Don't should yourself

I find with Baggage Reclaim, that there becomes a theme to the types of stories that people are sharing with me or a common thread in what it is that keeps each person stuck with their thinking and behaviour, and so far this year, that theme is obligation and entitlement. We’re either feeling duty bound even when we’re not, or we’re cycling through a thought process that rests on this sense that we’ve been and done all of the things that we feel that we’re ‘supposed’ to in order to have got what we desire and it hasn’t worked out, hence we conclude that we’ve either been robbed or that it must be due to us not being “good enough” in some way.

Due to having an overactive guilt thyroid, many of us end up being burdened with duties and this perennial sense of obligation to be and do the things that will ‘please’ others, often at our own expense. This in itself actually taps into the issue of entitlement, what we believe certain things that we are or do give us a right to receive or do. For instance, when we’re a pleaser, there is at the bare minimum, an underlying expectation that in exchange for suppressing ourselves and catering to other people’s needs, expectations, feelings, opinions, and wishes, that in turn, we will receive validation, attention, love etc, or we’ll at the very least minimise or outright avoid conflict, criticism, disappointment, and rejection. We spend our time being and doing the things that we feel constitute a “good person” or a “good girlfriend/boyfriend”, even if some of those things involve us not having boundaries, and then we feel cheated that we’ve gone to these lengths and that people haven’t reciprocated to the same degree.

Many of us carry the belief that if we love someone, that it entitles us to their reciprocation, especially in situations where our lack of boundaries is causing us to effectively punch below our weight with someone who doesn’t treat and regard us as the worthwhile and valuable person that we are. That’s why, when they move on, it’s, What the what now? I can’t believe that you don’t want me! There’s also the belief that love gives us the power to change a person or that if a person claims to have feelings for us, that this ‘should’ give us the right to change them too.

Readers keep asking me why they’re stuck on a person or situation, and aside from struggling to deal with their hopes and expectations not being met (disappointment), it’s also to do with their perspective on the situation, and when you start uncovering the beliefs that are driving this stuckness, there’s a lot of ‘shoulds’ in there, and behind these, is also the perception of what they should have been able to do or receive.

My brother has been through a really difficult situation that has wreaked havoc with his sense of self, and part of what baffles him is the belief he’d always had that you work hard, you do good, and you’re pretty much covered. Talking to friends and readers, my brother’s not alone in this belief and it attaches itself to many things, such as earning a certain amount of money, looking a certain way, treating people nicely and so forth. We feel protected by the things that we’re doing, as if we’re paying in daily, weekly, or monthly amounts into The Shitty Circumstances Policy that covers you against shady people and circumstances. In an ideal world, we hope to avoid these entirely but at the very least, we expect not to be greatly impacted, and when we are and it takes longer than we’d like to recover or to even extricate ourselves out of what’s happening, we wonder, What’s wrong with me?

We work our way through our mental checkbox about us and our deeds and on paper, we feel we’ve more than met the criteria for getting what we want or avoiding the shady.

We might try again a few times and then when these don’t work and our self-esteem depreciates further, we think, Well, I’ve been and done what I’m supposed to and that hasn’t worked out, so I guess it’s because I’m not good enough. Bam! Or we determine that we’ve been robbed and feel angry and resentful, possibly even acting like a bailiff collecting a debt.

Of course it’s not about our worth or having for instance, the power to control other people’s behaviour and feelings with our pleasing and so where we really need to go back to, is what is it that we feel entitled to and where we’re harming ourselves with our perspective.

We decide that we want something or someone, we look at ourselves relative to others who have what we want and recognise similar attributes or even where we perceive ourselves to be in a better position, plus we may get into the whole, Everyone else has what I want (what’s wrong with me?) thought cycle, or home in on someone specific and feel a little or a lot envious. We’ll determine that what we want is within our means and even refer to our ‘investment’, and when it doesn’t happen or doesn’t work out, we eventually conclude that it’s down to us being inadequate or unlovable.

Of course, when we examine our beliefs around this, we can evaluate whether we’re being fair and reasonable to us, for instance, if we weren’t into a person but they’d set their sights on us, do we think it’s fair for that person to feel entitled to us and to pursue it even to the detriment of their self-esteem or our own?

If we feel entitled to a person, are we putting our vision of things ahead of reality and any misgivings that we should be paying attention to?

Have we been living our life as if we’re making overpayments (read: people-pleasing) into The Shitty Circumstances Policy or even the My Perfect Life Policy? If so, what have we been doing and have some of those things actually been to the detriment of our well-being? Are we being and doing things that take us away from who we are?

It’s also important to evaluate whether all of the things we’re being and doing, actually bear any direct relation to what we’re seeking and feel entitled to? Honestly, the amount of people who tell me that they’re smart, educated, in possession of all of their teeth, own their own home, have money in the bank, and that they take care of their appearance, is actually a little scary – is stuff like this what we feel is an automatic precursor to getting what we want?

Just like there’s a big difference between choosing to do something based on pleaser guilt and actually having a moral or legal duty to be or do something, there’s also a big difference between need and want. We actually have a need for companionship and intimacy but that’s not the same as having the desire to possess something. When for instance, a relationship doesn’t work out, that isn’t the end of that part of our life forever more – the need for a relationship can be fulfilled in a different way with someone else, as long as we’re not telling ourselves that the only way that the need can be met is with our desire to possess what may be a toxic person.

In much the same way that we should reevaluate our decision to give and help if not getting the hoped for reward would change our desire to do so, if a sense of what we ‘should’ get or what people ‘should’ do as a result of what we’re being and doing, is driving a lot of our thinking, behaviour, and choices, it’s time for us to come back to base and cut down the shoulds so that we can free ourselves up to feeling better and moving forward.

Your thoughts?

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278 Responses to How our perceived entitlement to what we want is keeping us stuck and why we need to challenge what we believe we’re owed

  1. Lisa says:

    Wonderful as always Nat!

    I have definitely have that overactive guilt thing. I broke up with my ex about a month ago. I saw how hurt he was that I over compensated my compassion towards him. I didn’t break up with him because I didn’t love him. I broke up with him because again I was the one giving so much into the relationship and he was not. We lived together almost a year. I did everything correct, did the NC. Then I was told he was seeing someone else and….I lost it to put it nicely. I tried to get validation from him and broke NC. And his response was as expected and BS answer with a hint of “you’re crazy for asking” vibe.

    But I have been doing NC for about a week now. Cut him off of all social networks. It’s very hard to deal with at night. I only have one thought that wont leave my head. “Did he ever really love me?”

    I’ve been through this before. I found this site 2 years ago when I went through my other break up. I hope time does it’s justice. My relationship patterns still definitely need some work.

    Much love,


    If anyone has any input, it would be greatly appreciated :)

    • hand_turkey says:

      Lisa, you asked for input. I wonder – does this man remind you of one of your parents? Did his attitude and response to you seem familiar?

      • Lisa says:


        Thanks so much for your input. My Mom was and is an alcohol/drug abuser and I’ve never met my father, but heard he’s just as stuck in that same boat. I was raised primarily by my two wonderful grandparents who were the definition of true death til we part love.

        It seemed familiar to a situation I dealt with when I was 19 with an EU man who I thought was “the love of life.” I was seeking validation again from an obvious EU man. But I felt as though my ex was different of course. With the time and effort I put towards the relationship. And felt so very disappointed again.

    • Louise says:

      Lisa, you were not getting what you desired, so you did a brave thing and pulled the plug. Now because he moved on soon you feel insecure. Isn’t the fact that he moved on so soon, an indication of what kind of man he really is.
      He hasn’t taken time out to reflect or make changes, he has jumped in with a replacement. He may or may not have loved you, in his own very limited way, or rather his own understanding of love. He must be quite shallow, and perhaps it would be good to ask yourself why you are attracted now to such a shallow man. I have experienced this myself, and my own conclusions have been, that it was indeed safe to stay stuck and not embark on the hard work of moving on and seeing it all for what it really is/was, an attraction to a emotionally superficial man, and fear of the unknown. The months were rocky, I felt sick, I felt rejected, it felt like de toxing from hard drugs, but now I feel so much better.
      It’s about/was fear of intimacy for me, and all those things that we share on here, BS, personas, fickleness, will all become boring, if you do the work and truly cut the chord and do NC.
      I wonder if his new partner is happy doing all the work…I guess not deep down. My EUM brought his new girlfriend to a project that we had both worked on together and shoved her under my nose. As I watched her throughout the evening my jealousy and hurt turned to pity. He hadn’t changed, he still put himself first, still left her waiting outside for him, still played his persona all evening . She went from sexy new younger opponent, to : oh my god I feel so sorry for you , run for the hills now …all in the space of one evening…
      Much love, Louise

      • Lisa says:


        Your reply was wonderful. I had to keep re-reading it. Yes, it was a big indication of who he is and no he hasn’t. Thank you for sharing your experience. I definitely feel that’s what he was doing with his snarky FB, instagram and twitter posts. As if he was the holy god of relationships and acted so overly happy as if nothing had even happened. That’s when I had to pull the plug…completely. We have so many mutual friends it’s inevitable that we will see eachother again. I have told our mutual friends that I need some space and can not put on a show that I’m ok right now as he. Does that seem weak to you?

        How long were you in that relationship? Have you developed healthier habits?

        • Louise says:

          Lisa putting your recovery as top priority does not appear weak to me, it feels like a signal of true strenght and female power.If your mutual friends find your split with EUM difficult, cease seeing them for a while.

          My toxic on and off affair lasted ten years. He got in when I was horrifically vulnerable, and was very similar to my childhood abuser.

          Healthier habits that I have now adopted are : therapy, reading Br and painting. Life is so much safer, I could never go back.

          • Lisa says:

            Thanks so much Louise for your reassurance. I feel at complete vulnerability right now and trying to build that independence again seems to feel tougher the second time around as I feel no closure. But as I’ve learned though the BR community and personal experience you have to give yourself your own closure.

            10 years? That’s amazing you have found your recovery. You are an inspiration Louise and have touched my soul through these comments.

            Cheers to wonderful lives we will live :)

      • hand_turkey says:

        Wow Louise, isn’t that the truth. My EUM didn’t like it when I distanced myself from him and suggested that we not be friends – so he wormed his way back into my life only to reject me later. It’s like he planned the whole thing.

        Well, I felt like a molecule and felt the detox like you. I was all business this time: no contact with him, his friends or family. I toughed it out and faced myself.

        Then, one unexpected day a few years later I caught a glimpse of him with his now-wife. Hard to explain, but he could see me but could not see that I could see him, but no doubt about it, he was straining to look at me while pretty much treating his (extremely well educated – I think she has a Ph.d.- very pretty and worldy) wife like dirt. This went on for a while. It was eye opening.

        It shook me. From what little I knew about her, this woman had me beat in every area of life. Why was this beautiful, very smart and accomplished woman with this man who clearly treated her as lousy as he treated me and any other woman? Then it occurred to me – why should *I* give him any thought, either?

      • Erin says:


        Well said. I got a lot out of this and am so glad you shared your insight. I have been on the verge of committing to NC. I have tried before, but kind of slide back into it after the initial panic of cutting that tie. I have stepped back a lot, but always cave when I hear from him…detoxing from hard drugs is right. Reading everyone’s responses is inspiring me to give it another go..

        • Lynn says:

          Erin – just wanted to say you can do it. If I can do it you can. It will be 7 months NC tomorrow from someone I thought I couldn’t be NC with. I was addicted. I actually just ordered the book ‘How to break your addiction to a person.’ Granted I am in a different place from 7 months ago when i should have read this book, but thought it would have some insight anyway. It is like breaking a drug addiction or any addiction really. You can do it!

      • Rewind says:

        My situation was so similar. I just received an email from him about all his faults and how losing me is more than he can bear and what a beauty full sweet soul I am. Two hours later I ran into him at an event with another woman. It amazes me how we suffer while they continue on with their happy life! I have gone no contact, but I still have those paralyzing moments where I can’t function. Louise, your post helps so much!

        • hand_turkey says:

          Rewind, I was reading a book by Robin Norwood not long ago (either Women Who Love Too Much or Letters From Women Who Love Too Much – it’s a blur). In it, a woman had had all she could take of her husband’s efforts to avoid their marriage. She recounts how, the night before she signed the divorce papers, her husband was on a pay phone begging her not to go through with it, that he still loved her and wanted only her… while he was on a date with his girlfriend. Though he sounded tortured and sincere, he married that girlfriend in a civil service within hours of his divorce papers being processed.

          It’s not personal. These types of people need to avoid facing themselves at any cost and they manage this by never being single – even as we who find ourselves at this site manage not looking at ourselves by being preoccupied with one partner at a time.

          • Sofia says:

            Great words, hand_turkey. They avoid their feelings by jumping into a new relationship. We avoid our feelings about ourselves by focusing on them and wallowing about them. I read about the same concept in “He is Scared, She is Scared” book. By the way it is a great book. Someone recommended me and I just finished recently. Yesterday got to the last pages of what both people go through postbreakup and it made me cry how much I felt every sentence was written for me.

            • hand_turkey says:

              Sofia I’ll have to check out that book as it’s the second time I’ve seen it mentioned here. I’m reading all I can about dysfunctional relationship tactics because I’ll be damned if I go through this again. Not worth it.

              • Sofia says:

                hand_turkey, I highly recommend this book. I got Kindle version on Amazon. I swear it was like I was reading about him and me. If you think yours was a non-committal type (most likely otherwise you wouldn’t be on this board) and you yourself might have issues with committing/intimacy too, then this book will definitely help you. Or if not help, but at least it will clarify things for you. One thing I am amazed is that I never thought about myself as a non-committed type. Natalie though says repeatedly in many of her articles that if we are engaging ourselves with people who are avoiding responsibility and commitment WE MUST BE NON-COMMITTED ourselves!!! Even though we are saying how much we want to be in a relationship. It is so complex yet makes so much sense. We are passive non-committal people. Healthy people run from such relationships as soon as it becomes clear enough that the person won’t, doesn’t want to commit. Or if there are enough red/orange flags that let you know. Mine OPENLY said that he DOESN’T want a family, move-in situation, he has fun with me now, and yes, he is interested in long-term but he needs time to figure that out. Well, even after 9 months he was still not sure if he wants a serious long-term relationship with me. Healthy people – my friends, evaluated the relationship at about 3-6 months mark and said, “you either have ‘fun, casual hookup exclusive situation’ or drop him.” They all told me that nothing serious will come out of this. Yet I never listened. I should have either decided it’s casual and have fun out of it or bail out. I wanted a serious relationship and I stayed. Mistake. Evidently, we, passive non-committal people, stick to relationships like this because we are not sure ourselves if we can trust, open up, settle down. Anyway, it is too complicated. There is truth to it somewhere, I think. We need to be available ourselves first. The great thing is we are on this board. This is a first step. We are acknowledging our mistakes and weaknesses. Do you think they do? I don’t think so. Read the book, hand_turkey. It might not help you a lot, but any tiny bit of clarification DOES HELP.

                • hand_turkey says:

                  Sofia, right now I’ve got tears in my eyes from reading Men Who Can’t Love. I saw that title here and there on Amazon, but I assumed it wasn’t for me – I figured it must be about sociopaths or some such.

                  Well I read it and wow. I am open to book suggestions in this atmosphere of self growth, so “He’s Scared, She’s Scared” is in my cart! Too bad the “student is ready” only when she done messed up!

                  • Sofia says:

                    hand_turkey, I got this book too but haven’t read it yet.

                    I have this thought that crosses my mind sometimes. What if they are not scared and don’t “can’t love.” What if they just simply don’t love us and will someone else and won’t be scared of relationships with them?

                    Fully accepting that would make it let go “easier”? That we are just not the One for them and therefore they are not the One for us, if there is such a person anyway.

                    Just a thought that comes to me after months of agony, psychological analysis, and spiritual seeking… I stopped and say to myself, “He just didn’t love me and will someone else and all ‘problems’ of fear and commitment will dissipate for him.”

                    Maybe I am oversimplifying or maybe we are overanalyzing everything?

                    Sometimes I get so tired expending my energy on thinking why it didn’t work out and how I still can’t let go that I start thinking that I have to be brave and admit that he just didn’t love or stopped loving me at some point. You can’t make someone love you.

                    It is not my answer to myself or anyone on this board. Just thinking…

                    • hand_turkey says:

                      Sofia, why should lightning strike and suddenly your EUM changes, like in the movies? From what I’ve seen, these guys have to do the same uncomfortable work that we are doing here in order to change.

                      For one thing, being an unempathic ass is its own retribution, but they are lucky these types of men get themselves into trouble. According to me, adults plod along doing what they’ve always done until it hurts THEMSELVES (not their partner) too much.

                      In the case of say, cheating Ass Clowns, the AC will consider changing when he’s been caught with a Russian mafia don’s daughter his pants around his ankles. Or worse – his own wife.

                      People start to change when it hurts too much not to. Luckily, your internal warning system has been beeping because you haven’t gone completely numb and you don’t thoroughly hate yourself. You can think of your internal warning system is a type of self love.

                      My experience with emotionally unavailable men tells me that they aren’t just out of touch with feelings about you, they are out of touch with feelings like guilt, shame, love, joy, etc. and who wants to date a jerky robot?

                    • Sofia says:

                      hand_turkey, I reply to my own post because there was no Reply button under yours.

                      I agree with you. Eventually something will happen to him that he will realize he can’t and doesn’t want to go on like this. Maybe someone will break his heart? Or he will be hurting again and again so much over breaking up with someone. He told me that it hurts him very much to break up with me, and it’s not easy as I think. The previous breakups he had to do with other women were hard for him too. Yet he keeps doing it. Seems like, although I don’t know much about his dating history, once he passes 6-9 month stage, he can’t go further. Going further is when real intimacy begins to develop. Getting used to each other, getting comfortable, and being yourself, not trying to all that dating original fluff, to look your best, speak your best, etc. In other words, emotional intimacy starts to develop. Knowing how he is, I doubt he will be able to have a lasting relationship with anyone, unless like you are saying, something happens to hurt him very much and make him reconsider his relationship strategies.

                      Unempathetic and out of touch with feelings. Yes, I noticed it’s like he never showed me his concerns, fears, never revealed what troubled, irritated him, made him weary. It was always kind of even. Contained. Guarded. Like I never knew who he really was. I do think he is out of touch with himself. He said, “something is missing between us. not connecting, not clicking.” I guess I could take it at a face value, but then I think about his high walls and boundaries he built up and his dating history and I wonder if he can have that connection with anyone. True connection.

                  • Sofia says:

                    hand_turkey, oh so true!! the student is ready when she is done messing up. I thought about that too. Does it mean maybe I messed up this relationship? but yet again I go back in circles that I know he was not present in the beginning, or later. Always one foot out of the door. No doubt. Never fully into it. The problem is why we put up with it? That’s why we are learning now.

                    • hand_turkey says:

                      From what I gather, you didn’t “mess up” as much as you crossed paths with a messed up person who could not be forthright with you. Then we start to doubt ourselves.

                      For me, I “put up with it” (poor treatment) partly because I did not know how to put words to what was going on. Now that I know there are resources that discuss this, I can identify it, and know it’s not my stuff.

                    • Sofia says:

                      I kept thinking and still do sometimes (self-blame and guilt still there unfortunately) I messed up or sabotaged by acting out my insecurities about our relationship ending. I had both internal and external fears. He is from another country and is here on the contract, the duration of which was changing from at least two years more to “I might leave in 3 weeks, I just never know how long I will stay here.” The duration of contract seemed to change depending on his level of commitment to me. One time I was confident he was staying here, another time I never knew when he would leave. Other things bothered me such as he would not meet with my friends, go to the events I liked, attend my company’s event where one could bring a spouse or a significant other, and didn’t do most of what I offered to do to spend time together. Another big thing, he would not want me to meet his friends in his own country, forget about the family, that was a prohibited zone even after 9 months of our relationship, he would not even let his friends in his country know about my existence. For all I know he could have a wife there. So there was a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty. I need to remind myself that there were a lot of red flags and I was insecure not only because of my internal issues but because there was no relationship really. The problem to solve is why I stayed in it so long and accepted the relationship on his terms, where there would be no progression, no unstructured time spent together, no building of intimacy overtime. How I found that relationship satisfactory I don’t know. When I don’t think about all the good things (typically the first 3-5 months, like Nat is saying in her articles), all I remember was agony and feeling that I don’t know him, that I am not a priority, that he does not spend enough time with me, that he doesn’t try to be more comfortable and relaxed around me. All these things were such red flags that I consistently chose to ignore. It is a real problem that I and all of us are dealing with. Why we put up with crumbs and lower our expectations, and accept less and less with time and think the “care and attention” they give us is really a care and attention.

                      Poor treatment: I am thinking if I can call my relationship poor treatment. He was not physically abusive, didn’t cheat (who knows though maybe he did, we didn’t spend much time together for me to know that). It was a poor treatment of myself, that is no doubt. The sad part also of course when children get involved. I vow to never introduce my child to someone until I get to know him for quite some time and red flags checking stage is cleared. Only when I am certain that I want to build a relationship with someone and he shows readiness too with his actions and care for me, only then, I will introduce my child to the guy I am dating. That’s my rule now and I take it seriously.

                  • Tinkerbell says:

                    Hand turkey,

                    Another good book is “Women Who Love Too Much”. I’m sure most of us can relate to that one. I’ve been reading avidly self-help book and have graduated from what I call the “lighter” stuff to the heavy, meaty books on psychology. I just started, “The Road Less Traveled” and I can see after only a few pages that this is one I should have read long ago. With Natalie’s blog, my strong faith, a good therapist and my determined will, I’ve come a long way from where I was three years ago. And I’m glad to see so many of us BR devotees, gradually, are able to say the same.

                    • hand_turkey says:

                      Oh I love that one Tinkerbell! That is what started me on this path. I like “Letters From WWLTM” too. That ending! So great. Robin Norwood helped save my sanity before I found BR.

                    • Sofia says:

                      Tinkerbell, thanks, I will check out “The Road Less Traveled.” Sometimes I think I go in circles reading about relationships and psychology, but then I recognize that the very least the reading does for me is to understand my issues and problems and see what went wrong. It does not help healing or with a grief process, but it helps to learn about oneself and therefore to improve, to get better.

                    • no_more says:

                      “If we feel entitled to a person, are we putting our vision of things ahead of reality and any misgivings that we should be paying attention to?”

                      I have re-read this post several times. It becomes more clear to me each time, that I felt entitled to reciprocation from the exAC because I was kind, supportive, loving and VISUALIZED a fairy tale ending. I ignored my misgivings. I listened to the words, but not the ACTIONS!

                      I didn’t pay attention. Bad on me.

                      I have read ALL the books mentioned. At first I was looking for answers to HIS behavior. Then I slowly, (sooo slowly), started looking at MY behavior. I journal-ed, cried, got mad, talked my friends to death, cried some more, and berated myself for thinking, thinking and thinking about him.

                      My dad is an alcoholic, VERY EU. I see that my marriage to my EX, in part, was ME trying to “fix” my childhood. While my current exEUM AC was not a drinker, kind and seemed available, the fact he was SEPARATED and lived a LONG ways away – made him UNAVAILABLE, and I was just as UNAVAILABLE because I knew this, but bought into trying to validate ME again.

                      At times, all this evaluation has made my head spin. But today I read my journal entries from 3 months ago, and I see how far I have come. Some of the pages were torn from where I actually ripped the paper with my pen – my hurt, anger have subsided, but it is being replaced with thoughts of other things. Like MY life. Not his.

                      I am not going to think about what I am entitled to from someone else. I am going to focus on what I should expect/need/want from myself.

                      *I expect myself to act decently.

                      *I need to love myself first & foremost.

                      *I want love,integrity and honesty & acceptance. FROM ME.

                      Until I am 100% comfortable that I feel all those things about myself, then there is NO WAY I am going to waste time seeking those things from another person.

                      no_more means NO MORE! xx

        • Little Star says:

          Rewind, just love your comment! I did ask the same question myself …while I was suffering for AC #1 for five years, he enjoyed his life, built a stable and comfortable life for himself and what I achieved? NOTHING! Wasted best years of my life, thanks God I finally realized what a silly person I was…no more men in my life;)

          • Sofia says:

            Little Star, yes, that’s amazing how when you observe some of these ACs and EUs, they are living fully their lives, with or without you. They are so absorbed with themselves that nothing can disturb their love and their importance of themselves. We need to learn from them. While we are wasting our precious hours and days thinking about them. In the last two weeks I realized I am finally feeling what I am doing and how I am living. Feeling conscious about my life instead of constantly floating in the daze of thoughts about my ex. Freedom!!! Almost there. It takes time and conscious redirection of thoughts to yourself. Take care of you, be absorbed with you. Be selfish. Because people like us serve and give others, we always ignore ourselves. It’s time 10000 due our time dedicated to US. Let’s do it!!!

            • Little Star says:

              Thank you Sofia for words of encouragement;), great that you realized what a waste of space your ex was…I started a new life without men, believe me I am so much in peace, no more sleepless nights and constant thoughts/expectations from ACs, I let them live without me and I happily live without them;) ALL the best to you!

              • Sofia says:

                Little Star, the question is though what do you do with libido and desire for sex? I have no interest in casual hookups anymore. They make no sense to me. Do you just eventually give up on that part of yourself? I am almost 3 months past breakup and I am thinking now that I feel like libido is clouding my brain (was about to make a FATAL MISTAKE), how do you deal with that? I guess after a year or so one doesn’t care anymore because your body and mind get used to having no sex. Today, when my biology almost made me text the person, I kept recalling Natalie’s articles where she says that you have to put your brain and your dignity first and not listen to your physical urges. I kept rewinding and rewinding her words. Helped. It’s Friday night and I haven’t said a word. And I won’t of course. But that’s the thing. Living without someone, how do you deal with libido. Unless you kill it. Then I need a medicine for that.

                • Elgie R. says:

                  Sofia, are you hungry for sexual release OR male attention….that is the real question. There are many ways to satisfy our own needs, single-handedly so to speak. You can read or watch erotica to help things along. But I suspect that it is male attention you crave – you want attention, and interest, and the validation that brings. He still wants me! He thinks I’m sexy! I still got it!

                  I’m not knocking it. But let’s be honest with ourselves about what it is we are REALLY seeking when we claim we miss sex. If it is truly ‘sex only’ that is missed, we have the power to fix that ourselves. But if it is validation……sex is not the fix.

                  It is hard for me to believe so many women miss the “sex” when my experience has shown me that many men have no idea how to sexually please a woman. And since I am not the first woman these ex-lovers have been with…….I wonder what in the world did they do for their previous partners? Yeah yeah…everybody’s different…..but bad is bad.

                  I have also had a few unbelievably satisfying partners…and I get how you can keep someone around simply for the sex…even though you have no long term interest in them.

                  Slightly OT, I’ve always fantasized about founding a brothel for women, where women go to get their sexual needs met. Not gigolo service….but a salon type service where one pays for what one wants and do all the receiving and get to the massive finish line EVERY time. But one of the major obstacles would be women falling in love with the workers…cat fights…jealous confrontations….. Sex is a sticky wicket.

                  • Sofia says:

                    Elgie R, I think it’s neither. It’s not that I want sexual release with whoever and I don’t need male attention. Sadly, sex that I miss is sex with him. I am not attracted to anyone else and don’t care if somebody is checking me out. So, no, it’s not purely physical and I don’t seek attention. It’s the sexual bond with him that I miss. I hope it will go away eventually because it’s hard. You are right. I think he kept me around for a year, while not having any long-term interest in me because sex was satisfying with me and he could not let it go. So complicated how I can still want someone who hurt me. Part of a healing process I guess.

                    I like your brothel idea, but you are right. Women can fall in love with the workers. We attach meaning to sex and emotionally connect. Although I know there are some women who can have casual sex and be fine with it. I used to be like that but I was wrong that I was fine with it. It always made me feel empty.

                    I have several other exes contacting me on and off. Former me would use this as an opportunity to fill the void with casual sex with one or all of them. Now, I can’t even think about it. The whole idea is disgusting to me. Partially because I still want my EU ex and secondly, I can’t imagine having sex without being in a relationship. It doesn’t make sense to me anymore and it’s not desirable. Maybe once i am healed I will think differently? I don’t know. Time will show.

                  • no_more says:

                    “But one of the major obstacles would be women falling in love with the workers…cat fights…jealous confrontations…”

                    @ Elgie, I liked your post. And I agree 100% with their being bad and good sexual partners.

                    But with your ending comments, you are saying, and I mean no disrespect, that while men can go into a brothel and do their thing, walk out unscathed by casual sex, women would end up helplessly falling in love, fighting with each other, and basically being hapless twits. Over sex!

                    Are we really so weak as a gender? I choose to think not. I think women are the stronger species. I believe that is why so many of us are on here seeking answers, trying to improve, learning, supporting one another.

                    Sure – let’s have a brothel for women. But one of the JOYS would be “the massive finish line EVERY time”, AND sitting around being friends with the other “customers”, chatting about our lives, having men pour us wine, cheering each other’s job promotions, talking about our kids, our day and then heading out to have a good sleep.

                    Wouldn’t that be something? xx

                • Tinkerbell says:

                  Sofia and Little Star,

                  If anyone has a problem with lack of sex, it’s me. I spent many years in a sexless marriage and currently, it isn’t any better. I’ve never lost my healthy libido, unfortunately, because I can’t do anything about it except ignore. It’s almost as if because I had so much sex as a much younger woman (before marriage), the powers that be have decided I don’t deserve to have any more, now. I think about it ALOT. But, what can I do, sell myself on the street? NO! I just bought the big hit record “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, today. Somehow, on my own Bose system I can hear and enjoy the WORDS better than on the radio. I’m trying to live my life according to those words. It can’t hurt.

                  • Sofia says:

                    Tinkerbell, I wish there was an antilibido herb. To kill all the desire. That would be ideal, but unfortunately there is no such thing. Although, as time goes by, I think one wants sex less and less naturally. First 3-4 months are tough and after a year it maybe feels normal? I don’t think I have ever had more than a year break.

                    • Nigella says:


                      You are hilarious. If you discover an anti-libido herb or medicine, please share the prescription here. I might have to stock up at a later point. For now do not want my passion & imagination to be spayed. Just consciously redirecting libidinal energy into my job.

                      Denuding attractive people in my mind is exciting. Energizing.

                    • hand_turkey says:

                      Sofia I don’t know if this would solve things, but I believe that there are herbs that “put the fire out”. You might want to get in touch with a Chinese herbalist, if you’re serious. There are herbs for all sorts of things, like stimulating menstruation and making it more plentiful.

                    • Tinkerbell says:


                      I don’t know about wanting it less as time passes. I’m in my sixth decade and the desire is greater than ever! I’m thinking it’s about time The urge was dead at my age, but no such luck. I wish there was some herb that would kill it, because I don’t see myself ever getting it again in life, and that’s SAD!

                • Nigella says:


                  I don’t aspire to act like a nympho, but sometimes after several long nights & high-pressure meetings at the workplace, there is a part of me that *thinks* of going on a sex rampage. Provided I don’t obsess about sex or mutually use someone for sex, I’m choosing not to berate myself for having an imagination. Casual sex is the right choice for some people. If you’re confident you’d be comfortable with no-strings-attached sex, then go for whoever you want and have a grand time. Honestly, unless I’m misreading your previous post, I don’t think you’d be content with casual sex for too long. Maybe as a temporary fix. But it seems to me that you’re looking for an emotional connection & commitment – not just a romp in the bed.

                  In the past decade, it’s the first time I’ve chosen to go without sex for a year. The first four months after the break-up I found it difficult to stop missing the sexual bond I had formed with the EUM. So I understand where you’re coming from. It’s not easy to switch off the physical attraction and hunger one might feel for person. However, if this emotionally-stunted person can at best offer you *crumbs* – a night or two per week of steamy sex followed by snide comments such as “Being with you is Better than Nothing” – then I, at least, don’t think this person, who is devaluing you, deserves to be near you, let alone on, under, in you. Disgusting.
                  Sofia, don’t believe or tell yourself the *lie* that you ‘need’ that flipping tosser in your life in any capacity. For whatever reasons, he is unable & unwilling to give you what you really want. Please, once and for all, ask yourself – after all the flip-flapping, teasing, and distancing he did – do you really need this man to assure you that you’re desirable? More importantly, ask yourself – figuratively & literally – do you want to be dropping to your knees to please this man or another EUM like him? Is he, and others like him, really that special – so special that you can justify selling yourself short to them?

                  Regardless of what you decide Sofia, if you’ll be happy & proud of your decision, I don’t think anyone has the right to judge you. You *own* your body and your time – if you want to share these with EUMen, have fun. If you think you can handle all the possible consequences of your choices, have fun. Personally, I think you can do better; and you’re better off on your own. I’ll repeat to you the advice I recently received at BR: give this time.

                  Sofia, I’ve decided I don’t want to die thinking, “The last person for whom I dropped to my knees had passionately pursed me. He then misled me, disappeared, and e-dumped me”. For now, I’m willing to work on my fears & insecurities, and somewhere down the road date someone interested in getting to know me – rather than just shag me. If I don’t find someone compatible in the next few years, then after finding either a gorgeous-&-single man or woman interested in me, I’ll have an exciting sexcapade to remember for the rest of my life. This is not to say I’ll settle for an “exclusive yet casual” arrangement. I hope not. Just don’t want the EUM to be my last. Ultimately, only you can determine *what* you want and *why*. Take full responsibility for whatever you decide to do. But, for your own sake, ensure you’re not fooling yourself into approaching sex as a gateway to a more meaningful relationship.

                  In the past, I’ve had secret flings with smart & beautiful women, who, like me, were spineless bisexuals pretending to be straight. Because I was scared of being treated like a sinner, sicko, or outsider, I chose not to connect emotionally to these women, but made it crystal clear that I wanted them only for sex. If feelings developed on either side, the relationship came to an amicable, and abrupt, end. I share all of this to say that if someone is not prepared to commit to you, they will not. Even if you mastered every position in the Kamasutra with someone, you still cannot alchemize love from sex against their will. It is not about you. It is about them. Please see, even if a man feigns or actually feels confusion over you, it is up to you to decide how much & for how long you can entertain a confused & non-committal chap.

                  Sofia, I don’t think it’s a good idea to hold onto anger. Forgiving and moving on is crucial for your peace of mind and growth. However, in choosing to forgive him at this stage, please ensure you’re not dining off illusions about him. For me, the word “love” is sacred. I rarely use this word, preferring not to squander it on undeserving things or folks. I’m not sure what the word “love” means to you. In light of the disdain & disinterest he expressed towards your friends & daughter, and the ways in which he tried to erode your confidence, ask yourself, “Do I really think it is necessary to ‘let him go with love and forgiveness’?” Instead, is it possible & acceptable to forgive him – understand his limits, learn some lessons – and just let him go? Only you can answer this question.

                  • Sofia says:

                    Nigella, I reread your post twice. You are so wise. I agree with everything you say and I am embarrassed how can I want to have sex with someone who didn’t treat me the way I wanted to be treated and who didn’t meet my needs and criticized me and devalued. I need to come back to your post and those of others who tell me the same things over and over and yet I keep somehow struggling against it and finding good things in him and blaming myself for something I didn’t do. I think I actually remember writing the same thing couple months ago when I just joined BR and I believe you and I exchanged couple posts. It is amazing how healing process is spiraly and circular. There are days I feel like I am over him , and then the next couple days are absolutely horrible days which remind me time postbreakup and I can’t even fathom where all this misery is coming from again. Like a spiral. But the good thing it doesn’t last long and now after two days of misery, I have been good for two days and see him the way he is. I hope next week will be the same. The entire 5 days at least. Friday night and Saturday nights are still tough for me sometimes.

                    You are absolutely right. I don’t seek for casual sex. Maybe after I am healed I might, I don’t know. But if I do I will have to absolutely understand about no-strings attached and no expectations. I think if I could do this, this would be a very short-term, temporary encounter. Even perhaps one-night stand would do. In my understanding, it is impossible to not attach to a person when continuing having sex with him/her. Once-twice, yes, I understand, you see it as it is. But weeks, months, it can’t be casual anymore because you are attaching yourself to that person. That’s my opinion though. I know there are people who can detach themselves and enjoy just the physical part of it. Perhaps I will be able to do that too one day, who knows.

                    Yes, if the person doesn’t want to commit and /or confused, there is nothing I can do. I agree. “Please see, even if a man feigns or actually feels confusion over you, it is up to you to decide how much & for how long you can entertain a confused & non-committal chap.” I wish I knew this before. Instead, I stayed around, and pushed and kept waiting, and did my best to please, to entertain, to wait.

                    Yes, holding on to anger is not good. Actually I always had problems expressing anger. I am happy to feel it now. I have been in the last 2-3 weeks on and off. Finally it’s coming out. It is my life problem not being able to express anger. It gets stuck inside and expressed as depression, irritation, sadness. Now that I do feel it I feel empowered and in control of myself and I know my healing process is working.

                    A very good point about forgiving him and dining off the illusions about him. You say, “However, in choosing to forgive him at this stage, please ensure you’re not dining off illusions about him.” That’s why I decided to not forgive him yet. I thought I did and did too fast and then I started blaming myself and found everything wrong that I did. And I agree with you that why I should even let him go with love. I can forgive and forget. Just let go. I don’t have to love him while letting him go.

                    Another great thing you said, which I keep “forgetting,” he didn’t know show interest in my life and my daughter’s life. It was a superficial, “how it’s going” kind of interest and never evolved into anything else. He never asked about my family, my friends. My childhood. It is so creepy now that I think about it. How can one date someone for months and never wonder about their past, family, friends. Just so strange. He would listen when I talked about it but he never expressed much interest, just the superficial stuff. A person like him just needs to be forgotten. Let go and forget. Forgive his limitations, so true.

                    I will keep rereading your post, Nigella. You have given me a lots of insight. These are the same things but the way you showed them to me and worded them, explained differently, really made me think. I have attributed too much significance to him. He didn’t add any value to my life except for fun outings on the weekend and hot sex. I am trying really hard now to think if there was anything that he made me feel good about and that affected me positively, which happens in a nurturing relationship where two people grow with each other by providing support and care for each other. I can’t think of anything except for the fun part I got out of exclusive, permanent, predictable dating on the weekends. He had no value for me. I certainly should reread my post as well. He actually took the value from me and the confidence I did have. I started doubting my physical appearance and intellectual capabilities by the end of our relationship. I felt like I was walking on egg shells. Whatever I said or did was somehow wrong. That’s the constant feeling I got with him. That something was wrong with me. Wow. How could I even miss or want this person. So happy for this Board. I keep reading it every day and will continue coming back and work through my issues. Thank you, Nigella.

                    • no_more says:


                      Nigella has written some great things. As have so many others. But I think you are still stuck in going over and over the crappy way he treated you. And it sounds most certainly that he did.

                      Ask yourself what you would say to someone on here if they wrote about their AC and described someone who showed little interest in their life, their CHILD, made them feel horrible about themselves and after intimacy said “Better than nothing.” Wtf!

                      Staying OT,

                      “would .. cycling through a thought process that rests on this sense that we’ve been and done all of the things that we feel that we’re ‘supposed’ to in order to have got what we desire and it hasn’t worked out, hence we conclude that we’ve either been robbed or that it must be due to us not being “good enough” in some way. NML

                      Sophia, you keep saying you want to be indifferent. And I SO respect that. But instead of working and hoping so hard that you are indifferent to HIM, make it about YOU! Forget him. Don’t think about his forthcoming emails, (BLOCK), his calling, (BLOCK), his thoughts, (WHO CARES), his sh*tty treatment of you, (DONE DEAL).

                      Make it about your child, reading helpful and fun books, taking nice baths, thinking about what YOU want, what exciting things YOU can do armed with the knowledge that YOU ARE NOT going back into a relationship with some AC whose parents are probably siblings.

                      I am not completely there yet. But I am completely certain I don’t want to keep replaying all the scenarios over in my head.

                      My self-esteem jar is three quarters full.

                      Let’s fill them ALL the way up! xx

            • Tinkerbell says:


              “The Road Less Traveled” is not light reading. The author is a psychotherapist, so his book will not help you with dating, letting go of an EUM, or things of that nature. Also it was written over 30 years ago. It gets really deep into how and why we are made up a certain way, where our issues originated, how and why we have chosen to deal with them in a particular manner. I like the book but I’m not rapidly wisking through it like I usually do because it’s not that kind of book. Try it.

        • hand_turkey says:

          Not surprising Rewind. These types of guys want a harem. They treat women like downlines!

    • Erin says:

      Hey Lisa,

      You seem to have a lot of self awareness, and that is such an important piece to this. You also have a lot of strength because you are doing NC, and that takes a lot of courage to really start to break free of it all. I know how tough those nights can be. As far as that question, “did he ever really love me,” all I can say is that sometimes people love us the only way they are capable of, and it maybe isn’t the way we wanted it to be, but doesn’t mean they didn’t. If he was capable of that, you would probably still be together. Stay strong and be kind to yourself. You have taken some HUGE steps that aren’t easy, but that are ultimately true to you. I am taking a page out of your book….

      • Lisa says:

        Hi Erin,

        Thanks so much for your comment. I’m at an all time high of vulnerability and I am trying to be kind to myself. Your positive words have really helped. When you venture back into the same pattern it feels like a lesson learned again, but even tougher. I have taken some pretty huge steps again and will get through this again.

        I am being the truest I’ve been in a long time to myself, thanks for recognizing!

    • Mike from Oztralia says:

      Lisa, what your feeling is both legitimate and normal.

      Many of us have been in the same position, left wondering if that person ever truly cared or not. Maybe they did, but maybe they weren’t mature or emotionally intelligent enough for an adult relationship.

      You left for very, very good reasons. The ex-BF is in desperate need of validation and went out and got that in the form of another person. That’s damaged, and trust me when I say that relationship will be just as crappy, if not worse, than what you experienced with that person. The moving on at light speed by the ex is the sign of a person incapable of reflecting on their actions or taking responsibility for their emotions. Exactly the kind of person you need to not have in your life

      I’ve just passed 3 months NC since my own split… and it is getting so much better. Those first weeks and months take their toll. But do the work on yourself, and it will help. Go talk to people, cry if you have to, go see a counsellor… when feeling really bad try and go for a walk or get out of the house/office/place you’re at.

      Clarity will come. It just takes time.

      Here’s a little experiment to try.

      What conditions or things would it take you to feel OK about yourself? What makes you’re a good person worthy of love?

      Is it this equation:

      Approval ex-BF = your happiness

      Or is it:

      Approving yourself = you happiness

      Do you need the ex-BF to approve of you to accept or love yourself? Don’t give anyone that power.

      It hurts to think the person we once shared part of our life with is sharing it with another.

      But if you take the time to work on yourself, make your life interesting and full of friends, family and people you love you then you’ll be the one who find a deserving relationship. Sounds like your ex will go from one disaster to the next. Trust me, you’re not missing out on the emotional pain and suffering that entails.

      • Lisa says:


        This was beautiful and has opened my eyes. I tend to go for EU men to be honest. It’s for a sense of security and protection (as to what I feel). I still have plenty of reconstruction to do on my self. When I am on that path I always seem to end up in a relationship and never fix what is truly wrong. It’s like I run to an distraction and let them take me away to their world, friends and life.

        I’m starting to take responsibility for that again. No matter how much I can blame the guy, it is me and my choices. I saw this storm before it happened. I just felt like I was okay and that he was okay. But, there were red flags I ignored all for the moments of love we shared.

        Thanks for the equation, it really is that simple. I need to choose my happiness before before ever settling down in a significant other’s happiness.

        A pattern I am pretty keen on always repeating lol.

      • Lynn says:

        Mike – I love reading what you write. You wrote something to me probably a month ago and some of what you said still sticks in my mind because you were right. :) Thanks!

        • Mike from Oztralia says:

          Oh! Thank you, I’m thankful you appreciated it and some of those words were of help.

    • Andrea says:

      I can really relate Lisa… staying up late at night asking, “Did he ever really love me?”
      I was forced into a NC by an ex of mine. It’s been months now. I wanted to keep getting drunk and calling him after our break up. He blocked me. Ouch!!!

      Well, I asked myself that for months: Did he ever really love me? Until one day for what ever reason, I started asking a different question: Did I ever really love ME in that relationship?

      And honestly, No. I didn’t. I became someone else in that relationship with him. I morphed into “please him at whatever cost girl” and I thought that entitled me to his.. lifestyle, home, a future with him, marriage.

      After I analyzed myself in that relationship and I love this blog because Nat so succinctly highlights for me the things I could evaluate… I then began asking a new question: Did I ever really love myself.. ever? Do I love myself now? How can I move to honor that longing, the longing to be in love with myself, regardless of relationship status?

      So that’s what I’m working on now. Yes, it took patience with myself, and the willingness to grow. It took months to untangle the strings and begin seeing with clarity. But I am feeling so much healthier now, so much lovlier, so much more secure and confident, so much stronger than I ever did when I was with him, and before I was with him. I’m a better person for all of it.

      • Lisa says:


        That is an Ouch, but I’m sure that totally was the kick you needed. I did the same thing…in the form of a text, so I can re-read the horror over and over again lol.

        I texted him asking if he was seeing someone else. Then of course no reply. Weeks later he texted me letting me know of a surprise party that was going to happen. I of course took that as my opportunity to ask him why he didn’t reply, he denied again.

        So, I did the weakest thing imaginable and basically said. “I know I sounded psycho, but its just a really tough time and I needed to know.” Man, did those words feel like they haunted me for days. After his half ass “Um, yeah you’re kinda crazy” reply and zoomed into NC again. That was my kick in the butt lol.

        I love that…”Did I ever really love myself?.” Wow, that changes my perspective. My answer is that I did, I found such a love for myself after my last failed assclown relationship before him. I want that love again for myself.

        Yes, Nat’s blogs helped me so much before all of this. And they will again.

        I am glad to hear things are going so well. You sound so strong and secure. Again, inspiring. I will have to wait out this storm and really focus on myself and drown out all my negativity.

        Thank you so much for sharing your experience :)

    • Miss Sybil says:

      …a sense of what we ‘should’ get or what people ‘should’ do as a result of what we’re being and doing…
      Describes my current inner struggle with one distinction, which is, in my case that this sense began as a result not of what I’m doing or being (though it’s not so pure now) but of what the other party did, and is now opting to minimize. Basically I was mishandled by a rebounding workmate who proposed mixing work and sex. I just clammed up in confusion and then he started acting like I’m to be avoided.
      He’s never acknowledged the wrong and, because I respected him up to then, I feel quite bruised.
      I don’t want to shame or punish, but I can’t deny I feel entitled to some form of consideration. Or perhaps I feel doubly a fool, because I like him somewhat, so I assumed he would acknowledge my feelings out of a reciprocal fondness for me, but now I think suppressing my feelings is harming my attitude & causing me to feel insecurity within the realm of my livelihood.

  2. lisa says:

    gosh Natalie you certainly know how to hit the nail on the head.’Paying into the Shitty Life Policy’has been a flaw of mine..i am out of the fog now.The sun is on the horizon and i need to keep moving towards it.Thanks for your inspiration and insight xxx

  3. hand_turkey says:

    I guess these dysfunctional relationships we do are just power struggles based on entitlement and expectation.

    Recently I was reading a book on this subject. A woman recounted her long marriage to man who would duck out at night and not come home once per week, then twice. Two nights a week slid into six, for years. For years, her husband left the house after dinner and came home in the morning for a shower and breakfast, then left for work. The woman would lecture him about spending more time with her and the kids. He’d say nothing, and change nothing – sitting through these lectures were a small price to pay, she reasoned, for a live in cook, maid, nanny etc.

    Her therapist asked her just what did she think her husband was doing all this time? The woman answered “Oh I didn’t ever want to think about that. Plus I didn’t want to confront him and scare him away.” !!!

    • rachael says:


      this woman must have had such huge loss earlier in her life for her to deny the horrible facts of the present in order to aviod any loss in her future. smart really!

      • hand_turkey says:

        It was actually. I can’t recall her specific circumstances growing up as there were so many case studies in that book, but I do remember that it was very unusual.

        The point for me is that in trying to avoid Thing We Most Fear, we heap it upon ourselves.

  4. pelikan says:

    Ok, I confess. Am guilty of being a member of the Shitty Circumstances Policy and My Perfect Life Policy. All my life I’ve worked hard and invested so much into pleasing others hoping my investments would pay dividends. Nathalie, you’ve been spying on me again girl! From today, I am cancelling both policies and reclaiming my sanity and self-esteem. Baggage Reclaim rocks

  5. Lise says:

    Thank you.

  6. Curveball says:

    It’s painful, but I can relate to this. I’m a pleaser and a morpher. In my last relationship, I tried so hard to be the funny, sexy, helpful, non-complaining helpmeet. I thought that would help him come around to the idea of us moving in together. I hoped it would make him love me and treat me in a certain way. I felt like I was constantly trying to sell him on me, wanting him to proclaim me ‘worthy.’

    And so things didn’t pan out the way I hoped. He continued to be shady about his women friends, maintained an online dating profile for “friends,” told me “marriage was just a piece of paper” and said he didn’t know if he wanted to have kids. I thought I could influence all of his thinking and his desires. I acted out. I cried. I begged (yes, really). Kept pushing and pushing. I wanted him to be someone else and also to validate the things about me I feared were unlovable. This went on for 4 years. A year removed from this relationship makes it easier to see unbalanced and deeply unhealthy it was.

    Incidentally, I signed up for Natalie’s Self-Esteem course and can’t wait to get started! :)

    • rachael says:


      I too have begged.

      • rewind says:

        I have never begged, but I’ve bought him enough stuff and vacations and concerts to build myself a mansion…or maybe two. It’s humilating when look back on it.

        • Sofia says:

          I haven’t begged but I offered a casual sexual relationship on the day he was breaking up with me. I can’t believe how low I fell that day. He said he doesn’t think it is going to work because feelings will continue to grow and it will be even harder to break it off later. He refused my offer for sexual relationship during the breaking up. I can’t believe I offered that. So ashamed of myself.

  7. Heather says:

    This is your best essay EVER.

    Life support reading. Thank you.

  8. Heather D says:

    This articulated many things I have been thinking and learning since your self esteem course (which I am thinking about retaking, I think another time working through would help even more). I struggled with depression for a pretty long time because of thinking that being a “good” person and doing everything I thought is right would lead to a good relationship. I also stuck around way too long in code-red “relationships” (loosely) in part for the same reasons. My biggest take away from BR has been disconnecting my self worth from relationships. For that I cannot thank you enough. Thanks for another great post!

    • rachael says:

      Heather D,
      “thinking that being a “good” person and doing everything I thought is right would lead to a good relationship”
      translates to…
      “thinking that being a “good” person and doing everything will enable me to control the other person”

  9. LovefromNel says:

    Dear Nat

    Thanks again for a wonderful article. I’ve been travelling for the last three weeks, and have enormously missed your wisdom, and the wonderful circle of friends that are your readers.

    I am so happy to be home.

    I hope everyone is well!

    Love Nel

  10. Laura says:

    This is very insightful but it makes me go back to the theme of isn’t love supposed to be our birthright? Shouldn’t we all deserve love just because we are humans not in spite of it. I personally have only ever met men that cannot commit despite the fact I’m in shape, own house etc. So if doing all the right things and being a good person doesn’t bring love then I’m dying to know what the heck will?

    • rachael says:


      I don’t think there IS a way to make others love us. I like being able to choose who I love and who I do not…. freely

    • happy b says:

      Laura, I like your honesty. Life isn’t fair, not only do we struggle for love, but we see ACs and others who don’t even take responsibility for their lives, being loved by many (though the nature of this love is questionable).

      I like what Nat writes about not building resentments based on what we think we’re entitled to. Understanding that life really isn’t fair and that we’re not owed love is, for me, liberating. It used to be that I focused on being a ‘good person’, and thought this combined with a very shitty childhood made me entitled to the best things in life. Like I’d had more than my fair share of bad luck, so the rest of my life should be wonderful! Of course it doesn’t work like that. But when I realised the world isn’t all about me and what I should have, but just as much about other people, this relaxing of my ego made me take the shitty things much less personally. I still have the instinct, when someone crosses me, to lecture them on who they’re dealing with, what kind of struggles I’ve been though for them to mistreat me (though I’ve never actually done this), but this quickly fades into the recognition that everyone deals with assholes and we just need to handle it. Losing the entitlement has also made me really appreciate the love and care I do get from friends and others. They don’t owe it to us like our families do, but they willingly give it, and this is wonderful.

      The problem with saying that being is good person should bring love, is that pretty much everyone believes they’re a good, decent person (and clearly not everyone is)! I’d be inclined to fine-tune the things that bring love, or respect, or support, or care etc. and think about authenticity, good self-esteem, healthy boundaries, looking for love in the right places and giving up looking in the wrong places etc.

      • Laura says:

        I love what you’ve said here and I can relate to much of the (I already HAD a bad life, now I want a GOOD life, stuff). I sure wish I knew the difference from the bad places and the good places to look for love. Darn it!

        • RP says:

          @ happy and Laura,

          On here, you hear about a lot of people agonising over how their ACs are loved by others and how unfair it is etc. On the surface this does seem unfair but if we scratch a bit deeper then we all know, and after reading so many BR articles, that ACs who run true to form are not loved in an authentic way and do not love authentically themselves. I certainly did not love my ex AC in an authentic way. If I did, then I would have tolerated all his BS and accept him for the shit he was. Is there a single person on Natalie’s website who accepts the behaviour of their current or former AC?

          I totally understand the feeling of being rejected and replaced and it really sucks at the beginning (happened to me!) It takes some time to process but once you no longer give a poop about the ex AC, his absence will feel like a very FORTUNATE event and you wont care less if he has taken off with another or not..

          RP :)

    • hand_turkey says:

      “This is very insightful but it makes me go back to the theme of isn’t love supposed to be our birthright? Shouldn’t we all deserve love just because we are humans not in spite of it.”

      That may be a philosophical question, but who says you can’t give this love to yourself? When we resolve to do that, it’s like turning the focus knob on binoculars, and suddenly the knuckleheads come into view.

      I think we can’t even recognize real love versus the imitation unless we’ve felt the real deal first. Sure, so many of our families could or would not love us in a healthy way, so it’s our responsibility now to get love (love ourselves) in order to have something to measure assclown behavior against.

      • Laura says:

        Good advice but my problem has always been I THINK I love myself. I THINK I’m a happy person. But where does the barometer for this exist? And does loving yourself or making yourself happy exclude you from having a love interest these days? My married friends constantly say, you don’t need a man, make yourself happy! I want to say then dump your husband and see how happy you are! (Sarcasm)

        • Lilia says:

          You´re generalizing, and that never solves anything. It´s just a trap you´re setting up for yourself. You´re adressing your lack of a romantic interest as if you were living in a vacuum, sort of like Oh, look at me, being a perfectly normal likeable person and still life hasn´t thrown a loveable male in my lap. Not ever.
          Yes, of course if you see things like that then there is no way out of your predicament. Then, life is just unfair.

          But life isn´t supposed to be fair and your personal situation is probably a bit more complex anyway. There have probably been men in your life and some of them have probably been willing to commit to you, but you just didn´t consider them relationship material. Perhaps you were unconsciously investing in the unattainable types, or waiting for some unexistent prince charming. Perhaps your expectations were too high because you felt entitled to a partner with certain characteristics. But really, that isn´t what love is about at all.
          Sure, you can match up with someone who on the surface looks nice, has a good job, his own house and who you can take to parties to show to your friends. But that wouldn´t necesarily mean you love him or that he loves you. Sure, you´d be doing each other a favor in terms of PR, because you´d look like such a “beautiful couple” but would that mean you love each other?

          My view is that when you do fall in love, it´s never like you thought it would be. That is why it is so scary. It isn´t “convenient”, like when you choose a car. So that is why people go around saying love is blind. I think I´ve had the deepest emotional relationships with guys who were very different from me on the surface. But looking back, those are the romantic experiences I value the most, because they were the most honest and natural ones.
          I hope that makes sense.

        • hand_turkey says:

          Well I suppose that because love is not a thought, but a demonstration, you’ll know it by its fruit. Do you have the fruits of self love in your life?

          I don’t want to get religious here, but I will say that it’s interesting to note that the world’s top three major religions have scripture that explain this: love is not a volatile affection, but a clear demonstration over time. Real love gives one the motivation and wherewithal to show it. So, real love has evidence.

          • hand_turkey says:

            To clarify my comment above: I did not mean to use scripture as a basis for believing. I meant to say that one way of looking at it is that the popular wisdom that has been handed down through the ages agrees on this one thing about love, and that’s interesting – and I think true.

            • Catherine says:

              HT-I love your insight into this question of how do we love ourselves? I was just thinking I have no idea of how to “love” myself. I mean what does that really mean, and then your post! Thanks so much! and no need to defend oneself for having religious beliefs, as long as we’re not shoving it down each other’s throats.

              • hand_turkey says:

                Oh Good, Catherine. Yes I like to read holy books from all over.

              • Sofia says:

                Catherine, I had no idea of how to love myself either. Until couple weeks recently I realized something feels more full in my life. And I understand now what it is. I have been focusing on myself. Instead of being a bystander, watching me, my actions, my life float by, I am into it now. I am into myself. I am in a relationship with myself feeling fully every moment I go through. In other words, taking care of myself and having a relationship with myself. That’s what loving ourselves is. I think. Think how you loved/love your ex? All thoughts are about him. What is he doing, what is he feeling.Well, now it’s time to redirect the same questions to yourself. That’s what love to yourself is about. I am just learning it though so I hope I am right.

          • Nigella says:


            Thanks for sharing this beautiful definition of love: “Love is not a volatile affection, but a clear demonstration over time. Real love gives one the motivation and wherewithal to show it. So, real love has evidence.”

            Conversely, I will add that *lack* of love or *disinterest* or *halfhearted interest* also has ‘evidence’. These are also ‘demonstrated’ in the actions & words of a person. So to save ourselves from future heartache, we need to get better at separating the wheat from the chaff. Distinguish what is valuable & real from what is worthless & illusory.

            I fell for illusions. But now I have a better chance of perceiving if not attaining the real thing.

            You made my day brighter.

          • Sofia says:

            And another thing might be comforting for those of us who believe in God: when no one else loves us and even if we are struggling to love ourselves, remember that God always loves us the way we are. He will never reject or abandon us. He is always there for us.

            • Tinkerbell says:


              Thank you for saying that. HE is always there when times are tough and when they’re good we should be thankful. HE is a loving God and HE is MERCIFUL which is something EUM’s and ACs know nothing about. Pity them.

  11. Lauren says:

    Lisa, I’ve been where you are now plenty of times. When that ‘did he ever really love me’ thought comes into your mind, answer back with ‘who cares?!’ All that really matters is that he couldn’t love you in the way that you need. Do you think that he is loving her in the way that you wanted him to love you? I doubt it! He is who he is and that has nothing to do with you…you have no control over it. He didn’t not treat you how you wanted to be treated because of you. You need to take the focus off him and put it back on you – allow yourself to move on and be with someone who gives you what you need. You might not meet them today or this year but in the meantime work on loving you and not wasting your time on a man who didn’t add to your life. Don’t let him take up any more head space. Lots of love and hugs to you. I hope you feel better soon.

    I always thought if I was nice and loving that I would be entitled to the same in return. When I didn’t get it I thought it must be because I’m not enough or there is something wrong with me. I’m off people pleasing now…it’s never got me anywhere! I try to leave other people’s behaviour with them now. If I am a decent person to others without busting my own boundaries, if someone doesn’t return that then that’s their lookout. I’ve spent 28 years thinking it must be my fault if people treat me badly. What a waste!

    Love to all x

    • rachael says:


      I like your comment to Lisa.

      If people are bending over backwards to please, it may lead to the ‘recipient’ thinking, ‘What the hell is wrong with this person, that she is trying so hard to convince me she is ok?’

    • hand_turkey says:

      “I’ve spent 28 years thinking it must be my fault if people treat me badly”

      Ugh I know. Reality: they treat people badly because they are a person who treats people badly!

  12. Demke says:

    Thank you Natalie, you are truly talented… Spot on as always.

    @Lisa I can understand why you’d freak out after only a month and he’s with another already. However, I see it as him licking his wounds from a bruised ego. When people say..” They’ve moved on”. Really? In a month? It doesnt happen that fast. A lot of people who don’t know their @ss from their elbow, are looking for an ego stroke, etc. It’s actually not a shocker with these type of men. If he acted like an @ss while with you, don’t expect him to be an angel when you’re not around. That’s the kind of person you’ve been dealing with all along, and it’s why you had the b@lls to walk. You did the right thing. Whether he’s with someone else or not, what does it matter? A dog is a dog. Don’t worry your pretty little head… Cause when you’re on your way to getting over it, whats-her-face will probably kick him to the curb (if she’s smart ), and guess who will try to boomerang back into your life? These types do it all the time. Nat doesnt call it “Fallback girl” for nothing.

    Do yourself a favor… Don’t try and find out anything about him, or his business. Try not to bring him up in conversation with friends, even if they ask. I’ve noticed, that has helped me tremendously. If you feel compelled to talk about him. Just say no. It’s very empowering! And I’ve learned, more often than not, people don’t wanna hear it anyway. Talk about the good in your life, and make a habit of it (it really works!).

    I just ended it with my ex for same reasons, I can relate to this post all too well. I’ve actually had my ‘enough’, cause I finally realized… It will never, ever… EVER change. I know we always think ‘well… Maybe THIS time’. No. There will be no this time. My experience… This is even after personal development seminars, books, etc. (on his part, w/o my influence – they actually get worse.. Cause then they think they know it all… And point out all of your ‘percieved’ flaws (control & manipulation)). Although I regret wasting so much time and energy on such a low person, I don’t think the chain of events could’ve happened any differently, cause it actually turned me off to him completely where instead of seeking the immature game called validation, Im thankful for the peace! His flip-flapping was literally effecting my health. I am free to do what I want and when.. And with whoever. No more pleasing the unpleasable. It’s heaven, lol!

  13. ThreeDLife says:

    Natalie is so insightful. I was trying to please a person who was unpleasable. But if I put the shoe on the other foot, as Natalie states, “if we weren’t into a person but they’d set their sights on us, do we think it’s fair for that person to feel entitled to us and to pursue it even to the detriment of their self-esteem or our own?” Of course, I wouldn’t want someone to do this to me, and I didn’t realize I was doing this at the time. I thought that if I just loved him enough and morphed to please him, it would pay off in the relationship I desired. What I failed to realize is that HE didn’t WANT it. He was fighting me every step of the way. No matter that he future faked me and promised me things I thought he would actually deliver, he overestimated his potential to commit. He couldn’t be intimate with anyone different from his “perfect pedestal girl” (ex fiancée). No matter how much I tried, I could not be HER. I now know it was futile. I only wish I had known then what I know now. I am trying to let it go, and not use any more mental energy on him. It is a tough road but in the end, I will triumph. Thank you, Natalie, this blog is such a blessing.

    • RP says:

      Hi ThreeDLife,

      You will triumph! My ex AC was a serial ex-worshipper. He made me believe I could never live up to the pedestal ex. Now he is repeating the same BS with his new girlfriend and I am pedestal-girl. Do I give a damn? NOOO Just reminds me how misguided I was to ever be attracted to such a loser.

      • RP says:

        Remember, if the ex is so wonderful then why is he not still with her? If she dumped him then for sure he was not all that wonderful with her either..

        • hand_turkey says:

          You KNOW he was pulling those same shenanigans with the perfect ex. She probably dumped him for it.

          I had a guy who was sweating me pretty hard pull that “mention the other woman I’m interested in” crap. It didn’t faze me so he tried other techniques.

          See, these types of people watch for your reaction to their manipulations, until they find something that sticks. It’s NOT personal. When they find the thing that stings, they found their control tool. It’s like whipping a horse. It’s not personal.

      • hand_turkey says:

        Just goes to show that these types of manipulators pull that move to pull your strings, to get you to jump when they say. It’s subcriminal abuse, and these guys do it because it works.

        • RP says:

          yes hand_turkey

          These “men” are weak and resort to stealing other’s strength via such dirty and cruel manipulation tactics.. This is why they often target strong and spirited women because they lack and envy those qualities. They are pitiful men but mostly they are dispicable. FLUSH!

          • hand_turkey says:

            Exactly. This is why I’m reading books about abuser tactics – so I can recognize them. Lundy Bancroft writes about male abusers of women and he states that he was stunned to see the same tactics of abuse and manipulation across the board. He said it’s like they have the same playbook.

            For instance even the “going crazy with rage” is a tactic: these guys are seldom out of control, they just use anger and yelling to scare the woman into doing what he wants. For example, Bancroft notes that NONE of the many men he interviewed “went crazy” and broke any of their own belongings – only their wives’! Every time. If they were “out of control” in a blind rage, some of their own stuff would get trashed too but…no.

          • Revolution says:

            AMEN, RP. You are so right about these “men” (quotes are applicable here, quite right) envying women with a backbone and some spirit. Not even straight-up bitches, mind you, but just us women who (gasp! dare I say!) demand that our dignity and respect are taken into account by one and all. I used to tell the ex-AC that I was “too much car for him.” Not sure if that translates, but basically it means that I have a V12 under my hood while he’s driving a war-torn horse and buggy.

          • Sofia says:

            My ex frequently said that I am strong and a fighter and he loves me for that. When he broke up with me he said, “You are strong I know you can make it.” Of course I can. I don’t need your approval.

            • RP says:

              Sofia, my ex AC told me exactly the same thing after he overlapped me with the next victim! He insisted that I am so strong and don’t need anyone to make me happy (puke). Very hypocritical, borderline condescending, coming from a cowardice overlapping AC!

              • Sofia says:

                RP, oh wow! Isn’t that amazing? These ACs ( this is the first time I am calling mine AC now. He used to be a nice EU guy. I am changing my opinion now. ) they know how to drop that last breakup line. Mine told me, “You are beautiful, smart, gorgeous, sexy. You can have anybody. Well almost anybody (he used to criticize me ALL THE TIME so even during breakup he made sure I don’t think too highly of myself). And you are so strong. Such a fighter. I admire your strength. But I don’t see you as my long-term partner or my wife. We are just too different….and… I guess I am just not committed…” It took him a year to figure out.


                Yes I am strong. I will survive. I felt like texting him today. But I am strong. I did 3 months NC (responded only to his contact briefly) and I will continue. I am even stronger now because I am not a doormat driven by my libido anymore. Past is gone. I am way stronger now. Proud of myself and all of us here on this board!

                • lynn says:

                  mine said ‘you deserve better. I hope in the future you will see I am doing this for you. We would have a happy life but something is missing.’

                  • Elgie R. says:

                    Lynn, I would have laughed out loud right in his face…..are you kidding me?? Seriously, that was my first reaction. Do these men feel like they are starring in some kind of soap opera? These things they say are laughable…….they actually think they are breaking hearts. Perhaps they have…but it is certainly not my reaction. I would’ve said, “Yes, I know”.

                    Why stay with these men for so long! They say hurtful things and pass it off as jokes?? Doesn’t any radar go off inside at the first hurtful comment?? He’s an ass and he’s NOT on your side.

                    My first lunch date with ex-acmm, after he hotly pursued for a year….right after the waitress took the menus, he looked me directly in my eyes and said “I am never leaving my wife”. To which I replied without missing a beat “Good.”

                    These ACs really think they are all that and a bag a chips

                    • lynn says:

                      Elgie – I couldn’t laugh because I was crying. I was friends with him for 2 years before our relationship and I was trying so hard to make him The One. I didn’t understand how he could say we would have a happy life … but then break up with me. But the thing that was missing for him is he wants passion ALL the time. When we were breaking up he told me a few days earlier I was seeking physical attention and he just had no desire to give it. So that told him we shouldn’t be together. Pretty sure that there were times he was seeking physical attention and I didn’t want too but I did. He once told me (when we dated for like a month once) that he feels like he should want to kiss me everytime he looks at me….I was like this isn’t the notebook. Anyway – I am much better off. Its been a hard road since we went NC as I was very attached to him. He’s contacted me a few times. He is with a separated woman. Go him! haha

                    • lynn says:

                      Really what is missing is Him. He will never get it. He thinks love should be like the movies.

                    • Elgie R. says:

                      Yeah, your ex is living in movieland. I think that our virtual reality living is twisting people’s concept of what real life is supposed to be.

                      He’s actually blaming his lack of “get up ability” to YOU. The fact is – he sees not being in the mood as some manhood barometer – so it can’t be HIS failing that he doesn’t really want to “do it”, it HAS to be his partner’s fault. Sounds like he’s full of sexual fear.

                      He’s a child.

                      And I did not mean to say YOU should have reacted the way I would. Of course you were hurting, crying…this man sucker-punched you and kinda enjoyed doing it – that’s a one-two punch to the heart. But I have always had a quick recognition-of-an- emotional-insult-trigger. I immediately process “this person wants to hurt me/this person is 100% invested in hurting me right now” and I am immediately as ready to close the book as he is. Not gonna argue to keep you in my life – if it ain’t mutual it ain’t worth it.

                    • Lynn says:

                      Elgie – its funny you said ‘get up ability’. There is a movie called The Ugly Truth and Gerard Butler says that its the woman’s responsibility to get the man excited…he used to quote that line. I don’t think I took it personally when he wouldn’t want to get physical – I would just think he doesn’t want too. There are times I didn’t want too as well.

                      I still struggle sometimes thinking about him with the separated woman. I remember seeing him become facebook friends with her and her profile pic at the time was a semi slutty pose and I knew he had to of met her online. But Natalie has opened my eyes to the fact that her being separated creates desire for him. Which makes sense because he only professed his love to me when I was dating someone and told him that I saw it going somewhere. That is when he fought for me. Same with the girl before me. He had an affair with her (she was with one of his friends) and he would always talk about how their physical activities was burned into his head which I guess correlated to him that she was The One. When she left her boyfriend – my ex thought she would choose him but she ended up with someone else so of course he just got more obsessed with trying to get her to choose him. My guess at some point when she is finally divorced or they have lived together for a few months he will lose interest. One of my friends told me they are planning on moving in together soon. They both have kids – I think its such an idiotic move but its not my life.

                      Anyway – I am in a much better place then I was 7 months ago. I thought I could never walk away from him. I realized I was addicted. He sent me an instagram friend request about a month or so ago….which of course is disrespectful to me and her. he’s a jerk.

                  • Sofia says:

                    lynn, wow, what a selfish guy! And immature too! “I am doing it for you.” I can’t believe the people we choose to date. Mine said quite some comments too. Hard to believe we could fall for people like that.

                    “Something is missing” – He is missing, that’s the problem.

                    • Lynn says:

                      sofia – yep…he’s very selfish. I fell for who I thought he could be and what we could be but he will never change. I hadn’t had male attention for a long time when he came along and I just fell for it all. I don’t regret anything because during that time its what I wanted and we did have a lot of fun. At some point I know he will contact me again….I am hoping I can ignore it this time. Last time he contacted me I kinda told him off. LOL

              • Sofia says:

                RP, I reread your post – overlapped with another one! Wow, that makes me think mine did too. That’s why he made such a hasty escape. He had to cut clear with me because there was someone else. The breakup was just too sudden, out of the blue. There was/is someone else he had to clear the room for, literally.

                We were overlapping, transitory, temporary fill-ins… never never again.

                • hand_turkey says:

                  “….You can have anybody… well almost anybody”

                  Eeww. Giirrl it’s not even worth stepping into a time machine for the glee of pre-dumping his behind over and over. As you say here – flush!

                  • Sofia says:

                    hand_turkey, that was this kind of humor and ‘teasing’ he did on me. I work out and I am not a body builder, just slightly toned, and he would comment how my leg muscles are too big and I am strong (believe me, I am not muscular or big at all! I am average to petite, by American standards anyway 163 cm/53 kg). He would flip/flap calling me gorgeous, yet then I am not that petite (he is not big or tall himself) and wow, if you keep working out on that machine, your muscles will get even bigger.

                    Nice compliment for a woman, huh?

                    I must have been on some drug back then that I didn’t take offense at his “teasing” remarks. To him he was joking and expressing his opinion. And I am too sensitive to be upset about it. To myself, I see ONLY NOW, it was downright emotional abuse, pickering, and lowering me so that he can feel better about himself? Or as I read in “He is Scared, She is Scared,” these guys will find anything wrong with you no matter how not even “wrong” or how insignificant or small, and will pick on it, just so they can find faults with you SO THAT they won’t get attached to you because you are not perfect. That way they do both: run away from intimacy and prepare their case for dumping you at our expiration date that had already been preset.

                    Get that: one time (because I didn’t get many) I was playfully BEGGING, to tell me what he likes about me. I just wanted some compliments, what woman doesn’t once in a while. He unwillingly (like dragging teeth out) told me what he likes about me. I said, “what else?” All playful and smiling, jokingly. He said, “that’s it for now, or you will get too proud.” That was a joke, I thought back then and admired myself for such an understanding sense of others’ humor. I must have been insane…

                    Here is another good one. After sex, I said something nice about us, and he said (I will never forget this. I forgive, mercy on him, but I will never forget), “Better than nothing.” How can any woman would think it’s NOT a joke? Stupid joke, but joke. Actually I see it only now, it was not a joke.

                    No comments about that..

                    Wonderful book, please read. I will check out “Men Who Can’t Love.” I downloaded it already but haven’t had a chance to read yet. Looking forward to it. And you are saying it’s not about sociopaths, that’s good. Mine was a nice EU – upgrade from my former horrible ACs; however, now that I look back he was not so nice EU. ACs traits are showing up now. Thanks to everyone here, the support, Nat’s articles, and the books. Hard work. But we will make it!

              • hand_turkey says:

                This reminds me of the husband in First Wives Club that got with the Diane Keaton’s therapist!

  14. Nic says:

    A close friend recently asked me in all seriousness where her six million dollars was – because her friend’s partner had sold his business. Talk about envy and entitlement !

  15. Nigella says:

    Such an insightful post!

    I read it a few times to ensure my understanding is accurate. The main takeaway points for me are:

    1. Just because you’ve achieved X, Y, Z, this doesn’t mean [you’re *entitled* to a romantic relationship with a particular person – or entitled to certain things such as their time, care, commitment, support, and so on. They’re not *obligated* to be with you against their own will.]

    2. Just because you possess certain (physical or mental) qualities or skills, this doesn’t mean [same as above]

    3. Just because you’ve done certain things for someone, this doesn’t mean [same as above]

    If you want to move past a disappointment & avoid setting yourself up for another, don’t presume that your (1) achievements, (2) qualities or skills, and (3) the things you do for someone are *sufficient* or even necessary preconditions for finding or maintaining a romantic relationship. Your achievements, qualities, and efforts are neither *prerequisites* nor *guarantees* for an intimate relationship. They are your own – celebrate them if you may, but don’t expect them to earn you a return on your investment in a person. It’s a mistake to assume or expect that someone *will* or *should* do something BECAUSE you bring a stash of achievements, qualities, and efforts that you’re willing to put into a relationship. There may be no causal relationship between your achievements, qualities, and efforts and their decision to be or not to be with you. Even if someone might appreciate your achievements, qualities, and efforts, they may not be interested in having a relationship with you. Your sum total of achievements, qualities, and efforts does not put anyone under the *obligation* to reciprocate your interest.

    If you don’t put a limit on what you give to a person, they can take and take and take. Or, take more and give less. Or, refuse to take anymore. They’re not obligated to do anything against their own will. Despite your achievements, qualities, and efforts, a person may choose not to give you something or choose not to be with you – or prefer to be with someone else. So what are the lessons? For your own sake, stop trying to please or manipulate someone through your achievements, qualities, and efforts. Stop thinking there must be something wrong with your achievements, qualities, and efforts if someone rejects you. If you’re not satisfied with what you’re getting, then opt out. Make the best use of your time by going after something else.

    You are free – and so are they. They are not a pet, a puppet, or a possession you can own. They’re autonomous – and can make their own decisions. Best not to twist their arm. If you’re met with rejection, don’t jump to thinking that your set of achievements, qualities, and efforts weren’t “good enough” to *keep* that person in your life. Let them go. I’ll remember this lesson.

    • rachael says:

      nice recap Nigella :)

    • RP says:

      Hi Nigella,
      Beautifully stated, and yes, it is the “I have therefore I am” mind set. Possessing certain qualities does not entitle us to a fulfilling relationship. That is the same as implying that a less attractive, sporty, intelligent, literate, whatever chick is less deserving of the ideal partner we conjure up in our imaginations. Natalie is right, it is scary how so many of us see human relationships in purely economic terms. Not surprising though, this is basically what they teach us in biology lessons nowadays. When we start shifting our perspective and look for the relationships we actually need and fit with our values, the whole struggle approach to love and relationships evaporates pretty fast!

    • Nat Attack says:

      I think that personal qualities, achievements, attitude, and lifestyle are good things to think about for our own benefit. And yes, they may play into attracting friends and lovers into our lives. In the past, people have mentioned various character traits and interests as reasons for why they were drawn to me. Sometimes it’s something as trite as liking the same band. But the majority of the time, people decided to pursue a relationship with me and commit to a long-term relationship, because they were the type that liked to commit, and those that didn’t were usually the unavailable type. I never realized until relatively recently that the type and quality of love a boyfriend felt for me was directly related to the type of person he was, and was not directly determined by me. I do not have the power to provoke someone to love me, no matter how great or happy I may be.

      To put it another way, I am a very sensitive person who feels EVERYTHING, and so the love I feel for people is often very intense. I love it. I love experiencing a wide range of emotions every day. My boyfriends didn’t provoke those feelings from me. When the guy I used to know broke up with me he said, “I want to feel what you feel for me.” But how could he? He’s not me…He kept waiting for me to provoke those feelings from him…so that was his experience…waiting.

      I think what I learned most from this article is I need to do things for myself, and not to please others. If people come along and appreciate me for who I am, wonderful. If not, I’m just going to let go and focus on those that do (including myself).

      • hand_turkey says:

        Totally agree. It’s just so exhausting and unsatisfying trying to elicit the attitudes and feelings toward me through another person. It’s like waiting and hoping and requesting that your partner get you a soda from the fridge. Pretty soon it gets ridiculous. I’ll just get it for myself.

      • Elgie R. says:

        NatA, I got the similar lesson out of this. I’m learning to consciously ask MYSELF am I doing this for ME, or am I trying to please someone else? I find myself letting go of “trying” so hard to make folks happier. I like it.

        It helps to gain perspective by walking in the other person’s shoes. If a man you were not seriously interested in decided he could LOVE you into loving him, how would that work for ya? I often wondered how a man could date – just date – many of the BR posters. He’s up for the Spanish Inquisition of dates…he’s an AC if he can’t commit after ordering the meal! I’m exaggerating of course…but many here do not cotton to slowing their emotional roll, in my opinion. How is a person going to let things unfold slowly if, after 3 OK dates, the “what are your intentions” talk happens? And regarding fast forwarding/future faking, that can only happen when you yourself are willing to believe that 3 good dates means happily ever after.

        Nigella, loved your pithy analysis.

  16. Mike from Oztralia says:

    Nat a wonderful post, this paragraph in particular struck me as pertinent:

    “Many of us carry the belief that if we love someone, that it entitles us to their reciprocation, especially in situations where our lack of boundaries is causing us to effectively punch below our weight with someone who doesn’t treat and regard us as the worthwhile and valuable person that we are. That’s why, when they move on, it’s, What the what now? I can’t believe that you don’t want me!”

    So true!

    If I can speak from the male perspective, I think this is the trap far too many men fall into – women do as well, but in different way.

    Many men, and yes I’ll include me in that, have been raised to believe that if you do X,Y and Z that constitutes love. And having performed X,Y and Z you are therefor entitled to have that love reciprocated.

    I’ve seen or spoken to so many men who following a divorce or relationship break up (straight and gay mind you) who can’t understand why the relationship ended.

    “Didn’t I provide?”
    “Wasn’t I always there?”
    “But I thought I was a good listener?”
    “Aren’t I a good catch?” and so on.

    All too often men’s identity is completely subsumed to a stereotypical role or the fact that they love the person. They become lost in the role of provider, father etc. and therefore lost in the relationship. They have little or no idea of who they really are, or their value and identity outside these continual acts of giving. They have no boundaries between their roles and true self.

    (Of course women do this as well, whether it be the role of mother, wife etc. So it’s not a gender thing)

    So when a marriage or relationship fails the fist thing they often say is “But didn’t I do everything I was supposed too?” “Didn’t I tick all the boxes?”

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve fallen into that trap in the past.

    • hand_turkey says:

      You’re right Mike from Oz. I’ve learned that whoever insists that men and women are veery different is trying to sell us something (books, magazines, or just a justification of their personal boolsheet). This notion that men and women are very different creatures is an unnecessary complication. Really, we men and women, gay and straight, are the victims of our own assumptions.

  17. Nigella says:

    “If he doesn’t want to be with me, he *should* or *will* tell me the truth in person.” How I realized this is wishful thinking:

    I remember when the first time the ex suddenly ditched me for his male colleague-plus-friend, I couldn’t make sense of his behavior. I haven’t recounted this experience before because it has been embarrassing to realize that while it granted me a preview of what was to come later, I failed to heed the signs & act in my own best interests. The ex asked me to spend a long weekend at his place, claiming “I want to spend all my time with you. I’ll tell my friends I won’t be seeing them over the weekend. I want to be just with you”. Trusting that he meant what he said, I agreed to be picked up from my place – about an hour away from his – and decided to spend a few days with him. For the first two days, he seemed to be happy in my company. Then, suddenly he started to exchange text messages with his friend who knew that he was spending time with his girlfriend. It seemed to me that this friend was showing lack of respect for our relationship, using the ex as a filler for an absent girlfriend, and competing for his attention. Instead of passing these judgments on the friend, I remained silent and preferred to observe how the ex handled the situation. If I did not influence him, how would he act?

    Of course, I was disappointed to see that the ex after an hour of irregular texting decided to meet his friend. He even showed me the attention-seeking, self-pitying texts he received. Based on what I was told & read, the friend had suddenly realized that he is fed up of being a lawyer. He felt “crushed and drained” because of his job. The ex used this text as an excuse to ditch me. Even though he met his friend daily at work, and lived only a few minutes away from his friend, he decided to leave me alone at his place. Being the people-pleaser or the good girl I was back then, I *over-sympathized* with the situation of his friend, and decided to wait for him to return. Before he left at 5:30 pm I asked when he might return, the Liar said he did not know when exactly but he *might* be back by 11:30 pm. In other words, he thought it would be okay to leave me behind for 6 hours so that he could go counsel his friend. Had he left me at the apartment until 11:30, I don’t think I could’ve continued dating him. He returned by 7:00 pm, claiming that he missed me.

    Because I didn’t want to appear controlling or clingy, I chose not to express my disappointment to him. Instead, I expressed sympathy for his unhappy-at-work “friend”. I pretended I didn’t feel upset or hurt by his decision to leave me alone at his place. Truth be told, I couldn’t really give words to my feelings. I felt a mixture of relief, sadness, anger, confusion, and fear of rejection. But couldn’t really describe these emotions as clearly as I can now. It’s only after the break-up last year that I learned to recognize & speak about my emotions. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do in that situation. I couldn’t make sense of his behavior. Instead, images flitted across my mind. I saw a lion restive in a cage in a zoo; a circus ringmaster spitting commands at a lion disinclined to follow them. I couldn’t identify with the ringmaster – couldn’t see myself getting mad at the ex or asking him to do anything against his will.

    Even today, I think that a mutually fulfilling relationship does not function like a zoo or circus in which you’re the zookeeper or ringmaster and the other person is the animal you try to hold captive (control) or protect (care) against its will – an animal forcefully isolated from those of his kind, or unnecessarily removed from settings that the animal might prefer. Till date, I’m glad I didn’t ask the ex not to meet his friend during my stay. I didn’t throw a tantrum when he returned. But I regret I didn’t tell him that I felt hurt by his behavior – and that I can’t date someone capable of ditching me as he did. I felt unimportant – my feelings didn’t matter to him. Far from saying sorry or feeling bad for having to leave unexpectedly, he didn’t even bother asking me how I felt about being alone at his place. I felt hurt seeing that he could disappoint me, but not his colleague-friend (whom he met almost each day of the week). I felt discarded, disrespected. The fact is I couldn’t say all of this to him, because I couldn’t even articulate any of this to myself. Secretly, I hoped this might be a rare or exceptional situation – not something he’d do again and again. “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. This isn’t a pattern. He hasn’t done this before. Let it go. Have a good time,” I told myself. If I stay calm, I thought he’d feel more interested in continuing our relationship & showing me as much care as he shows to his friends. Though I remained silent then, I realize now that this episode marked the beginning of the end for me. I no longer felt motivated to meet his friends. My faith in him and in his choice of friends took a hit.

    Lessons? I over-trusted that he meant what he said, that he could deliver on his promises: “I won’t be seeing any friends over the weekend. I want to be just with you. If I had it my way, I wouldn’t want you to leave”. Because I over-trusted him, I didn’t drive down to his place. Literally, I started to adopt the role of the *passenger* in our relationship and he the *driver*. I went with him in his car to stay at his place. If I wanted, I could’ve taken a cab back to my place when he ditched me. But I decided not to do so. Instead, I *waited* for him to return from his night out. I made the mistake of not having an open conversation with him about how I felt. Instead, we had sex – perpetuating the illusion of being close to one another. I won’t repeat these mistakes. If in a similar situation, I’ll apply the triple-R approach: Recognize availability issues. Roll back my interest. Remove myself from further contact with him.

    • hand_turkey says:

      I’ve had to learn similar lessons. The result is now I know that I WILL NOT go into situations where I won’t have my own transportation and so forth. It’s too easy for someone to take you for granted and dump you somewhere (or leave you waiting on the parking lot in the car while they do errands) if they are the sole provider of your transportation and you don’t know the area. It really is eye opening to witness someone totally take you for granted like this. It’s beyond peeving.

  18. Nigella says:

    This post spurred me to “uncover” & “cut down the shoulds” that may have been driving some of my thoughts, choices, and actions.

    I don’t think someone should date me or choose me as their life-partner because of my interest or investment in them. If I love someone, that doesn’t mean they should love me against their will. I also don’t think people should love me because of my achievements, qualities, or efforts to please them. If they don’t, can’t, or won’t like or love me, then that is not the end of the world.

    But these are the shoulds that have shaped my thinking:

    1. If people promise me something, they should deliver.
    2. If someone promises & chooses to spend time with me, they shouldn’t ditch me for their friends (unless it is an emergency or absolutely necessary to do so).
    3. If they can’t deliver, they should apologize & inform me honestly & preferably well in advance of what I was led to expect.
    4. If they’re dating someone else or feeling attracted to someone else, they should tell me the truth
    5. If they realize that they’re scared of getting hurt or scared of hurting me or committing to me, they should tell me the truth and not date me.
    6. If someone isn’t interested in dating me or doing something for me, they should tell me the truth. How should they convey the truth?
    7. If someone wants to break-up with me, they should do so in person or over the phone.
    8. If someone wants something from me, they should tell me directly instead of dropping hints or relying on non-verbal communication.
    9. If I give respect to someone, they should give respect to me.

    I’m not sure what to make of these shoulds. If I understand Natalie correctly, I think she’s saying that clinging to such “shoulds” sets us up for disappointment and stops us from moving forward. Such “shoulds” stop us from taking responsibility for ourselves. Is this an accurate reading? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Given my experience with the ex, I realize that the above shoulds don’t guarantee me what I may *expect* from people. People can:

    1. fail to deliver on promises
    2. reject, abandon, ignore, ditch me for their friends or something else
    3. choose not to inform me that they can’t deliver on a promise
    4. date, pursue someone else without telling me while they’re dating me
    5. hide the truth about their fears or limited capacities
    6. choose not to tell me in explicit terms that they can’t give me what I want
    7. disappear or break-up with me through text or email
    8. drop hints & rely on nonverbal, passive aggressive communication instead of telling me the truth
    9. disrespect me

    In other words, people *owe* me nothing (unless there is an actual legal contract they’ve signed, according to which they owe me something). If there is no formal contract, it is best to think they *owe* me nothing. Instead of idealizing people OR making assumptions about what they will do OR functioning on what I think they should do, it is better to focus on taking care of myself and to look before I leap. Eventually, if I see that they don’t, can’t, or won’t meet my needs & expectations, then I can bid them farewell. Think and behave like the driver, not the passenger – not the damsel in distress, not like Penelope dutifully, resentfully, haplessly waiting for Odysseus to return to her from his adventures. I won’t wait for a frog to turn into a prince. In spite of my fears & doubts, I’m in charge of where *my* life is going.

    • Laura says:

      Nigella, I think 1-9 was my Friday night. But seriously, these things can, will and do happen BUT I do not think it’s wrong on our part to expect it NOT to happen. I think when you practice the golden rule, do unto others and all that good stuff, you should be able to hope for a tad better than all those ways people can hurt and dissapoint us. Maybe I’m delusional but if I give up hope that people can still be good, whether we are owed it or not, then I need to just give up!

    • Mymble says:

      Those are very high standards. Can you honestly say that you have never “disrespected” someone? Whatever that means, to you, because I suspect that there are a million different interpretations. I think phrasing these “shoulds” as a moral imperative disguises the fact that they are your own preferences. In general it is a sign of character to behave honorably but when it comes down to the particulars many people will have different conceptions of what honorable means.
      In the example you gave above, I don’t thing I would have felt betrayed had a boyfriend taken 1.5 hours away from me over the course of a weekend.
      I don’t think it disrespectful to contact a friend when he/she is with their gf/bf for a weekend . The stage of life I’m at, a romantic partner will be fairly low in the packing order, after my kids, work, friends and interests. They might over time become a higher priority for me but that would take a long time. I don’t believe any more that sexual or romantic relationships are of right sacred and trump all others.
      I too often didn’t “know” how I felt at the time with the MM and I think that comes from fear – the fear that things are not as they “should” be, there are cracks and flaws in the perfect picture and we are shutting our eyes and putting our fingers in our ears to avoid the truth of how things really are.

      • Mymble says:

        If that sounded as though I was dismissing your perceptions it wasn’t what I meant. If what he did did not sit well with you, and made you uncomfortable, then that’s not something to disregard.
        If you’re squashing down your discomfort that too is an indication that there is something amiss.
        If you take the judgement out of it though it’s easier to face; this will not work, for me.

        • Nigella says:


          Our approach to friendships & priorities seem to be markedly *different*. Unlike me, you may not feel “betrayed” by someone leaving you behind at their flat, but I did feel disrespected, if not betrayed. Nevertheless, I agree, the shoulds that have been guiding my thinking are not universal or moral absolutes. They are not, as Rachel said, “a set of rules for the human species”. Rather, they are my own *preferences and wants*, and if someone repeatedly falls short of my “high standards”, then I can move on. I don’t feel the need to impose my standards on others, nor the need to lower them. Depending on my changing needs & priorities – and those of a potential partner – I’ll be flexible in my thinking. Of course, I’m not infallible and, unintentionally or intentionally, I am capable of “disrespecting” others. However, my fallibility need not stop me from honoring my own perceptions, standards, and boundaries. Some of these are open to discussion; others are not.

          I agree, a romantic relationship need not “trump all others”. By the same token, I don’t subscribe to the belief that friendships must take precedence over a romantic relationship. If someone makes a habit of ditching me for others, then I see this as a clear-cut pattern of disrespect – a million different interpretations on this pattern do me no good. Before texting his friend, the ex led me to think he’ll make supper for us. Did he follow through? Did he ask if he could get something for me? No. Instead, he met a friend & “got a bite to eat”. The thing that bothered me is not that he decided to see a friend, but that he showed no concern for me. His sudden indifference surprised me. The gap between his *claims* – “I’ll tell my friends I won’t be seeing them,” “I’ll make us supper” – and *actions* confused me. Like Laura suggested, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I’ll follow this golden rule – and recognize that people may not want what I want. There may be differences between them and me that could generate unresolvable issues. In that case, after recognizing our lack of compatibility, I’ll move on.

          Like the ex, I cherish my friendships and, ironically, his social life is one of the things that attracted me to him. I’d feel controlled if a partner tried to stop me from contacting or meeting my friends. But I’d also feel disappointed if a partner first, of his own accord, promises to spend the entire weekend with me, and then suddenly decides to leave me in order to meet a friend he sees each day of the week. Ultimately, as time showed, the ex tried to normalize this pattern: him texting friends frequently around me, backpedaling on our plans, and ditching me for his friends. I felt sorry that his colleague-friend hadn’t found his calling, but this didn’t grant the ex the right to ditch me. If he prefers to act as an on-call counselor for his friends, that is his choice. If this choice has the effect of rendering him unreliable & unavailable to commit to plans, then I’d rather be on my own.

          The fact is his desire to go and come as he pleases mattered more to him than taking my feelings into account, reflecting on the impact his actions may have on me, or honoring our plans to be together on certain days at certain times. From the little he revealed about his ex gfs, he said his friends had to “rescue” him from his “clingy” & “needy” gfs. If anything, comments of this sort suggest that it has been his *pattern* to use his friends as buffers between himself and his gfs instead of openly asking for space. Unfortunately, I didn’t fully realize this back then. Next time, even if someone future-fakes, fast-forwards, overestimates his interest in me & seems to have the same preferences as I do, I’ll take my time in getting close to him. If he can’t meet my standards, instead of pretending to be happy in his company I’ll tell him toodle-oo.

          • Mymble says:

            That sheds a different light.
            The rules of hospitality ARE, in my view, universal. In every culture there is an expectation that if you invite someone to your home you will welcome them and feed them! That in itself would be humiliating and hurtful, to be left behind hungry while he went to eat. I would definitely have felt snubbed by that. I surprised though that that thing on it’s own didn’t flag up to you that this man is a boot?
            But then I also stuck my head in the sand so many times with my ex husband (he punched me, it doesn’t get any worse) and the MM I got involved with so I know all too well how we make excuses and blame ourselves. It’s ego, wanting not to have the “shame” of “failure” and to let go of the dream of them and face the reality.

    • rachael says:


      I THINK you answered your own question… if you were asking one. The list is YOUR boundary. It is not a set of rules for the human species. If a person ‘falls short’ of YOUR wants, as you said, move on.

    • Pauline says:


      In your chosen career and the corporate environment you are expected to have high standards of behaviour in your dealings with fellow employees and your upper managers. I worked for a very large corporation and I understand the standards of behaviour and honesty that were expected of us in regards to the public and how we related to each other in our daily work environment. Everyone understands the rules and even outside work we had to be careful of how we conducted ourselves in case we brought the company into disrepute by our behaviour.
      So I understand where you are coming from.
      But, these rules don’t apply outside the work environment with our families, friends and lovers.
      It took me a while to understand that after I left the company. I was still trying to apply the rules/standards I had lived by for many years to other people and it was hard to understand why they weren’t complying with my standards of behaviour.
      They didn’t feel any necessity to do so.
      Your list of ‘shoulds’ are perfect for work but they don’t always extrapolate to personal relationships.

      We would get into a lot less trouble with AC’s, EU’s, narcissists, sociopaths et al if we recognised them a lot quicker than we do now. We also need to get to know someone a lot better and find out if they are worth it before they get any of our affection or love.

      Perhaps I’m wrong in my interpretation of what you are saying in your post. I’m drawing on my own experiences between work and my personal life.

      • Nigella says:


        Thanks for your input. Yes, if I didn’t adhere to the standards of conducts & honesty that are expected of me at work, it won’t be long before I’m given the axe. Outside work, I don’t plan on imposing my list of ‘shoulds’ on others – that sounds despotic and delusion. Ultimately, people follow their own conscious or unconscious list of ‘shoulds’. I don’t expect compliance or *perfection* from them.

        My list reflects some of my expectations and preferences. It’s not intended as a list of rules for others. I’ll remember your advice: “Your list of ‘shoulds’ are perfect for work but they don’t always extrapolate to personal relationships”. Here, the key word for me is “always”. For example, I may not lose interest in someone if they occasionally don’t deliver on some of their promises. But if they frequently fail to deliver on promises, along with other problems in their behavior towards me, then I can’t see myself including them in my life.

        For the sake of teaching myself to be more resilient in the face of disappointment, I think it may be helpful to rephrase my “shoulds” as “might or might not”. For example, 1. If people promise me something, they might or might not deliver. Regardless of what they do or say, I’ll stay true to my own feelings, expectations, and boundaries.

        If I know they’ve breached a non-negotiable boundary, then I’ll opt out. For example, cheating is non-negotiable for me. However, if I feel there is room for negotiation, then I’ll be open to resolving the issue with them instead of bidding them farewell. Either way, if they don’t want to act in accordance with my evolving list of standards and expectations, then I won’t waste my time trying to convince them to abide by my list.

        • lizzp says:


          You could try replacing your ‘shoulds’ with ‘needs’ (ie I need to feel respected; I need people to regularly deliver on their promises)or perhaps where it seems right to you, ‘expect’ (I expect people to be respectful towards me, I expect them to keep their promises to me etc}. I think your list is less about what you feel entitled to via shoulda thinking and more a reflection of your own needs and expectations around your various relationships and future relating with other people – romantic and otherwise.

          I think all can be well if we simply work on and try to stay mindful of the difference between our needs and expectations around treatment by others and those shoulda, woulda, coulda thoughts -and the confused and ungrounded feelings and emotions they invoke – that signal indignation, righteousness and the sense of entitlement Natalie refers to. Needs and expectations can be both disappointed and ignored, even rejected by other people we encounter but these are our needs and expectations, we own them. We do well to own our own as it is IMO vital for our self respect. We only move into the shoulds of entitlement and ‘rights’ when we begin to desire want,and often crave the meeting of our needs and expectations by reluctant/disinterested/inconsistent/apathetic/younameit others. Often without fully realising it (although the sickly feeling of self betrayal clues me in well these days). Avoid getting tangled in the self destructive web of entitlement by walking away/opting out but keep hold of your needs and expectations. It is such a precious gift to have clarity through the ongoing process of knowing and learning yourself.

          • lizzp says:

            “it is better to focus on taking care of myself and to look before I leap. Eventually, if I see that they don’t, can’t, or won’t meet my needs & expectations, then I can bid them farewell.”

            Nigella, Actually you’ve already summarised in the quote from your ‘should’ post above what I was trying to convey in my own way. I really think that’s one of the more salient “take aways’ (as people say/write these days) in Natalies’s insightful post. (Wonderfully clear post Nat, thank you so much as always).

            • Nigella says:


              I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to write this thoughtful comment. The replacements you suggest are quite helpful. In fact, your suggestions tapped into something I’m choosing not to ignore anymore. Reading this sentence – “I need people to regularly deliver on their promises” – made me recognize the discomfort I feel in admitting to myself and to others that I have certain needs. It is not just my feelings, but also the needs that underlie those feelings, that I have not been able to access or express effectively in the past.

              Some of my needs have stabilized over time, like my daily need for at least an hour of solitude. Generally, I don’t find it difficult to tell someone, “I need to be on my own until a certain time”. However, I don’t find it easy to tell someone, “I need you to spend a bit more time with me”. Or, “I need you to do something for me”. Or, “I’d like you to spend more time with me”. Turning to people for some sort of assistance, help, or companionship is difficult.

              I asked myself, “why do you fear expressing your need for emotional support & companionship?” The answers: 1. I’m not & don’t want to be dependent on anyone – and I don’t want people to think that I’m needy or dependent on them. 2. I fear people might feel pressed to do something for me out of obligation or politeness, rather than genuine care. 3. If I tell people my needs, then I risk judgment & rejection, for they can either criticize my need or tell me that they can’t give me what I need.

              However long it takes, I plan on teaching myself not to fear judgment & rejection, so that I can begin to communicate my needs to others more freely, and as maturely & honestly as possible. Thank you so much for this golden thought: “Needs and expectations can be both disappointed and ignored, even rejected by other people we encounter but these are our needs and expectations, we own them.” In the personal sphere, I need to learn to *own* my needs and expectations – and express them. Of course, I also need to get better at understanding the needs & expectations of those close to me – and get better at *balancing* my needs with theirs.

              Unexpressed needs lead to unmet needs – and unmet needs & expectations often lead to resentment. Harboring resentment is no less unhealthy than living under the fear of judgment & rejection. In fact, facing rejection sounds much better than harboring resentment for unmet needs. Okay, in the process of writing all of this out, I feel more committed to the task that is ahead of me: learning to communicate my needs, respectfully & directly, to others.

              In case some of my core needs are ignored or rejected at least I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that I didn’t betray myself by engaging in self-imposed silence. Plus, remembering your advice, I’ll “avoid getting tangled in the self-destructive web of entitlement by walking away” from folks unable or unwilling to meet my needs & expectations. Thank you, Lizzp. Clarity of mind is extremely important to me – and I appreciate the role you’ve played in helping me dispel my confusion.

              Tonight, I’m treating myself to tempura & udon noodle soup. I hope you too are doing well and taking good care of yourself.

        • Pauline says:


          I wasn’t thinking of despotic and delusional, it was more I was treating people with respect, dignity and honesty and found I was getting something very different in return.
          The AC was a blessing in disguise and forced me to do some much needed work on myself.
          A grown woman and I was very naive about a lot of things, a little too idealistic and as I’ve come to recognise, somewhat childish beliefs that don’t have much to do with living in the adult world.
          I have grown up a lot since finding BR, still a work in progress and the learning curve is starting to flatten out. It’s been a tough 16 months reclaiming my baggage but well worth it.

          • Nigella says:


            How much I have appreciated your feedback is difficult to express in words. Thanks for taking the time to see things from my perspective instead of judging me for having certain standards & expectations. Perhaps the biggest change I had to make after the EUM is learning to ask for help – something I used to perceive as exposing me to judgment & misunderstanding. I do not like feeling like a child turning to others for guidance & encouragement – but these are the things I needed. Like you, I feel I have “grown up a lot since finding BR”. In the big scheme of things, 16 months is not a long time for unlearning decades of unproductive – negative & self-destructive – thought & behavioral patterns.

            To some of us, gradual progress may not seem as rewarding as rapid progress. But as long as one is not stuck in the same place, it helps to recognize & appreciate the progress one has made. Personally, out of habit, I expect to get a lot done in a short amount of time. So as an antidote to this habit I have had to remind myself that self-improvement or self-healing is not an assignment to be completed & submitted for evaluation by a fixed date. Self-improvement is not a competition – not a race. Different people are going to make progress at a pace that feels comfortable to them. I, for one, need to learn to operate at a *slow & steady* pace in non-professional contexts. On the job, I cannot afford to be slow. Elsewhere, I can.

            Like you Pauline, I feel that my learning has reached a plateau, except for learning better ways of communicating my needs to others. This sounds challenging. But there is no point in dating or hoping to form better personal relationships if I cannot communicate my needs in a mature manner.

            Sending best wishes to you.

    • Suki says:

      Nigella, I think that some of those shoulds are also deal-breakers. Those shoulds also reflect how you intend to behave to others and hence your values. Yes, no one owes you anything – however, we all have close relationships, the people we trust, and thats because those people would not cross your boundaries, would not ditch you with no explanation etc. Those people have shown over time that they are trustworthy, that you can day-to-day assume that they will reciprocate (and this is not your entitlement, its because you found some good people that also realize the goodness in you, this is trust and this is what we are all aiming for – stable trusting relationships). People can and often will do whatever the hell they want to you — AND you have the power to enact whatever consequences you see fit. Ignore, accept, confess, cut-off, complain, ask for explanation. And be prepared to follow through. You might cut-off and have them persist – then you cut-off again and again till they stop. You might ask for explanation and not get one – well, thats pretty telling isn’t it. I just had a friend ignore me for a month and its a pretty important thing that she has not responded to me on – this has changed my opinion of her. We have actually had issues before, so she has crossed my boundaries earlier already. At that time I was very angry and hurt etc., because yes i felt owed and tried to get her to behave the way I expected. Now I dont bother – firstly, its not worth it with anyone to really get upset even if you do ask for explanation and second, she has shown that this friendship isn’t worth working on.

      • Nigella says:


        This is so helpful: “People can and often will do whatever the hell they want to you — AND you have the power to enact whatever consequences you see fit. Ignore, accept, confess, cut-off, complain, ask for explanation. And be prepared to follow through.” In this one sentence you have summarized so many things one can do to act in their own best interests.

        The word ‘power’ stood out to me in this sentence. No one is omnipotent. But, as you suggest, each of us has the power to respond to difficult situations in ways that do us more good than harm.

        I think it is great how you have been able to *change* your approach & response to the email-ignoring friend. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  19. Gillian says:

    I did NC a year ago and got Mr EU out of my life permanently. Then I fell into it with another EU and did NC and got myself out of that one too. Last September I met a great guy but didn’t feel that attracted to him. He hung in there with me and now we have a really great relationship. Well, it’s really great when I stay out of ENTITLEMENT!! I had that conversation that he should make more money, he should be better looking, more established in a career,classier with a better education and on and on!! I’m not sure when I became the person who always wanted more and felt I deserved it but now I see how that plays into choosing EU’s. I’m really working on not being entitled and how I do that mostly is I turn within and see our relationship now as something that is centered in spirituality and love and that this man is a gift that was sent to me and I was sent to him as a gift and our job is to nurture and develop this relationship with love. Thank you Natalie for enlightening so many of us to the game that we have been playing. The important thing once you get your own number is to be kind and compassionate and apply all that love within to ourselves to the person who was just crying out to be loved and it seems that once we do this, we can love another in a much deeper way. It’s a magical change.

    • Mymble says:

      I so agree, and the word compassion is very important. A person isn’t an accessory, a status symbol, a meal ticket or a sex toy that you get as a reward.
      Western and particularly American culture and philosophy is based on the idea that if you are worthy and work hard enough you can have everything you desire. People who fail at anything have failed because they were unworthy. Therefore they do not deserve compassion. They must be to blame. If we succeed it is because we are better than them. If we fail however it means that we are unworthy and we cannot show compassion for ourselves.
      As Einstein said, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
      I recently met an old boyfriend I rejected a long time ago. At that time I wanted taller, more handsome, brighter and shinier. I now see someone who is kind, loving, creative and funny. Someone who I might have been really happy with but who is now married to someone else. However I have to be compassionate with myself about that too and remember that I was doing what seemed to me the best at the time.

  20. Kaykei says:

    Wow! This post could not have come at a better time for me! 2 months ago I ended things with the EUM after a 3 1/2 year relationship. It was unhealthy from the start but he was fun, handsome, charming and made me feel good…at first. Things were always rocky but after 2 years he decided it was too rocky and hooked up with a girl he met on Twitter. yes, Twitter. He was with her but he still kept me on the hook. After a month he showed up on my door crying and professing his “love” for me. Oh, he also discovered she had HSV-1 and was afraid he had given it to me. He seemed devastated and said he could never leave my side knowing that we could have it and was there to support me “no matter what”. We both got tested and those test came back negative. And not long after he went back to his old ways of treating me without respect and love. Come December 2013 and we’re apart again. But low and behold in January he contacts me. Why? He tested positive for HSV-1. So here come the lines again and I take it bait, line and hook. Well my tests come back positive and I’m miserable. So I broke things off again in February.

    But I couldn’t let go when I saw he was already befriending his 27 year old blonde co-worker and taking her around all our mutual friends and the places we used to go. I drug it out because I felt he OWED me for what he did. Stupid, I know, but in my mind how could he say he was suffering so much from what he did to me but going on with life like nothing happened? Come this past weekend we have a HUGE blow out. He tells me it’s my fault I’m sick because things were bad and I pushed him to another girl, he never wanted a relationship and he doesn’t care that he gave me herpes. He then completely blocked me from everything.

    So now I’m on day 4 of NC. I’m hurting so badly but this article and the posts I’ve read have helped me so much! This isn’t about me, it’s about him. And his new girl is going to find out the hard way that he is not who she thinks he is.

  21. Demke says:

    Piggy-backing off of @Mike from Oztralia’s post.

    My ex and I both read the 5 Love Languages. Anyone familiar with it? It’s very insightful and explains how people express their love. For example, a man may think providing is showing his love, when his wife feels loved by him spending quality time with her, and so on. So, if both ppl put in the work and figure out eachothers love languages, it can work. With my ex, he wanted words of affirmation… For me to tell him how wonderful he was at x,y, z. Well, my my ex never provided financially (always him 1st), never helped with anything, only if it benefited him (getting something to eat), that would be it. So… Other than just enjoying his company 1/2 the time, i didnt know what praise i could give… He was always finding something negative to say about me. ‘ohh honey, you’re so negative towards me, but you’re the best!’ Haha… Doesnt work like that. So when I say we tried everything, we did. You have to WANT to make your partner happy and do good for them and have it be reciprocated, or no deal.

    And no, having certain traits/qualities doesn’t entitle someone to reciprocate, but they dont have to keep taking, either. Takes two to tango. If I wasnt intersted in someone, I’d have the integrity to somehow let them know, rather than using them, knowing how they feel about me just to get what I needed.

  22. ThreeDLife says:

    Nigella, I can really relate to what you’ve said. My ex AC ditched me repeatedly. He said he had to go to be with his relatives, but there was no true, real reason for him to do so. It was just an excuse to ditch me. He left me in a hotel room while he spent time with others. He left me alone after being intimate. It was insulting and disrespectul!

    I also felt unimportant. It is somehow comforting in a strange way to know that others have been through this craziness. This guy was alway emotionally unavailable. Why didn’t I see it at the time? I don’t know, but I do know I won’t ever let it happen to me again. Thank you, BR readers, and Natalie, for helping me get rid of such unhealthy, toxic relationships! I appreciate it more than I can say.

    • Nigella says:


      Sorry to hear about your experience of being ditched & disrespected. Like you, I too had asked myself after the break-up “why didn’t I see the reality at the time?” – “why didn’t I realize soon enough that he was behaving in an unreliable, immature, and insensitive manner towards me?” First, like a typical doormat, I didn’t adequately understand *some* of my core needs, expectations, & feelings back then. Instead, my focus used to be on understanding him and meeting his needs or wants. This is not to say that I started to disregard my own goals, priorities, and desires – or accede to him on all counts. I did convey some of my needs and boundaries to him.

      Second, it is the *inconsistency* of his behavior that made it harder for me to see the reality of his emotional unavailability. If anything, I felt *confused* by the mixed messages. Sometimes he’d show up at my place bearing gifts – my favorite flowers and fruits. Sometimes he’d cook us supper. Then, a couple of times it seemed to me that it made no difference to him whether or not I was fed properly at his place. He simply dashed off to do his own thing, assuming I’ll fend for myself.

      Thinking like a people-pleaser, I told myself that if I show him consistent care & respect, he’ll give me consistent care and respect too. Mea culpa. Once and for all, I see that even if I give care & respect to someone, this doesn’t mean they’ll give me care & respect. In their minds, they may think they owe me nothing. More aptly, I realize that even if I give them something, this doesn’t mean they owe me something in return. So instead of *indefinitely* expecting to get a return on my investment, I need to recognize *compatibility* or *emotional unavailability* issues, and move on.

      Now, after a one-year dating hiatus involving a lot of self-examination, I feel I’m in a much better position to be able to look after my own best interests in the dating context. Like you, I am glad to have learned some life-changing lessons through BR.

  23. Noquay says:

    Yep, as someone who has tried hard to lift herself up, escape from her upbringing, yeah, I do often think I deserve better than what I have put up with here the past few years. Whatever happened to ” be the kind of person you want to attract”? Still hyperventilating over a close call with wannabe stalker this morning. Did check the area for his car before going into the coffeehouse this am, but he had walked there and luckily he was speaking to others, back to me. I spotted him and got the heck outta there, pronto. Given his last angry emails, a public confrontation was likely. Had to explain to my neighbor why we weren’t having coffee (Well, I’m kinda being stalked). Perhaps many of you are right, folks owe us nothing; but I would argue we are owed both honesty and respect, just as we need to be honest and treat others with respect. If one is not attracted to or compatible with someone, act accordingly; don’t pursue or give any sort of mixed signals. That’s how I have tried to live my life. No, people are not meal tickets, exotic arm candy, sex toys, status symbols, ego massagers, rungs up the social ladder.
    I blame myself for being the attempted target of this kind of treatment, blame myself for the whole mess with the AC. “I am ugly, not worthy, my league is weird stalking seekers of meal tickets, etc”. Then my rational brain thinks: “Hey stupid, ALL single women here experience this kind of thing, none of your single women friends had any more success on line than you, most of your fellow singles have given up, and yep,the AC broke many hearts, you are merely another one, so shut up, stop feeling dammit and get some friggin work done”. No matter what happens, I am very grateful to and owe BR for recognizing all red flags (like wannabe s.) immediately, acting accordingly, having strong boundaries, not over-giving, keeping initial emotional distance, with men I’ve met since the AC disaster. The next few months are gonna be interesting, either due to being on my way elsewhere or preparing to stick it out till 55 instead of 60 and let the retirement/taking care of dad chips fall where they may. My best friend (male) told me “we need to discuss this before you do anything rash” No we do not. Tis my life.

    • Nigella says:


      This part of your comment really moved me: “Perhaps many of you are right, folks owe us nothing; but I would argue we are owed both honesty and respect, just as we need to be honest and treat others with respect. If one is not attracted to or compatible with someone, act accordingly; don’t pursue or give any sort of mixed signals. That’s how I have tried to live my life.”

      I used to think this way. In essence, still do. I expected “honesty and respect” from the people I dated and offered the same to them – they did not have to love me because I loved them, provide for me, or commit to me against their will. In the wake of the Liar, I realized once and for all that people (despite their best intentions) do opt for dishonesty if it helps them get out of situations that may seem difficult to them. Sometimes people are not even aware of what they want & what they can give – and as a consequence they may say things they do not mean or make promises they cannot keep. Because they are themselves confused, they may give us mixed signals.

      Having recognized such human frailties, I now think it is best to face the *reality* & opt out instead of expecting the other person to be explicit about their circumstances or thoughts or hesitations. Do I *expect* people to be honest and respectful? Yes I do. Those are the top two qualities I seek & value in a person. But do I expect to mine a diamond from a dunghill? No. Similarly, I no longer expect to extract “honesty” and “respect” from all people I may meet – for whatever reasons, some of them might be unable or unwilling to give me these basic things. More importantly, if I focus on being honest and respectful towards myself, I think it’ll be harder for someone else to deceive or disrespect me.

      Moreover, I may see *specific* things such as backpedaling on promises & ditching me for friends as forms of “disrespect”, but the other person may not. For them, it might be normal & acceptable to break promises, interrupt, shorten, or cancel get-togethers. In their (myopic or solipsistic) style of thinking, if they change a plan or leave me to see a friend, they are simply hoping out to see a friend. Their intention is not to “disrespect” me. The bottom line is, regardless of what they think, I can still *feel* and *think* that they have disrespected me. In that case, I have three options: (1) doubt & dismiss my feelings, (2) recognize my feelings but remain silent, or (3) own my feelings and tell the other person how I feel when they do or say X, Y, Z. Options 1 & 2 are no longer attractive to me, because I realize that they create resentment & confusion in me.

      I can’t speak for you, but I’m going for option 3. Thus, instead of second-guessing or burying my feelings, I’m teaching myself to listen to them & speak about them in an open & calm manner. So far it has been liberating to be able to speak about my feelings – and not feel strange or ashamed of them. Luckily, the responses of most people have been heartening as well. In future, in a dating context, if I feel “disrespected”, I plan on telling the other person how I feel. If they can empathize with me and, of their own accord, express an interest in resolving the issue, then I’ll gladly continue dating them. However, their views on what counts as “disrespect” may not be compatible with my views. So if they cannot empathize with me or meet me midway over a conflict of views, then I’ll gladly opt out of the relationship. Either way, I won’t expect them to be someone they’re not or pretend to be someone I’m not.

      From the bottom of my heart, I hope you find someone honest & respectful – someone deserving of you.

    • Suki says:

      Noquay, to expect honesty and decency is the right way to go, but it doesnt mean you will get it — it means that when you dont get it, you back off from that person. People can treat you bad two or three times – beyond that you are stepping into complicity by sticking around.

  24. no_more says:

    Yes, this post really strikes a chord. Actually, almost to tears. I am on just over 3 months NC with my exMM. I had been doing pretty well until the last couple of days. This last weekend is the weekend I was told by his sister in January that his wife & kids are joining him permanently in another country at the apartment I picked out. They had been legally separated the whole time I was with him.

    Throughout our whole time together (2+ yrs), he waffled back and forth between us (“for the kids”), and I people-pleased him thru the whole relationship. I tried to be funnier, smarter, sexier and kinder than his wife. He always told me how wonderful I was to him. How HAPPY I always made him. But he managed to break up with me twice, the first time thru an email. Blahhhh! I thought if I was just “right” with him, he would follow through on his marriage proposal, and our future.

    I hopped a plane in January when he started wailing about missing his kids again after Three days of me being there. It was awful. I felt used, ugly and so confused by his flip-flapping AGAIN, after I helped him through illnesses, a job loss and then relocation. I was a rock for him, but in the end, he still chose her.

    I recognize from this sight, that my bad choices with men have been because my dad, (alcoholic, abusive and remote) was an EU. Yet here I am with a good solid three months of NC, and very, very sad today.

    I want to be indifferent, not think about what this snake did to me, and I know it takes time. I need to keep working on me, but the Shoulda, woulda and maybes are rearing their ugly heads at me.

    Isn’t three months enough time to at least stop some of the pain?

    • hand_turkey says:

      No_more, why was the married man’s sister talking to you? I know that for me, that would count as contact, and a setback.

    • Louise says:

      The pain comes in waves and three months is not that long…and the great thing is that, soon three months will be six months, and then a whole year. As long as you don’t act out on the pain, then you will be fine. When pain of any sort comes up for me these days, I just sit with it, ground myself, feel it and allow it to pass. Amazing how quickly it goes when you don’t resist it. x

      • hand_turkey says:

        No_more, I’m sorry to sound bleak but Louise is right about three months not being that long, because in the final analysis this pain and struggle to be worthy in your own eyes – if you choose to undertake it – is not about this one guy.

        • Lilly says:

          Hand turkey,

          I loved this “because in the final analysis this pain and struggle to be worthy in your own eyes – if you choose to undertake it – is not about this one guy”.

          It’s taken me two years to understand this.

    • Sofia says:

      Hi no_more,

      I am at about 3 months too. It does still hurt. You are doing a GREAT job having solid 3 months of NC!! I did too for 2,5 months until mine contacted me to check on me and tell me “I am here if you need anything.” What was the purpose of the e-mail I don’t know. Unfortunately I didn’t sit long on it and replied to his offer “maybe to meet one day,” that I was not ready yet to be friends and wished him best and few days later broke my NC myself this time asking why he wanted to meet? He just repeated the same thing he said in his first e-mail. It was a mistake to respond to his contact in the first place. Didn’t solve anything for me and caused me lots of agony, anger, and pain. I relived the entire aftermath of breakup in one week. From denial, bargaining, shock, anger, depression, and acceptance – recycled it all in a matter of 3-5 days.

      And at Easter I decided to shut the door. My door. I visualized this heavy big door and a huge lock on it. And as I was falling asleep on Good Friday, Saturday, and Easter I visualized how I lock the door and throw the key away and how I see him behind the door. I know he is behind MY closed door. This is me who closed the door now, for good. I am doing it not for him, in case he comes back wanting to be friends, and the door is shut. It is not my mind game of the first raw right postbreak up time. This is for me to help me move on.

      I do know I should not bury my feelings or deny them and I never run from my feelings. I am for processing and feeling everything thoroughly with no denial or fear. It is healthy for healing. But after 3 months almost I am here feeling stuck. Spiraling and spiraling, obsessing. There still has not been a single HOUR in a day I haven’t thought of him and I realize this must be becoming an obsession. A habit. A drug. Like when people have to smoke every hour, “Time to smoke a cigarette = time to think of him.” This is where there is a point one has to force oneself to start acting. I would say 3 month is a good mark to try helping yourself. Yet, remembering, it’s still fairly new and time will heal and continue being angry, crying, etc., but what I am saying, no_more, maybe you could try to visualize that door and put him behind. The key question to let it go and lock the door and throw away the visual key is to ask yourself: Do you still hope that he will come back? Are you still waiting for him? If you answer yes, then your door is still ajar.

      Something happened on Easter with me. I decided that I am done. I recognize I will still miss him (or the companionship, good times we had), I will hurt and cry, but I am willfully determined to move on. Otherwise I can wallow in this infinitely. I make a choice to move on now, while allowing to grieve under control, where control is consciously realizing I have let go and shut the door for good. You can even poor cement on top of it if you want to. You can visualize couple more doors after the front door and losing your key in the ocean. Done. Now on to your life. Think of your goals, think something to do for yourself, family, friends. When you miss him, cry, scream, miss him, but keep coming back to yourself and moving on and moving on and think of that shut door. The priest at my church said that, “think about it, this could be the last Easter you are having. We don’t know how long we are going to live. Maybe it seems terrible for you right now and you feel like you are the most miserable person, but think that you never know how much you have left and embrace your life in a different perspective.” He talked about God too and what he did for us, but I won’t go into that because not everyone here is religious perhaps, and I won’t preach.

      What I want to say, paraphrasing the priest, it struck me, that it is true. Here I am lamenting my life without him, what could have been , should have been, if I didn’t do this, didn’t say this (YES, still doing “ifs” after almost 3 months, at least I am catching and correcting myself that I am not the only responsible for the relationship and its outcome. It’s not all me), so wasting all the precious time thinking of him and what used to be or could be, while it could be my last day living or last week or last month, or last year. I want to hurry up to live and enjoy my life. There is so little free time to spend with my daughter and do things for myself as well. We have only one life given to us, no_more. I know it’s hard and your heart is broken. Believe me, I feel like this still. But it has to get better. And it will. We can help ourselves. Try to visualize shutting the door and locking it very good. If you can draw, you can even draw it. You have to be ready of course internally to shut it. No imagination will help.

      I feel that your story might have no end, if it is to continue, that is. The guy might come back but it will be all repeated in circles, I am afraid. He is torn between you and his wife and that’s how it is frequently in such relationships. Kids of course too. I was with a married guy before. It was not an epiphany relationship, like with this one, EU. I was not ready back then yet to be happy evidently. That relationship was so PAINFUL. I kept waiting and waiting but he eventually just stopped seeing me. Felt guilty before his wife and improved his relationship with her. No divorce as he promised to me. It is a done deal with married guys. It just doesn’t work . To protect yourself, try gently encouraging yourself to move on. You will see it empowers you too. Has he tried contacting you? Don’t respond. I won’t respond if mine contacts. The door is shut. It is my door that I shut for me only. It doesn’t matter what he does or doesn’t. I am done.

      I hope it helps a bit. Hugs to you. We will make it, I promise, but we do need to help ourselves. Just a bit. Time is the best doctor though.

      • Mike from Oztralia says:

        Sofia – wise words for no_more.

        It seems like many of us our on the exact point of the path. I love all the metaphors and techniques your using.

        I too had a Easter much the same. Three months is short in the scheme of things. I cycled through so many emotions over Easter and finally resolved to move on as best I could. Yes – the near constant thinking about it reaches a point of being debilitating. Enough is enough.

        I *know* it is over. I don’t entertain thoughts of contacting the ex, or that they will contact me. I know all the reasons why the relationship ended, and should have. But yes, the absence sits heavily on ones heart.

        I’m revisiting some mindfulness/meditation techniques. That helps. Give your self daily affirmations.

        Mindfulness is simple:

        Sit still in a chair, close you eyes and just pay attention to your breathing. Gentle music is ok. Reduce all other distractions. Just focus on your breathing. You’ll feel as though your thought’s are becoming “detached”. Freeing yourself form the obsessional/ruminating thoughts is the goal. Try it for 10 minute stretches.

        I’ve also started committing poems I like to memory, the act of memorizing is a good distraction while reciting them aloud when the thoughts get too intrusive helps break those thinking/ruminating loops. “The Road Less Traveled” is my favorite at the moment.

        I love Sophia’s mental image of the door slamming.

        Tap into your creativity to help manage your mind.

        • Sofia says:


          That’s interesting that you too had many emotions going over the Easter and I do remember we are on the same time schedule. Something about 3-month mark and about Easter as well. It’s good to know I am not alone in this: noticing and acknowledging that I am becoming obsessed about thinking of him. Exactly, like you are saying, it is becoming “debilitating.” It sucks too much energy and time available for our children and our own lives, plus it distracts greatly from work and diminishes its already decreased quality. I agree with you about grief having its own timetable (in your next post), and I do agree that “enough is enough.” I see you made up your mind to consciously help yourself. Not shut down or halt or deprive yourself of a grieving process, but to guide yourself to go through it while knowing it is over. It is over and that’s what it is. We will never know all the exact answers why and what and how. I give up. I recycled so many thoughts and scenarios and rewrote so many scripts of the relationship and the ending of it. I am thoroughly exhausted. Now I am putting focus on me. And I am not saying it like I did two months ago, when those just were words that didn’t mean anything to me. I was in too much pain to understand or want any of that. Only after you go through the first stages of loss, then it hits you, “I had enough.” Just tired of it. I know I still will think of him but because I consciously shut the door, I am hoping the process will be easier now. Once you accept and let go, I think we will face another round of depression, sadness and feeling of lost love and lost bonds, lost future and lost hopes. However, we will be relieved of ruminating of all scenarios, images, what ifs, could haves, and so on. Because we now know it’s over. Our energy will be dedicated to healing ourselves and growing and pressing forward. Finally. Sigh… On to the next stage. I read that some stages can still repeat and recycle BUT given our determination to let go and healing progressing, those other repeated stages won’t be as bad as in the beginning.

          I know we deviated from the subject of this article; however, I can still see the relation. Entitlement. Yes, nobody owes us anything. Yes life is not fair, but it is life and everyone has his/her cross to bear one way or another. The most wonderful gift I have in my life is my daughter and our health. And I could not ask for anything more. And I know this is something I am not entitled to either. Anything can happen and that is life. Fair or unfair. Just have to take it, whatever happens to you and keep on living.

          I will try your meditating techniques, Mike. Never tried doing that. I am too much of a tense person. I hope this will help.

          I am glad you liked my door example. Today, when I got sad all of sudden from nowhere and did the same habit of thinking, “if I didn’t do/say this, then… maybe…” I told myself to go check that door and make sure all is locked and there are no cracks in the door with the wind going through. Helped.

          “The Road Less Traveled” by Robert Frost! Or isn’t it “The Road Not Taken” – I don’t remember now. I wrote an essay on this poem in one of my classes long time ago. So many interpretations to this wise and insightful peace. So much encompassed in one short poem.

          • Mike from Oztralia says:

            Sofia, thanks for your comments.

            I’ve been reflecting so much more on this post and discussion – I can see more clearly how both my sense of damaged pride and a sense I was entitled to something influenced my thinking. BR is like that stern talking friend that says “snap out it!”

            I talked to a great female friend today, a much older woman and she spoke to me about her life experiences and the choices people make. She helped me get some more perspective. I felt ready for a deeper commitment, this person was not ready. Not at this point of their life.

            So I decided to change my thinking. I’m letting my ex-gf (U) go with love. Yes, love. I could do no more. I tried, I loved. I was open and honest in what I wanted in a relationship. I risked my heart. I will risk my heart again in the future… But it will be a wiser heart. I’m not going to swallow any more regret, sorrow, pain etc. in the end I was being reduced to justifying the relationship and myself. That’s not love, that’s not acceptance. That’s not what I want or deserve. None of us do.

            The path or road I’m taking is for me to heal and work out where I want my life to go. All that furious thinking and energy I’m capable of has to be directed where it is most needed: on me!

            The poem is by Frost. It’s meaning for me is all the more clearer I think, especially now:

            The road not taken

            Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
            And sorry I could not travel both
            And be one traveler, long I stood
            And looked down one as far as I could
            To where it bent in the undergrowth;

            Then took the other, as just as fair,
            And having perhaps the better claim
            Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
            Though as for that the passing there
            Had worn them really about the same,

            And both that morning equally lay
            In leaves no step had trodden black.
            Oh, I kept the first for another day!
            Yet knowing how way leads on to way
            I doubted if I should ever come back.

            I shall be telling this with a sigh
            Somewhere ages and ages hence:
            Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
            I took the one less traveled by,
            And that has made all the difference.

            • Sofia says:

              Mike, you are a very wise and caring person.

              I love this poem.

              See, I tried doing that too on and off through my healing progression (we are on the same schedule). I decided to let him go with love and forgiveness. That didn’t last for more than two days. Longing and missing him and why and what ifs, could haves came back. Just recently I wrote about my shut door and “done, over.” Guess what, in the last two days I have been back to what seems like first 3 weeks after breakup. I madly want to text him and bargain and even (oh shame on me to admit that but I will to just get over it) say let’s have a casual relationship because I don’t care anymore and I will be single for the rest of my life anyway. I was married before, I have a child. Why do I care. I am too used to living alone. All these things are true, but the main thing – I was BARGAINING again to have him on any terms rather than none. TERRIBLE. The best thing of course I didn’t act upon my crazy urges (driven by hormones too, I am sure). I texted couple good girlfriends and they said be strong, don’t text, don’t have sex, you will regret it very bad. So that sustained me for 2 days and now I am alone on Friday night and this board helps me tremendously. Tomorrow will be a busy day filled with errands and a party at night, so will be Sunday, very busy too. It’s just tonight has been so lonely.

              So, Mike, I know your feelings. Let go with love. I said that a lot , and I mean it too. Forgive and let go. I forgive him everything and wish him to be happy single or happy with someone, but unfortunately, I think you and I are still quite fresh in the healing process to truly mean it… I mean, I know you mean it, and I do too, but we are not ready yet. (Well, I hope you are of course!!) We haven’t processed everything, we haven’t healed. I know in your heart you care about her and wish her the best. I do too about my ex even though I call him EU, AC, you name it. He is not a bad person. I still trust nobody is. We just make mistakes, misjudgments, we are human. But I trust we all have a good heart in the long run. Or I hope so…

              So what I am trying to say, is when we are trying to shut the door, let them go with love, we work hard ourselves to let go, to get to that acceptance, but i notice that the time frame beats us. We can’t win YET. But we will. With time and OUR EFFORTS, we will eventually become indifferent and truly with a calm heart tell them, ” I let you go with love and forgiveness.” I can repeat this a lot now but it falls on my deaf ears. Sigh… We need more time… But it’s okay. I trust the process. I work hard. I try.

              • lizzp says:

                Sofia, I read some your comments now and then and get the impression you are a big reader. I guess you have more than enough to go on, but your comment here about letting go with love and forgiveness immediately made me think of Nat’s article:
                by NATALIE (NML) on JANUARY 20, 2014.

                • Sofia says:

                  Lizzp, exactly! That’s why this didn’t work for me, loving-forgiving-letting go immediately. It will be the outcome when I am ready. Time and my readiness will allow myself to do it. I hurried at the first letting go. No, I need to process everything and keep in mind that the ultimate goal is letting go with love and forgiveness. Not now, not yet.

                  I will find this article. Thank you so much. Mike might want to read it too. We should not rush ourselves. I know we want to get rid of painful emotions, but we are not saints… We need to boil in rage, anger, and sadness a bit more before it is all processed. Sigh… I will just go with the flow yet keeping my goal in mind. I truly believe now, time will fix and heal it all. Last two days I was obsessed about him. 4 days before I “moved on.” Today I am indifferent about him. My hope is with time, and it’s natural I see now, because your heart heals a bit with each day, those painful days will become less and less. And indifference to them will be every day eventually. I believe in it. We just have to be patient with ourselves. And it’s hard.

                  Lizzp, I am a big reader, you are right. Thank you:)

                  • Mike from Oztralia says:

                    Thanks for the article reference re forgiveness too early it’s has some good points!

                    Perhaps the better word is acceptance of the situation.

                • Sofia says:

                  lizzp, thank you for the article suggestion. I found it and read it. Exactly what I needed! I am not ready to let go until I am through with all the feelings. Then I can let go. Letting go right now at this stage is fooling oneself. It’s hurrying the grieving process thinking we can end it ourselves and stop experiencing pain. It doesn’t work like that I think. You have to experience it all and naturally you will let go without even consciously thinking or burning letters etc. I believe it will come when it’s due. All I can do right now is work on myself and know there is the light at the end of the tunnel.

              • Mike from Oztralia says:

                Sofia, thanks again for your kind words. Re lettig go with love – its still not easy, and takes time to release all the feeelings – good and bad – that comes.

                My own experience teaches me it is not a linear process. Yes, there are times still when I think “If only…” and “Maybe if I reached out…”

                I find the times of acceptance, and feeling OK about it increase in duration. It’s a bit like the withdrawl process.

                Yep, it is still fresh and the healing process continues.

                Compunding things for me is a back injury. Yep, A month after the split I hurt my back (slipped disc) It is healing but it’s been months of dealing with the split and the back injury.

                It can keep me awake at night, which I know impacts my own grief process. Trust me when I say there have been some looooooooong nights.

                Healing takes time. This moment of my life has tested me more so than others. But I get up, I try. I work hard.

                But even now,I’m experiencing sunny moments – when hope and optimism burst through: “I’m OK, I’m thinking about the future – I trust myself, and I know the future will be OK.”

                • Sofia says:

                  Mike, I am sorry to hear about your back injury:( I certainly see how this trial adds to your healing process. You are losing good night sleep and sleep is already precious and limited during the first months after the breakup. I hope you are taking medicine that helps you to relieve the pain.

                  For sleep I am taking GABA supplements and take valerian root drops. They help I think. Sleep is crucial because without it we are vulnerable and anxious even more than we need to be already. I hope your back will heal soon.

                  I could write the words you wrote! Exactly – I feel like the duration of misery days (although still intense at times) is decreasing, slowly but surely. And the duration days with good feelings or even with indifference to him is increasing. I can definitely relate to what you are saying. I already had some brief short moments of acceptance but I recognize that tomorrow I might feel sad all over again, but now I am not afraid, I know I can cope and it won’t last forever.

                  We will let go eventually, I know it! We just need a bit more time.

                  Oh yes, I so now it, “Maybe if I reach out to him and tell him that let’s start from a zero. I am not the same anymore.” I quickly stop myself, “Am I bargaining again? Do I even need him myself? ” I will never trust him after what he did to me. Besides the breakup there was something else I wrote in other posts back in February about what he did. It was a betrayal on the level that has affected my life for good. I don’t feel like bringing it up here, but it devastated me thoroughly. I am never the same person again. But all for the better though.

    • Noquay says:

      No more
      Be kind to yourself; three months is not long at all, especially in weird situations where you never knew where you stood. Relationshits where there was lots of ambiguity are often far harder to get over. You got some take away lessons; avoid men like your dad, and don’t overgive.

      • Catherine says:

        LOL @ relationshits! That’s funny! You’re right though, the ambiguous ones are the hardest to get over. There’s something about the unresolved relationship that is particularly haunting. I get very annoyed with myself when I can’t let go of these kinds of things, but eventually I do get over them.

      • Sofia says:

        Noquay, I agree. Mine was ambiguous too. I never truly knew where I stood. It was good then not so good. You never know in a relationship like this. So that’s why it is so confusing to figure all out. My divorce was not even close to the pain and feeling of loss as my breakup. Because we separated fairly amicably and knew where we stood. Painful but clear.

    • Mike from Oztralia says:


      Grief has it’s own timetable, but you can help it with some simple activities:

      - talking to friends and family and socialising (don’t try and talk about the old relationship all the time)
      - get active, walk… look after yourself
      - read and re-read posts on BR that help
      - find a way to make your mind busy with a new project/creative outlet
      - letter writing for yourself

      Depression – the sadness – is among the last phases of grief before transitioning to full acceptance (not that it is a strictly linear process).

      Once the shock, denial, bargaining and anger wear off you’ll be left with that inevitable sadness. I feel this at present. It is that dull ache, and sense of something missing.

      That is only normal and this can often be the *hardest* part of the process. Nat’s book as a good chapter on the stages of grief and what to expect.

      It is especially hard if you turn on yourself, and blame yourself for everything.

      Some quotes:

      “You may feel so much pain at the loss of the relationship or still feel like you’re drawn to them even if you’re not acting upon it and it may feel depressing because you really wish you didn’t feel like this…”


      “This feeling can be especially difficult to deal with if on the face of it you recognise how toxic this person was and yet you still feel drawn to them. You may end up feeling a great deal of blame and share…:


      ” I should add that sometimes the whole thinking about them is actually habit, not any reals sign of the feeling towards this person!”


      “I is totally OK to have down times whether they last a day, a few days, or even a few weeks. These feelings and thoughts are about you processing the loss on a deeper level and if it didn’t hit you at some point you would be missing an important part of the grieving… If your relationship was a lengthy one or quite traumatic, it may take months to work through – but you will get there…”

      • no_more says:


        Just read these quotes for the umpteenth time and they are resonating deeply. Thank you.

      • Sofia says:

        Mike, great quotes. I can use each one of them.

        I am too in the depression stage, and I do hope I won’t continue/go back to the madness of blaming myself as I did during the entire first 2 months post breakup. I thought I was not good enough, not this enough, not that enough. Said wrong things, was too needy, insecure, etc, etc, etc. I keep reminding myself that I know I am not insecure, needy, and fearful. I am self-sufficient and independent and not scared to be alone and single. When the person I was with was into me and the relationship, like the person I had been married and the person I dated after my marriage, there were no reasons to feel insecure, needy or fearful. You are loved and cared for by this person, who is fully present in your life and they desire to share their lives with you. So when we blame ourselves for something, we need to stop and think very carefully why exactly we think we ALONE contributed to the demise of the relationship. Think about what they did, how they acted, what they said and what made us do for what we are blaming ourselves. I struggled with self-guilt and self-blaming so long. I am getting better. Much better. Self-blame diminishes with letting go. I suspect it will be gone once the healing is over and clarity will reign.

        One of the quotes is about a formed habit thinking of them. Exactly what I wrote in one of the earlier posts in this thread. That’s when I decided I am going too far and becoming obsessive. You have to intervene and help yourself. Time will heal and everyone has his/her timing. Yet we can try helping ourselves. It’s not pushing or pressuring ourselves, no, I disagree with that. That would be intervention with a natural grief process. I mean that by controlling the process we self-protect ourselves. We are own doctors trying to help ourselves while the medicine (time) is doing its thing. Think about it as a body recovering from a car wreck, let’s say. Just imagine your body is immobile, but the doctor says, you will heal with time and can use your limbs, brain and everything again. The doctor says, maybe it will take a year or so, but meanwhile, you can try move fingers, hands, legs. Make your own efforts to help the time and it will make a difference. It will heal faster. I am oversimplifying perhaps, but this is an idea that just came to my mind.

        Well described depression feeling. Dull ache. Sometimes it hurts a lot like something is being removed from the soul and heart, I physically feel it still, but the pain is not even near what it was in the first 3 horrible weeks when I felt like my heart is literally being cut to pieces.

        Time does help. I see the difference from even 3 weeks ago. I feel much better. It’s okay if I have sad days again, I am not afraid. But seeing how the process develops I do believe it will get only better from now on. For all of us. Patience, belief in yourself, care for yourself, protection for yourself – these will all pay off very soon.

        Hugs to everyone.

  25. oona says:

    It depends on whether you truthfully feel that you have had enough pain or not…. and as a result finally place protective loving boundaries for yourself rather than expecting others to provide and instigate them for you.
    I suggest writing your own boundaries out in ink – a shopping list of behaviours you expect from people (think of how you expect yourself to behave towards others is a clue) – it kind of makes them more real and remembered when they are in writing somehow – and add to them when you learn new ones… good luck! it will heal if you give yourself the love he/they didn’t give. Everytime you think of him/they literally tell them to ‘stop’ and ‘go away’ and make yourself refocus on you! All the things that you need to do to give love to yourself – good food, health, a nice bath, your own choice of music, film, nail varnish, work hard on something, a chat with a friend, a good cry, meditations on your own feelings, writing out your own feelings, comedy – whatever you can think of that is healthy, positive and good for you only – do it. Do not allow yourself to do things you know will make you feel worse – for me its staying up to late, or not going out and meeting/ talking to new people…and on that note I’m off to bed and will check my…:-) Good luck everyone…

    • Sofia says:

      oona, I so agree with you. Whenever we start thinking of them – stop, and revert the attention to you. Although I wondered this week: When we decide to let go, how do we balance the fact that we still need time to grieve? I am trying to figure out what is the balance? I don’t want to shut down the grieving process because that would be wrong. Yet maybe if I am ready to move on, and I have grieved enough, shouldn’t I move on? How do I know? Because it’s not a linear process and everyone has his/her schedule, when does one know you are done healing? I have a feeling once you are indifferent to them, you are done. I am not indifferent yet. Far from it. But a huge progress. I answered my own question.

      Such a great point about living your life. I just realized and caught myself thinking that I have been living a full life recently. By that, I don’t mean I did something different. It means I am aware of my actions and existence now. I feel fully everything I am doing and making the best out of it. It struck today that I must be . . . starting loving myself for the first time in my life and having a relationship WITH ME!!!! It is an exciting realization for someone who never really loved oneself.

      Back to the topic of the article. One thing I think we are entitled to is to be responsible and caring and loving toward ourselves. By “entitlement” I rather mean responsibility. But it is entitlement too. We are really the only ones who have this duty and privilege as well: to take care of ourselves. Because no one else will and we should not expect that anybody should. Like my daughter said very wisely, “There is no such a thing as a prince on a white horse.” In other words, take care of yourself and love yourself before anybody will.

  26. Mike from Oztralia says:

    This is a great discussion, and following on from the comments by Nigella, Demke, Mymble and Laura I thought I’d share my reflections.

    At the heart of the question is “What constitutes reasonable standards of behaviour in a relationship?”

    What are healthy boundaries, and what are inflexible rules? Sometimes it can be easy to determine, and at others the line is appears grey. Navigating the later is a challenge for any couple or individual.

    All I would say if you feel uncomfortable then speak to your partner in a respectful way. But make it clear what feels like a boundary crossing.

    My former GF (“U” for Miss Unavailable) was all about protecting her own boundaries (which in retrospect were impossible barriers), but at the same time all about pushing and bursting other peoples (including mine).

    An attractive and vivacious women, I had no issue with the fact she was sociable and lively. “Good on you!” was my response.

    We spoke about this topic, and she stated sometimes in the past women friends and former partners would get jealous or threatened by what she called her “country girl friendliness”. My response was to say “Well of course I trust you!” We’re in a monogamous relationship, with a clear understanding of what that entails. QED I wasn’t going to get myself worked up about the fact she’d readily chat to anybody.

    For me this changed dramatically a few months before our eventual split when I arrived one morning to pick her up for a planned day of forest/bush walking.

    There she was sitting out the front of a café with a neighbour or hers: a man who said only mentioned on two or three occasions and when she did so dismissed him as “a creep”. When they arrived I found them to be talking about his just recent split from his wife and baby daughter. As I stepped up to the table she went white. Her face froze. It was very clear she knew she had crossed boundary. Obviously this wasn’t the first time they’d been speaking. I’d not heard a word about it. I was furious. I couldn’t speak. The guy left quickly, and I was left feeling angry and confused. U and I got into the car and she apologised for “having to see that.” What did I do? Well I’m ashamed to say I didn’t say directly what I wanted to say. Hadn’t we discussed this kind of thing? I mean, shouldn’t I just trust her?

    I should have said “What the feck? Why are you engaged with this person like this? What is going on? I’m upset by this. You need to be completely honest.” That was perhaps the worst people-pleasing moment of the relationship for me.

    Shamefully I readily accepted her excuses far too easily. It’s not that I wanted to scream or yell, or punish U for her actions. I should have stated clearly it was an issue, and my concerns were legitimate. Then in the last weeks of the relationship I watched her openly flirt with other men. It was a cruel act of relationship sabotage that left me stunned, confused and shattered. It has taken me months to process what happened, and no longer feel as though it was my fault for not being good looking enough/hipster enough/cool enough. My anger has subsided.

    It was that moment at the café and those later boundary transgressions which informed my decision to end things.

    A core value, or boundary, of mine is respecting others. U clearly could not. Therefore I deserve better – so much better.

    I no longer felt “safe” with U. And that is the most important boundary to protect. Do I feel loved, respected and safe with the person I’m with? If not – time to let it go no matter how painful it is in the short term.

    I’m sure Nat and others reading this episode are slapping their foreheads in disbelief. Love and hope can be blind.

    I expected to be treated in the same way I treated U. This was a person inacapable of such behaviour.

    I carry the memory of these experiences not to torture myself but as a reminder of what I will not tolerate in the future. It is a lesson once learned I hope never to forget.

  27. Pamela says:

    Oh my Natalie! You pulled the covers off of old beliefs that even today were hidden deep in my mind. Yes, bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. So that leaves me with a choice to do something from my heart and not because of the reward.

    The entitled subject is equally revealing. Because I fell in love with him am I “entitled” to have my love reciprocated? No. In the past if the man I loved did not return my love, instead of walking away like someone with dignity, I kept disgracing myself by trying to be “good enough” so he would love me. This was not a pretty story.

    Thank you so much!

  28. Allison says:

    No More,

    Oh, Hon that sounds awful. You were definitely strung along.

    Regarding the pain, I think it is individual. You were together some time, and it will take a while to move forward and trust. The thing that helped me, was seeing my part in the situation, and looking at any patterns that were present – choosing unavailable men because I was scared of having areal relationship. If I had keyed into the actions, and stopped making excuses, I would have been out much sooner. Bad on me.

    No, learn from this painful situation because in time it will be a gift, and will have a positive impact in every aspect of your life.


    • no_more says:

      Allison, Sofia…everyone,

      It is funny. I just received a text message from the Ex AC MM EUM and IE- “idiot extraordinaire”. After over 3 months NC..He just shot me a text (lazy)..saying he loved me, he misses me, I’m his everything, and ending with ‘I’m sorry, your ______ xxx’.

      Never thought I’d get that. And instead of thinking, wow! Here it is – what I have been entitled to, what he SHOULD have done months ago- I found myself annoyed. My first reaction!! It is the middle of the night- how rude and selfish of him. My mind flashed back to my nights, days and weeks of despair, sadness, ambiguities and anger.

      I am not churning with anxiety. I shut my phone off. I assessed my feelings. I felt slightly “validated”, but what I felt next is as I type, a bit shocking to me: I felt kinda pissed off that this idiot thinks I am going to JUMP at a measly text message! How dare he?! And then, I felt nothing. No need to respond, jump, get upset. It’s OVER!

      I re-read a few of NML’ s posts. I re-read what a lot of you have written. I could respond. But I am NOT GOING TO DO THAT. I’m going to get on with me loving me. That’s all that matters.

      I guess I didn’t think I have that thing- self-esteem. But I do! When it came along- I not sure, but there it is for the most part.

      Just wanted to share, say thanks, and I am going back to bed.


      • hand_turkey says:

        GOOD! These EUM want you -NEED you- when you’re gone because they think of you as their supply, which they are needy for. Oh, they do hurt when they sense you’ve finally had enough and they – gasp – can’t control you!

        • Sofia says:

          Also, these EUMs are so good at acting like you are really not that important and are not their supply for their ego (when you are together). They do show only once we are gone. I have two ACs from 6-8 years ago and one ACE – AC Extraiordinaire (haha, new term now) – ACE at being AC – he keeps texting me consistently even though I never respond. These people are so needy of attention. Much worse than us. We are at least working on our issues and improving ourselves. These people just keep rolling in their dirt.

        • no_more says:


          “-gasp- can’t control you”…Lol..I like that! So true!

      • Sofia says:

        no_more, you are amazing! I should be learning from you! You have a great self-esteem! The best part I like is that you felt annoyed that he texted you that lazy message in the middle of the night. (yes, buzzed, horny, lonely, or all combined). Slightly validated is ok feeling, that’s normal. We all do. It’s a part of human nature. Being flattered by someone we USED to care about. But the best part is that you felt annoyed. Knowing that I can tell that you are OVER HIM. I was not annoyed when my EU emailed me two weeks ago. My heart jumped out of excitement that he “cares” about me to check on me. (while all it was was a need for ego stroke that he is not an ass). Oh I wish I were indifferent!!!! I certainly hope I will be the next time he checks on me to caress his ego that he is a good guy, checking on me. And I hope I will be indifferent whether he does or doesn’t contact me by the time I think he will (in couple months I am thinking).

        You turned off your phone, read Nat’s articles, wrote here. You are doing a wonderful job. I need to take an example from you. You do love and respect yourself. Don’t even doubt it.

        Wow, this gives me such a kick in my bottom that I need to stop wallowing and love myself. I just lost myself in the 2 last days wanting to be with him again. Loving yourself and valuing yourself is truly a key in the recovery process over ACs and EUs. Yours is horrible. What he wrote to you makes me puke. He sounds like a selfish, spoilt, immature young man. Not sure how old he is but he sounds like a teenager. I do remember he has kids and he is married of course. He didn’t appreciate you. He misses being loved by you. He misses your admiration and passion for his sorry ass. I am really mad that any mature adult can text such messages in the middle of the night. That’s just high school. Actually middle school. Cheap, sleazy, disrespectful (to himself as well, does he realize he makes himself a pathetic clown).

        Great job, no_more. Please do always come back and share as much as you need. We will support you.

        How dare he!

        I am so happy for you, you haven’t responded! There is nothing to say, no_more, except for obscene words, which you don’t want to waste your time and energy and your phone battery on him.

        Idiot Extraordinaire INDEED. I love this new abbreviation. We need to add it to our dictionary.

        • no_more says:


          Thank you. Your encouragement means a lot.

          You strike me as a sweet, sincere and thoughtful person. Do you recognize that about yourself? Your replies to other posters is so kind, and I hope you see you DESERVE that in your relationships as well!

          I think, and I certainly don’t presume to be an expert, that most everyone who seeks answers here knows, on some level, they don’t want to keep getting kicked over and over. I know I don’t. Stop letting yourself get kicked. It’s getting easier for me, that’s all. And it will for you, too.

          Having said that, today I spent some childish mental time composing UNSENT replies to the Ex AC, which went along the lines of: “Who IS this?”, and “Jog on you tosser”, to “A text, after THREE months-really? You dingleberry”.

          I still have some residual anger. Which is okay. I will sift through it and keep on working on ME.

          For all I know, that text could have been sent by his wife, who loves to play games. He could have sat there and helped her compose it, because they have an odd, love-hate thing. Who knows? Who cares- that’s their weird dynamic, and I’m out. Thank God.

          He wasn’t a horrible man. He is 48, funny, handsome and a good dad. He also is completely selfish, a cheater and needs constant reassuring. Again, I’m out.

          Take care Sofia, you are lovely. xx

          • Sofia says:

            no_more, you are so sweet. Thank you for your kind words.

            It’s ok, be angry. It’s good you have anger. It means you are healing and the process is working. It has been 3 months, so of course it’s natural to feel that way. Yes, I mentally wrote a lot of letters to my ex EU too.

            His wife could have written that message? Wow, they definitely have some weird dynamic in their relationship.

            You know there will be a day, you and I will come back on the Board to read our old posts and gasp, “Wow, how could I love that jerk and give him so much of my energy, attention, mental space???!!!” There will be a time when we will be indifferent to them. When it won’t bother us if they contact us. When maybe we would even meet them for a drink while our pulse still says the same. Actually I think when I am at that point, I wouldn’t even care meeting him. Why? He was never my friend, why would I want to meet him when my feelings are dead for him.

            We will get there, I know it! I am so excited to just imagine the days I am free from him, physically and emotionally. It might happen much sooner than we think. And that gives me hope too.

            There are good and bad days. Good days will become more frequent and bad days will diminish. Time does miracles.

            Mine was not a horrible person either. Responsible, hard worker, dedicated (to his job and friends and family, not to me), reliable (if something that needs to be done suits his or/and under his terms). Then there are bad things: no empathy, selfish, maybe a liar (still haven’t figured that out), maybe a cheater (not sure and don’t care anymore), and non-committal, immature.

            Think about this, “Can you imagine to grow old with this person? To live with him until the end of your days?” He told me he doesn’t see me in this role even BEFORE the breakup. he was flip flapping though. He would say this, and next month or so he would say, I am not sure yet. What I know for sure now that my rose-tinted glasses are in the garbage, I don’t want him as my husband. I am so lucky he is out of my life. I recognize it now during my good days. I know I will fully perceive it once I am healed and indifferent to him. This person could not be possibly my husband. And that’s why he never will be!

          • LovefromNel says:

            Hi no_more and Sophia,

            I hope you don’t mind me popping my head into this conversation.

            I spend mental time composing both unsent replies AND an in-person encounter. The latter involves throw-away lines such as: “you really don’t know what I think about you” or “F*ck off, you f*cktard” or “I have absolutely nothing to say to you” – amongst other lines!

            Like you, the EUM wasn’t not a totally bad person either. But he was a selfish control-freak with no empathy. I’m out too.

            Best wishes to you both.


            • Sofia says:

              LovefromNel, I love your lines. And the best part when we are indifferent to them, we won’t even care to say those lines or any others. That gives me such empowerment just to think of the time I will think, “I don’t need to see him. There is nothing to say to him.”

              Also, all the suffering and growth that we have been post breakup should give us strength and empowerment too. We have been through a life transforming event. Otherwise we would have not been here, reading, writing, buying books, spending money on counselors, turning to religion and you name it. To me it is a life changing event, and I am actually glad he came into my life. When I have calm days like today I look at it from another perspective, and see that he was my last straw that influenced the change in my life I am undergoing now.

              Yes, my EUM was not a bad person. It’s just he was not there 100%. Maybe 60% of the time. A bit more than a half. I hear so many people mention that these EUMs seem to have no empathy. It seems to be a common problem. I thought it maybe because men, generally, I don’t want to generalize, but men are not very good at expressing their emotions like women are. However, empathy is not even about expressing emotions. It is also how one conveys oneself in a conversation. What he says in response to yours or someone’s else concern. He doesn’t have to be all teary and huggy and cuddly to empathize, like women can. It’s about how he supports and reacts to what you say. When I wanted support, encouragement, a good ear to listen to me, he would always diminish the importance or significance of anything I had to say. I was labeled either too negative or optimistic or too much of a worrier. Eventually I started policing myself most of what I said because i knew he would say something critical in response. I have never met such an unempathatic person in my life. Not saying he is mean or cruel, but it’s like he keeps his emotions out of the picture, so that he won’t get involved or responsible or a part of anything. I think I explained my own question or commented to myself. Exactly, it makes sense: they lack empathy skills and that correlates very well with being non-committed because that way you stay out of it half-way. You don’t have to invest yourself into anything or anybody; therefore you can’t open up and shouldn’t open up yourself, put your walls high, don’t let the person into your life. Only as enough as needed, for a night out, for a night together, few hours here, few hours there. Anything beyond that? No way. That’s letting someone in too closely and therefore letting your guard down. I see how it works. Very simple actually. No emotions – no attachment – no commitment.

            • no_more says:

              Thank you Nel! Best wishes to you as well.


              My last post on this so as to keep on topic.

              You say he told you he did not see you in the role as his wife BEFORE the break up. He demeaned you, made you feel bad, and sounds like, to some extent, while acting like someone who needs to be told to go change the straw in his kennel, he also showed BY HIS ACTIONS, it wasn’t going to have a happy ending.

              My exAC – told me he wanted to marry me, he sent flowers, was VERY respectful about calling, sending poems, telling me he loved me ALL the time, but his ACTIONS were about not finalizing his divorce. In three years! Well, so be it.

              Did I see myself marrying him? Yes. I visualized it. I planned on it. But now I don’t. It is about me. I’ve quit making it about him.

              Please stop worrying about the days you are free from HIM. About being indifferent to HIM. About
              HIM being your husband. About HIM! HIM! HIM!

              He’s a tosser. You are not! Keep reading these posts from NML and these great people and focus on YOU!!! Put YOU back into the equation.


              • Sofia says:

                no_more, he said he doesn’t see me as his wife during the breakup (hence the reason for the breakup because he didn’t want to commit to me), but it doesn’t matter. Means he didn’t see me as one before the breakup as well.

                I can’t imagine how it would break my heart even more, if possible, when someone promises you all the things and “acts” like he loves you. Yours was AC indeed! Yes, his true action or rather lack of action showed.

                You are right. Too much focus on him. I noticed that. I have to turn it back to myself. And there are more and more days that I do that! I am happy to notice this change.

                Reading your story and others, I am wondering, how it is ever possible to trust anyone again ever? Even those who are not abusers, act nicely, predictably, like yours and mine did, yet they don’t deliver in the end and we kept waiting and waiting. I thought today that maybe I should consciously decide to be single unless someone drops from the sky. I can’t imagine doing online dating, bar pickups, blind dating, doing meetup groups, trying and searching and trying like I did for 8 years on and off during my singledom. I feel I am completely done and want to have a relationship with myself finally for the first time in my life.

                Hugs to you too. You are very strong. You are encouraging me!

  29. Lilia says:


    The thing that ocurred to me while reading your example is asking the boyfriend something like What am I supposed to do alone in your flat while you´re away?
    You know, instead of This makes me feel disrespected and disappointed because you said we were going to be together all the time, etc.
    Keep it simple and to the point.

    I can imagine feeling a bit confused if I had to stay in someone´s house by my own, especially if I didn´t count on it. I´d feel like some sort of blow-up doll that he can store in the closet when he has something else to do, and take out again when he comes back. But then, there´s no need to feel disrespected if you express how you feel about this situation (being left alone in his flat). Do you see where I´m getting at?

    I´m thinking you felt so disrespected simply because you didn´t adress the problem immediately – that you felt uncomfortable being left alone in his house. If you had told him this, it wouldn´t have been your problem to swallow on your own, it would be his too. Perhaps you could´ve reached some compromise. You could´ve gone with him, or invited the friend over. Or perhaps you could´ve gone shopping or visiting your grandma/best friend/whomever or even gone to your own place while he was away. The thing is, there are lots of solutions when you decide to acknowledge your own feelings and express them. This is probably the only thing we are entitled to – to take care of our feelings and to feel free to express them. And I think most people won´t ask you how you feel about things – you have to tell them yourself.

    • Nigella says:


      Thanks for your thoughtful response. Yes I made the mistake of not speaking my mind the first time he left me at his apartment. I think it is unfair & unproductive to expect people to read our minds or feelings.

      Later on I did express my feelings to him in response to some of his snide comments and distancing acts. Though he led me to think that he empathized with me and wanted to continue our relationship, he pulled the slow fade for a week, disappeared for ten days, and dumped me through email. Unlike me, he had no interest in bridging our differences or admitting any issues or looking for solutions. Instead of expressing his true feelings or resolving things together, he preferred to end our relationship.

      It is beyond my control whether or not someone chooses to share their concerns or feelings with me. That is entirely their own choice. I can at best ask them questions to gain a better understanding of them. But they can still choose not to open up to me. This is possible. It happens – no need to blame myself if they choose to be uncommunicative. Nevertheless, I plan on taking things a lot slower next time I date someone and hope to do a better job of expressing my own feelings & expectations to them. I’ll make sure I don’t suffer in self-imposed silence.

      • ljsrmissy says:


        While we cant expect men to be mind readers, I don’t think you made the ‘mistake’ of not voicing your concerns when he left you in his home to pretend to tend to his buddy. Something’s go without saying! It is not a read my mind thing, its a decency thing! The issue isn’t that you didn’t say anything, the issue is that he left you after agreeing to spend that time together in the first place.
        “Instead of expressing his true feelings”… He did…when he walked away from you.
        “or resolving things together”…Because resolution to HIM was moving on.
        Nothing you would have said or done was going to change the outcome. You two weren’t on the same sheet of music as far as the dating situation/relationship went and if anything, you deserved to know that. That way you can make room for the man who WANTS the same thing as you WITH YOU. Plus who wants a guy who you gotta pull teeth to share his feelings? Better yet, who wants a guy whom you have to GUESS and WONDER how he feels for you?

        • Nigella says:


          Thank you very much for this reply: “The issue isn’t that you didn’t say anything, the issue is that he left you after agreeing to spend that time together in the first place.” Old habits die hard: as usual I slip into expecting perfection from myself. Even if I had spoken my mind, he could have *silently* branded me as another “clingy” & “needy” woman akin to his former gfs. If someone is feigning commitment & interest, then no amount of reasoning or talking to them is going to help.

          Like you say, “Nothing you would have said or done was going to change the outcome”. If the ex actually cherished me as he said he did, he could have tried to share his feelings and resolve any concerns. But he did not because he did not care to continue the relationship with me – someone unwilling to play second-fiddle to him or act as his doormat. I accept this truth. I fell for illusions about him, not the real him. Yes, he did not beat me up or abuse me. Still, there is no way I could *love* someone capable of treating me as unkindly and coldly as he did.

          I am not a dentist, and have no interest in pulling teeth, literally or figuratively. So yes, I’ll make sure to focus not just on the words but also on the actions of the person. I’m grateful for the lessons I got to learn as a result of the epiphany relationship. I’m glad I’ll never be who I was last year – a gullible fool looking for love in the wrong place.

          Never again.

          • ljsrmissy says:

            My mom always said that ‘brought sense is the best kind’ and that is definitely true! Whenever I respond to a woman on BR, I am always responding to myself as well!! My ahem, ‘candy shop’ has been closed for over six years now. It wasn’t something that I planned, but something that just happened and I plan to keep it up until my wedding night. I know one thing, I am happy as hell that I made that choice! I think so much of this has to do with the way we are socialized as women as well as our very natures as women. But I had to learn how to temper what comes pretty natural to me as well as other women. Being OVER empathetic, and OVER ‘understanding’ had to go out of the door. It is simply not viable in this day and time, even for a woman. I decided that I wasn’t going to allow my mind, my time, my energy, and my coochie lol to be misused again. That includes continuing to share energy with a guy who continually says this or that but I never see the ‘receipts’ for any of his words. A lot of guys know that they can get whatever they want from a woman just by saying they are going to do this or that. Enough of us women are not making these guys show us the receipts. I am not here for that! See guys will already know that they have no intentions an a relationship, dating, committing, or advancing anything with us….BUT to them, that doesn’t mean that him, his ego, his empty wallet, and his penis don’t have a job for us. As douchey as these AC’s are, it is not our fault that we lacked the lady balls to honor our worth and what we truly desire in a relationship. If we don’t set our ‘price’ for our time, energy, and bodies, then are we surprised when others try to give us a little as possible? I have also come to learn that people are going to be who they are, not who we are! It is not our job to change a mans already made up heart, mind, and intentions towards us, whatever they may be. Its not our job to convince to uninterested man to be interested, a dishonest man to be dishonest, a secretive man to open up, a philandering man to respect our relationship. These are a part of these guys CHARACTER. It is not our job to change his character. HE IS NOT OUR JOB. These guys show up how they show up and they figure if you are still around, still sleeping with him, cooking for him, playing counselor, cheerleader, and emotional airbag, he figures you are fine enough with what is going on. A guy has a right to his truth. If his truth is that he does not want a commitment with any women in general our a woman in particular he has a right to that truth. He however does not have a right to our mind, time, energy, and bodies. That is something we are strictly the gate keepers of.

            • Nigella says:


              You are so funny & forthright. Thanks for depositing “coochie” into my bank of words. Had to look up what it means. Laughing as I type this out. If anyone, I should know that the devil is in the details, and conducting due diligence is crucial before investing in something or something – and that, as you say, reviewing the “receipts” is important rather than purchasing illusions.

              I cannot undo the past. Just as I was beginning to realize that the numbers are not adding up – that he is promising to invest 100% into the relationship yet the balance shows he is putting in no more than 50% – then he dropped off the face of the earth. Mistakenly, I inflated & overvalued his worth in my life based on how gloriously he treated my coochie. Even sizeable deposits into the coochie account do not make up for deficits in other areas of the relationship.

              Next time, I’ll take better stock of things and ensure the coochie does not cloud my critical-thinking, account-keeping skills. So I agree with you: my job is not to convince someone to value me or invest in me. My job is to be *accountable* to myself for whatever I give or take from someone. My job is to ensure I’m not selling myself short. If the return on my investments falls short of my expectations, then I’ll fold the account.

              Thanks to Natalie the Great, I learned this life-changing lesson last year. I think of her writings – and helpful responses of BR posters – as assets enriching my life. Thanks to these assets, I’m no longer a poorly-informed investor setting herself up for losses in personal relationships.

              • ljsrmissy says:


                I am a Black woman from the US and I keep forgetting Nat and BR are from overseas. I kind of figured that everyone wouldn’t know what coochie meant lol!!!!!!!!!!!

                “Even sizeable deposits into the coochie account do not make up for deficits in other areas of the relationship.” Ahhhhhh Ms. Nigella, we call that ‘dickmatized’ in our neck of the woods LOL… OK ok Let me stop!!

                For as much as I say or that we can say about men, on thing we can learn from them is how to separate sex and relationships. They are very good at differentiating between a woman who is a good lay and some one he wants a relationship with. A man can treat our lady parts like gold and we will want to fall in love with him. A woman can treat a man’s man parts good and he will want her to keep treating his man part’s good…not a relationship. A guy can enjoy the sex and that is all that he will want from that particular woman. Maybe women need to start differentiating between which man is a good mate material and which ones are for a good roll in the hay lol. I too have been a suck ass investor/Hiring manager of my dating life too. But it does not help one bit that the market is inundated by crappy candidates and women who are willing to let them show up only on payday. Women who are willing to pay them to just show up, they don’t even have to put in any work. Goodness. Nat is always right on the money! I am glad that you are able to autopsy and learn from your experience.

          • Lilia says:

            I think my input was taken out of context. I never implied there would´ve been a different outcome if Nigella voiced her feelings, I was just saying she would´ve felt better with HERSELF if she had taken the trouble to shed light on her situation. And if he was making her feel bad, it was in her right to express this and to at least make some fuss about it. We don´t want her to be a doormat and accept anything!

            Perhaps I was overly optimistic when I speculated that this guy could´ve found some way to accomodate her and his friend´s needs, but my point was that she doesn´t need to keep quiet, no matter what the outcome will be.

            Also, I wasn´t extending this particular incident to their whole relationship: even if he hadn´t left her alone in his flat, things could´ve gone astray, as they did. This guy is obviously the type that stomps over other people, and it is a good thing that Nigella is no longer with him. But when faced with this type of people, it is always better to defend ourselves, just because.

            • Nigella says:

              Ljsrmissy & Lilia,

              In case my tone or meaning was unclear earlier, let me clarify that I appreciate what each of you is advising. Ultimately, I don’t think you two are talking at cross purposes. For me it is possible to *synthesize* what each of you said. Both of you offer feedback so that I may be able to extract helpful lessons from the incident I recollected. Both of you do not deny that I had reasons for feeling confused & disrespected. No man has the right to treat his gf as a “blow-up doll” (Lilia said) or “agree” to “spend time together” and then suddenly leave her behind (Ljsrmissy said).

              The point of divergence in your responses is perhaps on the question of how I could have handled the situation I described. How I could have *responded* when he started to ignore me, left me behind, and pretended to forget our dinner plans?

              I agree with Lilia that had I spoken up right away, then I could have felt better about at least questioning his shady behavior instead of buying his excuse for having to leave. I also agree with Ljsrmissy that the real issue is that he left “after agreeing to spend that time together” and so I need not berate myself for “not voicing” my concerns or, even worse, blame myself for his behavior.

              Be assured, I have no intention of *unintentionally* acting like a doormat by (1) second-guessing or silencing myself or (2) demanding perfection from myself & blaming myself for how others behave. The situation I described, as I said earlier, is the first time he pulled a distancing act. If anything, I was confused & shocked – and did not understand what was going on. Later on, when similar behavior occurred, I voiced my concerns and, as time showed, he misled me through his words and inconsistent actions, blindsided me, and then bailed out through email.

              Lessons learned. Things are good now – and I can only see them getting better. Take care.

              • ljsrmissy says:


                I certainly don’t disagree with voicing ones displeasure at something or in this first incident in particular. I have been there in terms of not saying something because I was taken a back by a persons behavior. The place that I was coming from was from a place of knowing that even if you would have asked this guy straight up ‘whats the problem?’ or ‘are your feeling changing for me?” He wouldn’t do anything but waffle and lie or enact some other tactic of diversion to keep from being forthright. A guy will say everything is ok and then break up with you the next day. I don’t know why they wont be honest when asked directly right then and there, but they rarely are. That’s is the head space I was replying to you from not in opposition of lilia’s post.

              • ljsrmissy says:

                ” Later on, when similar behavior occurred, I voiced my concerns and, as time showed, he misled me through his words and inconsistent actions, blindsided me, and then bailed out through email.”

                On second thought I said in the prior post that I didn’t know why guys are not honest when a woman asks them straight up about ‘way to the left’ behaviors. They are not honest because they don’t want to have a conversation about it. Guys who are invested, committed, and in it for the long haul are not afraid to/are willing to challenge or discuss issues within the relationship. On the other hand, men who are not, they figure that if they express how they really feel, then we will be trying to ‘talk about it’, ‘talk it out’, trying to ‘save’ it, and begging, pleading, crying, trying to change ourselves ect; and they are not interested in all of that. Their minds are made up, they are over it, they are over us (if they were ever into us), they are ready to move on. That’s why, it think it is crucial that we know what we want and have the lady balls to let go of guys who don’t reflect that. Guys have no problem sitting with a woman, eating with a woman, sleeping with a woman for months and years and wont be no more connected to that woman than the day BEFORE be met her.

            • Nigella says:


              “Perhaps I was overly optimistic when I speculated that this guy could´ve found some way to accommodate her and his friend´s needs, but my point was that she doesn´t need to keep quiet.”

              Like you, I was “overly optimistic” in thinking that he and I could mutually find ways of spending time together as well as time apart. No matter how much I may like or love someone, I cannot see myself spending *all* my leisure time with one person. Before I dropped my knickers for EUM, he had led me to think that he likes to do things as a couple but also as separate individuals. Never again am I going to over-trust what people tell me in the early stages of dating. Take everything with a pinch of salt until their actions over a period of time compliment their words.

              Ultimately, as time showed, his intentions did not match his actions. For the first two months, he said things such as: “I hope you don’t think I’m being clingy by wanting to spend so much time with you.”
              Then, the distancing acts cropped up. I asked for clarification and, in his own words, his family members had told him that he is in the “habit of spreading himself thin”. Instead of focusing on a couple of things, he tries “to do too many different things at the same time”. He also admitted that in past relationships he was “not good at scheduling things – that is something to watch out for”, and that he “struggled to ask for personal space but now feels comfortable *asking* for time apart”. In response to such comments, I assured him: “Let me know when you want to be with me. I don’t expect you to spend all your time with me. Your friends are a big part of your life – I understand. But I’m unsure if this means you have to cancel or suddenly change plans with me.” His reply: “Of course not. I want to be with you. It’s just about prioritizing things & not spreading myself thin. Trust me, if I didn’t have to attend to other things, I’d want to spend all my time with you.”

              Naively, I gobbled up his sugary crumbs. Instead of admitting he doesn’t want to continue our relationship, he fed me reassuring lies in person. Then, he disappeared for good. This chap epitomized passive aggressive behavior: saying one thing, thinking another, doing something else. Such a fragmented creature. Oh well, I know I need the actions & words of a person to be *consistent* and *congruent* before I invest heavily in them. Since people unfold, it takes time to figure this out.

              Ultimately it was not a conflict between my needs & the needs of his friends that he had to address. If anything, he uses his friends as an excuse for distancing himself from committing to a gf. Until he addresses his own fears, insecurities, negative thought patterns, and poor relationship habits, no one – expect for a doormat or EU person – can maintain a relationship with him.

            • ljsrmissy says:


              I know I personally was not take it that you felt there would have been a different outcome. Telling her that whether she said anything to him or not wouldn’t have changed the outcome was a part of my response to her.

              Buuut since we are on the subject… Its just my personal take that some things go without saying. For example, if a woman walks up to me right now and slaps me and calls me a name….do I REALLY need to tell that woman ‘you know it was not nice/hurtful that you walked up to me slapped me and called me a name’. NO I do not need to tell that woman that. SHE KNOWS that its a negative thing to do…THATS WHY SHE DID IT. Now about Nigella’s situations (and situations like hers including our own past or present). What to you really think she would get out of bringing the disrespectfulness of what he did up to him? HE KNEW THAT WASNT HOW TO TREAT A WOMAN YOU REALLY WANT TO BE WITH AND DONT WANT TO ‘SCREW IT UP’ WITH. That goes without saying. It would probably make her feel more pitiful if anything. To try and sit down and ‘talk’ to a man about respecting you and treating you like you matter is undignifying.

              I am just saying (not saying that you are insinuating this, this is just my take) Its not that she didn’t voice her opinions on being left, it was that he put her into a position where she felt she had to voice her opinion of being left. The issue wasn’t wanting or not wanting her to be a doormat and accept anything, the issue is that she was with a man that had it in his head, heart, and mind to run over her like a door mat and put out anything like choosing his buddy over her.

              But when faced with this type of people, it is always better to defend ourselves, just because.

              I definitely believe that about people at work or people who I am not particularly close to, barely known people, but I personally believe that If I have to take this defense stance against people that I am related to, acquainted with, friends with, let along sharing my body with, I don’t need them.

            • lizzp says:


              I got where you were coming from with your comment. Most of my deepest regrets around my last involvement with an emotionally unavailable man (18 months have since passed) centred in the end on my failure to speak or act on my truth in the moments where it was most integral for me – to stay with my self – when confronted by some of his words and actions.


              “I don’t think you made the ‘mistake’ of not voicing your concerns when he left you in his home to pretend to tend to his buddy. Something’s go without saying! It is not a read my mind thing, its a decency thing! The issue isn’t that you didn’t say anything, the issue is that he left you after agreeing to spend that time together in the first place.”

              I think there are two separate general issues here: (1) the issue of a person’s behaviour vs what might be termed ‘common decency’, and (2) the issue of expressing ourselves when we feel disrespected by some-ones behaviour towards us.

              I disagree with the idea that because some things are simply common human decency (which they are in the widest sense of consideration for the feelings of others and however this translates into action/behaviour) we need not explore the idea that now, in retrospect, we feel we were mistaken in not giving expression to our initial feeling of having been affronted. For some people being decent/considerate clearly does not “go without saying”. To feel mistaken re not speaking up in the face of what even common ‘decency’ might consider rude is not IMO…necessarily yet another…mistake! It can be about the regret of having let ourselves down rather than any futile thinking re changing the outcome of a relationship. We can learn from our mistakes as long as we do not dwell on them. We can understand too, and be compassionate with ourselves knowing that at that time we had lost touch with our own needs and feelings or did not have the self awareness, esteem or confidence to express them. Learn and then let go.

              • Nigella says:


                You are right: “this guy is obviously the type that stomps over other people” – and when he doesn’t get what he wants through his passive aggressive moves then he bails on them. Instead of openly asking people to give him what he wants, he relies on nonverbal means of communication, hints, silent treatments, half-truths, disappearing acts, and mind games to manipulate them. How childish. No matter how charming and confident people like him act at the beginning, sooner or later their true colors show.

                Lilia, Ljsrmissy, and Lizzp,

                Thanks to each of you for your thoughts.
                One important thing I learned this week from discussing & reflecting on this experience is that just as the terms “care”, “love”, and “respect” can be slippery and shift in meaning from context to context and person to person, so too abstract terms such as “decency” and “freedom” can mean incommensurably different things to different people. The meaning of such abstractions is not fixed. The same term can signify different things to different people under different circumstances. Therefore, it becomes all the more crucial for me to be *clear* about their meaning to me as an individual. Plus, depending on the situation, it becomes all the more necessary for me to *speak up & act in accordance* to my own individual understanding of such terms. If feasible, my own definitions can be revised, with or without the input of a gf or bf. Either way, *I* need to take responsibility for my definitions & decisions.

                The EUM, like a classic contrarian & litigator, could argue anything to defend his own case, to win, and to prove that he is right. If he could not find a way to win, he would resort to passive aggressive moves to punish & manipulate, as I eventually discovered. However *outrageous* it might seem to you Ljsrmissy and I what he did, he could have easily turned the situation around to say that it “goes without saying” that if a friend is having a rough day then I should be there for him. It “goes without saying” that – given that I have already spent some time with you – I can now, spontaneously, hop out to see a friend for a few hours. It “goes without saying” that – since I won’t be making supper – you can order or cook something for yourself or go out on your own.

                For the record, minus the phrase “goes without saying”, this is pretty much what he said the next time he decided to ditch me for another friend. This second time I expressed my disappointment and discomfort to him for changing our plans on the spot in order to accommodate his friend. First, he planned something with me. One hour later, after receiving a message, he changed his plan with me to see his friend. Basically, he took a *unilateral* decision to change our plans without soliciting my input. So after I expressed my discomfort to him, he coughed up apologies along with his reasons for changing our plans. Feeling emotionally attached to him, I bought his excuses & ordered food for myself. He returned three hours later, bearing gifts – admissions of guilt? Or, attempts to make himself look like the good guy? He apologized again for “spreading himself thin” & expressed his interest in wanting to spend more time with me. Once again, I felt confused. However asinine this sounds, I was besotted with him and blinded by my sexual attraction to him. I did not realize he is feeding me lies & crumbs. For whatever reason, he could not admit to me face-to-face that he is unable to be in a relationship with me.

                Based on his actions, and inchoate comments about his past relationships, I think he wanted ‘freedom-without-limits’ so that he could come and go as he pleased. I, on the other hand, believe in ‘freedom-with-responsibilities’ or ‘freedom-within-limits’ so that instead of taking unilateral decisions on joint plans one involves their partner in forming or changing a plan. In my eyes, a bf or gf has the right & freedom to spend time with his or her friends. However, *I* choose not to grant anyone the freedom to cancel or change plans with me again and again for no good reason. Occasionally, urgent things come up. Changes have to be made. But if repeatedly someone cannot commit to plans, then I do not *want* them – and I cannot grant them ‘freedom-without-limits’.

                If honoring my standards, feelings, needs, and priorities means I’ll be single for the rest of my life, no problem. I’d rather be alone by choice than be unnecessarily left alone by someone in a flat thinking “Did I do something wrong? Does this mean I am not good enough? Did I push him away? Does he prefer them to me? Do I not measure up to his friends? Is he complaining about me to them? For how long is he going to be away? Did he forget to make supper?” Bottom line: I’m not going to impose my definitions & expectations on others, nor allow them to inflict theirs on me. No one has the freedom or the permission to treat me like a plaything – something that can be used & tossed aside depending on their mood. Next time, I’ll either speak up or leave – or do both.

                • ljsrmissy says:


                  “what he did, he could have easily turned the situation around to say that it “goes without saying” that if a friend is having a rough day then I should be there for him. It “goes without saying” that – given that I have already spent some time with you – I can now, spontaneously, hop out to see a friend for a few hours. It “goes without saying” that – since I won’t be making supper – you can order or cook something for yourself or go out on your own.”

                  See to me, this would be clear manipulation and no way to treat a date/girlfriend. Now if the friend was in a car accident OOOookay, but as his girlfriend he could have took you with him. On top of that he was a buddy that he see’s everyday..come onnnnn. If that was the case he could told you his buddy was having a hard time, asked you if you could whip up one of your tasty comfort dishes for the three of you, and then invited him over. If he was truly concerned about you and his buddy who was having a ‘hard time’. lol.

                  And I say this because you better believe if he wanted to get laid and you pulled a “‘my buddy is having a hard time, see you in several hours, good bye’” on him 11 time out of 10 he would NOT have been as understanding! And I find that to be the case most of the time when it comes to how the same people act very different when they are at the receiving end of behaviors vs. when they are the ones dishing that behavior out. People are a hell of a lot less marginalizing and philosophical when they are on the receiving end of words and behaviors that funny enough, they don’t thing twice about putting out to others.

                  p.s. I am not trying to rip your situation apart, I am speaking on it because like pretty much any AC story on here, it resonates with so many.

                • Nigella says:


                  My first reply to Lilia may have confused you about the reason I regretted making the “mistake of not speaking my mind”. I feel bad about remaining silent not because I think that had I spoken up, I could have saved the relationship or changed his mind about leaving me behind.
                  Rather, I feel bad about remaining silent because, in retrospect, I realize that I did not stand up for myself or put a boundary on how he could treat me. More to the point, I regret that I did not pick up on red flags or grasp my own feelings and the needs underlying them. I was confused, scared, bothered, and emotionally invested in him. In any case, as time showed, speaking up made no difference, because he still fooled me into thinking that everything is fine, and that he is interested in continuing our relationship. It is what it is.

                  I can’t look into a crystal ball to predict my future but I trust that I won’t be an easy prey for anyone ever again. I’ll speak & live my truth. I’ll continue to take inspiration from these quotations and share them in case they may be of some use to others:

                  1. “Don’t make time for people who can’t make time for you.”
                  2. “You can’t force a person to show you respect. But you can refuse to be disrespected.”
                  3. “Never apologize for having high standards. People who really want to be in your life will rise up to meet them.”
                  4. “I don’t believe what you say. I believe what you do.”

                  Like Lizzp said, “We can learn from our mistakes as long as we do not dwell on them. We can understand too, and be compassionate with ourselves knowing that at that time we had lost touch with our own needs and feelings or did not have the self-awareness, esteem or confidence to express them. Learn and then let go.”

                  I am, once and for all, closing this chapter of my life, letting go, and turning a new leaf. From now onwards, I will not speak about him. I am officially dropping this baggage and setting myself free. BR posters, who have helped me for the past year, thanks a ton for your support & insight. Last year around this time, my heart had hemorrhaged and now it is full of strength, gratitude, and hope. Thank you, Natalie. Thank you, BR posters.

                  • ljsrmissy says:

                    “My first reply to Lilia may have confused you about the reason I regretted making the “mistake of not speaking my mind”. I feel bad about remaining silent not because I think that had I spoken up, I could have saved the relationship or changed his mind about leaving me behind.”

                    When I said that whether you spoke up or not wasn’t going to change the outcome of things, I didn’t say that in assumption that you felt in some way that you speaking up would have changed anything. Phew! I was saying it to say that I hope you don’t beat yourself up for not saying something when it happened. I under stand that feeling of ‘at least I could have at least put up more of a fight, but geez I just rolled over like a dead dog” lol. I got it.

                    “Rather, I feel bad about remaining silent because, in retrospect, I realize that I did not stand up for myself or put a boundary on how he could treat me.”
                    I got it. I a speaking from a place on a woman that thinks it is important to speak up for self and enforce boundaries. I am also speaking as a woman who wants a guy whom I don’t have to ‘teach’ how to treat me in terms of basic love, trust, care, and respect, and honor. When building a relationship both parties teach each other their specific love languages. That teaching I understand. I am coming from a place of
                    ‘I don’t want a man who thinks is within boundaries to leave me to hang with a buddy that he sees everyday when he already set this time aside for us”. And please don’t think I am just picking on/apart your situation, I spoke on it because I have dealt with guy with a bromance before, a guy used who his buddy having a ‘hard time’ to keep from spending time with me as well.

                    “You can’t force a person to show you respect. But you can refuse to be disrespected.” This is a good one… here. I am not begging for no ones respect. People are free to not ‘respect’ a particular person or something about a person, but giving themselves the right to mistreat/abuse that person in words or deeds, they don’t have the right to do.

                    I’m glad you are closing that that chapter and can now look forward to better the next time around.

                    • Nigella says:


                      You are naughty, funny, wise, clear about what you want, and have low tolerance for shady behavior – all of which is great. This week you have enriched my language-&-thought bank with many words & turn of phrases such as “coochie,” “dickmatised,” “bromance,” “neck of the woods,” “ripping apart your situation,” and “roll over like a dead dog”.

                      1. “Please don’t think I am just picking on/apart your situation” – I don’t. I understand your main aim was to tell me not to ‘beat myself up’ for not speaking up the first time & to recognize the lack of respect or interest he showed me. Emotionally unavailable & uncommunicative people do not *admit* their lack of interest or availability in words. They demonstrate it through their actions.

                      2. “I am speaking from a place on a woman that thinks it is important to speak up for herself and enforce boundaries” – I know and, like you, I do believe in speaking up for myself but don’t believe in explaining-teaching-begging people to show me respect & care.

                      3. “I don’t want a man who thinks it is within boundaries to leave me to hang out with a buddy that he sees every day when he already set this time aside for us” – I understand & respect what you’re saying. I hold the same view as you do. This sort of ditching is a deal-breaker for me too because the issue is not spending time apart to be with a friend or bro. Rather the issue is under-delivering or back-pedaling on a plan and thus showing lack of respect for the time & company of the girlfriend.

                      One lives & learns. If a similar situation occurs in future, I won’t wag my tail like a puppy or roll over like a dead dog. Nor bark or snarl like a bitch – not my style. Instead, like an eagle with a clear vision, I’ll see things as they are and flap my wings to leave alone someone I can no longer respect or trust to keep their word. Even if alone, I’ll keep flying high rather than lower myself to the level of someone who is being cowardly, callous, and capricious.

                      Sending best wishes to you, Ljsrmissy.

              • ljsrmissy says:


                Let me say this, My response to Nigella in a dating/relationship context. I just have a different take when it come to disrespectful ‘out of pocket’ behavior of other adults. I am of the mind that grown up know what they are going/what they are saying and the intent they are doing and saying these things from.
                I just feel like if I gotta ‘talk’ to this man about leaving me hanging literally and figuratively, mistreating me, ditching me for buddies ect. ect., do I need to be entertaining this guy?! Do I need to ‘talk’ to him about his behavior or do I need to what I like to call ‘speak with your feet’ and say next.

                “We feel we were mistaken in not giving expression to our initial feeling of having been affronted” I don’t necessarily feel mistaken in it, I feel ticket that I have been put into a position to have to speak to ANYONE over the age of like, 5-11, about how to treat others.
                Do you honestly think this man didn’t know what he was doing?
                My mother started telling me years ago when I became dating age about not even starting with all of that ‘talking to a man’. And when I say talking to a man, I am not saying as in when two people are working to build a happy mutual relationship with care, love, trust, and respect (thanks Nat!). I am talking about siting down and ‘expressing’ ourselves to a man who, in nigella’s (and many of our cases) did not keep his word, said one thing and did another, blew hot air, and makes us feel like if his buddies had boobs and vaginas he would never see us again. Ok cool, we can talk to this guy, but then what are we going to say?!

                “For some people being decent/considerate clearly does not “go without saying”.” I agree with this statement, but what Nigella and I were discussing is the lack of wisdom of actually sharing a bed with one of these people. Dealing with a person like this at work is one thing, but allowing ourselves be get into whole entire relationships and marriages with these kinds?

                p.s. check out Nat’s articles ‘telling them all about themselves | Women Who Talk (& Think) Too Much – Wasting time explaining & discussing with men that don’t want to listen.

                • Lilia says:


                  I´m under the impression that you are centering your whole train of thought re this situation on the effect our behaviour will have on a particular AC. For instance, you ask why you would need to explain to someone how/why something he did hurt you.

                  But the thing is, you aren´t explaining anything to him – that is, you aren´t teaching him how to treat you/be a better person/be decent – you are just expressing your own feelings. Because once you get to know You, that is what you feel like doing.

                  Expressing yourself, defending a boundary, standing up for yourself aren´t part of a negotiation. You don´t do those things to get someone to change his behaviour. You just do them because they are part of having a healthy relationship with yourself.

                  I don´t know if I´m making myself clear? There is a subtle difference that I don´t think you´re noticing.

                  You ask “Do you honestly think this man didn´t know what he was doing?”. Well, that´s beside the point, isn´t it? None of us – not Nigella, not Lizzp, nor me – considered “talking” to mean “explaining him what he was doing”. In this case, “talking” means something like telling him “I don´t want to hang out at your place alone, thank you very much but I better go now” or something along those lines. Telling a guy something like that isn´t being understanding, quite the contrary.

                  • lizzp says:


                    Lillia’s reply above covers precisely the points I was trying to convey so I’m more than happy to let that stand as my view and further reply as well. I only want to emphasise that the “‘telling them all about themselves” issue, although so relevant in terms of motivating bailiff type personal responses to shady/inconsiderate behaviour, is a completely separate point to the one I was making.

                  • lizzp says:

                    Lillia, Yes precisely. Thank you for expressing this so clearly. I did not intend or even write ‘talking’. I was making the point that you again make here – giving voice to and/or expressing ourselves with as much clarity and as authentically as we can at the time. And yes so true that this ties into boundaries re self respect.

  30. Wiser says:

    “To be an American is to earn a PhD in entitlement.” Bill Plotkin, psychologist. Yep, guilty as charged.

    A terrific post Nat and a very important subject. This part of the post struck me the most: “Readers keep asking me why they’re stuck on a person or situation, and aside from struggling to deal with their hopes and expectations not being met (disappointment), it’s also to do with their perspective on the situation, and when you start uncovering the beliefs that are driving this stuckness, there’s a lot of ‘shoulds’ in there, and behind these, is also the perception of what they should have been able to do or receive.”

    A light bulb went off for me about the strong link between being stuck, our relationship with ‘entitlement’ and our relationship with the ‘Story’. And by Story I mean what we tell ourselves about a situation as opposed to what actually is True. When we’re dumped by someone in a really hurtful way, I think we get stuck and can’t let go because we can’t bear to have our Story end the way it does, with us as the fool and the ex as the smug trickster. Considering how wonderful we are, how loving and giving and valuable, etc. we DESERVE to have a better ending; we SHOULD have a better ending. So that our fragile egos can feel soothed and validated. And by God, we’re not going to let go if there’s the slightest chance for a new ending. This helps me understand what’s going on when I’m reading yet another post from someone who knows they are much better off without their low-life, horrible, abusive, cheating ex who cruelly dumped them – but are secretly harboring a hope that they will “contact me one more time.” I know I definitely felt this way when I got dumped. Delayed my healing for a long time and kept the resentment smoldering.

    We don’t want another chance with the ex, we want another chance with the STORY! We can’t bear to have this Story end where it is, with us slammed to the floor, bewildered, powerless, cut to shreds. Pathetic. We want a more satisfying conclusion, with us more on an equal footing. Which life owes us. Otherwise the Story of this relationship ends, for all time, with us permanently in the humiliating one-down position and the ex frolicking off into the sunset. So we keep reworking and reworking and reworking this in endless mental scenarios, wanting yet another conversation, another chance to get angry, another chance for a different ending that will be less humiliating to our egos. If we get more contact, some better emotional outcome is possible. We can’t let it go until we get one more chapter!

    This ties into the subject of entitlement because we don’t know how to feel ok unless outer circumstances mold to what we think we need and deserve. We invest too much of our identities and egos in this entitlement. We get stuck here because we falsely buy into the belief that “I am… What Happens To Me.” “I am… How Other People Respond to Me.” If your identity is based on external happenings, on other people’s response to you, then of course you are going to get caught up in entitlement thinking. But if you can ground your happiness, dignity and emotional security in a deeper source, then what happens outside doesn’t have that much power to hurt you. Or offend you. Or affect your feelings of self-worth. Or disappoint you because it didn’t live up to your expectations. You become rock solid instead of being blown about helplessly by every stupid person and event that comes along.

    Entitlement thinking causes a LOT of unnecessary pain, mostly to ourselves. But also to other people. I’m not explaining this as well as I’d like, so I’ll end this rambling post with an anonymous quote I’ve always liked that has a lot of truth: “More evil comes into the world by people taking offense than by people giving offense.”

    • Elgie R. says:

      Loved your post, Wiser.

      I have never fallen in love with the “story” . I am always early to recognize the end…not saying that I dump first…I have been dumped a few times by men who I was not all that in to. I prefer them to dump me because there’s less drama, they get the satisfaction of being the “ender” . My ego is OK with that.

      I’ve only had one dumping that left me hurt for a long time, but the dumper was right to dump me – the relationship was not what he wanted long-term and he was a long-term kind of guy. I knew we were a limbo relationship but I was happy to remain in limbo-land.

      I do wonder why I have almost never been so involved that I could not walk away. To date, I have known only two men that seemed to be marriage material – and yes – both were already married. One was a work friend and nothing more, the other is the ACMM I was seeing who brought me to BR. I wasn’t hurting or looking to further things with ACMM, I wanted to understand why I was so willing to stay in it.

      I’ve learned that I need to identify what it is I want before I can possibly get it. I have less affinity for limbo-land than I did 3 years ago – but still not quite sure that I want marriage. I still feel like I want to be ACMM’s permanent mistress. I don’t know what it is like to have someone I WANT on my side. I have to remember that ACMM’s first interest was himself and that he did the bare minimum required to keep me happy, and because I required so little, I was fooling myself into thinking he really cared when he did the bare minimum. While I was involved with ACMM, a female friend said to me “See what he does if you ask him for money!” I was horrified at the thought of asking! And horrified at what his reaction might be. I just don’t ask men for anything other than satisfying sex – but that is not just a physical how-to thing – for me, it has to satisfy on many levels to be really good. I have to feel cared for, I have to feel he has an interest in me specifically —- that is why things died with ACMM. I did not feel those things.

    • oona says:

      wow wiser! Thank you! and all the others on this thread. Can anyone talk more about how you ground yourself in a deeper source so that outside influences don’t affect you negatively?

      • Wiser says:

        Oona, I hope others will respond to your question too because this is such a crucial issue. If we don’t figure out ways to ground ourselves in something deeper than what wisdom teachers call the “revolving hall of mirrors” (superficial beliefs and values of culture that are always shifting), then all the good advice we give each other is pretty much pointless.

        Here’s my two cents. The best way to start is to look around in your life and see if there is a real, concrete person you know who is drawing their life and validation from a deep inner source. It could be a friend, a relative, teacher, co-worker, coach, community leader, etc. This would be someone you admire not because they are popular or good looking or successful in their work, or seem to have a lot of life’s goodies (all of which could be lost in a flash) but because they know how to be happy and live with respect and integrity no matter what happens or how people treat them. They know who they are and march to their own drummer, despite what the current cultural trends might be. If people are good to them, they are kind in response. If people are rude to them, they are kind in response. Their behavior is NOT based on what others do or what happens to them. They are free to respond according to their own inner compass. They seem to be able to weather life’s storms with grace and humor. They have peace the world can’t give them and the world can’t take away.

        If you are fortunate enough to have such a person in your life, watch them. Learn from them. What do they believe about themselves and their lives? Why do they get up in the morning and do what they do? Nothing is as powerful as something that is modeled for us as opposed to just abstract ideas. If you are a religious or spiritual person, there is a tremendous amount of material out there from wisdom teachers on grounding yourself in God as the ultimate source of sustained happiness. If you know deep in your bones that you are a child of God with divine DNA, you are validated and affirmed every moment. You don’t need to look for validation from others, and therefore the loss of a lover or a friend (or a deeply desired life goal that doesn’t work out) can’t devastate you. Meditation, contemplative practices, anything that gives you an experience of connecting with something that’s beyond your own thinking and feeling is very helpful. If you’re not religious, I recommend reading Eckhart Tolle’s books The Power of Now and A New Earth, because they are all about this subject. He talks a lot about detaching from the False Self, what he calls the “Story of the Unhappy Me” and making contact with the True Self, which is beyond thinking, feeling or ego.

        Hope some of this is helpful. I don’t want to get preachy. I can talk endlessly about this kind of stuff because I find it so exciting – but it doesn’t mean I’m always able to live it. Here’s the best example I can give. One of my models for the kind of person I want to be is the man in this story: A man always buy his newspaper from a certain newspaper vendor. The vendor is always rude and unpleasant to this man. The man’s friend asks him “Why don’t you buy your newspaper somewhere else? This guy is always so rude to you. I don’t understand it.” The man says, “Why should the vendor have the power to decide where I buy my newspaper?”

    • rachael says:


      I appreciate your comment. The notion of ‘story’ is used by Gary Van Warmerdam on his website, Pathway to Happiness. I recommend it to EVERYONE!!!

    • Sofia says:

      What a wonderful post, Wiser. I will keep rereading it. It gave me a good kick and boost to my letting go decision and my visual shutting the door. It is so true. We see ourselves too much through the eyes of others and their actions.

      Thanks again, for the wise words. I will keep referring to it.

  31. no_more says:

    Thank you all so much for responding. I went to bed last night not seeing any responses, and felt stupid and alone. Today I am reading and REreading these posts and it helps more than you can know.

    @hand_turkey…I was friends with his parents and with his sister on Facebook. They felt awful about the way he treated me, and were very supportive. (they despise his wife, and she was abusive to his parents), but I couldn’t take hearing ANYTHING about him and her, so I cut contact with them as well. I also didn’t feel he deserved to hear anything about me.

    I blocked him on mutual sites, on email, Skype and deleted his number. Except for three measly Skype messages he left before I blocked him on there, I have heard nothing from him. (I didn’t listen to the messages, I deleted them in seconds). A big part of my turmoil was that he SHOULD have tried. I am trying to be grateful for that, though 25% of me still says he COULD have made an effort. I’m working on that.

    I feel like I bet on a horse with a broken leg. And right from the beginning of the race, “the whole relationship”, I should have swiftly and firmly put the doomed ‘horse’ down. But I didn’t. I wanted to win. That is all on me. He was just a shady bookie who kept encouraging me to keep on betting.

    I have enrolled back in school, began volunteering, exercise, read BR over and over and over. I know logically he is “behind a door”, (hugs to you Sofia), but that flipping door swings open too much and it makes me annoyed, angry and sad. I want to be indifferent. He is- he jumped back with her two days after I left. Two days. Unreal.

    Thank you ALL again. I am staying firm with the NC, (the thought of hearing or seeing anything about him/them literally make me cringe), and will try to be patient with this process. And with myself.

    Hugs back to each of you and NML- for her wisdom as well.

    • Sofia says:

      no_more, you sound very strong and rational. You are doing a great progress without maybe realizing it yet. Firm NC, deleting his messages, “cringing” to think of anything associated with him, deleting him from all the social media. These are very big and important steps. Congratulations!

      About the door swinging. I had my door wide open first two months. Then it got to slightly ajar. Since Easter it is shut. I check on it daily to make sure the lock is locked. The key is not in the lock (and nowhere in sight in fact). There are no cracks in the door. If needed I will tie up the screws in the lock, cement the door, bullet proof it. Build another door. Keep building up my protection for myself. If he ever contacts I will never respond. I am determined.

      It is wonderful you see him the way he was, “a shady bookie who kept encouraging me to keep on betting.” You are seeing him for who he was. That’s another great step in your healing too.

      Keep coming back here and read and reread. Sometimes I start thinking, if I come back here daily and read and post, does it mean I keep wallowing and rolling in my own misery? But then I remember what I posted two months or so ago, versus one month ago when I was sharing with all of you, “I am about to text him. I am about to call him.” Versus what I am posting this week. Huge change. BR helps wherever you are in your grieving cycle. Right post breakup, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months or 3 years after. It is such a supportive and healing community. Everyone can find her/his solace and encouragement. When we are well and indifferent to our exes , we can always come back to continue improving ourselves and helping others.

      Thank you, Natalie, for sharing your wisdom. You have a gift from God, no doubt.

      • RP says:

        Sofia and BR readers,

        It is so encouraging to see women grow and often thrive despite going through hell with an AC and/or disfuntional family background. This blog helps so many women unstuck themselves. Natalie’s superb insights and the posts by other BR readers provide a wonderful medium to make this positive transition but in the end it is our own contribution and hard work that gets us out of stuck. People are not robots with an inbuilt rationality algorithm, it takes time to absorb NML’s wisdom and turn this into something truly positive in our own lives. What I love about Natalie is her ability to expose and disentangle destructive thought and behavioural patterns, while placing emphasis on the importance of Self-Awareness. It is not enough to engage in intellectual masturbation over our crappy circumstances. A degree of self and AC analysis always helps at the beginning but when you take ACTION and feel positively for it (including supressing the need to complain and victimise yourself) then you no longer feel the need to understand exactly why x, y and z happened to you.

        It is encouraging to reads posts like yours Sofia!
        all the best, RP

        • Sofia says:

          RP, thank you! I was sounding so strong and Self Aware (thank you, that’s the description I was looking for when I was talking about feeling my life and existence and appreciating myself finally!) until today, 4 days after being strong, I started crying again and being sad and angry and mad straight to yelling in my car with windows rolled up while driving. Screaming that I hate him. Good. I need to release the anger. When being so angry, I remembered one of Nat’s posts about it’s ok going through anger but you need to own it and release it and let it go. Absolutely agree. Anger in some or large doses is ok but let it go away eventually, don’t dwell. It is healthy to be mad but let it go later. So I recognized that even while being mad. That helped. And I did’t get disappointed that I lost my calm after 4 days. That’s ok. Like my friend said, healing comes in small increments. Very true. It’s not linear, not exactly predictable. But it is progressive. It WILL HAPPEN! I believe in it and will continue working on me, my feelings, my shut door and won’t be looking for the key to the door I dropped in the ocean. Done. But keep on healing. Thank you, RP. We will all make it. Your words and encouraging and empowering.

        • hand_turkey says:

          Yes I would agree that if anyone reading this site is drawn to its message – it takes time to override the dysfunctional untrue messages we got growing up. As for me, I come back here every day, as well as to support groups in my town. Sometimes sadness and dysfunction are just habit.

          • Sofia says:

            hand_turkey, how do you find support groups ? What kind of groups are they?

            Sadness and dysfunction are habit. Golden words!!! They are. I have been learning to unlearn my old habits.

            I come to this board daily as well. Can’t do without it!

  32. marie83 says:

    “We don’t want another chance with the ex, we want another chance with the STORY! We can’t bear to have this Story end where it is, with us slammed to the floor, bewildered, powerless, cut to shreds. Pathetic. We want a more satisfying conclusion, with us more on an equal footing. Which life owes us. Otherwise the Story of this relationship ends, for all time, with us permanently in the humiliating one-down position and the ex frolicking off into the sunset. So we keep reworking and reworking and reworking this in endless mental scenarios, wanting yet another conversation, another chance to get angry, another chance for a different ending that will be less humiliating to our egos. If we get more contact, some better emotional outcome is possible. We can’t let it go until we get one more chapter!” Jesus thinks this sums up my whole dysfunction dance with the ex – everytime he dumps me by text I feel worthless, pathetic, utterly terrible and compare myself to whatever new beau he has in his life – he always comes back, usually because most women wise up or he dates a version of himself and yes dating him is no fun! Everytime he comes back and i’m well into double figures at this point I think it will restore my self esteem – I don’t think I actually believe it will work but its like he has the opportunity to be respectful – obviously that doesn’t happen and i’m tossed aside for the next lady that looks better on his arm than me

    • rachael says:


      “Jesus thinks this sums up my whole dysfunction dance with the ex …” Hell, if jesus thinks it….!

    • hand_turkey says:

      Right on the money Marie83. At some point I got tired of being sad and going over the story. When my mental energy trickled back in so I could focus on ME, lo and behold I have this wonderful job and a real shot at financial freedom. This could not have happened if I were still preoccupied with The Story. The Story gets a good ending when we retract our mental and emotional energy to fully live our lives NOW.

  33. Peanut says:

    God I love this. The two biggest things I encounter are that people tend to believe if you work really hard you will sow the benefits (not always so) and this ridiculous idea that life owes them a romantic partner.

    • hand_turkey says:


    • Sofia says:

      Peanut, that’s what I had thought until my epiphany relationship. I have come to terms that nobody owns me anything. And if I go all my life without a long-term romantic partner, it doesn’t mean I did something wrong or I don’t deserve it. It’s just is. No explanation. I have finally accepted it. And happy I have.

    • Lilia says:

      Yeah and I think those two things get mixed up too, as in If I go on lots of dates and do my very best to meet new men/women, I will obtain my romantic partner. I mean, where does fate or life or whatever get a say in this?
      And really, how is this whole dating scenario (especially online) not a complete waste of time?

  34. Peanut says:

    And we can be fully fulfilled without a romantic partner. Ever. A partner is just a piece of your life, not the whole effin pie.

  35. Thank You Natalie! says:

    Natalie! Your blog has give my friends and I life, Honey! Thank you so much! Wishing you all the best from Texas – U.S.

  36. rachael says:


    I have selected a quote that is representative of many here…

    “I may not lose interest in someone if they occasionally don’t deliver on some of their promises. But if they frequently fail to deliver on promises, along with other problems in their behavior towards me, then I can’t see myself including them in my life.”

    While I believe taking responsibility for not allowing people who cross our boundaries to be in our life, there have been some comments about communicating your feelings and desires as soon as issues arise…, I think there is a fine line between maintaining boundaries and using withdrawal of ourselves from others to manipulate them into complying with our personal ‘shoulds’.
    My father would say such a person is “cutting off their nose to spite their face”.
    Second, I think it is helpful to replace ‘should’ with ‘I would prefer they’ or ‘could’ etc, however, the words IMO, cannot simply be political correctness… they would be best used when they are believed by the speaker. Our true intentions are what are acted on and to pretend to offer ‘freedom’ to others is a lie.
    I hope this does not sound blunt, but I am a very direct speaker and I apologise if it sounds dogmatic or bossy etc

    • Nigella says:


      There is a lot to appreciate in your comment.

      There are, I am afraid, some things that left me a bit puzzled. I see your comment is directed to Wiser – and you say that you are “a very direct speaker”. However, in an indirect manner, you are also speaking to me since your entire comment is based in response to a quote you have ‘selected’ from my comments. I wonder why you chose not to attribute the quote to me – or respond ‘directly’ to me.

      In any case, interpret my quote and comments in as many ways as you see fit. Directly, I want to say that I agree with the points you raise: pretending to offer ‘freedom’ to others is a lie, believing in the words we utter is important rather than just saying them, and using withdrawal to manipulate others into complying with our personal ‘shoulds’ is unfair to them and to us.

      I must add that choosing not to attribute quotes & comments to people, and choosing not to respond directly to them can also lead to unnecessary misunderstanding & misrepresentation of their thoughts.

    • Nigella says:


      One more thing. Placed in its original context and attributed to its actual author, the quote included in your comment is indicative of *my* expectations only. So, with all due respect, I think it is discourteous of you to appropriate my comment to claim that it is “representative of many here”. I, for one, did not intend my comment to serve as a representation of ‘many here’. It indicates my boundaries & my outlook on the fulfillment of promises in relationships.

      BR readers are on their own *individual* journeys involving scenarios, expectations, and struggles that are specific to each of them. Some or many readers may or may *not* relate to my comment(s). Either way, I don’t presume to speak on their behalf & don’t wish to make generalizations about them. Nor do I intend my individual lessons & *beliefs* to serve as exempla for others to follow.

      I welcome differing perspectives & considerate and constructive advice. However, I’ll appreciate it if you don’t quote my comments to make sweeping statements about BR readers as a whole. Thank you.

      • rachael says:

        Oh Nigella,

        I meant to write to you. My apologies to you, Wiser and any other confused readers. Wow… what a balls up!

        • rachael says:


          When I said ‘representative of many”, I was mostly thinking of your posts, but I saw similar in others responses to yours.

  37. teachable says:

    When I ‘tick off’ achievements in life I do so to remind myself of who I am & what I am capable of. We are not what we accumulate materially or what we achieve at work or academically, but these things do speak to our behaviour, values & virtues.

    In my case, even more so because everything I have achieved occurred under duress in all areas, due to having no family support & incomplete education in my childhood as a result of my circumstances (I had no choice but to leave school at 15 yo in order to get a job that would enable me to pay for rent, bills & food in a flat shared with a friend. In this way, at that tender age I lawfully emancipated myself from the ‘care’ aka abuse, of the state).

    I grew up with a constant onslaught of abuse telling me I was no good, lazy, dumb, that I would never amount to anything, & that instead I would not live to see my 21st birthday. I think I was particularly targeted b/c I knew I was being abused & I told my abusers this & dared to defy them by not being a good little victim (meaning I did not stay sufficiently SILENT about the abuse, although I did to some extent re some things b/c I was terrified & I truely believed the abuse was my fault as I was told this constantly).

    I set out in life to prove my abusers WRONG (but made terrible mistakes at least at first as just a kid utterly alone in the world & therefore peadophile fodder). However with lots of support from professionals I quickly sought out to help me, which they did by playing the guiding role that would ordinarily be provided by family, I have proved spectacularly, beyond doubt, that my abusers could not have been more wrong about me.

    That said, nothing has been easy for me in life. Nothing was handed to me & I had to lift like crazy to get to an even playing field with others who did not grow up in orphanages, institutions & children’s homes. Having achieved beyond my station $ wise (but so far this all went into the house), career wise & marks wise with my studies I am still plugging away desperate to complete my edctn. I will get there one day but slow & steady, slowly surmounting each obstacle I still encounter will win this race for me. I am now dealing with diabilities so can only do what I can, each day.

    I feel like I DO deserve certain things in life, like a self funded retirement so I don’t live on struggle street in old age. There is much to do to get this yet so I must not lose focus.

    I also feel like it would be lovely to find some kind & decent to share love & my life with along the way. This feels like a tall order but I must not lose hope. This is on the back burner for now but hopefully it wont always be. This is just how life has.been for me. I try to make the best of the cards I was dealt. Things could have been a hell of a lot worse. I was at least born in a 1st world country!

  38. teachable says:

    Re entitlement, I think I always knew I would have nothing in life if I didn’t work to get it for myself. I also did not want another person to provide for me. I knew that could make me vulnerable to abuse so I set out to always provide for myself.

    I didn’t feel entitled to anything in life b/c not even my most basic needs for a safe home, food or shelter – not to even mention love – were met as a child. With the abuse I just thought I must be a terrible person. I also suspected I should have received those things though (hence my defiance) but I wasn’t able, due to the power differential b/tween adults & children to act on my own behalf to get them (until my first go at this at 15 yo, which did admittedly, go horribly pear shaped, at least at first).

    What was most devestating is that for a long time (until I got TOTALLY drug & alcohol free at 21 yo – I used these things to block out the emotional pain of severe abuse until that time), I didn’t think I DERSERVED to be loved. I thought getting used & abused by n’er do well types was the best I could do. Who would WANT me I reasoned? Horribly damaged, effed up ME?

    Now I know differently. I know that I deserve to be loved BY ME, first & foremost. I’ve set out being & also becoming the person I hope to attract to share my life with, ever since. I’m not sure how well I’m doing on this front but I am doing my darndest.

    Also though, I am trying to reach my full potential for MYSELF. Not for anyone else. Just for ME b/c I owe this to myself. So far I seem to be doing slightly better at this than in the mate department, but hey, my life isn’t over yet! lol

    • Louise says:

      Well done teachable you have come so far and sound so good…
      Here’s to you and your inspiring recovery …

      I went through a stage, because of all I experienced as a little girl, and the emotional landscape I had to operate in, thinking I didn’t care what happened to me. I was exhausted by eleven and wanted to give up, my life like yours isn’t over yet, here’s to today …x

  39. Noquay says:

    We must be twins separated at birth; our non-upbringings being very similar. I should’ve bailed from the family at 15 instead of 17 but I knew nothing about emancipated minor status plus my family wasn’t going to tell me about that option because at that time I was pretty much running the household, from cooking, cleaning, to changing storm windows to mowing the damn lawn. Besides who would’ve taken care of my brother?? Got into drugs/alcohol early (13), gave it up, would drink as an undergrad to fit in with my peers, realized I needed to stay away from same aged folks instead if the only way I could fit in with them was to be drunk and stayed totally sober for the next 25 years. Started drinking some again here after the AC, yep, to fit in and kill pain I cannot fix but I am really careful as I am descended from alcoholics. Never drink at home or alone, never more than two drinks under any circumstances. Kind of a rebellion against my overall, uber responsible, straight laced life that gets me nowhere, because yep, doing what is right doesn’t mean anything other than one’s own self satisfaction. My high school counselor told me “you will be a welfare mother with two kids by the time you are 20″; screw him. I do feel a weird sense of jealousy and entitlement when good things come to colleagues, others who do little to earn them, especially good relationships, while I work super hard and get stalked or nothing. I do not begrudge others that kind of happiness, but wish it would come my way too. I do have to understand that my 12 years of marriage with a great man may well have been my one shot. I am glad I worked hard to get my education, the one thing NO ONE can take away from you, that yep, even if I were indeed homeless tomorrow, I do have backcountry living skills and I would probably do just fine in the woods; probably not many middle aged chix can say that. I think Teach, because we have had to be tough, do for ourselves, the ne’er do wells are attracted to us, the marrieds, those lacking in self discipline as though our strength is gonna rub off on them, much like secondhand smoke. Got hit on once again by yet another one of these, at my college cafeteria nonetheless. Immediately said stuff about my looks, asked boundary busters about my rship status, wanted my phone number in the worst way, gave me his which was immediately consigned to the trash. Contrast that with a combo I had earlier with a retiring engineer, new to the community. We talked about home repair, our respective dogs, community events he may want to be involved in. Dude wasn’t wearing a ring, but is most likely married so no hopes on my part, but it was nice to talk to someone who respected my intellect, had manners, showed appropriate boundaries. Probably will sound entitled once again, but this is the sort that both you and I deserve Teach.

  40. teachable says:

    I get everything you’re saying Noquay. Re alcohol if you only allow yourself two drinks anyway, at some point, when you’re through with rebelling in this small way, maybe you will decide to stop drinking completely. Two drinks (back in the day) would not have done anything for me, anyway (although I was not an alcoholic and preferred other substances – I don’t drink because if I do, this will lower my defences and I may find myself wanting to smoke dope again, or who knows, maybe I might become an alcoholic? Either way, it’s a risk not worthing taking for me).

    “I think Teach, because we have had to be tough, do for ourselves, the ne’er do wells are attracted to us, the marrieds, those lacking in self discipline as though our strength is gonna rub off on them, much like secondhand smoke.”

    What I have found is that I have a misplaced sense of compassion. Not for married guys, I’ve never ‘been there’ but for those who have had a hard life. In that sense my filter needed strengthening. I needed to understand that I am no longer a homeless underage teenager, and that these guys with their hard luck stories (or one time in band camp stories as I think Nat calls this) are not remotely suitable. (I quickly became homeless after emancipating myself from state ‘care’ due to not getting along with the flat mate’s new boyfriend who moved into our place – the rent there was cheap for me as the place was owned outright by my flat mates mum, and I could not find anything else after also losing my job because I was in retail and had been hired in the Xmas rush and need for additional casual staff. Once x-mas was over, I was out of a job and with the flatmates b/friend, and being too young for any entitlement for unemployment support payments, I was qucikly out of a home – it was then that my drug use went from a normal teenager who exprimented with smoking dope – to something much more serious in order to block out the horrific trauma I was now exposed to 0 although in fact I had been exposed to this earlier also whilst IN state ‘care’. I ran from state ‘care’ seeking to escape abuse only to quickly find myself exposed to even more of the same. Shocking really and something no child should ever have to endure).

    I am a woman with a measure of intelligence and I have proven that I am not drifting through life expecting anyone to rescue me, other than myself. I refuse today to tolerate any abuse whatsoever, no matter how subtle. This is a great thing and the gift of all I have experienced.

    Also, people do think that our resiliance will rub off on them. Not so. Each person must face their own demons as I indeed have very much so faced and triumphed over mine. You have too Noquay. Remember if you’re going through hell, just keep going! ;)

    And thanks Louise. I am surprised at times by the number of people that judge a person’s success defined by the absence of hardship. What these people fail to realise is that life is indeed a never ending journey of overcoming one challenge after another. It is HOW we deal with life’s challenges and hardships NOT the absence of them, that defines success. It sounds like you have already learned this. Good for you! :)

  41. teachable says:

    “Contrast that with a combo I had earlier with a retiring engineer, new to the community. We talked about home repair, our respective dogs, community events he may want to be involved in. Dude wasn’t wearing a ring, but is most likely married so no hopes on my part, but it was nice to talk to someone who respected my intellect, had manners, showed appropriate boundaries. Probably will sound entitled once again, but this is the sort that both you and I deserve Teach.”

    Yes Noquay. Just a DECENT ordinary guy. That is EXACTLY what we deserve, and this is the type of conversation I would have too if I met one. LOL Unfortunately they are not likely to just coming knocking on my door, and I’m not really doing anything to meet one atm, so still in (to use a phrase you might relate to given your wonderful outdoor skills) ‘cave woman’ mode here! LAMO

  42. Noquay says:

    Like you, I try and treat folks, regardless of situation, with kindness. That and good manners coupled with being a good listener gets me into trouble here. Most folk here, like many westerners, are not empathetic so I think my simple politeness is seen as interest where there isn’t any, hence the wannabe stalkers. Also, my upper midwestern work ethic has created a situation where I am often called upon to take up the slack at work for colleagues not pulling their weight, including the AC. I show up, do the work, so I am relied upon a lot leaving me with less free time to fix my social situation and somewhat tired all the time. Given that our institution is in some trouble, it’s really hard to say no. Need to work on this.

  43. Nigella says:

    Sofia and anyone else struggling with sex,

    Despite my one-year hiatus from sex, I continue to desire sex, although not as desperately or uncontrollably as I did last year. I think it helps to identify things that *trigger* the desire for sex to such an extent that it becomes difficult to focus on other things. My two inter-related triggers are: stress and alcohol. I decided to give up drinking & smoking at age 28, because I realized that after downing a few glasses of Shiraz, I could not always exercise self-control. Consequence? I had loveless sex. The number of people I slept with after making this change decreased, and inversely my self-esteem increased. Though I gave up ethanol-induced sex sessions, and though I stopped going to bars, I had still not significantly improved my *stress-management* skills. For two more years, I chose the path of least resistance – I turned to sex for relief. In other words, I coped with stress by going for the “easy way” rather than the better way – the way that could teach me to become stronger internally, psychologically. I used sex as a crutch to get me through difficult times, rather than train harder, work harder on myself to be able to get through a challenge on my own. I feel no guilt for what I did. I also feel no need to judge those having casual sex. But I want to change.

    Recently, in consultation with the CEO of our firm, I had to tell a client that they need to downsize 20% of their workforce and offshore the jobs of current employees to another country. This is one aspect of my consulting job I categorically dislike. The client may or may not act on our proposal. The ultimate call is theirs. Once I delivered the advice to the client, I felt restless. Reverting to old habits, I felt the urge to contact the auditor of our firm, meet her, and tell her: “I just told a client to take away jobs of people and give them to other people, who are willing to do the same amount & quality of work at a lower pay. This is what I did. If you want, I want to be with you. Take me away.” Only through sheer willpower I stopped myself from turning to her. Instead, I called a mentor, who has climbed the ladder before me. He told me: “To continue serving others, a surgeon has to accept he won’t save the life of each patient. You have to accept you can’t save the jobs of all people – especially under dire economic conditions. You can’t. Quit, if you can’t accept.” It gives me no pleasure to take away jobs from people. But it’s part of what I do, and I don’t want to use it as an excuse for mutually using someone else for sex.

    Bottom line: identify your triggers. If it seems right to you, consider finding ways other than alcohol & sex to cope with the triggers. Turn to people who care for you. If you need to be on your own, listen to music. Go to the gym. See something funny on the telly. Read something lighthearted – stories by P.G. Wodehouse usually cheer me up. *Persist* in whatever you think works for you. It’s not easy to defeat our old habits, desires, and triggers – and while these aren’t easily controlled, they are far from invincible. Don’t give up on yourself.

    • Nat Attack says:

      I totally agree that finding other ways to release stress, and identifying triggers is helpful. My trigger, especially in the past, was loneliness. But I think it’s also natural to crave sex. I have a healthy libido, and I love it! Sometimes I catch myself thinking about sex on the subway, in the middle of meetings, whenever, and I just smile. As long as this desire doesn’t consume my life (it isn’t), I want it to stay.

      It’s been nearly a year without sex for me, and it isn’t necessarily a situation that I wanted for myself, but I’ve accepted it. I don’t think that I would have sex with just anyone, but under the right circumstances, I would totally go for it. I can do casual, but it must also come with respect and friendship. This is possible, but very, very rare. It’s only happened a couple times in my life.

      Until then, I’ll be hiking 3-4 times a week and fantasizing during boring meetings…

    • Sofia says:

      Nigella, exactly, alcohol and sex are fillers. I used to do that a lot. Get drunk and hook up with my many exes who were (still are) available to meet. That was my filler back then when I was single and lonely. I drank and to validate myself that I am desirable and needed, I would get together for casual sex with one of them.

      Now, casual sex is out of the picture for me because I lost the interest to that kind of “fun” and filler. Wine remains on the level of a hobby and something I have been doing for years, learning about and reading and attending wine events. Alcohol doesn’t make me do crazy things anymore which I will regret later. However,even alcohol when taken too much, is a filler and an escape from loneliness, from your own feelings. So are cigarettes and drugs.

      It is very important to continue seeking you, who you are, what you like to do. Yes, I agree about the triggers. Recognize those and do something that will help. I am working on it. Gym always helps, talking to a friend, writing an email to a friend. Reading on the spiritual subject. We need to find what helps us to avoid reaching out for easy fixes to our loneliness, pain, problems. No, never give up on ourselves. Keep searching for yourself and you will find You.

    • LovefromNel says:

      Nigella, I’ve been away overseas and have very much missed your intelligent and clearly-phrased wisdom. I always learn a bundle reading any post – whomever it is directed to. Thank you Nat for creating a wonderful website with readers I only wish I knew in real-life. Nel.

      • Nigella says:


        Lovely to hear from you. I hope your overseas trip was interesting if nothing else. Given how protective I am of people I cherish, I think it is good we are only cyber comrades. In real life, it would be difficult for me not to give a thrashing to Mr. Ingrate for hurting you. Plus, as an introvert, I would take my time before allowing you to see my gentle side. This is not to say I will not talk to you – talk profusely about stuff like stocks and shareholders. But not emotions or personal experiences.

        However odd or forward this might sound, I think of you like a younger sister. The way my elder sister tries to protect me from any harm, I would want to help you look out for your own best interests & cheer you on. Please see, I do not mean any of this in a patronizing manner. Someone as bright & thoughtful as you does not need my help.

        I just want you to know that someone in this global village cares about you.

        • LovefromNel says:

          Awwww schucks – just shed a small (happy) tear! This means the world to me, Nigella, and I too think of you as the wiser big sister!

          • Nigella says:


            Not wiser-than-thou. Just older – and possibly with more gray hair and slower metabolism than you. Imagine all the wonderful things you will achieve and become in the years to come. The journey ahead has many paths.

            Sometimes to get to the path of happiness & greater success one has to first go through the path of “crippling depression and loneliness”. I am sorry you are feeling this way. But I trust that Unconquerable Nel will not be crippled or conquered by depression or loneliness. These may not be toothless tigers but they are opponents worth fighting each day by taking good care of oneself.

            I am rooting for you.

            • LovefromNel says:

              Dearest Nigella

              Thank you so very much once again. I also learnt much from your reply to Naina on the most recent post. Your words are always a source of comfort, and such a gift.

              We shall agree to disagree on the wiser-than-thou comment! I hope you don’t mind me saying but I do feel like I’m four years behind but following in your footsteps of similar experiences. I recall that you wrote at 28 you stopped drinking and smoking because they would be triggers for situations you didn’t want to be in (loveless sex and meaningless casual relationships and the like) – this is me! I’ve recently stopped drinking because I know now that if I’m out in the city with friends and end up drinking too much, I’ll go home with someone out of loneliness and my inebriated thought processes at the time. The most recent episode was NYE, and I haven’t drunk as much since, nor had a casual sex encounter since then either. Coincidence? I think not! So no more binge-drinking from 28 year-old Nel.

              But I don’t know why I am feeling a bit stuck in a rut at the moment. Last week I was so happy to be home after my overseas travel, to see my family and friends again, but I guess I’m now back in the routine of day-to-day life and, although I don’t feel like I’m missing a key piece of a jigsaw puzzle by not being in a relationship, I still feel a sense of loneliness. As I said to Naina, I try to fill my spare time with catching up with my closest friends, exercising a good deal, doing my homemade baking etc – but there’s just something missing. Perhaps it’s just a matter of settling back into reality again, coupled with living on my own, I’m not sure.

              Anyway, BR is my lifeline. I cannot express how grateful I am for everyone’s replies! And your words, which are such a source of warmth and comfort.

  44. Chasing rabbits says:

    I deserved better parents.

    They are both f–d up, and they could have done better by me, but they didn’t.

    I’m not entitled to good parents.

    I don’t know if my parents care about me. I don’t know if my ex cares about me.

    I know my parents distorted my reality: I’ve been confused about what caring about someone means, and I’ve misconstrued crumbs for real caring.

    It’s those little tender moments, so finely crafted by even the dumbest predator, I resent how it triggers my desire, my need to just know they care, to prove they care, to demand they care? to know they care?

    I just wanted them to care, but they don’t care.

    Yes, I care, and I don’t need them to care.

    It’s her; the one who lives inside me. She’s still in there wanting to believe that her parents care.

    They didn’t care.

    Accept it for God sakes, so we can break this pattern.

    I care about ME.

    I want the trigger to leave.

    • rachael says:


      I am sorry your parents did not give you unconditional love. This IS a hard one because that girl inside you still seeks her parents care. A man CAN care, this I know. Why not for you?

      • Chasing rabbits says:

        Thank you for your support rachael. Yes it IS hard, and sometimes I think maybe this pain will be the type of pain that never goes away–maybe I will have to learn to live with it, as so many other people live with suffering and ….

        Yes, there are people in my life who care, and some of them are men, and I am grateful, but I don’t understand why you asked me this question. ???

        • rachael says:

          Perhaps I misunderstood what you said. It was more of a rhetorical question, but still…
          ” She’s still in there wanting to believe that her parents care.

          They didn’t care.”
          I thought the girl inside still believes she isn’t lovable. When these predators you mention give crumbs and you question if they care, I thought this was the girl asking. I was saying there is no reason to think a man won’t care for her – who is YOU.

  45. happy b says:

    Wow chasing rabbits, I really hear you. Some guy shows interest and seems to *know* me (not caring is not knowing) and there is the lame-ass trigger. I’ve learned a lot and won’t demand they care anymore, that’s totally up to them, but I don’t have so much control over my heart.
    You’re not going to fall (if your name comes from the song!).

    • Chasing rabbits says:

      Happy B, thank you for your encouragement. Yes, I was thinking about the song. I’m trying as hard as I can, but my attempts to manage my triggers feels like trying to “control the uncontrollable,” and they just don’t seem to be going away, or decreasing in intensity, and I’m tired of being easily activated.

      I like how you called them lame-ass triggers, though.
      That makes me think I can ‘beat’ them. I’d love to get more headspace between ME and my triggers…nice perspective.

  46. teachable says:

    Acceptance is key. You are on the right track chasing rabbits.

    Re parents not being loving, kind, & possibly even being neglectful, abusive & seriously mentally disordered, here I what helped me.

    After emancipating myself from state guardianship aged 15 yo, where I’d spent my childhood in a series of highly abusive environments, I hoped desperately, to reunite with my Mother & that this would have the ‘happy ending’ I’d dreamed of, even wrote to Santa & begged for as a very unhappy & distraught little girl, ever since I was removed from my family age 3 yo, in the first place.

    This reunion took a while to occur physically as my Mother had run off years earlier, with a real loser type guy (no job & violent), interstate. It began, with me aged 15 going to see my mother & younger sister living with her interstate, & getting my mother & sister AWAY from the loser & into a safe shelter for women & children escaping domestic violence. I then returned to my own state, as though I was only 15 yo & executed my mother’s escape, including paying for everything to make this happen etc, the DV shelter heavied ME to leave in order to ‘save beds’ because I was from interstate (unthinkable I know. I had no choice but to return to a peadophile molesting me at the time, back in my home state).

    Finally, first my sister, then my mother a few years later, return to my state & city, which is where we’re all from & maternal family members are. Now my Mother does truely the most dispicable things to my son, recently born, & I (I wont say what as so horriffic & I can’t talk about except in therapy, even anon here).

    The relationship w my mother breaks down (even though, in another role reversal, I’d initially housed her upon her return).

    At 25 ish I try again & keep trying for the next 5 years. Repeated episodes of serious emotional abuse & neglect are happeneing. I cant make sense of it. THEN I find out WHY I was removed from her in 1st place. She was repeatly threatening to MURDER my sister & I as very small kids. Had we not been removed she would have (as some very traumatic events in this direction did occur, tht both my sis & have very disturbing memories of to this day).

    Finally, a mentor explains to me, I need to change, NOT my mother. I needed to STOP going to a DRY well expecting to find water. If the fire burns EVERY TIME you put your hand near it what does this mean? STOP PUTTING YOUR HAND IN IT!

    Finally I LEARNED. Finally I ACCEPTED the REALITY. Finally I STOPPED hurting myself anymore. FINALLY I stayed away FOR GOOD.

    This is what acceptance looks like for me. Take what may help & leave the rest.

    Teach. :)

    • rachael says:


      You have had an unreal life. Keep on, woman!

    • Chasing rabbits says:

      Teachable, thank you for sharing your life experiences with me. I appreciate your help. I’m thinking about what you said. …still processing ….

  47. teachable says:

    Two things come to mind for your situation Noquay.

    1. The power of saying NO and learning to using it. Whilst I understand workplace politics and that you would not want to let your eco centre project die due to neglect of others not doing their fair share of allocated work, (just as an example), it is helpful to balance the desire to see something succeed, (such as a job going well based on outcomes), with realising that if this is only possible by US doing work which is supposed to be being done by OTHERS, then it may be time to reassess our ability to keep that particular project or initiative going (which I know you have in terms of now planning an exit strategy from your job / town). It is not always neccessary to pick up the slack for others. We CAN say NO and rest assured that we have done our bit and that it is not OUR FAULT if something goes awry based on the slackness of others. Sometimes a report that ‘dissects’ a project’s development, what the challenges were, and possibly why it did not succeed with recommendations on how this might be remedied in subsequent similar projects, can be a helpful way of it being ‘on the record’ that we DID do our bit.

    2. Keep working on strengthening your boundaries. The most damaging boundary violations often occur at the outset of a new relationship. By this I mean that we realise, that in hindsight if we had more bullet proof boundaries right from the get go, the minute we realise something if off, then the rest of the guff we might be targeted with (like stalking) might be prevented. I am encountering this now with an ex who has contacted me after 25 years of no contact. He was not abusive but was a dope smoker back then. I have now learned that he is totally screwed up, with serious issues, (which of course he thinks are ‘fine’ and not as serious as I can see that they are). Upon realising this guys situation I have blocked him from my email accounts, facebook and the only other way he can contact me is via telephone (he has my number as I wasn’t quite quick enough in not giving this out when he first contacted me via facebook, without qualifying first, that he was a safe person to give my number to – big lesson learned there – but it’s ok. I CAN maintain boundaries and he will now learn this). This guy after being told that I wish to have no further contact with him and politely explaining why via email (I think this is just being respectful as if things were reversed I would want to know why – although it’s not neccessary to explain this if a person chooses not to), this guy has been calling my home and not saying anything (checking to see if I have changed my number by waiting for me to say hello, so see if he can recognise my voice – I had said I would be changing my number but the telco company that was supposed to do this within three days, had still not done it after 3 weeks, so I decided to leave my number the same, as he hadn’t called in that time, and I’ve had my number changed already more than once in the past three years, with some of BS that went down with my ex who died.

    A few days ago, when this guy realised that my door (he does not know where I live thankgoodness – that is not something I would ever reveal without being very sure about a person), and MY LIFE is TOTALLY CLOSED to him, this guy now PHONES ME and states it is him calling! (He is disrespecting my firmly stated boundary already and I worry that this could be the begining of possible stalking behaviour – he wasn’t known for this back in the day but it’s been 25 YEARS since then – so really WHO KNOWS?!) So, knowing that this might happen, I reacted according to my predetermined plan. I said nothing except, ‘you have the wrong number’ and hung up on him! End of! VERY simple! If he is stupid and disrespectful enough to call again, I will simply do the same thing. He cannot ‘stalk me’ unless I feed into his BS in some way. It is as simple as that. So this is what I mean by warding off n’er do wells very early on. We need to be extra vigilent and not let them into our lives to start with (I have spoken to this guy initially before I knew where he was at, on the phone ONCE, in 25 years!) This does NOT grant someone so rediculously troubled access to my life! End of. Hope this helps a bit Noquay. x

  48. Noquay says:

    Believe me, I cut these dudes out of my life ASAP as soon as a. I realize that even though I firmly, from the start, put them in the friends-only category, they think they deserve more and/or b. It becomes clear they have serious problems such as you mention, with drug use. I do not answer unwanted email/calls and a very protective doggie discourages the unwanted from my doorstep. However, I cannot prevent wannabe stalker from driving by and am hypervigilant now when going to local businesses. I blame myself in a way, I have a severe injury and needed a friend help clear snow, that was all. Many women here deal with the same crap; the dudes you hire to do yard work, fix stuff, deliver your firewood, all think that entitles them to a relationship and they can get scary when one has to enforce boundaries. Did beaucoup work alone over the weekend though my injured tendons are screaming. That is going to be my summer. The work thing is harder: graduation is soon; one program that I have taken over because others weren’t doing their job is graduating a handful of students; the reason they are able to graduate at all this semester is because I took up the slack, took on extra classes. Another student in a program where I teach 3/4 of the courses has a serious illness from which she may not recover, is graduating because I, who am not her academic advisor, nor is she a current student of mine, got her set up with accommodations so she could continue despite her illness and tutored her in a difficult course. Tis pretty hard to say no in those circumstances.

  49. […] How our perceived entitlement to what we want is keeping us stuck and why we need to challenge what … […]

  50. lalalalisa says:

    Wow, so many great responses on here that I can’t even read them all!
    I have been struggling myself and can relate to a lot of how you all feel.
    I have settled for crumbs many times but the last time was a drug addict.
    It has been more than a year since things ended and I have done some therapy which has helped tremendously but I still struggle with contacting him (even though he never replies), thinking about him, missing him, thinking I love him etc etc. I know I have to work on my boundries and my self care/love. I feel unhappy and depressed about life a lot and I don’t like feeling this way or feeling like I am in a rut with things. I have been and still can be resentful, bitter and jealous of my “entitlement” of love from a man. I know that the desperation of wanting to be loved is what attracts me to the ones who don’t usually love themselves either. Reading some of the comments and the article makes me realize that maybe self love is the only love that I will ever have but is what I ultimately need? Thanks for all of you for sharing your stories, it makes me feel less alone and not “crazy” for the way I have behaved in these situations. I will always be open to input, and advice.

  51. teachable says:

    Hi Chasing Rabbits.

    The other thing I did that helped me to construct a narrative of my life that was meaningful to me, rather than just swallow the BS of various abusers from my childhood, is I enquired into both of my parents backgrounds (ie bio mum & adopted dad, latter of whom rejected me outright age 13. Note I was completely chaste, & had never drank or smoked dope, at that age. I was ostracised from adopted dads new fam, after my parents divorce so he could do to another child what he’d done to me. Lie to them abt their adopted status – that child was only 2 yrs old at the time & having only just learned I was adopted, I did not agree that the intended lie I was expected to then keep from tht child, was appropriate).

    This took some years to piece together. Today, I have comoassion for both parents, for they, as we all do, have their own wounds, but (in my case at least) I realised that this did not excuse or justify their ongoing abuse & neglect of me as an adult (I have not seen my father since I was 13 as he moved away interstate w his new family. The adopted 2yo in his new fam eventually learned the truth & we are now in communication. I will be metting her IRL in a couple of weeks from now, for the 1st time since she & my father disappeared from my life. My sister by my bio mum has maintained a r.ship w my dad all these years. He is her bio dad).

    In this way my attitude is not cold & rejecting. Quite the opposite. I have firm boundaries though. Not only with my parents but with MYSELF. I try not to engage in wishful thing that cries out unrealistically, that I ‘wish’ things were different. They’re not. It is what it is. I have learned to parent myself. To love myself. To give to myself what neither parent ever could or will. This has been the most fantastic gift. It enables me to be whole, no longer needing inappropriate validation or approval of people whose counsel I have not carefully chosen to seek out.

    As an unexpected side benefit of this work (& it is work, that in my case I’ve undertaken very deliberately, with very carefully chosen people to help guide me, along the way), is that it has led to me growing into an emotionally mature person. I know what trust is, emotional intimacy is, what vulnerability is, & what I will tolerate & what I wont. Amazingly, (to my surprise, lol) it is just this sort of person who is well equipted, to be able to nuture a loving relationship with another, because (although I’m still doing some tweaking in one area where I have let myself down ie smoking ciggs again) I now LOVE ME. I love me warts n all, DESPITE my upbringing & the mistakes I made in my early life. This is a love that is unconditional.

    Once you get that sorted the world of possibility in terms of finding a healthy co piloted partnership with someone else, opens up.

    So let’s say I meet a guy who likes my top line data (hey, there’s some great stuff there! lol) but who starts to back off upon realising I don’t have loving parents & that my life as a child & prior to age 21 was troubled. What do I do then? I EXIT fast. Why? That guy is not acknowledging who I am today & the incredible strength it has taken for me to grow into the very decent person I am (sans ciggs). I don’t WANT a guy who sees ‘the story’ & fears THAT, without seeing ME & who I AM. To do that is to hold me responsible for things largely beyond my control & also to invalidate the consistant hard work of the past 24 years, that has grown me into the woman I am today. That guy is all wrong for me. So, I would (& have) move on.

    Hang in there chasing rabbits. Spend time now learning how to parent yourself. get help to do so if needed ie counselling. the rewards of this journey are immeasurable. x

    • Chasing rabbits says:

      Hi Teachable,

      Thank you again for sharing you life experiences with
      me. I feel happiness in my heart when I think of you meeting your sister IRL. That’s so beautiful.

      I’ve been feeling really tired lately, but I’m not
      going to give up on ME.

      Thank you for the inspiration, x

  52. maya says:

    Hi Natalie
    Great post! I agree with you that simply “having a car, house, all your teeth, money in the bank ..etc” doesn’t automatically guarantee anything. I also agree that this sense of entitlement can be dangerous. BUT I believe when people say that they have their life sorted out and complain why they still haven’t found someone isn’t because of their sense of entitlement necessarily but possibly because they believe they are a good catch and can add value to a relationship because their life IS SORTED out. They are genuinely confused someone would choose a loser over them who does not add value to a relationship.
    I believe that I have my life together, and although I do not feel entitled as such, I do believe that I have far more value to add to a relationship that people who don’t have their shit together but regardless are in a relationship. Many people want to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t have their shit together and that is indeed bewildering to me sometimes but everybody has their own issues so it happens.

    • Mymble says:

      I think that would very much depend on what you mean by having your life “sorted out”, and also what you mean by “value”.
      Sorted out does suggest to me externals like job, and house and money in the bank. Perhaps also a social life and hobbies too. It’s a slightly ominous phrase to me however. It also sounds rigid, static, controlled and somewhat complacent. I don’t see my life as ever sorted out or likely to be sorted out; it’s a process of change, losses and gains, much of which is out of my control. The reasons people love where they do may follow some patterns but there’s a lot that is unknowable. It’s not a slot machine.
      The value part too, I’m not sure what is meant by that.

  53. Marie83 says:

    One of my friends is suffering with this sense of entitlement at the moment – she was in a very long term relationship several years ago which was very emotionally abusive but since then she has been dating versions of him and essentially seeking out men who will abandon her – they have been loads so I will only refer to the latest guy whom she got involved with in a casual sex capacity mainly to distract her from another guy who had blown hot and cold on her – the dalliance started with him (I will call him A) coming round to her house them watching a movie and having sex – this seemed to be working fine for her at first as she was still holding out for the other guy but by sleeping with A it made her feel she was in control of the situation and not really as invested as she was. When things finally became untenable with the hot and colder she decided that things with A could progress to a relationship so she started texting him more, asking him round more often etc – he has reacted to this by distancing himself and now she is angry that he has used her and also angry at the hot and colder and is texting them both trying to gain some sort of validation! It’s exhausting – I think just because someone is sleeping with you doesn’t mean they owe you a relationship and as Nat says in her books you cannot upgrade from a booty call (in most cases) My friend speaks of being bitter and angry but in reality she is angry at herself and got caught up in a fantasy – guy A may have thought she was totally cool with the arrangement!

  54. Louise says:

    I have been in your friends situation and it is not pretty. It’s like what starts out as some misguided self protection, ends up as double the pain. The only thing to do is to detox NC from all of them. In reality it took a good year, and it was such hard work. Sweats, collapsing in the street, a couple of slip ups, throwing up and the shakes. As I have said here before, coming off of what felt like a class A drug habit of a lifetime.
    I am very sensitive/arty so that may have been why my bodily reaction was so deeply intense, but now even the mere mention of my EUM’S makes me shudder. I could not tolerate either of them touching me, would feel like chain smoking a thousand ciggies all in one day.
    Damaged goods cause you damage, and cost a shed load in therapy…
    Hope your friend gets through it Marie xx

  55. J says:

    No_more, mike, Sofia,

    You guys are truly motivating.

    I feel the same as u guys. I am so happy to be able to share. For a long time I have been wanting/trying to share.

    I feel at times like I’m stuck , not moving on while he moved on before he really broke up with me. I found out last October tht he had a new gf. At tht point in my mind we still had a chance. I asked him many times if he was seein someone, he said no. Lied to my face over and over. He wanted to keep enjoying the benefits of me.

    He has 5 kids by 5 different women, he left all of these women and blamed them for him having to leave. He ran into each relationship straight away or some overlapped each other. Ppl warned me about him but I was too far removed from my so called standards.

    He did the same to me tht he did to them. I wanted to be the exception to the rule.

    He says I made him do wht he did as I nagged him about his last baby mama who kept interfering and coming in to him and I spoke up about her and his need to install boundaries re her. He says i did it every time he went on tour (he’s a professional athlete).

    I have cried more times than I can count, blamed myself, what if , cuda , shoulda , wuda. After all he did up to recently I still hoped he wud retract his rejection of me and run after me.

    I feel so scared of his future , he’s successful, he and the chick are still along after 9 months. It bothers me, I don’t want to care but I do/did. It hurts so much to think he chose her over me and gave me up for her who e only knew a couple months and he knew me for a year and three months.

    I admit I wanted him to validate me by coming back to me. But when I really ask myself , can you take him back after everything? The answer is no. I cu never take a chance with him knowing who he proved himself to be. I can’t go through that pain again.

    I think about him literally every half hour. I’m trying and I will do this.

    He calls from half way around the world where he’s playing a tournament. I hav blocked every number he has , he uses new numbers all the time and I block each one and never answer them.

    As Sophia says I’m am closing the door for good. I don’t want or need a man like tht. He did some deliberately cruel things to me , I almost gave up on living.

    Tell me guys, did I really make him leave?

    • Nephila says:

      I think every time a guy cheats he is moving down the levels, to women with fewer and fewer standards. So you’re not worse than she is, but you’re not better than the woman he cheated on with you! He’s long gone and a serial cheater, he’s not worth a time. Forget caring about him. What about you? Why was it ok with you? I’m not talking about the “protecting yourself from the same fate” thing I’m talking about why was that behaviour in him ok with you? Why did you condone it? Why was it ok to “overlap” ie cheat? That is what you can fix. You can be sorry if you helped him cheat on someone. You can never do that to someone like her again. You don’t fix him you fix you. But you are still condoning him. Still looking for him to be happy. What about the poor innocent children he keeps leaving? Judging him for that is not a dirty word. It’s the only way to not condone him.

  56. […] we don’t confuse our sense of what we deserve with what I talked about a couple of weeks ago – feeling entitled to something. When we act this way and our expectations aren’t met, we adopt a bailiff mentality of trying […]

  57. Nephila says:

    Hmm I don’t feel entitled to much. Just not actually being mugged or snuck up on really. I don’t expect things to work out in my favour. I don’t turn somersaults for anyone. I tell it like it is and if you don’t like me so be it.

    But I know some people who have an entitlement complex, and not because they are people pleasers but because they think they are better than others. They are each women who chase married men, and if they succeed, they relish the opportunity to compete with women who don’t know they’re doing it. They are master manipulators too and the men are usually a low EQ and don’t realise they’re being played.

    Not everyone who thinks they deserve when they don’t is a good person.

  58. […] I will recognise when I am becoming obsessed with my ex and will force myself to step back so that I don’t end up trapped in […]

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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