Knowing about boundaries, shared values, and yes, code red and amber behaviour isn't there to scare the shit out of you; these are all there to empower you to make better choices.

You know how it is: you have one too many dodgy experiences of trusting someone when you shouldn’t have, or of feeling like you have to pick the broken pieces of you and your life up off the floor, that you decide to take some time out to work on you and figure out how to trust again. You get to a better place and are thinking about dating again or forging new friendships, but you’re now hyper-aware and hyper-vigilant, looking for assclown wolves in sheep’s clothing around every corner. You feel as if you know more about you; you feel like you understand the concept of boundaries and know what your boundaries are as well as your needs and values, but you’re scared of fluffing it.

It’s almost as if you expect you to get it right first time when actually, trust and judgement are developed and honed through experience.

Let me assure you that I haven’t learned what I have by not making my fair share of mistakes and errors in judgement! This is hard-earned experience that I had to go through to unlearn some of the things I thought I ‘had’ to be and do to get through life. I’m not afraid of making an error in judgement because if I do, yeah it’s a bit of a pain in the bum but I can only learn out of it. Over time, these instances have shrunk dramatically.

Every relationship experience, every experience where the outcome was not as I would have liked or I’ve felt like I trusted too much, I’ve learned something about me that’s helped me further down the line.

As I said last week in my post about the slow fade and people disappearing if you’re not going to ‘put out’ when they want, it’s as if people have become so ‘tight’ (stingy) with time, energy and effort, that it’s in short supply for getting to know someone.

I see the same thing happening with trust – sometimes it seems easier to distrust both you and others than to have a basic level of trust and use your eyes, ears, and brain to judge the situation or yes, them. This leads to being hyper-vigilant and it’s going in with a skeptical attitude because the one thing you’re not doing is going in with an open mind.

Knowing about boundaries, shared values, and yes, code red and amber behaviour isn’t there to scare the shit out of you; these are all there to empower you to make better choices.

It’s like saying that being street smart, having basic courtesy and knowing about the dangers of walking into oncoming traffic, or going down dark alleyways or walking through a dodgy area at night, is there to keep you in the house and remove all of your fun. Being hyper-vigilant and not wanting to trust and use your judgement by learning through trial and error, is like saying “I’d rather know nothing of the dangers or what to be aware of, and just hope that people do the right thing. I don’t want to be responsible for me and have to learn and experience”.

Operate on a Debit and Credit Trust System and you will have very little to worry about because you know that should you be faced with something that you need to address, that you’ll handle it. You need to address your own relationship with you first because I’m yet to come across anybody who distrusts themselves, that’s able to healthily trust others. They either trust blindly and do the equivalent of handing themselves over lock and key to a stranger and jumping into a pool of sharks or, they struggle to trust and don’t seem to be able to differentiate between fear and knowledge or internal fear VS external fear.

Learning how to trust others and use your judgement also means that you need to clear out all of the blame you’ve been taking on, because when you tend to engage in the It’s All About Me and One False Move mentalities, you tend to gauge a situation and find a way to make you at fault for it. This makes it very difficult to trust because you’re hardly going to want to add more problems to your ever increasing list of crimes you haven’t actually committed.
Get clear on your boundaries, know your values and your needs and be committed to living your life in a way that reflects the person that you say that you are. This gives you a healthy baseline of trust that you enter into each situation with – think 70%.

It means that you can go out and enjoy your life and deal with something when it happens as opposed to waiting for something to happen and being ready to strike.

Are you waiting to be screwed over? This ‘waiting’ communicates distrust and will be reflected in your actions and mentality and it’ll all just end up in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Really, we can all afford to operate with a basic level of trust and judge a situation or a person based on merit instead of having Dynasty levels of drama in our minds about what isn’t happening or trying to anticipate what shadiness may happen next, which is actually pretty damn exhausting.

From when you meet a person on day zero, they begin to unfold. Anything you think they are initially is an impression, not who they are, because who someone is, is based on experience of them. They’ll either live up to or even exceed this impression… or miss it. That’s nothing to be afraid of because dating or just getting to know any person, is a discovery phase that irrespective of the outcome, it’s an experience that can enrich or help you in some way. As long as you’re not expecting to instantly know someone or to ‘know’ them without actually truly knowing them, or claiming to ‘know’ them based on superficial BS, what you will be expecting is that it will take time before you’re going to get to know someone so you won’t have unrealistic expectations or be surprised by information that was always there but ignored. If you trust you to do your due diligence and not live in la-la land, anything that does come your way, you’ll handle it. Believe you.

Your thoughts?

Updated 4th November: The audio version of this post is now available on Soundcloud.

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181 Responses to “Help! I’m scared of trusting!” Relax! There’s no need to be so ‘tight’ with trust!

  1. Kate says:

    Another great post, Natalie. Thank you so much. I was struggling with this exact issue, as your explanations of AC behavior had really opened my eyes, and it became easier for me to opt out when I saw code red and amber signals. However I did just meet someone recently who had not (yet) rung any warning bells and I was waiting, waiting, ready to pounce! I needed to hear that it is ok to trust, and learn from my experiences – I don’t have to be perfect or get it right immediately, I can relax and have fun and trust that I will make the right decision in the end.

  2. skepticrina says:

    I hear what you are saying Natalie, but is so damn hard. Is it just me or does it feel like I keep meeting men who are “too busy” or wants to take his time, which is fine, but then waits days on end to call or make effort, such as planning to get together or return phone calls. I met a man who called me and asked that I call him back. I did but got his voice mail. He called me back three days later and acted like it was no big deal. I asked him why he didn’t call back and he said, “I didn’t get around to it” and gave me the look as though I had to accept that answer. I did not accept that answer, but I didn’t want to push it. So, we met up and had dinner, la de da, and it went well. I hoped he would call the next day, but didn’t. He texted me three days later to shoot the shit and tell me he was going to a Halloweenm party. My heart sank. Why? Because he chose to go to some party over making plans with someone he just met and expressed to just three nights ago that “I like you.” I just want a man to get excited about me, make effort, return phone calls, call rather than text, be consistent, be tender, be caring, be up front, etc. It’s really not that much. Long story short, I told him to fuck off and have fun at the party. What do you think?

    • sushi says:

      Hi skeptricina,
      I think that he is displaying a lack of interest and you made a great decision. I also think that you are not wanting too much- it`s the basics. The way he is acting, he is trying to set the tone and show you what to expect,normalising crumbs, how he rolls.Code red in my eyes, I would have done the same as you.

      • Tanya Z. says:

        Skepticrina, I think you did exactly as Natalie was advising. You looked at the guy, recognized that his actions didn’t match his words, and realized that he wasn’t treating you right — and you flushed him. You can trust yourself to know one when you see one and take the right action for yourself. You’re not wasting months or years on this fool; you can go on, meet other guys. You’re that much closer to finding a good guy who will make you a priority.

      • Kit Kat says:

        Sushi… I think you were right on. He was setting the tone, showing her what to expect,normalising crumbs, how he rolls. I think I am still in 1st grade of Nat’s schooling..ha,ha
        Learning so much from her and you girls on here. Thank you to everyone for all you wisdom,support and advise…

      • skepticrina says:

        Thank you for taking the time to tell me that I am not crazy or expecting too much

      • skepticrina says:

        I am glad I am not crazy for expecting what I did. After all this dating crap, I start to feel like I am losing my mind. Thank you so much for responding

    • Fearless says:


      when it took him three days to return a call that *he asked* you to make, the writing was on the wall. That is just rude – he was setting the tone/agenda which he backed up with the halloween party thingy. Just goes to show that our first instincts/impressions are usually proved right. For me, I’ll be paying a lot of attention to my first impression.

      I have been having a go at online dating. So far it’s been a hopeless waste of my time. I usually ignore/archive matches who have not put up a photo’ onto their profiles because I resent having to contact them to ask for one (at first, when I did request photos I was ignored – every time!) I just think that ‘no photo’ = not taking this seriously/can’t be bothered/got something to hide/expect to get what I’m not prepared to give etc.

      So my first impression of ‘no photo’ is well eff off then!

      Anyway, I get a message last week from one ‘no photo’ guy who wants to say that he “respects my right to choose but only if I choose him!”. I thought that was slightly ‘off’, but I took it as a poor attempt at a humorous tone. He also signed off with “G xxx”, which sent a chill up mu spine because that’s what the ex EUM used to do (sign off with his first initial only – and his intitial is also G!). I was also alerted by him sending three kisses in this stand-offish sign off to a woman he was yet to receive any communication fro whatsoever (ambiguous messages from the get go – I’m not going to sign off with my full first name but here’s three kisses! WTF.)

      Anyway…! since there was a distinct dearth of interest from any other male, I decided to answer his email in the spirit of not being so distrusting so soon! I answered him politely asking why he had decided not to upload a photo and said that if he could upload or send me one I may keep talking.

      I get his answer. Similar to his first one. Very polite. Saying that he was not comfortable with having his photo on-line but he can send me one if I want, then asked me a few ‘normal’ conversational questions about myself and that he looked forward to hearing from me.

      So, I’m thinking a) does this guy expect me to email him back asking – again! – for a photo? b) Did I not already do that? c)what part of ‘I may keep talking if you send me a photo’ did he not hear me say the first time.
      I didn’t answer him. I left the communication open for over a week. I closed the match earlier today having heard nothing more from him. I don’t give a shit. I’m not repeating myself to these men “begging” for a picture and being made to feel ‘demanding’ for wanting one. I would prefer not to have my photo on the dating site, but have three photos up there that this man and all the other ‘no photos’ as free to check out if they want.
      Of course, the irony is that this ‘no photo’ man has most likely gone off thinking how rude I am not responding to his email and now closing the match, but I am sick of men just not effing hearing me!

      Again, juts goes to show, the writing was on the wall from the get go: no photo/cheeky comment about how he’ll respect my wishes so long as I ‘choose’ him/ambiguous sign of: no name but three kisses!

      Arseholes. They are easy to spot when you have learned their language. Their non-committal unavailability pervades everything about them, quite literally down to the last letter in their emails and texts.

      • Freya says:

        Hey Fearless,

        I am happy to hear you are trying online dating. It was my first step when I decided to start dating again. Talk about a learning experience. It is an excellent place to start seeing the difference between the men that want to put out effort for a relationship and the ones that are just bored or too insecure to be truly available.

        I would ask you though to at least attempt to not see all the no goes as a-holes. I met a lot of men online and a good majority of them had all the same insecurities and self esteem and boundary problems as women. Just like I don’t want that guy to think I am bitch because I was in a zone that made it hard for me to see his goodness, I don’t want to see women treat men like a-holes because they have problems too.

        I’m not advocating accepting the behavior. Quite the contrary. I had one guy literally yell and scream at me that I better read my own profile and did he look like the kinda guy that couldn’t just go out and get another woman. I could have easily yelled back and written him off as an a-hole. Instead I recognized that he had probably been beaten up by women and felt he just wasn’t good enough for any of them. I know how it feels to think you are not good enough. Instead of yelling back I paid for half our tab, told him I understood his feelings, then left and never spoke to him again.

        The important thing is, it wasn’t about me and I recognize that. So be sure to make their behavior about them and not you, and just focus on having fun.

        • Fearless says:


          I don’t see the no goes as a-holes at all. I just see most of them as no goes for any number of reasons and, as I said, the ones (admittedly few) I initiate contact with rarely get back to me. I don’t see anyone as an a-hole till they show me they are one.

          I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the ‘no photo’ guy from his initial email (for reasons stated above) so I wasn’t going to give him the benefit of the doubt, twice. I’m not lacking compassion but I am not wasting my time or energy on men (that I haven’t even met yet!) who show me “problems” like assholery/unavailability/ immaturity/ambiguity/and,frankly, illiteracy!

          I’ve wasted too many years being ‘nice’ to emotionally constipated, clueless (or not so clueless!)men who had me running myself into the ground offering up tea and empathy and understanding by the bucket load. I simply don’t have the patience for them anymore, a-holes or not. I prefer now to place complete trust in something I have ignored without fail for fifty years – my gut instinct. If that means a few good men are overlooked, then so be it.

          Not to negate your comment at all – I get what you’re saying. I do give what I think may be unlikely ‘matches’ a chance at some communication. And yes, I think I ‘delete’ many on immediate impulse. But I know what I don’t want to follow up and, sadly, that’s most of them.

      • skepticrina says:

        So true. The writing is on the first wall we bump into. Great perspective. THANK YOU

        • sushi says:

          agree, from my experience, writing was absolutely on the very first wall 95% of the time. Big odds, no point in waiting to find out the extent of the assholery and the finer details in case we are just ruins the self-trust.

      • Tracy says:

        My experience with online (too much for my taste, but it’s hard to meet guys where I live) has been that if they don’t post a photo, don’t go there. The excuses they give get so convoluted you would think these guys are secret agents or something. Most are hiding something…they’re playing around on line, probably married or involved with someone…it’s never a good sign. If you are that in need of “secrecy” because you are so important, famous, rich, whatever, I would think you wouldn’t need to resort to online dating. I did give in several months ago and a guy contacted me, his photo was totally ambiguous…you could tell he was a guy, that’s about it. I asked him why no photo, he said it was to ‘protect’ his medical practice partners. I said send me a photo, he wouldn’t. He kept pushing and I told him I needed more info, and he sent me pretty much a novel…yes, he was ‘involved’ in government operations, his partners were ‘concerned’ about his being on line. I asked why did he even tell them? Pretty much, the guy was a nutjob. And probably married, too.

        The moral of the story: don’t even bother with the no picture guys.

      • runnergirl says:

        Hey Fearless, missed you. I’ll be starting my 6th month with the online thingy and it’s been interesting. Mind you, I never would have started unless I felt I could trust myself and so far I haven’t let myself down. That’s a giant boost to my self-esteem. I’m approaching all of it with a trial and error learning opportunity, even the online exchanges are a learning opportunity as folks can “unfold” even online. So “No Photo” guy unfolded. Trust your gut. If you are already feeling like No Photo guy isn’t hearing you, just FLUSH. See, that means you have a boundary and he didn’t bust it. High fives to you girl and who cares what No Photo guy is thinking. He probably isn’t. YES, YES, YES, they are easy to spot and their “non-committal unavailability pervades everything about them…”. YES! We can trust ourselves to spot it even online! Isn’t it wonderful, empowering, and totally cool to not go down the crumb AC path again? Every contact is a way for me to learn to trust me. You just trusted you and enforced a boundary! Congratulations. BTW, he’ll only respect your wishes if you ‘choose him’ even though you haven’t met? Duh. FLUSH. Sometimes these guys are pretty insecure.

        • Anon says:

          May I ask about the online dating experience overall? In six months, have you met any quality, long term potential men? Or has it been months of “next and flush”, because that is A LOT of time and energy. I feel like I would need antidepressant medication to ‘weed through’ many go nowhere experiences, but I suppose that I have not met any one in six months not doing it. Classic dilemma? Catch 22? Also, I have read reviews and there are many complaints about match fraudulently billing your credit card over and over, and posting your picture and profile after you have quit your account. They do it to make it look like there are more people online than there really are, they keep sending winks from ‘ghost accounts’ SHADY, just like a lot of the guys on the sites. What has the world come to, and how do I get some protection from these daunting ‘experiences’? Oh, I remember, … a husband :)

          • tracy says:

            The thing that match does is indeed keep your profile on line even after you’ve quit and stopped paying. You have to go and ‘hide’ it or navigate through their maze of ridiculousness to get your profile wiped out. When I was on it, I would put in a search, it would come up with, say, 150 guys, but about 90 of them hadn’t been active in “over three weeks” which is code for “no longer on”. It’s pretty disingenuous of them to make it seem like they have more people available than there really are. I also noticed that when I wasn’t using it much, but still a paying member I would get emails or winks from guys and then when you tried to click on their profile it mysteriously was no longer available. But guess what that meant? Now MY profile said I was ‘active’ that day. It’s a pretty shady business, they like to portray themselves as a bit above the other sites, but they’re no better than any others.

          • runnergirl says:

            Good questions Anon. No, I have not met any quality long-term potential men online, assuming you mean men with similar values (not just common interests) who would like to get to know another slowly (and not just have sex) and who are honest, respectful, and trustworthy. And I haven’t met that guy in person either. 6 months seems to me to be a drop in the bucket compared to my past THIRTY YEARS! I wish I’d would have had some boundaries, weeded through, and flushed instead of marrying them. I’m approaching this next phase of my life with an open mind, open heart, trust in me, boundaries, and little bit of self-esteem so I don’t see online dating as a bunch of nowhere experiences. From each experience, I’ve learned a ton about me which may be a daunting experience. As a recovering FGB, it has been important to recognize that I have a choice and I can flush even if he thinks I’m the bees knees but I think he’s a dweeb. Even more importantly, I am learning to TRUST ME. I am learning to enforce boundaries and trust that I will enforce my boundaries. That’s been the scariest thing. Even though he is drop dead gorgeous, can I enforce my boundaries? So far, yes. Thus, I’m seeing this as an opportunity to develop trust in me, judgment, and experience.
            Sweetie, a husband isn’t the protection from these daunting experiences. You are your protection. There are shady folks everywhere, at work, at the gym, at the grocery store, at the gas station, and online. Thanks to Natalie, I avoid the shady folks no matter where I meet them. You can too, once you trust you.

            • runnergirl says:

              And PS…I took a year and half off…men-o-pause. I’ve been on BR daily for almost 2 years (my 2 year anniversary is in December), I’ve read and re-read all of Natalie’s books, I’m in her self-esteem e-course now which is fabulous. When I started online, I did a crash course reading everything Natalie has written about dating. Then, I implemented everything with amazing results so far. No hubby but a ton of self-esteem, although I’m still learning. I think it is fun, not a chore. Additionally, I’ve off-loaded a shit-load of self-blame and I’m still in the process. So yeah, I’m approaching my 50’s with enthusiasm cos I got my back, flipping finally! No guy is going to do it for me. Why does the obvious escape me?

            • Anon says:

              Thanks for the feedback, I think I will pass on the online thing after all. I have almost always made good choices, been prudent, had good boundries and self esteem. BUT, those qualities do not produce handsome, quality men out there to date. No statistical correlation. They are two separate issues, not conducive to each other. Yes, having knowledge and values helps you to weed out the legions of shady characters, but that isn’t getting me what I need, a permanent family.

        • dancingqueen says:

          totally agree Runnergirl; yes the eu thing pervades even in online profiles. I almost cut and pasted one that was so hilarious and copied it here; it screamed to abort mission! lol. It was something like “First off, no crazi (sic) chicks…lol..seriously are there any normal women out there? Just interested in checking this out, going with the flo (sic) ( profile pic had him hoisting a beer with some guys, then obligatory pic in his bathroom mirror with shirt off takes with cell phone, one by his SUV, on in front of his house that was large…ick…it was all there.) It went on to actually say something to the effect of that he didn’t want any more women to flip out on him and stalk him “even though I like the attention lol”…it made me howl. He came to my attention because he, in true lame form, “winked” at me.
          I think that you really have to have a thick skin to internet date. I did not for a while so I deleted my profile, Now I just leave it on and respond if someone is interesting. I stopped bothering to contact men because invariably it inflated them and even if we met, they were never really like they advertised. But with that said, I think that it is helpful to get out there and practice,if anything, your flushing skills, and for that, internet dating is very helpful;)

    • Grizelda says:

      Hi Skepticrina,

      Just be careful for you! I think he’s taking your temperature, not necessarily to see how much he can get out of you (which is also possible), but to see how much work and effort the relationship might be, or where your boundaries lie.

      Keep your boundaries firmly in place, and don’t feel obligated to give him more of yourself so that you can ‘reel him in’ — or more to the point, give him more of yourself so that you meet him at the 80-20 mark on a scale of 100, where HE is at “20” in terms of effort availability and YOU’RE at “80”.

      If he leaves it days and days and days til he contacts you again by text, pretend you’re busy. Or accidentally forget to respond and wait for the follow-up text. Or if he suggests going out on a Tuesday night, tell him you’re busy that night (don’t give him a reason why) and suggest Thursday or whatever. Otherwise if you’re too eager, you’re just showing him you don’t have a life — or that you’re placing yourself on the ‘optional’ shelf. His response will either be to reckon it’s not worth it (which proves that he was auditioning you for the ‘optional’ shelf), or he will smarten up and start behaving like he has a girlfriend in you.

      If he’s taking your temperature, it’s only right that you take his temperature as well.

      • Ellyb says:

        I believe if somebody behaves like that early on, then he’s showing his true nature. Playing games or being “educational” (as you’re basically suggesting, Grizelda) won’t change him one bit. I think it would be a waste of time.

        • Lilia says:

          I´ve come to think that these wishy-washy guys don´t really expect us to accept their offerings of crumbs, they just throw them in case we turn out to be fbgirls. Then, they can add us to their collection of (imaginary) ego boosting options.

          I´ve tied myself in pretzels trying to communicate with them, letting them know what it is I like/don´t like about their behaviour, trying to understand what it is they want. But in the end, it didn´t matter, they never intended to compromise! So I agree with Ellyb, as soon as a red flag pops up – don´t bother.

          The last guy I met (in person) through a dating site and had some hopes for soon started to text me for a shag. I told him over the phone that I didn´t find this very apealing and he laughed and agreed that it wasn´t very romantic(his words). But some weeks later I got the same texts. So yeah, did he even bother to consider my feelings?
          I´m afraid my point of view isn´t very uplifting, sorry for that.

        • Mymble says:

          Yeah I played those kind of games with MM ad nauseam “forgetting” to respond, delaying x number of days, signing with kisses, not signing with kisses, sometimes not replying at all…it’s demeaning and pointless. He is sending a clear message that his interest is limited and will offer only crumbs on his terms. Why bother being crumby back?

          • dancingqueen says:

            totally agree NO game playing; why bother? Do any of us have the time for a man in his 30’s, 40’s whatever who takes *three days* to ring back and much less, have the time to wait three days to not seem desperate? Hell no! Good job with that flush Scept…:)

        • sushi says:

          Grizelda, I do agree with Ellyb. I think that trying to “teach him” falls under trying to raise a man from the ground up and would be a passive agressive reaction, because your honest , true reaction is ” I don`t like it, not respectful, rude.” I did that in the past, gulp, mea culpa. You don`t end up communicating anything to them because they are not interested in listening,treating you well and will roll to suit their agenda.You just end up being drawn into the drama. They are not straightforward ( asking someone to call and returning phone call three days later , WTF) and you respond with much the same.Given that sort of disrespectful, lack of interest behaviour I would just drop and forget it. You could choose to say your bit,how you really feel about it, but that opens you to ” you are oversensitive” BS.More waste of time.

      • skepticrina says:

        I hear what you are saying, but I don’t want to check for temperature. If a man is interested, show it, don’t make me work for it or play mind fuckery with me. The more I learn (from Natalie) the less I am willing to play along.

      • selkie says:

        Tried all that wait to answer stuff (mirroring him), and what I learned was the he was showing me his temperature, not checking mine. If I have to play games and pretend not to notice his text for a day, or call back when I really want to, then Im not being authentic. When I tried all that stuff, I ended up feeling frustrated mostly. I won’t say it could never work, but I’m not up for it again.

        • skepticrina says:

          WOW! Did your comment ring true for me. I hate the games and the rules of engagement.

          • Lilia says:

            Aaargh I did all that silly mirroring thing too, it was a complete waste of time. Now I feel it´s like something a 5 year old would do, it´s so nice to grow up thanks to Nat!

    • runnergirl says:

      For me (the new me), what you have described would be a big time FLUSH for me. The minute your ‘heart sinks’, that is a sign for me meaning I need to stop, look, and listen, to ME. TRUST YOU. You will meet a guy that gets excited, makes an effort, returns calls, and this guy didn’t. Therefore, I would simply move on. I don’t mean to sound so high and mighty as I’m only getting the hang of things (barely)and I’m wobbly (mostly). One thing I’ve learned is that there are a ton of guys out there and I’m 53!
      Yup, hope he had a great time at the party. Who the eff cares? What you are “expecting” are your boundaries and there is no need to settle for less. Smack me day after tomorrow, I’ll probably need to follow my own words.
      But yeah, eff off dude and block. Not everyone is everyone’s cup of tea. Let’s all raise the standards and separate the wheat from the…? You did good.

  3. miskwa says:

    Tis funny, in the on line dating attempts I made in an attempt to move on, I gave just the right amount of trust, listening to my gut and my BR spidey senses. I must admit however, there were no real sparks and I was just trying to give men I felt so so about a chance. I was almost relieved when I had a really legitimate reason to cut them loose. I have had three major relationships in my life, two lasted four years and ended because we wanted different things long term. The last was for twelve years and ended because I had to take a job out West. I was hardly naive after that but because I am pretty choosy, do not approach those that to me were in no way relationship material, there were many behaviors, especially after moving West that simply floored me because they were soooo far beyond expected normal behavior. Stalking, disappearing, attempted rape by an older man, and now AC’s extreme narcissism /psychopathy. I went in with trust but was floored by what was to me inconceivable behavior. The stalker and would be rapist were easy, I avoided one and knocked down the other. Maybe there needs to be a field guide to dysfunctional relationship behavior.

    • Kit Kat says:

      Miskwa…Love your post :).. Like you I feel I am choosy and at 52 yrs old the pickins are slim in my area..I cant go thru another heartbreak like I just overcame. I just dont have it in me :) I am really not into hanging out at bars. SO I tried the online dating thing and realized very quickly it was not my thing either. So I will leave it up to fate. If I am meant to be alone the rest of my life ,so be it. If by chance someone walks into my life and treats me the way I deserve , it will be a blessing from above..Either way I have a great life, good job, grandkids & family…Life is good :)

      • Feistywoman says:

        My thoughts exactly. I have never and never will do online dating as it is a hunting ground for the men who haven’t got the skills to meet women naturally imho. If a man can’t talk on the phone, return calls, want to make an effort and respect me, wait for sex etc. then I am not interested. If I tell them to eff off then they know exactly why i.e. they have crossed my boundaries and aren’t suitable for me. For some it will be a wake up call others will be seeking their next victim.

  4. Revolution says:

    Son of a B, Natalie. If you’re ever in Cali, I’m buying you the biggest, fruitiest drink, girl. Damn good post. I haven’t been “feelin'” the last couple posts (due to personal experience only), but this one takes the frickin’ cake.

  5. Chloe says:

    Yup, this is me. Am currently single, free of all the bs and fears and don’t want to make another mistake and the idea of trusting again is off putting….of course i will get into another relationship, but how do I know it’s right. It’s like I like the freedom of being without a man again and it feels free and no BS!! My heart is good, i’m over the last one and the one before that one, finally….so why do i want to mess up a good thing? Because the day will come when i will say enough is enough, time for a relationship and then i jump out and find one, and then it starts all over again. I don’t want the bs, nor do i want to fool myself again into thinking i want the bs. so i guess i’ll stay single until it doesn’t feel like bs, and that’s where i need to trust myself to be able to do that. hope i’m making some sense…

  6. imagine says:

    What a timely post. Today is the first day I’ve felt half-way decent about myself in a long time. It’s been a month of NC from the ex-MM. My self esteem has been in tatters. After seeing the link in a post last week of and the tips men share to get laid online I was horrified. I fell for it hook, line and sinker. My marriage had been over for years and I was just waiting for the divorce to be final. I met the ex-MM the first time I logged onto a dating website. There were code red flags from the beginning that I ignored because I liked the package that I saw. He said he was separated (I found out later his wife didn’t know they were separated, hello!). When we met in person it had been so long since I had any physical attention that I bought what he said even though I could sense in my gut that something wasn’t right. By the time the truth came out I couldn’t tell his lies from the truth if they hit me over the head.

    Sixteen months and six breakup/reunions later I found out there were other, other women. Now I feel like I can’t trust anyone. Everywhere I look there are bogie men. I’m having a hard time trusting my own judgement. If I fell for this AC, what next?

    BR and the posts from fellow travelers help me to see that I am not alone and can heal from this…it just hurts like hell right now. I’m trying not to beat up on myself but I feel like somehow I should have known better. It’s like I’m behaving like a teenager. I wanted love and settled for sex. If I keep doing the same thing…I’m gonna get the same results.

    Thank you Natalie for saying, “Get clear on your boundaries, know your values and your needs be committed to living your life in a way that reflects the person that you say that you are.”

    Words to live by…

    • kendo says:

      just wanted to say I understand how you are feeling right now too…x

    • Fearless says:


      I’ve been giving on-line dating a go. So far I am not impressed with this process. The men I decide to contact do not reply and those who contact me are not what I’m looking for at all. It’s been rubbish so far. Have had one date out of it after four months – and he was a twit.

      One thing that is an instant flush for me is the word “separated”.

      Sorry you’ve had such a horrid experience but you have at least learned something you needed to learn.

      • natashya says:

        ‘separated’ is definitely a big red flag and an instant flush. i met someone online (we dated) and he was ‘separated’ for several years (his profile said ‘single’ though… mmmm). guess what. still married to his wife both legally and in his heart. ugh.

    • Grizelda says:

      Likewise, Imagine.

      I look around and see a vast, unnavigable ocean of red flags.

      Presumably the expectation that you’ll find someone ‘pretty much like yourself’ is setting the bar way, way too high when you’re an educated, solvent, smart, sociable, working professional, shit-together woman who acts her age not her shoe size. Silly, silly me, for thinking those features might come as standard in a man my age — without all the small print full of exceptions, disclaimers, get-out clauses, dodgy histories, a metric tonne of baggage, and closet doors bulging with skeletons.

      We need to be able to trust the evidence that they’re living out their values, not just giving lip service to them long enough to get a sexual relationship going. Neigh on impossible, I’ve found.

      • Jen says:

        Oh Grizelda (Have been loving the Canterbury irony of your name for quite some time now)… that is EXACTLY how I am feeling.

      • Kit Kat says:

        Grizelda. Thanks for the chuckle. Your post resonate with me always.
        “without all the small print full of exceptions, disclaimers, get-out clauses, dodgy histories, a metric tonne of baggage, and closet doors bulging with skeletons.”
        Sad but true :)

    • runnergirl says:

      Imagine, congratulations on one month NC with the exMM and for feeling half-way decent about yourself. That is a giant step forward. There is nothing I’ve ever experienced that has been worse than being an OW, including three divorces and 36 hours of labor. You can heal and learn to trust yourself and to enforce your boundaries.
      You aren’t alone. I should have known better as well and I felt like a teen too, even though I was over 50. The exMM didn’t even lie to me about being married and I signed up thinking…well…don’t know what I was thinking other than I wasn’t. Keep reading BR, order Nat’s books, and sign up for her e-courses.
      I settled for sex and the hallmarks of a relationship when I wanted love and a real committed, healthy relationship. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN WITH A MARRIED MAN. It’s like duh, now. I did the wobbly-kneed teenager stuff too, and we were both over 50. (Sorry to offend the 20-somethings.) Then after the teenager stuff in the parking lot, he went home to his wife and kids. Always, always, always get clear on your boundaries. I’m still struggling with “…living your life in a way that reflects the person that you say that you are.” I’m getting closer. Not perfect but closer. And I don’t need to be perfect. Just getting closer.
      Ladies, if you get a chance, sign up for Nat’s self-esteem e-course. It is amazing. I’ve uncovered discovered so much. Guys would totally benefit too as this isn’t about being female or male. Sign up ASAP. It’ll change your life at least it changed mine in so so so many ways.

    • Jule says:

      Congrats to you on a month of NC. Understand your experience and how you settled — sex in lieu of love. Boy Haven’t we all here? I’m struggling right now with that reality.

  7. Beyond Frustrated says:

    Great! This post is just what I needed, because this is exactly where I am right now. I just got out of a relationship with a man who was dually a Mr. Unavailable and assclown, and now I don’t even know if I should trust men or take what they say seriously. I find myself assuming they’re full of shit and waiting for the other shoe to drop or for their actions to confirm it. But now I get how that can translate into me being hyper-vigilant and not taking responsibility for learning and experiencing people.

  8. Tinkerbell says:

    Wonderful post, Natalie. I’ve met a very nice, very decent man. I am happy, relaxed, having a blast (joking and laughing), and we talk about everything under the sun. He is crazy about me and I feel the same way. He went with me Sunday to my church, enjoyed the service immensely, was very tastefully dressed and conducted himself with utmost gentlemanly behavior. This is not to say that these qualities quarantee that he is a good person. Not at all. I realize he can still turn out to be an AC. And, my problem is that that is exactly what I’m waiting for. It’s very hard for me to trust and have faith that I can actually have a good man. I keep trying to find out what is wrong with him and I keep telling myself it’s got to be something really God-awful because he is behaving so well. I remind myself that relationships always start out great and then they turn to shite. I’m waiting for the shite to start, in the form of disappointments, let-downs, broken promises, fading interest, blowing hot and cold, etc, and etc. Unfortunately, if I don’t relax and trust, I’m afraid that I’ll convey my fears and drive him away. I just have to be patient and experience him and what he is offering me, what I want, and what I want to give to and share with him over time. It’s like my mind is saying, “Hurry up and start your shite so we can get this over with!” That’s not a very positive attitude. and he happens to be a positive person. He is not a chronic worrier, or high strung like I am. He is actually a near perfect match, so far. That’s why there’s got to be something very wrong and I just know I am going to find out and get hurt. I guess it all boils down to not trusting ME. How does one get to that point? I’m doing the work and I’ve felt fairly confident when I didn’t have a man on the horizon. Now that I do, it’s scary.

    • Sadder but Wiser says:

      Tink, if you are enjoying the company of a nice, good and decent man, wonderful! But remember, he is not the source of your:

      c)sense of well-being
      e)reason for living

      If you take responsibility for providing yourself with those things, then all your emotional eggs aren’t in a basket that he can crush. If you make your primary love relationship the one you have with yourself, you don’t give another person the power to devastate you. This way you can risk a little more in the trust department and not be so afraid he will let you down. Because you haven’t given him the power to either pump you up or let you down.

      Like all of us, this guy isn’t and won’t be perfect – he will have flaws and problems, and if you are relaxed and not afraid at the outset, you’ll be able to see him more clearly. He may be a great guy or just an AC in disguise – but either way, if you are anchored firmly in the depths of your own being, his actions won’t be able to swamp your boat.

  9. Tinkerbell says:

    Just noticed several of your posts dealing with this topic of trust, developing it and knowing when to pull back. It occurs to me, just now as I write, that trust (wisely used) is a component of strength of character. Is that correct, or am I confused?

  10. Little Star says:

    So true Natalie, somehow I do expect to be “screwed over” as you said. IT is very hard to trust again, and even little things (not red flags) can make you disappointed and scared of potential (maybe great) relationship.

    Currently I am chatting to this guy from dating site, he is good looking musician and all what he said is “right” for me, but yet again, I never met him! I had few mistakes in my life, so this time I will make sure that I will not rush, and keep my boundaries in tact:) If his values and believes match mine, I will give him a chance, but only ONCE. NO more roller coaster like with other ACs!

    • tracy says:

      I’ve had guys write forever, telling me all their secrets, their life stories, etc. Then you meet them in real life, and most of the time…nothin’. No sparks. Conversely, the ones who give you their phone number at the first email are just as bad (usually trolling for sex). Anyone who, in my experience, has turned out to be remotely decent trades five or so emails then makes a date. Those who offer zillions of excuses as to why they can’t meet are just jerking you around. Also, beware those who are far away. Yes, people can do long distance, but even if it’s emails and phone calls, people seem to create ‘relationships’ in their minds and then become horribly disappointed to the point of heartbreak when the guy disappears. On line can be OK if expectations are REAL and you look at it as a means to MEET someone that you MIGHT get into a relationship with as opposed to a fantasy.

    • Freya says:

      Good luck Little Star. I hope something comes of the potential. :)

  11. Ellie says:

    Hi Natalie I’ve been reading your wisdom for a few years now and it’s certainly helped me. Trust was a big issue for me because Ive been through the mill with some handsome sharks throughout my life. I am now happy to say that through adhering to the advice written by yourself I eventually met a man a year ago who I now consider my partner for life. I’m 50 so it’s took a long time to get here! When I met him I knew he wasn’t my ‘type’ ie not drop dead handsome, but I liked his outlook and liked being with him. So I decided to change a habit of a lifetime and ignore my superficial yearning a for a George Clooney lookalike and I’m so glad I did.

    Within 3 months I fell deeply in love with him and he with me. :-)

    Just thought I’d let you know that your advice has really helped me to look inside me and got rid if a lot of internal baggage that was stopping me really living my life so thank you.

  12. D says:

    I’ve been a reader of this blog for over a year now (NC with last AC since summer 2011). Unfortunately, I think I am again however involved with another EUM and although it is early days I think it can get confusing when you have had experiences with a series of EUMs and ACs before…how do you know when you are just being mistrusting? It can be easy to label men as ACs and EUMs.

    This guy lives far away from me and is only single a year after a long term relationship with a woman who not only cheated on him but is now about to have a baby with someone else. I knew him before he got with her and I knew he liked me but I was with someone else so it never was a possibility. We got back in touch after his relationship ended, met a few times, had sex..he seems very into me and has good qualities but largely the effort is on my side. He swears he’s different and he IS different to my usual type but at the same time he’s the in the gates, charmer and a bit self absorbed.

    Anyhow he at the beginning was saying I could trust him but I am not sure if I can but I’m not sure if it’s to do with me and my general lack of trust or to do with the fact he reminds me of my ex a little. We aren’t in an exclusive relationship yet, I am wondering should I just leave it. Maybe I am not making as much progress as I thought. I would be grateful for any advice.

    • Freya says:


      Hmm…If you are making all the effort that might be an amber alert. Just doesn’t sound quite right to me. On the other hand I am in the same place as you:
      not always sure if I am looking for something wrong or if there really IS something wrong. lol. Time tends to ferret out the truth.

      I do know that a lot of guys get used to women making all the effort or are terribly insecure and prefer the woman to make efforts. I don’t really agree with it. I quit seeing someone who was pretty cool because his lack of effort made me feel like he wasn’t all that into the relationship. Like maybe he was just in it because it was easy for him.

      Maybe you could just ask him to take more initiative. If you want him to call you more often, ask him to call more often. Whatever it is you want, ask for it. Share with him what you are thinking and how you want it to be. If he likes you he will make an effort to please you, or he will tell you why he can’t do what you ask of him. At least then you open the door for real honest communication.

      Hopefully more peeps will comment for you so you get more advice and opinions.

      Best wishes to you. Be strong and know that you will make the right choice for you.


    • grace says:

      Yes, Leave it. Too much distance, not enough effort on his behalf, casual sex (sorry) = unpromising. Trust isn’t blind and it isn’t throwing caution to the wind or fantasising “if only”. Trust in your experience, values and wisdom. You already know what to do. Trust in your ability to do it.

  13. Tinkerbell says:

    Little Star. The regulars on BR know that I am “Queen of Online Dating” – retired. LOL! Anyone want the title? Go for it! Very important. If you like the guy well enough and vice versa, arrange an in person meeting AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. It cuts through the BS of fantasizing, romanticizing getting all worked up over his emails, texts, etc. Believe me, in person, is the REAL DEAL, otherwise it’s worthless fluff that doesn’t add up to a bag of beans and a huge waste of precious time. Good luck.

    • Espoir says:

      Yes, yes, Little Star,please listen to Tinkerbell (by the way Tinkerbell will you be my ”online dating coach” when I’ll be ready to give it another try) and stop the ”online fantasy”- try to meet the guy in real life – if not , by the time that you will eventually meet him your mind will be already into him and this is where is so damn hard to see all the red flags…we sooooo tend to avoid those…I’m so guilty of that :(

    • Little Star says:

      Tinkerbell and Espoir thank you for your comments and support, you are right I should meet him!!! He insists meeting me, but somehow I am scared, he is very good looking (I have to say) and I have these thoughts: “I am not that attractive/ tall/smart and have ordinary job, nothing extraordinary” We arranged a date on Monday and I cant even tell you how nervous I am:(

  14. SM says:

    “Are you waiting to be screwed over? This ‘waiting’ communicates distrust and will be reflected in your actions and mentality and it’ll all just end up in a self-fulfilling prophecy.” I’ve thought back and analyzed the times that I have done this and what was going on at the moment. There were always amber/red flags that I was ignoring but my subconscious was not so hence the ‘waiting to be screwed over’ because I basically knew I should not be dating that person. It wasnt self fulfilling prophecy, it was my alert system telling me to get out. I ended up getting screwed over or dumped, because I shouldnt have been there in the first place. The last guy I dated, I decided to be all in. His actions were decent, we just did not share the same values. Because his actions were decent I didnt have the ‘about to be screwed over’ feelings. So like you are saying Nat, I need to trust myself now and I do.

  15. Helsbels says:

    This is indeed a great post! When people let us down and bad things happen we find it harder to trust and EXPECT things to go wrong when in fact we should keep an open mind.
    Trusting with your boundaries firmly in place is safe as you will find out who is genuine and who is not.Life has dealt me many blows and I have been guilty of expecting the worst to happen.
    I’m learning to trust again but it’s difficult to ignore those internal fears that nag you….I have come to the conclusion that it’s mind over matter…and keep reading these uaseful posts over and over they give strength, thanks Natalie :-)

  16. Lady Lisa says:

    Great post, Natalie!
    I haven’t even begun to think about dating again. Well…no…I have. I just haven’t had the desire to do anything about it. I admit that I’m jaded, and still foolishly dealing with hurt feelings from my last non- relationship. It’s mostly anger at myself for ignoring the signs and proceeding anyway. I still think about him. I still spy on him, I still beat up on myself for what I perceive as doing something ‘wrong’. This business of letting go and moving on is difficult. I have no one else to blame but me, and I’m working hard through tears and self reflection to move forward and put the focus back on myself. It’s not easy to really see yourself. The flaws, the habits, the mistakes. But I’m also trying to see the beauty, the talent, and all the good stuff too. Im tired if being stuck in this place. It’s awful. And I guess it will continue to be like this until it isn’t. The light is always there. I got tripped up this week because he sent me a text asking me if I was okay from hurricane Sandy. I resisted answering the text until I gave in and responded. I simply said, ” I’m okay. Thanks”. He responded with a “good”. Nothing more. I had to tell myself that this checking in meant absolutely nothing. It didn’t mean that he’s sorry or missing me or anything. It just was what it was. But now I’m wishing I had never responded. What was the point? It’s only made me sad once again. Thinking about why it didn’t work. Why he didn’t choose me. Believing that his life is so much better now that he’s moved on. I’m having a bad day. Sigh. Back to readjusting my thoughts. Back to my life. It’s a process.

    • Kit Kat says:

      LadyLisa. I feel your pain. I made the very hard decision to cut ALL CONTACT with the ex AC/EUM. Mostly for the reason of what you just went thru amoungst other reasons.
      A) I dont want or need to know about his life. I dont want to know if there still together or not. I need to focus on me and my life.
      B) He doesnt need to know anything about my life. Good or bad. Period. End . He made his choice & I accept it as hard as thats been to do.
      C) I needed to grieve the loss. Just get over it. I couldn’t do that if he was still in my life in any way.
      Its been a little over a year. Do I still think about him. Sometimes. Do I still get sad. Sometimes. Do I get mad. Sometimes.
      But I can say its about 90% good happy days and 10% not bad days, but not great either. Its about recycling memories, thinking about everything,how it ended, what was said & not said ect… So its a process and it cant be rushed thru as much as that would be a blessing. I am taking my time, mending my broken heart, looking at my future & where I want to be.
      Be good to you. Its ok to have an off day here and there. Cyber hug to you :)

    • PhoenixRises says:

      Like Kit Kat, I can relate to how you feel. I am also guilty of having looked at his online profile to wonder, ‘is he really happy? Has he moved on?’ I don’t know why I do it, because I know it isn’t constructive and it doesn’t change the fact that I would never want him back in my life. I’m convinced it is more about changing obsessive thoughts and ruminations than anything else.

      Kit Kat gives some good advice, and I can second that–NC is the way to go. You already know the other person is no good for you. Ask yourself why your thoughts are wondering to him. For me, I’m most guilty of thinking about the ex when I am especially vulnerable, lonely, or something bad has happened and I’m seeking comfort. But now I know that I can attack it and find a healthier outlet. When I am feeling weak or getting lost in thoughts, I keep a list of the toxic traits of him and our relationship so I don’t make a bad decision and break NC. Don’t beat yourself up over one text. Stay strong! You can do it :)

  17. Kristen says:

    Ellie … how did you meet this guy? What’s the story?

    In terms of online dating, Tinkerbell is right: Meet the guy immediately. If he won’t make a date to meet you for coffee or whatever on your terms, in your ‘hood, right away, he’s not serious and the reason doesn’t matter. Move on. There are a lot of assholes online but there are also decent guys and you have to be willing to wade through the muck. My best girlfriend met her husband online and they’ve been very happily married for eight years. That said, my girlfriend dated online for almost four years before she met him and had gotten to the point of not even changing her clothes or putting on make-up to meet a guy. Ahahaha.

    And remember, in your life, you are the road and other people are the cars you allow on or force off your road. As Chris Cornell sings, “I am not your rolling wheel, I am the highway; I am not your carpet ride, I am the sky.”

  18. selkie says:

    Although I’d like a relationship, and maybe marriage again in my life, I’m no longer making it THE goal. I read somewhere, maybe here, that singledom should be enjoyed, not treated like the dreaded time between relationships. When I look at it that way, the desire for a relationship seems less like a race to the finish line and more like a nice walk down the path in Candyland (actually fun and interesting) . I’ve really taken it too serious. Also, in this process I’ve learned that I’ve expected my source of happiness to come from a/the relationship. That was a big epiphany for me because previously I would of fiercely denied that fact. No wonder I’ve been wrecked after breakups, and no wonder I had a hard time trusting. So much was at stake for me, I put so much of myself at stake. This was different than trusting, this was trying to complete myself with a relationship. I may be able to trust now, in a more healthy way since unraveling my own self defeating behaviors. I’ve made a switch since being single to fill my life with more fulfilling things and actually developing new goals for myself that are independent of a relationship. I can feel my confidence growing. Sure, I still have bad days, but I don’t run out and jump into a relationship to fix it. It’s my hope that this shift in me will lead to me to greener pastures and contentment in myself, and being able to trust without feeling like my world is in danger of crumbling.

  19. Grizelda says:

    One of my rules in life is that I don’t let people down — ever. I’m trustworthy. I do as I say and I say as I do. I never lie to people or manipulate them. I don’t suddenly jerk the rug out from under people. I don’t ‘turn’ on people. I don’t breach their rights. I don’t trick people, troll people, or mislead them, nor do I use people for personal gain to my own hidden agenda… which on reflection probably avoids the number one reason why people violate the trust of others.

    If someone doesn’t get what they want from me — and if I don’t go out of my way for someone, it’s because what they want is entirely out of line with reality — I make sure they understand the cause & effect of why I’m not going to give it to them or do it for them. They can trust me is for a genuine reason. If a project or a plan or a relationship goes awry, the cause & effect is there as well as the evidence that damn-it-all I did my best til nothing more could be done. I just never, ever, transgress people’s trust.

    This is why I find it so difficult to understand why other people patently feel free to violate trust. This is why I equate someone’s violation of trust to some kind of mental illness on their behalf — it’s so alien a concept to me, I think “well if you’re someone who does that, you’re seriously out of your mind and you need professional help.” It’s way, way outside of anything that could possibly be described as normal behaviour.

    Clearly I do not respond very well if someone contravenes my trust. I don’t get angry, I get out. I don’t give a monkey’s whistle if they call me oversensitive and think I hold grudges. Damn right I hold grudges against people who behave like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde — who wouldn’t?

    But I think it’s fair to say that ‘risk assessment’ plays a role from the start. Intuition provides a LOT of information if you listen to it. And analysis — thinking ‘how bad a position would I be in if this person did x or y?’ and having a safety net (a place to go, a pot of money, etc) for bailout purposes in place so that you can try to limit the damage that other people do to you.

    STILL doesn’t change the fact that I have zero comprehension, and a whole lotta hate, for people who seem to feel entitled to breach the trust of others and damage them.

    • Sadder but Wiser says:

      Griz, I could have written your post, but you said this better than I ever could! Like you, I don’t let people down – ever. I am trustworthy, dependable, honest and honorable. And I cannot even imagine doing to someone else what my ex did to me. His thinking is so alien to me, and I’m glad that it’s alien.

      Now I don’t want to be naive about how poorly other people can and do act – at the same time, I don’t want to end up chronically cynical and only seeing (and suspecting) the worst in people. I still have some of my joyful innocence left – I don’t want to let anyone take that from me.

      So my dilemma now is: how do I (and how do all of us) find that narrow space where we can be vigilant and do our absolutely necessary “risk assessment” but not fall into soul-crushing cynicism, suspicion and hardness?

      • Freya says:

        Sadder but Wiser:

        “how do I (and how do all of us) find that narrow space where we can be vigilant and do our absolutely necessary “risk assessment” but not fall into soul-crushing cynicism, suspicion and hardness?”

        I wish I knew. I just keep going out there and trying. At some point I figure I will find the right balance. In the mean time I am learning ALOT about myself, what I want, and how I go about getting it.

        On another note, I wish I could be like you and Grizelda. Unfortunately, I have let people down, I have lied, and I have broken peoples trust; I’ve even had hidden agendas. I never set out to do those things. I think I’m a good person but I’ve made some mistakes that’s for sure. I think because I have made these mistakes it makes me more inclined to forgive others their trespasses as well. I don’t always continue a relationship – especially if trespassing is the norm, but I do cut people slack. Just as I would want them to do for me.

        • Elle says:

          Griz, Only a quick and very casual reply, but, from my experience of having sh*t done to me, and being sh*t to others, people do sh*t things because they feel like it and can (Clinton response) or because they are still wallowing in a childhood mentality and have given themselves permission to be crap – I wasn’t given a break/shown love/treated consistently, so why should I be this to others? Some people seem to have it ingrained in them, a strong code, most others need to learn it. Even if we ostensibly live by a certain moral framework, balancing this with pressures, duties, fears and boring things, like being hungry, can be hard. I am one for absolutes – I know when I am being crap and I rarely let people down – but I am also one for context – situation matters. I guess, when looking for a partner, I would think about where you both are in life and what your general characteristics are, and what your routine treatment of people looks like. I’d also back yourself – you have no need to stick with anyone who isn’t adding to your already wonderful life.

    • Used says:

      i feel the same as you do.

      to add to what you said: i also feel people out there are DAMNED LUCKY to know anyone like us. so of course i (like you) won’t be able to understand people who CHOOSE to breach trust, even (and especially) when it means that i will suffer damages as a result.

      the way people explain this to themselves: “grizelda & used are sooooo naive & sheltered & unknowing of howthe world works.” they are macchiavellian. most people are nowadays.

      so you don’t trust anyone until they EARN your trust. sad that the people like you & me won’t be getting the benefit of the doubt. but you do end up protecting yourself from everyone.

      people don’t appreciate what they don’t (have to) work for. sad but true.

  20. jewells says:

    So, I took my hairdresser up on his offer to ‘set me up’ with one of his friends (who I met briefly previously, but never had a conversation with) which in the past I wouldn’t have done out of pride/fear/mistrust. I had the most wonderfully empowering experience since coming out of my EUM MM experience – I immediately saw the flags and after two conversations….FLUSHED! I flushed before any crap came down, and in that manner managed a friendly end rather than have let him tread on my boundaries, piss me off and have me give him the big ef u, I proudly just simply stated “nice chatting with you, good luck”. That’s it, no drama, no residuals, no regrets. I trusted myself to stay objective and to take note of the amber flags and removed myself from the tracks before the train hit the station. NEXT!!!

  21. jewells says:

    Oh – flags were: 45 single living in a rented basement apartment, life revolves around his rugby club (which is why he lives where he does), in the first conversation he said that he was hoping to ‘not be single much longer’ (uh, dude, this is our first conversation, how about getting to know me first), I divulged some information about my previous relationship and asked him about his last one (to get a feel for how he thinks) and he blanked the question – zero feedback like it was never asked. He made a date for coffee the following Sunday, called to say he was too sick (fair enough) but in the same conversation proceeded to ask me what my plans were for the day…huh? my plans were with you bud…so no plans anymore… Then a half hearted suggestion for Fri, which I couldn’t do because of work, so his response was ‘well, I call sometime and see what we can work out’. (Sometime? – you aren’t that special dude!) I told him ‘sometime never happens’ and asked if he was “truly interested” he responded yes, but that we both had lives before we talked and that’s all he had to offer (Crumbs!). I said yes we both have lives, but if two people are truly interested then they’ll work to figure out a time and place that fits around both lives. Nice chatting with you, good luck…FLUSH

    • Freya says:

      Well good for you Jewell. I know how empowered I felt the first time I really truly took a stand against someone that had half-hearted interest in me. I wish I could have handled it so maturely. I think the very last thing I said to him was “Don’t Mess With Mighty MU!!!!” (name Mu is a long story…) The poor fella is probably still reeling from the beating I gave him.

  22. Kath says:

    I guess I need to raise my expectations because I don’t “trust” anybody I initially meet, male or female in potential friend arena. I am 3 months divorced now after an 18 year relationship with 2 children and realized he was a serial cheater. It has been very bitter. I immediately embarked a torrid affair while separated with a classic Mr. Unavailable. I’ve been researching much on sex addicts and narcissists and believe I am surrounded, perhaps one myself after a sexless marriage (except kids). I met one of the “Other Women” who texted me regarding Mr. Unavailable who had a stable. We eventually met and became roommates and together cut him off/out. This has been difficult because he is a former employee, parent at all schools and events, his live-in knew about us and of course hates me as much as I despised the other women in my marriage.

    The Other Woman and I have become fast friends and have much in common, including poor choices and trust issues and I’m thinking, low self-esteem. I haven’t dated in two decades so am completely at a loss. She is trying online route. I met a man through her that I really like(d). We had much in common- he’s the same age, a writer, musician, extremely smart and erudite (something I missed), affectionate. We had three dates at home that went really well- great rapport, dinner, talking for hours, no sex- and he walked out the door and I haven’t heard from or seen him since. He had agreed to help with my resume and be my “am candy” for an upcoming wedding where I will see my -ex and all the ex-friends he took with him. I did the whole- wow, did I say something? Was it politics (I wouldn’t divulge who I was voting for in upcoming Pres election)? Is it because I wanted to have sex? Is it because I am so recently divorced? Enthusiastic/ Direct? He’s really seeing somebody else and I was the Other Woman again?

    Whatever the reason it’s been three weeks and you don’t have to hit me over the head with a frying pan to get the point across. But it has given me that sick feeling and the flight response that I’ve tried to overcome. I actually had started to trust him. And now I feel like I’m in sixth grade, not 52. I am trying to trust but put myself in the same damn category as those whom I don’t. Then next out of the gate, as I move forward, is a man who wanted oral sex before we even kissed. He asked me out again but I’m sure it’s to finish the deed. The writer totally dissed me. My -ex has no problem getting a date. I’m fun, attractive (I think for my age), smart but feel like such damaged goods that I just stay in, don’t go out much. And I’m an official recovering hypocrite, I guess. I have never been in a relationship, long-term or otherwise where I haven’t been cheated on so guess I went that route. Trust seems like a fantasy.

    On a positive note, my new roommate and I are very close and have decided to really work on our trust issues and esteem and worthiness and make good choices. And, we have a solid pact to NEVER share the same man again LOL!!! Although in retrospect, Mr. Unavailable brought us together inadvertently and Mr. Writer inspired and encouraged me to write again. And, of course, Mr. Serial Cheater Ex-Husband gave me two beautiful offspring. So I got something. Just no trust……or experience in that particular arena.

    • skepticrina says:

      One day at a time my virtual friend.

      • Kath says:

        Thanks, Ms. Skeptcrina~ will heed that advice. Can’t sleep or eat so difficult and almost time to go vote. I’ve got OCD- convinced. No more ACs or dick heads for me. After all, I’ve got my EX. And I’m virtually in GA. A blue dot in a red state. Not sure they’ve got a color for Independent yet……

  23. Kath says:

    P.S. Correction typo: “arm candy” and I didn’t mention that my -ex was also my business partner so I lost all in divorce- house, company, job along with neighborhood “friends”. I also kept a dirty secret for two decades that contributed to why I can’t/don’t allow myself to trust, which is that the charming man I married was verbally and physically abusive to me for years. So really want to meet a nice man and trust. Yet I’m sure I put up all the signals that I don’t……thank you.

    • grace says:

      No dates at home, go out. Get a baby sitter. Three dates that werent even dates is nothing. It’s enough for you to know if you want to continue. Thats all. Seems he didn’t, it’s not a big loss, just mildly disappointing. Like you say it could be any reason. Some people are just three date wonders. Date four is too much commitment!
      No talking for hours at home. It builds false intimacy. When you’re out you can talk about what you see, people watch, enjoy the activity rather than being too cuddly and affectionate, and possibly over sharing. And going out is fun! And you find out if someone is able to at least make the effort to plan and show up.
      Going to a wedding with him after a couple of non dates is completely inappropriate. Not to mention your ex being there.
      Mind your boundaries. When you’ve been married a long time it can be hard to date again. I recommend a book called what “smart women know”. It helped me in the early days of my current relationship. First one in years! It can happen.
      As for trust. Trusting isn’t the same as ignoring your own boundaries or even time honoured dating traditions. Think about what feels right. How would two strangers best get to know each other? What does discovery mean and look like to you?

      • Kath says:

        Thank you, Grace, for your graceful advice. It’s funny that you used the word “boundaries.” My (of all things) prom date from 1978 said the same thing- I had texted him to see if he was all right as he was in Sandy’s hit path. He has recently separated and told me that I had “no boundaries.” He’s a good friend now albeit long distance. I think I’ve been loathe to leave the house. I had one long-term male friend who, under guise of helping me, stalked. And then another long-term male friend (married) force himself on me while his wife was away and I had to flee in a cab. So reluctant to go out in public….the whole trust issue thing. Big city, small town syndrome. But you are absolutely right- my comfort zone is not conducive to experience- as you said, “false intimacy.” Strange waters here. I appreciate your candor and am developing a new support system with new friends which is also alien. I am supportive as well- once a friend, the staunchest, most loyal ever. I will always be cordial to this person as they are my roommate’s friend. But this whole disappearing thing? No need. Worth more. And Z said, “K, you need to establish boundaries! Why do you let people trample?” And this, after a Hurricane, in survival mode for him……
        Thanks, Grace! I will be more mindful. Despite fact I really liked him-home dater- first guy in forever. {sigh} I’m doing my research, new to this dimension.

  24. jewells says:

    oh, not that 45 single living in a rental is a flag – sorry, made it seem that way. however, everything after that have some flag worthy signs in it…

  25. Tinkerbell says:


    I’d love to be able to give you sound advice about online dating, but then I wouldn’t be able to remain “anonymous”. I will say this though, you really need to be very thick-skinned and street smart because it is such an insecure, risky endeavor, and can be such a colossal waste of time. Pay attention to what other ladies on here have to say. Generally, it’s not good.


    Thanks so much for your wise comments. They help to keep me grounded. I’m sure that he’s not an AC in disguise, but, of course one learns a great deal more about someone over time. My goal is to try to not to be so uptight about what will happen in the future and enjoy, NOW. It’s been nearly three months and there has been not one indication that he’s not sincere. He’s an upbeat, generous spirited individual and we enjoy each other a lot. But, I will keep my antennae in place hopefully without allowing it to be obvious.


    Don’t waste your time on the ones who will not supply a photo. There’s a very good reason why. I didn’t care how great the profile was, no photo was an automatic delete. And if you ask for their photo you’ll get a run-around, because they’re shady characters to begin with. Commonly, the ones you like don’t reciprocate and the ones you’d never be interested in are yours for the taking. “Legally separated” is still technically married so forget them. And, puleeeze don’t worry about their “hurt feelings” when you haven’t even laid eyes on each other. Many of them are just passing time, entertaining themselves and don’t really intend for it to be anything more. If you decide to continue. I wish you luck. You’ll need it.

    • Fearless says:


      Thanks. Yep. I flush the ‘no photos’ right away. I don’t even look at their profiles. I won’t be renewing my subscription. I think I’ve got the general idea. It’s a waste of time – or it would be if I gave it more than a quick look-in once every few days! It’s not for me. I am trusting my instincts 100% and I am very thick skinned about it the whole thing, so don’t worry!

  26. Ellyb says:

    Last week, I kind of relapsed. For 10 days, I’ve travelled another continent as part of some official delegation, which was fascinating, but also exhausting beyond imagination: Less than 5 hours of sleep a night on average, jetlag, altitude sickness and endless speeches in languages I didn’t speak. Of course, perfect manners were required at all times. During that trip, we witnessed both extreme wealth and extreme poverty and were warned of violence and terror. I found all this deeply disturbing, but had no time to process it.

    There was group dynamics, too: Lots of MM travelling without their wives chasing the few women on the group. One young (nymphomaniac? AC?) lady built herself a veritable harem during that trip.

    I crumbled, too. Just when I thought I couldn’t handle ANY more speeches and started getting really angry at the people responsible for this (IMHO unnecessarily) tight schedule, there was this guy… He worked locally (as an expat) for the institution that had organized the trip and had joined our group for a few days. He had mildly flirted with me before, but at that moment, he really showered me with attention, made me feel special, made me feel “noticed”, and I fell for it hook, line and sinker. Suddenly, everything looked bright again. The problem was… he started acting like an EU guy soon afterwards, flip-flapping, flirting with the “harem” girl (which drove me crazy) and so on. Even if nothing else happened, I was in a tailspin of self-doubt for the rest of the trip.

    As soon as I was on my plane back home, it occured to me how meaningless all this had been. Not only had he acted like an EU guy, he was also living 5000 miles away from my home! By even fantasizing about a future with him, I had been EU too. I’m slowly getting over all this, but I hate myself for relapsing. Why had I been that weak? I guess I might have become re-traumatized a bit by the circumstances of that trip. But how can I trust myself again after this?

    • Feistywoman says:

      You can and will. Don’t be too hard on your self as I know what I am like if sleep deprived. Treat this a a learning curve and move on. As long as your sexual health is ok after this encounter then you know the signs to look out for in another EUM just out for sex.

      • Ellyb says:

        @Feistywoman: Thanks! Just to clarify things: I didn’t have sex with him and we didn’t have any physical contact at all. It was just some kind of “infatuation”, purely platonic, but I surely gave him a huge ego boost at my own expense. During the last days of the trip, I believed I was completely worthless whenever he ignored me! And this hurts.

        Anyway, you’re right, sleep deprivation is the pits. I think my infatuation with him was like a drug for me – it helped me forget how miserable I was but it gave me a huge hangover later on.

        • Feistywoman says:

          Hi sorry if I thought the encounter was sexual and misjudged you. In that case he ain’t worth beating your self up over. Turn this around and boost your self esteem, you know that men are attracted to you.

      • Lilia says:

        That´s a lot of stress you had to deal with, don´t be hard on yourself for reacting that way. It´s not like you behaved like a nitwit after meditating with the Dalai Lama, don´t punish yourself!

    • Freya says:

      I am SO happy you told your story. I recently did a black slide thing. I’ve been feeling kinda bad about it too. It’s like I’ve been doing so good why would I go and mess it all up? In my defense I was drunk and he gave really good hugs. Well, that’s what i keep telling myself. Lmao.

      I agree with Feistywoman don’t be too hard on yourself. It is an excellent learning experience and a chance for you to reestablish your boundaries. Use it as fuel to confirm your values and beliefs.

      It’s easy to get sucked in when you are getting so much attention showered on you. I mean crap, it feels good. Besides, there is nothing wrong with a one night stand with a guy that lives 5000 miles away. There is absolutely no danger of you becoming involved in something you don’t want to be involved in.

      • Ellyb says:

        As I’ve mentioned above, I didn’t have sex with the guy, and the attention he gave me was really only crumbs, but I fell for it, and it hurts. Whenever he flirted with the girl with the harem (after he had wooed me), I was devastated, and whenever he turned back towards me, I regained hope. Every night, I asked myself: Should I try to sit next to him at dinner, or would that look too “eager” (as if that changed anything with an EU guy)? Where is “she” going to sit? It was so painful. I was suddenly riddled with self-doubt again, I hated myself again, I started putting that other, younger woman (the one with the harem) on a high pedestal… And all of this was so unnecessary, because his behavior wasn’t about me at all.

        Sitting with almost anyone else on the group was also a problem, because most of them were MMs seeking ego boosts from younger women… I had travelled with several members of the same crowd years ago (before BR), and I guess I had given them quite a few ego boosts back then (even if I never had sex with any of those guys). Propping up other people’s egos at my own expense used to be totally normal for me (daughter of a narcissistic momster, after all). Breaking such a self-destructive pattern isn’t easy (especially not when you’re overtired). At least the guy wasn’t married, but he was none the healthier for me in retrospect.

  27. Kim says:

    Natalie, You have saved my life. I had a relationship with a Mr. Unavailable who left me feeling “crazy” and taking responsibility for all that went wrong in the relationship. He blew hot and cold to manage down my expectations of him and the relationship. I was six months out of a divorce and had just lost my job and did not have any self-esteem. I finally found the strength to leave him. It was difficult but I did. In the mean time I did research about relationships and dating. I just happened to stumble on your Baggage Reclaim and it all started to make sense to me. I have been reading ever since. I have my self-esteem, my boundries, and I have finally realized that I do not need anyone to be happy. I am able to date without trusting blindly anymore. I do not let anyone cross my boundries and I trust my gut. I now realize that it takes time to get to know someone and not to get all wrapped up in a hot minute. I am still learning as I go. I am forever grateful to you and the work you are doing. It has made such a difference in my life.

    • Ziggybutterfly says:

      I’ll second that this site is great. Mature, smart advise not some “get back your ex” bullsh*t. In setting boundaries for how others treat me, I also must set boundaries for myself and my own behavior. I totally turned into the psycho ex girlfriend and hate myself for it. Never again.

  28. miskwa says:

    Thanks. Right now I am on a self imposed on line dating hiatus. My bozo tolerance is at an all time low. Trying to find out what my options actually are. I dont have functional family, I do help out my emotionally closed father. Most of my colleagues are great with the exception of AC. Its just that potential partners and non work friends just are not possible anywhere near here. Last night, I ran into my one attempt to date a local, a true local, uneducated, ex miner dude. Nope, he hasn’t changed; still is obsessed with his fitness level to the exclusion of all else in life, still has major issues with short and long term memory. Told him about the multi million dollar center I am trying to get going; he looked at me really strange and said “but how is your running going”? Gave myself a hearty pat on the back for exiting from his life. Good to know I am doing something right. BTW, a lot of posters talk about photoless profiles, yep, he’s hiding something. AC did this on line while pursuing me AND simultaneously being involved with someone else.

    • Kit Kat says:

      Miskwa… Yes, my ex AC who I dated for 9yrs had his profile on a dating site (photoless of couse) for the entire time we dated I am now thinking. I feel so stupid for not knowing about it. When I confronted him with it at the end his response was: I just go on there when I’m bored & look at profiles. I wasnt on there to find someone else.” Really, FLUSH

  29. Lilia says:

    As for the no-photo thing. I once got a message from a guy who told me he didn´t put up his photo because he was a teacher and didn´t want his students to make fun of him. We exchanged emails to IM and his profile pic was his (supposedly) naked torso showing beautiful abs and briefs. Not his head or face. Not sure what that was all about but I certainly felt like I was chatting with some porn star or a beheaded greek statue.
    Or well, perhaps I do know: a narcissist who was only looking for some shags. Too bad because before I saw that headless photo he seemed pretty polite, cultured and overall nice.

    • Kit Kat says:

      I certainly felt like I was chatting with some porn star or a beheaded greek statue.
      Thanks, I almost spit my morning coffee all over my keyboard :)

  30. PhoenixRises says:

    For me, this trust issue has more to do with patience, and having faith that things will work out. My only other relationship was with someone who was EU and swung from being obsessed with me/wanting to marry me/telling me how beautiful our children would be to pushing me so far away I was afraid to send him a text. As a result, my trust issue is with accepting the speed of a normal or consistent dating situation. I worry that things might be taking too long because in my past he was always adamant and obsessive; or I stress that I’ve perhaps scared someone off because if the ex wasn’t “feeling” our relationship he would shut off after any contact from me. I’m trying to remember not everyone is like this, but it’s hard.

  31. Tinkerbell says:

    Little Star.

    I completely understand your nervousness. You are anticipating rejection before even meeting him. Try to get your nerves under control and go ahead. How else will you know if he’s a match for you or not? Be glad he wants to meet asap instead of stringing you along with the romantic messages, emails, texts. If it’s a “no go” at least you didn’t waste a lot of time before you found out. Funny, just tonight my friend said he was surprised and pleased about my knowledge of basketball. The last AC, that I’d met online, was a basketball enthusiast. I was reminded of how much I used to love the game and I got deeply back into it. If I hadn’t met that AC, and shared that interest with him, I would not have had the ability to impress this one with that particular knowledge. It’s all very trivial, I know. But my point is even in a bad experience we can not only learn to take better care of ourselves, but learn or perfect a skill, ability, etc. that makes you even more attractive to the next man who comes along. Just be careful and keep your head on straight. If it doesn’t feel right, flush.

  32. runnergirl says:

    “Let me assure you that I haven’t learned what I have by not making my fair share of mistakes and errors in judgement!” Yup,I’m still learning Natalie. There is a difference now. I’m learning to trust me and I learned that from you. That is a giant learning curve for me due to a myriad of reasons. Topline and bottom line: I got my back and I’ve shed my childhood baggage. Yup my parents made giant mistakes. I’m not my parents nor am I responsible for their mistakes. I was a kid. You are better than any shrink I’ve ever met. You taught me to have my back. Of course, thank you doesn’t cover it. I’m so happy and it is cos of you. I don’t have to own my parents mistakes. Moreover, my daughter doesn’t have to own my mistakes. We all get to be human. And I get to be not perfect. Wow, what a total relief, I’m not perfect. I just want to cry. I get to be not perfect and it is going to be okay. And my daughter gets to be not perfect too. Cheers to being not perfect. I’m so not perfect in fact I’m so not perfect, I’m perfect at being not perfect.

  33. GinaMarieMe says:

    Nat, Lovely Post – Thank you Ma’am. I throughly enjoyed reading your article. It is a great reminder and reinforcement that we can trust ourselves when we are grounded in reality. I loved the expressions about “wouldn’t go into a water full of sharks” because it really spells everything out and makes me see how our past thinking was from a powerless mindset – a learned behavior which was probably used as a survival trait in the past, but did not serve us in the dating arena.

    I recently have been researching “Vulnerability” and what it really means to love ourselves. I know that the only way to find the fulfilling relationship we want, is to become what we want. As a woman, it is about being open and receptive to love, but first, we must experience it within ourselves. They say that we need to accept all our flaws and good parts to truly love ourselves. Which is common sense, but a great reminder.

  34. lo j says:

    Runnergirl … isn’t imperfection wonderful?? And nobody else has to be perfect. Its so funny to watch others who haven’t come to this conclusion, ones who stress and panic. I had a sweet young co-worker freaking out at work the other day after a meeting, she’s a self proclaimed people pleader, and she was saying how she feels she can’t do it all, that she only gets negative feedback (she doesn’t hear the good .. you know how that goes), that sometimes she wants to be appreciated! I smiled to myself because I was there for SO LONG!!! Its amazing that when we are OK with ourselves, the good, the bad, the ugly, everything else just falls into place, no matter our circumstances. We just adjust what needs adjusting, accept it as it is, or whatever needs to be done at that moment and continue on our course. And I can’t help but pay it forward, either. Hopefully by example or when asked, I’ll give my opinion. And if it isn’t perfect, its okay. :-) sigh

    • runnergirl says:

      Trust me lo j, I’m still a struggling imperfectionist. Good luck with your co-worker. Yup, it is hard to hear the good when I was beating myself up. It’s nice to stop.

  35. Lady Lisa says:

    Kit Kat~

    Thank you for your words. The reminder is necessary and helpful. Thank you for the cyber hug. One right back at you????

  36. Jennifer says:

    I don’t trust men. I see them as viscous creatures. I have a couple of platonic relationships with men and I’m constantly on the look out for them to eff it up. Sad thing is I’m the one that sabatoges good things for me. What sick/sad cycle and a waste of time. It takes a shit load of time and energy to sabatoge and I’m frickin tired. I’m not ready to date yet

    • runnergirl says:

      Aw Jennifer, give yourself a hug and a break. It is okay to be angry. When I was in my anger phase, I couldn’t imagine dating. Is all I wanted to do was kick the shit out of him and me which I did, repeatedly, for months. It’s not a waste of time to be angry as long as you work through the anger and don’t get stuck in it. Like you, one day I simply got tired of it and then it was time to figure out what is next? I made terrible, horrible mistakes and errors beyond belief in judgment. It takes a shit load of time and energy to be angry at me and at him. But what is next? You don’t have to trust men, at this point. You may want to consider trusting you? Focus on you. I’m working toward forgiving me for my giant, huge, stupid mistakes. And I’m working on trusting me. Sometimes, it is about me, particularly when it comes down to trusting me so I can make better choices. Sorry. There is hope. Trust Natalie!

      • Jennifer says:

        Thanks runnergirl. Sometimes the anger really gets me. I refused to take it out on the Unavailable Ex, so I walked away. I’ve done everything from throwing bricks at the driveway (hugely cathartic but probably a bit too risky as the pieces fly everywhere) to throwing eggs at the side of my house (backyard smelled like eggs and too messy). Now I use a stress ball.I keep it in my purse. So instead of yelling (hurrts my vocal chords and I sing so not a good option), or throwing things I squeeze the shit outa that stress ball, and you know it helps. I’m working on forgiving me. And you know the funny thing is the only consistent friend I have here in my home town is a male. There is no romantic attraction at all just companionship so this is a start. It’s funny all my girlfriends here turned out to be untrustworthy.

        • Ziggybutterfly says:

          Am thinking of taking up boxing or some kind of self defense to deal with my anger issues. I am so mad that I let this guy get close to me and completely derail my life… but realizing the anger is at myself for trusting him in the first place, for not following my gut instincts or rules (such as not dating a man with more than 1 DUI or 1 divorce… I overlooked those things w/ him bc he seemed so great in other ways) I am just really mad at myself, more than at him. After all we cannot trust anyone to have our backs in life. Our culture is truly every man for himself and I believe more and more strongly that no one should be trusted, one should always guard themselves against men and women alike.

  37. Espresso says:

    I am not sure if trust is the issue I am dealing with. I am completely emotionally depleted after being traumatized by my emotionally detached, passive, people-pleaser ex who had no insight about himself or me. (Long story about him developing an intense relationship 12 hours after I drove him to the airport – “just connecting” he said as we were about to meet with our daughter for a short holiday) and to develop a “really really fine post separation relationship” (his words).
    Add to that was a brief interlude with an AC/EUM I met online in a “helping situation” that seemed to be (I thought) a warm, caring and respectful relationship before it became evident he was just using me. I have learned a LOT in the past year.

    For the most part I have have behaved with integrity, honesty, insight and sucked a lot in. I have even been generous to my ex in a way that is congruent with my values.

    But right now I feel like I have been living on a diet of scraps and what I would really like is to have delicious rich meals without me having to prepare them! And honestly I am so busy with work, projects, ideas, other people, and my own self development (and insight) that I have put the intimate part of my life on hold. In truth I don’t expect a whole lot to develop in that direction with another man and I don’t want to set myself up for disappointment. The men my age aren’t interested in women my age and I really think online dating, although it might give me some experience, would be destructive.

    My therapist says I am being very very pessimistic but I am not sure… I am not sure I want another long term relationship but feel I would like some emotional connections and perhaps a sexual relationship too. But now I feel that this limited type of thing would be exploitive and eu and I am not sure I am up for it. So I feel stuck. It is a question of how much energy I want to put into this and where I want it to go. And these are questions I am not yet up to facing.

    I really really relate to the comments about being an honourable person. I once explained to my ex that I would never have done what he did to me and he agreed. If he had known me at all he would have cared and he wouldn’t have done it. It is SO sad to me to think I spent so many years with a person who just didn’t have a clue about me, his boundaries and his values which were stunted and unreal.

    • Grizelda says:


      Of course you’d like some emotional connections and perhaps a sexual relationship– you’re human! And the embers are burning inside you for this kind of connection, but surely only if the connection is reciprocal.

      Reciprocality is the most important issue here. Please don’t feel ashamed that you’re not entirely blown-away by the idea of an immediate and all-consuming relationship right now, but that you simultaneously still feel the need for connection and affection. These are not contrary desires.

      I think an all-consuming relationship is quite difficult to imagine when you’re still in the starting block, and probably seems totally dramatic, when you don’t have anyone specifically in mind for the role. You are not one of those millions of women who virtually charge around town in a wedding gown, clutching a bouquet in one hand and a ready-made morning suit for your yet-to-meet groom in the other, over-determined to find some random guy to fit the suit. Don’t punish yourself for not stampeding towards the ‘ultimate goal’ as some women would put it. Give yourself a break. You seem very interested in exploring a relationship, and that’s perfectly fine so long as it’s a healthy and reciprocal relationship where he too wants to take his time to see gently where it goes. Maybe it will be long term, maybe it won’t. Maybe it will become a marriage for you, maybe it won’t. Keeping an open mind is necessary. All the rules and logic presented on BR still apply of course, but if you believe that you need to flush yourself because you’re not charging up and down the street, in and out of traffic, and in and out of bars wearing being way, way too hard on yourself.

      BTW: The men my age aren’t interested in women my age… This is a frequent sort of comment on BR. I’m wondering if Natalie can give us some enlightenment on what’s going on with this — why women are (or seem to believe they are) so often spurned these days by guys who are aged within a couple years of their own age, and why women are repeatedly targeted AD NAUSEUM by guys 10, 15, 20, 25 years older. As if men no longer know what a mirror is or something. As if women in their mid-20s want to spend a lousy decade dealing with their boyfriend’s male menopause issues. As if women in their 50s only ever deserve to play nursemaid, oh I mean date, the long-retired rocking chair brigade. Sorry off topic.

      • Grizelda says:

        Edit (oops): All the rules and logic presented on BR still apply of course, but if you believe that you need to flush yourself because you’re not charging up and down the street, in and out of traffic, and in and out of bars wearing that ever-dirtier wedding gown, you’re being way, way too hard on yourself.

      • Jule says:

        Griz and others – if you haven’t seen the film “something’s gotta give” with Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson, check it out. It’s wonderful and it does deal with this very topic. Her sister in the film gives a brilliant speech about why men go for the younger women as they grow older while their female counterparts grow more and more interesting and strong.

        • Sadder but Wiser says:

          A great film, I agree! But almost painful for me to watch because much of it was amazingly parallel to my own experience (which didn’t have the happy ending, of course.) Her feelings were absolutely my feelings. All that crying! I could really relate.

        • Linden says:

          Yes. My ex-husband, who is 41, was chasing teenagers in the last few years of our marriage. I couldn’t believe it when I found out, I was so disgusted. Cheating is one thing, but hitting on girls barely 10 years older than your own elementary school-age daughter is low.

      • Ellyb says:

        Grizelda: I hear you re the age gap issue. I used to worry a lot about that too, but I don’t think it’s a new phenomenon. Both my grandmothers were married to guys several decades their senior, but none of their marriages was any healthy in my book.

        10 to 15 years might be okay if the younger partner is over 30, but with any larger age gap things are getting tricky I think. It’s like two generations trying to forge a co-piloted relationship.

        As to those guys who routinely chase much younger ladies (and who refuse to date anyone their age or “even” slightly older): I personally believe they are all either EU or AC with no exception. I have yet to meet a counterexample! Those guys like being put on a pedestal, they like being treated like a father figure, and they believe that younger women will let them get away with more sh*t. To me, they are simply no eligible partners, not because of the age gap, but because I don’t like their idea of women/relationships.

        However, the good thing about those guys is that they are easy to detect!

        I’m sure there are better guys out there (we just have to wait and search).

        • grace says:

          Re the age gap:
          I hear men my age say that women their own age are cynical, untrusting and give them too hard a hard time.
          I hear them say that women their own age are unattractive and look like their grandmothers.
          I hear women my age saying that men their age or older are clapped out.
          I’m hear women my age say that men their age only want younger women.
          I hear men and women say that in an age gap relationship he/she is only in it for the sex, for a fling, for the money.
          It seems when we talk about age gap relationships there are many stereotypes and cliches about the relationships, ageing, the opposite sex and even our own sex. Are they true? in all cases, in some cases? Are they unique to age gap relationships?
          I think the real issue is our understandable fear of death and ageing.
          I know many couples where the younger partner (male or female) is the one who got sick first, who died first. It may not be the norm but it’s not unusual. I wouldn’t relish being nursemaid in my 50s either, but it would be really tough to do that in my 80s! It’s never a great time to be nursemaid. Or, worse, to be nursed. My own cliche is that men die quick, women hang around forever. I’m sure many of you can argue the opposite.
          If you meet someone you like, I wouldn’t let their imagined future sickness hold you back. Or your own imagined future sickness. You don’t know what will happen. You don’t know.
          I think that’s a key reason why trust is a challenge. I can trust you today, and tomorrow, and next month. But to try to envisage the next twenty years – how do people do that? I’m in an age gap relationship and it was a struggle as all these fears came bubbling up.
          We would all love to meet someone within a few years of us, who is attractive and healthy, who won’t get sick, who earns a good living, who shares our interests, with the same rising and sleeping schedule,the same ambitions, who eats the same food, has the same energy level, likes doing the same things, shares the same views. It is not going to happen. And if it does, it’s not going to last!
          I liked this quote from Steven Carter “The only person you are truly compatible with is yourself”.
          I remember that when I have/choose to compromise, or when he does. I trust that everyone has to do that. It doesn’t mean the relationship is in the toilet.
          And I like something I read on a comments section by a man “Choose someone you like, who likes you, marry them. Do not for one moment entertain second thoughts.” I trust that’s do-able.
          I get that it’s not as simple as that, but I like it as a counterpoint to my anxiety and “what if”s.

          • EllyB says:

            I’m not concerned about the life expectancy/nursing/looks issue. Anyway, I believe it isn’t easy to maintain a relationship of equals if one partner is old enough to (easily) be the other one’s parent (or even grandparent).

            A 60-year-old guy “specialized” in 20-something or 30-something women is a “flush” for me, just like the married ones, the attached ones and the ones with addictions. He’s either very superficial or likes being treated like an “authority figure”. In my book, a healthy guy would at least CONSIDER dating someone closer to his own age (even if he might finally end up with a younger partner).

            • EllyB says:

              On a similar note, I’ve read somewhere that guys in general had “twice as many dating options as women” because they could date women 20 or 30 years their junior.

              Doesn’t make sense to me. If that was true, then 20-year-old women could date guys between 20 and 50. 50-year-old women could date guys between 50 and 80.

              What about 30-year-old guys? Only women between 20 and 30 would be eligible to them – a much smaller number than the number of guys available to women between 20 and 50.

              Therefore, the claim that guys had “twice as many dating options as women” is simply BS to me (mathematically wrong, if I’m not mistaken!).

              Of course, the whole thing is BS ANYWAY because women could date younger guys just as well.

              • grace says:

                Yep these stats are all BS. There are about as many men as women in all age groups except maybe the very old and even that’s levelling off. War and selective abortion skews it :o(
                but those things aren’t such a problem in the West. this idea that men have ample choice is more perception than reality.
                I’ve heard men argue the opposite, that they will pretty much date anyone who is moderately attractive whereas women insist on him being tall, intelligent,handsome, good income etc. I think they’re wrong too.
                Especially now the boyfriend has just been made redundant but we’re still making our Christmas plans!

              • Lilia says:

                Not to be overly pessimistic, but those younger guys are mostly into older women because of the sex. There seems to be this myth that when an older woman goes out with a younger man, she will be easier on the sex, “wilder”, etc.

                I once went out with a younger guy (by 15 years) and it left me devastated because I was deluded enough to confuse his sexual enthousiasm (which in hindsight wasn´t all that) for a genuine connection.

                I´ve also received some messages from younger guys on a dating site I´m no longer on, they openly told me they felt more comfortable around older women and that they were just looking for a good time, with no intention to settle down.

                When you take away their looks and the fact that they still have their own hair, these younger guys are pretty disrespectful.
                Of course, there are probably cases when something like that would work out, but at this point I´m quite sceptical about it.

              • Grizelda says:

                I agree that’s total rubbish. Don’t forget the media was invented to pump up the already-unmanageable egos of aging men while stamping all over the already-diminished egos of aging women. What better way to do this than promising men that they’re so great, women half their ages will still have ’em when they’re dribbling away in nursing homes.

                Seriously, no. The numbers don’t work out. There just is no evidence to suggest that a measureable proportion of women in their 20s and 30s are dating men aged 50+. None whatsoever. Women live in the same real world as men do. They don’t HAVE to date way out of their age bracket, they certainly almost never want to do so, and there’s nothing in it for them when they’re surrounded by luscious 20-something and 30-something year old men.

                • Ellyb says:

                  Well, there are quite a few women who prefer much older men, but I think at least some of them confuse them with their own toxic fathers/grandfathers.

                  I’ve certainly been there. I’ve fantasized a lot about male “father figures”. My worst memory is a one-night-stand with a MM 30 years my senior who reminded me of my toxic grandfather. That (very ugly) guy had pursued me for years, and I always felt guilty for rejecting him because I was “withholding sex from granddaddy”. He always treated me like a child, and I thought I was “being nasty” by “saying no”. When I finally gave in, I thought it would be a relief, but it wasn’t. It felt horrible, humiliating and I wanted to puke. I went NC almost immediately afterwards (taking all the blame for his cheating, as if he had no part in it at all).

                  Well, I’ve certainly been sexually abused by older family members (although I’m still supressing most of those memories), and that horrible NST was just a (very futile) attempt at dealing with my trauma.

                  Now older men have lost their appeal to me. Many of them are decent guys, but they aren’t any better or wiser than me just because of their age. And I certainly don’t “owe” them anything (not even “free sexual services”)!

            • Sadder but Wiser says:

              You have to watch out for the “mid-life crisis” guys as well. I thought that was just a cliche, but my ex fit this cliche to a tee. He turned 60, became a grandfather (which caused a mortality freak-out), bought a motorcycle, dumped his wife of the same age, then proceeded to sample a variety of women (of which, I’m sad to say, I was one) before settling on a 45-year-old who is willing to do anything to please him. How classic and how predictable! While he was with me he kept spouting quotes like “Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the things you did do” and “You only live once” and “You have to sail away from the safe harbor” and “Life is short, break the rules.”

              Yes, I wish I had had better spidey senses at the time to see what any fool could see – here was a man who didn’t think he had to follow any rules. And he didn’t! Guys in mid-life crisis mode are especially dangerous because they absolutely believe they are justified and entitled to what they want and to hell with the consequences.

              • Ellyb says:

                SbW: That certainly sounds ugly, but I don’t believe mid-life crisis turns any guy into an EUM. If they suddenly start acting like that, they must have had issues before. Maybe they concealed them because they wanted the perks of having a family, maybe they went through the motions for some decades, but I can hardly believe they’d ever been truly great husbands or fathers.

      • natashya says:

        “The men my age aren’t interested in women my age…”

        i am also interested what nat has to say about this. i also find this a problem. i am 40 and would like to date someone between 35 and late 40s. i was on a dating site and i get men in their 60s contacting me. what the hey? they’re my dad’s age. men around my age seem to be looking mostly for much younger women, which in a way saddens me. but then again, if that’s what they’re interested in, they’re definitely not a match for me.

        i would like to believe there’s someone decent out there, but i find it very hard to meet them. i have asked all my friends if they have a nice single, male friend who’s mentally stable and sane. so far? not a single one.

        • FX says:

          I think the whole age thing is mainly only an issue with online dating. When it’s a filter and you have to think about it as one of the primary criteria to even decide who’s profile’s you will see it takes on unnatural importance. When people meet in real life, they are attracted (or not) to other criteria first and only learn someone’s age when there is already something developing. (I believe Grace can speak to this!)

          IRL, you wouldn’t even have the conversation with someone whose preference was to date someone with a radically different age preference than how you present yourself.

          My own long-term relationship history post-marriage between ages 31 to 51: man 6 years younger, man 10 years older, most recent r/s of several years – man 10 years younger.

          Now that I’m online, I was tempted to lie about my age (but didn’t), because I have mostly dated younger men. I have a date tonight with someone a few years older that I met online. I’m trying to be open-minded… LOL

          Seriously, if we met any other way we would not even have this info about each other yet. It is so unnatural and one of my pet peeves about online dating.

        • Linden says:

          This has been my experience as well. Most of the men I know are paired off, not monogamous, or too old for me, so I do some looking online. With few exceptions, when men specify the age range they’re looking for, it’s generally women over 18 to a couple of years younger than whatever their current age is — never older, unless they’ve got some kind of a cougar fetish (and I’m also not looking for a person like that). Not like it’s my place to suggest what Nat should write about, but so many people having the same experience can’t all be wrong. Though there’s probably nothing you can say about it, except to just keep looking. But I do. I try meetups, conventions, religious events, everything under the sun — and in my area I never seem to find any unpartnered, reasonable men in my age range.

          It’s all very well to say age is just a number, but I’m not getting any younger either, and dating someone a solid generation older than me is getting close to nursing home territory. I want to have some frisky fun before I die!

    • Sadder but Wiser says:

      Espresso, I hear you! I have the feeling that you, like me, could really use just ONE positive romantic encounter that didn’t end up with us feeling like we’ve had a bucket of dirty dishwater poured all over us. Just ONE experience of some genuine caring and affection (not necessarily a full-blown relationship) where afterwards we felt we had been valued, respected and had been given the gift of a truly positive (and maybe even healing) encounter.

      I went into my last relationship with this very desire, hoping for the best, but it was not to be. I ended up swimming in a pond of dirty dishwater. But I think if I could have just ONE experience with a decent and caring man, I could get back in the saddle again. It would really renew my faith in men and in myself.

      • Brenda says:

        Not just dirty water but stingers and fishing tackle parts stuck all over.

        Looking at my experiences” It is like men were killer bees disguised as honey bee’s.. “You get called in to the hive with a taste of honey, but when your “in” you get stung repeatedly and then pushed out of the hive.”

        And then there’s the fishing tackle and line stuck all over me – from being caught then tossed back.

        It is like I can even feel the sensation all over my body thinking about it, and cannot have it even one more time becasue there is “NO ROOM” on my flesh to take on one more stinger OR one more fishing hook.

        I just want to get them all off from me and to heal now.

      • grace says:

        Sadder but
        I don’t think you can have the genuine caring without the full blown relationship. It’s not about committing to them on the first date but it,s committing to the discovery. And part of that is to put aside your previous bad experiences and really see the person, warts and all, and all the good things you weren’t even expecting.
        And wait to have sex. I will wait until marriage but my feeling is that three months would be a nice target to aim at if that’s not your thing.
        It was awkward at first. Sex does smooth over the getting to know you phase (or allow you to skip it entirely! ) but we,ve got used to each other now and we,re very comfortable around each other.
        I did have to make a conscious decision to trust him. When he told me how he felt I had to get on board or walk away. I decided to get on board. I didnt want to lose him. I could still lose him, but it won’t be because we didnt both try. And now that I’ve accepted the risk, It’s given me the confidence to say to myself, I’m going for this and if it goes belly up, so be it! I can deal with it. Of course I can even if it hurts.
        The EU relationships have a certain comfort to them; at least I know they’re crap and will continue to be crap. What i have now is unfamiliar and that’s one of the main things that keeps me invested. I haven’t been here before and that’s good.
        The scary but wonderful thing is this – when we behave differently we will get different results. It’s not about turning a frog into a prince but things will work out. Maybe not straightaway, maybe not with this person, but it will.
        And single is not so bad. I sure was happy single.

        • Sadder but Wiser says:

          Grace, I appreciate your advocacy for the full-blown relationship, and I agree with it. I do want one. It just doesn’t seem to be in the cards at the moment. And I don’t mind being single, it’s ok, although I can’t say I’ve been as happy single as I was, say, in the years when my marriage was good.

          I guess I’m just remembering an episode from my life – in my late 20s I was traveling alone in Greece and ran into another tourist, a man 10 years older from Australia. We hit it off immediately, and spent a magical day together touring the sites, talking, laughing, having dinner on the beach at sunset. It was like something out of “Under the Tuscan Sun.” (Or has anyone seen the wonderful movie “Summertime” with Katharine Hepburn which has a similar theme?) I was overwhelmed by the romantic setting, the mood and our intense chemistry. We spent the night together (something I had never done before or since with a stranger) and it remains one of the most wonderful memories of my life. He was lovely, tender and affectionate. The whole thing was beautiful. No down side. No emotional pain. (Of course, I know I was just lucky – he could have been a psycho, he could have given me a disease, could have gotten pregnant, etc.) Happily, nothing unpleasant happened as a result.

          The next morning, we kissed goodbye and went our separate ways. Never saw or talked to him again. Which was perfectly fine. I felt then (and still do now) that the whole experience was a gift. It was a boost to me at a time when I was struggling with various issues in my life.

          Which is why I would LOVE to have another experience like this again, as unrealistic and foolish as that sounds now. I just wanted a lovely “brief encounter” with my ex and it would have been that if I had not made the idiotic mistake of trying to turn a fabulous sexual experience into a “relationship” with someone I knew at the time I wasn’t suited for long-term. It would have been MUCH better for me if I could have just kissed him goodbye in the morning with affection, enjoyed it for what it was, and gone back to our pleasant coworker status. It’s all ruined now.

          So I’m still a bit wary of the full-blown relationship thingy as the only option for a positive and even healing romantic encounter with a man. Maybe I’ve watched “The Prince of Tides” too many times!

          (Clearly I’ve got to get out of these movie daydreams!) :)

      • MRWriter says:

        This is exactly how I feel.

        “Just ONE experience of some genuine caring and affection (not necessarily a full-blown relationship) where afterwards we felt we had been valued, respected and had been given the gift of a truly positive (and maybe even healing) encounter…But I think if I could have just ONE experience with a decent and caring man, I could get back in the saddle again. It would really renew my faith in men and in myself.”

        After too many selfish men it gets to a faith-breaking point. I’m there and I need something good to renew my spirit. Thanks for reading my mind and saying it so well.

  38. natashya says:

    i am seriously afraid that after this summer (dealing with a major EUM and constant rejections) i will never be able to go in with 100% trust again. this saddens me more than anything :(

  39. Tinkerbell says:


    IMHO, you made the best decision. You’re not going to become addicted to any dating site like I did. Talk about ridiculous. And, nothing that dramatic happened to make me stop. It just became boring and repetitive.

  40. Lady Lisa says:

    Kit Kat-

    I meant one cyber hug back at you!!!!

    • Kit-Kat says:

      Lady Lisa…thanks
      Like I said I know what your going thru. With time comes healing. Its wonderful that we have this blog to share our stories. I have grown so much in this past year & learned so many things about relationships. Hopefully, when & if I am ever ready or want to date again I can use the knowledge to never go down the path I have going down my entire life with men..ughhhh

      • Kit-Kat says:

        (cont.) I have come to realize that because I grew up with a mostly absent father (due to my parents divorce & his alcohol use) & crumbs were my constant diet. And so I continued that with my relationships w/men. Crumbs were good enough for a very long time. Then the break-up & in desperation I knew I did not want to continue that diet. So here I am. Growing stronger, wiser everyday…

  41. dancingqueen says:

    Oh I wrote this long answer about being hyper-vigilant and it did not post…in a nutshell I am not untrusting about people I am untrusting about life; I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I am scared to suddenly lose my job and become homeless, even though I am a good worker. I am afraid that I will hit a dog on the road, even on a clear day. I am afraid that I will get cancer and die a slow, expensive death and not even be able to leave anything to people, I am afraid of getting old and ugly, I am afraid of so many things…and yet no one would think that because most people think of me as really brave and outgoing. Does anyone have any reading recommendations to feel more trust in the world?

    • Teddie says:


      This sounds like the old-age self-esteem issue. No better coverage of the topic than Nats’writings.

    • sushi says:

      The best reading recommendation I have for you is everything by Natalie and what is really important -it`s action recommendation. I went through life with a lot of fear and thought it had mostly to do with stuff that happened in my life – death, illness, tragedy and drama, and I often thought, how much more can one person take. But, I underestimated how much it also had to do with low self-esteem and a load of crap that each AC left with me, I felt so bogged down by fear of everything around me and desperation.I spent a lot of time reading Natalie, with time all the reading and thinking and “living in my head” moved into real life. I started reacting to assclownery around me and saying no and standing up for myself,starting to say what I want and questioning dodgy stuff. My automatic mode of response is changing. Flushed a couple of “friends”,flushed the last boyfriend and the break up stuff – think that might be called letting go :) ( cos he was still taking up residence in my head )put boundaries up for everyone else – and now realised just how much positive difference it made. I have a very long way to go but it doesn`t seem daunting anymore. This automatic fear of life is diminishing with me trusing myself more. I think that`s the answer, when you trust yourself the world feels safe.And when you make the step out of theory into action in real life you will feel a huge difference. Reality is that shit will still potentially happen but you will be “anchored” differently.

      • dancingqueen says:

        thanks teddie and sushi; I think that you are both right. And when I think about self-esteem that brings me back to my childhood. I grew up with people who had substance abuse issues and would flip out for no reason. You never knew what would happen next, “who” they would be….it was like constantly walking in a minefield that looked like a normal suburban house lol. I think that trusting the world, comes back, as you said to trusting yourself. But this feeling keeps staying with me. A lot of it is debt right now, I am trying to pay off some debt and until I get that taken care of I feel less able to save and for me, money in the back always gives me a slight feeling of security. Ahh! So much fear is so much wasted energy. Gotta get that taken care of…

  42. Brenda says:

    Just plain tired and don’t see myself ever trying at anything again, soon to be 45 years old and think it’s time to just toss in the towel and flush the whole thing, I need to actually.

    • Ziggybutterfly says:

      Brenda I feel the same. I am so tired. I plan on a long period of celibacy and solitude. I am not a serial dater, and was single for 7 years prior to my recent ex (celibate for 5 plus a couple casual one offs – which don’t bring me happiness at all) so when I fall for someone I fall hard. And of course then it hurts like hell when it ends. Starting over again, rebuilding my life *again*… this is the last time. I just can’t do it anymore. No one is getting close to me again.

      • Kit-Kat says:

        Brenda & Ziggybutterfly I am right there with ya. I dont know if its because I am still healing but I just dont have it in me to think about dating again anytime soon. I hope someday I dont feel this way but for now I have found a peacefulness w/being alone, enjoying my own company. Its lonely sometimes but its better than being with an AC or EUM.. The last few years with the AC I look back now & realize I was always suspicous and waiting for the bottom to fall out. I just had this gut feeling & I should have listen to it.. Hard lesson to learn but it is what it is..

  43. NoMo Drama says:

    Since dating is supposed to be a discovery phase, then I would think a certain amount of if not distrust then caution is realistic. I see too many women in a big rush to get attached in a relationship; I think if you’re looking for a long-term/lifetime thing, you can afford to go slowly.

    Also, if there’s a glitch you *always* seem to run into, it would seem like a good idea to check for that specifically before things get very far. For example, for some reason, often attached men seem to go out of their way to try to get in my face. Since it seems to happen so often, I check for it at the outset.

    I don’t accuse people of anything they haven’t done, and don’t assume, but with all the games going on out there a few policies and strategies of one’s own can be useful, as well as a little detached observation at the beginning. I am determined not to let “feelings” and “chemistry” sleepwalk me into repeating old patterns and mistakes.

  44. Tinkerbell says:

    Wish I’d known in advance of all your various fears and subsequent desire for reading materials. I’ve been reading the gamut of self-help books and nothing comes to mind regarding your multiple diverse issues. I used to fear almost everything also, and I believe what got me out of that was becoming seriously ill with MRSA, which I battled for 3 years. I was very courageous in my struggle to get better and being an RN helped a lot. Triumphing (is that a word?) over that illness gave me such confidence in what I could handle in dealing with life’s adversities. From 2006-2011, my husband died, I underwent bilateral knee replacements, developed the MRSA after the knee surgery,(luckily did ot lose life or limb), lost my house(foreclosure)due to not being able to work, had to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Mom with Alzheimer’s died, and now (2102) I’ve been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is autoimmune and progressive. I don’t fear anything anymore. The “scared of her shadow” waif, has become a courageous warrior. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.I’m a living testament to that. I don’t know how to tell you to lose your fears except to say that you have to take the cards you’re dealt with and decide to make the best of your situation. We’re always involved in some kind of battle. That’s life. But, it’s ever changing and it’s up to you what you do with it. It’s give up and wallow in fear, and self pity or take up your sword and love yourself enough to conquer and thereby prevail. I’ve also started seeing a therapist, a psychologist. I know you may not relate to what I’ve been through but I hope this helps a little.

    • Kit-Kat says:

      Wow Tink you have been thru so much. I admire your perserverance. My grandson who was 1yrs old had MSRA..It was so scary but he is ok now.Thank God.. I try and make a graditude list of all the positive stuff in my life. Sometimes I dwell too much on the negative and it affects my mood. I try and remind myself of all I have. I think about all the kids w/cancer that will never get a chance is experience life. THere are many other examples but it would take the entire page. What I am getting at is in retrospect losing a EUM/AC man is really a blessing considering that it was doomed from the start even if I didnt know it then. I am blessed w/so many great things in my life. Making a gratitude list makes you really think about the positives and we should all try and put our focus more on those things. LIfe is short …

      • Revolution says:


        I loved your comment! And you’re so right. You sound like my mother, as her advice is always to look at what we HAVE, not what we don’t. She was born and raised in Egypt, and was witness to the “ethnic cleansing” of the early-Sixties, where people who weren’t full Arabs (she’s half European) or Muslims were being ousted or treated horribly. She has memories of not having food, of bombings, of her father dying when they finally left and arrived in New York. She’s been through A LOT, but is the happiest, kindest, most grateful human being I know. She tells me that she has always thanked God for what she has, and never gave up hope. In my mid-thirties now, I have struggled so much with that in my own life, but her words ring true to me and give me something always to aspire to. Anyway, sorry to get all sentimental on you, but I just love to hear words of peace and hope on here, amongst all of the other emotions expressed.

      • Revolution says:

        And I’m SO glad that your grandson is healthy again!!

  45. Tinkerbell says:

    To get back to the topic. Trusting others requires trusting yourself. I’ve always had faith and trust in myself to handle whatever life threw at me. Everything except men, which I guess is why I did not mention BR. I’m still very much a work in progress in that area. My achillies heel.

  46. miskwa says:

    My best, most compatible relationship was with a man 28 years my senior; we were common law far longer than most law-marrieds last. I would still be with him if I didn’t have to leave in order to stay employed. No nursemaiding except for right after his cancer surgery. He still exercises daily on the cusp of his 80th birthday. Thus far, the only men in my life who I was compatible with were all much older than I, at least 20 years, my best friend, my vet, is 21 years older and keeps himself in incredible shape. Age gaps can and do work. I think too often we are so fixated on age that we overlook other, more important issues such as whether the guy can even function in a relationship. AC is my age, not sure I will even ne able to look at another 50 something guy for a long time. Yep, I also did get the on line creepies who lie about their appearance, health, and what they are looking for. This happens in all age groups; I truly am getting convinced that on line truly IS a venue for men who cannot cut it IRL. I think the important things are: Are you attracted to him (I know many say this is minor, but if theres little attraction, the possibility of a fulfilling relationship is dead in the water), is he responsible financially and morally (can he apologize/own his behavior), no substance abuse issues past or present (past abuse often impairs current ability to function), is he in shape (again, I catch a lot of shite on this one, but someone choosing to be obese, smoke, not exercise is a sure clue that extensive nursemaiding will be a part of your future; been dealing with the results of my dads shite lifestyle for over a decade, you don’t wanna be on that path), last, a lot of mental stuff; is he mature, has he dealt with past baggage, does he want to do the family thing, how about his degree of obsession with TV/pop culture, cleanliness level, work ethic, religious faith, political views, personal values such as repect for the planet, does he walk his talk, education level, can he respect who you are and love you as is, can you do so with him. Men capable of functioning at a high level in these areas or cannot/choose not to function at all irrespective of age. I’m rooting for you girl!

  47. Feistywoman says:

    Oops posted this on the wrong topic due to a PC glitch. Just thought I’d share with you my experiences of AC men that I’ve met since my marriage broke down.

    Man 1) Within two months of my traumatic marriage breakdown this man who I’d known since childhood came over all heavy with endearments and tried to throw his money around to “rescue me”. I pushed back as my red alert gut instincts kicked in and he then got angry with me and was closed out as a friend. What I saw was someone who was trying to control me in a vulnerable state and my life from half way around the world. 18 months later be popped back up phoning out of the blue as these Ac do and couldn’t understand why I was in a bad place with my marriage breakdown. Yes really what a fuckwit. So I e-mailed him and was cold and distant then blocked him and he has thankfully gone.

    Man 2) Net him through work. Couldn’t arrange a date left it me. As this was my first “date” I wasn’t sure why it was left to me. Anyway thanks to Natalie’s site the red flags continued and I never let anything progress. Turned out he was getting sex on tap from his ex wife 6 years after their divorce and each of them was manipulative and controlling of the other’s life. he wanted to control and even told me my circumstances were complicated, yes WTF? He didn’t like text but used it as the primary means of communication. Yep he got flushed as he blew hot and cold and once I knew the score with him and his ex I was like yuk.

    Man 3) Met through a social group. We had a lot in common and he asked me out by e-mail which I thought odd but this was only my second date. He then told me it wasn’t a date so we kept friends as we often did the same events in this group. He relied on text and when asked why told me he could have a 3 way conversation, eat and watch TV at the same time. Things he was saying weren’t matched by his actions. Then he went off radar cancelling his membership of this group and letting people down with a social planned out of this group. I flushed after telling him exactly why by text since this was his preferred method of communication.

    Man 4) A married ex-colleague who had pursued me for 20 years was a EU workaholic. He had been blown out as he was off limits a few times but he kept coming back. Popped back up again in the summer after nearly dying and declared undying love for me. Then……. nothing. He indicated that he would always love me no matter what our age and would make a pass at me if our paths crossed. He was told in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t some cheap tart to be picked up on a whim and I am now guessing that the declaration whilst heartfelt was an attempt to manipulate me with his one time in band camp tale i.e. had a heart attack and nearly died. With hindsight I can see that his “friendship” centred on pressurising me at vulnerable times in my life to have sex but I held strong.

    I am now left wondering if there are any decent men out there but am happy enough single as I don’t have the bull shit and emotional clap trap to deal with. What I have learned with these men is to trust my instincts and see red flags. I have now decided that before I embark on a relationship I want to be friends with a man first and see if he is consistent over time. I also have a 90 day rule for sex. They take it or leave it as far as I am concerned but no-one busts my boundaries now male or female. Of these men two were near my own age early 50’s and two in their 40’s but clearly all of them were EUM and emotionally immature. Sad in men this age as they come across as pathetic. So ladies in the UK the men are just as childish with their game playing.

  48. 30Love says:

    I’m posting for the first time today, after reading both Natalie’s articles and the ensuing comments faithfully for months. (I am sure there are many of us who do this and never comment…lol!) I found Baggage Reclaim after the demise of an almost year-long relationship with an at-work EUM (In another state and very limited contact, thankfully.) that occurred fast on the heels of the end of my 15 year marriage. I was flat out miserable and despondent the night I Googled the usual things and found my way here. Like many of the women at BR, I’ve come understand that I have not ever spent the requisite amount of time vetting those I with whom chose to enter a relationship. Heck, I probably spent more time researching my last vehicle purchase than truly getting to know my last BF! I think this realization really points to the fact that trust really begins with oneself. Naturally, these EUMs have not treated me with the appropriate care, but, sadly, I had not either. Now, with the help of BR, I have developed the necessary level of awareness to take better care of myself, and I feel I can trust myself to make better choices. At the beginning of the summer, a friend of mine with a great deal of experience with online dating helped me set up an account, not necessarily looking for a relationship, but to get a feel for what is out there, since I had not been single since my 20s, and maybe meet someone fun to socialize with and attend events. I have to say, I was not impressed, and typically, the fellas that were interested in me (I’m a young 44.) were 50++. I emailed back and forth with a few guys, but either their messages struck me as odd in tone, or their language skills were very lacking. I saw those first few emails as an opportunity to make a good first impression, and very few people really seem to concerned with putting their ‘best foot’ forward. After the first few weeks, I lost interest and pretty much forgot about my account. Amazingly enough, not long after, I met an emotionally available man who recently joined a group in the neighborhood I have lived in for the last 14 years. (Yes, I literally met this fellow in my own back yard.) It has been an eye opening experience to say the least. He initiated the relationship and has led the way through the various stages of exclusivity, and I am learning that trust actually works both ways in a mutual relationship. They are kind of feeling their way through it too and trying to learn about you and establish various degrees of trust and intimacy as well. You would think that concept would be universal, but I think we all know that there are many EUMs and ACs out there who want all the benefits of a relationship but are unwilling to put out the effort or make a commitment. Sometimes, these guys are really good at their game and can fool you (and maybe even themselves) into believing they are actually ready and willing to enter a mutually fulfilling and respectful relationship. I have to say, the lessons I have learned here have made it possible for me to identify real danger and separate my unwarranted fear from real concerns…in essence reestablishing trust with myself. I am by no means completely out of the woods, but this ‘self trust’ has opened my eyes in so many ways. For those of you that are still suffering, Natalie and the rest of the BR community represent a very viable path out of your pain. My meeting a nice man was in many ways pure luck, but the understanding and balance I’ve learned here have helped in every aspect of my life and almost certainly prepared me emotionally for this new relationship.

    • Freya says:


      I’m glad you decided to post something. I enjoyed hearing your story. I love that you point out how men are also trying to feel their way through these things.

      I wish you much luck with your new relationship.

  49. MissBliss says:

    First off, I’ve changed my moniker because using my real name always made me nervous. This site is getting too popular. I don’t comment much, anyway.

    I really do believe that the men I’ve chosen as partners were reflections of how I felt about myself at the time. Having gone through hell with the ex-AC, that leaves me wondering just how I grew to hate myself that much.
    The change really does start within, as my therapist says. Once I know myself and have healthy beliefs, boundaries will follow and so too will the good men who reflect that. As for the online dating sites, and in particular the men seeking women 20 years younger, we’re looking at a distillation of immature men who’ve never had a long-term relationship to save their lives. Any guy who seeks a much younger woman isn’t looking for a relationship. He’s looking for an ego boost, and that says a lot about him. We shouldn’t let these sorts get us down. There are many good men out there who’ve come out of long-term relationships, but they probably don’t trust dating sites just the way we don’t – and they’re probably out there living their lives, working hard, spending time with their kids, playing sports, meeting with their friends for a drink after work. The trick is finding a way to meet them.

  50. Ziggybutterfly says:

    I do not trust myself with men. I do not trust myself to fall in love without getting hurt.

    But I do trust myself to pull through this, to get my sh*t back together and be stronger for it. Many of my real life fears have come true in the past 6 weeks. I thought losing my property, failing to keep up in school and having yet another failed relationship would each be things I could not live with, could not handle. But the human body has an amazing will to live.

    I woke up and went to work this morning. My cabin is not freezing. My truck runs. Life goes on.

    I do not trust anyone right now though. Least of all any man. Trusting someone not to hurt you is dumb.

    • Grizelda says:

      Trusting someone not to hurt you is dumb.

      If I could open up my chest and pull out whatever’s left of my cold, lifeless, crumbling, black, flinty heart, I’d engrave this on it — in 24 karat gold filligree — before stuffing the thing back in my sternum and zipping me back up.

      I make a great addition to anyone’s holiday festivities…

  51. Kat in Canada says:

    I am completely new at this but after having an epiphany last week with my therapist I felt like I needed to post. A little background about me, I was with my fiancee for 14 years (engaged for 2) when in late September he drops the bomb that he has feelings for someone else. Apparently they have been in contact and corresponding with ( he said only via the net but who knows now?) for a long time, I think maybe a year to six months and he doesn’t know what to do ( a common occurrence of ” I am so upset about this but I don’t know why or how to fix it, can you?” that I now recognize) all while he is still telling me he loves me, wanting to hug me and even kiss he decides after consulting with people that don’t like me ( family, friends) about his feelings. After giving him four days to figure out his shit we see each other I got a long list of reasons of shit that I have done to make him not be in love with me anymore( I am judgmental, not passionate enough, I don’t want a stable relationship that leads to a home, marriage and kids,he refuses to forgive me for a fight that happened 7 years ago,my eating disorder affects our relationship even though I have been in remission for years I am a bad listener) and the stuff he is missing that the new person can provide. He told me that we would tell people we are taking a “break” because he wants to be alone without contact but also date other people and he might call me if he felt like a date with me and he will definitely contact me to get together so he can break officially break it off when he decides to start sleeping with her or other people. He then started balling and getting really upset because it was the hardest thing he has ever had to do. I just told him good luck and hopefully he will find what he is looking for and dropped all his unreturned stuff over to his house later that day.

    It took me two days to get a handle on the breakup enough to send him a final text telling him that I don’t want to hear from him again when he decides to start sleeping with other people and that I am moving on with my life just like he is. I have not contacted him since and I will not be, I am the kind of person that loves a challenge so NC has not been that hard for me. Shifting through the feelings, emotions and guilt I have has been hard. I have consulted a few read books, I am seeing two counsellors, one alone and one with my mom who we were already seeing, I have been through relationship inventories, writing unsent letters and I am taking stock of other unhealthy love ( platonic and non) habits in my life and most days I am able to face how unhealthy the relationship had become for me. I don’t blame myself for HIS cheating and I try not to accept blame for all the faults he tried to put on me ( he never accepted or professed any blame except to say that I would never be able to get over what he has done). I accept that I was not always an active listener, I haven’t been clear about my wants and goals in life, these past few years, I took the relationship for granted and based my self-worth on how much he loved me and I swept many things under the rug instead of dealing with warning flags, resentments etc. I have set some new boundaries like telling all my friends, family etc that I don’t want any info about him passed back to me and I am not on facebook until I get some time and distance from this. I have started a running program ( I have also lost 25 pounds and I am feeling healthier every day) and signed up for a 5K run, hanging out with my friends and I signed up for an online course in preparation of going back to school next year to start my new career I had been already decided on ( we were planning and preparing to move to a new city for me to go to school next year).

    There is still alot of grief work I know I must do to let go of him and the relationship. Thankfully I don’t know anything about the new girl so I am not comparing myself to her, which would be doubly hard on my till wavering self esteem. I think I have accepted that the breakup happened and it happened for a reason even if I am still puzzling that out. I can see him for who he really has become in the past two years and I do not like or respect him anymore. I know now that I love myself and that is the most important love I will ever receive from anyone and now my world is full of possibilities that I know now wouldn’t be possible with him in the picture. I had made alot of personal changes in the past year and I guess I see this as a continuation of that commitment I made to better my soul. Working on myself is tiring sometimes and I do get resentful and angry that I am the one stuck doing all the work, but I try to remind myself that their is light at the end of this tunnel if I keep to this path.

    My epiphany about trust came last week when my therapist asked me if I feel any disinclination towards being able to trust people because of his cheating and other past trust issues that I have had with friends and family. I realized that in order to be healthy, happy and someday be open to loving someone again, I need to be able to be open to trusting someone again so long as I can trust myself to deal with the difficult times that may come with sharing trust. This post was some extra “food for thought” for me about my feelings around trust and I am so glad I found this website!

    • Kit-Kat says:

      Kat… You sound like you have your head on straight. Like you I have no problem staying NC…Its kinda like his punishment so to speak. He made his bed so now he can lie in it. He wants contact/friendship…NO WAY IS THAT EVER GONNA HAPPAN….
      Yes, this blog is a true blessing for me. I felt stronger once I found it the process of moving on has been so much easier for me..
      Its hard for people who have been married a gazillion years or who have never been involved w/a AC or EUM to understand it. SO I come here & feel like this is where I belong right now :)

      • Kat in Canada says:

        I think my head is on straight most of the time. It still surprises me sometimes when I wake up and realize he will never be apart of my life again it almost feels like he died in a small way. I know I am not in love with the person he has become but I guess I am still a little bit in love with the boy I met when I was so young ( I was 16). He was definitely never perfect but he was a better person back then and he was a good fit for me just not a good fit for the me that exists today.

        How he did it and what he said to me still really hurts I would have never in a million years thought he could be that cruel because he was never nasty to me during the relationship and he hated cheaters so much he wouldn’t even do things with my lil bro’s GF while they were dating because she had a history of cheating.

        I know now that he is a coward and holds on to so much of his personal unresolved baggage (family stuff, work, friends, putting women on pedestals an expecting them to be perfect)that stuff isn’t going to go away just because he got rid of me despite the fact that he thinks I am the cause all of it.

        He has not tried to contact me and I doubt he will but staying NC and not bad-mouthing him to our mutual friends is my way of punishing him and rejecting the rejector! But it is also my way of taking the high road which I will be proud of myself for doing so later on.

        I used to be alot more emotional and dramatic then I am now and I was needy and overwhelming at the end of the breakup up until he actually laid it all on the line and then I just felt like I had woken up, my obsession for food and buying stuff to fill the voids in my life was gone. I felt like a thousand pound weight of never measuring up to someone’s expectations or having to manage their insecurities was lifted off my shoulders. Even though I knew it was going to hurt like hell ( and some days its still does) I vowed never to allow him to speak to me or treat me like that ever again, or any man for that matter.

        Thanks for welcoming me Kit-Kat!

    • Bellaninha says:

      You sound like you are doing all the right things Kat. Its been almost 3 years since I broke up with my bloke of 5 years, when I found BR, and I continue to read Natalie’s blog and do lovely things for myself, all the things I dropped during the relationship. (yoga, choir, trips away with friends) Keeping busy and having fun works, but also I allow myself time to feel my feelings if I get a little sad (I think everyone does) but I feel the happiest and calmest I have in a long time, time really does heal. I am a little wary when I meet new guys but I know looking after myself first is the key to happiness. Hang in there with the No Contact, it truly works. Good on you and good luck with the running and study Xx

      • Kat in Canada says:

        Thanks for the welcome and encouragement Bellaninha.

        Fulfilling myself is the most important thing right now, just like you said. I was never the one in the relationship to drop my friends, family or interests, I have always been able to go to dinner, the movie or an art exhibit on my own if he wasn’t willing to come. I think I have always know who I am but found it hard to balance my long term goals with his wants and needs. He said I never wanted a house, family and kids, which I always was reluctant towards but now I know its because I didn’t want these things with him because off the all the baggage and crap and cut and run tactics he learned and that he still can’t get over from his childhood. I do feel happy now that I know I want a husband, house and babies when I am ready ( which won’t be for awhile). I am nervous about dating and opening up again since I was a kid when we met but knowing but I want and what I won’t accept will hopefully guide me in the right directions and warn me about any potential red flags early on.

        I run my first 5k with a great group of friends on NYE and I can’t wait to cross the finish line. My accounting course is challenging but hey you never know until you try?

        Thanks for your perspective Bellaninha. It is nice to hear from someone whose been there all my friends are pretty much married with little ones and forget what this is like so its been nice to come here and learn from so many wise people.

        • Bellaninha says:

          No worries Kat. You sound really brave and running is a totally awesome thing to be doing – release those endorphins! I think you go through a few phases post long term break up, and that’s ok. I thought I would have been “recovered” in 6 months but it does take time, I went through crazy partying, meeting the wrong types of guys again, needing to change continents! But in the end it’s what makes me who I am and you will find your way. My ex had all sorts of unresolved childhood issues that I’m sure aided his EUM status. Biggest lesson I learned is that we can’t change another person. I tried for at least 2 of the 5 years! I know a few girlfriends who were in the same situation as us and have met wonderful guys when they least expect it. Take time to heal and you will seriously discover the new adult you. Xxx

    • Feistywoman says:

      Kat, Welcome. You sound like you have done a lot of work. Just don’t let them grind you down. Many of us have come here trying to find answers to our dilemmas. I got here after a very traumatic marriage breakdown and after reading Nat’s first edition book had a lot of answers. In fact so many light bulbs went on that I nearly short circuited! For me it is one step at a time and I have to admit that the smug marrieds who tell me that single life is full of adventure are talking out of their anus’ and I will tell them so. I know that my health will fail in a few years and financially things aren’t that great either. But I have my boundaries and values aiming to be true to myself which so many people aren’t. That is all we can do and sadly there are too many men who are lying, cheating chameleons we need to recognise and avoid. I am happy now to stay single after my marriage and thank myself for the good days. Like many I would like to have one quality relationship to wipe out the bad times but have accepted that this may not happen as I am only prepared to leave meeting men to chance.

    • Little Star says:

      Kat in Canada, thank you for sharing your story…Reading your post, I remembered my own break up few years back…and how embarrassing I was trying to have my bf back by calling/texting/spying on him!

      I wish I had your dignity, pride and self respect. I guess I learn from past and very painful experience, I would NEVER humiliate myself again:(

      • Bellaninha says:

        Little Star, don’t be embarrassed. You are right, your past can only now help the lessons for your future. I often take two steps forward, one back, but at least now us being aware is a hell of a lot better. As well as knowing Natalie has been there and created this amazing support network for us all. Go gently. Xxx

  52. espresso says:

    Thanks everybody for the great posts and Sadder but Wiser…you hit the nail on the head. I can’t imagine right now a “fun” relationship that is more emotionally engaged…it has all been such hard work recently. Just one pleasant, fun, relaxing relationship that is more emotionally engaged but not hugely intense…would be great and I think would change my perspective. I have a lot of sexual drive too which I have had to keep under wraps and it would be nice to have some kind of “outlet” for that someday….

    Even though I am “out there” in lots of ways, I don’t think I am ready emotionally yet…still feeling too vulnerable.

    • searcher says:

      I feel the same way you do, espresso.

      I thought I had moved on emotionally from an ex after being single for 2 years, only to be taken advantage of again by a new guy, then taken advantage of by another guy after that which was the final straw, all because I was not ready to move on. If I had taken time to heal instead of obsess, maybe I would have been ready. But I’ve realized, if I still feel vulnerable and broken, there’s no way the next relationship can turn out any better than the last.

      Until I’m emotionally stable and ready to invest that kind of energy on someone, I need to invest that energy into myself.

  53. Ruth C says:

    I guess for me, the bottom line is very simple. I’m a coward. I don’t wish to be hurt. And as such, I have always lived my life trying to avoid this…as much with work as with my personal life. Experiences from my early adolescence taught me to not trust; to not trust myself, men or women for that matter because sooner or later, one would end up hurt.

    Walls have been erected around me, so high and so thick that only the most persistent could get through. Once in a while, I’d get so lonely in my castle, I’d come out…meet someone…and be hurt all over again because…well, I knew that was going to happen. And back again I’d go.

    It didn’t seem to matter how ‘safe’ I tried to be. The same issues would haunt me over and over…and now…now that I am slowly breaking down the walls, I am finding that dealing with these issues is helping.

    I came to this article after reading another article on beliefs and fear; about how closely related they are and how our beliefs affect our behaviour and change how we view things. And, I have to say that this…truly hit home for me. Living ‘safely’ has not bode me well. It has not prevented heart ache, and perhaps has caused more since listening to imagined fears is not truly listening to oneself or observing or being open in any way. I have been closed and as such, have attracted closed people.

    Things are starting to change for me. First comes the realization that pain, loss, will -not- kill me. It will not render me unlovable, hopeless, unattractive or any of the other adjectives I had ascribed to myself throughout the years. It doesn’t make me a fool, stupid, or any such thing.
    And, I can survive that.

    And, as the walls come down, I am realizing that there are quite a few people out there to meet. I’m not wishing to get married or have a family or even go much further than simply getting to know people for now. But, it is certainly time that I confronted my own fears, my own faulty belief system and started opening up to the world around me.

  54. espresso says:

    I enjoy people, connecting and relationships and have never had trouble making good emotional connections in general but right now I think I need to protect myself emotionally and just stay on the sidelines for awhile. Somedays I feel strong but other days not.

    I feel like I have been involved in a car crash and although I can’t quite run yet I can walk pretty well…..I feel like I have been emotionally violated and did not,until recently, understand the extent of this. My ex isn’t easy to figure out and so the damage hasn’t been easy to completely understand. It was a big overall mindfk.

    I am still coming to grips with the idea that my recent pain, loss, grief etc. won’t kill me. It sometimes feels like it is going to. Coming out of a long term relationship is really difficult much to process and lots of logistics and I haven’t done it all yet. I am not always sure of my feelings and sometimes my anger feels very toxic, to me too! Sometimes I wish he was a straight AC so that I could flush him abruptly out of my life.

  55. Tinkerbell says:


    Welcome. Please let us hear more from you. Excellent comments that I’m sure we’ve all experienced at one time or another. I’m sure BR has helped you get your shite together enough to find a good man. It did for me, and I am very glad and grateful. Best of luck, Tink.

  56. lo j says:

    Runnergirl … I am laughing at your struggling imperfectionist. What? You’re not perfect at your imperfection?!! Me neither. Oh well.

  57. miskwa says:

    Yep, some women do have daddy or grandaddy issues. Actually in my life the men who treated me the worst were/ are my so called peers. A lot of that probably has to do with my being forced to be hypermature/hyperresponsible from a very young age and also that I am mixed race. I never wanted family and never had squat to do with popular culture. I wanted and still want to be respected for my mind and for my skills. Hell, looks won’t be there forever. My older guys had proven themselves by sticking to their values, living their values and were highly accomplished, responsible, truly caring men. Maturity is good. Yep, I have also encountered creepies, I dumped their sorry asses post haste, even had to knock one down who didn’t understand the word NO. In contrast, the men nearer my age have resented my education, lifestyle, and far left/environmental values. Some of them, including my current AC are at a minimum narcissists. He has wreaked more havoc on my life than even my abusive /neglectful collection of parents and step parents. With them, I knew all I had to do was to survive till I was old enough to bail out of the family. This dude may cause me to bail out of my career, my home, and perhaps any hope of financial stability in my retirement. I am not sure I could even look at a guy my age right now. I am grateful for my older friends, especially my 73 year old vet who accepts me for who I am and I can have an intelligent conversation with and is that rarest of creatures, a true gentleman. Wish dudes my age could take a page or two from his book.

  58. 30Love says:

    Thank you, Tinkerbell. It’s very fitting that you chose to reply to me, as something in your post regarding your new fellow and your mind saying ‘Hurry up and start your shite so we can get this over with!’ really spoke to me. I feel they same way at times. I’m a very pragmatic individual. In pretty much any situation, I like to know exactly what I’m dealing with, as soon as possible, so I can come up a ‘game plan.’ (As you might imagine, this has not been particularly helpful in past relationships.) Anyway, I must convey this to my guy in some way, because sometimes he will tease me ‘Are you still over there waiting for the other shoe to drop?’ He clearly finds it amusing, because he realizes I’m just a reticent person by nature, and it has way more to do with me than anything he is actually doing. If I were to express hesitancy about anything in my marriage (usually about finances), I was bullied and ridiculed by the exH until I gave in. With the exBF EUM, I was particularly cautious starting a new relationship (with a colleague), and he took any hesitation as an personal insult on his character. Later, when I tried to talk to him about why things weren’t progressing in our relationship, he blamed his inability to open up to me on my doubts early in the relationship. He said he figured I would eventually break up with him, which I did end up doing…because of his infuriating EUM-ness! I guess there as many possible reactions to any given behavior as there are potential partners out there. It’s having faith in our own ability to gauge these reactions and determine the real threat (or not), that we learn to trust our own judgement.

    And thank you as well, Freya. I am learning much insight into the male psyche from my 11yo son who is laying in bed watching the election returns with me tonight. He reminds me that all these fellas were once someone’s little boy. Some just remain so longer than others…lol!

  59. Anne says:

    As I’ve told many a female friend whom I have referred to this site, I honestly don’t know what I would have done were it not for Natalie’s Baggage Reclaim site. The articles were SO HELPFUL to me that I can’t even begin to explain it because I would be going on and on ad infinitum. In particular, the Fallback Girl, No Contact and Future Faking articles were EXTREMELY HELPFUL. In the Fallback Girl and Future Faking articles I RECOGNIZED the techniques that the POS I have dated used on me.

    I have never allowed anyone using me as a “fallback girl” and in most instances, once the breakup occurs, I do not continue any communication at all with someone that I have been sexually intimate with or for whom I had developed feelings.

    I have, however, been the victim of future faking. I do have to say, though, that I have never quite 100% believed guys who use the future faking technique because always at the back of my mind has been a little voice asking: “Is this guy for real or is he trying to make me think that he sees a future with me in order to butter me up and try to get in my pants sooner?” The issue for me, though, is that I start to second-guess my inner voice and asking myself whether I am unfairly mistrusting the guy due to the hurtful experiences that I have had with previous sewer rats or whether my “sixth sense” is sensing a real faker; this is especially the case for me when the guy puts on a good act and presents himself as a “nice guy” who is looking for a real relationship.

    I have gotten many important understandings from Natalie’s articles. One has been to see that I am NOT being unfair to the sewer rats or to myself in QUESTIONING to myself what their true intentions are. Another is that I have been able to see that in TODAY’S WORLD, MANY, MANY WOMEN HAVE EXPERIENCED WHAT I HAVE EXPERIENCED; this has made me feel better (misery loves company :))because I can see that these things aren’t happening just to me and that I don’t have some target on my forehead that says “abuse me!” It’s about the POSs, not about me. Also, and most importantly, the articles have helped me to realize that I AM NOT UNLOVABLE! I was in such an emotionally injured state a few years ago after a particularly painful breakup from someone that I was truly in love with (the first time that I was truly in love) that I started to think I must be unlovable if I kept meeting the same kind of guy (cheaters) over and over; I then would remind myself that if I was married for 25 years and my ex-husband loved me, then I wasn’t unlovable — and that what I was experiencing had more to do with the type of guy that is allowed to run loose out there nowadays, as well as with the lack of sexual morals in today’s world than with me!

    In closing, thank you once again to Natalie! MANY WOMEN OUT THERE OWE HER A DEBT OF GRATITUDE!

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

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

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

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