Talking about someone's 'good points' that you're not even experiencing, is like talking about a stranger you haven't met yet but that you've heard nice things about… only you're actually dating or in a relationship with them!

If you want to find yourself staying in a relationship long past its sell-by-date, one of the easiest ways to do so is to focus on the trees instead of the wood, and pretty much visually and mentally chop up a person into so-called ‘good points’ and ‘bad points’. It’s this getting hung up on these ‘parts’ of a person that you end up treating as if they’re more valuable than the whole, and minimising or even flat-out disregarding these other ‘parts’ because they almost contaminate your vision of them and your plans.

What you forget when you talk about ‘good points’ is that you’re talking about and relating to only ‘parts’ or ‘points’ of a person instead of the whole person.

The truth is, you only divvy up someone who you’re involved in a romantic relationship with into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ when the sum of the two signals that you and that person in reality aren’t compatible. When you truly like, love, care about, respect, trust and value someone, it is them as a whole that you accept and talk about. In the end, it’s not really about ‘good points’ versus ‘bad points’; it’s about whether you can progress into a mutually fulfilling relationship with that person in their entirety.

People come as a package deal. When you get blinded by ‘good points’ and even override concerns with them and ignore code amber and red behaviour and issues, you’re doing the equivalent of shoving bills under your carpet and hoping that the problem goes away.

Why do we get blinded by the ‘good points’?

We all have ideas about who we think we’re compatible with. We’re, rightly or wrongly, attracted to certain qualities, characteristics and values and when we find ourselves around someone who possesses some of these, we can have a tendency to leap forward mentally and assume that they’re going to possess other qualities, characteristics and values that we desire. This creates a false image of this person that we’re relating to and in turn, when our hopes and expectations that we’ve made based on these assumptions are not met, we feel deeply disappointed.

Of course it all depends on what we find attractive and value in the first place. I decided to do an exercise I’d put together on ‘type’ for The Pattern Breaker course and I decided to write down the things I used to look for in a partner. Not only was I completely mortified when I realised how frickin’ short the list was, but actually, there was absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing about values on there.

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have any values (although like boundaries I used to pay more lip service than action to them) but to be honest, I was looking to feel loved, desired, to get a tummy leap of butterflies (turned out to be fear…) and someone with a good job who was ideally around 6ft to 6ft 4. If someone was hitting some or even all of this criteria, I was blinded and invested. Then it would be “But they pursued and pursued me and I was so excited at their declarations of love and yada yada yada, so why the hell do I feel so hellish?”

If what you deem to be ‘good points’ in a relationship is actually a pretty short list or is low or devoid of values, it explains why your relationship lacks depth and you’re still tooting about these ‘good points’. If you’re talking about ‘good points’, they’re highly likely to be hugely overvalued or bear absolutely no relation to your relationship.

What’s the point in going on about someone’s financials, their status, their looks, the sex, their job, the fact that they go to church, and how great they are when they deem to show up, if you don’t have the relationship to back it up? What’s the point in going on about how much of a humanitarian they are if the way they treat you at times is pretty damn inhumane? What’s the point in saying how intelligent they are? You’re not hiring them. There’s no point in going on about how nice and popular they are unless you experience the benefit of it.

It’s like talking about someone you haven’t met yet but you’ve heard nice things about…only it turns out you have met them and have even slept with them…

One reader stayed in a barely there relationship with someone for 3 years because when he blew in on the wind occasionally, he brought her flowers, took her to dinner and showed her a good time and was a great lay – this was what she’d always wanted from a relationship partner although she had expected them to come bagged and tagged with a relationship. She also mentioned that he had a great job, was highly respected, was liked by his friends, was kind to this one and that one and when he was around (they tended to communicate by text and email), he would listen to her “like no-one else”. To be fair, if I was him and I only had to show up twelve times a year or so without any questions as to what the hell I was doing for the other 353 days of the year and I was assured of good company and a shag, I’d listen to her too.

What really throws people about ‘good points’ is the beliefs held around these ‘good points’ – it’s this idea that having these good points means that they must be a better person than we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing (so we believe that there’s more to them and bet on potential) and/or it’s being convinced that if someone is able to be and do A,B,C then they must or in fact should be able to be and do X,Y,Z even if they repeatedly demonstrate that this is not the case.

The funny thing is that often the things that we believe that they ‘should’ be able to do are being negated by the ‘bad points’ that we keep trying to play down and disregard!

You have to realise though – people can have the good points you believe them to have and not be ‘right’ for you or a relationship. Believing that the good points mean that you should be together is like believing that you’re only ever going to decide you’re not interested in someone who has 100% bad points. Sure, who are you thinking that you’d be turning down then? A serial killer?

We can be inclined to try to put people in the good or bad pile but that’s not really our job in life – you’re not God, a higher power, or even Judge Judy. If what you have in mind is to have a relationship that’s able to go somewhere and the person has these so-called ‘bad points’ that mean that your relationship isn’t going to go where you want, you just need to judge the situation. It’s not like you can say “Let’s stay together but leave that side of you that you know I don’t like behind”, which is actually what you may be inadvertently trying to do.

Somebody having ‘bad points’ doesn’t necessarily make them a bad person but if those bad points put a wrecking ball through the possibility of a mutual healthy relationship, it’s time to judge the situation as unworkable. Equally, someone having some ‘good points’ isn’t something you need to make a song and dance about… unless you’ve been surviving on a crumb diet.

It’s not that you shouldn’t appreciate what someone’s good points are but it would be even better if you appreciated who they were as a person, even if recognition of reality writes off or reduces whatever hopes and expectations that you had.

When someone really is that great, not only will you not have to hide their ‘bad points’ in your mental closet, but you won’t have to keep justifying and reminding yourself – you’ll be too busy enjoying the relationship and living.

Your thoughts?

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149 Responses to Are You Being Blinded By ‘Good Points’?

  1. Stella G says:

    I just bought your book entitled “Mr. Unavailabke…and waiting for it to come. I was in a so-called relationship with someone for 2-1/2 yrs…he would make an appearance once a week or less…every excuse to busy schedule, problems, etc. I would stop answering his calls, texts, but somehow he’d weasel in again because “I” did not want to be rude. He claimed to breakup with me last weekend. I am not sad, but I am soooooo angry as to why I did not put my foot down. Look how easy it was for him to finally call it quits…yet I had the power and never used it.

  2. lilacnyc says:

    Oh. My. Gosh. Thank you for this post. It is just what I needed to hear.

    I recently broke up with a guy that I completely put on a pedestal because of his extremely impressive accomplishments, extensive humanitarian work, degrees, etc. I was so impressed by him that I immediately began assigning the qualities that I perceived him to have in his work to our romantic relationship.
    But I was sorely mistaken. Conflict? I learned he was terrified of it, and would even lie or deliberately omit key facts to avoid it, such as when he went on one of his humanitarian trips and did not tell me that he stayed with an ex-girlfriend. When I confronted him in a very calm, up front, clear way, and asked why he would do that, he said it was my problem and “no one has ever made him feel untrustworthy in his life” until me – he “just didn’t like to talk about exes.” Oh.

    Mostly all he ever talked about was his work, and he barely ever even asked me about mine. When he went to Africa for 3 weeks, he wrote me many emails about what he was doing, what his work was like, etc. But in three weeks of emails, he did not ask me a single question – not once – about how I was doing, what I was doing, etc.

    The more and more I learned about him, the more I realized that just because he does a lot of humanitarian work does not mean he’s mature, ready for a relationship, or even all that empathetic. Frankly, he seemed downright self-centered a lot of the time. In the end, it was a great disappointment, but I’ll be more careful next time after experiencing this. Thanks again for this post!

    • Laurie says:

      Lilacnyc,
      I’m a social worker and I worked for a humanitarian NGO for a while. I can tell you that many of us are incredibly egotistical and self-involved. In fact, I think a lot of what motivates some people to enter into helping professions is a desire to be esteemed and worshiped for their “good deeds.”

      I can’t begin to tell you how many pastors and doctors I know who are completely estranged from their families because they completely neglected them in order to help OTHERS. As you discovered, just because someone is in a helping profession or does volunteer work says absolutely nothing about their character one way or another.

      • lilacnyc says:

        Hey Laurie,

        Thanks for that, I really appreciated the insight. I have a friend who I talked to after my break up who also work at an NGO, and he said the same thing you said. (Not to say that everyone in helping professions are like that, of course.)

        But wow, it was so hard for me to reconcile the disconnect. And on top of doing things like I described above, he was very quick to blame me for this stuff or even raising these issues. For example, instead of taking responsibility for not telling me about staying with his ex, it was my fault for “making him feel untrustworthy and why would he need to tell me about that, why don’t I just trust him?” And that sense of blame made me feel even more confused.

        Anyway, for me it’s a lesson learned to not to take things too fast and really get to know somebody, not look to their resume/CV for clues about how they will treat me. :)

      • Gina says:

        Amen Lilacnyc! Amen!!

    • natashya says:

      One of my exes was also very much into human and animal rights. While walking, he would go out of his way not to step on ants and bugs. All the while, he walked right over me without any hesitation.

  3. Awakened says:

    Awesome Nat. People can have good points and still not be right for you. Those bad points are always there for a reason and if we don’t have good values in place in the first place we then start betting on potential. That’s where we get caught up.

  4. Kathie says:

    WOW..Another amazing post. Yes, I put all the “good points” front & center. The “bad points” were put in the file somewhere to be dealt with at a later date that never came. Somehow I got caught up in all the good of the relationship & lived on a crumb diet with all the rest. Its so clear to me now a year post breakup. The wounds have mostly healed, NC is in place, and I have been taking time to enjoy my own company.

    Stella: Hope u love the book as much as I did/do..
    It was my life raft at a really bad time of my life. I go back & re-read chapters now & again just to remind myself what it was really all about.

  5. Jacqui H says:

    Holy. Crap. You couldn’t have written this article at a better time had I TOLD you to! It’s almost ridiculous how dead-on you are about mt current situation. I was JUST talking to my mom this morning about weighing pros and cons of my SO and the long term impact those points may have. I just love you. Seriously. I’m sure everyone who reads this blog would agree.

  6. Tracy says:

    Guilty as charged. I let my ex husband’s ‘good points’- a job, cleaned up after himself, cooked, made decent conversation about the news of the world, beautiful blue eyes, way better looking than all the other guys in our crowd, dressed nicely – make up for all the sh*t qualities he displayed while we were still only dating. Most people thought he was “a catch”, but then again, he only displayed his most charming traits in public. In private, he was a selfish baby. He was mean. He was emotionally abusive. To him, all his faults were because of me, and my job was to make it all better. When I failed, he felt it was his right to treat me poorly…after all, to him, I deserved it.

    This is a pattern I have been repeating many times since I was divorced. I was with a man for a year and a half who was beautiful, I mean really good looking, intelligent, funny, intellectual, owned his home, his business, saw of his children…again, I was wooed by the surface stuff. In reality, he was a mean SOB, many people actively avoided him, he was lazy, and while he did SEE his kids, I could see they were bored to tears by his self-involvement.

    This week, I just flushed a guy after three dates, and waaaayyy too many hour long phone calls in which he blathered on and on about himself. Literally, in our last call, and his monologue of 40 minutes, he said, “Oh, enough about me…how was your day?”, then proceeded to talk about himself non-stop for another 10 minutes! Again, he has all the ‘surface’ desires, but I have learned from religiously reading this site that if they display code amber behaviors, despite the ‘looks good on paper’ aspect it’s best to move on ASAP!!!

    • Gina says:

      “I have learned from religiously reading this site that if they display code amber behaviors, despite the ‘looks good on paper’ aspect it’s best to move on ASAP!!!”

      I agree 100%! I could not have said it better Tracy!

    • Revolution says:

      “Literally, in our last call, and his monologue of 40 minutes, he said, “Oh, enough about me…how was your day?”, then proceeded to talk about himself non-stop for another 10 minutes!”

      Ha! Tracy, that was funny. Yeesh, my AC would do this too. It’s comical, now that I look back on it, because sometimes I felt like saying, “Shhh….just sit there and look pretty,” ’cause he was mind-numbingly dull in his self-absorption. Not that I didn’t want him to express himself, but I also don’t want to feel like I was attending a college lecture. Just give me the Reader’s Digest version and be done with it. FLUSH!

      • Lilia says:

        Tracy, your ex husband sounds just like mine!

        He even got my grandma (most perceptive person I´ve ever known)convinced he was the greatest “catch” anyone could ever find. Besides all the typical assets, he has this lovely friendly honest-looking smile, but in private he is the biggest bully I´ve ever known.

        So that was extremely confusing, I doubted myself constantly when I was with him. I can strongly relate to what you describe, I had the same reaction.

        • Revolution says:

          Lilia,

          Yikes. Scary that this potzer could pass the “grandmother” test. Most of us have those discerning (most of the time, older) relatives in our lives. It’s a scary thought that the ACs can hoodwink these people. Maybe it’s because these guys are so adept at lying to *themselves* that others don’t pick up as readily on the dissonance in their personalities. Reinforces the fact that it’s OUR responsibility to pay attention to their words and actions over a period of time, and then decide if they are good characters or not.

  7. oc says:

    Nitpicking less is a good way to enjoy the relationship more as well. Unless you are a Virgo or really that anal-retentive or controlling of someone else’s behavior you have to live and let live. Some men are going to go to the bar occasionally, or not pick up a sock. Some women smoke cigarettes or dote over their annoying pets a bit much. Bad points all around but is it what defines your relationship? It shouldn’t be, IMO. Its important to be able to draw the line on some things and let some others slide. The important things: Trust, dependability, camaraderie, communication, joy. . . Are non-negotiable. Behavioral issues are either managed or they aren’t. Learn to choose your battles.

  8. courtney says:

    “There’s no point in going on about how nice and popular they are unless you experience the benefit of it.”

    That’s a wonderful point and it’s the dangerous aspect of falling for EUM’s who can be charming narcissists. They can turn the charm on when they need something from you, and because they’re always charming to their friends or posse, you believe in the illusion until the red flags emerge (and even then you may still continue to deny, minimize, rationalize and normalize their bad behavior). My recent experience with a verbally abusive EUM (who thankfully was a short-lived one, never had a full-fledged relationship with him) made me feel momentarily that there was something wrong with me because I was so convinced that the “good points” I saw in the beginning, mixed with the seemingly irresistible chemistry plus an overactive imagination meant that he was just a freedom-loving guy while I was clingy, or too insecure. But as I learned quite quickly, mistreatment is mistreatment, abuse is abuse no matter how you try to sugarcoat it. When someone’s throwing insults at you, through crumb communication (a series of derogatory texts no less) after only two weeks of getting to know you, you know there’s a problem. It means that not only is the relationship (or lack therof) unworkable, these EUM’s are not even willing to put up a front with their good points for that long before they show their true colors. A blessing in disguise, of course. The sooner, the better.

    Thanks so much Natalie for writing these blog posts – they are the safe haven I turn to every time I have an urge to break NC with EUM’s or my ex. I have been successful with NC for the most part (only one text, something that wasn’t meant to seek his attention but a logistical question, I promise! which actually provoked him to get curious and send 5 texts since I never responded–and did not respond to those either!) and am proud of the progress I’ve made with my mental health, self-esteem, etc. All the little steps I’ve taken are really paving the path to a big change. I can feel it. My outlook has become more positive and healthy. Most of all, my willingness to change is really high.

    My only question, and this is something you’ve addressed in many other posts about why we are not attracted to nice guys, is, well, is there such a thing as meeting a nice guy and actually feeling chemistry with him? Or does that mean he might be wrong for us, since what we see as “chemistry” is really just familiarity with the roller coaster ride of EUM’s? I guess despite my values of monogamy, commitment, honesty, good communication, etc, I do value physical attraction to some extent. Is that something I should exclude from my “list”? Right now I am not even thinking of dating again, I am taking some time off to get to know myself. But I feel as if I need that sexual chemistry along with a healthy relationship, and I am wondering if that’s too much to ask? In earlier posts you’ve mentioned that good, healthy partners can create that chemistry and fondness. But what about two people who are already attracted to each other and build healthy relationships? With my ex, I always felt I had to “force” attraction where there was none at the physical level and it grew to be exhausting. I feel like that attraction is a part of intimacy. That “spark” might not be so dangerous. I am hoping that as I grow healthier, I feel that spark with more healthy people.

    • Emma says:

      Dear Courtney, every single word you write seems to come directly from my experience and my heart.

      My ex boyfriend is a narcissist, a terrible, cruel man, verbally abusive (and violent in his past, too, so I guess it wouldn’t have lasted long until he’d hit me), ultimately guilty of everything you have listed in your post.

      I am in strict NC since January but still struggling. He was very much in love with me, but unfortunately I have leardned that there is no greater unluck than to be loved by people who aren’t capable of it, who despise it, who see all signs of affection and attachement as weaknesses to get rid of.

      At the beginning our “relationship” worked. He made it work, of course, with his usual charm and being sure I was madly deepply n love with him.

      I was, but luckily what he was offering me wasn’t blinding me completely: he was Future Faking, Fast Forwarding, talking about children and marriage and a dog.
      I think he really wanted children (and a dog) but he wasn’t interested in building a family. My hook was him speaking of this family future, so I didn’t pay attention to the lack of actual plans. Fortunately nor I nor my mum and dad were ever interested in “the ring” or “marriage” or “status”, only in the emotional meaning of a family. This was enough, though, to give him almost 3 years of my life.

      He almost broke me, of course. I was really convinced he was “my castle”, I found him handsome, intelligent, even soothing, sometimes, when the world was mean: which shows you how deep he had manipulated me, making me ignore all his verbal abuse. In my poor, poor soul I was sure I deserved it, of course, being such a failure, unworthy, with an awful personality, a scam, somebody who will ALWAYS fail in the end.

      Reading these posts and comments really helps me in keeping NC and avoid sadness, as much as possible, so know what you mean by “safe haven”.

      I have no suggestions for you but I’m glad you’re getting out of this all. I am, too, but it’s slow and mingled with so many other issues (low self-esteem, bad experiences in the past, solitude due to living far from my family AND abroad, this damn’ crisis that makes it so hard to earn a living without being a slave, blah blah) that sometimes it so hard I doubt I’ll ever make it.

      One step forward was my relationship with friends: I finally have good ones. I used to be SURROUNDED by manpulative assclowns, partners and BFFs, so getting rid of the “bitches” and getting friends who sincerely love and appreciate me is a huge achievement.

      I am pretty and men like me, which means assclown are attracted too. I have only met assclowns since I am single, so I must say Nicole is right, it only hurts if you are not ready, and it’s a world of sharks: better stay put for a while, take care of ourselves, resolve the pressng issues.

      If I could look for someone, though, I’ll hope to meet a happy, sensitive person. Somebody who cares, who listens, who sees life as an adventure, who doesn’t give a damns about competing for the spotlight, somebody who would care about me being happy, somebody who would always have a warm embrace for me at the end of the day.

      Not a castle, more of a woolen sweater.

      I am sure if he’s there he’ll eventually find me, but may be this is just wishful thinking, because I am so tired of aggressions and hidden knives that I just can’t go out there, not right now.

      I am sure the chance to feel the spark with someone like this are the same as the chances of being attracted to an assclown (in the first 10 secs), it’s important to KEEP being interested after we have found out he’s a good guy :)

      love to you all xxx

      • Revolution says:

        Hi Emma, sweetheart. What a lovely response you gave to Courtney. It really touched me when you talked about your family and friends, and I’m so glad you have such a healthy support system. I am firmly convinced that LOVE is the strongest thing out there, and it will ALWAYS prevail against any evil or weak thing (manipulations, hidden knives, etc.). I do think you will find the love you are looking for, if you continue to fight the bad with the good. Continue to build yourself up with that support system you have, and I wish you and your family and friends all the best. :)

    • Kathie says:

      Court. hey say u cant judge a book by its cover . I think thats true w/men we allow in our lives. I think if there is that initial irresitible chemisty & spark it really should be a large yellow blinking light telling us to proceed w/caution.
      I am still a student in Nat’s teachings but learning so much . I want to be prepared when I am really to date again . I cant stay on the merry go round I rode for so long picking all the wrong men for all the wrong reasons…

    • Gina says:

      Courtney,

      “That’s a wonderful point and it’s the dangerous aspect of falling for EUM’s who can be charming narcissists. They can turn the charm on when they need something from you, and because they’re always charming to their friends or posse, you believe in the illusion until the red flags emerge (and even then you may still continue to deny, minimize, rationalize and normalize their bad behavior).”

      This was me!!!!! What I am still kicking myself for is that it took me a little longer to get the heck outta dodge than it should have.

      Heck, hindsight reveals that I should stayed on my horse and kept riding through dodge instead of getting off and going inside the saloon in the first place! Not every cool drink is a refreshing one. Oftentimes, it only ends of leaving a bitter taste in your mouth.

      • Revolution says:

        “Not every cool drink is a refreshing one. Oftentimes, it only ends of leaving a bitter taste in your mouth.”

        LOVED this!

    • grace says:

      Courtney
      Yes you can spark with someone EU but I think you have to be EU yourself. Not looking for validation or a challenge or a trophy, charming, super handsome, mega popular boyfriend. Rather a genuine mutual relationship. Otherwise someone who shows up, is consistent and even predictable isn’t quite exciting enough, and there’s no need to fantasise and dream about someone you see frequently and who shares himself willingly. Do you want something real or are you chasing a dreAm?
      The physical attraction with the boyfriend is growing and growing. So yes it can develop over time. He is actually very attractive by the way. I’m not bragging (not much) but you should know that it’s entirely possible.

      • Lilia says:

        Courtney:
        I´ve been analyzing what the hell I found so attractive in my sleazy harem king EUM. Looking back, he seemed so masculine – at the moment I associated that with being determined, calm, talking with a slow, grave voice and being a bit… dangerous? So yeah, I think I was attracted to a familiar feeling of having to deal with a potentially hurtful situation.
        Ironically, those are the same things that completely repel me at the moment, now that I´ve actually been hurt by him. He was determined – yes, determined not to open up but to keep me as an option. I probably found this feeling of danger exciting (mind you, I wasn´t completely aware of it at the moment), now, whenever he tries to contact me, I feel real physical fear, with stomach ache and all.

        So my conclusion is that when we´re not very aware of our issues, we automatically float towards the guys that will enforce them (because it feels familiar) and then we confuse those feelings with chemistry. Once we learn to love and take care of ourselves, positive people will seem much more attractive than the hurtful ones.

        I´m not there yet with romantic relationships, but I have found in this process that I´m letting go of the friends that used to make me feel insecure. Now they just don´t seem like fun or friendly anymore. I have met some other people who are much more positive for me (people who I wouldve found boring in the past) and I´m very happy and comfortable in their company.

        • recoveredloveaddict says:

          Lilia, i think it makes sense to be fearful of someone who has hurt us in the past and would do it again if given the opportunity.

        • sofie says:

          @Lilia:

          right there with you.
          Not only have I gained the same insight you talk about here (and had similar experience with AC and bad friends) but I’m starting to see my actions didn’t match my words either and I was commitment resistant aswell. My actions didn’t match my words because although I was very good in saying what I did or did not like or want, I just wouldn’t bl**dy leave when I said I would! (or stay away) And I was commitment fobic with him after two weeks in our honeymoon phase when I noticed his véry recent (2 weeks, djeez…) ‘whatever’ ex (his words) was stalking him and he let it go on and on and got mad at me for being irritated. Not only that, he said he felt more love from her than he felt from me (because I got irritated and critisized him, after a honeymoonperiod of 18 days! Come. On!) It wasn’t in my conscious mind that I took my distance there, but I did, and I never grew the intimacy needed with him. (there are off course many oh so màny more reasons after that first one)
          I wasn’t however acting like the asshole he was acting, didn’t use his vulnerabilities against him, didn’t have or searched or képt multiple options walking around and definitely didn’t and don’t need any ego stroking by jumping into new relationships like it’s a frekkin hobby. I know I still have work to do but indeed flushing everything and everyone who wants me to live in shadows has helped me to light up my mind and my heart and I’m slowly opening up, step by step. Slowly and calmly. Feels good. Feels *consistantly* good.

          • sofie says:

            @Lilia:
            what I meant to emphasize when I said ‘right there with you’ was about the ‘chemistry with assholery’ part, that it lost it’s dynamic somewhat for me, well a great great deal, and I don’t put them on pedestals no more, I used to like craving and ‘working’ for their love. And also now positive people don’t seem ‘boring’ no more either.

            I got a bit lost there in my memories and I still get mad. But in a good and constructive way. In a *working* way.

      • Revolution says:

        Grace,you are so right about this: “Otherwise someone who shows up, is consistent and even predictable isn’t quite exciting enough, and there’s no need to fantasise and dream about someone you see frequently and who shares himself willingly.”

        Sometimes I think that if my EUs in the past would’ve actually been available and consistent, I would’ve been like, “Shhh….pipe down. Can’t you see that I’m trying to fantasize about you?!” *shuts eyes tightly*

        But I have been healed from this affliction (can I GET an “Amen!”) :) No more EUs or ACs. Now I can’t WAIT to be “bored” by consistency! PEACE OUT EUs!

        Go on and brag, girl. Own it.

        • recoveredloveaddict says:

          Revolution, I remember not wanting to hear him talk about himself and his problems because I didn’t want the illusion and the sexual tension to be affected by it. I didn’t want to see the “real” him. Honestly, all I wanted was to feel the “rush” from the attention and the sexual tension that went along with it. In my mind, I miss the intensity and the drama. It’s like a drug. Mine was an emotional affair with an AC at work that I let myself get caught up in. I’ve been married to my husband for 21 years. Ours is a “stirring the oatmeal” kind of love that grew out of a friendship. He’s my best friend, no games were played, loves me, stable, reliable, simply wonderful. But I have struggled for years with allowing myself to get close to him. I don’t believe that sparks and chemistry and fireworks is real love, but i still struggle with “euphoric recall”. In my past obsessive relationships, the “spark” would disappear whenever the EUM and I would try to have a relationship. I was always wondering “what happened to the fireworks?”

    • cc says:

      courtney-
      i think you’re onto something. and yes, you can absolutely feel the spark with someone wonderful. yes, physical attraction is important, and should stay on the list, but as kathie says, don’t judge books by their covers and give attraction a little time to develop.

      i agree the key is healing yourself. when we feel a spark, we should absolutely pay attention to see if the other person is calling upon healthy or unhealthy stuff in us. it can go either way, and the biggest sparks i’ve had in my life were the most unhealthy situations. i think it depends on the kind of past you have had, if you still have big holes of pain to heal and fill. the biggest attractions i have felt were to people who quickly proved to be bad for me and with whom i was forming obsessive attractions, not necessarily real love…then again, i wasn’t the me i am today.

      i too am hoping that, as i get more and more solid in myself, i’ll spark with a healthy someone for all the right reasons.

      and to your point about not feeling attraction to your EUM – don’t ever force attraction. you should just feel it, and if you don’t, and don’t feel it can develop, its a flag to opt out.

  9. Sad Buckeye says:

    Wow what a good article. If only I had the courage to do this and let my head make the decision over my heart. Been lookin at the bad points for over 8 yrs now, think I could learn.

  10. cc says:

    holy crap!!! this is me the he can do ABC = he MUST be able to do XYZ girl. and: look over here (frantically! waving! hand!) at the opera he wrote (so he must be expressive), not over here at his utter stoniness with me and that he’s actuallykindahurtfulanddisrespectfultomemumblemumble. gaaawwwd! doofus!

    • Revolution says:

      Ha! I hear ya, cc. Please don’t beat yourself up, we’ve all done it. But we’re learning, and “forewarned is forearmed.”

      It’s funny how, when you finally put an end to the relationship with NC, AAALLLL of those amber/red flags come flooding up from the depths. It’s like they can’t help but surface after we’ve violently stuffed them down for so long.

      • G-Money says:

        Hey Revolution – I love that “forewarned is forearmed” I’m going to remember that one :)

        Well said about the amber/red flags coming flooding back, it’s one after the other, wave after wave. My brain is on overload with the floods at the moment “oh wait you missed one – remember when that happened”

      • cc says:

        revolution-
        thanks, baby.

        yeah, its as if i’m still barfing up yellow and red flags from the ex-EUM (why do i always use a regurgitation metaphor…odd…). almost even more so now that all these MONTHS have passed as i’ve invested in my self-esteem and confidence. its as if i have to undo that relationship, get the poison out. like i’m still squeezing a huge relationzit (ew!).

        natalie talks about topline data – like this post sort of implies, i think figuring out the topline data is difficult when we have all the good and the bad mixed together, which it usually is, PARTICULARLY when you’re coming at it with already-compromised esteem and confidence. even more so when the guy hits your particular achilles heel (brilliant + verbal + musical = cc loses all surface tension and melts into a puddle).

        i had a TERRIBLE time with this – i now see even more clearly how this contributed to my chasing my tail like a frantic lil dog when i was with him – i couldn’t figure out the topline data! the fact that the ex-EUM was seemingly trying so hard (but was he really? or was he just really good at making it look as if he wasn’t totally compromising me down to limited relationship?) confused me about the fact that, whether he meant to or not, he was actually treating me a few levels above crap. his actions, which he ironically kept telling me to pay attention to, frequently screamed “i don’t/am incapable of care(ing) about you in any real, deep way”.

        and i can see it now – that switch that gets flipped when a guy trips a boundary wire. i caught it the other day, that reflex i have that goes “he’s not giving me what i want, he’s not behaving with l/c/t/r, therefore there must be something wrong with ME and i must immediately change myself to get him to do so or at least make it look like he is” – WTF??? NO!!!!

        and i stopped myself and the proceedings until i was clear enough that:

        1- my assessment that the guy was NOT behaving properly was correct (being able to be honest and accurate about this is key, and very hard to learn when you grow up in a crazy house)
        2- i must not go into denial about it
        3- i do not need to change me, i have every right to expect and i deserve to be treated with l/c/t/r
        4- i have a CHOICE
        5- noone should have to change, we all should just show up capable of l/c/t/r. changing someone is disrespectful.
        5- if i opt out, i will be ok

        and i opted out politely. with humor, even. i was so IN CONTROL!!! it was so weird to actually catch the switch in mid-flip, to stop the process mid-proceeding.

        YES! AWARENESS! FINALLY!

        • cc says:

          aaaargh….

          …..ok, here’s what really PISSES me off.

          that, when i first met him, the ex-EUM, my therapist pointed out red flags to me. flags that she would have dumped him for. flags i should have dumped him for. that i instead chose to compromise with. thereby compromising myself.

          and if i had had BR then, at the beginning, i would have been able to take her advice. all the posts i’ve read since we broke up (yes, january, i know) point him out for eXACtly the red-flag-festooned EUM he was – he was an immediate EJECT – and the florence i was. i read him and myself in nat’s writing, and he was frigging BR textbook, not an AC, but every inch spectacularly EU with pretty bad narcissistic tendencies (i probably have FBG tendencies). yet he offered me, and actually gave me, faithful relationship, at which he actually tried – and i engaged with him because because i wanted it SO badly and because i didn’t know how to be, and constructively require, enough for myself. and because he was so EU and inept and incapable, being with him was akin to the native americans accepting the pox-infested blankets. and this was pointed out to me – from the beginning! yet i did it anyway!

          and what i’m still squeezing out of me is how i feel when i think of this – i just want to be sick (yes, more regurge) and peel my own skin off and throw myself into a cauldron of liquid hot magma. ….ok, not really, but still. that i let myself care for someone, love someone, and now miss someone (the good stuff) who showed me from the VERY BEGINNING that he was incapable and that he would hang me on the vine and then let me die on it. oh, and critize me and then fail me.

          i think i’m ashamed of myself that i kept opting in, that i cared for and respected myself so little, that i was willing to compromise so much of my precious girly self for such insufficient at best and completely destructive at worst, shit. so ashamed it makes me sick.

          i need to get over it.

          yeah….i need to take my own advice that i give everyone else all the friggin’ time – i didn’t know then. i KNOW now (oh, how i know). i’m human. its ok.

          sorry, BR. i know i keep going on about it. on and on and on. for all these months. natalie, thank you for not banning me. thanks for listening. i promise i’m actually working it through and actually getting over it.

          • Revolution says:

            Hey cc,

            Let it all out, hon. In fact, sometimes it’s helpful to the rest of us because you never know when someone here is feeling the EXACT same way you are, and you’re giving voice to that.

            I have actually been feeling the same way these days (ashamed that I let myself be “played” in a sense). When I met the EU, I was (ironically) in one of the best phases of my life. I had just cut ties with certain “chopper” friends,was dealing with my issues…..and then the EU came along and I felt like I was stripped of my wings. Couldn’t pilot my life for anything. And that was crushing. So yeah, I hear ya.

            I’m still dealing with the fallout from the EU/AC smackdown. And the thing that PISSES ME OFF (because, as a tough girl who’s really a softy inside, that’s how I process my hurt) is that I worry that he looks back at his time with me, and sees me as some kind of chump. Should it matter to me WHAT he thinks? No. DOES it matter to me? Yes.

            Anyway, it sounds to me like you’re using these metaphors (regurgitating, zit-popping) for a reason: you are still processing. And that’s fine. Take the time. Let these things come up and out. Otherwise you’re gonna find yourself snipering people from department store roofs. And we can’t have that (unless you can find an AC in your crosshairs….juuuuust kidding). :)

          • dancingqueen says:

            CC take ipecac lol

            No serously okay firstly treadmill running really helped me; I would just crank that sucker up, put on some good music and try to ourlast someone at the gym who looked much fitter. My healing came from literally running off my anger; I trained for a marathon after the bad relationship that brought me here.

            The more you censor yourself, the more you stifle it and keep it in. Rant away and we are find with hearing it:)

            Hugs!

            • Revolution says:

              I second that, dancingqueen!! Running off your anger–brilliant!! I think I “zumba”-ed off my anger, lol. LOTS of hip and booty-shaking to get that AC out of my system. Still doing it too, and it helps LOADS. Congrats on the marathon! You GO!!! :)

              • dancingqueen says:

                aww thanks revolution; yes working your bum off to lose a bad mood does work wonders…and leaves you feeling so relaxed:)

          • runnergirl says:

            Hey cc, you are human and it is going to be okay. We got blinded by the good points even though there were irreconcilable differences between what we thought and what we were experiencing. It sucks when the the package deal is a dud. My metaphor for the “bad points” (he was married) was that it was similar to trying to keep a beach ball under water. The frigging beach ball kept popping up. It pissed me off royally too. I couldn’t stuff that beach ball far enough under water and one day it popped up in sparkly colors never to be stuffed again. Thank you Nat for not banning me or cc as we work through our anger, shame, and blame and move toward authenticity, responsibility, and self-love-trust. You can do it cc. You always have a CHOICE…BTW, I seem to have a similar switch. I recently stopped the proceedings (nice phrase) when I quickly realized my switch had been flipped. See that is progress! Hugs.

            • cc says:

              revs, dancing, runner-
              thanks for your help and patience.

              revs, it recently occurred to me that maybe he flogs and guilts himself for his mistakes with me like i flog and guilt myself for my mistakes with him (a long shot, but still). should i be thinking that? no. but does it make me feel better? yes. so allow yourself another role in his mind besides “chump”, because you were not a chump. then you and i should make a pact to stop giving a crap what they think. (spits in her hand and extends it…heeee…spit! get it?)

              dancing – yes, exercise is an anodyne and gets the rage out. eeerrrmmm…i’ve been recovering from surgery for the past month, so i’ve been forced to sit around and think too much (which helps with the processing, but has a dwelling and self-recrimination side effects), despite my efforts to distract myself. and then my best friend got married. i’m moving more now, still not full energy, but, yes, i’m going to build up to exercising as much as possible to work it out.

              runner- yeah, my final beach ball popup wasn’t even the worst thing he ever did, it was more like a “what? no! you can’t treat me like that! now i’m mad as hell and i’m not gonna take it anymore!” moment. and you know what? thank god for the beach ball – its tenacity is our TRUTH and we should be grateful that it never abandons us, pain in the ass though it is.

              massive hugs, you guys.

              • Revolution says:

                CC, baby.

                *spits on hand* It’s a deal! Ha!

                Thanks for your lovely words. Yes, you’re right: I do need to allow another “role” in his mind other than “chump.” Whenever I worry about that, my mom tells me, “Why do you always assume the negative? He probably DID care about you and love you.” I guess I’m just scared to think that way because I feel like if it isn’t true, then I’m a *double-chump* for thinking that! Ugh. And the funny thing is……wait for it……IT DOESN’T CHANGE THE FACT THAT HE’S AN EU AC OR THAT OUR RELATIONSHIP IS OVER! Madness.

                I’ve crossed over from wanting him to love/miss me to just NOT wanting him to look back on me and think, “Yep, what a ruse. She totally fell for it too. and she thought she was soooo smart and sooo tough.” *evil laughter, mustache twirling* Okay, so my imagination is overactive. So sue me. :)

                • cc says:

                  revs-
                  (shakes firmly)

                  we do have amazing imaginations. they are both our scintillating talent and the constrictive underwear in which we get ourselves caught up.

                  …i know that my imagination finds ways to keep me tied to him. when what i really need to do is let go…stop caring and let go….

                  things to do with our imaginations other than muse on our exes:
                  1- write fiction
                  2- write non-fiction
                  3- take a class (i’m doing scene study on monday nights)
                  4- take up a new craft (pottery? glass blowing? mural painting? counted cross-stitch?)
                  5- redecorate the i dream of jeannie bottle
                  6- paint your toenails some intricate neon design
                  7- anyfuckingthing but think of him

                  • Revolution says:

                    I LOVE YOUR LISTS, CC!! HA!

                    Numbers 1 and 2 are a given for me as an employed writer (a contradiction in terms, yes I know). But #7 was the most apropros…. We could even break it down further:

                    7a) cleaning lint from the dryer
                    7b) reading about photosynthesis on the internet
                    7c) striking up a conversation with the homeless dude on the freeway offramp
                    7d) planning our totalitarian regime

                    Yep. All of these are more constructive, and entertaining, then thinking about the AC. Thanks for the reminder and the laughs. Now what did I do with that constrictive underwear….? *looks around room*

                    • Revolution says:

                      should have been “than” in last para. *Sigh* Now that I’ve outed myself as a writer, I gotta walk the walk on here.

                    • dancingqueen says:

                      I will add more “better” things to do

                      obsess about my cats’ mental health and whether they love me for me or as a food source

                      scrub the inside of my sink drain with a toothbrush ( okay I admit it, it sometimes soothes me to clean like that)

                      think about bad Starbucks date with internet man and laugh because it seriously went down in history as the Most Awkward Starbucks Blind Date Ever ( people literally raised their eyebrows in pity at me, over my low fat mocha frapp, as they eavesdropped) Man stated “Women often use abortion as a form of birth control” within a half hour of meeting me ( no I did not bring up abortion as a first date topic just so you know…just made the mistake of mentioning that I volunteer at Planned Parenthood) I almost laughted seriously; where do you meet a man who says that on the first date? Is that in ANY rule book for first date chatting?

                      sew random buttons, surf internet for illnesses that I perhaps could have and create new kale chip recipes.

                    • cc says:

                      oo! photosynthesis! totalitarian regime!

                      and dancingqueen- when we have our totalitarian regime, all cats will love us for us AND as a food source.

                      …now, where’d i put that drain toothbrush…

        • cc says:

          oh, that list was 6, not two 5s.

        • Laurie says:

          Cc, this is brilliant. I absolutely love it. I’m stealing your six points and putting it on the dash of my car : )

          Thank you!

    • selkie says:

      CC, I hear you. I go through the same thoughts about my ex. The good points were like ‘beer goggles’. When I wore them, the bad points were out of focus enough for me to confuse the ‘topline data’. It’s half my fault for not trusting my own judgment, because I did have doubts and concerns. The red and yellow flags I see in hindsight are blaring obvious to me now.

      • cc says:

        selkie-
        thanks for this. yeah, beer goggles are like a hall of mirrors you wear on your face – then reality hits and its always 20/20. ouch.

        i guess that’s what experience is for – to teach us to not take a chance on certain things again. we just have to be really discerning about which things. i guess that’s why god made natalie.

        and see? when i detect your note of self-recrimination, i want to rush in and smooch it out of you. why do we berate ourselves mercilessly yet have endless compassion for each other?

        thanks, honey.

  11. Jaz says:

    Agreed.

    I dont really have this problem but I remember when I used to date a guy that essentially was a verbally abusive relationship. When I was ready to walk away because I knew I wasn’t happy he would continuously say to me “you have to look at the good parts, you can’t just take the bad”. As if I was giving up because he did something to irritate me a couple times. No, he would tell me my feelings doesn’t matter, I’m not a good person/selfish, etc. even though I know for fact my problem is I care too much – I’m a BIG empathizer. He would try to guilt me to feel I was in the wrong when I tried to do good for myself even though he did what made him feel better to me all day EVERY DAY.

    This just made me realize sometimes the issues I have with people & boundaries aren’t some thoughts and perceptions that I concocted out of thin air it’s underlying manipulation tactics that was used on me but I didn’t catch on to that I internalized as “normal” and I carried into other relationships.

    • Learner says:

      Jaz,
      I know what you mean about a guy trying to force you to look at his good points instead of the bad. The exMM complained that his wife constantly pointed out his flaws. If I tried to call him on poor behaviour, he would ask – “why are you focusing on my flaws? You should be working with my strengths”. Once I asked him what his strengths were, and his answer was this “I may not be a good communicator but I am improving, arent I? I am good at fixing things, and sex is a strength for me, and I have been friends with many women over the years who tell my they feel comfortable with me and have revealed personal problems with me, so I must be a good listener, too”. Pah! where are the strong character traits and honourable values in *that* list? Like the man you describe, he would also try to discredit my concerns by telling me I was “too sensitive”.Manipulation tactics for sure, Jaz, thank goodness we didn’t stick around for more!

  12. dancingqueen says:

    oh boy; the “parts” that I likes with the last ex who I always call ” a pretty nice guy”…super smart, cultured, great cook, financially very stable,the right age, great family, well educated.

    I seem like I have a list that looks good on paper.

    The not-good parts that made us break up: expected me to cater to his absurd travelling schedule, never wanted to talk about feelings unless he initiated the conversation, only talked about politics, art, food, and intellectual pursuits ( was phobic/ not interested in talking about intimate discussions), I was not sexually interested anymore ( probably because of what I just wrote), unless I was drinking I felt often slightly bored and disconnected and sad towards the end, like I was unable to care about someone and it was my fault.

    Those are all pretty big problems, huh?

  13. Teddie says:

    “What really throws people about ‘good points’ is the beliefs held around these ‘good points’ – it’s this idea that having these good points means that they must be a better person than we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing (so we believe that there’s more to them and bet on potential) and/or it’s being convinced that if someone is able to be and do A,B,C then they must or in fact should be able to be and do X,Y,Z even if they repeatedly demonstrate that this is not the case.”

    Yeah, this is one of the most basic thinking fallacies we are prone to: homunculus thinking, or the idea that somehow the whole is represented in a smaller part (example: that all conditions show in the iris). You nailed it, Nat: our projection of whole wonderful being around some mundane fact totally exemplifies homunculus argumentation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homunculus

  14. Lotus says:

    Natalie – thank you so much for your insights and the way you present them. It really helps to relate this to my own experiences. I can only say that in a world where I am bombarded with images and sensations of sexuality, it is hard not to respond to our very human instincts – and more importantly, our female instincts. I have met many of these men over the years and some of them are very skillful and. charming, able to “override” a woman’s good sense. I’m here to say, it may feel good temporarily, but hold on to your good sense – you’ll realize later it was all just a projected fantasy, a desperate fantasy, but it’s possible to stop yourself before proceeding with a relationship that is going to harm you. And if you get pregnant, sick, hurt, you could be alone. Walk away. Think of Natalie and a whole group of proud women just moving together and walking away. Thanks for the strength.

    • grace says:

      Lotus
      Yep, this is where I take issue with some religious viewpoints that treat women as leading men astray. I don’t negate our responsibility but it’s a stretch to see women as the sexual aggressor. Most women aren’t looking to “get laid”.
      “I have met many of these men over the years and some of them are very skillful and. charming, able to “override” a woman’s good sense”. I no longer give these men the time of day. I don’t admire them. I think they’re kinda pathetic. I’d feel sorry for them but for the trail of broken hearts. Don’t let them override you.
      I value different things now – self-control, kindness, compassion, respect, trustworthiness. Aren’t those things more manly (or womanly!) than mere charm and seduction? And, no, the boyfriend is not some kind of wimp, far from it. I’ve not met anyone who can so eloquently, calmly and graciouly stand his ground. Men twice his age respect him.

      • Revolution says:

        Grace,

        I often issue little grunts of total agreement (lol) when reading your comments, but just wanted to say, “A to the MEN!” on this one especially.

        I’m here too: “I no longer give these men the time of day. I don’t admire them. I think they’re kinda pathetic. I’d feel sorry for them but for the trail of broken hearts. Don’t let them override you.
        I value different things now – self-control, kindness, compassion, respect, trustworthiness.”

        And ain’t it a sweet place to be? :) Congrats on your healthy relationship with a real man. Makes me hopeful that, being on the same path as you, that might be my outcome as well.

  15. Sophia says:

    IbHaving and mantaining values and boundaries has allowed me to see the traps and then walk around them. Had a crush for a long time. The bad was obvious from the start. I choose to focus in the perceived good even in the face of the obvious bad. The bad including been mean rude about others, lazy, a suck up, telling silly little lies, being ill to get ego strokes. He worked in a team full of women so was used to being stroked at regular intervals.
    The penny finally dropped I was initally made at myself, then grateful for the wake up call. My
    own standards had stopped the relationship progressing. He is now coupled up but needs to tell me how happy they are whilst attempting to get close to me.
    When people show you who they are believe them. That is the good and bad.

  16. Victorious says:

    Thanks so much for this Natalie. I am NC for just a week and finding it very hard. I keep thinking “he wasn’t that bad…” He was good looking, sexy, had a worthy job, plenty of money, his own home, millions of adoring friends he saw regularly, was funny, educated and intelligent. He called me every day and was affectionate. However, I have to remember how he made me feel…………….He did a huge future fake on me for first three months. We too planned our house, pets, lifestyle. He told me he would be “anything and everything for me.” I bought it all lock stock and barrel. I was so sexy, gorgeous, funny and lovely he couldn’t believe he had me. Until he knew he had me….Then he withdrew sex (could never explain why) the sexy texts stopped, I dropped way down his list of priorities, but whenever I tried to end it he pleaded with me to stay with him as he still really wanted “a relationship” with me. I have to see that the bad points were that he made me feel rejected, insecure and anxious and all of this outweighs the “paper” good points he had. This site is a real lifeline for me.

  17. Gina says:

    This is SO me!! I will see red flags, but will overlook them because they are behaving so beautifully during the hot phase. I am a sucker for being treated well (initially). That is why I keep getting hurt by EU men. The other thing that I realized is that I keep meeting these types of men online. That’s not to say that there aren’t any emotionally available men online; it’s like trying to find a needle on a haystack though. I decided to remove my online profile and work on my issues. I am also going back to the old fashioned way of meeting men: going to wine tasting events, comedy venues, jazz and blues concerts, and participating in a variety of social activities and events. I am finding that there are more women than men who participate in these activities, but at least I can say that I am putting myself out there and having fun in the process :-)

  18. Laurie says:

    Thank you SO much for this one, Natalie! I think many of us struggle with the fact that someone DID posses wonderful qualities in the beginning, but then something *happened* and they switched it off and turned on assclown mode.

    I sometimes struggle with thinking that I did something to cause the quality shift. What can *I* do to get them to behave like they did for the first year of the relationship? My ex even said, “you need to give me a reason to be affectionate towards you.” But then I think, how valuable can a quality be if it is contingent on someone or somebody else? Besides, I think it’s a bit narcissistic to believe that somehow I can control someone’s character and behavior.

    Besides, how authentic is a perceived quality if it is inconsistent? Is someone an honest and trustworthy person if they only tell the truth 70% of the time? Is someone a thoughtful person just because they bring you flowers and write you poetry? If they are lying to you at the same time, how thoughtful does really that make them?

    He was thoughtful, generous, attentive, and sweet for a time. He was also shady, untruthful, angry, irresponsible, and selfish. The good qualities that he actually DID posses were inconsistent. This is the full picture. And it’s not pretty. There are no perfect people. I’m not perfect and I’ll never find someone without flaws. I think the important thing is for me to be able to identify red flags and realize them as a clear and non-negotiable OPT OUT despite whatever good qualities that person may possess.

    “Believing that the good points mean that you should be together is like believing that you’re only ever going to decide you’re not interested in someone who has 100% bad points. Sure, who are you thinking that you’d be turning down then? A serial killer?” Absolutely brilliant.

    • Revolution says:

      Laurie,

      “My ex even said, “you need to give me a reason to be affectionate towards you.”

      Like Nat says, “What is this, the ‘X Factor’?!” Sheesh. There’s the door, dude.

    • That Girl says:

      “Besides, how authentic is a perceived quality if it is inconsistent?”

      Yup, that rang a bell. I realised at some point that if this so-called generosity (mainly shown to other people, of course), interest in my work and ideas, affection, and whatever the other ‘good points’ I spent many years focusing on, could be switched don and off like a tap then *were* they really ‘good qualities’?

      Not just that but especially narc types know (consciously or not, it amounts to the same thing)that the ‘good’ stuff is really important as it keeps us hooked right in there- after all, if he was ‘all bad’ we woudl have legged it a while back. A few affectionate cuddles, kind words, a show of generosity was often just enough to get me back into wishing, hoping and dreaming mode that THIS time, the man I remembered would return… needless to say, he did not.

      At some point, the bigger picture comes into view and then you can see how you’ve been sold short. Though it did take me a very, very long time- the illusion is hard to budge once its taken up residence in your mind.

      And I agree with the other ladies- what I am looking for now is gentleness, a sense of being humble and OK themselves, and affection- not charm, swagger, being seen as ‘someone’ and all that nonsense!

    • Learner says:

      Laurie,
      “Is someone an honest and trustworthy person if they only tell the truth 70% of the time?”

      Great question! The exMM listened attentively while I told him I valued honesty (altho, how could I at the time? I was with a *MM*). Anyway, he agreed to be honest with me while looking sincerely into my eyes. I later went on to catch him in HUGE lies.

      “He was also shady, untruthful, angry, irresponsible, and selfish.” Yup! What did we ever see in these guys?

  19. Awakened says:

    @Emma you are not alone. Press on.

    @Sophia he’s coupled up with someone else that he could dump the same load of horse maneur on. Doesn’t mean a thing. Don’t you know they shit all over the place? Carrying it from one female to the next and just when you think you are actually missing something. Just remember how bad shit really stinks and say to yourself “I Don’t Want That smell….

  20. Kerry says:

    This post rang so true for me. When a friend asked what I liked about the ex AC, all I could come up with was, “good looking, intelligent, nice apartment, good dresser, can be charming…” If that’s all someone could come up with on me, I’d be crushed.
    It’s like we all thought we were holding a diamond in our hands. And NL is helping us see, no matter what angle we turn it over and look at it, we were really holding a turd.

    • Kitty says:

      For some reason the comments are turned off and we can only reply to other people’s comments?

      Thank you for this article…exactly what I needed to hear, I am guilty of always counterpointing the bad with ‘his good points’. I am going to re-read this any time I am tempted to do it again.

    • dancingqueen says:

      Kerry,

      What is worse is that I think that as least 2-3 men in my life, all eu, all pretty shallow would say: cute, funny, naive, idealistic and thus, impressed by my bullshit-talking to me. Honestly, that is what I think several of them liked about me; how naive and idealistic I was. Ahh that has changed….

      On a side note ladies…wow this site has really toughened me up!I have this new nightmare woman that I work with and she is causing all kinds of drama due to being one of those controlling types that is high maintanence. Today she tried to create an argument because she is mad because my stats are better than hers and I saw it, did not even get the beating heart and panic that I used to feel with people like that, dealt with her really unprofessional paranoid email with a calm one and went out for a treat after work.It is so nice to finally be able to feel calm when dealing with people like this; prior, she would have reminded me of one of my crazy stepmothers and I would have been falling all over her trying to get her to like me and respect me. Now I know that it is her issue, her problem, and it just feels like I am a duck and she is water. So weird but pleasant!

      • dancingqueen says:

        “impressed by my bullshit” is what I meant to say

        • Lucy says:

          I agree. This blog has helped me in all of my relationships in life. I am less able to take any crap from people. Go us!

          • sofie says:

            @dancing queen,

            I experience this same kind of calm. I’ve had anger issues through out all my life, and ever since I made the decision that everyone’s free to pull some bs on somebody, that somebody doesn’t hàve to be me. Ever since I realised it’s a choice if I take it to heart or not: I feel this calm. It’s like you say: they are the water and you are the duck. Great! :-)

      • Revolution says:

        Congrats on dealing with the drama queen at work, dancingqueen!! You handled it brilliantly!

        I used to react the same way as you used to react to people like this….trying to win them over, etc. You know what I do now? I picture myself as a wall, and I drop my energy from high-def color to monochromatic. And you know what? They get bored with me and/or don’t notice me, and just walk right past me! Yep, I purposely *bore* them into submission, lol. There’s no water in this well for you, babe.

        It’s not the same as being a doormat and taking their guff; it’s more like a “I can’t be bothered” type of non-reaction. Picture a mother in her sewing room, patiently feeding material through the machine while her three-year old has a meltdown on the floor.

        • dancingqueen says:

          Thanks Sophie and Rev and Lucy; yes we are impervious.

          “Yep, I purposely *bore* them into submission, lol. There’s no water in this well for you, babe.”

          I love that. I am all about only providing drama for my students to enjoy their lessons more, my freinds and colleagues to be amused by my fun stories…no one else gets anything but boring. So don’t f**k with me because I WILL be a dullard.

  21. Lilmiss8 says:

    Hi Nat, this post is great! The bloke I was seeing for 3 months (who was having a 5 yr relationship with someone), and when she found out broke up with him, he cut contact with me, and has been desperately trying to get her back. While we were seeing eachother, we told eachother how much we loved one another and he would say he would break up with her not go through with it and I’d withdraw and then it would start up again. Vicious cycle. I was always seeing his good points, believing everything he said, and sort of sweeping the bad points under the rug! I so wished he’d live up to my expectations. With no contact in about a month, he finally had got back to me via text and wants to meet up this Sunday for a coffee and chat about everything but now my mind and body only want closure, and I think he does too although he mentioned he would like to stay friends.. But I don’t want anything from him. I think my self-esteem needs to hear him tell me “it’s not you, it’s me.” hmm..

    • Lucy says:

      It doesn’t sound like a guy like that would have the self-awareness and humility to be able to say “It’s not you; it’s me”. But you have shot of him. Let’s hope the other woman is strong too and doesn’t take him back. This man sounds like a weak character.

    • Little Star says:

      LilMiss8, are you going to meet him or not, I just wonder?

  22. Grizelda says:

    Something I hadn’t really realised before. All my exEU narcissist’s good points were merely for my observation and admiration. They weren’t for my personal benefit in any way; least of all for me to touch or hold or keep for myself or hold clutched to my heart. Oh no no no. They were things for the world to behold, or for the world and me to behold — his greatness, his intellect, his power, his generosity, his boldness, his achievements, oh do stop I could go on and on and on all day… Yes these things were meant for a global audience you see. These were all important and unique reputation-building exercises. None of it was ever for me.

    • Lucy says:

      Oh I cannot begin to describe how much that accounts for men I’ve had in my life. One of my ex-boyfriends would tell other people he was doing all these great things for me, whilst I was unhappy with him and wanting affection. It was awful. I had this same kind of behaviour with my next boyfriend and I wondered what it was that attracted me to narcissists. It didn’t help that I put them on a pedestal (something I’ll be careful not to do again).

      Personally, I don’t think a good deed is a good deed at all if done with an agenda.

      • Grizelda says:

        It’s true that being with someone who has a great reputation is a fine thing. You want other people to admire him because it underlines what a great choice you made. BUT. When he’s an EU MM/narc type, it’s different. Because he already ‘has’ you, you need to bathe in the light of his glory rather than expect anything yourself.

  23. Learner says:

    Natalie, I was sooo guilty of this even after the truth came to light about the exMM’s harem. He was one of these people who seemed to “do anything for anyone”. It took me a long time to realize he did these good deeds in order to be rewarded later himself – with ego strokes, getting his “needs” met, and the ability to collect returned favours.

    The relationshit had a wrecking ball coming at it from the get-go due to the fact he was *taken*. By more than one woman. Puke!

    He drip-fed and future faked, even telling me he would attend a counselling session with me to get some clarity on our “relationship”. Meanwhile refusing to try marital counselling with his wife. What a crock!

    I am sooo glad I see him for what he is now, with the bad greatly outweighing the good, as I know he is (in Fearless’ words) a “ghastly, manipulative, hypocritical, sleazebag, creepy a-hole”. No more MM’s for me. No more ignoring bright red flags. I am no longer blinded by the (dim) light. I am free. Thank you!

    • Fearless says:

      Learner
      ‘even telling me he would attend a counselling session with me to get some clarity on our “relationship”.’

      That would have been an interesting counseling session! Lol! (he would never have gone – it would have been too ridiculously stupid!)

  24. gigi says:

    Hello there,
    I’ve been NC with my ex for about 6 months now. We were on and off for five years full of future faking and pain. He has made attemps to contact me via text messages asking about my dog (telling me that he misses the dog) and asking me how I’m doing. Of course I have not responded to any of those messages until last night after he sent me an offensive question “By any chance are you using my icloud password or information”…..grrr…the nerve, that made me feel very upset and I ended up replying “ABSOLUTELY NOT”… what the heck was he thinking when he sent that text???…..uffff….any input will be appreciated.

    • Lucy says:

      Don’t rise to the bait! You can do it. Oh and definitely block his number if his contacting you is upsetting. Take action for yourself. You deserve it.

    • Grizelda says:

      I second Lucy. He is baiting you. It’s a childish way of seeking your attention and drawing your mind back to him (and, sadly, his a**holery). He’s being manipulative in a very ham-fisted way. Don’t reply to anything.

      And remember. If he misses you, and I mean truly honestly misses you, he can start flippin well acting like it. Actions speak louder than words. Telling you he misses you (or your DOG?!), is just insulting.

    • cavewoman says:

      Oh, the nerve! >> text messages asking about my dog (telling me that he misses the dog)

      The dog?! He misses the dog, and by the way how are you doing?! These guys are like parodies of themselves! Speaking of dogs, I had one guy I was dating tell me he was thinking of getting a dog again. That, a couple of days before he told me we should ‘just be friends’. In hindsight it’s really hilarious that while he was contemplating dumping me, he decided he’d be better off with a dog than dating, and he even proceeded to tell me about the dog part! LOL!!

      • Revolution says:

        Oh my goodness, cavewoman. You made me laugh and laugh! What a piece of work your AC is, but at least the dude was honest.

        Don’t feel bad, because it gets worse: an ex-AC of MINE told me he wanted a DUCK instead of dating me. So, on the whole, I’d take the dog over the duck any day. HA!

        Let’s save these stories for our memoirs, eh? Too funny not to share with the rest of the world! Then we can laugh and laugh, laying in bed with our husbands, while the ACs of the world are alone in their rented basements.

        • sofie says:

          @Revolution:

          a duck?
          hahahhahahahhaa

          oh my, some of these guys really think they have a sense of humor, but I swear, we could fill the stage and keep our audience happy just by portraying them.
          A duck. hahahahhaha.

          • Revolution says:

            Yep, Sofie. A duck. I swear, you can’t make this stuff up.

            I like the idea of playing them on stage!!! Now where are we gonna find that many pairs of fake donkey ears? Lol!

        • dancingqueen says:

          OMG I agree; I see a book in the making “The Best of Baggage Reclaim: dating for dummies” It could be peopled with stories of our AC’s and maybe little collages with bits of text messages that are pathetic, pics of lame gifts that we got, even sound cards where you could hear the inane mind-boggling arguments that go around and around like a drain in Oz that you expect should go in the other direction.

          Ahh…well at least the chaps all gave us latent senses of humour:)

        • cavewoman says:

          Aah those animal loving tender souls, they warm my heart so! I bet these guys ARE kinder to their pets and are capable of deeper feelings for them than for women. Let’em have their critters.

    • recoveredloveaddict says:

      God forbid, gigi, he would say he misses “YOU”! Why, that might cause you to have expectations of him! We wouldn’t want THAT to happen, now would we???!!!

    • Little Star says:

      Gosh Gigi, I am in the same board:-( Stupidly replied to AC text and now wish I did not, even it gave me some kind of closure. I think your AC wanted to have your response even negative one, he was probably very angry that you were ignoring his first “dog text”! These AC cant trick us into communication, which we do not really need it, ahhhh…

  25. Magnolia says:

    Yesterday morning the guy came to my new place to install the wifi internet. (Yes, I now can get BR in any room!) He opened the jack in my living room, couldn’t find the right wire, had to check a panel in the bedroom, a panel in the closet, went outside to check the cabinet for the building, went to the main cabinet for the building, came back in and had to abandon the jack in the front room and try it all again with the jack in the bedroom. He was very apologetic.

    Wow, I said. Complicated.

    No, it’s easy, he said. It’s only complicated when it goes wrong.

    I laughed because I immediately thought of my new place, and how easy it was to get it. And how complicated it was with the old place.

    Like most things in life, I said. Easy, unless it isn’t.

    Then it was like, ***shwaaaaaaa****, a light came down from the heavens.

    Maybe all my relationships could be the same way. I thought so many times about the landlord situation in the old place: it doesn’t have to be this way! It could be easy!

    What I learned from BR, and hadn’t yet learned with my exAC, was see that it wasn’t easy = it wasn’t working. I kept thinking I needed to explain to the AC how easy it could be. If you just, if we just, etc, it could be so easy …

    It never occurred to me that I was having great difficulty and stress trying to get the AC situation to become easy. Ironic! But somehow, with the landlord, I got it: I didn’t want to stick around and hope that it got easier; I actually felt strongly enough that I deserve not to have to go through hell just to get basic decency.

    Natalie has said often that we need not wait to be happy. Maybe my feeling (finally!) of no! I need peace now, I want ease now, not six weeks from now, not a year from now. Maybe that attitude can be extended into all aspects of my life.

    This is what I take it to mean when NML says: if you’re even going through the listing of good points and bad points, it’s because there is already incompatibility. It’s not an easy fit. It’s a square peg saying, hey, there’s nothing wrong with a round hole, round has its good points …

    I know that part of it has been that *I* haven’t been easy. But I never knew I could expect that, and in some ways, trust it. I remember that as a young woman, after so many experiences of racialization, abuse and bullying, that I would never be an *easy* girlfriend. I would always be complicated, and that only made me angry and defensive.

    It makes me want to put “ease” higher up on the list in how I relate to myself. I liked grace’s phrase of “he doesn’t do anxiety” because it’s so … easy. Also, if you asked me what I love about myself, honestly, I think I am still at the point of counting my own good points. Hmm.

    • selkie says:

      Congratulations Magnolia! Bad landlord chapter closed, with a wonderful lesson of just letting some shit go wrapped up in it.
      I’ve come to the conclusion in my own life that being a bit ‘easier’ in terms of letting more things go and softening some long held beliefs and defensiveness has actually made me feel better about myself. Developing a stronger sense of personal boundaries and core values becomes simpler too when I stop trying to fix or right every little injustice that comes my way. Sometimes it’s easier to just shrug and walk on. Why make someone else’s problem (dysfunction) ours when we really don’t need to. Of course, I don’t mean becoming a doormat, but not letting things and folks affect us so much. This has been a major challenge for me. Like someone said (Grace, I think), We don’t have to show up to every argument we’re invited to. It feels so much better not to.

    • Little Star says:

      WOW, Magnolia thank you for for sharing with us! HE was spot on by saying: “It’s only complicated when it goes wrong”! I hope you are happy with your new job and new place!!!

    • cc says:

      magnolia! yes!!

      this is what i’m always spouting about – you CAN give yourself ease, warmth, comfort. you just need to love you, fully, completely, patiently.

      YES! magnolia loves magnolia! and she should!!!

      do you see? you’ve completely crossed over and you don’t even know it yet:
      - “I need peace now, I want ease now…” = you know, in your bones, that you DESERVE it, its not even a question any more
      - “I know that part of it has been that *I* haven’t been easy. But I never knew I could expect that, and in some ways, trust it.” = you ALREADY have compassion for yourself, you ALREADY trust yourself
      - “Also, if you asked me what I love about myself, honestly, I think I am still at the point of counting my own good points.” = you ALREADY are counting your good points. you couldn’t say this if you weren’t

      WOOT!! mags! just keep going! because you’ve already won, you’ve already crossed the finish line, you just don’t know it yet. yaaaaaay!!!

      • cc says:

        grace will get mad at me for this, but…

        y’know that passage in the bible they always read at weddings? corinthians something? “love is patient…love is kind…if i am a clanging bell…” all that? i can’t stand that passage…

        but THAT is how we should feel about OURSELVES. not prideful, not stuck up. but loving. loving.

    • Revolution says:

      “It’s only complicated when it goes wrong.”

      So true! Good on you, magnolia!!!

      Lately, I’ve been pondering my good, long-lasting friendships and thinking, “I want a romantic relationship like that!” I’ve realized that these friendships have always been in the background of my life because they were so stable that at a visceral level, I didn’t pay as much mind to them as the drama-filled ones. I’ve always treated these friends with love and respect, but lately I’ve been telling them what GEMS they are. The bad makes you appreciate the good sometimes.

      • cavewoman says:

        So true about friendships. Someone very dear to me who had been through a series of unavailable relationships, found true love literally within weeks of telling me exactly the same thing. That her next lover will have to feel to her like being with her best friends.

      • Magnolia says:

        “The bad makes you appreciate the good” – totally. I put laundry in the other day and the very ease of doing my laundry in a non-cat-piss-smelling basement made me so happy. And just now, I looked at the very normal sink in the very normal bathroom counter, and they warmed my heart, because they werenn’t (seriously) a pair of slabs of off-cut marble subbing for counters, each dangerously perched atop a wobbly stack of plastic interlocking drawers.

        Perhaps always thinking that I had to excel to be noticed and loved has been a function of having not learned to appreciate my own functionality and “normal”ness. Maybe there is a dude out there who has experience enough that when he meets me, I don’t have to be all flash, I will be appreciated as radiant and heartwarming as a solid bathroom counter :)

        Oh and I reread what I wrote above and thought, well, I DID know that I was going through a lot of stress to get the AC to be easy, it’s just that I really put all the blame/responsibility for that stress on myself.

        And I am searching (legit search doesn’t work for me in Firefox for Mac, I just get taken to the Legit page, tho it works on my work computer) for the BR article on when ACs try to change the story. I went NC with my exAC so I didn’t care, but the exLL is sending emails saying she didn’t do what she did, that she didn’t say what she said. I know not to take the bait, but I like to read up to stay calm: does anyone remember those articles?

        • Revolution says:

          Yeah, Mags. The article in question is “To Tell the Truth” and I don’t remember the sub-title. I’ll write a more lengthy response to your comment in a bit, love. Hugs to you and your lovely bathroom counter. :)

        • sofie says:

          hey Magnolia, try Chrome for mac. Legit works in Chrome (and is a faster browser) *here the commercial ends* ;-)

    • runnergirl says:

      Nicely done Magnolia. Life can be easy if we make choices in our best interest, assuming we know what that is! And Nat is right (as usual), the minute I start weighing the pros and cons, it’s a signal. That is exactly what I was doing last week with the guy that stood me up on the second date, thank god. Good point: Would look dreamy on the tennis court; Bad point: Former drug and alcohol addiction.
      Enjoy your new place with BR in every room and real counters. I think I’ll put ease higher up on my list too. This one will stick with me…”It’s only complicated when it goes wrong”. Yup life can be easy, if I don’t make it complicated. Loved this.
      Don’t take the ll’s bait. Let her reinvent history to herself. Also, I think one of the posts you may be thinking about relates to hitting the reset button. Go girl.

  26. Lucy says:

    Yes. The penny dropped with me, finally. I’ve only ever been in uneasy relationships – and never in one in which I was treated like an equal. I started on blaming myself because I did not set boundaries up. After reading this blog regularly, I’ve stopped feeling sorry for my ex-boyfriends and now implicate them in my unhappiness. I feel some righteous anger I never allowed myself to feel before. My determination to always see the good in others meant that I was fundamentally unforgiving to myself.

    Then I had another epiphany. I realised that being nice wasn’t enough and that everyone has to do more to find a great relationship. It’s like what Seinfeld said – they’re “nice but I’m not hiring”. I can like someone and not want to date them, and that’s okay. I feel empowered by this thought. I rejected someone recently. I felt that he was “nice” but did not feel enough attraction towards him. I would have felt guilty about that before but now I don’t because I know he deserves a relationship with a woman who is really into him. I’ll never again use the good points to guilt trip myself into a relationship or to override the bad points about a person.

    What really hurts for me is thinking about my ex-boyfriends. They were both either abusive or showed signs of abusive tendencies. But to the outside world, they were charming. It wasn’t just the abuse that threw me – it was feeling that I was really on my own because no one else had experienced that side of them. I felt utterly dejected but they went on as if nothing had happened. It really does sound awful but I don’t feel as guilty about cheating on one of them as I used to. I now think that while what I did was not wrong, it made him feel some of the pain I had felt because of his behaviour. But I regret it and will not do it again.

    • courtney says:

      I know how you feel lucy :( I’ve had similar experiences with my abusive exes. other people didn’t see that side of them, and I took the worst side of them and had to constantly *earn* the best side of them. but right now the focus should be the fact that you won’t have to endure the worst side anymore, and their best side is not enough to meet your needs – nor is it ever enough to compensate for the abuse, because nothing can. always remember that and think of the people who are currently charmed by these EU’s and AC’s as people who just don’t know any better. we can’t control that, but we can control our own choices and how happy we feel to have gotten rid of such unhealthy relationships. hugs!

      • Lucy says:

        Hugs to you too! It really did help to read your comment. I feel quite used by the experience. They’ll tell people a different story about me, and I feel like I was a practice run and that they will/do treat future girlfriends more respectfully.

        Well I have never told most people about the abusive behaviour, partly because I blamed myself. But I don’t want to sink lower either. It won’t do me any good to stir the pot. I know that their friends will be loyal to them regardless of what I say. I have the capacity to love and I’m proud of it, even though I’ve endured poor behaviour too.

        When I told people before, I was quite blasé. I thought it was normal behaviour and was surprised by the shocked reaction I got. There are some I haven’t told but will work up to it.

        Another point is that I ended up wearing the abuse as a badge before getting involved with someone else. He wasn’t horrible but he did mistreat me (wasn’t right for me) though I mistreated him too. I’ve decided now not to reveal the story up front and will not tell anyone about my past until trust is there fully. Because the abuse is NOT me. It’s like what has been posted here – what are my interests and dreams? That is what I wish to get across.

  27. Little Star says:

    Thanks again Natalie for the great article! You read my mind I am sure:-)

    My AC sent me a text and I answered (grrr). I do not regret, because he knows that I cant carry on as I did…I told him that I am looking for romantic relationship and not f””” he was offering, his response was: “I like and respect you and I am honest with you” WTF? So Natalie, you are right, about “good points”, OK, he is a doctor, financially independent, no smoker, polite and intelligent, BUT he CANNOT give me what I want and all these “good points” do NOTHING FOR ME:-( I still like him, and maybe I will meet him BUT only in my terms! No more BS!

    • stella says:

      uh, just because he is a doctor doesn’t mean a thing. i have dated a few – one for 7 years(the guy was a true blue narcissist) – when i ended it he went crazy(flew across the country to find me) this was only after his 6 1/2 years of cheating and lying. he is a terrific MD – just a lousy partner. people are human – no matter what they do. you just want to hold them to a higher standard – they can be just as EU and a@@ clownish as the rest of them. i wouldn’t waste your time on him…you have better things to do with your heart.

      • Little Star says:

        Thank you Stella for your response. Yes, I know it is not count:-( being a doctor. But somehow I naively thought that he should be carrying, as he is SO good with patients!

  28. grace says:

    Lucy
    There isn’t a “right” way to handle being in an abusive relationship. You shouldn’t fight back, that could get you killed, but accepting it makes you feel weak and humiliated, you can’t say anything as it doesn’t make a difference, but keeping quiet makes you feel sick, it’s wrong to cheat but it’s also inauthentic to be faithful when you hate him. And in other crap relationships, what IS the right way to deal with someone who disappers, repeatedly dumps you, cheats, lies, takes drugs, watches too much porn? You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to be a good girlfriend/wife in that situation. Even if you did manage to be a saint, that just sends the message to the other party – and to yourself – that you’re a doormat and their behavior is acceptable.
    What can you do but get yourself out, your children if there are any, and rebuild your life?
    We all need to stop trying to find the key that will make it work. You can’t run a relationship on your own. The other party has to want it too. And all the want in the world from both of you isn’t going to make it work if you don’t both have the tools. A few good points here and there don’t make up for that. education, status, popularity, jobs, cars, houses, money, looks, sex appeal, charm, youth,fitness,compliments, are nice enough but don’t let it blind you if the serious requirements are missing. Love, care, respect. Every. Single. Day.

    • Revolution says:

      You hit the nail on the head, grace. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t with abusers. The only solution is to cut your losses and move on. Wish them well, but from a distance.

      • Revolution says:

        Correction: You’re damned if you do with abusers. Period. So just don’t.

        • Lucy says:

          I don’t wish them well but I don’t wish them pain either. I still feel like there is a score to be settled and it’s taking up my thinking time. I feel that I want my experience of them to be validated, to know that people close to them would perceive what they did as wrong. But I cannot hope for that.

    • Lucy says:

      Thanks so much for your points, Grace. I really find your comments ever so helpful and they have guided me in the right direction before.

      Admittedly, I posted that comment in a bit of a haze. I have only just begun to allow myself to feel anger towards my ex-boyfriends and it’s as if I am breaking up with them again.

      It took a while for me to identify the behaviour as abusive. Because he did not beat me to a complete pulp or cheat on me, I felt like it was okay. It felt wrong to say he was abusive knowing that many women have a worse time. He physically hurt me a couple of times and his words hurt. He’d be quite cruel and leave me in tears. I told a male friend about it and it wasn’t until he said it was, that I recognised the behaviour of the ex as abusive. That explains how low my self-esteem was. I am still struggling to call it abusive now and keep wanting to call myself a big old wuss.

      • Lucy says:

        And I forget to mention…what I am now struggling with is talking to men because I look at all men with fear and find it hard to trust them. In fact, I look at many people that way. I am quite afraid of getting close to people because I’m used to my affection being rejected albeit there were times when my affections were not welcome because I was targeting them at the wrong people.

  29. Tinkerbell says:

    All I can say is that this post has been spot on, and all of your comments have been right on target in so many ways. I’ve been reading BR for about 18 months, after a horrible affair with a MM. Funny, I don’t remember who told me about BR, but I’m very glad she did, because it has been a lifeline for me. Right now, I’m in the fledging stage of (I can’t call it a relationship, as we haven’t met yet) a friendship(?). This particular article has come at the right time for me because I am so easily impressed by the outer wrappings. When I read over this, which I’ve done countless times already, I am reminded to keep my head on straight and take things VERY SLOWLY.
    AND, I mean at a snails pace! He is supposed to come to meet me next month and take me out for my bd. I am looking forward to it, but with trepidation, because things have been proceeding almost identically to my last online experience. But after reading BR and learning to look at the real overall picture instead of dreaming and fantasizing, I feel that I, too have been “forewarned and forearmed”. He seems to be very nice, but they all are on paper, and even in the flesh they’re going to show you how great they are, initially. Time tells the story who they really are. Nobody can pretend forever, unless they are seriously mentally/emotionally disturbed. God forbid. I’m feeling the same way about him as I felt about the last guy and I got burned. He was nothing like, in the flesh, what he had led me to believe. I also have to be mindful of the fact that since this will be my LAST online endeavor, oh,yes, I’m not kidding, I don’t want to view it with a “last chance saloon” attitude. I still feel that because of my age I don’t have too many more chances to be making mistakes with men. But, BR has helped me tremendously to dispense with that desperate attitude that I have to have a man to be happy. BR represents the constant, continual reinforcement that I need to really believe in myself and grow in self-esteem. I am also learning to appreciate my friendships more. I have several really tried and true girlfriends who I’ve sort of relinquished to a minor role in my life because I’ve been too busy focusing on having a man. No more. I’m feeling myself very slowly making a transition and I realize I’ve come a long way from where I was. Why does have to take so long, I ask myself. But, I’m changing a lifelong way of thinking, viewing myself and reacting. Some people will take longer than others. To me it seems that for Natalie it was very quick. But, I don’t really know that because I’m not in her shoes. I’m just continuing to tell myself to stop seeking immediate gratification. I’m telling myself to wake up, smell the roses and count my blessings instead or worrying about what I may lack. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to survive life-threatening illness. Not only am I still here but healthwise I’m doing very well. I have so much emotional support from so many sources. I do not ever need to believe that I can’t do this, or I can’t have that. I’m starting to believe in myself, really, sincerely. It’s been such a hard, long struggle. A good man is NOT the key to my happiness and well-being. I HOLD THE KEY. I CAN OPEN THE DOOR. NOBODY ELSE. Slow, slow, slow and steady wins the race. Kudos to BR, my friends, my therapist, but most of all to ME with my fierce desire to change.

    • Revolution says:

      Tinkerbell, darling. I love reading your comments and I am so glad you’re on the BR site. I have been on here for about as long as you, but just came out of the lurker closet lately (lol) to play with all of you lovely ladies. My heart warms when I read yours and others’ comments. Comments from strangers, nonetheless! But women who have been battered and bruised, but are still struggling to live with an open heart. We’re DAMN good women here. I’m “putting on the kettle” for you, dear. Come in from the storm for a bit.

  30. Awakened says:

    @CC #7 all the way!

  31. Tinkerbell says:

    Revolution. Thanks so much for welcoming me so quickly and genuinely. I only started posting regularly about 4 posts back. But, I’ve been taking it all in. I wish I had the writing ability and humor of CC ( she’s brilliant nuts-LOL!) and some of you other regulars. Out of all I’ve read so far, this particular post AND all of the comments stand out in my mind, really resonating with me, addressing my biggest problem with men. I can’t say I’ve experienced alot of AC/Eums, because I was happily married for a very long time and he passed away only a few years ago. But, I gotta say, the few opportunities I’ve had resulted in very poor choices. I’ve had to get reacquainted with what a AC/EUM/SOB,MF are. And, true to my nature and personality and non existent self time, I chose to go the WORST route, a MM! Thank God I could only stand 6 months of that BS. That experience was so foreign to me, but, boy what an eye opener. Right after going NC ( very successfully, the first time) I found BR. Praise the Lord! I don’t have a printer, but if I did I would printer out this entire post, comments, and put them on my bedroom wall. You guys are all just incredible. You all are even better than all the self help books out there because you are speaking from the heart. I am very proud to be participating and recognized for my feeble input. Lord knows I’m trying. I try to be careful with giving advice because I’m a novice in this. Incidentally, I’m a firm believer is God/prayer also. It works. Thank you so much Revolution for reaching out to me. I love you all.

  32. Tinkerbell says:

    I meant to say “non-existent self ESTEEM. I think you all knew that.

    • Revolution says:

      Tinkerbell,

      You’re very welcome. I’m sorry about your husband, but glad that you had a nice, loving marriage as a backdrop to your life before meeting some of the baddies in the dating world. Please don’t let your experience sour you on the rest of the men out there. I have to remind myself of the same thing.

      As for your writing, I thoroughly enjoy your heartfelt expressions. And though I agree with you that CC is a gem on the BR site, your writing is sweet and kind and gentle. Thanks for sharing it with all of us.

      I’m a firm believer in God and prayer too, and though I can be such a bada**, at the end of the day, I know that I’m not alone, nor can I do any of what I do without help. I also know that the good will always outweigh the bad, even when it doesn’t seem like it. Chin up, dear. Glad you’ve joined the BR ranks.

  33. Lovingme says:

    @Awakened

    ~ Sophia he’s coupled up with someone else that he could dump the same load of horse maneur on. Doesn’t mean a thing. Don’t you know they shit all over the place? Carrying it from one female to the next and just when you think you are actually missing something. Just remember how bad shit really stinks and say to yourself “I Don’t Want That smell….~

    Thank you so much for writing that, I have wasted tons of my money, time and much more on this guy ~ still not separated yet, but will be, 6+ years is way too long ~ but one of the things that bothered me is knowing that as soon as I’m gone he’ll be off with someone else ~ don’t you know they shit all over the place, classic, I love it! I’m back on this site to gain the strength to leave, again!!! I can’t believe I was sucked into going back after almost 1 year apart but I can’t dwell on that, I think the embarrassment I feel over it has had me trying to make it work but it’s getting ridiculous, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as cold as this man, I feel ashamed and disgusted in myself but I know I’ll gain strength from this site, I thought I was doing so well before but didn’t heed the post ‘I’ve changed but he hasn’t’ and now I feel worse than ever but I know I’m a good person and regardless of how I’ve behaved, I know I deserve better than this which really, when I look at it is really nothing at all! I’ve been such a fool but in my defence, this guy is good, he’s good at what he does but what the hell is the point, if I spend the rest of my life single I know I’ll have more than him if he doesn’t change his cold, manipulative, downright dispicable behaviour. As my friend said, at age 48, I’m sorry to say this but he’s just about all the man he’s gonna be and he’s no where near being a man. Packing and moving out all my furniture, belongings etc and leaving my beautiful little dream house in a spectacular area is not going to be easy but I know I’ve got to face it and to be honest I think that will be harder than leaving him, I’m just so angry at myself that he’s had 6 years of me and literally lived off me and he probably won’t feel a thing when I leave, he’ll just get another woman and slag me off like he has he’s previous girlfriends who were all so bad to him!!! Thank you Natalie and everyone else. X

  34. Tinkerbell says:

    Thanks, Rev, see you on the next post (maybe). Didn’t realize Nat was going to come out with another one so fast. I haven’t even read it yet!

  35. Ella says:

    I’m amazed at how relevant this post is to me right now! It’s as though you’re psychic as to the help I was looking for! I’m going to post my story below, probably just for my own benefits as I feel like I need to get it out!

    I’ve been ‘seeing’ a guy since February this year. I was told by his friends that he hadn’t really gone out with anyone before properly which is something I used many times to excuse his actions (or non-actions).

    He is the kindest, sweetest, most affectionate guy I’ve met. When I actually get to see him. Which is once a week if I’m lucky. He doesn’t text or call to chat at all. If I text him just to ask how his day was (rarely as I am afraid of being ignored) more often than not he will ignore or reply the following day. He has told me he hates texting but surely if you like someone as much as he claims to, you make the effort.

    Every time I see him, he goes on about how we need to work out a way to see each other more. Every time I agree, thinking ‘you’re the only person stopping this from happening!’ but never saying that. I feel as though I’m constantly the one asking him out and it seems as though it doesn’t bother him whether we see each other or not. But then as soon as we’re together he’s completely different – saying how it’s been far too long, how he wishes we could spend more time together etc. Yet we don’t live far from each other, he doesn’t work and he seems to have time to see his friends almost every day.

    I’m constantly hoping that he’ll go through with the ‘we need to work out a way to see more of each other’and every week I end up disappointed. Yet I stay with him because when I’m with him, he’s everything I look for in a guy.

    I’ve just started admitting to myself that it can’t be a healthy relationship if i’m happy for a few hours a week and spend the rest of the time being let down and trying to think up excuses as to why he isn’t making an effort to see me like he made me think he would.

    It’s just hard to let go though, theres always that thought of ‘what if he does change and I’ve already let him go’ or ‘am I being too needy?’

    Anyway, thank you so much for this article, it has given me loads to think about!!

    • That Girl says:

      @ Ella just wanted to say that I struggled with this feeling a lot, of thinking they may change at some point in the future and then it would be too late, so I might as well hang in there and hope…thing is, then you just end up living in the future, in an imaginary future where things are OK, he’s changed into the guy you want him to be and everything working out.

      But what about now…is it working right now, in this present moment? It’s the same as when we get stuck on the past too (I also had that- he was so great in the beginning, so he MUST be capable of it- right, I must hold on until that version of him returns…)- the fact is, its the here and now we need to focus on.

      So much of the time we are letting go of an illusion anyways, and not the real man we have in front of us!

    • grace says:

      Ella
      It’s been over six months and you see each other less than once a week, the rest of the time he ignores you.
      Thats not kind, not sweet, and not affectionate.
      And he’s probably seeing other women too.

  36. gigi says:

    Thank you all for the input, it feels good to have the support of caring people while going through similar situations :)

  37. Fearless says:

    Ella

    I would feel the same when the ex EUM would tell me that he’d missed me. There was no need for him to miss me.

    You need to meet this head on with the guy (like I didn’t do!)by asking him what it is that he thinks is getting in the way of you not seeing each other more – ask him what he thinks is getting in the way of that happening and don’t let him slither out of it, cos my guess is he will evade answering the question. Don’t be blind-sided by his good points. It’s just mind-effery. Actions are not matching his words (maybe read some of Nat’s posts on that). Alternatively, just dump him. It looks like that’s going to be the result anyway.

    • cc says:

      ella-
      i know you might not look back at this post again, and therefore miss this, and that maybe you’ve already confronted the guy, but:

      he ISN’T everything you want in a man. what you want in a man includes his reaching out to you, taking you places, doing stuff with you, not using you for sex (i notice the mention of sex is conspicuously absent in your post), not having to have any excuses, not being elusive and full of shit, but offering you genuine attention and affection and effort and care. you want a man who doesn’t screw with you and feed you a hook and just enough line to keep you caught. you want a man who does not act according to his own convenience, who actually considers you.

      that man i just described is not him.

      if you haven’t confronted him, my recommendation is not to – he’ll either feed you more BS or end it. i would either just stop reaching out to him or end it.

      and if by chance you see him again – do NOT have sex with him. see how long his interest lasts when he can’t get it for free.

      • Ella says:

        Thanks so much for the replys!

        I’ve been thinking a lot about it this week and have realised this isn’t a relationship at all. People who are in proper relationships care about how each other are day to day. I haven’t heard a thing from this guy since I saw him at the start of the week.

        cc – it would actually make it easier to understand if that were the case! I think i’m even more interested in sex than he is.

        Anyway, after a couple of days of being really upset about it I’ve started to think about it properly and realised this ‘relationship’ or whatever it is, is a waste of time and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

  38. Joanne says:

    Why is it that i keep going back to a guy who constantly lies to me,doesnt think twice to let me down and when I try to share my feelings he shuts down and disappears or tells me that I always complain. I am honestly not sure if I even like this man anymore but I cant seem to break away from him. Please tell me what to do cause I am seriously losing myself doing this to myself, please help.

    • grace says:

      Joanne.
      Its not a mystery. You want to “win”. You don’t want to make a decision. You don’t think much of yourself. You’ve given him all your power. You’re afraid to be single. Therefore you tell yourself you can’t do what people do every day – Break up and stick to it.
      Beware. I married someone I didn’t even like very much because I “couldn’t” leave him. Even though we were married less than a year, it took over ten for me to realise that I had to wake up and start taking charge of my life and responsibility for myself. And not blame the Useless men i got involved with. It’s about being an adult woman and if you want that adult, responsible, decent man, that’s what you have to learn to be.

    • AHM says:

      @Joanne

      This guy does not want to take responsibilty for his actions. Therefore you are the problem – the complainer.

      My ex told me our biggest problem is I wanted to argue all the time – when in fact our biggest problem was he’s a liar, a cheat, sex/relationship addict and I stood around complaining. Solution – left! He’s worked his way through about four women and on his fifth in 2 years. It must be that they complain and want to argue too much as well?? LMAO

  39. Lucia says:

    I really need your help. :( I’m trying to resolve some issues I have. I find that I’ve been gravitating to the wrong men (and wrong people in general) because of my complicated childhood and lack of affection from my parents. I know that other people pick up on this and I believe that the healthy men who’d be great to date are turned off by me because they pick up on my strong desire to be loved. How do I put a block up against these people and attract the good men? Today I went through my friends list on Facebook and de-friended people I knew in my heart I did not respect (yet why were they my facebook friends?). I have an overwhelming desire to to delete an abusive ex-boyfriend from Facebook. The only thing that’s stopping me is that I have a good friendship with his mother.
    I want people to pick up on the fact that I have a good heart and care deeply for them. I don’t want people to think I’m desperate. I’m not looking for a relationship. I only want people to see me for the good authentic person that I am.

    • Magnolia says:

      Hi Lucia,

      First, good for you for deciding to unload “friendships” that aren’t real.

      When I read your comment – ” I’ve been gravitating to the wrong men (and wrong people in general) because of my complicated childhood and lack of affection from my parents” – I thought that in time you might come to insert the missing term in a causal equation that right now you’re describing as x –> y. Bad childhood –> gravitating to wrong men.

      You’re not looking for wrong men, you’re looking for something a child needs. For me it was stability, validation, a sense of being heard … Until you can give yourself the experiences that fill up those needs, you’ll be going into a relationship looking to get old needs met.

      Think of it like this: if love is a grown-up tennis match, you want to show up with your racquet, and knowing how to rally. Your parents should have given you your first racquets, and should have shown you how to play. It’s harsh, but if you still don’t have a racquet and haven’t learned to play, you shouldn’t be out on the court, looking for partners to provide you your basic equipment. The healthy ones are looking for a good game, not an opportunity to teach.

      It can seem desperately unfair that we have to go and get our own racquets when so many people had parents who gave them racquets and training. Maybe our parents just didn’t even know how to play the game of love/tennis themselves and never had racquets of their own. That doesn’t change the game of tennis from needing a racquet.

      It doesn’t change the fact that you either provide yourself one, or forever be trying to get a racquet where you should be trying to get a good game.

      This is why we are drawn to men selling cheap racquets, rather than to good tennis/love partners.

      Hmm. That was longer and preachier than I meant it to be. But I hope you see what I’m saying.

      You don’t need to stay FB friends with someone just because you like their mother. Stay FB friends with her if you must. Personally I’d put distance between yourself and all those associated with an abusive ex. She’s his mother – does she recognize his abusiveness and support you? If not, there’s no point in staying friends there.

    • Magnolia says:

      Oops, in my long extended analogy I forgot the main point:

      A place to start in answer to your question is: What is your racquet? What is it that you need to have or to know before you are equipped for a healthy relationship?

      • Lucy (Lucia) says:

        Thanks Magnolia. I actually went and deleted him after reading what you said because I surmised that he cannot value or respect me at all. Well it’s only recently that I’ve stopped thinking “oh I failed at this” or “I’m damaged goods”. And now I finally am feeling that righteous anger that I hadn’t allowed myself to feel. It’s been 4 years since we broke-up and I’ve been in another relationship but for some reason he had this hold in me.

        It is quite upsetting for me that he was this horrible and yet he is successful in life (and I’m not usually the envious one). I wish he could feel one bit of the pain he gave me.

        I like your tennis analogy. To try and get that racquet (or what’s missing in my life), I’ve been refocussing on my friendships every day and trying to get closer to my friends. It’s quite hard but I’ve had that reality check I needed relating to who my friends really are. But part of me still believes that I will never rid myself of the empty feeling in my soul. Sometimes I want to regress back to childhood to get hugs and praise and have someone say “You can do it” because I never heard that when I was a child. At the same time, I am learning to be authentic. I have this wall up which stops me from being me.

        I’m upset because past boyfriends have talked down to me and treated me like a child. They have worn down my self-esteem. After reading this blog for a while, I realised that I’ve known plenty of wonderful kind men in my life who would have made great companions. However, my brain had tuned them out. I could not see how wonderful they are and went for the bad ones instead (probably because I thought they were too good for me). Then on the odd occasion I meet someone nice and they give me a knowing look which says, “I know you want affection, and you seem sweet, but I can’t be the one to give you that”.

        • Lucy says:

          Incidentally, my real name is Lucia but I use Lucy on this site. I started up the pseudonym because my ex always read what I posted on the internet and had messaged saying “I do not want you to mention me in internet posts” (though I have never mentioned him by name or anything else which identifies him). When I got annoyed and said no, he said “I thought it was a perfectly reasonable request”. I know this was twisted to try and make me feel bad but for once I was not buying it.

  40. AStrid says:

    What a fantastic post! It is so easy to get caught up in the good values or impression things about people without taking note of what they are like to you! The interesting thing was that if I am interested in someone I stress my achievements, looks and etc…but nothing that reflects whether I would be a good partner in a relationship or not…I think I might change my approach and focus on getting to know men I like not wowing them with my wonderfulness (am not that wonderful is big put on!) and highlighting what a nice, reliable, kind and caring person I hope I am – maybe then I will attract a different sort of person! I guess used to attract what I put out – shallow, short lived relationships with men who are impressed but not really interested in me based on connection, enjoyable intimacy – and nor are they emotionally invested in me… Funnily enough even though I have a (too) high opinion of my achievements etc I get shakey and insecure about a man actually liking me based on just who I am without the fanfare. I always look at those average women with nice partners who connect with them and like them and can’t imagine that happening to me as I feel like I must be impressive to be liked – and yet that isn’t working out for me…unfortunately I seem to be able to impress and charm men but not get them to just plain old like/love me…must work on this!

  41. Espresso says:

    Hi everyone
    I have learned a lot from this site in the last year of my life. I was in a relationship with a “very decent man” for 35+ years. He was totally emotionally undeveloped and unavailable, afraid of feelings (his own and mine), unable to engage, passive, without boundaries, lived off me and my energy. Never made any decision for himself. Because he was nice and decent and because we shared ideas and work interests in common I felt “bad” and “cruel” for being unhappy and having feelings of anger that blew up all the time. I did know something was very wrong from the beginning and initiated therapy 3 major times…to try to come to grips with it…so I did have some healthy sense but even though I was told by therapists that I was “living in an emotional desert” but I kept making excuses and then there were the kids, the economy, my fear, everything….but basically MY issue was that I didn’t like myself well enough to say that, even if this relationship superficially looked good (and did it ever on the outside!), and even if the man WAS decent I had the right to look at it in terms of what was important to me and what I needed. I didn’t trust that what I needed was “enough” to justify my fundamentally questioning the relationship. I had nobody on my side and I wasn’t even on “my side”.
    Of course decency and kindness IS important in a friend, husband, partner etc. BUT there are other things that are important too and one would be..is the person an emotionally fully developed adult so that you can have an adult relationship…and that is much more than being decent and kind.

    Of course I could see my husband had been damaged as a child…so he spent most of his time in an internal world….but he wasn’t ever willing to work on himself..which I knew was the key to our having a really emotionally engaged relationship.

    So fine…over a year ago I said I needed and wanted out and it was important to do this slowly, repectfully and honestly. We have four grown children and we saw ourselves as being close and supportive friends. We decided to spend a short time together in a vacation home with a daughter who was going through stuff….we had had good times there before and we were still pretty close…although I was in therapy to try to deal with grief and loss and he had done nothing (but heck I was trying to “detach” from caring. It sounds complicated and it is/was….
    The day after I dropped him at the airport to go to France (I was meeting him there a few days later ) ONE day later I saw an email on my work email inbox from a woman he had met on the plane the previous night and his initial email to her was attached. His language to her was just like a 12 year old schoolboy, dripping with romance and emotional intimacy, asking, no begging, her to meet him while he was on vacation. I was completely blindsided….completely like being punched in the stomach. I had to meet my daughter for dinner an hour later and I was sick. I have to say I was in a state of shock…so unprepared was I for this. So I wrote him in a very straight way (no anger blast) and said I was very surprised he was moving towards emotional intimacy with another woman when we were still working through our separation and that I was not coming. And he denied the words and phrases were intimate at all and that he wasn’t interested in sex but just wanted to “reach out” – in other words he didn’t know what he himself was doing..or so he said.
    Well, just another example of his lack of boundaries, lack of insight into what he is doing HIMSELF.
    Anyway, this was so deeply wounding to me on so many levels..not because I wanted him back but because it demonstrated to me that 1. I still had a lot of grieving to do and 2) he would continue to hurt me because he hadn’t a clue.3) it wasn’t my job to care anymore. I really began to see at a much deeper level how all the issues were coming together in what he had done.

    But the point I want to mention, apart from myself, is that the woman he met on the plane and with whom he then had a three month email relationship (although he intended to meet up with her WHILE I WAS THERE) completely bought into his “story” – In fact he “cashed in” on being seen as a “very sensitive man” who was trying very hard to develop a “caring relationship” with his ex who was a “wonderful person” (that is me). So the OW heard this and it just made her jump into the relationship with HIM. Go figure….on MY back. And then to cap things off….when he ended the relationship because he couldn’t handle it, he did it by telling her he had to end it because it was hurting me and brought up to her in a letter all sorts of intimate details about me…what I liked, what hurt me etc. (He told me this) Honestly I have just been so enraged, so upset, so crazy with all of this. But the fact is…all along she completely ignored the context and where he had been or was coming from, said she didn’t “understand” why he was ending their relationship and urged him to read a love story by a French author about two people who met and then went on to have a great love affair. So even though HE started and encouraged this very inappropriate fantasy relationship she too was in her little “bubble” which ignored the context of what he was coming from or going to.

    Just to say that if you do meet a man who is older, has been married a long time, talks about his wife and says you (the OW) are the first and only person he has talked to and then comes on STRONG right away…BEWARE and try to consider where he may be coming from and how reckless he is being. It bothers me how another woman asked no questions, showed no concern- even for herself.

    Thanks for letting me blow off steam. I have been really really upset for the past 4-5 months but am working with it….and gaining insights about my relationship and myself everyday. I am stronger but I have yet to forgive myself.
    I love the site and have learned a lot. Thank you.

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!