There's a lot of things that we all wish we could have done differently, but if you spend too much of your life trying to change the past, your biggest regret will be that you spent your life wishing to change a 'done' past, when you could have been changing an unwritten present and future.

After the struggles with December, I hear from lots of people who struggle with the ‘freshness’ of January. It’s the sense of no longer being inside a year where an event or situation took place. Something that we’re holding onto seems less “current” when we have to say “last year” or “last summer” and this sense of leaving something behind and having to look ahead can actually compel us to do something to seek attention and validation and ultimately make the past current.

A big part of the reason why we “go back” is due to regret – this sense of wishing that we’d done things differently and even if what we think we should have done differently is actually irrational, then feeling disappointed, sad, guilty, remorseful or even ashamed.

“I wish I’d done things differently!” We only wish this because we think that “everything” would have been different.

It’s the whole One False Move mentality – if I had just done X or hadn’t done Y then Z wouldn’t have happened. When we have an overactive blame thyroid, languishing on regret becomes rumination and obsessing and next thing, we’re doing something in the hope of easing the regret. This takes the form of the whole seeking attention and validation, or basically attempting to return to the relationship or situation for another round, or even trying to right the wrongs of the past with someone new.

If I had a pound for every person who has gotten in touch with me because of regrets they feel about a parent or lover who was addicted to something or unhealthy in some other way who has then gone on to have a relationship with someone similar who they attempt to fix their problems and right the wrongs of the past with, I’d be probably be typing this on a private beach somewhere.

Regret hangovers are what happen when you want to go back and change the past, when you want to have a shot at making the preferred outcome happen and when you’re basically attempting to undo what’s already done.

The more you meddle, the more regret you clock up, the more you resist the reality that the past is done and that if you want to truly improve anything, it’s about living your life well now, not trying to do live versions of Quantum Leap. Remember that series? Often the outcome didn’t change although sometimes it was delayed.

You won’t have a regret hangover if you minimise the amount of time you spend living in the past or beating yourself up – this means not beating you up for what you didn’t know or do at the time or not beating you up for other people’s behaviour. It also means not languishing on ‘mistakes’ – why keep throwing something back in your own face? That’s torment.

It seems so easily forgotten but the past is the past for a reason – it’s already happened. It’s done. Each moment you spend living in the past actually turns the present into a similar past. It just becomes an extension, a continuation of the same story.

You don’t know that if you’d done things “differently” that the outcome would be any different.

As an individual, you can evolve out of regret.There are things I’ve been and done in my life that I’m not proud of and there are things that have happened that I’ve really wished hadn’t happened because no child/teenager/young woman should experience these things. But I did experience them. No matter what I do in my life, the past is done and happened but I’ve stopped letting it define me.

The danger with regret is that it affects how you see a situation, person or problem. How you see things becomes the problem in itself because you can become fixated on this ‘solution’ being applied to your perception of things whereas when you have a reasonable level of self-esteem and are willing to entertain a perspective where you’re not owning an entire situation and making you responsible for Other People’s Behaviour.

A friend was telling me about how there was a problem on a work project and they advised the coworker who was investigating the issue to take an overall look before latching onto the first idea that sprang to mind. The coworker ignored the advice, decided that they thought that the problem was X and spent a few days pursuing this investigation and trying to solve it, when it turned out that there was a wider issue.

Regret is often latching onto this idea that what you feel regretful about was the determining factor for the outcome. Possibly, but possibly not. Possibly if it’s you and only you in the situation and you had a great deal of control over what you could do, but not the case if there are things beyond your control like people and circumstances.

If you see you as the ‘problem’ for another person’s behaviour, if you want to regret something, regret that you’d burden you with other people’s BS. Regret that you’re still adopting thinking and behaviour that disempowers you and then resolve to do better by you.

Regret hangovers grow in size when you feed them with a cocktail of blame, shame, guilt and obsessing followed by doing stuff off the back of these feelings in an attempt to prevent what you perceive as an unfavourable outcome, only to open you up to further pain.

There are always things that you could have done differently. It’s very rare that you’re going to go “Yeah, there’s not a damn thing I would change about this day, week, month or year”. There are always things that you could have done differently but you can’t, although you can influence your present and future experiences by doing things differently moving forward.

Whatever you wish you’d done differently, use it to grow and learn from the insights gained. Things happen for a reason, it’s just not always very clear what that reason is at the time. In no longer punishing myself like some sort of persecutor, I’ve come to trust that it might hurt or piss me off now, but at some point the reason for why I did something or why it happened will become clear. The less I fixate on it, the more my perspective shifts.

You have to choose to be done and you also have to forgive you for where you’ve erred. You also have to be careful of letting you picking you up on everything you feel you’ve done ‘wrong’ steal away gratitude, happiness, and general good feelings about the things you do do well, as good memories.

Regret hangovers last and hurt a hell of a lot when you realise that how you feel and what you’re doing hasn’t changed significantly since the original point of regret and so that’s how you get over and reduce regret hangovers – go easy on you, remember the good stuff and avoid repetition of what you know hurts. The more you beat you up, the less self-esteem you have to move forward and also the less perspective you have. Improving your self-esteem is a good regret hangover cure.

Your thoughts?

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142 Responses to “I Wish I’d Done Things Differently!” – Getting Over The Regret Hangover

  1. Clay says:

    Very true, you need to let go of the past because you can’t change it. Use the past to make better choices in the present.

    One of my favorite quotes is from Napoleon Hill: “Every adversity, every failure, and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.”

    Learn the lessons and then move on.

    Thanks for this great post :)

  2. Great article as always! I love that your relationship insights can apply just as well to non-romantic relationships such as co-workers, bosses and family members.

    One of my favorite quotes is applicable:

    “forgiveness is the release of all hope for a better past” – Buddy Wakefield

    • grace says:

      careers
      I love that quote!

      • Fearless says:

        Yes, and I think that forgiveness and acceptance have a lot in common. For me ‘acceptance is the release of all hope for a better past’.

        I have been better at accepting/forgiving some serious flaws in my upbringing than some of my siblings who still struggle. For some reason I had much more difficulty accepting the ‘letting go’ of the ex relationshit; I seemed determined to make good of it all even although I knew I couldn’t… until Nat said here two simple words that I instantly recognised: ‘learn acceptance’.

        It was then I joined the dots – that I cannot better the past and I needed to stop trying. It was a blessed relief.

  3. Maria says:

    Hi Natalie
    I relish every article you write. And I thank you for using your experience and your talent to express so much truth to so many people who land themselves in these situations.
    Your article today couldn’t be more appropriate for me, who continually bashes myself up for not knowing better, for regret, but the truth is, the thing I regret most, is that it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.
    But then again, if it did turn out the way I fought so hard for, in reality, I would be sitting here writing to you about the regrets I have for not knowing better and getting blindsided by a master future faker, gaslighting, assclown and ruining my whole life by trusting him and allowing myself to get caught up in the whole scenario.
    I am at the point where I need to celebrate. Celebrate that I found Baggage Reclaim in time, celebrate that you have written some down to earth material that resonates with me and many others, and celebrate that I am no longer willing to be the fallback girl or the dreamer and I see the future fakers and assclowns for who they really are.
    Without you Natalie and your amazing posts, I would not be working towards healing my self worth, looking inside myself instead of outside for the answers.
    You are amazing Natalie and I wish you and your family, every happiness for 2013. :)

  4. Stella says:

    Ugh…I have been wrestling with this issue since last September. Why did I not leave when I saw the red flags…why did I throw my boundaries and values out the window. You say to move on…..but I seem to be on the vicious cycle. I can’t seem to get it right. And at 48, it feels like I will never get it right.

    • Marilyn says:

      Me,too, Stella. At 57, I am no longer in a relationship, but the hurt is still very fresh. I hate feeling like this. The AC is so not worth it.

    • Claudia says:

      Hello Stella.

      I know where you’re coming from. It’s a hopeless scenario when you see yourself in it, but when you start regretting less, you’ll start to let go. Use your reason to convince yourself that you are a better person now and THAT is all that matters. You are better off now than before because you started to let go. Life is more beautiful when you start to count the blessings you DO have. And not having him in your life anymore, despite your mistakes, IS a blessing. What does it matter what he/you did/didn’t do? Like Nat says, beating yourself up won’t change a thing of the past, but it will bitter your present. Now you know how to detect BS, now you can use what you have learned to not make the same mistakes again. But you have to let go.

      Life is too short.

    • AHM says:

      @Stella

      Lately I have been feeling the same. I have given up a year of my life for my Dad who broke his hip Xmas 2011. And no help from my brothers – I found it very hard to have boundaries as my father is elderly and had I abandoned him, my brothers would not have helped.

      WIth that being said – I have felt more stuck than previously and I begin to tell myself that it was my fault with the AC and had I just done it by his terms I would have someone there for me and his life is great and he’s moving on and I am stuck!! LMAO – it’s so delusional, but that’s where I go.

      I find myself rereading Nat’s articles and it’s time to read “Get Out of Stuck” again, but I am exhausted from all the caretaking I have done in the last 5 years.

      I just needed to vent – onward and upward!! Time for counseling again!!

    • Christine says:

      I feel the same way and I’m 42 yrs old. I’m just getting out of the relationship. Well, he is still under the same roof playing his ‘cheating’ games. (I told him to get out by 2/28/13) :>( But I know that he is definitely shocked that I refuse to take the crap anymore.

  5. beth d says:

    I have done it but made a conscious effort to stop the nonsense. It is basically a way to hang on to the pain. Power of Now is a strong premise. If you keep in the past you lose what is going on now, and a chance to move on and enjoy life. Most of the guys we are obsessing over aren’t even worth our spit never mind our analyzing them to death.

  6. miskwa says:

    Yep, he strung me along for two years, used me for attention, when all the while he was involved with someone else and claimed to be alone. Maybe there were some things I could’ve done differently but in the long run he was dishonest, is definitely a narc, may be racist, he didn’t give and still doesn’t give a rats about how much he hurt me. My job now is to try and stop internalizing that hurt and rejection. One should get ones sense of self from internal rather than external sources but Even the strongest self esteem feels a tad battered when one gets zero positive feedback from others. Ironically yesterday we had a meeting on racism and many of the white men present felt very marginalized, denegrated, bashed due to their physical appearance. We discussed it today and I had to tell them “I and most of our female colleagues feel this way all the time in the communities where our campuses are located”. Made folks do a bit of thinkin

    • Magnolia says:

      Rock on, Miskwa. Have you been hearing about the protests here in Canada? The racism people feel no shame about spouting is beyond. effing. belief.

      I teach three classes this term and I’m the only brown person in any of them. You bet I’m teaching some Junot Diaz!

  7. Sam says:

    Your posts always come on days when I need them most. After being called by the EUM today and yelled at for nothing under my control I thougt I was to blame for his anger. I’m not its him it’s not me. I am giving him power to hurt me. I am thankful for your blog and wish I would have discovered it much sooner

  8. dancingqueen says:

    Okay I have to be honest; I can see the progress that I have made and one is that I don’t regret things like I used to.

    A few weeks ago I broke NC with someone who I honestly had never been tempted to break it with before, due to some pics that I came across… I said some things that I had always wanted to say ( about them having said some shady things during our “friendship” later) and their response made me realize that, if I had only broken it sooner, I would have not wasted a few months thinking well of them!

    I will declare; not only am I not sorry for breaking nc, but furthermore I am glad that I broke nc because it really did clarify what I always suspected about them. So I think regret is funny because you could choose to look at something two different ways: you can have regret for breaking contact and feeding someone’s ego, getting hurt etc, or you can do it once by mistake, see something awful and reframe that as something positive; i.e. “Well, now I really know the truth that I was too stupid to see before.”

    No more regrets and more awareness this year; only positive people, positive and mindful choices and always choosing to support myself and get behind me; that is my VOW this year. So glad to make these “mistakes” because in the end they always will benefit me because really we all have the power to make these mistakes, with our positive thinking, helpful realizations, not mistakes at all.

    • Grizelda says:

      Dancingqueen, I’m glad you wrote that. I too don’t ‘do regret’, and I read Natalie’s fabulous post nodding briskly and murmuring “I know this! I SO know this already Nat! Gimme the exam on this topic, this is one I don’t need to study for!”

      I came to the realisation many years ago that my regrets stupidly revolved around magical wishes. “God I sure regret not having a crystal ball so that I could’ve known then what I know now!” “Ah I really regret not being able to wave a magic wand and change the way everything was!” “I definitely regret not being able to go back in time and fix his issues, preferably before we even met, because then we’d be happy today!” I mean, please. I sounded like someone who didn’t realise that Bewitched was a fictional sit-com and Samanatha with the twitchy nose wasn’t real.

      I’m a firm believer that if one’s heart was in the right place, that one always outwardly behaved maturely and considerately, and one made understandable decisions given the information at the time, then anything one might have said or done that could’ve been a bit irregular would’ve been bound to be within the ‘acceptable’ range. What’s left to judge would really be nit-picking the tiniest nits to pick.

      Finding BR however was pretty damn close to finding that crystal ball.

      • dancingqueen says:

        @Griz

        So well said here! “I’m a firm believer that if one’s heart was in the right place, that one always outwardly behaved maturely and considerately, and one made understandable decisions given the information at the time, then anything one might have said or done that could’ve been a bit irregular would’ve been bound to be within the ‘acceptable’ range.”

        Yeah, pretty much exactly right.And we have all not always been tactful either but you know what? Nothing that I have ever done was as tactless and self-centered and whining as the last rant that I heard, from the man who brought me here lol.

        Re; grace. Yes, it is weird how, being graceful, can even be something that you regret, when your self esteem is shakey. The nights that I spent, years ago, angry because someone had hurt me and I had not been “tough enough” to lash out and instead had just frozen. Now I look back at that and I don’t feel any regret; he should have been the one regretting his actions not me. This site has changed me more than therapy has; it opened up my eyes, to how common my circumstance was for so many.

        Now I am different. I don’t freeze, I don’t take things as personally that is for sure. I am very much in control of myself at this stage in my life, so no matter what “mistakes” I might make in the future I know that this will be true. It is really dumb to regret being kind to people, or trusting them initially when they seem to have given you reason to trust them…there is NO point regretting not having a crystal ball and such. Plus, most of these guys that hurt us are pretty manipulative; they might have even fooled a crystal ball and they probably even fool themselves into thinking they are quality and ethical men.

        That said, onwards and upwards always and doesn’t it feel good to hoist someone who is no good out the metaphorical window?:) I hate to say it but I am really enjoying “practicing” my new found bullshit detector.

        I think the only regrets that many of us have, is the feeling of disillusionment when you find out that someone is not as they seem; yeah disappointing. But we call also reframe it, as us becoming, with each protected bounday, MORE than we probably seemed in a good way. So if you had to choose what you rather have; a man who gets behind you, or you who gets behind you. If there was only the choice of that, I would choose me ( and my cats of course, who always have my back lol)

        • Robin says:

          dancingqueen, you mentioned “The nights that I spent, years ago, angry because someone had hurt me and I had not been ‘tough enough’.” That’s actually how I’m processing my current break-up right now! I went into the relationship without many boundaries, or I decided to let my ex get past them. I’m at this point where every now and then I’ll regret not having been tough enough or whatever I might have done to contribute to the end of the relationship as well (now, I’m not letting my ex off the hook here either!). Regardless, now that I am out of the relationship, I can objectively see what did and didn’t work out…and this blog and everyone here has been a great source of support for me. Just knowing that we’re all going through the same thing gives me hope that we’ll all get through it together. I agree, I would choose me too!

          I hope to eventually get to where you are, where you’ve come to accept the facts as it is and just keep looking ahead.

          • dancingqueen says:

            @Robin,

            Please don’t ever flagellate yourself for being a nice person; most tough people who go ballistic on people, even for cause, are kind of a-holes.

            His loss. HIS LOSS. NOT yours.

            And you will get to my oh-so-zenful state of equanamity lol. Stick around, it is not that impressive, you will see me flip out at some point I assure you:)

  9. MissBliss says:

    This post comes at a perfect time. Regret hangover, indeed. I thought I had licked it when I dumped the narcissist a year and a half ago. This guy was as narcissistic and destructive as the guy Victorious went out with – a real mind-trip. Today, I was in a coffee shop on a date with a super sweet, cute guy… the first such date in a long time. No sooner had we walked in than I spot the ex-narc sitting in a corner. I chose a table far off but where I could see him clearly. I think he traumatized me so badly I didn’t even want to have my back to this guy. I also wanted to have a glimpse at him, partly out of curiosity and to test myself.
    Still, my heart was racing. It was like the trauma bond had been re-activated. But I was so intrigued by my date, I let it go, and managed not to glance at the ex again.
    So, get this. Outside, as I was hugging my date good-bye, the ex walks slowly behind my date and gives me this huge smiley face. Wtf? I couldn’t figure out if he was trying to establish a friendly connection (as if that would ever happen), or if he was just trying to play with my mind.
    It was such a weird episode! Has anyone had a similar experience with an ex-narc? Just being around him made me agitated and upset. Ugh! I so wish I didn’t have to see that face again!
    The regret hangover continues.

    • MSA says:

      @MissBliss My ex-narc is my ex-husband, father of my 2 children as I mentioned in my below post. I know the tensed up feeling around him all so well, even when he gives that “friendly smile” *shudders*. I stayed for about 8 years not knowing what was wrong WITH ME, why I couldn’t make HIM happy… Then it dawned on me, it was HIM that was wrong with me, HE couldn’t make me happy or himself for all it matters. It was liberating and empowering. I’m still not divorced yet, but we’re separated, a step I thought I’d never dare take with him, but I did. Things are kinda up in the air for me, but at least I’m not entangled in his narcissistic cycle anymore. Glad you found happiness in goodbye too, and wish you all the best with your new date :) Have a Happy 2013!

    • Victorious says:

      Miss Bliss you said it yourself, he is a narc and his speciality is mindfuckery. He would have been sitting in that cafe, fuming that you were there with another bloke, because you just know in his mind he has you INLOVEWITHHIMFOREVER. So he just had time to think about what he could do that would not make him look a total fool or get him arrested, but would prey on your mind. Bingo! The big smile. Set you spinning.
      Sounds like you carried it all off in a classy way. You don’t want to scare of new fella by telling him you dated a psycho narc so you couldn’t really leave the cafe, and anyway he would get supply from that as it would show he had power over you. Just chalk this up as a mini win for MissBliss. Not that I am suggesting for one second that anyone should actually set out to play with narcs. Nothing to regret here.

    • dancingqueen says:

      @MissBliss

      He was trying to give you the impression that he is not pissed off that you have moved on. But he is a bit stung by that, I assure you.

    • Grizelda says:

      MissBliss,

      Yep and it’s mockery. The pathologicals’ capacity for contempt of normal empathic people knows no bounds. Sadly you can probably expect a communication from him soon. Because he will believe that the whole thing was a show put on for him and him alone — hence he couldn’t let it pass without demonstrating some sort of ‘comment’.

      • MissBliss says:

        Thanks everyone for your feedback. You’re all astute at making sense out of a man who makes no sense at all. I just wish that a year and a half later, he still didn’t “get” to me the way he did. I’m shocked that I get so ruffled by him, actually. I hope that I can be indifferent to this ass one day in the near future. When does it end?

    • La Pintura Bella says:

      Miss Bliss…

      Every comment you received is dead on. My Dad is a narc so I have an unwanted PhD. in their “ways.” This was most definitely a mindf**k on his part. You didn’t run from the cafe screaming. In fact, you had the “audacity” to enjoy yourself with another man. His “smile” was his way of exerting his Alpha Male power. In his mind, your date is just a poor replacement for HIM, so he gave you the dazzling smile to remind you who is “the man” and to get you to come running back. See, he thinks you ARE his possession.

      Brace yourself, he will be contacting you. Best defense…IGNORE him. Completely.

      • MissBliss says:

        Thanks, LPB. I need you ladies to help me recalibrate…My therapist said narcissists can corkscrew into your brain, and the trick is to get them out. It’s been strictly NC for a year and a half. He’s the type of narc that, when dumped, treats you as if you are dead to him. The couple times I’ve seen him before, he’s looked through me as if I didn’t exist (which was so inhuman and bizarre). So, this time, with the big smile, it was a shocker. All of you are right – a mindfuck disguised as a friendly gesture. His alpha male power intact. Ugh.
        I doubt he’ll contact me because, thankfully, he is a coward. I just want the guy’s toxic aftermath to get out of my system…He symbolizes such misery for me. Thank you all for helping with the healing process. It’s taken longer than I expected, but I’m getting there.

  10. Shirley says:

    I am so happy to have found this website. I have been beating myself up for the last couple of months for being involved in a situation that was just sex, yet I had the nerve to be surprised by the outcome; that he was going to use me as long as I let him, with out any regard whatsoever for my feelings. I had to get real with myself and cut my losses, so with the new year came a new resolve. I will not let him have the same power over me and will stop feeling ashamed or stupid for allowing myself to be played. I am ready to move on and let go of the confusion and the hurt, because I KNOW I deserve so much more.

  11. Tired says:

    Funny but it was only yesterday i was so down about being “used ” by the ex mm and torturing myself over it . What a crap shitty day it was . All that went thro my head was , he used me and i let him . All i was a couple of texts and a visit , he didnt care , offered on a plate . Course hed take it , and so on and so on. A ehole shit day , banging headache and a cry in the car . But it changes nothing it is exactly as nat says what is done is done . It is very hard to switch off the thoughts , i tell myself a thousand times a day , why are you thinking of him , hes prob not thought of you in months . Oneards and upwards , i guess you just get shitty days .x

    • cc says:

      tired-
      wrote you reply on the previous post, fyi.

    • Allison says:

      Tired,

      Please stop saying you were being used. You chose to get involved with a MM, this is a no-win! Think about the kids and ex wife!

      When you stop seeing yourself as a victim, and an active participant, you will be able to move forward.

      There are no victims on this site, only people who tolerated bad behavior!

      • Allison says:

        Tired,

        It is time to take all focus off him, and put it solely on you! Haven’t you wasted enough energy on this guy!

        It’s your choice if you want to move forward with your life. Bad choices were made, please learn from them.

  12. GetSmartyr says:

    I’m trying to put this into practice in work and relationships. I am interviewing for a new and better job, but my current situation is really trying my patience. I caught myself getting ready to self-bash; I should have done this or that to avoid the job, but then I told myself, “Shh. You had two job offers in a crappy economy and you picked the best one available. You’ve used it to build your skills and broaden your network. Those were strong choices in an uncertain time.” When I saw the situation for what it was, I waited until I had a year under my belt, and then polished up my resume.

    Same with my last relationship. There were many signs that my wishy-washy BF was not a good choice for a long-term partner, but because I wasn’t in a good, solid place with myself, I attracted someone with a similarly uncertain attitude toward relationships. I didn’t know that then. I thought I was ready to jump back into a relationship of some sort. When I started to figure out what I really wanted, and was able to see his real attitude by focusing on his actions, not his words, my choice became clear. I didn’t end it as quickly as I could have, but I did when I was ready. Each time he has contacted me since, I have had to re-affirm that choice. Each time, I have resented the hell out of his intrusion, but having to “re-choose” myself each time has solidified my decision. I noticed that after I blocked him from email the last time he contacted me, it felt awful as I did it, but I felt so much better in the days that followed. I can see myself getting stronger, and that seeing the truth for what it is has made me stronger and actually protected me from future harm. I don’t feel like some defenseless little git anymore. Which is awesome. So thank you, Natalie, for coalescing some stuff that’s been knocking around in my head, just not in such an articulate form!

    • dancingqueen says:

      “I noticed that after I blocked him from email the last time he contacted me, it felt awful as I did it, but I felt so much better in the days that followed.”

      That is so true: I would never want to talk to either of the two exes I have dated in recent years; one was more traumatic than the other but in the end, keeping in contact with the last one was a kind of slow drain on my nerves:) It does feel so much better to have them firmly out of my life!

  13. Teddie says:

    This is why sometimes traditional therapies backfire, they basically make the past perpetually present.
    I have found NLP to be very helpful in dealing with one’s own timeline and shifting the past to where it belongs, the past. A great book with many nuts and bolts exercises is “The Secrets of Being Happy: The Technology of Hope, Health and Harmony” by Garner Thompson and Richard Bandler.

  14. maya says:

    One of my favourite phrase used to be ‘if only.” If only I had been bla bla bla … if only I had done bla bla bla …” If’s don’t work when the thing has passed. Regret doesn’t work either if I don’t learn anything from what has passed. Learning that now. If only I had known this earlier … ;)

    Fantastic post as usual Nat, thanks :)

    • dancingqueen says:

      @ maya, I used to be the queen of that and then I even went through the stage of regretting having regretted so much ‘if only I had not always said “if only’ ” gah!:) You can get rid of that, it is just a bad habit of mind….

  15. MSA says:

    The timing is amazing as usual, Nat! I was on that regret trip on New Year’s, dwelling on my mistakes, why I didn’t listen to others who saw what I didn’t see more than 10 years back and now I’m left to deal with a broken marriage, divorce and 2 boys. I felt it’s my fault they will have to deal with growing up in a dismantled family. It was paralyzing to say the least. I had a blast that night… not!!! I cried myself to sleep and that was how I welcomed 2013. The next day though, it was a different story, like I was shedding old mistakes off and looking forward to start a new life, with new hopes, values and boundaries.
    I’m kind of seeing someone, but he’s been an AC at times, others a totally loving and supporting partner. I understand it’s a red flag, so I’m planning to stand my ground until it’s clearer. We were dating, then he screwed up, apologized and explained he’s dealing with some issues (which I know of), he’s getting the long overdue help he needed, and is supposed to be working to regain my trust. We’re just talking for now until I see how things turn out. I must admit, thanks to BR, I’m seeing things for what they are, not for what I wish them to be, I stopped making excuses for him. It’s causing me more pain (seeing some ugly truths), but at least they’re truths not illusions. Thanks, Nat and all BR readers. Have a happy and bright 2013! :D

    • Allison says:

      MSA,

      What exactly did he do?

      • MSA says:

        @Allison, a long list of red flags to be honest: Loosing contact, breaking up/making up cycle, it’s mainly the hot and cold periods that gets the best of me. He’d be totally awesome for a week or more, then disappears. He’s been repeatedly and deeply traumatized in his life (an excuse I always used for him, but then again, why would that prevent him from contacting his gf who he supposedly loves madly??!!!) I must say, it’s happening again now, so I’m on the verge of giving it all up; the so-called friendship we’re having atm, as well as anything that might have happened down the road. I think I gave him a green light to walk all over me again when I replied to his declaration of love that I did love him too. I was about to smash my head in the thickest wall when he disappeared after that, but then it’s not my fault he’s being an AC

    • MissBliss says:

      Take care, MSA. I came out of a 10 year relationship and went straight into two back-to-back relationships with a couple of assclowns. I was super vulnerable, wanting to have something light and fun, to erase the past like a big huge band-aid. It didn’t work because I was so needy. If he’s showing signs of AC behaviour, you might want to dump him and spend the time and energy being good to yourself, and healing once and for all. ((hugs))

  16. Sunshine says:

    Letting go of the regret’s really been hard for me. And something that Nat said really hit me: “you have to forgive you for where you’ve erred.” I think that’s the most difficult part for me: to forgive myself for letting all of this happen in the first place! How could I not see what he was really doing? How could I not see where everything was headed? All of this coupled with the regret of not having done things differently. Yes, I place all the responsibility and burden on me … again and again … Urgh … Still have a long way to go in this department.

    • natashya says:

      sunshine, hindsight is always 20/20. while in the relationship you did the best you could do with the information you had.

      • Sunshine says:

        I guess that’s true. My mother said the other day: “You trusted him too much. You can’t turn into an old spinster now just because one asshole hurt you.” :) A bit sharp, but true, isn’t it?:)

  17. LostHope says:

    I am beating myself up for missing out on what could have been the love of my life. For one year I was in love with the most wonderful man who obviously reciprocated my feelings. After some flirting our “relationship” developed into a friendship, because nobody would talk about their feelings openly. In July he told me he had a girlfriend. It’s a scenario that repeats itself over and over. Still, I don’t seem to be able to overcome my love-shyness and come out of my shell. My feelings just seem to be locked inside. Sometimes I am able to make a move, but sabotage, if the other person becomes available. At almost 40 I am about to lose hope. Thus, it’s not only that I am mistreated by assclowns, but my own emotional unavailability chases away nice guys. Anyone who can relate to this?

    • Sunshine says:

      Hmm, I can relate to this a little, definitely. I think that used to be my problem in the past, too. But with me it was the other way round: some guy would chase me and he would really get on my nerves, and then when he gave up/stop chasing me I got interested. Isn’t that f****d up or what? Although now, after being so hurt, I just don’t seem to be interested in men at all, or better: no one has really won my attention so far:)

    • Teddie says:

      LH, not sure you can entirely own this situation, where was he after all? He would have made his feelings known, had he wanted to, after all, he got a GF later, didn’t he? Nat has written on the shyness myth, look it up! Some guys lead a woman to think that a situation is in the making but make no move so as not to own anything afterwards. Be glad you were not the one to make the move, your regret hangover (brill, Nat!) would have been greater now.

    • Grizelda says:

      LostHope, I don’t think you’re emotionally unavailable. You say you were in love with this guy! That’s love, not a lack of emotion — and that’s certainly not a lack of emotion you were covering up with piles of lies about non-existent feelings in order to keep him hanging around!

      You were just too reticent about the feelings you did have — you just didn’t communicate them.

      I wouldn’t lose hope if I were you. If he and his gf break up, you could always respond to the news by letting him know that you were disappointed in July to hear he had a girlfriend and you were afraid you’d missed your chance… then see how he responds.

    • grace says:

      Lost Hope

      missing out + love of my life + most wonderful man + feelings + no open communication + unavailability (girlfriend, wife, lover, distance, not over the ex) + love shyness + previous pattern = fantasy relationship alert.

      I think you are emotionally unavailable in the same way that I was. It’s more comfortable to escape into fantasy than it is to put yourself into a genuine relationship with a real person. That’s too scary. Why it’s scary is up to you to examine. Face it and you can overcome it. For me, I was afraid that long term relationships are boring (no real man can compete with Mr. Fantasy Loverman), difficult (my parents’ marriage was a warzone), unsatisfying (the men never really knew me as I had a poor sense of self), doomed (nothing necessarily to do with the relationship, that was my own generalized anxiety), the threat to my independence (still working through this one, out in the field).

      I am enjoying a book by Steven Carter, Getting to Commitment. I feared it might be about how to “manage” men to get them down the aisle, but it’s about how YOU can commit to a relationship. A real relationship with a real available person, with the doubts, fears, vulnerability, demands, rewards, compromise, sacrifice and fulfillment that comes with it. I read it when I first started seeing my boyfriend and feeling anxious after years of no dating. I’m reading it again six months into our relationship because a part of me is turning over the possibility of bolting as I am not comfortable on my dependency on him. It’s a healthy dependency but I’m not used to it. I know my fear is there. I recognise it and I’m facing it down because I am committed to not letting my previous shite sabotage this relationship. It may or may not lead to a lifelong partnership but whatever happens I will have given it my best efforts and intentions (well, mostly, we’re none of us perfect), in the real world, not in my imagination.

      PS The relationship deserves it. I’m not talking about hitting your head against the brick wall of trying to squeeze a healthy relationship from someone who is unable or unwilling of married/whatever.

  18. kendo says:

    Gosh this is so timely! I am stuck here thinking ‘if only I could have…’ then I wouldn’t be alone and without him. It’s like I WANT to blame myself (something I am working on). I know he was cruel and unkind but he said that he was that way because of things I did. My ex h said the same – because I behaved one way they did the things that were hurtful. And now I’m thinking I can put it all right now I know. He wanted me to put him first – I tried as well as managing my job and 2 kids. He said I put those things before him – I had to really, I have to work to live and my children need me. I thought I was doing the best I could. He said I never included him – I invited him to mine lots but he wouldn’t come. He wouldn’t ever come on the bus (he doesn’t work and has no money) so I had to run round collecting him and I just couldn’t fit it all in. OMG as I write I see how much I was bending pretzl shaped for him and yet I still miss the good times. The good times were sooo good and I’ve been without any affection for so long I’m like a sponge. Its good to be able to get it out here with people who understand. I know he’s got hundreds of red flags and I know I am worth someone who will love me consistantly but I miss him I miss him

    • Ms Determined says:

      Kendo, your guy does work. He has a shitty job though. He’s the CEO of making you utterly miserable. He’s clearly fully qualified for this position and seems an expert in his field, which is why he made damn sure you ‘paid’, and handsomely. When you were together he got your love, care and devotion (not to mention a free taxi service, lazy fucker) and I am assuming some hot sex when the fancy took him. If you don’t see who he really is (not who you wished him to be) now that you’ve broken up, you’ll pay with your sanity too. And he will have got all of this for next to nothing. No wait, it wasn’t nothing was it…he magnanimously gave you cruelty and unkindness in return. Plus a dumping ground for all the shitty, uncomfortable feelings being such an obviously ‘stellar guy’ brings up in him (actually scratch ‘stellar guy’ and replace with ‘seething mass of entitlement with a penis’).

      Seriously WTF? He was petulant that you were putting your job and kids first? That must be because the reason he’s not working is that the instant he met you he selflessly quit his job so that he could spend every walking minute with you, and naturally expected you to do the same. If so, the only thing that would prevent me from thinking he should shut the fuck up is if you told me he is actually 6 years old and therefore has no real grasp of how the world of commerce works. That shit is just embarrassing. Does he live with his mother?

      I can only imagine the good times *seem* good in retrospect when contrasted with the tedium of what you’ve just described above.

      You are so right. You are so worth someone who will love you consistently. But more than that you deserve someone with a basic clue about the right way to treat people. (Also someone who has a job that pays actual money would be helpful, so you get to share your load a bit. And also, someone who doesn’t have his head up his ass.)

      Take that sponge and wipe any last trace of that assclown from your mind, stat. There is a much better man for you, and when you rid yourself of this apology for a bloke, there’ll be room for him.

      • Chrysalis says:

        Ms Determined. “Seething mass of entitlement with a penis”. I love it! If ever I have to go into battle I want you in my corner!!

        • La Pintura Bella says:

          I second that!!!

        • dancingqueen says:

          I agree, that was pretty much the call out of the year; I almost want to date another asshole, just so I can say that to them when angry:)

          • Victorious says:

            Yeah, Natalie, please can we all break NC just so we can all text the “seething mass of entitlement with a penis” jibe to our ex eums? Oh PLEASE? Ok then I will just fantasise about it. Thanks Determined.

        • Ms Determined says:

          Hells yeah Chrysalis. I would don Mel Gibson (speaking of massive assclowns) style “FREEDOM” face paint for each and every woman here. The biggest weapon in my personal arsenal against these morons is scorn and derision. I beseech all the lovlies here to adopt this approach, it is the most effective AC repellent I’ve found. Don’t be sad that they left you/left you no option but to dump their sorry ass, LAUGH at them for the pathetic pond scummy bottom feeders they are (from the comfort of your flowery lily pad, of course).

          I mean, seriously: ‘You put your job and children before me’, ‘It’s your fault I act like a dick/can’t control my fists’, ‘Let me shag your best mate (wanna watch?)’, ‘I RULE THE UNIVERSE’, ‘You don’t mind if I shag these 16 other women while you’re about to go into labour at any time, do you? (wanna watch that too?)’, ‘I can’t leave my wife until the kids are grown, but once they’re drawing pensions, I’m all yours’. ‘Hey I know we haven’t spoken in 2 years, but how about you drive a 600km round trip, I’m a feelin’ like a blowjob and my regular receptacle is outta town. Be here in 10?’ All just variations on a theme. Gag.

          What PLANET do these men live on? Time to up the nuclear space race, and blow that sorry lump of rock to smithereens.

          • Allison says:

            Determined,

            I am so with you!!!! You rock!

          • Fearless says:

            Brilliant! Refreshingly brutal. Read your comment ten minutes ago – am still laughing.

            Sometimes we mince around these issues with all manner of euphemisms, maybe to avoid feeling like harsh, bitter, cynical blame-shifting victims who’ll never get another man unless we learn to be “reasonable”.

            We do not need to be “reasonable” with or about these ‘morons’ at all – just trying to be distorts our perceptions of them and keeps us stuck thinking that we woulda coulda shoulda been able to affect some change in the situation.

            “The biggest weapon in my personal arsenal against these morons is scorn and derision.”

            Yep, it helps to cure the regret hangover – We can’t rationalise with the irrational, we can’t defend the indefensible, we can only see it for what it is, call it what it is, and then say ‘blah’ (courtesy of Grace)

      • truth=freedom says:

        Ms Determined,
        your comment to Kendo was spot on, every aspect true. I had the same experience with my AC who thought I should change jobs to fit in with him and my kids were to needy!!!! And…he took early retirement! Mine was a manipulative mass with a penis!

        • Ms Determined says:

          I hope you told him to go and make sweet, sweet love to himself, truth=freedom. He should have gone a step further and retired early from the human race. Oh wait, did I say HUMAN race? I meant cockroach race. “Your children are too needy.” What a massive douche.

      • kendo says:

        Oh my word!!! Thank you so much Ms Determined! You made me laugh – and like all the others have said I am glad to have you in my ‘virtual’ corner – god I wish you were here! You are right – and as I wrote it yersterday I thought – wtf! I really did bend over backwards for absolute shite from him why am I bleating on?! Just ‘cos he SAYS it was my fault doesn’t make it so. And yes I am stuck on the fantasy. Thank you so much Ms D you wonderful support

        • Lilia says:

          I have to say, Ms Determined, what a valuable addition you are to this comments page! You make me LOL!!

  19. tulipa says:

    I regret a lot of things in my life big and small I understand I can’t change a thing but I sure wish I could.
    I regret not understanding BR and dumping the ex eum years ago.
    Even the end this time he walks away thinking what a great and generous guy he is because I stupidly accepted a painting from him. I went backwards and forwards on the issue. I accepted it then found out he probably only offered it because he had lied and cheated so I told him I no longer wanted it. I ended up with it anyway but now only think he thinks he’s great and generous and I am a taker.

    • dancingqueen says:

      Tulipa throw the painting away, sell it if you can make money off of it and buy yourself something nice, or donate it to an abused women’s shelter and don’t let them know of the orgins;)

    • Ms Determined says:

      Tulipa, have you considered another use for the painting? You could attach a photo of his face to it and voila, instant dartboard! Actually if I were you I would sell it. There’s no way I would have it stinking up the place and making me feel ‘less than’ when I looked at it. Take the money and buy a killer pair of shoes, or the QE2 (how valuable is this painting?) or whatever makes you feel good. You ARE a taker, a taker of a permanent break from giving a flying fuck what he thinks, right?

      • Tulipa says:

        Thank you Dancingqueen and Ms Determined.

        I can sell the painting. I will have to think about what to do with the money.
        I do need to stop worrying about what he thinks of me because of a painting.
        All his other gifts I don’t worry about I don’t attach any significance to them I just use them as I would any other item I own. I just got tripped up over the painting because of the drip feed manoeuver.
        Oh look at this painting I have oh you like it you can have it. Look at me and my generosity oh and by the way I cheated on you and lied to you, but I’m so generous.
        Silly me thought at the time how strange of him to give away a possession.
        Anyway time to deal with my regrets. Don’t want my hangover to take over 2013.

        • Magnolia says:

          Tulipa fwiw my ex ac gave me a beautiful guitar the day we broke up, the first time he’d ever actually given me a gift that was about me (most of his gifts had been about him, i.e. taking me places so he’d have a companion). I didn’t touch it for about a year and a half but the AC cooties on it have dried up and evaporated since then and I play it now, and even the guitar is happy it and myself are not around the ex. If it’s a nice painting maybe put it away for a few years until the right time. My ex felt guilty for something, obviously, guiltier than I expected so I imagine more was going on on the side than I had realized. So I didn’t feel too bad about accepting it after what he put me through.

          • Lilia says:

            Magnolia, your comment re gifts that had been about him made me remember the things the boyfriend I had in my 20s gave me once. He was in a band and for my birthday, after we had been together for about 3 years, I received: a t-shirt with the logo of his band, a poster with some concert of his band, and ehm I think that was about it.

            When I told a friend and his girlfriend about that they found it immensely funny. At the moment I didn´t really understand why, I guess at that point I was used to his blown-up ego. Luckily I can laugh about it now.

            (Btw about the same time this friend gave his gf a sweet little kitten I had found abandoned in the street.)

          • Tulipa says:

            A great idea I will leave it where it is for now stuffed in the back of the wardrobe with its EUM (recently rediagnosed to AC status) cooties on it.
            I do like it but looking at it each day would be too much thinking about him.
            If it still retains its cooties after a period of time I will sell it.
            I never thought of the guilt aspect never assumed they even knew what guilt is, but it makes sense it all fits in with everything he tried to do to make ammends.
            Without BR I would have put it back on his doorstep.
            But for the first time ever no contact is going to be working in my favour.
            Thanks again.

  20. natashya says:

    i’m no longer beating myself up for red flags i missed, or ignored, or trying to pull the EUM towards me when he was trying to get away.

    yes, i wish i had had BR before i met him. things surely would not have progressed til the point that my heart shattered in a million pieces. but then again, i would have STILL been in the dark. the things i have learnt because of getting involved with an EUM and then finding BR are invaluable.

    nobody is going to ef with me anymore. you’ve been separated but not divorced for several years? see ya! you just got out of a relationship? see ya! txting is your preferred method of communication? see ya! you are married, engaged, attached? see ya! you treat me like an option? see ya!

    the most important thing is to work on your self esteem, boundaries, know when a red flag pops up and choosing not to ignore or downplay them. always keep your ears and eyes open and trust your instincts. so many assclowns, so few circuses… but they’re not welcome in my circus anymore.

    • MJ says:

      Bravo, natasha! I need to print your comment out and post it where I have constant access to it when I’m feeling vulnerable and low. Thank you. :)

      P.S. Ms Determined, your comments rule, too!

    • Diane says:

      “So many assclowns, so few circuses”. Brilliant! And hilarious. ????

  21. Jean01 says:

    I really try hard to not make me the centre of my ex’s decision to behave and treat me the way he did but it is very hard. Although I know that I couldn’t have changed the outcome – he is now with someone else who is the very opposite to me – she is demanding and very high drama and doesn’t appear to value him or the relationship – he seems to offer her more support and is much more tolerant of her than he ever was with me. However I know that his issues are too ingrained for it to last and perhaps what scared him away from me was the fact that I was offeringa respect, love and affection and this made him feel obiligated. Although I know all this I still feel like I will never have anyone in my life who I can rely on or who genuinely cares about my wellbeing – I have friends but as I am just coming up to 30 they are all attached, having kids etc and I don’t seem to be able to pin down a proper relationship

    • Claudia says:

      Jean01,

      Make the most out of the time you still have. Time is really ALL we have. Use it wisely. Be happy, get creative with whatever you can do.

      I know you THINK you NEED a man, but maybe, just maybe, you just WOULD LIKE TO share your time with one.

      Forget him. You’ve been there, and you’ve done that.

      Honor your life being grateful with what you DO have.

      Hugs.

  22. pinkpanther says:

    I’m really glad I read this post. I’d been indulging in hight charged fantasies about someone I met last year that at the time I decided was bad news. (thanks to BR). But since I hadn’t manifested any other potential relationships last year, I was going to back track and snag her. I had it all planned out. I was telling myself, what the hell, I may as well just have sex, I know there’s no potential, bla bla bla. Justifying that I hadn’t met anyone else. I was all ready to jump as we where both invited to a party, I had it all planned out how I was going to seduce her, but thank god she didn’t show up to the party.

    your paragraph below, is exactly what I was trying to do. It all had to do with some ending of the old year, trying to do a last gasp make something happen in the new year insanity.

    You freak me out how you get every single nuance.

    After the struggles with December, I hear from lots of people who struggle with the ‘freshness’ of January. It’s the sense of no longer being inside a year where an event or situation took place. Something that we’re holding onto seems less “current” when we have to say “last year” or “last summer” and this sense of leaving something behind and having to look ahead can actually compel us to do something to seek attention and validation and ultimately make the past current.

  23. Nicole says:

    This column is AWESOME. I know realize that suffering from a regret hangover can be as addictive as obsessing about the relationship itself. Thanks for the insight!

  24. FollowURIntuition says:

    This article also could not have come at a more better time for me. For the past couple of days I’ve been in a funk consumed with thoughts of ‘how could I have put up with that’ ‘how could i not have seen that red flag’. That however is like putting your hand over fire over and over again. I dont regret my relationship because the experiences have taught me so many amazing things about myself, namely that I am a strong woman and I am a survivor. It takes a strong person to go through NC and to really reflect on themselves to make the changes necessary to be a better person. Self-love which is what we need after a relationship with these assclowns takes a lot of courage. My ex is a coward. He does not have the courage to love himself, or to deal with his stuff, so he overlapped and jumped into a relationship with another woman (who I met and basically a relationship ensued days after we had break up sex). While initially I was so hurt by that, Ive come to see it for what it is and am not so hurt by it as before. I now see it at a pathetic attempt on his part to move on. What does bother me is missing the red flags, the regrets of standing up for myself and establishing boundaries. I basically allowed this man to control me and to get away with it!

    So today Im reading this and trying to apply this for the future not the past. Yes, I was an easy target for my ex because I did not have boundaries, because I empathized too quickly with his behavior, because I saw red flags and ignored them. But I will not always be that way. I recognize this behavior and I will do better next time. He on the other hand continues to email me ‘to talk’ but I continue to ignore. He was very much used to the old me, too bad sweetie there is a new ME in town.

    • Allison says:

      Follow,

      Good for you! These experiences are such an important life lesson, if we recognize and grow. Will impact every area of life – in a positive manner – if we allow it to.

      Stay strong!!!!!!

  25. Shani says:

    Great advice! Just found your site, and I will be checking back in! I love hearing other bloggers’ relationship advice. That’s a big part of what I do over on my blog.

  26. Jennifer Tiffany says:

    With my ex and the one before him, after the breakups I fantisized about what things would have been like had I been thinner, in better shape, funnier, cuter, smarter, prettier, had a better image, a better facebook, exercised more, ate less, ate more, ate healthier, ate unhealthy, did drugs ( the exes were recreational drug users. I’m not. Didn’t/ don’t care to be.), drank more, cussed more, cussed less, had better taste in music, better hair, different hair color/ cut, worn less make up, more makeup, better taste in music, been a musician, an artist, sewed, cooked more, cooked less, was taller, had smaller breasts, or just a totally different body type than I did or do now, etc…

    But now I see. NONE OF THESE THINGS WOULD HAVE MADE A BIT OF DIFFERENCE IN THE OVERALL PICTURE AND OUTCOME. MY EXES WERE ADDICTS AND I WAS A FALLBACK GIRL. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME.

    The problem was these men had crap values or straight up none, I didn’t know mine and they exploited my nativity and low self esteem. And I let them. That is the problem. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with me as a human being, just with the type of dynamics I allow myself to get involved in.

  27. Tinkerbell says:

    I think the bottom line is to remember that what’s done is DONE. It cannot be changed. But we can improve our self-image and control the regrets by making a better future for ourselves. Going back to make corrections with an AC or EUM, is a horrible idea that NEVER works because they do not change. That is why you had to change and do the leaving in the first place, if you were the one to cut the ties. I can’t speak on when he has kicked you to the curb because I’ve not had the misfortune to experience that. The past CANNOT BE CHANGED. And that goes with ANY situation, not only mistaken “falling in love”, but with friends and family, etc. Put yourself first, excepting only your young children.

  28. Tinkerbell says:

    Kendo. My heart goes out to you. Can you get some professional support? You sound like such a sweetheart who was used and abused badly. Don’t think about missing him. Don’t think about the so-called “good times”. Focus on you and your children. When your mind comes upon him think of only how he messed over you and didn’t appreciate all your efforts. He’s selfish and incorrigible. You are free now. With your good heart someone else will appreciate you. It may not be next week, but have faith. He will come. In the meantime, make yourself ready. Be strong. Lots of hugs, Tink.

  29. June30 says:

    Hi guys,
    I have been on a few dates with a guy – nothing serious at all – just a few drinks, meal – absolutely nothing romantic has happened in fact it feels more like a ‘mate’ thing – we are meeting tomorrow and I enjoy his company and spending time with him and I did think that if he asked me what I was looking for I would be honest and tell him that I was wasn’t looking for anything heavy but would like to continue seeing him as a friend – well this evening I have had a text asking if next week I would like to go round to his – this has completely thrown me – I absolutely don’t want to put myself in that situation. However I don’t feel I can know do the ‘just friends speech’ without feeling like I had inadvertently led him on – My inital instinct is to say something like ‘I’m pretty busy next week,but maybe another time’ and hoping he picks up on my uncertainty?

    • grace says:

      June
      Nah, if you,ve spent any length of time with him, tell him straight to his face and not via text excuses.
      You describe your meetings as dates but you,re not dating? Clear up the ambivalence in your own mind then communicate your findings with him. It,s good practice for you. Even when you do meet someone you,re interested in you still need to have awkward convos. Yes it,s organic but it still requires attention.

      • June30 says:

        Hi Grace – I am a bit confused about the ‘dating’ thing to be honest – I referred to them as dates but in reality it has been more the case of ‘want to meet on Friday for a drink, food etc’- so pretty casual really. However I do get the sense that he posibly see’s me as more than a friend or wishes to pursue the possibility – I think that I am massively over complicating this and do have problems saying no

        • grace says:

          June
          Did you go out with him just because he asked? Were you looking to explore the possibility of a relationship? Did you like his company? Did you need a free meal(joke)? We’re you at a loose end?
          At least have an idea of why you do things. I,m not being snarky, I married someone without knowing why!
          When you,ve got a handle on your own motivations, thoughts and feelings you can make the right decision. You don,t have to tell him exactly what you are thinking, it may not be appropriate. But YOU should know what it is you.re about. It doesn’t have to be a lot of analysis, you just need to be not confused.
          You.re right not to go to his place if you,re not comfortable with that.

          • June30 says:

            Hi Grace,
            I accepted more as a way to explore my own feelings and where I am emotionally – I did go for a date a while back with a different guy and afterwards I felt so distraught and contacted the ex and told the guy I wasn’t over my ex – It has been a while since my breakup and I guess I wanted to explore how I felt or if I was just stuck and not actively pushing my life forward. I think I am still grieving and need to continue to hold off the dating until I have healed

    • Snowboard says:

      Hi June,

      You sound very afraid of saying no – you remind me of me :) Don’t overthink this; just tell him you already have plans. He’ll be embarrassed for about five minutes, and then he’ll get on with his life.

      • June30 says:

        Hi Snowboard,
        Yes unfortunately this is one of the things I do struggle with – I hate hurting peoples feelings – even though intellectually I know that this isn’t a big deal and the person probably won’t take any offence- I have a boss who is a complete boundary buster and it makes me feel physically sick when I hear her talk to people disrespectfully – it is one of the things I am working on but I do find it incredibly difficult not to get consumed with guilt

    • La Pintura Bella says:

      Bad idea, June. You’re skirting the issue. Here’s my take:

      ) You’ve been on a few dates with him. That’s it. You’re not in a relationship and a relationship isn’t even really on offer yet. It’s too early for that. You don’t owe him anything.

      2) Dating is to get to know each other…s-l-o-w-l-y…to see IF you want a relationship. Hence, there has been no “leading on.” If he takes it that way, he’s an outright idiot. HIS problem, NOT YOURS.

      3) Since dating is to determine if you want a relationship with a specific person and you see him only as a friend, the dating has served it’s purpose. NOT saying anything to him is busting your own boundaries and you being inauthentic.

      4) Inviting you to his place after just a few dates is am amber flag at best. You know it is because it’s making you uncomfortable.

      5) Bite the bullet and tell him what you feel. Hoping he gets “the hint” is not fair.

    • Allison says:

      June,

      ” I have had a text asking if next week I would like to go round to his”

      I’m sorry, what does this mean?

    • Lilia says:

      June30,
      I suspect that most guys don´t understand the subtleties of hints, not even the sensitive, nice ones. You really need to spell it out for them.

      Last year I was in a similar situation, enjoying a date with a guy I saw as a potential new friend, but then he invited me to see some (supposedly) artistically erotic film. I told him Nah, I don´t think that´s a very good film – thinking he´d get the hint, but he didn´t.
      So then, when he insisted on other such outings I used the “too busy” and “headache” excuses until I had no excuse left and just told him Listen, I can´t give you anything more than friendship especially because I´m still not over my ex.
      Strangely, he accepted that and said he respected me for my honesty.

      • June30 says:

        Hi Lilia,
        Yes I think you are right – honesty will be the best policy – I get this sense of dread in situations like this – I’m sure its my people pleasing tendencies, but I hate feeling like I am rejecting someone or making them feel bad – even with friends! Although I know that the guy is not emotionally attached to me so it probably wouldn’t matter in the slightest

  30. TR says:

    Thank you so much for the Regret Hangover article, Natalie! After reading, I realize I had been slipping into “If I had just done this or that” recently with a work situation. People are going to do what they are going to do, and I understand more and more that their behaviour often doesn’t have anything to do with me. As long as I’ve acted reasonably and with some consideration for all involved, I’ve got to just let it go and move forward.

  31. espresso says:

    It is hard for me to stay in the non-blaming present. I stayed in a marriage far too long and although I tried to change it in many many ways I stuck with it, faking myself that it would/could change. To be really really honest about it – I did not see or understand the degree of my ex’s dysfunction – and I wasn’t alone. Even a therapist who saw him for 3 years said of all his patients, he was the most difficult to get to know (after over 30 years of practice). I really did not know how serious and how intractable his emotional problems were and how they simply could not change.

    Lately I have been feeling really badly about myself for doing this for so long and for not clearly understanding this. And for not ultimately saying, it does not matter what HE is, it is what I AM and what I need in a relationship that matters. It was helpful for me that my counsellor reminded me that I have many things to feel proud of in terms of the way I was committed to my kids, my work, all my other interests and activities and other parts of my life. I think I just overdid the “social justice” (to him) side!!! My ex was a good father and my kids loved and love him dearly. I think I need to accept that I did the best I could, at the time and that in my world view I was also living out some of my values, especially to my children. A really great post along with the previous one. Thanks!!!

  32. Demke says:

    @losthope, seems you may be fantasizing a wee bit much about the guy w the girlfriend, he’s unavailable. Maybe that’s why you think you missed out on the ‘love of your life’, you even said yourself, you’d sabotage if someone was available.

    It’s easier not to take risks and be vulnerable with someone who’s unavailable. It may seem like the ‘safer’ option, but it’s the most damaging. I completely understand where you’re coming from though… And age doesn’t matter. I realized in the past I would put so much emphasis on getting a guy and having a relationship, that I wasn’t focusing on just making myself happy first. This is the longest stretch i’ve gone w/o being w someone (3 months… Wow, long time, I know, lol), for me it is a long time. But it’s good. I’m valuing this time to myself, taking care of me. cause I haven’t done that in years, I’ve been treating myself like crap, by allowing other people to treat me the same. People find love at all ages, you’re still young :), you will meet someone when you’ve taken care of you first, and know exactly what you want. Believe and have the confidence that it will happen. Have faith :)

  33. Little Star says:

    Natalie, your site keep me sane (I am with BR for 4 years!) I broke my NC by responding to my EX AC email, I asked him to leave me alone and find someone else, and his response was: “But I love you”…We both EU and I know we do not have a future, it was already on and off for 5 YEARS, I am very tired of this situation. I was so strong, I only wish I NEVER opened his email:(

  34. Demke says:

    Tired- yeah… We’ve all had sh!tty days thinking about the ex, the woulda coulda shoulda’s, the… ‘I can’t believe I…’ and the list goes on.

    Think of what you learned from all of it. Instead of looking back, on what you cannot change, in the ‘present’, right here, right now… You know better. Going forward… You wouldnt entertain a similar situation, cause you’ve been there, done that. You’re wiser. We all make mistakes. We learn. We forgive ourselves, we grow and make better choices. Which is what you will be doing in your present and future.

    It was doomed from day one. Married men who cheat, with multiple woman do not care about anyone but themselves.

    Maybe you need to think about what kind of a person you’re giving all of this thought energy too. He’s thoughtless, pathetic, and completely selfish, using multiple woman to make him feel better about his worthless self. That’s a man man not worth a damn, a thought, or anything.

    Consider it a ‘blessing in disguise’ that he moved on to fresh meat… So that you can begin to move on, finally, and find a ‘real’ man.

    Be thankful you’re not the lucky lady (gag me) who married this ‘bleep’, I’m sure she kicks

    herself every day. Especially if they have kids together.

    You’re giving this moron wayy too much power. And for what? What did he ever offer you? You need to seriously raise the bar, girlfriend. Big time. You made a mistake. It happens to the
    best of us, it happens to the most beautiful, richest, talented, brightest women in the world… Katy Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore, just to name a few. You’re definately not alone.

    Think of it as Gods way of intervening… You weren’t ready to say ‘enough’ to poor treatment, and a bad situation, it may not have ended the way you wanted, but someone had to say ‘enough’… It’s a blessing.

  35. malaise says:

    I think what has me stuck the most isn’t the regret- although I absolutely 100% regret the choices I made, and look forward to not EVER doing that to myself again- but it’s the absolute f*cking CONFUSION as to who the hell this guy is! I still find myself trying to figure him out. There’s just so much I cannot reconcile about his behaviour…I’m coming closer to the honest conclusion that he is a certifiable sociopath.

    There were so many disturbing things that he revealed to me over time, but I couldn’t reconcile these things with the other stuff that came in complete and utter contradiction- he was incredibly intelligent and expressed views that would lead you to believe he had insight and actually respected women and humanity, was altruistic, understood how relationships work, and what misogynist behaviour is. The stuff he was saying made sense and was insightful…the only thing that didnt make sense is that it was coming from HIM. It’s insane…there were many times where he would be criticizing a certain behaviour and making an in-depth observation about life and relationships…while having done those very same abusive things to me, or doing it later on. And I’m sitting there like…SOMEONE JUST PUT ME IN A STRAIGHTJACKET ALREADY BECAUSE I CAN’T DEAL WITH THIS MINDF*CKERY ANYMORE.

    • grace says:

      malaise
      I’ve posted it before, but here:
      http://www.drjoecarver.com/clients/49355/File/IdentifyingLosers.html
      Try not to drive yourself bonkers trying to understand. I used to wonder why my mother could so x,y,z to her own helpless children. But blah, how will knowing that help me? Maybe it’s not something we should understand! Sure, it took a long time for me to reach that stage but if you can skip spending forty years to get to “blah” I suggest you do that.

      • malaise says:

        Thanks Grace, I am done trying to understand. It’s like a sane person trying to empathize with an INSANE person, and thus, becoming insane themselves. Screw that! It’s like he’s infected my brain like a parasite, just trying to purge myself of his disease.

    • Ms Determined says:

      Malaise, I got that too. Once my ex AC and I were talking about a poor female friend’s situation. She found out she was being cheated on by a guy in our circle. He told me that the guy had ‘better stay out of his way’ because if he ran into him he would ‘fuck him up’. Later that night he left to go to a ‘work leaving do’ and must have tripped over something because his penis accidentally landed in the vagina of one of my acquaintances. He’d been shagging her for a month at this point. Forget chalk and cheese, his viewpoints, on just about everything, were chalk and chimpanzees. The very first conversation we ever had, turned to what traits in people we abhor. His number one hated trait was…wait for it…selfishness. Ha. Ah ha ha ha ha. Ha.

      I have no idea why they do it, my guess is something to do with how they would like to be perceived. And I would love to tell you *exactly* how I perceive him and every AC like him now, but I think I would spontaneously combust the site. Suffice to say, they are total fucking fuckers.

      • Victorious says:

        I think you just misundesrtood the poor man Determined. He meant “Selfishness in others.” As in, IT’S ALL ABOUT MEEEEEEE! He sounds like a total narcissist.

        • Ms Determined says:

          Your clown was one of those, right Victorious? Did you go through that fun stage of scouring every page on the internet for how to diagnose a personality disorder? Mine checked so many boxes it was like ‘bonkers bingo’. I couldn’t work out whether he was a narc, a sociopath, borderline or something else entirely. In the end I just decided he was as all of them, and gave him an A+ for sex addiction too. You know how Nat says they are all the same? I think when they all convene for their Annual International Assclown Convention my douchebag ex is the Secretary-Genenal.

          • Victorious says:

            Yes he is a cerebral narc Ms D. With a raging madonna/whore complex thrown in. Yes, I have a PHd in him and his disorder, having, as you say, scoured the internet. Funnily enough, when he was with narc friends of his, he would be the submissive one, so he would probably be polishing the Secretary-Generals shoes (or worse) at their convention. He hated the fact he needed a woman to give him supply. Didn’t need a woman for sex, preferred to take care of that all by himself thanks very much.YUCK YUCK YUCK!!!-

          • Lois Lane says:

            Hahaha! This entire thread had me cracking up! I also spent hours on the interenet trying to diagnose my EUM. And yes, they must all be the same or we all dated the same guy! “A+ for sex addiction too”….hahaha!

      • Lilly says:

        Ms D,

        I was just feeling totally wretched then read this! Brilliant! So funny; I’m now going to sleep with a big smile on my face. Total FF’s indeed!

        • Ms Determined says:

          Lilly, every time you think of him (and from what I’ve read, your clown could out-clown the clowniest of clowns at the Cirque de Soleil of Assclowns), let the words “total fucking fucker” be your mantra. Pretty soon it’s hard to think of him any other way.

      • malaise says:

        My ex presented himself as this harmless, lovable, single Dad with a heart of gold. Most of his female friends were mothers, everyone always said what a great father he was etc. It seemed like everyone had nothing but good things to say about him. I could never understand how this same person could turn around and do these other things, pretty gross disturbing things, things which could have put his kid in danger let me add, and just treat me like trash. It’s like, how can you choose to be this way with other people, but not with me?

        Now I can see that men like him are incredibly sophisticated chameleons, and adapt how they present themselves and treat others based on what they want in return. They appraise people and situations to see what they can get away with, while maintaining their very carefully constructed persona and reputations. It’s a buffer for them to continue their sadistic, selfish behaviour with lucky willing participants like myself. “I’m not a bad guy! Here’s proof! All these people think I’m great! You’re outnumbered little girl! Step DOWN.”

        • Mymble says:

          Malaise
          Mine was one of them – he had a public persona as a caring and sensitive man, who championed the rights of the oppressed, and, of course a supporter of womens rights.
          But then of course Jimmy Saville was supposed to have been an all-round great guy, and while he was alive the few who had the temerity to complain that he had attacked them were told to shut the F up. Jim Jones had many devotees. The face he presents to the world
          means nothing. You can be sure there will be others who have their doubts too, though perhaps they don’t say anything. Stay away from his koolaid.

  36. Selkie says:

    I regret taking on my ex’s emotional issues as my inadequacies. He told me as he was dumping me over a small misunderstanding how I had messed up. I was crushed and I believed him when he blamed the end of the relationship on me. I felt sucker punched because he was being so critical of me over something pretty minor. I was really confused and hurt over this for a while, and my own issues got buried under his. I ruminated and tried to make sense of something that made no sense, which just prolonged my pain. Pointless. Reality check…..I cracked an eggshell while tip toeing over his emotional ‘sensitivities’ and got accused of being a bull in a china shop. A shrug of my shoulders would of let the blame fall off me. I regret I gave his opinion way more weight than it was worth.

    • Allison says:

      Selkie,

      He was simply looking for an excuse to get out. If he had been a decent guy, he would have been upfront and told you the truth. Creep!!!!!!

  37. Tinkerbell says:

    June30.
    Follow your first instinct. Listen to that wise little inner voice that we so often ignore and then regret having done so. DO NOT go to his apartment. It’s way too early. You don’t even know this dude. Slow down. “A few dates” is not enough time for you to gather enough info about him to know if you want to put yourself in that situation. I suspect his plan is to get you in the sack. If he’s worth your time he can wait until YOU ARE READY.

  38. Tired says:

    Im stuck on this this week why god knows . Cant shake it or shift it , stupid but tbh i feel ever one has got to move on and be happy and im left feeling incredabily stupid . Im grown up why couldnt i see it , why couldnt of been me dishing out the hurt , i know stop throwing a paddy and get on with it . Maybe its coz im not looking at the fb ive actially done three weeks of absoulutley no idea of whats going on . Like old days bf phones and internet thats it cold turkey . I know i need a kick up pants , i know im not the victim , but i feel so jaded . X

  39. Tired says:

    Please ignore my previous post , i scrolled up and saw what demeje and allison and tinks had posted , thanks girls you are my boundries at the mo , everytime i feel sorry for myself , ypure there to say ” now hang on girl take a outside look ” i feel better more impowered just reading what demeke put . Why am i doing that over a narssictict selfish arsehole , i dont want or need men like that in my life no more ! A decent man time round , a good kind decent man , thankyou for tge kick up the pants xx

    • Allison says:

      Tired,

      It’s not about a guy, it’s about finding you!

      You need to understand what got you into this situation, or you will repeat your pattern of attached, emotionally destructive men. You need to work on you, and have a loving, healthy relationship with yourself. It starts, by moving on from the ex, who was a complete waste of time – you realize that the relationship that you chose, kept you very safe, as he would never be able to commit to you. Focus on your trust issues, instilling boundaries and your self worth!

      Have you considered counseling?

      • Allison says:

        Lastly,

        YOU ARE NOT A VICTIM :)

        • Allison says:

          Back again.

          I was reflecting on my previous relationship, and thinking what a blessing it was.

          I can only speak for myself, but I recognize that I had little activity in my life, outside of the clown; therefore, it was harder to move forward, due to the void. After I split from him, I got involved with everything to forget. The benefit was the discovery of new interests, and the addition of many new friends.

          What I’m trying to say, is that this experience can be a life changer for you, if you allow it. Learn from this experience and grow.

          Tired, your happiness is your responsibility, please make the choice to make a happy you!

          • Little Star says:

            What a wonderful comment Allison! That’s what Tired and all of us should do, have a life outside ACs:) We spend far too much time wondering with “if’s” and “buts”…

  40. Hopeful says:

    This hit me like a brick wall! This is how I have a blessed night whole life since I was a little girl. I wanted to have a family so I could fix it was broken in my life. How do I leave my whole life behind and move forward now? I have wasted my whole life? I am now 58 and have lived a lifetime of regret?

    • grace says:

      Hopeful
      A failed relationship doesn’t mean you wasted your whole life. I,m sure you worked, or made a home, had friends, enjoyed nature, kept pets, helped people.
      I had recurrent depression and bad relationships into my forties. Like many on BR I regretted it. But the past is past, and now it is let go it has little to no effect on my happiness in the present. I could wish and wish that it had been different, that my parents took better care of me, that i had the academic success that reflects my actual abilities, gone to a good university, got a better job, had a family. I have had to let all that go to enjoy what I have. A boss who does appreciate my intelligence, a comfortable home of my own, a church I enjoy, a newish boyfriend. My past doesn’t make those things less valuable, maybe I appreciate them more because of it. If there really is nothing in your life you enjoy, strike out and join an evening class, go for walks, the theatre, learn to cook, learn a new skill.
      It was only a couple of years ago that I stopped trying to figure out why my mother was a biyatch and what I could have done to make her happier. That option was not available to me when I was five years old and it sure isn,t available to me now. It was never an option. None of us could fix the mother, father or ex. I say this kindly – We have to drop it.
      You can be happy single like many dauntless women before us, but my friend,s daughter was telling me her eighty plus year old widower grandfather has a new girlfriend, also in her eighties. It can happen.

    • Little Star says:

      Hopeful, it is NEVER 2 late! We cannot fix our past, but we can STILL change/do something about our present and future:)
      I will recommend you to read “Brilliant Positive Thinking” by Sue Hadfield, it is real eye opener. ALL the best x

  41. Tinkerbell says:

    Tired.

    I absolutely agree with Allison. Please consider counseling. It is long past the time that your obsessing about this individual is normal. He was bad news from day one. You have physically left but emotionally you are still very much in “it” and nothing any of us say has any effect. You agree that you need a kick in the pants, but that’s only lip service is you are not really taking substantial steps to de-throne this a–hole. In your mind, he is still very much a part of every waking moment, and that’s just tragic. What will work for you? Please get professional help. I wrote you on the previous post which you may not have seen, addressing the fact that you need to make a complete and total clean sweep. Try harder. You seem to get some degree of comfort in continuing to look back. You will never move on if you are unwilling to let go of him and his s–t. I was where you are, so I know how it feels. But, I simply could not stand the misery and pain of obsessing over a hopeless situation. I’ve found a man who really gives me trust care respect and love. You can have this too. Or, at least give yourself a chance to. THIS MAN IS NOT GOD!!! He’s worse for you than “just not that special”.

    • Selkie says:

      Tired,
      I’ve been reading your comments since you started posting.
      I agree with the others that it prolongs the pain to keep thinking about it and then to stay in it mentally by talking about it. We need to talk about these things but it should be less and less, and it does take an effort to do that. Make a decision not to talk about him for one day, even if you think about him. Then make it two days, three days, so on. It’s hard, but each time you think of him, pick up a book, turn on a movie, call a friend, put on music and dance, go to a yoga class, anything to change the focus of your thoughts. When you get stuck, write it all out in a journal, let it out then once again switch your focus and distract yourself from dwelling. This was what I did and it worked, not overnight but in steps. I think of my ex’s from time to time, and I still talk about them some, but I had to make a conscience decision to stop talking about it. Slowly my focus shifted. Then I’d have a bad couple of days and start the thinking again. I faced it head on and distracted myself. I talked about it a little but didn’t let myself get dragged back down. Then my focus on him slowly drifted away. I can’t say I never think of my ex now, but I don’t dwell on it and it doesn’t ruin my day anymore. I just dismiss it. That said, you have done great with NC and not looking at facebook. It shows you have the strength to do it. You should be proud of yourself. Things will get better, but you have to make steps that are hard and keep making them even if relief isn’t immediate. Here is something I did that helped me switch my thoughts.

      1. Write a list of 50 things you love, it could be food, flowers, a movie, a pet, and keep the list out.

      2. When you have a bad day, pull out the list read through it. Pick one of the things on your list and write about it for half an hour or go do something that involves it. So, lets say you have chocolate chip cookies on your list, you could go to the store and get the ingredients then bake some. If you wrote the beach on your list, imagine being there and write about the waves, the smell, the sounds, the way the sand feels between your toes, etc. Sounds silly but it worked for me.
      Hang in there Tired. Just keep moving forward and consider a counselor to get you over this hump if you can’t get past this stage. (((hugs)))

  42. Ms Determined says:

    This is very much something I struggled with when I dumped my AC, until I figured out regret was my friend. Regret is something you WANT to happen. It tells you you’re healing, and examining your part in it all. But you don’t want to move into Regret neighbourhood permanently, you just want to pull up, stick your head out of the car, have a quick look around and confirm what you already know, that you belong in a far more pleasant and peaceful neighbourhood. Wind that window up tight, DO NOT get out of the car. Pedal to the metal.

    I reckon what’s required to avoid taking up permanent residence in regret is a simple re-frame. Regret = progress.

    There IS something wrong with us. But it sure the hell ain’t “I’m not smart or pretty enough”, “My boobs are too small”,”I am too neeeeeeedy”, or “I can’t cook dinner, support him financially, breastfeed the newborn, run the oldest to soccer training, appear in the VS Angels catwalk show, and give him a blowjob all at the same time…what the hell is WRONG with me???” The only thing that has been “wrong” with all of us here at one point is this:

    We have a busted filter.

    It’s how we see things that is fucked up. Just like when we are depressed, we aren’t seeing things as they really are. Perhaps your filter got broken during your shitty childhood. Or later on, an assclown took a sledgehammer to that thing and smashed it up good. However it got that way, it’s about as useful to you as a boyfriend’s boner at your parents’ house. Amazingly your filter works just FINE when you think about other people’s situations. Just not your own. I bet eleventy million dollars that if any one of your girlfriends came to you and said, “My boyfriend/husband/MM is sooo awesome. He cheats on me then lies about it/pushes me around/controls who I can and can’t see/disappears when something better’s on offer and then reappears when he wants a shag/is Dr Jekyll one minute and Mr Hyde the next/writes me emotional rubber cheques/has promised me this awesome future that I JUST KNOW isn’t going to happen. I want to stay with him forever!!! Isn’t he a DREAMBOAT? Sigh.” I guarantee you would sit there openmouthed and blinking at her while a neon ‘WTF’ buzzed on and off in in your head. Once you could make yourself heard above the noise of the air raid sirens, you’d rightly enquire ‘ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MIND?’ You know you would. But when it comes to ourselves, nope, CAN’T SEE IT! (or as it was in my case WON’T see it…fingers in ears…la la la). In our heads, all of those shitty things they do, and our tolerance of them somehow make US the loser. Nuh-UH!

    Feeling regret means YOU FIXED YOUR FILTER. You’ll never have to regret again (assclowns, anyway). You are re-equipped to see shitty behaviour for what it is; just someone else’s problem. Some of us here are still stuck on “But I LOOOOOVE him!” (Tired, I’m looking at you), which means your filter is still busted, cos NO ONE with a working filter is loving some asshole who disrespected them.

    Like depression, it’s something that just happens to the best of us. It’s not your fault your filter’s busted. Would it be right (or indeed useful) to blame yourself for being depressed? No, you’d just do whatever you could to fix it. Therapy, antidepressants, CBT, whatever it took. Happily, fixing a filter is way easier than combatting depression, as it’s a two step, rather than ongoing process ie: it’s broken, I apply a liberal dose of reality here, here, and over here, and hey presto, now it works just like new! Reality is the great filter fixer.

    Once the filter is fixed, then the circular regret monologue in your head has a conclusion, instead of keeping you awake all night, boring you to tears while you yawn politely, edging closer to the door. “I can’t believe I did XYZ to keep that relationshit going, I’m such a LOSER x infinity” then becomes “I didn’t admit to myself there was a problem when I sprung him in bed with my mother (or whatever) but hey, my filter was busted so I couldn’t see it. No biggie. I applied 13 coats of crystal clear reality and now next time anyone tries to pull that shit on me, my filter will tell Houston that we have a problem.”

    Regret = gone. You = zzzzzzzzzzzz.

    • grace says:

      Ms D
      Circular regret monologue! That was my life. It,s kinda nice that our “unique” problems are shared and have been overcome by so many.

  43. Tired says:

    I have been having councelling and ive kust gone two weeks with out it . I have signed up for more courses and been getting out and doing diff things . I am getting stronger and iver it bit by bit , i think what it is , is the fb thing totally cutting him out my life and not knowing anything is what brought me to low . But as the weeks go by that will fade . I recently got chatting to a man on there and he seemed nice and came across lije he was single . I thought right this time follow the br rules , so you can imagine my sadness when two weeks later he drops in a causual in married . I flushed straight away , felt pissed that it turned out lije that but flushed. It just seems at mo all the blokes i meet are creeps and ac . I been going diff places etc to widen range of people i meet . I even wondered if i came across wrong .

    • Victorious says:

      Tired, I realise I have no right to boss you about, but that isn’t going to stop me on this occasion.

      Contrary to popular opinion, the best way to get over a man is NOT to get under another one. Especially when you are still in so much pain. Why are you so afraid of or reluctant to be single? What do you think that says about you that is so negative in your mind? When you look at women you know, do you think bad things about the single ones? Is everyone that you know who is in a relationship blissfully happy with it? Please spend some time getting to know yourself better outside of a relationship. Throwing yourself at another man is not going to fix your self esteem. I know it has taken a horrible battering and I really do sympathise and empathise, but you need to be able to be happy by yourself before you can truly move on. Sending you lots of hugs.

      • Allison says:

        I so agree!!!

        Time to heal yourself, another is not going to put you in a better place. It’s time to deal with you!!!!!

        Please stay single for at least a year’s time.

  44. Tinkerbell says:

    Ms.Determined.That was excellent.Great comments!!!

  45. Tired says:

    Ms determined bang on ! X

  46. Tired says:

    You are both right , this is the first time ive truly been on my own . I started dating late 19 and met my husband at 21 . Married till 41 , so there has always been someone in background .im in the first steps of finding me and i am observing red flags in the people i meet and have set boundries and not thrown myself at anyone . I know im not in a good place and i will continue to heal before going anywhere with anyone . I did flush as soon as he said he was married . Ive learnt that painful lesson for sure .x

    • La Pintura Bella says:

      Ms.Determined — I LOVE your outlook, or rather “re-framing,” on regret. You are 100% dead on right about the broken filter and regret being the warning light to fix the filter.

      Tired — OK…your biggest problem is you’ve always had a man in your life. Here is my prescription. Like Allison says, stay single for one full year. That means:

      NO chatting with men on Facebook.

      NO flirting with an eye towards looking for a new guy.

      NO dating at all.

      This is your Christmas/Birthday/Just Because You’re Worth It present for 2013 — Tired is going to get to know Tired. Tired is going to learn to LOVE Tired like nobody has ever loved Tired Before. Tired is going to become Tired’s Best Friend in the Entire Universe and History of Mankind!

      If you do this, you will be so healthy you’ll NEVER attract an EUM or AC ever again. You are currently still attracting these cretins BECAUSE you have to do the work to change yourself. If you do this for your self, I will give you a lifetime guarantee that you will then be beating off a mile long ling of potential HEALTHY suitors and you’re biggest problem will be figuring out which one is the best one for YOU!

      You can do it! And while you’re on this exciting adventure of self-discovery and self-love, get rid of Facebook!!! Who wants to “meet” nameless people you don’t know and never will know? Besides which, who the hell gives a f**k what they had for breakfast? They aren’t you’re friends, they’re bored, trolls.

  47. blue70rose says:

    Dear Nat,
    Thank you for writing this. This is what I needed to hear right now. I have been addicted to a very hot, gorgeous, very Emotionally Unavailable Male for over a year now (preceded by a string of others, tracing back to my Dad)
    - “If you’re going to miss him/her, at least have the good grace to miss them for who they were and are, not who you thought they were (but weren’t), or hoped that they’d become.” As I’ve been trying to see him for who he really is, rather than the fantasy my mind has projected onto him, I learn to have compassion because his reasons for doing things like the ways he approaches relationships and sex are his–not something for me to take personally. (Only God can judge me!) And yes, they are probably dysfunctional and fear-based to an extent, but I need to stick to my business.

    - saying “I’m not willing to forgive me.” I used to think, “Of course I forgive myself. I’m not mad at me anyway.” But now as I allow myself to fee the pain–illogical as it may be–that I feel every time I replay in my head the nice things he I’ve seen him say and do for his now-girlfriend, instead of trying to stamp it out and *force* myself to move on (that will only end up perpetuating the problem, with the same or a different person) I honestly ask myself WHY exactly does that trigger these -old- feelings in me? And instead of “No, I don’t miss him!” as my heart begs to differ, I think, I obviously do miss something very badly, but it isn’t really *him*, so what is it?
    With the help of talking to someone who is rather emotionally available–even if that makes me uncomfortable and I almost want to tell him to leave me alone (“All other guys neglect me unless they want something. What is *wrong* with you!?” lol)–I realized that the guys I tend to become addicted to represent for me things that I’ve always wanted in a man, but have always denied that I did, ever since my alcoholic Dad. And I immediately become more aware of my surroundings, and begin to deconstruct the artificial world I created for myself as a child and teenager. Yeah, I literally decided to cope with college at one point by pretending the other kids weren’t there, because it was “more peaceful”. Long before that, I consciously decided that love and relationships with other human beings were overrated, and that I wanted to save face at all costs–that my not having to experience being embarrassed, humiliated, or vulnerable, was more important than anything any other human could give me if I allowed myself to be those things. (more toxic BS)
    But the truth is, as I read in a book somewhere, if we don’t take control of our needs, they will take control of us. I will never really respect myself if I don’t take responsibility for creating the life I want, rather than relying on an EUM to provide it for me. Relying on that leads to eventual disappointment 100% of the time.
    As I learn to forgive myself, I learn to also forgive humanity. Because as I understand why I did wrong in the first place, I think of things that other people–addicts, abusers, etc.–do wrong, and I see that we were all just coping with the abuse and neglect that we have suffered before. In a way, addiction is a “contagious” disease! And a cycle of violence–emotional if not necessarily physical. It’s important to break that cycle. We can do it, gals–and guys. x

  48. Kathia says:

    This post inspired me to write this letter to my ex. I am almost certain that he is a Narcissist and lo and behold, my second one in a matter of 3 years. Gotta leg go! Thank you for letting me share! It is a step toward my healing!!

    Hi everyone who wishes to read this! I am writing this letter since I am at a point of my life where I feel the anxiety creeping in. Tonight I decided to write him the good bye letter although I have been “ended” with him for over 3 months now. This letter, I feel is necessary for me to put out there to come back and be reminded why it is so important to not expect closure from them and to continue NC until one day you are feeling healed. I am a big testament that healing happens. I survived Narc # 1 by cutting and severing every possible form of contact. With N #2 it has been so hard because we both go to the same gym and although I did a very good job “hiding” from him the first two months, I cracked a tiny window open and he crawled his way back in. Pride got on my way and I was going through what my doctor described as a manic phase so I thought I was ready but little did I know. He came back only to leave me in a worse state and feeding me crumbs during the Holidays. So here is my letter:

    Dear Joe:

    Well, it finally happened! I have decided to cut you off of my life and I am going to have to put distance between us. It was working so well. After I ended it with you (because my guts were screaming at me) after what I felt was the biggest waste of my time by being with you knowing that you were a future faker, emotionally disturbed man and later when you devaluated and discarded me for showing you your own mugshot over the arrest for beating the bejezzus out of your ex-girlfriend while you and I were dating, and all the horrible things that you said to me, all the name calling and all the attempts to take a beating at my self-esteem, the threats, the verbal abuse and the childish attitude, bringing that new girlfriend to the gym, two days after you and I had broken up and acting like I did not exist, and plainly giving me reassurance that I have made the best decision to end it with you because I knew that there was something wrong with you. Interestingly, you knew about Narc #1, you knew about how he treated me, you acted as my friend and pretended to be sympathetic although some of your actions were not matching your words and even dismissed it when I told you that he had raped me by saying that rape is not possible between people who are dating. Then your road rage, your use of steroids, your ogling every single thing that looks like a woman at the gym, in front of me, without hesitation, your attempts to isolate me from mostly everybody at the gym, your lies, your sense of entitlement, the fact that you live with the mother of your children, that all of you are squatters in that house, that you don’t own crap but a 2007 car, that your “company” is not even registered, that you have lots of enemies and you joked about them being mostly women…I can go on and on but I need to end here.

    So now after allowing you back, you came and did the same thing but with less care since we were not officially back together and I allowed this horrible behavior so it became a crash course of what you slowly gave me the first time. Not even a course, but a reminder. You are back with the girlfriend who sent you to jail. Your other gym girlfriend is out of the picture. Poor thing, I could see how she was already programmed and I wanted so badly to warn here but she would not even look at me. She was already poisoned with your bs and I wanted to reach out and warn her or even tell her what it was that she was facing. I will never know her name. She is gone. She figured you out! At the 60 days mark which is pretty much when the honeymoon phase goes away and the crawler little beotch that you are is going to come out. You are now with the younger one, the poor girl is sticking around hoping that you finally fulfill your promises to her. The house, the dogs, the picket fence and even the children. But she is going to give you her best years, adding to the 5 years that she already gave you. You are too old, dude. Your kids are two or three years younger than her. You are so damaging and so ugly. Destroying lives, like there is no tomorrow. Your first wife, who is your biggest victim, the children that grew up without a good man, they may turn Narcs, as well. So this cycle will never end.

    Tonight I had it! You are not going to rule my life anymore. I am cutting ties with you, I will not look at you or acknowledge your presence at the gym. I have to let you go. I have allowed you to ruin half of my 2012, my holidays and I am putting a stop to it. I needed to come here and share that I am breaking free off of you, I am running the other way, I am capable of loving, I am capable of being loved and taken care of. You have nothing to give, you are an empty shell who feeds every second on other’s peoples lives, feelings and reactions. You will no longer get any of that from me. I am not your bootie call, your girlfriend, you mother or your shrink. I will drop any thought of getting closure from you, I will wipe you off like bird crap from my windshield. Starting NOW, you are not part of my life and I will not talk about you or feel anything for you. I know I am liberating myself more than anything but I needed this. You are ugly, inside and out. Your eyes are sad and empty. You are going to die alone and since you are getting closer to 60, I can’t imagine the lonely days ahead of you!!

    Good Bye Joe!!

    _______________

  49. Denise says:

    I posted elsewhere about this. I am regretting a past relationship that was over about 2 or 3 years ago, a guy I met in 2008. I went and saw on FB he’s happy, very happy and has moved on. I dont’ begrudge him that, he deserves it.
    But since a recent breakup with a guy who wasn’t worth my time, i’ve gone back in my mind to this guy that once was, the only relatinship experience I had so far that had potential. He did love me and I didn’t beleive it, and I was quite a mess back then.
    I had made many mistakes and ruined for the most part that relationshp. I feel sad about that now (again). How do I get past this, and for good??

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!