is married and who also appears to be showing you as little
                      (or dubious) interest – or even less – as the internet chatter guy.
                      Why do you think the married man is a good idea? You are asking Nat
                      to help you understand why you are chasing him and why the men you
                      get “involved” with do not contribute their part. First I would say
                      start reading Natalie’s blogs. The answers are there. Also, you
                      need to ask yourself why are you chasing men who are showing you no
                      interest and why are you chasing a married man? What do you expect
                      to get from him? And this current one, even if he was interested
                      would only be leading you into a nightmare scenario (such as
                      described by runnergirl – take heed!!) – he is not available to
                      have a relationship with you – not available to “play his part” –
                      not available to be your “boyfriend” – not available – full stop.
                      So he is not playing his part. He has no part to play in your ilife
                      – only in your imagination. He doesn’t want to play the part, that
                      is the reason. He is playing his part with his wife! (though not a
                      very good part, it has to be said). As for why the others have not
                      played their part: they don’t want to, that’s why. The reasons why
                      they don’t want to hardly matters – they don’t, and that is what
                      you need to deal with – you need to start taking note of this – let
                      the man take the lead and act accordingly and stop deluding
                      yourself. It seems to me you are playing out your “relationships”
                      and your “boyfriends” in your own head. You need to try to get your
                      feet – and your head – in reality. These men are not having
                      realtionships with you – they are not your “boyfriend” – all of
                      that stuff is existing only in your imagination. I don’t wish to be
                      harsh, Anusha – I am having a hard enough time myself with coming
                      to ‘acceptance’… but I am trying and I am feeling tha pain and
                      clinging to my common sense and trying to keep grounded in reality
                      – yes, some days it’s not easy…. but many of us here are trying
                      very hard to “get real” about ourselves and the men we have been
                      involved with – it is hard work and we need to feel the pain – not
                      run from it into the arms of the next tosser we clpa eyes on, and
                      definitely NOT rush out and chase up a married man as if this would
                      obviously be our next good idea!! Where on Nat’s blogs did she
                      offer you that advice?! ..So, I think, Anusha, trying to “get real”
                      would be a good place to start. Try being by yourself for a while
                      and learning how to gain a sense of self worth. Good luck

                    • Anusha says:

                      I was reading back all the coments and I just wanted to clear up a few things.First I wasnt expecting the MM to act like my “boyfriend”,that wasnt the reason why I got upsed by his behaviour.I just wanted some attention and feeling like I was important,after all that is what we usualy expect from a person we dating(even if is just casual).And he almost never calling or not picking up when I called doesnt make me feel like if Im important or that he is interested.And when I talked about “always chasing people around” I didnt mean just about this situation.It happened in other relationships I had too,even on my friendships.Is like in order to get the other person’s attention I have to kind of extract it from them and it just wont come naturaly like I think it should come(and that I wish it did).It usualy takes me doing lots of chasing or doing their part until I can get the atention I want.And it amazes me to see how some people can have it so easialy when for me is always a struggle.Like my cousin for example,she has her bf calling her trough the day several times a day even without having to do anything for that.No asking,no complaning,no nagging,he just does it.While me to get just one call per day I need to do lots of nagging.I just realy wanted to find a way to make it come to my way naturaly and stop all that cause Im realy sick of it.

                    • NML says:

                      Hi Anusha. I’m going to be honest, a couple of readers who have been around for a while and maybe want to ‘wake you up’ somewhat, posted tough but nonetheless in your interest replies to your comment which I withheld as I think it’s important to be careful of getting a bit too heavy with tone. But do you know why that happens? Because especially for readers who have been around for a while both here and on the old forum, I think they get exasperated, truth be told and that can be difficult to read in comments.

                      So what I will say to you is this: If you want your situation to change, it is 100% down to you. Your cousin isn’t ‘lucky’ or ‘extra special’ or whatever you think she is. Your friend doesn’t get involved with married men and doesn’t have flimsy relationships online. Your friend has boundaries, self-esteem, and self-respect and has her feet in reality.

                      You are the common denominator. It doesn’t make the other people’s behaviour your fault but it is time to be accountable for your part instead of burying your head in the sand and spending your time attention seeking with people and in situations where you fundamentally know that you are not going to get the attention. It’s like you want to punish yourself. We have been down this road many times before Anusha, and the fact is, no matter how much you complain, whatever negativity you experience is not incentivising you to actually change your habits and address your problems. You want all the glory of a healthy relationship without putting in the basics that need to come from your end.

                      As has happened before, you’re also missing the fundamental point in your situation – You have no right to demand or expect attention when you want it from someone who is married. Period.

                      If you have such a need for attention, you’ve set yourself up to fail with someone whose attention giving capabilities is fundamentally split or limited. You’re with his man a wet week and you’re already back in the cycle.

                      Fact is, you’re not dating. How on earth can you be dating a married man? So I suggest you reevaluate your expectations and get real. You’re not in a casual relationship – you’re involved with a married man. Even if you were in casual relationship, it’s important to know your place – you don’t get to make demands and expectations when you’re in something casual. Hence…why it’s casual.

                      You’re not sick of it. This situation, the one with that twit you were involved with online – they work for you, albeit in a negative way.

                      And this is where I tough love you Anusha and say this: It is time to do something. No excuses, no BS, no feeling sorry for yourself and blaming the world and its dog. You have been having variations of this conversation for so long, I actually daren’t look to see when your first comment was. Every single person who has ever taken the time to email you, reply to your comments, and continue to support you through the same issue again and again has done it out of care and concern. They’ll still do it. I’ll do it. But it’s about time YOU do it because you are being one of those people that likes to complain but do nothing.

                    • NML says:

                      Anusha, it’s different guy, same problem. The key starts in addressing your issues instead of dodging them by immersing yourself in another dipstick and when you do choose to date again, choosing someone with bare minimum decent foundations. A married man is not it and you, yet again, are expecting and carrying on like a girlfriend when you are not. You’ve forgotten what you’re involved in. You don’t get to set the rules with a married man. You’re on their dime, their schedule, your everything. For something that was a dare and someone you don’t care about, you seem to have gone into girlfriend mode.

                      Anusha, we have danced this dance, many, many, many times. It’s the same thing all over again. You are the common denominator. It doesn’t mean they’re not jackasses but you might actually get a decent relationship if you don’t have illusionary ones over the internet with guys or get involved with the married man in the office. You may think I’m being harsh, but fact is Anusha, softly softly with you misses the point. Even harsh does sometimes. You need to get out of denial. You need to get into the real world.

                    • Allison says:

                      Why are you pursuing a married man? Think about his kids
                      and wife!

                    • Minky says:

                      Anusha – it keeps happening because you don’t walk away. If you get involved with someone and they, as you say “wont do their part”, leave! If someone can’t give you what you want: LEAVE!!!! You make the choice about who you get involved with. If someone isn’t treating you well, you have a responsibility to yourself to walk away. You need to believe that you’re too good for this nonsense. You will probably go through a lot of useless men before you find a good one (I did!), but if you walk away from the bad ones, you will eventually find a good one. You also have to have confidence that you SHOULD be with a good one, otherwise you will keep attracting idiots. Take every relationship very slowly, be aware of your boundaries, like Nat always says, and be ruthless with anyone who crosses them.

  16. JJ2 says:

    I tried to keep a “feelings” diary after I broke up with
    the A/C. It didn’t really work for me, and eventually I “lost” the
    file (it became corrupted on my computer). However, I do like your
    idea of keeping a diary while I’m dating someone. I think that will
    help. I will try that IF the opportunity ever comes up
    again.

  17. debra says:

    An emotions journal is a great idea. I hadn’t realized how
    dead I was, how numb until I met someone even more emotionally
    unavailable. But, if I am being honest with myself, it wasn’t that
    I didn’t know what I was feeling. While in the relationship with
    the AC, I felt confused, insecure, controlled, unhappy and
    frustrated. I just pretended I didn’t feel those things. I spent
    alot of time and energy acting happier than I was and pretending
    everything was ok. I wasn’t just lying to him and everyone around
    me, I was lying to myself. I seem very comfortable (sadly) feeling
    hurt and disappointed but have real trouble with other emotions,
    including anger, sadness and loneliness. I am starting to see how
    much effort I put into not feeling things. I went to extremes to
    avoid the sense of rejection that came when the relationship ended
    (even though now, of course, I am glad it did). I overeat, I shop,
    I distract myself, all to keep from feeling any negative or strong
    emotion. The problem, of course, is it keeps the good emotions
    supressed as well – joy, confidence, peace. The idea of really
    feeling again is a bit scary butit is something I am consciously
    working towards. Sometimes I am overcome by emotion but am not sure
    where it is coming from – I will burst into tears over little or
    nothing. That’s when a journal helps – there is a trigger, I just
    have to figure out what it is. It’s incredible how easy it is to
    see things in others that we refuse to acknowledge in ourselves. I
    could see the AC’s inability to feel and thought that because I was
    consumed with pain from the relationship, that meant I could feel.
    All it really meant was I wasn’t paying attention to my feelings.
    If I had, I would have walked away long before there was reason for
    so much pain. Being needy or desperate isn’t the same thing as
    being in touch with my feelings. I was brought up to view feelings
    as something to be controlled or ignored. Only weak, crazy people
    expressed their feelings openly. A sad legacy to overcome. Emotions
    are just information. I am not required to act on them- in fact, I
    tend to get myself in a great deal of trouble if I act on my
    emotions without too much thought. The goal is to find a balance –
    to feel what I am feeling, accept the reality of the situation and
    heed what my feelings are telling me but then use my wisdom,
    experience and common sense to decide what, if anything, I am going
    to do about it. I ended up heartbroken in a bad relationship
    because I refused to accept the reality of what was happening and
    ignored all my bad feelings. I have since learned I can trust
    myself and what I am feeling. I wasn’t wrong, I was just too scared
    to act on it. Never again.

  18. Susan says:

    Nat,
    Your post is very timely. I am involved with someone who is preparing to leave their long-term partner after some months of secret involvement with me. We knew each other 15 years ago but have become re-united once again and realised that our ‘connection’ cannot be ignored. Sounds enticing doesn’t it BUT in recent weeks I have now started to experience migraine headaches when i see him but have only felt sheer excitement in the preceding hours before we meet. Do you think its possible for happiness to make you ill or (having read your post) are these headaches a sympton of red flags ahead??? …. x

    • MaryC says:

      Susan you said it yourself “someone who is preparing to leave their long-term partner after some months of secret involvement with me”, its no wonder you have a headache.

      I think your heart and your brain are trying to tell you something.

    • grace says:

      Susan

      Maybe you don’t want a boyfriend who cheats. Or maybe you liked the drama, chemistry and excitement more than you wanted a committed relationship. You need to think about what you actually want in your future. It may not be him.

      • Susan says:

        MaryC & Grace….BIG Thanks for your insights, you’ve certainly given me food for thought and I’m v. grateful….Take Care xx

  19. Fats says:

    Hi Nat thanks for the blog I use to keep diaries of how I
    felt ad I was told it helps and yes it did for a while and when I
    read how unhappy I was day after day after day in my relationship
    with myself with everything I stopped as I just got into the
    routine of being in pain and anger and nothing I did changed that
    because o blamed myself for the marriage breakdown due to my issues
    i do read alot your blog and other things more than I do write but
    yes a journal helps it’s a progression chart if your personal
    growth and feelings and even if it’s one word describing your mood
    that helps so I will make it a point to jot down even if it’s just
    two words I do also know now why I am involved in these
    relationships and why this marriage has shattered me inside and
    sometimes doing it on your works sometimes it doesn’t so help is
    out there if only we accept that there is something wrong like I
    have I am hoping that this year I try to stop that pattern for
    good!

  20. agathangel says:

    Hi Everyone. I have started a journal where I record all of
    the nasty/selfish things he has done to me over the past 3 years.
    It was very hard at first because I remember all the excuses I gave
    to him for this and that transgression. But then I started getting
    really honest with myself (with help from this website!) and
    realized how angry I feel for how he has treated me and all the BS
    I accepted from him. I have finally realized that I am just a booty
    call for him and all those times he said he loved me is just a
    lie… I want to be with a truly committed person who wants a
    relationship and wants to spend time with me – not just an hour
    here and there like the EUM!

  21. Sammi says:

    I began the emotions journal as soon as I read this blog
    and I have already made some important and surprising discoveries.
    1. I spent very little time in the present or in reality. Huge
    junks of my day are dedicated to obsessing about the past or
    projecting into an imaginary future. It’s like the present has no
    interest for me. Scary. 2. I was very dishonest about what I wanted
    in my last relationship with the AC and so I attracted a very
    dishonest relationship. He walked in the door with an appalling
    relationship history (40 years old, still living by choice with his
    mother, no prior relationship longer than 3 months) and clearly
    stating he was commitment phobic. So what did I do? Got books on
    commitment phobia so I thought I could outsmart him. If he needed
    space, I gave it to him. If he disappeared for a few days, I was
    cool about it. If he said he wanted casual, I said I did to. Did I
    really? Of course not. I just thought I would be the exception to
    the rule, that he would fall so in love with me and he would get
    over his stuff. What nonsense! 3. I was so busy manipulating him
    and the relationship and trying to control him that I didn’t see
    how controlling he was of me. We work together and everyone else
    kept saying he was very controlling and weird but I didn’t see it.
    Why? Because I was too busy trying to control him. 4. When I am
    obsessing about something, its because I can’t control that
    something or someone but I still want to. I had no idea how much I
    was trying to control my world around me, to avoid pain and
    rejection and to try and get the things I wanted (or thought I
    wanted). I was trying to control people and relationships and
    events, all things no one can control. What I wasn’t doing was
    controlling the one thing I actually did have some control over,
    which was myself. I didn’t see my part in any of this. I thought I
    was a victim. I thought I wanted a relationship so badly, that
    meant I was available. What I really am is terrified. Terrified of
    being hurt, being left, being unlovable, having the real me seen
    and rejected by someone. So I focused all my time and attention on
    fixing him and his commitment phobia (which actually turned out to
    be far worse – he was an abusive control freak). I have spent my
    entire adult life waiting for some guy to notice me and love me. I
    never stop to consider whether he is what I want or whether I even
    like him (I realize now that I didn’t even like the last guy). I
    have been stumbling around for decades, repeating my horrible
    patterns, dating the same guy in different packages and watching
    their problems get worse (from egomaniacs to immature momma’s boys
    to commitment phobes to abusive narcissists) and accepting really
    crappy treatment because I thought that’s was unconditional love
    was. I also thought so little of myself that if I spoke up or
    complained, they would leave (which they all did). The journal idea
    saved my life. Why? Because I found myself once again falling into
    the trap. I noticed this guy at work who seemed to like me (so of
    course I instantly liked him) and I found myself obsessing about
    him, conniving ways to get his attention and was already imagining
    the wedding, even though we have never been on a date or anything
    like that. The shock of it amazes me. I am not some 20 year old who
    is just learning about life and love. I am in my late 40s, have
    been married once for 12 years and have a very high profile
    professional job. I thought I was together, independent, extremely
    intelligent and yet I live the majority of my life in a fantasy
    playing in my head. I read somewhere that those of us who were
    abused as kids develop strong fantasy worlds into which we escape.
    Maybe we never outgrow it. Maybe it has just taken me far too long
    to realize I am still escaping there. Thank you for the idea
    Natalie. You truly saved my life and my sanity. I am seeking
    professional help to guide me through the process of coming back to
    reality.

  22. sunshine says:

    Anusha, Time in a convent might not be the worst idea,
    actually. There is value in getting one’s mind and focus off of men
    and relationships and focusing on a relationship with the Divine
    ;)

  23. grace says:

    Anusha Excuse me butting in, but my experience has been
    similar to yours except I did it for over 20 years. Something about
    a difficult relationship appeals to you. It may be that if someone
    likes you, it makes you uncomfortable. Or you think they are a bit
    pathetic. Or if you chase someone and “catch” them you feel you’ve
    won a prize and it makes you feel good about yourself
    (temporarily). You think “wow, I must be really
    hot/beautiful/interesting if I can win over this guy who is not
    that bothered/in a relationship / in a band surrounded by groupies
    / married/ depressed/ alcoholic/ whatever. You don’t feel good
    about yourself so you go looking for someone who will make you feel
    good. But you don’t pick a nice guy, you pick a difficult one
    because you want to “earn” their “love”. Anyway, that is just my
    conjecture. Natalie will have some light to throw on the matter but
    she has posted about this many many times. Maybe you’re not getting
    it because you’re confused by all your relationship drama. Maybe
    now is a good time to be …. single and think about these things
    clearly? Mind you, if you want to keep it from happening again, my
    no. 1 tip would be don’t get involved with married men. Whatever
    relationship horrors you have experience before will be eclipsed by
    this affair This is a train wreck waiting to happen. Please don’t
    coast along telling yourself it’s casual, it was just for a bet, he
    doesn’t care about being caught, at least you felt better than
    before. You are playing with fire. End it. You’re better than this,
    you deserve better.

  24. Leigh says:

    I don’t tend to write how I feel but I rationalise it in my
    head. I know when I think of him I then start to think of triggers.
    I’m proud to say that I have no deep emotional reaction to these
    triggers other than he enters my mind then swiftly leaves it
    through my own choice. Three years ago I was devastated, I didn’t
    see or speak to him for two years. Last year I got to see him again
    and I was devastated for different reasons. My body reacted to him
    by becoming sick. The thought of seeing him being with him and
    actually kissing him made me feel so out of control and on a
    rollercoaster. Today I am able to look at it with a measure of
    objectivity and realise that I was an accomplice to his behaviour.
    I accepted his behaviour to a certain extent at that last meeting
    but I questioned him in ways I never did before. My own instinct
    has told me to maintain a distance from him for the rest of my
    life. I just couldn’t handle being his friend afterwards or FWB. He
    wanted sex, I knew this. I didn’t give him the pleasure because he
    didn’t deserve me or it. What that has lead me to is thoughts of
    what’s to come. I wonder how I will ever meet anyone or if anyone
    will come into my life. But I don’t place importance on it.
    Tonight, my girlfriend asked me “have you heard from xxxx” I said
    “Noooo, and even if I did I wouldn’t respond.” That’s the first
    time I’ve actually verbalised it. So I know NC for me has worked
    really well this time around!

  25. Anusha says:

    Thanks everybody for the support and nice advices.You all
    right,I need to get real about all that.I have been thinking about
    what Natalie said that I dont act on a healthy way and about taking
    responsibility and she is right.Im only helping things to be worse
    and disrespecting myself by chasing people around.Like some of you
    said,if the other person doesnt participate I should just leave and
    trust that I deserve better instead of keep trying to convince them
    to participate.I realy need to learn that.I cant keep doing the
    same things over and over again,I need to stop.And althought it
    sucks and hurts how other people react to me,I know I cant control
    them so I have to stop trying to do that and start working on the
    only thing I can control that is how I react.And trust me,it is
    very hard.Im a very impulsive person and Im always ruled by my
    emotions so is pretty hard to keep me on the right track
    sometimes.And I know that being with a married man is wrong,actualy
    I was always completely against that.So I dont know why got me this
    time.I guess I was so desesperate for a relationship(like I have
    been most of my life even) and he showed interest and so I jumped
    in.Actualy that is my main problem I guess,I just jump in on every
    guy that shows interest on me without realy evaluating if he is
    good for me first.

  26. runnergirlno1 says:

    Stuff came up this evening in my feelings diary which is
    precisely why I didn’t want to do it. Thank you though for your
    suggestion Natalie and for the support of the folks who have
    posted. I now understand the title of this website. I’m feeling
    invaded, maybe violated. Everything that used to be “me” became
    “us”. The first week of school went well, although, I miss being a
    quasi-administrator. My 19 year-old students have been a breath of
    fresh air. It has been difficult walking around campus. Everywhere
    I go, I think about the times we were working together and
    together: When we didn’t see one another at the coffee cart the
    morning after that January 2008 evening in the parking lot; when we
    did see one another at the coffee cart during the summer and I
    helped get things worked out for your kid; my new office where we
    spent hours texting and talking on the phone while we were working
    on tedious crap; the President’s conference room where we spent
    hours in meetings fighting over college politics and eventually
    agreed because I was right; the PAC, where we held the funeral
    service and almost kissed, with your wife right there; the softball
    field, and on, and on, and on. How do I reclaim my work place? Then
    I come home. And it starts all over. I’m home earlier now that I’m
    back in the classroom so I have longer to think. To think: About
    running to my grocery store to buy stuff for us for dinner; making
    sure the back yard was ready for us to spend the evening relaxing;
    lighting the candles, the fire, and the tiki torches; setting the
    table, when Mandy would jump and chase her tail when I got the palm
    tree placemats out; cleaning the BBQ; watering the palm
    trees…that’s the thing I get the most upset about…even MY palm
    trees became “ours”, even though “we” did not exist. My hiking
    trail became ours even thought we did not exist. How do I reclaim
    my house, my backyard, my palm trees, and my hiking trail? We did
    not exist. That is it in a nutshell. Everything that was mine
    became ours even though we did not exist. The very worst feeling is
    that my reggae became ours even though we did not exist. I’m
    feeling used, angry, frustrated, resentful, sad, and hurt, by you
    and by me. How do I reclaim me? Where did “I” go over the past two
    years? What was I thinking? I made some very bad choices, I know. I
    did not have boundaries. What was I thinking when I said: “You have
    an open invitation”. An open invitation must have been music to
    your ears. You could waltz in anytime, wine, dine, go upstairs, and
    leave me asleep with a sweatshirt while you went home and crawled
    in bed with your wife. You certainly heard me when I said that no
    matter how stupidly foolish it was. Oh dear god, could I have
    seriously been such a fool, such an idiot for two solid years. What
    could I have been thinking? “He likes me”. Oh dear god. I am
    feeling grateful for 26 pain filled days of no contact. The fog is
    clearing. As the fog clears, it is devastating to see what terrible
    choices I made. How do I reclaim me?

    • runnergirlno1 says:

      More stufff came up. I thought I had things calm and
      peaceful after my last journal entry. What do I do about my dog? I
      swear to god, I came downstairs this evening, and she is jumping
      around and acting weird. It is 8:00 pm. This is the time he would
      come. I’m not reading this into her behavior. She usually is
      content to lie calmly in her corner, until he comes. Then, she’d
      run, jump, and chase her tail when he got here. She is restless and
      fidgeting. She has never done this, although I’ve wondered over the
      last week what was wrong with her. Crumbs. I’m not making this up.
      How do I reclaim my dog?

  27. Lisa99 says:

    Hello! This is my first time commenting on your blog. I just discovered it last month… good stuff! I wish this had existed three years ago when I needed it! (Or did it?)

    Anyway, I am no longer dating, as I am recently married. Last weekend, my husband and I packed up my belongings in my home to move them to our new home. I discovered a journal I had written in 2007 about an EUM and my feelings about him.

    Wow, it was crazy! There was so much anxiety and pain being expressed in those pages, I couldn’t believe it. I was writing about how I would get excited about every little text he’d send, every occasional phone call, every little e-mail… and then how I hated it that he wouldn’t call me over weekends, or return my calls, or how he’d turn the phone off and I couldn’t reach him when I needed just to talk.

    And yet, I was writing about how happy I was when I would get a text message. A text!!! I tried to find some kind of sign in every little bit of contact I got, and would say that the new text was the latest sign I had that he was worth it.

    Compare all of that to the feeling of ease and security I had dating my husband, and it was night and day.

    Looking back, I wish I had paid more attention to what I wrote and really saw how unhappy and anxious I was, even when I thought I wasn’t! I might have ended the not-relationship much sooner!

  28. sunshine says:

    I wonder if Anusha just doesn’t know *what* to do?
    It’s one thing to quit chasing toxic relationships, but what to do with the hole and the awful pain that chasing relationships is distracting from?
    Anusha, your pain and your distress are REAL and deserve better CARE than some AC or Mr. Unavailable can possibly offer. Trying to get your attention and validation needs met in a toxic relationship is like trying to get the old homeless crazy blind lady on the corner to treat your gangrene with snake venom. Toxic relationships are really like a drug in that you might get a temporary high and feel better for a moment, only you end up sicker and sicker and more and more damage is being done to your very soul.
    Look up 12-step groups for co-dependents, relationship addiction, et cetera. Search for a good therapist, if you don’t feel heard and validated and helped by any you’ve used move on and find another. A therapist is trained and qualified to listen to you and be gentle with your feelings…you will never get that from an AC or EUM and you won’t get a healthy relationship until your emotional wounds are treated and negative beliefs are addressed.
    My saviors are: EFT, my spiritual embodiment practices (being present with and breathing into intense feelings), breathing meditation, peer-counseling, and professional therapy. And I resisted the level of therapy I needed until I realized I had drained all of my friends with my big cloud of tension, fear, anxiety and sadness….so I can understand your resistance and how painful it is. I also realized that residual pain from childhood experiences had been keeping me from true, comfortable, EASY friendship and intimacy like your cousin has. You can have that too! It will take courage and effort on your part to shift your beliefs and nurture yourself!
    We do care about you…we can all feel how much you are hurting and how confused you are right now…and only YOU can take care of YOU at this point. You are so worth the effort, you really are!

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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