If it were me I'd...

As soon as I hear the words “If it were me…” or “I’m the type of person that…” and they are explaining their frustration with a person, or even their rationale for making excuses for them, I internally say “UH OH.” It immediately indicates that they are very likely blinkered in their view of things and over-empathising.

We all have our take on things which represents how we think we’d act in a situation, what we think might cause us to react in a certain way, our perception of what is behind our intentions and those around us, how we think others who represent our values and ideals might or ‘should’ act, and in essence, we all have our expectations. When a situation or person doesn’t meet those and our hopes, we are disappointed, which is natural.

The trouble with focusing on what you would do or highlighting what type of person you are, is that it makes it very ‘I’ focused – you can’t see the wood for the trees. You’re just one person and the only people who share a similar view to you are those who share your values. The fact that you are interested in someone, or they’re your friend, or you’ve slept together, are in relationship, are madly in love with them, or they’re even related to you, doesn’t mean that they will see or do things in the same way as you.

Even if someone does something similar to you or is doing the same thing at the same time as you or with you, it doesn’t mean that you share the same intentions or are even governed by the same mentality. Classic example, two people sleeping together, one intending for it to be more and feeling like it’s very special and they’re ‘making love’ and the other person is just having sex.

You might be or do something for certain reasons or under certain circumstances, but someone else might not.

When you over-empathise, you think you’re putting yourself in their shoes, but you’re actually putting yourself in your own shoes, imagining what you would do and feel in the same situation and what you imagine your intentions might be, and then you’re running with the assumption and projecting it onto them. It’s like half empathy or ’emp’ – you forgot to include the reality of who they are.

You, for instance, may believe that you would only be driven to crime because you were desperate and/or you were going through a terrible time, and that you’d be wanting a better opportunity to come along / to be rescued by someone who cared about you, but someone else may commit crimes for entirely different reasons and actually have no desire to stop.

Equally, you may assume that because of your own experiences and background that someone else who has their own experiences and background where you may feel some ‘synergy’, that they’re operating under the same constraints , mentality, and habits as you. It makes you ask, “Who am I to judge?” and you go “Ooh, I have big problems and have made a few mistakes in my time and need someone to give me a chance” so ipso facto you think that they need you to give them a chance.

Depending on what the disparity is between what you would do and what they would, and in turn what this ‘gap’ represents about their character, values, and your future interactions with them, the fact that they are doing things very differently to what you would may indicate incompatibility.

What you don’t do is make it all about you in a “I think that people should think and act like I do. Why isn’t he/she doing that? Is it because I’m not good enough?” You’ll go into situations with a blinkered view and assume that people are singing from the same hymn sheet.

You’re not interacting with clones of yourself. The only person who truly thinks and acts like you is you. You don’t really need the person if all you’re going to do is project onto them who you think they should be. You have to take the time to get to know people as they are and see them for who they are, not as extensions of you. If you don’t, you’ll become complacent and you’ll make dangerous assumptions.

The fact that someone acts different to you doesn’t make your actions, mentality, and choices wrong or invalidate them – they’re yours. It may not even mean they’re ‘wrong’ but what it may mean is that you’re incompatible.

When you ruminate with “I don’t understand! If it were me, I would have done X or I would have done Y”, it’s like choosing to ignore the truth and its meaning while actually blaming yourself for something that has nothing to do with you, because it becomes, “I don’t understand! If it were me, I would have done X or I would have done Y. Why didn’t they? Is it because I didn’t answer the phone on 3 rings or I’m not as pretty as X or I don’t have Y?”

Knowing what you’d do under certain circumstances and knowing how you act and what you think, is you acknowledging your values, and when there is a disconnect that causes you to be all “What the what now?”, you can look at the results and how you feel and see what someone’s perspective is.

I’ve had many a reader tell me for instance, that if they kept going back to an ex who they knew was crazy about them, it’s because they’d want to get back together. All of these people have felt the pain of discovering that this wasn’t the case for their ‘boomeranging’ exes. They could spend more time being perplexed by the fact that they weren’t back together and hoping that ‘next time’ their ex will ‘do the right thing’, or they could recognise that it might be how they roll, but their exes are rolling them out like a doormat.

You can think about “If it were you” but you can equally ask “It is them – what are they doing?” You can be perplexed, or you can be… in reality.

Your thoughts?

If you want to ‘un-perplex’ yourself, check out my books The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship and Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl which are available from my bookshop.

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220 Responses to “If It Were Me, I’d….” When You’re Perplexed By People Not Acting As You Would

  1. Robin says:

    Uggh, YES. I had a friend from a few years back who would totally say this to me. When I asked her for help (or just called so I could have someone to vent to), she said, “If it were me, Robin, I would [insert advice here].” Except it wasn’t her, it was me! lol I’d have to defend myself and say, “Yes, but me under this situation would just not do that!” To me it came off as really controlling or at the minimum, ignorant of my feelings and who I was.

    This applies to all kinds of relationships!

  2. I’ve been Hector Projector far longer than I care to admit. It’s really just a way of living in my fantasy bubble and not being real.

    This article makes me think of opinion vs. judgment; there is a fine line between the two, and when we say “if it were me…” there is a little judgment hidden in there.

    I’ve been in the “dangerous assumptions” area too many times because I expected people to think/act like me. Thanks for the reminder that it’s NOT all about us!

    ps: drank too much wine and emailed MM some funny comedy clip at 2:00 this morning. I’m not surprised he didn’t reply. So tomorrow – is DAY 1 of NC. Again.

    I’ll get there.

    • Allison says:


      Why don’t you delete and block?????

    • truth=freedom says:

      Hello, I have to agree with Allison in time to Block and delete this guy as its way too easy for you to contact him at 2.00 in the morning by email. He has not responded and I remember once in your previous emails that he said to you that ‘someday he might have to cut you loose’ or words to that effect. I think this lack of response is him finally deciding to do that. This sounds very harsh and I am sorry as I know your feelings are intense for this man. He will have more respect for you if you do NC, sending comedy clips at 2.00am only reinforces to him that you are not getting on with your life. Would it not be better to stop contacting and let him know that you are worth more than being ignored. NC is tough, but believe me with each day you will eventually become stronger. You will get there.

      • You are both right. I just can’t bring myself to block him yet.

        Is this normal?

        What am I hanging on to? The hope that he’ll call me up drunk one night like he usually does?

        I’m so disappointed in myself. I’ve come so far with so many things, but with men? I’m like a child.

        • Allison says:


          You’re prolonging the inevitable.

          The guy is married, lives in another country and communicates by text. What will you be missing?? There is NO relationship here.

          You’re not going to move on from this, until you go NC!

        • Lilia says:

          Yes this is very normal. It means you haven´t completely given up hope that the fantasy will materialize.

          Also, when you cling to someone, letting him go will make you a bit disoriented – what do you fill your time with now that you don´t have him to worry about? One thing that worked for me was to make lists of everything I wanted to do, and whenever I found my mind wandering to the EUM, I quickly got busy with anything on that list.

          I got a real good advice on this forum when I started NC: try it out for a month. That way it doesn´t seem so final and dramatic and it´s easier to maintain. After the weeks went by, I discovered I felt so much better that I didn´t even have to ask myself what to do after that month. NC seemed like the only thing I wanted to do.

        • truth=freedom says:

          Totally normal Christine. Fear is holding you back, you are holding onto that 1% chance of having a relationship with this man whilst the other 99% of your life is on hold! I think Allison and Lilia are in your corner! (Not the man who you are getting 1% from) You have to go NC and set yourself small goals. Get passed the first week and give yourself a reward! I rewarded myself with five dollars a day if I did not contact him (sounds weird I know) but at the end of the month I had $140 dollars which I spent on a facial, manicure and pedicure, and I realised I had gotten more attention and good feelings about myself from the beautician than I had from my AC in over a year!! You can do it, you deserve so much more in your life than drunken texts. He is offering you NOTHING! Zip, Zero, Niente! Be strong.

          • Thank you – from the bottom of my heart.

            I’m going crazy with my head knowing all these things, and my obsessive-self continuing this mess.

            I’ve got to go NC, I know.

            I finally got a text from him after acting like a child when he didn’t reply to a text I sent last night about missing my best friend (gag).

            After I woke up and had no text, I said texted him:

            “Message received”

            Then he texted right away:

            “Hold on there, sister, I’m still in your corner. I’m just swamped. I will text you when I come up for air, hopefully tonight.”

            I was pissed. Mostly at myself.

            After a few hours, I texted back, trying to safe face:

            “No worries, I’m not available tonight. Chat whenever. Good luck with that swamped stuff.”

            It’s so obvious I’m going out of my mind. I just told him last week I had too much respect for myself to have any contact with him.

            Now, I’m getting bitchy because he’s not replying to my desperate texts.

            The bottom line is – WHY DO I CARE what he thinks?

            Is it the whole: “I want you to call me, so I don’t pick up?” game?

            Tomorrow is a new day, and I am really looking forward to taking Natalie’s NC Ecourse.

            I’m acting like a child, and am well aware i’m hanging on out of fear – but why is it so hard to just block – say “F off”?

            • Fearless says:

              You are desperately trying to get any old crumb of attention from a man who is ‘too busy’ to even dish up the crumbs. And yes, he is too busy! He is “swamped’ in getting on with his *own* life (like you should be doing). You want him to need you as much as you need him. He doesn’t need you, that’s your reality. And if he was as needy for you as you are for him that would be a very unhealthy dynamic.

              There is a lot of what Natalie is saying in this post going on here with you – stop projecting your feelings on to him! He is not you. He is a completely different human being, with different needs and desires. Try seeing your behaviour from HIS point of of view and it may stop you doing it. You imagine this guy really loves you and misses you and understands you so he doesn’t see your communications as sad and desperate self-humiliation. Nope – he does see it as sad and desperate self-humiliation, cos that’s what it is.

              Regardless of what funny comedy clips or anything else you text or email to him the only message you are really communicating is this one: “I am a woman utterly bereft of self-respect who is desperate for any crumb of attention from you and whose every waking moment is consumed with when and if you might send me an email or text message. That’s who I am”

              You could cut out the ‘middle man’ and just send him that message whenever you feel like breaking your NC; maybe then you’ll actually hear the message you are sending instead of the one you think you are sending.

              Stop blowing smoke up his arse and start worrying about how to get some measure self-respect in tow.

              He is not your friend.
              He is not in your corner.

              Dump that fantasy for starters.

              • runnergirl says:

                I walked in your shoes Christine, probably sent the same email joke/cartoon.
                Fearless is spot on. Once I understood, truly understood, how humiliating it was, the trance was broken. The outcome was on my doorstep all along and I flipped through hoops to avoid the outcome and the outcome on my doorstep. Although I haven’t felt the urge to break NC in many months since realizing how totally bereft of self-respect I was, I’m going to print this Fearless and hang it on my mirror. That’s precisely who I was. Makes me want to cry, again. Hugs and strength to you Christine. I identify with everything you write. I was there too.

            • Sunshine says:

              What has worked for me, *if I can catch it when it’s happening*, is in the midst of the anxious desperation, I start asking myself, “what are my true needs right now?”, I remember to love myself for feeling desperate, and in the wonderful moments of clarity, I remind myself, “that’s my biological attachment system, it thinks my body might die without my attachment figure. what can I do to re-train my body so it knows I’m safe now? go for a walk? hoop? cal another friend? EFT? bubble bath? kitten and laughing baby videos on youtube?”

            • truth=freedom says:

              Christine, he is the worst of all kinds of players, and I feel he is stringing you along with meaningless texts. He is going to TEXT you, not call you, when he comes up for air! What does that even mean unless he has a job as a scuba diver or he is swimming to Cuba!!! He must be in a terrible state, poor lamb that he is devoid of one of the main essentials in life and that is oxygen! Get tough with him and yourself and get NC up and running. You deserve better, gather together whats left of your self respect and kick this guy to the kerb once and for all. You can definately do this.

            • Ellyb says:

              Christine: “trying to safe face”…

              This is a crime we’re doing to ourselves. I’ve done it for decades! Whenever I’ve been bullied at school (for 10 years!) momster told me: “It’s all your fault! They’re doing this only to see your tears. If you stop crying, they’ll stop. It’s so easy! Why don’t you see it? You’re so stupid!” I tried and tried and tried to suppress my tears when they attacked me, ridiculed me or stole my things. But sooner or later, the tears came anyway (those kids simply abused me more and more until I couldn’t withhold those tears anymore), and I believed it was all my fault because I cried. All my fault. All my fault.

              I tried to do the same with all those ACs in my life. Whenever they did/said something hurtful, I desperately tried to suppress tears and anger, tried to maintain a straight face, and said: “Oh, it’s okay. No, it doesn’t bother me. I understand why you’re acting that way. I understand why you need me only for sex. I understand why you don’t have time for me. I understand why I am a nuisance to you. No really, I understand. I understand why this other woman you’ve just met is more valuable than I. You know what, I’m totally cool with it. No trouble!”

              But it didn’t help. It didn’t help me to “control” the world around me. It didn’t give me peace either.

  3. lawrence says:

    If I had written that article, I would’ve… D’oh! 😉

    Seriously, very perceptive point, imo, Natalie. My fave paragraph:

    “When you over-empathise, you think you’re putting yourself in their shoes, but you’re actually putting yourself in your own shoes, imagining what you would do and feel in the same situation and what you imagine your intentions might be, and then you’re running with the assumption and projecting it onto them. It’s like half empathy or ‘emp’ – you forgot to include the reality of who they are.”

    Right on. I often congratulated myself as being empathetic – which actually does involve putting *yourself* in their position – and as you pointed out, I got it about half-right. :/

    • sm says:

      lawrence, I’ve often been ’empathetic’ too, but the only reason was so I could excuse their unusual circumstances or behavior so I could date them. Or I was empathetic as a form of denial about what was really going on. It was never real empathy because if it was, I would have not been dating them.

  4. This is why your advice about judging people on their actions rather than their words is so important. We can’t read people’s minds or begin to understand what their motives are. We can only observe their behaviour and make decisions based on that.

  5. Amy says:

    I’ve struggled with this one a lot with my ex mainly because I really did think we had the same value system. Apparently not because I would never dump someone via email after 2 years together only to BEG to be taken back 9 months later after he broke up with the woman he started dating before even sending the breakup email only then after blowing white hot to ice cold for a year and half to then not even give me the courtesy of a breakup email, just a text saying ‘you need to put me behind you’ After BEGGING AND PLEADING for me to be in his life, poof, off to the next pretty girl, leaving me once again scratching my head thinking I had imagined the whole thing.

    This relationship has done a number on my self esteem and recovery is not coming easy. I know he is most definitely an assclown and emotionally unavailable, he has all the classic traits. Forgiving myself has proven to be nearly impossible. I’m glad to have found this site and all of these comments because they strengthen me.

    Love to all who are hurting.

    • Natasha says:

      Amy, so sorry to hear you had to deal with this. I was in a similar situation and I promise you that you WILL forgive yourself and, I totally agree that it’s far, far from easy, but how you’re feeling now will pass. Nat told me that when I was really struggling and she was right! Be nice to yourself and make your life from now on about the people and things that bring you happiness. I found that sometimes I had to sit myself down and say, “Right now I’m going to do something that makes me smile and have a good laugh rather than contiue to beat myself up.” And before I knew it, I put a dude that made me pretty miserable for five years in my rearview. Hope this helps and lots of love to you!

    • cc says:

      nonono. ugh – i see others behaving to themselves exactly as i do/have to myself and all of a sudden, it all comes so clear…

      the idea that you wouldn’t forgive yourself is ludicrous. honey – he’s a bastard, of a rare, unique and special sort. you must forgive yourself, immediately. we none of us know until we know, until the light comes on and we see, and that sight is horrifying – the trick then is to say “ok, i chose/tolerated him because i didn’t value/love myself properly. now, i know better. and now that i know that i must do this, i will do so, immediately.”

      so – let’s try a visualization. ok…i assume you moisturize. pick your favorite body lotion. now, make this lotion the best in the universe – it smells amazing, its soft and feels lovely going on, it makes your skin GLOW and makes you look beautiful. it never makes you break out, ever, its just pure wondrous comfort. now, imagine an infinite vat of this lotion right in front of you, always there. only the lotion = love and the vat is always full, its self-replenishing.

      now, start applying. just dip your hands in and rub it all over yourself. slllllllllather it on. every time you feel the least little bit crappy, lean over the vat, inhale its fragrance, and rub some more on. the more you apply, the better you feel. there is no such thing as too much.

      do you see? stop judging, as a friend says to me, “take the claws out”. just make a radical change and forgive yourself. when you start to slip back into judgment, which you will, go back to the vat and soothe your wounds and make the radical change all over again.

      love to YOU who is hurting.

    • sm says:

      Amy if it makes you feel any better, my friend dated a guy just like this. He dumps her the first time abruptly and for no apparent reason, then calls her weeks later and says he made a big mistake. So she dates him for quite a while as well, gets in deep with him, then he dumps her again for no apparent reason. And he doesnt stop there, he calls her a psycho (she is the least psycho of all my friends) and all kinds of other stuff on his way out. Come to find out, both times he had already hooked up with someone new before he broke up with her. Ha! Fast forward a year later and tries to hook up with her again on linkedin, I’m proud to say she ignored him. I know its difficult to forgive yourself, I’ve been there. But please use my friends situation to see that this guys behavior had nothing to do with you. I know this is hard to believe but you are still you, you are not a fool just because some azzclown likes to use people and has been an azzclown long before you came along.
      Guess what, my friends deal helped me out because I dated a guy who started exhibiting signs of her ex, and we both called it right away and I was able to get out with very minimal damage.

      • Amy says:

        Thank you all for your replies. It is insanely difficult to forgive myself and not blame myself and wonder what in the world I could have possibly done to warrant such behavior as he really was someone that I felt shared a lot of my values, but apparently not.

        Comments like yours and the love of my family and friends helps immensely. Thank you all so much.

  6. Natasha says:

    Nat, we must be having a Psychic Friends Moment! I was hanging out with a good friend today that it’s in a situation with a dude she believes herself to be crazy about. They went on a few dates two years ago and he wound up telling her that it was “a really hard decision” but he wanted to get serious with someone else. Lo and behold, he and the other girl break up and he’s texting my friend non-stop. Does he attempt to make plans? No. Does he respond affirmatively to her invitations? No. Does he call her drunk to talk about all his problems? Yes, bless his heart. Does he randomly call her up if he happens to be in her neighborhood and then say “Too late! Sorry!” when she can’t meet him in under five minutes. Yes. Ohhhhh no he di’int. (But he totally did.)

    I told her to take a big ol’ step back, strip out the excuses and take a good hard look at what she’s really dealing with. She said to me, “Well, I think I’m going to give it some time. If it were me, I wouldn’t keep texting someone that I didn’t like. I ran into him when I was on a date and he’s been making comments about that, so he must be trying to be cautious and seeing what my situation is without risking getting shut down. Why else would he be asking?! If it were me and I wasn’t interested, I wouldn’t care who the other person was dating!”

    Oh no.

    Oh hell no.

    I told her…well, basically what Nat says in this post! As I’m telling her, “If he can spend all damn day and night texting you, he has time to SEE YOU! Bounce this fool!” her phone pings about three times in the course of a second. It’s the dingbat in full effect. She finally said, “You know what? You’re right. I don’t KNOW why he isn’t making an effort to see me. But what I do know is that it’s a beautiful day at the beach and I’d rather enjoy it than text him. If I may say, this made me week :)

    • PurpleLily says:

      Awesome work and words there, Natasha! :) WOOHOO!

    • sm says:

      Natasha this is proof positive that some people will waste a whole lot of your time with text and phone conversation and never have any intention of dating you. Just like Nat says, this is something that perplexs me personally and something I would never do, but there are a whole lot of other people who do. I have a girlfriend whos doing right now to a guy.

    • lawrence says:

      “Yes, bless his heart.”

      That made me laugh out loud. I liked your “checklist.” I can see someone checking off the “no’s” one after another and then ending up at the question: Should I let him back in my life? Followed by checking “Oh hell no!” :))

    • Natasha says:

      So glad y’all enjoyed!! :) For serious, you could literally develop an EUM Checklist (along with it’s companion volume Assclown Checklist and Douchery Appendix, Volumes 1 through WHO DOES THAT?!) and it would work in probably every single situation where you’re like, “WOW. That is jacked UP.” What’s really kind funny to me is that the assclowns that feel entitled to waste people’s time think they’re very, very special and yet they all use the same damn playbook. You want to impress the BR community? Come up with some new sh*t.

      On a sort of related and hilarious note (and because it’s pouring in my city and I’m watching my beloved Mr. Rock tonight):


      • sm says:

        Hahaha, that was hilarious! It reminded me of my last ac, all he ever did was complain about getting in trouble at work and about his buddies in his motorcycle ‘club’ getting on his nerves. Well it got so bad, i started developing ptsd everytime he’d go into a diatribe about how ‘bad’ he had it. One time he even got irritated because a toilet in his house took too long to flush. I lost it on that one and went into a tirade as Mr. Rock describes :-)

      • Ellyb says:

        Natasha: You’re right, they’re all so much alike!
        Right now I’m beating myself up because last week, I was forced to NC another guy. I feel guilty because I think: If I was really healthy, nobody would be able to treat me badly anymore, right? But I guess there might be some flaw in my logic…

        It wasn’t a date, but a business contact and former coworker (from about 10 years ago). After two other meetings and some email contact, he invited me to a summer party at the academic institution he now works for. I was a bit worried that this party would be awkward, because I didn’t know anyone there except him, and although I’m not shy (“heavy” socializing is part of my job), I don’t have much in common with college students and university staff…

        I voiced those concerns to him in an email. His reply was a thinly veiled insult, and he didn’t address my concerns in any way at all, but unfortunately I told myself: “I know he isn’t a bad guy. I knew him ten years ago and he didn’t seem to be a bad guy back then. I guess he’s just being insensitive. I shouldn’t be judgmental”.

        Thus I went to that party. Big mistake. He IGNORED me. After quickly saying hello to me, he went on chatting with some blonde in a tight dress (to whom he didn’t even introduce me). During the following 20 minutes, he must have watch me hang around there awkwardly all alone with a soft drink (for which I paid myself, of course). Then I decided to leave without another word to him (after all, I didn’t want to interrupt his chat with that blonde again, no…?).

        He caught me at the exit, hastily introduced me to some mildly useful business contact (and vanished again). After a quick chat with that business contact, I left.

        The next day (as I had expected and feared) there was this email in which he wrote: “Oh, you were so suddenly gone, but I wanted to introduce you to another important person and chat with you about some topics” and yada yada yada. I deleted his email and didn’t reply. If I ever need to deal with him for my job again, I’ll contact his assistant or another member of his staff.

        In my perception, his behavior was extremely disrespecful. And I don’t believe he was just being “insensitive”. He knew EXCATLY what he was doing. His last email was ample proof of that in my perception.

        But I feel guilty because I “allowed” that to happen…

        • yoghurt says:

          You didn’t allow it to happen. Or, more accurately, you’re NOT allowing it to happen. Or you won’t be so long as you don’t let yourself feel bad/guilty/unworthy about it.

          He’s just an arse. It’d be nice if there weren’t so many in the world and it’d be nice to think that we could annihilate them with our NC-ready super-eyes, but no. There are a lot of arses in the world and if they cared about our opinion they wouldn’t be arses in the first place.

          It’s difficult dealing with arses effectively – that’s why most of us never really learnt to in the first place. But a little bit of difficulty or pain now is a whole lot better than a lot more later on, when it turns out that after giving them chance after chance, they’re still, well, an arse.

          • Used says:



            He wanted to make you look like his “fan”. To get others (esp. this woman) more interested in him.

            He doesn’t respect nice people.

            Hence you eliminate yourself from his life.

            Don’t only go NC. Delete & block, too! And NEVER speak to him again.

            When Jesus Christ said, “Father, forgive them–they know not what they do”, He was talking about people who were under the influence of politicians, fear, etc.

            This guys, he CREATED the situation. And CONTROLLED the situation, from beginning to end. AS THE SITUATION CONCERNS YOU. He knows what he does. Exactly as the situation applies to you. HE WAS GOD IN THIS SITUATION.

            Don’t be Christ & forgive him. Or forgive, but don’t forget!

          • EllyB says:

            The worst thing was that excruciating pain I felt when he ignored me at that party. I told myself: “Oh well, he’s an arse, I can see that now, but what’s the big deal? I’m just an adult, I should be able to survive this situation without too much suffering!”

            But it hurt, hurt, hurt soooo much. I guess it’s because he suddenly looked exactly like my narcissisic mother to me. I had a “flashback” about her giving the the silent treatment, which she did all the time (and for “crimes” I didn’t even understand). She loved to make me look like a complete fool with other people to.

            So painful, so painful. So incredibly painful. So cruel! Evil.

            I guess in a way this guy did me an (unwanted) favor. He brought up some memories I didn’t want to deal with. He forced me to deal with them. I hope this helps me to grow. Did he ever grow in his adult life?

            • Used says:

              Do you want me to come over and block & delete him from your life for you? I’d do it if I could.

              When the day comes & you are at the same party & the most convo you have w/him (if at all) is a “hi” & he stares at you KNOWING HOW HE IS IN FACT AN ASSHOLE AND KNOWS HE REALLY HAS NOTHING TO SAY TO YOU ANYMORE, you will be so far ahead of him emotionally that you’ll look at him w/only contempt.

              Just went thru this in May!

        • cc says:

          no. another person’s actions are their own. you didn’t cause them.

          however, what we who have the wounds we all here seem to share DO do, i think, is fail to recognize the asshole early enough to avoid their treatment. our meters/detectors are broken. so we participate. and then, to make matters worse, we blame ourselves, because we feel we are somehow complicit.

          but that’s not your fault. you didn’t break your own meter, some other asshole (no disrespect, but….your father, maybe?) broke it for you.

          the good news is that your meter can be fixed. so, please, you are not at all to blame, so stop crucifying yourself. you see exactly what time it is with this guy. so just apply those lessons, HIS behavior, to your meter.

          and take yourself off the hook. its not your fault, nor are you the origin of his assholery. give yourself some love. and work on your meter. and next time you meet an asshole, you’ll be better equipped to handle/avoid him/her.

          • Magnolia says:

            ellyb – next time (and there will always be ACs around, so it’s good you’re developing skillz) you’ll leave the party even earlier; the next time you’ll drop the whole thing at the email insult; the next time you’ll see something in the first set of meetings and emails, even before an outright insult; the next time you’ll see an AC interacting with other people and he/she won’t even have a chance to get into anything with you.

            These skills – i.e. recognizing poor behaviour and acting accordingly – take time to develop. But your story to me sounds way ahead of where you were at a year ago, so bravo!

            Gosh when I arrived at BR, I probably would have accepted his stupid post-party email, and met up and slept with the guy, still telling myself he was a decent person and my radar must be off.

            That’s not you. You have your BR ears on, as runner recently put it.

            And I think it’s great that you see that a situation now is bringing up a feeling that hooks into how a kid feels with an abusive parent. I can relate: the feeling is real, and terrifying, and painful. It’s as though a paper cut was reminding you of how it felt to be hit by a truck.

            Keep working on acknowledging that you were, in fact, once hit by a truck (your momster). Keep feeling it, now that you’re not under that truck anymore. Soon the feelings of being hit by a truck will become memories you can observe from a distance, and the pain of today’s paper cuts won’t bring back every pain you ever felt.

            I think you’re doing very well.

            • Ellyb says:

              Magnolia: I’m sure you’re right about leaving the party earlier. But I thought I couldn’t do that…

              My school bullies would have ridiculed me for “running away”. And momster… Do you know what she would have said? “You’ve acted like a very impolite coward. But your manners were always horrible. Didn’t you SEE he was busy with something WAY more important than you??? Don’t you see now how you are always torturing me with your very impolite, rude behavior? For so many years, I tried to bring some sense into you, but it was hopeless. I’m such a poor woman for having to deal with a cretin like you. You can’t believe how sad I am. You won’t see it, because you have ABSOLUTELY no empathy. I’m so shocked. You can’t believe.” (Tears in her face).

              For all my life, I desperately tried to live according to momster’s values. Now it occurs to me how wrong they were. Maybe they were wrong? Or were they wrong for sure? How can I have any doubts about that?

          • Ellyb says:

            cc: As I’ve said above, he turned out to be my narcissistic mother’s clone in that situation (at least in my perception).

            Plus, I knew him from a former workplace where I got bullied horribly (and escaped by landing a fine job elsewhere). He didn’t participate in my bullying, because he worked in a different department, but I guess I hoped I could get some “validation” from him anyway.

            “People from the past” seem to be among the most dangerous for me right now. I knew him for 10 years (but not very well). That woman friend I’ve recently cut off was from 15 years ago. I think I’m still trying to idealize people from those times even if they treated me badly.

            I used to believe: Those “friends” and acquaintances didn’t treat me well in the past, but that was my fault. Now I have become a better person, and I want to prove it to them, and I hope they’ll treat me better as a consequence. Nope. They won’t. It was never about me. It was alway about them, even back then! There was never anything “wrong” with me, no matter what those people said or did!

            I went NC with my whole toxic family half a decade ago, but I’m still struggling. I think on my mothers side, there was a whole “narcissistic family system” spanning over several generations. My father’s mother was narcissistic too (and addicted to sleeping pills). NC was the only way for me.

        • cc says:

          this might help you if you haven’t read it before. the title is a little nauseating, but i found it extremely helpful, and my narcissistic parent was really my father, not my mother.

          as a matter of fact, it should really be required reading for all BR readers who suffered under narcissistic mothers.

          “will i ever be good enough, healing the daughters of narcissistic mothers” by karyl mcbride.

          seriously. get it. it will help.

          • Ellyb says:

            cc: Thank you, but I have actually read “Will I Ever Be Good Enough”, along with “The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists”, “In Sheep’s Clothing”, “Toxic Parents”, “People of the Lie”, “Stalking the Soul” and many more.

            I guess I have a pretty good idea of what narcissistic abuse looks like. The problem is I don’t really know what it FEELS like… because I’m still in denial about how much I suffered as a child. According to those books, this phenomenon isn’t uncommon.

            It seems as if those memories (memories of feelings) come up bit by bit, and every piece of them is painful, and I have to work through it anyway. It takes time. Unfortunately, it also means I sometimes get a bit trapped by a toxic person again before I wake up, pull myself together and work trough the new insight I’ve gained.

            I used to be very impatient with myself, but I’m slowly accepting how LONG it takes. I guess it’s the way my soul is protecting itself. It can take the truth only bit by bit, not all at once.

            • cc says:

              that’s actually great, it took me forever to accept how long it takes, i would be so hard on myself, but i finally got it that accepting this is part of self care.

              i also found that, once you get past a certain point, it does accelerate. i think that with growth and learning and practice we become more adept at dropping old behaviors and at better assessing whether a new person is good or not so good for us earlier on.

              good for you.

          • Kerry says:

            Thanks for the tip, cc.
            I’m definitely going to get that book.

      • cc says:

        aaaaah, natasha. you’re hilarious. and so is dear mr. rock.

        “For serious, you could literally develop an EUM Checklist (along with it’s companion volume Assclown Checklist and Douchery Appendix, Volumes 1 through WHO DOES THAT?!) and it would work in probably every single situation where you’re like, “WOW. That is jacked UP.””

        omg…volume 1 through who does that….that’s hysterical.

    • A says:

      It’s funny that we do the “if it were me…” thing, but only apply it selectively to the other person’s actions. In this case, your friend reasons that she wouldn’t text someone non-stop unless she were interested. But in keeping with what your friend would do if she liked a guy, would it also include never making plans and turning down all of the guy’s suggested plans to meet up? I think not.

  7. runnergirl says:

    Natalie, this is a great post. Since all my ex’s are not from Texas but from my work environment, I made the mistake of assuming since we agreed on work related issues, we were singing off the same page in the hymn book regarding “relationships”. We were clones at work, therefore a relationship should follow. What a total leap in logic and a very dangerous assumption. I was so blinded by the synergy at work, I failed to see the relationship incompatibility and impossibility. We agreed on everything on the board room floor but that didn’t translate into the bedroom or the bedroom floor. Since I’ve recently taken a few baby steps out of my ivory tower bubble, my uncomfortable comfortable zone, holy hell. The guys I’ve recently met are NOT extensions of me which is a great lesson. On a first meeting, I would have never said X. But they did. That’s reality. I have been a bit perplexed as to why because it seems so obvious to me. They are who they are. I can’t ignore that reality. Natalie, you are wonderful at “un-perplexing” me. I’m still shouting off the roof top. It’s so wonderful not going back to the exMM, thinking this time he’ll do the right thing. If it were me, I’d never do what he did to me. Since it is me, I’ll never again do what I did to me. Thank you. Forever grateful.
    PS. I think there is going to be a shortage of doormats and a decrease in demand for condoms for those who may be investors.

    • Natasha says:

      “I think there is going to be a shortage of doormats and a decrease in demand for condoms for those who may be investors.”

      OHMYGOD RUNNER!! Love!! I also adore the idea of being “un-perplexed” by straight up, good sense advice. What a great way to put it :)

  8. High Anxiety says:

    Unfortunately, I have this problem of saying “If it were me…” And I honestly think it stems from years of my giving credence to the old adage, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” I find that I’ve given people second and third and 20th chances because if I had made their mistakes I would want someone to give me another chance. Most recently, I have answered phone calls that I probably should have ignored because I wouldn’t want someone to ignore me… My first love actually taught me this lesson when we were 19 years old. He told me, “Just because you forgave me doesn’t mean I would forgive you.” I wish I had learned this lesson and taken it to heart then – – oh, the heartache it would have saved me!
    By the way, I am new to BR and have been reading for a couple of months now. I want to thank NML and every single poster – you all have helped me to calm my grief and anxiety over the end (?) of my non-relationship.

  9. Little Star says:

    Natalie, you are spot on again…GOD, sometimes I think you can read my mind:-) I love it! I am in exactly the same situation and it is letting me down:-(

    I have a friend who I did not see for eight years and she visited me in UK one week ago. She was saying how successful she is, she has PhD, two kids and loving husband and three bedroom flat in France. And where I am? Childless, divorced, one bedroom flat and only Masters (haha)… She was saying that I should “hurry up” as I am missing so many things in my life. She spent three days with me and I just wished I did not see her another 8 years!!! She keeps calling me and asking me to come to visit her (I bet she wants to show off her “perfect” life!) I do not want to see or hear from her again, I am not jealous at all, I met her husband, and I knew the story of “love”…I have to say, I am older than her (6 years) and I look much younger/ pretty/slimmer and I do not think I am missing out and why should I follow her steps and principals , maybe I have a weakness of choosing asclowns, that’s all really. HOW CAN I RID OF HER without embarrassing myself??? I have a different opinions and ideas about my life, I never wanted to have kids and PhD, what is the problem? Why cant she just leave me alone?!!!

    • sm says:

      Liittle star, she must have really enjoyed your company. I love it, I too ‘have a weakness for choosing assclowns’. I also do lots of business dinners with people just like your friend and I feel like an alien sometimes. I cant avoid them though. Its a constant reminder to me that they have what I’ve always believed I wanted but dont have because of my love of azzclowns.

    • PurpleLily says:

      Little star,

      She sounds like a piece of work. Good on you for putting up with this insane character. I have friends like this who have done the same – they are married and happy and cant understand why I wont just find someone and settle down. I have to hear the whole “you are being too picky/pick someone from your own race (yes, I get told off for picking apples vs oranges)” so on and so forth. I have at times subtly told a few of them off by saying “I am SO happy that you have all this (and I truly am) but I wish to find a proper, healthy love and relationship – would I like this NOW – yes. But I think I am meant to wait because I need to learn more about myself and I know I will make right choice when the time comes”. Usually, they have understood.

      With your friend, I reckon its time to get some distance from her – tell her that you need to just focus on you and you will contact her when you feel ready to deal with the world. I cant imagine her not getting that.

      Nevertheless, I would struggle to call her a friend, no one, especially a friend is meant to make you feel awful about your life and who you are – you have worked might hard and done a great job with yourself!!

  10. miskwa says:

    One if the great things about BR is that we get to read examples of some really outrageous behaviors; many that we, being fairly decent folk, would not have dreamed existed. I have learned the hard way that many men do not treat women well, that evaporating from ones life, deliberately causing incredible pain when they no longer have any need for you is common. I used to be so floored by this because it never occurred to me to treat anyone in this fashion. It just goes to show that one has to keep their spidey senses alert at all times no matter how good a person seems. A related story: I have a friend in a horribly emotionally abusive marriage, I have witnessed the behavior personally. He is stressed, not sleeping, has lost a lot of weight, and his self esteem is crushed. He is so afraid of loosing his business that he won’t even see a lawyer, just passively waits for her to file divorce papers. I told him once that he is being abused, but if he chooses to circle the drain and be a passive victim, it’s his choice. Folks make bad life choices for whatever reason and we can’t do a #$%& thing about it.

    • PurpleLily says:

      Same thoughts here Miskwa. Even today, I cant fathom how and why people can be that nasty to you – men and women. I take my own case as well as things I have heard, other people’s heartbreaks and how their partner treated them and it fills me with such sadness. Treating people poorly and disappearing without any answers is indeed ‘common’ now…but it shouldnt be. I wonder if my head lives in utopia, but it shouldnt be – treating someone/everyone with care, respect, love and dignity is the duty each one has.But every single time I have been proved wrong, leaving me shattered about the ways of this world.

      I am trying to teach myself “Just because I believe I have a duty of care towards everyone, doesnt mean they have to feel the same”. And most people dont. Does this mean we stay away from such people? I suppose so.

      Im sorry to hear about your friend, guess all you can do is be there for him. I hope he gets out and begins to heal soon.

      Brilliant post Natalie-thank you. This has been the topic of many-a-teary sessions in the past few weeks. It is SUCH a tough thing to make myself accept that there are nasty people out there and they really dont care a rat’s about you/your feelings/how to treat you with respect and care.

    • runnergirl says:

      I’ve always followed your comments, want to say hello, and let you know that your comments have really helped me. Reading about your tremendous geographic obstacles made me realize I was creating my own obstacles despite the fact I happen to live in a highly desired geographic area. I totally agree about reading about some totally outrageous behaviors on BR. Moreover, I was dealing with totally outrageous behavior when I discovered BR. I really didn’t know what I was experiencing was outrageous. I was floored too and that’s why I started posting. It never occurred to me to treat anyone in that way. Worse, I had to face the fact I was complicit in being treated like that. Talk about perplexed. I was so perplexed as to how it could happen, it’s taken a year to un-perplex me. So sorry to hear about your friend. Abusive situations are the absolute worst. Nobody could stop me from circling the drain when I was hell bent on righting the wrong that could never be righted. Thanks to you all and Natalie, I figured out kinda, that if it were me (and it is), I’d do something different (and I better). I don’t think I’d ever treat me in that fashion again. I was floored at how I treated me!

  11. RANA says:

    to little star:
    – set boundaries, be strong and do not be afraid to say NO in a polite way, you do not have to explain yourself.
    – speak to them and how u r feeling, or avoid them, avoid returning her phone calls and claim that u r busy. vanish.
    keeping busy and making new friendships – you will eventually, and naturally start to drift away from this toxic friend and grow apart.

  12. cc says:

    yeah…. i have absolutely done this.

    in a twisted way, i think it comes from trying so hard to be a good person, and from being raised by people (read: narcissists) whose way was the only way, the *correct* way. and while you’re trying so hard not to be “my way or the highway” like they were, and you’re trying to be “good”, you’re also being assaulted by them telling you that you’re always wrong, and building up this huge defensiveness as a result. and you end up having a flimsy sense of faith in how you do things, and NO sense whatsoever that not everyone else cares about being a good person, or defines what that means in the same way you do. so, yeah, like christine said above, you end up projecting all over the place.

    combine this behavior with the previous post about trying to avoid unwanted outcomes, and you only get more entrenched in your own unhelpful point of view.

    its far harder, and braver, to decouple your sense of right and wrong from others’, to detangle yourself from how you think others should be behaving, and just stand in the (sometimes shit storm) of how they are really behaving, and to let the chips just fall where they may.

    go, natalie. thanks for nailing it once again.

  13. Kim says:

    Differences CAN mean that people are incompatible, but not necessarily. Compatibility requires compatible purpose in the bitg picture. BUT, no two people are exactly alike, and if we believe that differences must mean incompatibility, then that pretty much means that we all have to become disconnected narcissists.

    People get attached to their position on what should be done instead of looking at each other’s needs and values. There’s so often a different way to go that will meet both needs. It just requires the willingness to engage in accurate perspective-taking and creative action in generating options.

    Person A wants to go out to dinner. Person B wants to play tennis. Are they incompatible? They are if they fight over tennis and dinner. If instead they talk about what each person *needs* they might get to that one wants time to talk, the other has been sitting and needs physical activity. So, they go for a hike together. Now they’re compatible.

  14. rana says:

    An excrept
    Some signs u r not.over ur ex
    You r keeping track u l know how many months,weeks, days since u split

    You obsess over the details of your relationship, replaying every conversation in ur mind, trying to determine what went wrong n when

    U dutifully unfriend him/her on FB even blocking his profile for ur own welfare, instead u take to.checking his profile, looking up every female/male and sussing out potential rivals. Etc..

  15. Jana says:

    Wow. I was literally saying this YESTERDAY. I way over empathize and it gets me in trouble sometimes.

    Some people really are assholes. Some people really do need to be ignored. You really do have to walk away from some people without having the last word.


    My guy friend (who is more than a friend) treated me very rudely a few months ago. I couldn’t believe it, as, I WOULD NEVER DO SUCH A THING. uh huh. Well HE DID DO SUCH A THING. I have been no contact since (4+ months), defriended him from FB and I don’t talk about him to mutual friends. At all. Bye bye. Actions do speak louder than words CAN YA HEAR ME NOW ASSHOLE?????

    • happy b says:

      “Some people really are assholes. Some people really do need to be ignored.”

      Yes, why do I find this so hard to digest? If someone acts like an asshole, they are, to all intents and purposes, an asshole. If they get close to you and occupy your life, then show zero loyalty or care when it really comes down to it, they are an asshole. If they take people into their lives who they have no respect for, just to build up their own ego and get some shallow needs met, they are an asshole. If they exploit people’s insecurities and unhealthy ways of relating, which have usually developed out of some serious hurt, they are an asshole.
      If it were me…well it just wouldn’t be. I can’t get in the head, or walk in the shoes of, an asshole. I don’t want to be in the same room as one either.

      Talk about over-empathising! I dreamed when I was a kid, that I was being kidnapped and as I looked out the back of the car and saw my parents disappear into the distance, I thought, ‘oh no! they won’t know where I am! They’ll be going to pieces!’. That’s how little I thought of my own needs, not because I’m a good person but because I didn’t get the space. I wouldn’t have come so far if it weren’t for people believing in me more than I believe in myself at certain times. I’ve had people do more for me in 5 minutes than some of my ‘nearest and dearest’ could manage in a lifetime, be it through a reality check, some quick insightful words, a life-changing vote of confidence or an act of kindness.

      Being vulnerable and open to abuse does not create assholes out of people who were not assholes in the first place. A huge chunk of people, me included, are incapable of being that callous. It’s like throwing your energy into a black hole to try and work out why some soulless person is acting like a predator without the class.

      • Sophia says:

        happy B
        I feel every word “Being vulnerable and open to abuse does not create assholes out of people who were not assholes in the first place”. It really has becoming liberating to value my own opinions and perspective and accept that the others will not see it the same way. Listen I have not intention of teaching a person what they don’t want to learn and who am I to do that anyway. Now if I don’t like the game I’m taking my ball back and going home. Watching assholes has become a really great spectator sport.

        • happy b says:

          Thanks Sophia. As I’ve begun to express my opinions and thoughts a lot more, I’ve been discouraged when people disagree, especially upsetting when it’s my feelings that are disagreed with. But this is just maths – people can’t disagree with anything if you don’t give them anything to disagree with so the number is bound to go up when you do! The key thing is that feelings are feelings, whatever people think of them or say.

          ‘Listen I have not intention of teaching a person what they don’t want to learn and who am I to do that anyway.’
          Yes it’s a waste of energy. Instead of trying to change someone’s behaviour, I draw a line (I imagine in the sand) of my position on this behaviour, what I am willing to accept, and it is my CONCLUSION, none of their rationalising and justifying changes it if they behave in the same way. I am struggling to act on it at this stage but have a few times explained to people ‘this is my line on the issue’ and even knowing what that is and that people are doing wrong by me (end of story) feels good.

          • cc says:

            jana, happy b, sophia-
            for a laugh – if you’re online dating, you know you get lots of emails offering relationship advice. one such email i got led me to this website: http://yoshouldidumpthisahole.com/. its a blog to which you can submit your one or two sentence query about your relationship, and the funny dudes on the other end give you an answer.

            it is sort of the urban Q&A with a humorous and liberal bent version of BR. its funny to read, but gets the same serious points across: have and nurture your own good values (including your own self-esteem) and fire out of your life anyone who doesn’t share them or makes you unhappy.


  16. pinkpanther says:

    I do this all the time, I thought it made me insightful, but no, really it is a narrow way to think.

    I’m going to change this little facto about myself starting right now.
    Thanks Natalie for another really good post

  17. truth=freedom says:

    Thank you Natalie, another amazing post. I am glad my frontal lobe in my brain is getting a dose of reality instead of the usual over empathising, ruminating and being perplexed with unacceptable behaviour. This WAS me, my sentences would always begin with “if it were me” I would do this or that instead of taking a step back and looking at the big picture that his behaviour was HIS and his alone and it was nothing to do with my values and how I lived my life. I was raised to think that you treat others the way you would want to be treated yourself, with kindness, support, empathy and love. Somehow, somewhere along the line I sadly convinced myself his behaviour was a reflection of me but now I know its TOTALLY a reflection of HIM. He is a sad, whiney little man who pouts and sulks when his puppet strings get tangled and he cant make his puppets dance to his tune anymore!!!!

  18. Ann says:

    Gosh, this is such an eyeopener. I spent 35 years with my husband trying not to judge, letting him be himself, giving him his space and thinking this was a good thing. I got punished for all of it. Just before I kicked him out I said, i’ve never done you wrong, I’ve given you your space all these years. He said, No youre wrong, I took my space. His values were definitely not mine, it never clicked that we were therefore uncompatible. I loved him, and tried to accept him. I did tell him regularly that his actions hurt me and got hell for it. Kept doing them again and again.

  19. Little Star says:

    Thank you very much SM, PurpleLily and Rana for your comments! You are all right I should avoid this “friend”, and it can be easy as she is not living in UK…I decided not to answer her calls and she finally would get a “message”! What is annoying, why should I justify my choice, why some people cannot accept different opinions and values…IT IS MY LIFE and I live as I want, and if someone is bothered about it, it is NOT MY PROBLEM!

    • lo j says:

      Could you have not told your friend how you feel? She may be clueless as to how she came across to you. You don’t have to be best friends but NC is pretty harsh. She wasn’t lying, cheating, or abusing you. Yes, she may have crossed boundaries but everybody will from time to time. Could you at least use this situation as a way to practice communicating your feelings?

      • Ellyb says:

        Lo J: I think it all depends on the “big picture”. Maybe she has acted this way before, but Little Star has put up with it (I’m not assuming this to be the case, but it is a possibility).

        Something like that happened to me. After an encounter with an AC, a longtime “friend” of mine came up with very insensitive comments. At that point, it occured to me what kind of emotional abuse that woman had inflicted upon me for almost a decade (very similar to my narcissistic mother’s abuse).

        After she sent me another horribly nasty email, I went NC. It was the only way to go, even if it made me feel awful. No more “communication”.

        If it was an isolated incident then of course communication might be the way to go. I think Little Star should take a good hard look at the “bigger picture” and listen to her gut instinct.

        • Ellyb says:

          Oh sorry, I think I confused Little Star’s story with somebody else’s… I don’t remember who that other commenter was, but her friend made very insensitive remarks about her (the commenter’s) ex being with someone else. That sounded a bit similar to my experience last year.

          But I still believe you should look at the “big picture”, Little Star – and listen to your gut.

      • Mymble says:

        LO j
        I agree. There are times in the past when I have cut off friends because I felt they were gloating and/or being patronising. In hindsight I realised that a lot of what I felt related my own anxiety and disappointment. Comparison is always odious but sometimes it’s us that’s doing the comparison. Not that I am saying her behaviour is okay necessarily. It may even be that she is envious of others freedom from ties and responsibilities. I’ve been on both sides of that fence. If she is an old friend it would be a shame to cut her off without trying to have an honest and loving conversation.

      • HS says:

        Lo J, thank you for your advice. IF I say something to her, it will look that I accept that she is right and I am a loser (no kids, no PhD, no husband). I was very nice to her when she stayed in my flat, and she was grateful and couldn’t thank me enough…. BUT I did not like the way she talked to me, it felt like she is superior and I am like second class citizen or something. I don’t like confrontations, I rather disappear………………it is easy. I am EUW.

        • Little Star says:

          IT is Little Star, HS was using my PC and I forgot to change and write under her name!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry Natalie!

        • lo j says:

          Well, if EU is working out for you, knock yourself out. But you have given her a lot of power over how she made you feel about you.

  20. happy b says:

    By the way, what on earth is that picture?

  21. ashton says:

    I think this is retarded. NOBODY is going to do things like you would do them in all respects. We are all different. Then that means we are all incompatible.

  22. Magnolia says:

    “If it were me, I’d …” is indeed a phrase I use, but (lately, at least, I hope) when I use it I’m usually responding to a friend who has asked for advice. In such instances, the phrase comes from the same place as Natalie’s advice, that is, from an understanding that one can’t ever assume that even two people who would do the same thing in the same situation are doing it for the same reasons, or that the action means the same thing to them.

    So even though a friend is asking what to do, I can only say what I think *I* would do in her position, being who *I* am. She will have to make the decision based on who *she* is. And I might have a different opinion about what I think she should do, than what I would do.

    I forgave or reinterpreted a lot of things my ex did because I thought, the only way anyone would do something like that was if they didn’t know better … it took a long time to realize that I had an “anyone” in my head who in fact was only a version of me. I basically assumed anyone doing anything that I wouldn’t in that situation was probably ill-informed! Talk about arrogant! But really I just didn’t understand other people at all. I could only make sense of them in term of my experience.

    Coming to BR helped me stop seeking to “make sense” of people. We don’t, and can’t, know why some people act as they do and it’s not a failing not to know. Once I got more comfortable with the idea that many people behave in ways that don’t make sense, and that not all ACs are just poor misguided people who don’t know any better, making sense of how their actions fit into my life (i.e. terribly) actually became a whole lot clearer.

    • Fifi says:

      Yes, I agree. I would say ‘if it were me..’ so as to make it clear that’s how I would approach something, an alternative view that the other person can decline or make use of.

      I much rather that, than people who go ‘what you should do is..’ – that comes from the same place as the former (my own experience) but assumes to know what’s best for you.

      Perhaps ‘if I were you..’ is the over-empathising option, rather than the others

  23. Sumumu says:

    “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” (Maya Angelou… i think)

  24. FedUp says:

    Natalie- Were you thinking of me?! Well I sought out another therapist [this time online] about my zero closure. He suggested I could break NC and send the ex friends a letter, seeing as they left me high and dry when I needed support the most. What are friends for again? What do you think? Atleast I get to tell them what I really think, seeing as they cut me off.
    I have been trying to find meetups. But they’re are always in the city. Problem is I live far away and have trouble making them. I am seriously lonely. I hate living in the suburbs- it’s depressing if you’re single. There’s just families everywhere. What do I do?
    I also wanted to comment on text messaging. My friends fiance had a go at me for not having female friends. Yet I’ve tried in the past and they [mutual friends] never get back to me. How rude is that? They always have excuses. I’m sick and tired of making effort when they don’t.

    • A says:


      Try not to take the behaviour of other’s personally. If there are friends you contact who don’t want to meet up, it could be for any number of reasons (maybe they are not interested in the kinds of things you suggest, maybe they are going through something or are homebodies who don’t want to go out, who knows). Instead of focusing on them being rude, stop wasting your efforts on them and try to meet some new people.

      Can you move to the city if you’re finding suburban life depressing?

  25. FedUp says:

    I have thought about this a lot. As I would still say hello and be civil to my sisters ex ( I wish they didn’t split up and his family were always nice to me) if I ran into him. Yet my ex friends don’t do this. Also recently my cousin had a breakup in his friendship group. The breakup was similar to mine. But my cousin supported the ex who was devasted, even more than his friend. I wondered why my ex friends couldn’t do this for me. Why? My ex wasn’t The one that needed support.

  26. grace says:

    I don’t think they were your friends, they were his friends. And even in the most amicable of breakups, the friends take sides.
    And no letter. Is this an online therapist? Doesn’t sound right to me. You can tell people what you think of them until you’re blue in the face. It doesn’t achieve much and it’s not going to beat depression or loneliness. Don’t get distracted by side issues.

  27. Ellyb says:

    Some months ago, I went NC with my last remaining “woman friend”. Still feel somewhat guilty for it, but she caused me so much pain that I was unable to do otherwise. I think she isn’t narcissistic, like that other friend I went NC with last year.

    But anyway… Most of the time we talked, she used to beat me with the “If I were you” stick. She berated me for almost all my choices. “Wrong” brands of clothing, “wrong” furniture… I rarely asked her for her opinion, but she always came up with “If I were you, I’d buy…”

    In the end, I was really scared of her remarks. Whenever I went shopping and bought the “wrong” brands according to her, I felt horribly guilty.

    Oddly enough, I have way more fashion sense than she does (or at least I believe so), but I would have never criticised her for her choices. If she was fine with her clothes, I was ok with them too. But that wasn’t the case vice versa, apparently.

    What was worse, she went on and on about how “all children of toxic parents were toxic too” (I’m a child of toxic parents, and she knew that).

    Plus, I knew I couldn’t rely on her. If I was in need, she found excuses for not helping me. I learned not to expect anything else.

    In my perception, she had very serious issues with her own parents, but she chose to idealise them and put them on a high pedestal. I guess they treated her pretty much the same way she treated me. That’s why she believed she did nothing wrong.

    But wrong it was, because it made me suffer horribly! I think it would have been hopeless to tell her the truth. It might have hurt her more than NC.

    Quite frankly, I feel way better since I don’t have to interact with her anymore.

    • happy b says:

      Ellyb, she sounds awful but not unfamiliar! All my friends (well, the handful) have particular flaws, they can be selfish, bossy, fickle, plain silly, (so why am I so unforgiving to myself?) but the bottom line is, are they authentic, are they genuine, do they care, do they respect you, do you go home feeling happy and good about yourself? If yes, all is forgiven. That is definitely a NO. Plenty of good people out there.

    • PurpleLily says:


      Agree with happy b, tons of good people out there. Sorry that this person made you feel like that and talked down to you that way – what an awful human being. Its ok to have friends who are different but why have a ‘friend’ who makes you feel bad about everything you and how you dress (UGH!!)?!

      Please dont give up, there are many amazing people out there who, I am sure, would love to call you their friend.

  28. Fedup says:

    Grace- I had spent so much time they became my friends. I was betrayed, abandoned and never got to say anything. I did the right thing and it made zero difference. The other sites I use I read similar stories time and time again. Guess what? The friends didn’t take sides, no matter who was friends first. Why is this? Why didn’t that happen to me? Why Is they were his friends first, always an excuse nit to have a conscience and be an asshole?!

    • grace says:

      Were they his friends, your friends, or his harem? If he is an AC it’s reasonable to believe that his harem will jump to his beat. Are you saying that all your female friends were his friends? That’s unhealthy. It’s odd for him to have that many female friends as well. It doesn’t benefit you to be that enmeshed in a man’s life. My married friends have their own friends. The men have their own male friends and the women their own female friends. You should have your own things.
      Make new friends now that have nothing to do with your ex. Then, when you meet a new man you’ll have your own friends that have nothing to do with him. If that relationship goes belly up, at least you’ll still have your life. Go out and do stuff.
      “I did the right thing and it made zero difference.” Well called. It doesn’t matter if you’re Mother Theresa an asshat will be an asshat. What are you trying to prove by making an AC and his friends/harem like you?
      What I like about the excrush/whatever is that he is consistently considerate, friendly and warm to everyone – male, female, old, young. So much so I couldn’t tell if he liked me in particular until he came out and said it.You might think “What’s the point of having someone who’s nice to everyone?” Wrong, wrong, wrong. Rather ask yourself “What’s the point of winning over someone of poor character? I’ve been in relationships with users, abusers and cheaters, wanting to win them over to prove I could do it. When all the time I should have been doing what my ten year old niece has done. When I asked my sister how my little niece finally picked a “boyfriend” from her many admirers, she chose a boy who “is nice to her and doesn’t freak her out”.
      it’s that simple. A child can get it.
      When you throw yourself at someone who mistreats you and then keep throwing yourself back at them, you must ask yourself why you do that. You’re asking all the wrong questions. Why does he do that? Why do they do that? How do they get away with it? I don’t know FedUp. And I don’t want to know They aren’t that special at all that they’re worth this much of your time.

      • cc says:

        the more i think about it, the more i realize that you and your little niece are geniuses. because it really is as simple as that.

        so, here are our rules. both must be in effect, simultaneously, to work:
        1- they must be NICE to us
        2- they must NOT freak us out

        think about it – everytime we had a bad relationship, one or both was not in effect, correct? so we formed a traumatic bond (word to kerry) that put us into deep, confusing chasms of pain. from which recovery was long, even more painful, and fraught with recidivism.

        so, that’s that. now, its up to us to uphold those rules for ourselves.

    • Fearless says:

      Fed up

      People tend to just do what’s easiest – for THEM. None of what you’re fed-up about is even about you. I notice you often use the phrases “x thing happens to me”, “y thing doesn’t happen to me”.

      We have this guy at work who is always getting himself into trouble – he’s been suspended from his job (pending investigation) at three times in the past 2 years. His favourite phrase (whinge, actually) is “Why does this keep happening to meeee!!!”, which has now becoming a standing joke with the rest of us. What he’s missing is that he has adopted a victim status; he takes no responsibility for his own choices or his own actions; he is *always* being treated unfairly by others and everyone has ‘got it in for him’, which is why everything *happens* to him.

      There are some things in life which do happen to us but those are the things we had/have no control over. You have more control over what *happens* to you than you think. Focus on those things you can control and forget the rest – these things are not about you – they are not happening to you, they are just happening. You need to stop internalising events that are beyond your control and start internalising those things that are within your control.

      • A says:

        “Why does this keep happening to meeee!!!”

        Ahaha. Hilarious. The EU once started telling me about his involvement with a woman who was basically married. I asked him if he really didn’t see the parallels (he pursued me when I had a bf). He claimed to be completely unaware and then said “why does this keep happening to me?”

  29. happy b says:

    Fedup, I don’t think it’s that common for the ex’s friends to stay friends with you. When I consider my experience and others’, I think retaining friends is the exception rather than the rule, say if you develop very strong ties and/or they weren’t that good friends with the ex anyway. There might be a small period of support then it fades out. I cut off the ex-AC’s friends as part of NC because I know the conversation would turn to him, anything I said would get back to him and validate his importance, and the mere mention of his name can ruin my morning even after all this time.

    There is one of his acquaintances who I see around a lot, and he won’t even be civil to me. I have no idea why, and while I found it kind of interesting for a while, I can leave it at thinking he’s just an asshole. It all leaves me isolated for now, but rebuilding my life and tackling ongoing issues head-on is making me happier than I was when I was hanging out with his friends.

    You seem to be going through a painful ‘why me’ and it can really eat you up, I think from my own experience that it’s time to look within. Even going to counsellors didn’t help me with this and I felt they were making things worse. ‘Er…thanks for showing me how fucked up I am…’. Until I ended with the AC and then started checking my baggage into here, there was always someone abandoning or betraying me and it would make me furious, get right under my skin, even put me in a bubble of rage. ‘How can they do this to me after all I’ve been through?’. I realised I was jumping from one person to the other. The problem with one person is sorted out, then another problem with another person appears out of thin air, just when I thought things were ok…

    This was a pattern, and I was the lowest common denominator. I’m not saying for a second that I or you deserve any mistreatment, but just that these quite minor offences diverted from much deeper questions and will go on forever if we don’t tackle the root of it all.

    • Elle says:

      Agree with happy b. Your comments, Fed Up, are most often about being fed up. On the one hand, I have no doubt that this outside reality isn’t true – ie that you’re in an isolated and difficult situation – but, on the other, I do think you’re looking to answers from people and things that are wholly unlikely to give you want you want, and, more importantly, enough of what you want.

      Also, and I am concerned this will come across in a less-than-caring manner, but I have noticed that you rarely actively accept, let alone say thank you to Natalie and the BR regulars who spend time and effort replying to you. I say this because being grateful and seeing friendship and love where they ARE to be found is a way forward for you. Practise being less fed up with the people at BR who do want to support you. Try to accept that there is something loving and helpful in what they are saying. Really listen.

      I assure you, I’ve been there – lost a stack of friends in a break-up, but, the truth was, it was just easier and more sensible for them to stay closer friends with him. After some years, we’re all friends again, but that took time. That’s why you should never put all your resources into a relationship – keep connections with your friends, your family, your hobbies, take up new pursuits, stick to your exercise schedule, go out by yourself. Make a life for yourself, Fed Up. These people can’t do that for you, and they won’t. It’s such a sh*tty thing – and again, I have been there – but people just don’t want to be around desperation and anger for too long. It scares and drains them. Do something small and loving for yourself – even just signing up to a course or joining a local group, do something bigger for someone else, and stop focusing on other people’s actions and thoughts. Who cares?

      • happy b says:

        “I do think you’re looking to answers from people and things that are wholly unlikely to give you want you want, and, more importantly, enough of what you want”

        That’s it in a nutshell. I was definitely doing this. As long as the AC was in my life, I had a lot of time feeling depleted and alone. The AC’s harem were revering him while also feeling periodically abandoned and using me during those times to sound off or even to get to him (jeez, how used can you get!!). I was expecting others to fill the deep emotional void. But the void came from parental neglect and then from the controlled neglect of the AC, and really, why should anyone else take that into account? Do I really want special treatment and pity? Why does anyone owe it to me? I was getting angry with the peripheral people while at the same time, I was in denial with the AC and with my parents, who DID owe it to me.

        Natalie has said, ‘you can’t get your childhood back’. I can’t look to others to look after me anymore. I have people who act as informal mentors, just as I do for others, and people do it on here too, but mentoring/support is very different to the kind of altruistic emotional investment we somehow expect from good people because we were so cruelly deprived. That investment has to come from ourselves, not from other people (or substances). When I started to realise this, I found it very unfair that I should have to work that much harder for an even footing, but now I feel blessed and empowered that I will no longer have to go through life feeling let down all the time and also being too vulnerable to abuse. And this comes from a place of having nothing.

        Cue Nina Simone-
        I ain’t got no home, ain’t got no shoes
        Ain’t got no money, ain’t got no class
        Ain’t got no skirts, ain’t got no sweater
        Ain’t got no perfume, ain’t got no beer
        Ain’t got no man

        Ain’t got no mother, ain’t got no culture
        Ain’t got no friends, ain’t got no schooling
        Ain’t got no love, ain’t got no name
        Ain’t got no ticket, ain’t got no token
        Ain’t got no God

        … … eyes, ears, mouth, boobies etc….
        I’ve got life
        I’ve got my freedom
        I’ve got life

        I’ve got life
        And I’m gonna keep it
        I’ve got life
        And nobody’s gonna take it away

      • Allison says:


        Terrific advice!

      • cc says:

        thanks for pointing out the need for thanks.

        and elle, happy b, fearless, and grace –
        you’re spot on. i’ve been struggling finding a way to express some of these things to fedup, but you’ve all found the nuances i was probably too careful to say, and you said them in great, strong, but caring ways.

        you have to start listening to all this, honey. open up and absorb all the advice you’ve gotten from BR over the past 2 or 3 months. please go back and reread it ALL.

  30. Alex says:

    I admit that I’m guilty of sometimes saying to myself “if it were me…”. Everything seems so obvious when you’re looking in on other people’s lives, it’s easy to forget how complicated it can seem when you’re the person actually experiencing the problem.

    The only time I think it’s justified to talk about what you would do is if someone asks you your advice. If they ask what you think, then all you can really say is what you would do. It’s almost impossible to start thinking like someone else – we’re all products of our upbringing and previous experiences.

  31. Susan says:

    I can relate to this post because I thought that he had the same feelings about things as I did. We shared so much in common that I thought we were on the same page and that the space I gave him would some how transform his thinking.
    So I fell off the wagon again after 6 weeks of NC. He took me out for a nice meal
    and we went home and I satisfied him. I knew the act had went to his head by the way he acted afterwards. After a few days of quitness he contacted me again. When we got together he was talking marriage, then he within an hour changed that to my moving in and by the end of the day he had back-peddled to just coming to see him.
    What normally took 5 months now took one day! Of course I knew because of reading “MUand the Fallback girl” what was happening but I guess I was hoping for that miracle to happen. When his head finally caught up to reality he started blowing cold again and doesn’t even want to see me. Needless to say my pain was back for an encore performance.
    Susan needs to work on Susan…But she feels so lost without her EUM.
    I know he won’t change, he won’t see things the way I do.
    This world just feels so lonely and sad right now…

    • PurpleLily says:

      Susan – I send you big, warm hugs. Its a terrible way to feel and we have all been there. Nothing feels good but you have taken to first step and decided to work on you. It will only get better from now on.

      Please go NC, he doesnt deserve a second of you precious time and energy. He will keep doing this again and again – please dont let him hurt you like this. Keep NC and try as hard as you can to keep yourself busy. Talk to friends (and us here) if you feel low and in pain, do something nice for yourself everyday – you will get thru this and feel stronger and better as the days go by.

      Know that you are precious and worthy of SO SO much more!

  32. Kerry says:

    I found this list of questions helpful in breaking the spell…. Maybe others will too.

    In trauma bonds, the relationship itself is an escape from reality. Victims will ignore friends, family, work, and values to be in a relationship built on deception. …

    ILLUSION: First contact: The promise the victimizer made was in the form of a story, or kindness, or compassion for you, or a noble cause. What was that promise?

    that lead to REALITY: Your vulnerability: You had developmental or unmet needs, or unfinished business that made you vulnerable to the promise for which you would give up all. What was that vulnerability?

    that lead to ILLUSION: Validation: The victimizer validated the promise in some way so that you believed things are actually the way they were presented. How was your confidence gained?

    that lead to REALITY: First betrayal: The real intention becomes clear in the early abuse or exploitation. What really happened?

    that lead to ILLUSION: Reseduction: The victimizer adds an explanation to the story so that the abuse is understandable. How did the victimizer revalidate the promise so you would stay?

    that lead to REALITY: More betrayal: The abuse and exploitation continue in a number of forms. What are the costs to you now because you have stayed?

    that lead to ILLUSION: Reframing: The victimizer interpreted costs to you as minimal and reframed them as necessary for the good of the relationship. What did the victimizer tell you to do about your losses?

    that lead to REALITY: Life crisis: Ultimately, reality asserts itself and you realize you can go no further. What loss was significant enough to make you face reality?

    • Magnolia says:

      Wow … when it’s laid out like this, it’s so clear what happened! I can answer all the questions. Thankfully I’ve built back a lot of what I lost. But it’s still something to see this recognizable pattern called a trauma bond – yikes.

    • jennynic says:

      Kerry, I agree with Magnolia that the list you posted made things so clear for me too. The questions led me straight to the answers without my own denial and excuses getting in the way. It’s especially good, now after so much work and introspection, that I’m actually open to the answers.

    • cc says:

      holy crap, kerry-
      that’s it. that’s IT!!! where’d you find that? that’s it exactly!! that’s exactly what happened in my ex-EUM relationship!

      before the 2nd date even happened, he had hurt me 3 times, each time i should have walked away, but yes, there was all that alternating reality and illusion, and the series of illusions is like downward steps, like a spiral down, and you’re required to justify, compromise, and seek validation along the way, all the while you’re getting weaker and the ground underneath you is crumbling. and you feel this, so you only grasp more for a reality, a promise, that was NEVER. THERE!

      oh, kerry. i knew it the whole time, but until you see it laid out like this, the explanation feels so illusive.

      kerry…i could kiss you. thank you.

      • cc says:

        ok, i realize that real trauma bonds are between an overt abuser and a clear victim. its wrong to characterize this relationship like that precisely. but if a trauma bond based on abuse is an 8 or a 10, the same EXACT pattern was there in this relationship, only at a 3 or a 4. he didn’t mean to abuse me – he was just so EU and selfish that even his trying to be a good person failed miserably.

        ugh, whatever. i’m so sick of it, sick of HIM. he is not the point anymore.

        this pattern is the point. that’s EXACTLY what happened, how i fell into it, how it played out. gotta break that pattern.

        kerry – seriously, thanks again for posting that.

        • Ellyb says:

          cc: At the moment, I’m not sure what your story was (sorry), but I think you don’t need to ask yourself whether he “meant to abuse you” or not. I guess he treated you badly. That’s all that matters. And Kerry’s (excellent) list applies anyway.

          With that arse from my recently (luckily, yoghurt repeated that word often enough to not leave any doubt 😉 ) that list applied as well. It lasted all the way through “reality no. 2”. Btw., I think that’s a good gauge for how far we’ve come in our healing. The goal should be to opt out at “reality no. 1” I guess.

          • cc says:

            thanks for that. you’re right, it didn’t matter which it was, but i’m pretty clear on that – well, now i am, i didn’t used to be.

            good for you for opting out before the list got too long in your recent arse encounter. i think we get better as we go, but we still go incrementally.

            natalie has written so many posts on not being some undercover detective or forensic analyst, digging feverishly through evidence and going analysis paralysis to get to the reasons behind things.

            but i find that if i don’t really understand what happened, which really translates to understanding myself, i can’t fully process and grow from the experience. what kerry wrote put it in clear, non-pejorative, non-judgmental, but very insightful terms. which is much better than trying to determine who’s right and who’s wrong.

          • Kerry says:

            That list came from a professional psychology site on trauma bonding, or betrayal bonding. It’s powerful stuff, and it doesn’t have to involve overt physical abuse. They say the worst abuse is usually the emotional kind because the wounds are under the skin, where they are harder to see and yet much more deeply felt. I would argue that anybody who’s manipulating you is abusing you. A healthy, giving person with good intentions doesn’t need to manipulate and distort your reality… but someone who just wants to use and abuse you does.
            I’m so glad the list helped some others get clarity. It also gave me comfort to realize that I was just a vulnerable human being who got deceived by behaviour that’s worked since the dawn of time.

  33. Killing Joke says:

    Ive been reading this for nearly two years now, and Ive only just gone NC… I know, that sounds crazy, but if I hadn’t found this site, then who knows how long I would still be with the nasty assclown.. I am really trying to heal and get better, and Ive been doing it for a while, but this is the first time I’ve posted on here.. I have been with him for 2 1/2 years but it has just got ridiculous now! I have the same backround as a lot of you ladies, I saw my mother die of cancer when I was 9 years old.. I always knew there was something wrong with my father. I don’t know if she protected me from him to a great extent, or if he saw an excuse after her death to drink even more and just get nastier… Either way, I bore the brunt of it as an only child growing up with that abuse. Now, I think he was a Narcissist, but I didnt know any of that at the time… I was just a little girl, missing my mum, and trying to avoid his rage. Obviously I have grown up choosing horrible men as partners, which has compounded the problem…. Thats another story! I just want you wonderful. brave ladies to know, that I have found strength and answers through this site, and I thank you all for it, especially you Natalie! I am going NC from the last assclown from today, and I am reading this site, and thanking you for it.. I will recover, because of the combined strength of all you ladies here, you are all an inspiration to me. Thank you! Thank you so much!

    • Magnolia says:

      Hi KJ,

      I only found BR after I had cut the cord – I too think I would have cut it earlier had I come across BR during the relationship.

      You said you’ve been reading a while, though. I always said to myself if I’d found BR I would have dumped the AC immediately. But maybe I wouldn’t have. What was it that made you feel as though you finally wanted to get on the BR wagon?

      It sounds as though you’ve made a huge decision for yourself – congrats. Thanks for sharing it with us and glad you’ve started to post!

    • Fearless says:

      Killing Joke, you go for it! It’s time to expect better for yourself – it’s time to really care for and care about yourself – you’re mother would hope and want for you to do that. Do it for yourself and for her. Stick with BR. Learn about what love is supposed to look like so that you recognise it (that includes, primarily, love of yourself) – and avoid the assclowns like the plague!

    • cc says:

      killing joke-
      good for you!! its hard, but its so much easier when there is wisdom and guidance and community and support.

      and good for you for posting now, when you’ve just gone NC. this is a new path you’re walking. some days you will feel strong, resolute, and clear. other days, well… on those uncertain, painful days, come back here and wail if you have to.

      sorry about your difficult past, you didn’t choose that. but you’re making your own future, and that’s great. just have compassion for yourself, give yourself room to be, to breathe, to err, to recover.

      big hug

  34. Kerry says:

    Yeah, me too. I was astounded at the pattern, right down to the moment when reality hit and I simply couldn’t ignore it anymore. Of course, those of us who were emotionally neglected as children are most susceptible to this sort of dangerous bonding. I’m slowly building what I’ve lost too. And getting clarity.

  35. Kerry says:

    Btw, this also ties in with Nat’s post because one of the ways I validated the illusion is I’d say to myself, “Gee, if it were me, I would never get all teary eyed like that unless I loved someone.” Or, whatever he was doing to revalidate the promise. If I’d only just stuck to his actions, and not projected my own feelings onto the situation, I would have seen reality, not illusion.

  36. Susan says:

    My goodness, I truly can not remember the details of the first contact.
    I do remember that it ended on a sour note.
    It was then 2 weeks before he contacted me again.
    I will have to ponder over these questions, some time later the story
    was of him marrying me.
    Good ole menapause playing with my memory…

  37. M says:

    There is a married guy at work whom I absolutely adore and am half in love with. We used to flirt constantly and it made my day. Out of guilt, I withdrew and, though am still friendly, have made sure to ask about his family every time we talk. This has caused him to not give me that much attention any longer, and now I am utterly devastated! I mean, it just makes me feel like I was not even liked for who I am but rather what I represented (whatever that is). I kept thinking what I did wrong, how i may have offended him, how maybe I misread his flirtation as something else, etc. I even almost asked him out to lunch today to ask him what is wrong! I am still confused, and a little hurt, but I guess I just have to accept this new reality. It sucks though. How do I get rid of this idea that it was ME who may have caused him to not be my friend any longer?

    • Elle says:

      M, What if it is the case the he didn’t like you, as much, for who you actually are but who you represent or represented to him – whether that be a plaything, an ego-stroke, a friend for some time, but not for life? Really think about this in the context of someone who doesn’t sound like he truly knew you or could really know you anyway. Then also, how on earth could you CAUSE a married man who flirts constantly with women other than his wife – that is his character – to behave in keeping with that character, by going off you once he got the signals that you did not want to play a game (that you were going to certainly lose)? Can’t you see that you’re not even IN this. You do not even need to make it about you. All you did wrong was expected solid, unbroken friendship from someone who you had a fun, yes, but essentially superficial rapport with (you said it was the attention you liked). It’s an addiction. Like any of them, its power will decrease over time if you leave it alone. You’re OK, and you’ve done the right thing. Focus on the space you now have in your life for someone really available and lovely.

      • M says:

        hi elle,
        yes, we definitely did not have a real friendship, though i was hoping we could. he was the only one who actually TALKED to me. all the other guys at work who are my age don’t know how to talk to women (they just stare at me or walk away. seriously. and i’m not hideous or anything!)). he is older (about 15 yrs), smarter, and funnier than any of the guys i know. think that was what i liked.
        and yes, i am addicted. ugh.

    • Magnolia says:

      M, you don’t know that YOU made him withdraw. In fact, you can be sure you didn’t. Read some of Natalie’s posts on the idea that you can make someone do something (tho I forget the title…).

      You changed your behaviour and you think he withdrew “because” of it? That still doesn’t mean you made him. Lots of people would still engage and talk to you if you showed interest in their family.

      If he isn’t giving you any more attention because you don’t flirt with a married man anymore, then I think you’re absolutely right, he didn’t like you in a way that an available guy would, he liked you in the way a married guy who wants some fun, extramarital flirting would. You represent thrill, a little naughtiness, him feeling still attractive etc.

      But what I don’t understand is why you’re “devastated” that a married guy isn’t paying you the attention you had when you were flirting. Didn’t you withdraw out of healthy guilt? Why can’t he do the same?

      • M says:

        am devastated because i actually really enjoy his company. he’s quite witty. i guess i wanted him to still come chasing after me though i seemed to protest, or at the very least, still talk to me! he avoids me, if anything, now. and i guess i just miss having someone smart and funny to talk to.

    • grace says:

      Do not adore married men or fall in love with them. You shouldn’t adore any man at all. Save that for God if you’re looking for someone to worship (I say that genuinely as a Christian). Do not flirt with married men and pretend it’s innocent because you happen to ask about his family. Do not ask married men to lunch. Do not seek attention from married men. In fact, don’t seek attention from any men. Attention seeking is for children, who genuinely do need attention. You are an adult woman embarking on an extremely self-destructive course of action and crying look at me.
      There is no new reality. He was married before you met him, he’s married now and he’ll be married should you ask him to lunch.
      “How do I get rid of this idea that it was ME who may have caused him to not be my friend any longer?” You’re not friends. And maybe it’s not about you. Maybe his wife caused it. She is a person. You can’t just pretend she doesn’t exist because you want attention from her husband.
      I’ve been where you are and nothing good will come of your pursuit. Stick to work issues and keep that to a bare minimum. Do not be That Woman who comes back here in a few months’ time complaining that a MM has seduced you, uses you for sex, won’t be seen in public with you, won’t leave his wife, doesn’t text you or phone you, says he loves you but ignores you, and you didn’t see it coming. You can see it coming. I’m showing you the future if you carry on and it ain’t pretty.
      If this post causes you embarrassment then GOOD. It’s only the smallest foretaste of how bad you will feel should you continue to be so deluded and silly. Stop it now.

      • M says:

        i appreciate your honesty, grace. the thing is, i never wanted this to go further than a flirtation. when i started developing feelings for him, that was when i decided to ask about his family. i have read BR so many times and know how heartbreaking it is to be the OW. i truly don’t want that. i guess i just wanted a friend, but i guess he did not.
        by the way, can’t a married man and a single woman be friends? i really thought we could.

        • Allison says:


          They can if they’re not flirting with each other.

          Why don’t you try to meet smart people outside of work, instead of focusing on this loser.

        • grace says:

          Not in your case no . I think you should boycott men for a while. Your naivety and double think is going to get you into a lot of trouble.

    • Fearless says:

      it was you – you asked him about his family! You reminded him he was married! MMs can’t pursue affairs with woman who won’t pretend he doesn’t have a wife!

      What do you want this MM to do, chase you up for an affair with him? What did you think his flirtations were about? A married man won’t flirt with you if you keep banging on about his wife and family – he’s trying to pretend they don’t exist and hoping you can forget about them too so he can get his ego stroked – and more! Why do you want involved in this? Have you ambitions to be the OW? Or are you just looking for an ego stroke from a MM? Sounds like you have done the right thing by cooling his married ardor, and now you want to know what you did wrong?! Nothing – YET. But if you’re dead set on getting the attentions of a married man rule number one is that you don’t mention his wife – ever. if you don’t want to be heartbroken by a married man then rule number one is mention his wife as frequently as you can! He is married. That is what’s wrong. He shouldn’t be flirting with you, and you shouldn’t be wanting him to. Leave it alone.

      • M says:

        i do not want to be the OW. i really just enjoyed the flirtation and hoped it would become a friendship as he is quite smart and wickedly funny. i have to admit that his flattery did feel good, but i don’t even get a hello anymore! it just hurts to be discarded, i guess.
        what i actually find really annoying is my feeling of being rejected. i mean, i’m sad because he doesn’t want me as a potential mistress any longer. like i’m not pretty enough or smart enough or interesting enough. this is disturbing.

        • Fearless says:


          Considering you only want to be his “friend”, why this:

          “…I’m sad because he doesn’t want me as a potential mistress any longer. like i’m not pretty enough or smart enough or interesting enough. this is disturbing”

          Yes, I agree, it is very disturbing.

          You are contradicting yourself all over the place here. You’re ‘friends’ card is a self-deluding ruse. It hasn’t fooled him, that much is obvious.

          I have friends of both sexes, married and unmarried. Know what? I don’t want any of them to flirt with me, I don’t flirt with them, I don’t want any of them to fancy me, I don’t want them to assure me they’d cheat on their spouses to have sex with me, I don’t at all mind that they wouldn’t have me for a ‘mistress’. Some of them are also very smart and funny but i still don’t need them to want to have sex with me.. And guess what? – they are all still speaking to me!

          I have a feeling this man has backed off cos he knows you spell trouble for him. And he’s not wrong! Find an available man to flirt with.

    • Allison says:


      I would be upset that he thought he could flirt with me and possibly get me into be – . Yuck!!!!. Girl, you’re longer feeding his ego that’s all this is about.

      Do you know his wife? Do you think she would have been pleased at your convos?

      You know you made the right decision, please do not ask him if there is a problem, as you know what this is about.

      • M says:

        i do not know his wife. he doesn’t talk about her even if i ask. he only really talks about his kids, and only if i ask. i know she would not be pleased by my behavior. i do find her husband extremely attractive but i haven’t done anything!
        sometimes i don’t know if i made the right decision, as i am beginning to suspect his flirting was a figment of my imagination as he completely avoids me now.

    • cc says:

      to put this all in a slightly different way:

      1- you flirted with a MM = EUM = so you were chasing EU = bad
      2- you had an unconscious need for MM to love you regardless of your behavior = dangerous


      3- you stopped flirting with MM out of guilt = good

      4- but now, the unconscious danger of 2 is becoming conscious – in other words, you wanted him to love you for YOU, thereby proving your intrinsic worth by retaining his affection despite the fact that you were now “behaving yourself” and completely ignoring the fact that YOU CHOSE TO SEEK LOVE FROM A MARRIED JERK who flirts with women at work, which means he is an ASSCLOWN = unrealistic, unproductive, and painful

      do you see? you chose validation from an invalidator. an inherent, assclown, invalidator. you put your own worth, willingly, in the hands of an asshole.

      M, NO! nonono. he is a jerk. you must validate yourself. and you must break your addiction to this pattern.

      you have a wound that you are trying to heal in an unproductive way. you will never heal this wound in this way. EVER.

      do you see? if you don’t, write back, i assure you, we can all wax on about it ad infinitum.

      • M says:

        cc, wow, i never thought of him as an assclown actually. it always seemed like he was just joking around when he flirted, so i didn’t think he was up to no good. i mean, some sexual innuendos made me a bit uncomfortable but i just ignored them.
        i do want to heal and break my addiction to this man. for some reason, the fact that he is married is not doing it (as i know it would for other more healthy women).
        what do i do? it actually physically hurts when i hear him close to my cube and he doesn’t come by like he would in the past.

        • M says:

          Just want to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you who took the time to give me advice. i truly appreciate it :)

        • Lilly says:

          cc, I love your post:

          “ you chose validation from an invalidator. an inherent, assclown, invalidator. you put your own worth, willingly, in the hands of an asshole”
          “you have a wound that you are trying to heal in an unproductive way. you will never heal this wound in this way. EVER.”

          M, I can’t offer you much as I’m in the midst of picking myself up from an emotionally disastrous affair. However, I’d like to say that the warning bells are ringing for you loud and clear. Looking back they were ringing for me too, but I chose to ignore them. What started out as “innocent” flirting and so called “friendship” turned into a nightmare. The fall-out from this destructive experience is unbelievably painful. What I’ve learned is that we do have choices, with effort we can control ourselves and make better decisions. Make the right one for yourself and stay away from this man. It really is a dangerous road and one that is very hard to veer off from once you are on it. What I would give to have known this a couple of years ago!

  38. FedUp says:

    Elle- I have tried but then my posts don’t make it through. Why is they were friends first, how is that really an excuse not to have a conscience? I really don’t think it’s good enough. I’m just sick to death with doing The right thing. Why is it ok for ACs to screw us over? Grace- If I’m not to send a letter. What else am I supposed to do?

    • Fedup, there are numerous times I have been tempted to email you and I’ve held the thought on commenting simply because you do not listen. You have *never* posted comments of the nature that you suggest that you have. If you had, it would have been a relief.

      I don’t approve all of your comments because you keep venting and repeating the same stuff over and over again that is *barely* on topic. This is not a dumping ground or a forum. The only time you *participated* in a discussion was to query why women you thought were plainer than you had boyfriends and you didn’t, to suggest inappropriate revenge, and to keep complaining about women not fixing your life.

      To suggest that you’ve been expressing any gratitude of any kind is a major distortion. I have bitten my tongue but you have hit my limit.

    • Fearless says:


      “Grace- If I’m not to send a letter. What else am I supposed to do?”

      Get on with your own life?

      (I fail to understand what you think a letter would achieve for you; a letter to some people who don’t give a shit about a letter isn’t going to help you – try focusing on YOU and what you are doing with your own life).

  39. PurpleLily says:

    M – I know first hand the pain such issues causes in a marriage/family but I have never been with/attracted to a MM — forgive me if you feel I am stepping out of my bounds when I say the below….

    WHY do you want to be friends with this person??? You KNOW you are attracted to him so do you think this ‘friendship’ is healthy for you? Even if he was indeed flirting or even if you think this is your illusion..is this really the position YOU want to be in? You can and will do SO much better when you let go of this, I can imagine that the desire and attraction is strong but I dont think it will do you any good.

    What can you possibly get out of this situation – at the safest/healthiest, a ‘friendship’ with someone you are attracted to, around whom you will have to constantly hide how you feel (not comfortable). Or at worse – relationship with an MM, which as you can see here, many ladies are really hurting from and would urge you to stay away from…

    Please take care of you, I and everyone here would hate to see you hurting and confused and in love with someone who cannot offer you anything at all.

    • M says:

      PurpleLily, i do constantly have to hide how i feel. it makes me very anxious actually. like i’m waiting to be caught and punished. after all the comments made, i now know this is indeed something i need to let go of before it gets completely out of hand on my part. i do not want to get hurt or hurt someone else. it was just a lot of fun and i miss that.

  40. RANA says:

    i was reading the archive, i was happy that this site belongs to 2005,
    i was reading about online dating as well as other objects:
    – i think u can meet with serious person intentions through the new but one has to be fully aware, more aware than meeting with someone in real life, they r many who want to spend a nice time with u,
    this is quoted from BR:
    “I think the key is to be discerning. Keep your senses alert for warning signs. They are there if you allow your heart to acknowledge them and not be blinded by a need to love and be loved, or pressured by parents who nag you until your ears bleed.

    Don’t settle for less than you want or deserve.”

  41. sophia says:

    Kerry “Of course, those of us who were emotionally neglected as children are most susceptible to this sort of dangerous bonding”.
    How right you are, its taking me more years and dreadful experiences later to realise this. Many of us for too long have blamed ourseleves for somebody else behaviour. We survived some real hot messes created by our primary carers so no doubt we were conditioned to accept crazy it whatever guise they chose to appear. For a while I believed I was crazy when good folk wanted to befriend me. Boy did I have to adjust my vision. We must now let ourselves of that hook and start to accept that there was nothing wrong with us in the first place. Time to redirect that love, care, kindness, energy, determination, hope and loyality to where it belongs to ourselves and those that care for and about us.

    • happy b says:

      I hear you Sophia. I feel that we are beating the odds by understanding that. It can and does reproduce itself and can be passed on to other generations if we don’t put the work in, but it’s a labour of love.

    • Kerry says:

      Well put, Sophia. I think that when you are ignored as a child, and nobody is asking if you have needs, then you don’t think of your needs going into adulthood. I never even considered my own needs until recently. It’s been a long learning process, and I do the work every day to undo the hard-wiring of my childhood brain.

  42. FedUp says:

    Elle- I’m sorry if it comes across that I’m not grateful. I do genuinely appreciate any replies given to me. Probably more than you realize.

    • Elle says:

      Hey FedUp, Definitely didn’t expect or need an apology. Just an acknowledgement – you must be more grateful that I realise, because it really doesn’t come across that way. I imagine you’re so anxious and angry that feeling gentle gratitude is quite difficult, let alone expressing it.

      I just wish you would trust the process: let go of all those rules about how people should behave and why people get away with things, that means do not even let yourself think about it, let alone write it down over and over, stop framing yourself as always doing the right thing, because over-expectations from people/life is not the right thing, get yourself a life – meaning regular exercise, a good job (or bolt-ons to that job in the form of community work, organising or participating in some sort of zany hobby group), new friendships and reconnecting with old ones, doing things that you know make you feel good and connected to the world. Laugh, even if it’s forced at first. Then, as part of the process, you will naturally not be as interested in all these injustices (real and otherwise), and, you know what? You won’t experience as many…and those that you do won’t matter for very long: That’s how it works!

      • Elle says:

        Hey, and so you know, the truth is, I didn’t even really need or expect an acknowledgement about what I wrote – definitely not on any pulpit over here, FedUp. Truly. Everyone on BR just wants you, and all of us, to feel powerful in our lives, and not do or say things to ourselves that diminish that power, including put ourselves in positions where other people or forces rob of us of our spirit – our autonomy, generosity and faith. You have choices. They may feel small but they have big effects.

      • happy b says:

        Fedup, I don’t know if these words are any good, but I just want to pick up on you ‘doing the right thing’ because I can, yes, empathise. What it comes down to is, we give people the time of day and more because we get something out of it, whether that’s support, companionship, laughter, entertainment, wisdom or whatever. People will reciprocate for the same reasons. If you don’t get much back, it means that you are overgiving, and you are ‘giving’ with particular expectations, which nobody is obliged to fulfill.

        This is a grievance you can let go of for your own good, that’s why I’m saying it. It’s not that the world isn’t giving you what it owes you, it’s that you’re putting too much of yourself into things/people you can’t control (and surely wouldn’t really want to) and not enough into your own recovery- Elle and others have good advice on this.

        It sounds like you need to hatch a master plan to get out of the suburbs. If you don’t see an end to it now, do the voluntary work or training to get you into the city and in the meantime, take it as necessary quiet time to invest in yourself and your ambitions.

  43. natslayer says:

    Unfortunately I went on a date on Sunday with someone who seemed to be firing on all cannons (did all the chasing etc), then I got a text this morning saying the distance is too far (2 hour journey) to pursue it further and that he hoped he hadn’t upset me. Compare that with a week ago when I spoke with him and he told me “it wasn’t the ends of the earth between us”, no wonder I am perplexed! Having a bit of a sulk today, but ultimately I know this is not about me, it’s about him copping out. And no ladies, I will NOT be texting him back with a “thanks for letting me know” as I would have done a mere month ago, so he can feel less bad. Cheers NML, I am making slow, albeit steady, progress.

    • grace says:

      I am gonna ask you A Very Important Question:
      Did you even like this man and, if so, based on what?

  44. These comments and reading everyone’s story is a great help.

    I’m staring my day today (7:00 am here in California) and have the mental set that I CAN and WILL do this.

    Thank you – to everyone.

    Official Day 1 NC.

    I can do this.


    • grace says:

      I’m gonna break it to you.
      NC isn’t saying you are going to do NC, calling it day 1, texting him, telling us about it, then saying you are going to do NC, calling it day 1, texting, him …

    • grace says:

      I’m gonna break it to you.
      NC isn’t saying you are going to do NC, calling it day 1, texting him, telling us about it, then saying you are going to do NC, calling it day 1, texting, him …
      Set yourself a challenge. Come back to us in seven days and say you did a week.

  45. lo j says:

    Last night I reread Natalie’s dating reflections of our mother part 4 and dating reflections of our mother and father. Very empowering, proactive with tools to move us from victim to thriver.

  46. Awakened says:

    30 days NC…. Yay me!! If I were you; I would give in and contact me… NOT!
    Just checking in to share something that just seems so out of the ordinary.. For those that read my story( I posted on the other post about relationship flatlining)
    About a week ago I went back on the dating site that I met the ex assclown on and his profile was apparently (hidden). Well this guy from that site approached me by email. We chatted back and forth thru email for a few days and then exchanged numbers. Well when talked and officially had one conversation it was if he was fishing me for information. I immediately deleted my profile and membership from the site but strangely mr. Ex assclown’s profile started showing up again right after I sensed something fishy about this guy. Do people make fake profiles on dating sites. He was a totally different guy in a entire different state and number so could it even be possible to make a profile up to fish someone’s page

  47. Awakened says:

    When I said fishing he asked me a question like oh so you guys are done? I immediately cut off contact with the guy. He text me crazily for a few days (i did not respond)but something just did not seem right. Could he ( the ex assclown)have used another guy to befriend me on the site just to get information. The ex assclown has not contacted me either although we have both been NC for 30 days. He went poof…. But I never chased him when he did. He disappears for days after we talked like nothing was wrong and then he’s back on the dating site I guess looking for his next victim. I have made a decision that i am not going to even do the dating sites. I am ditching it as well cause its as if he wants me to know that he’s on there but i really don’t CARE. Going NC right along with him has put me in a much better place. Ready for the next 30 days!!!

  48. Phonenix says:

    Yes, this definitely hits home for me with the breakup from a guy I felt I was in love with. He didn’t feel the same for me, and I know that he can’t help that. I can understand that, and am grateful to know the truth. What I DON’T understand is how can someone just end it over a text? I’ve been in his shoes (the one who didn’t want the relationship), but I would NEVER end it with a text, and no explanation at all. – And he’s not a child – this is a 36 year old grown man. I just don’t get it.

    • Fearless says:


      Cowardice, I think. And plain bad manners. When they’re done, they’re done – no need to bother anymore with the niceties. If they don’t gain from it, they’re not doing it.

  49. Sarah T says:

    Having just completed a course in counselling, I can see clearly how saying ‘what I would do..’ is a completely redundant approach. ‘Advising’ someone who is not in a receptive frame of mind is as useful as expecting ‘correct’ behaviour from someone who is prone to behaving badly. I think that all of us BR posters really, truly, deep down know what the right thing to do is, even in the situations we find ourselves in but, still, we are compelled not to. Can we in all honesty say ‘what I would do is…’ when we don’t follow the advice that we would give to a friend in our situation? My belaboured point is that expecting people (including ourselves) to act in the ‘right way’ is futile without taking into account the standpoint from which they are coming. In the case of ACs or EUMs, they are not coming from a position where doing the right (ethical/moral) thing suits their needs. I see so much growth in some of the readers on here. It’s frustrating though to read of good, decent women crucifying themselves because they can’t get some shit of a guy to play nice.

  50. Awakened says:


    At lease you got that. That was his way of telling u SOMETHING. He had some BALLS no matter how small they were. My ex assclown was 10 hours away from me. We went out on a few dates finally after 7 months of finally meeting. Thought we had a great time; connected and Poof…. I never even got anything saying it wouldn’t work out; No longer interested; we lived too far; I am depressed over my job layoff and I can’t see how we can continue; Yada;Yada; Yada…. Nothing… I logged on the dating site we met on he popps up ( active 3 Days) and I was not searching for him. It really amazes me but now I know who I was dealing with. Someone that amounted to NOTHING…

  51. Awakened says:

    @ Christine

    I have to agree with Grace…. Just do it already and stop talking about it. Get on with NC and actually mean it. If I see you post NC day 1 one more time I think I will scream. Lol okay but really Its easy as 1…2…3… Its doing the same thing over and over again. Not even allowing that person to enter your thoughts cause you are simply too busy with LIVING LIFE to be worried about a man that’s not WORRIED or THINKING about you. Just get busy…. And stay busy..

  52. Ms.Jones says:

    Hey all, I have no idea how to get rid of this assclown well now he has vanished since he got what he wanted. This has been going on and off for two years n a few months and in between (when we were off), I would meet worse dipshits than him. I managed to stay aways from him sexually for three months n just last week i slept with him and like he always does he dissapeared. I tried blocking his calls but i end up unblocking them,how do i lose this asshole coz i always swear i will never go back but i always do. The sex is far from being good,hes not even all that but why cant i just stop going back to that loser?? Please help!

    • cc says:

      you will stop when you truly, really, honestly, and finally believe you deserve better. when you are ready to go out and get better.

      from my own experience, the men i was drawing into my life changed when *i changed* – when i set standards that i upheld, more clearly (and gently) articulated what i was asking for and what i was offering, and when i valued myself enough, and in a compassionate, flexible way, to support the elements above. when i simply no longer tolerated bullshit AND i actively sought, by putting mySELF out there differently, higher quality people – by higher quality, i mean integrity, honesty and values and goals that were similar to mine.

      look, there’s no way around it. you HAVE to change. start confronting whatever emotional wounds you have that make you choose poor quality men.

      i know i’ve written this before here: make a list of all the qualities you want/must have in a man; and make a list of the all the qualities you must NOT have in a man. if a man does not fit BOTH lists, you do not date him, you do not sleep with him, you have no contact with him.

      but first you must do for yourself what you need to do to believe you deserve the above lists.

      this is the same thing as what i wrote here earlier. a man must
      1- be nice to you
      2- not freak you out

      and read all of natalie’s articles.

      big hug honey. do NOT sleep with him again.

  53. confused1 says:

    I would like to know hoe to proceed.

    I have left my assclown after 2 yrs of relationships while he was still divorcing his wife. I met him 1 year after the divorce proceedings and to be honest, just like Natalie said in her book, ” they can not commit either way, not to being divorce ” or being in a relationship. I broke it off, and of course it is my fault, as you all have experienced before and i applied the NC rule.
    I have been subpeona to appear in their on going divorce, 3 months after i had left.
    I have to appear, but I feel so betrayed by him as I feel he was trying to get back at me for leaving him.
    I would like to get your input, beside getting a lawyer which I did, how should I act?

    • cc says:

      i’m not sure what you’re asking – how should you act? toward him?

      tell me if i get it wrong: he jerked you around while he was still in divorce proceedings and you had to leave him to save yourself because he wouldn’t/couldn’t commit to you; and somehow, you got ordered to appear in court as what, a witness in the divorce, which i assume is nasty and contentious, and which you assume is his way of getting back at you.

      so, after this, how should you act? lessee: how about “thanks for dicking me around and then dragging me into court, you gigantic jerk! i wouldn’t have to APPEAR IN YOUR STUPID DIVORCE if it weren’t for you getting me ORDERED TO! what do you do for an encore, steal my identity and ruin my credit? burn my house down? once i leave this courtroom, i expect to never hear from you again, you colossal loser. if i do, i’ll get a restraining order, hear me?”

      waddaya think? too much?

      ok, how about this: freeze him out and let your lawyer do all the talking. pick a lawyer who is a nasty pitbull and, if he tries to speak to you, have the lawyer forbid him to his face from engaging with you directly on pain of lawsuit.

      i can’t believe you have to go to court. that’s horrible. sorry, honey.

  54. Fed Up says:

    *editors note – this is a different Fed Up* I’m having the same problem as Ms. Jones. My AC won’t go away and it’s been a few years. We didn’t even know each other long. When I noticed several red flags, I bailed. I just found out someone has been listening to my cell calls( spyware makes it so easy to do). I strongly suspect AC is behind it. Technology is a blessing and a curse sometimes. I feel so sick about it.

    • Magnolia says:

      Dear FedUp,

      Isn’t that illegal? He’s not just an AC, he’s a stalker if that’s what he is doing and should be reported.

      By the way, if you post again, might you either call yourself Fed Up, Too, or Two, or another name that can distinguish you from the 25-year-old Fed Up who lives with her parents who has been posting here for quite a while?

  55. Kerry says:

    @ Christine

    For some of us, we only make a change to our lives when the prospect of staying the same is more excruciating than making the change.

    I’m paraphrasing someone’s quote, but you get the idea. For me, I was reduced to such a horribly low spot in my life that I had no choice but to go NC. It was like my true self had stepped in and taken charge, pushing the weakened me out of the way. The humiliation and loss of self-respect was killing me. Once I cut the ex off completely, it hurt like hell and took a lot of work to stop hurting… but the experience was nowhere near as demoralizing and awful as being in that relationship. And today, a year later, I’m so thankful I had the conviction to do it, or else I’d have destroyed more of my self-esteem and wasted more of my precious, wonderful life on a woman-hating loser.

  56. natslayer says:

    Hi @grace,
    I did actually like him. We spoke quite a few times on the phone, and we both had the same interests in common, appeared interested in meeting up, and were both looking for the same thing. It is more the constant disappointment of having people disappear on me without so much as a phone call, and only a cowardly little text or email, once I show a smidgen of interest.

    But hey, he’s gone now and I’m not about to go seeking a rejection retraction.

    • grace says:

      aw, he hasn’t rejected you, he doesn’t even know you to reject you. I know it’s rich coming from me but we need to be less extreme.
      And you didn’t know him well enough to take it to heart. It’s all very well what they say, it’s not the same as interacting with them over time.
      I’m glad you bounced it but my recent experience teaches me this – turn down the meter (not the same as ignoring red flags).
      As for dropping you by text, it’s not nice or mature so at least be pleased you know that about him sooner rather than later. On the plus side, I think I’d prefer a text to having to having a tedious conversation with someone who is little more than a stranger about why they don’t fancy it anymore.
      And for what it’s worth, I think 2 hours is too far. I’ve had a lot of long distance relationships (you don’t say!) and friendships and it’s very very nice indeed for me to have friends on my doorstep now. This hasn’t been the case for years.

  57. Fearless says:

    Regarding a comment from our dear runnergirl further up the page (in response to Christine McD)


    “Once I understood, truly understood, how humiliating it was, the trance was broken.”

    Me too runner. It’s related to the concept here in Nat’s post – to truly understand our own behaviour from somewhere outside of ourselves and our wishful thinking we need to mentally separate ourselves from him for just long enough to see ourselves from his perspective – and once you do, the trance is broken. It’s not an attractive look!

    Christine McD – understanding that this relationship really, really is humiliating for you from any external perspective – his included! – is the first key you need to get out of this warren of self-annihilation. Mentally separate yourself from him and what you think he thinks and what you think he feels for just long enough to see what he is seeing.

  58. Fearless says:

    re my previous comment:

    I didn’t see myself, my behaviour or the relationship from the ex EUM’s perspective and as a result I kept trying to get him to do what I imagined I would do if I was him! Often that was just trying to get him to answer my text messages! Pfft. Stuff that for a malarkey.

    Christine MacDonald (since you’re blessed with a good Scottish name!) and to all who are reading, I think this from Robert Burns (my national bard) says it better than i ever could:

    O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as others see us
    It wad frae monie a blunder free us
    An’ foolish notion
    What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us
    An’ ev’n Devotion

    (Would translate as:

    Oh, that God would give us the very smallest of gifts
    To be able to see ourselves as others see us
    It would save us from many mistakes
    and foolish thoughts
    We would change the way we look and gesture
    and to how and what we apply our time and attention.)

    • Magnolia says:

      yay Robbie Burns!

    • runnergirl says:

      Oh perfect Fearless and thank you for the translation. There was a moment when I saw myself from somewhere outside of myself, my wishful thinking, and my dreaming as you say. I don’t know what he was seeing but I didn’t like what I saw and what I had become. It was the moment when “It wad frae monie a blunder free us…” Totally loved the quote.
      It was a “looking glass” moment. Stopped me in my tracks.
      Christine, if you are still reading, I hope your “looking glass” moment comes sooner rather than later. Mine came later but at least it came.
      Fearless you have so wonderfully summarized “through the looking glass”: “Mentally separate yourself from him and what you think he thinks and what you think he feels for just long enough to see what he is seeing.”
      Brilliant, just brilliant!

      • Fearless says:

        Hey runner (hope you’re doing good (hug)),

        I know exactly what you mean; it’s like we’re stuck going round in circles in the hall of mirrors, then there’s a point where we see ourselves from above, from one external perspective – into one clear looking glass – and we don’t want to be that woman anymore!

        And to do that we need to do as Nat says in this post – we need to see that we are *separate*: I am not him – he is not me; we do not share the same perspective.

        I did some developmental cognitive psychology at uni, and I recall being particularly taken with one piece of research where they had toddlers look at a model of a rural/farm scene from different angles. It went some thing like this: Toddlers (A) could see a hill and a cow from their angle. Toddlers (B) could only see the farmhouse and the barn. When a toddler (A) was asked to show what toddler (B) could see, they’d show toddler (B) as also seeing a cow and a hill, which, of course, toddler (B) couldn’t see. The idea, of course, was to to identify the point of cognitive development at which a child should be able to see things from the perspective of another.

        Eeeek! I think my problem was I couldn’t see EUM’s perspective because my own perspective was effed up. And I was mingling my own perspective with what I imagined was his, so it was a double eff-up!

        I think you may have coined a new BR phrase: ‘the looking glass effect’!

        Magnolia – I suspected you’d like the Burns quotation!

        • runnergirl says:

          Hey Fearless and those still following this thread, I cannot take credit for the “looking-glass self”. It is a social psychological concept developed by Charles Horton Cooley in 1902. Natalie’s post and the Robert Burns poem and your comment reminded me of Cooley’s famous quote: “I am not what I think I am and I am not what you think I am; I am what I think you think I am”. (That one takes a while and Natalie says it better.) Subsequent work has expounded on Cooley and the looking-glass self is a person who can view himself or herself through other’s perceptions…we learn to see ourselves as others do. That was scary as hell when I saw myself as he probably did. As you say, it was a double eff-up for me too when you add the dreamer effect Natalie describes in her book. On track with Natalie’s recent post (good enough), more recent work suggests that: “The looking-glass self begins at an early age and continues throughout the entirety of a person’s life as one will never stop modifying their self unless all social interactions are ceased”. I think you, Natalie, and Robert Burns sum up the looking-glass self much better.

          • runnergirl says:

            If I may Natalie…
            Fearless, I was Toddler C, the dreamer. I was shown a picture of a married man with a wife of 20 some years, and three children. There could have been barns, cows, and hills in the pic as well. All I saw was us madly, deeply in love on a warm sand beach in Hawaii! I’d say thats a triple eff-up.
            I was “I focused” as Natalie says. He wasn’t seeing what I was seeing or doing things in the same way I would. Duh…he’s not me and I’m not him, no matter how much we had in common. Add the dimension of Taurus stubbornness with Toddler C’s dreaming/denial and you have a recipe for…well…we know. It was when I caught that brief glimpse, through the looking glass. BR provided the looking glass. Forever grateful. And notice there is NO infix…

    • cc says:

      that whole thing, all installments of it, was inspired. and absolutely correct.

      good job, and thanks.

  59. lo j says:

    M … we’re smart and funny and wickedly attractive. Just keep talking to us. :-)

  60. Ms.Jones says:

    Thanx cc, i have heard so many times that if i love myself more and value myself than i will stop doing this to me. I thought i did love myself but clearly not enough,i wish there was a manual that can teach me how to coz i have no idea where to start coz i’m tired of hurting and disappointing myself.

    • Allison says:

      Ms. Jones,

      You start by cutting off someone who is simply using you for sex. You are really allowing this guy to disrespect you.
      You know the answers, but are not following through.

      Have you sought counseling?

  61. Lilian Lauderdale says:

    Hey Ladies – I have been reading BR for a while now and have been wanting to post but just didn’t even know how or where to start. So let me first say thank you to everyone who has been brave enough to tell their stories, brave enough to take a look at themselves and work on making a change, and brave enough to tell others the honest truth.

    Like a lot of you, I am struggling to get out of a relationship that is breaking me down and tearing apart my entire self. About a year and a half ago I finally got out of a 9 year relationship that was emotionally abusive. Not knowing how I would ever be able to be in another relationship, I did end up meeting a man who seemed to be exactly what I needed to trust in relationships again. I went in with complete honesty telling him exactly what I was looking for in a relationship moving forward and what my expectations were. He was looking for the same exact thing. Skip forward quite a few months of 100% investment and it turns out he was lying about everything. He was not legally separated, he does not want kids (even though he said that was one of his dreams), and turns out the most important thing in life is money (not me like he said on many occasions). Needless to say I have been left devastated by the thought that someone could do this to another person. Because of course, “if it were me, I’d never come into someone’s precious life and wreak havoc with lies and manipulation.” And somehow, he has managed to turn this around and blame me. So I stick around because I always feel the need to prove that I am a good person and that what he is saying about me is not true.

    Well, I have finally had enough shame and embarrassment. Thanks again everyone for creating a community where I feel empowered enough to share my own story.

    • Magnolia says:

      Dear Lilian,

      Thanks for sharing your story. It took me a long time to believe that someone could lie to me. In fact, it was just my most recent relationship that forced me to acknowledge that people do not behave as I would, that many can and do lie. I don’t know why I never wanted to believe that anyone could do that. Maybe I just had never learned to lie myself and so didn’t understand. But learning in that late relationship that a man could lie to me so often and so consistently made me wise up and eventually I came to reevaluate many of the relationships I’ve had – ones where I didn’t ever even suspect they were lying. And I now realize that I had often been lied to – my early boyfriends just got away with it.

      Once you get out of this relationship and get a bit of distance you may be able to look back at the beginnings of it and see the moments when things didn’t seem quite right but you didn’t know what to make of that. Guys of this sort often rely on you not trusting your own instincts.

      If he is a liar then you can be sure what he says about you is all about what serves his needs at any given moment. We’ve all been in that place of wanting not to acknowledge that the person next to us clearly doesn’t care about us. No need to be embarrassed here. Sounds like you’re ready to listen to all the bad feelings and get out of a situation that is not good for you.

    • Fearless says:


      Welcome. Thanks to Natalie we are very fortunate to have access to the community of BR. Let me just second everything Magnolia has already said.

      “We’ve all been in that place of wanting not to acknowledge that the person next to us clearly doesn’t care about us.”

      Ouch. Yes, it’s a very painful realisation. It’s no wonder it takes many of us a long time to acknowledge this – it’s sore, and it’s so sore because we have, as you say, Lilian, invested 100% – too much, too soon.
      As Mags says, if you do a replay of the relationship in slow motion you’ll likely see there were signs that you missed. Reading Natalie’s archives here and perhaps her books will help you with that.

      The thing now though is to opt out – asap. you should not be trying to prove yourself to him – you’ve got it the wrong way round; he is at fault if he has been deceitful; it’s not you who is distrusting – it’s him who is untrustworthy.

      My ex did this kind of mind effery as well. For example, I’d find myself apologising and backtracking for implying he was lying to me when he plainly was lying to me – he knew it and I knew it! I remember once on the telephone I asked him if he would tell the truth about a particular thing to a particular person and his answer to me simply ‘either stop calling me a liar or stop talking to me’. But he was a liar. i knew it and he knew it! However, I knew if I didn’t backtrack he would get off the phone instantly and give me complete silent treatment – Forever! If I let him. I should have let him. But I was way over-invested and the very thought of his silent treatment/of never speaking to me again would send me into a blind panic.

      Magnolia posted something here a while ago that I’ll ever forget: The minute one of you starts lying everything should stop.

      Lilia, Stop everything. Stand your ground. He’s lying to you and effing with your head. You can’t trust him. It’s over. Whether you hang in there or not, it’s still over.

      • Lilian Lauderdale says:

        OMG! This is exactly the case with me too, Fearless. After all this went down and all the lies came out I was so upset. Then it became, “see, you are such an emotional and demanding person of course I can’t see myself spending the rest of my life with you.” Um, you just steamrolled over my hopes, dreams, trust and self-esteem and now MY reaction is why you don’t want to be with me. Why on earth would I ever apologize for being so upset….but I did. And I do. It’s mortifying.

        I feel I have been left not even knowing which was is up or down because if I say this way is up, somehow I am convinced I am wrong. Yikes!

        It is so hard to acknowledge that you have loved someone who doesn’t love you back – all the while telling you they do. That is where I am at right now…just plain acceptance.

        • Fearless says:

          Totally same as my experiences with the ex! They really are f*krs these people. I think the reason we find it difficult to handle this stuff and keep second guessing ourselves on it is because, as Nat’s post explains, we cannot fathom that what he is saying can actually mean what we think it might mean because *if I were him* I could only be embarrassed and ashamed of my own crappy behaviour; *if I were him* I would be hanging my head in shame and asking for forgiveness NOT blaming the other person for being furious, hurt and disappointed. His reaction to our fury simply doesn’t compute so we second guess our own reactions and think we must have got it wrong somewhere.

          We also think we know him to be a decent person who would never be so cruel as to pull these kind of stunts. We also are desperate not to have been so badly wrong about him in the first place. All this together skews our perspective so that we don’t know which way is up. I was forever asking myself: ‘WTF? Who DOES that? Is it me?!! it must be me cos this cannot possibly be what I think it is’ i.e. that this man I love is a mind-bending, manipulative, self-serving f**ker.

          I’m sorry Lilian, but it is what you think it is.

          Suggest you tell it to him like this :
          “Um, you just steamrolled over my hopes, dreams, trust and self-esteem and now MY reaction is why *I* don’t want to be with *YOU*.”

          His behaviour is a deal breaker. You must break the deal – with *him*.

    • cc says:

      welcome, darling. you’re safe here. but that jerk you’re dating isn’t.

      (rolls up her sleeves)

      ok: “and somehow, he has managed to turn this around and blame me. so i stick around because i always feel the need to prove that i am a good person and that what he is saying about me is not true.” – what. the. fffffff…….?!?!?

      prove you’re a good person? to whom exactly?

      WHY do we all look to, lessee, just from your description of him, liars, future fakers, con artists, manipulators, and users to validate us, to give us our worth, to reassure us that yes, indeed, we are deserving of the air in our lungs?

      would you give your life savings to a swindler for safe keeping? would you let an arsonist house sit? no? so you shouldn’t give your heart and your worth to a douchebag.

      lilian – reread what you wrote about him. if what you wrote about him were written by someone on BR, what would you say? what would you think of a guy who was treating your best friend the way he is treating you?? wouldn’t you be pissed off? beyond belief? shouldn’t you be outraged on your own behalf at his betrayal instead of feeling ashamed?

      and winning the good opinion of a moral and ethical derelict is – an oxymoron. not only is it not worth trying for, it cannot happen. he CANNOT validate you. he has no interest in validating you. he cannot love, he is not worthy of trust. he is only interested in what he can extract from you by subterfuge, brainwashing, and deceit. he is the antithesis of truth and respect. he is not worthy of your shame and embarrassment.

      moreover – you have no need to be ashamed and embarrassed. you should be infuriated. and resolved.

      and realize that you ARE a good person. the mistake you’re making is not that you’re bad – you’re not bad – you just invested too much too soon in a person of poor character. you believed what he said because you wanted to. you put your worth in his hands. when really, he was a piece of crap, and if he had a high opinion of you, THEN i’d be worried. who does he admire, anyway? al capone? jack the ripper?

      cc’s rule #1: do not seek validation from an invalidator.

      you don’t need him. you need you. do what mags and fearless said. dump his ass with your head held high. then go work on yourself until you see how valuable you are and you can choose better.


      • Fearless says:


        “winning the good opinion of a moral and ethical derelict is – an oxymoron. not only is it not worth trying for, it cannot happen. he CANNOT validate you. he has no interest in validating you.”

        Exactly! These guys go on the idea that attack is the best form of defense. They cannot/will not validate you (or your reaction to their behaviour) because to do that is to invalidate themselves (and their behaviour); and they are very good at validating themselves and their behaviour – all at your expense.

        • cc says:

          word! i think that’s the first clue – people who want to care about us want us to win, see it as a win for themselves, and want to win together. people who are asshats want us to lose, and lose at our own expense.

      • Lilian Lauderdale says:

        Thanks CC – all your words are true. And I hear them – I really hear them. And I am infuriated. Really, truly angry. I think the shame comes from staying way past its sell-by-date. I stay and stay and then feel humiliated by my own actions and pleas of desperation. And then feel humiliated even more when I am told that my crying and emotional reaction is ridiculous and just far too much for him to handle – thus making me a poor choice in a perspective partner. WTF? I should be saying that to him – not giving him chance after chance to spew more lies, excuses and possibly the opportunity to follow through on what he originally told me.

        I am honestly tired of seeing the situation rationally but not taking the appropriate actions. And trust me, I do recognize that it is far more painful to stay and “battle” this tooth and nail, than how I feel on those days when I say “that’s it!” and don’t speak to him.

        I just hope all of you know how much I truly appreciate all of your support and how much of a relief it is to finally just tell my story without feeling shame, embarrassment and judgement. This just may be my saving grace.

        • cc says:

          lilian, fearless, magnolia-

          first lilian – good. while you’re fuming at him, try to be a little gentle on you. use the anger to help you see things truly more clearly. but please be careful to use it only for that, for clarity and reality, and not as a weapon against yourself. we’ve been doing that all our lives, and its awful. love you. see that you are worth defending, that you MUST defend you. in fact, now you see what happens when you don’t – you get some AC pulling your strings and asking you to thank him for it, then passing judgment on you. o.O? is he kidding? please. stay on your own side, keep practicing it and you’ll do ok.

          fearless, mags- i gotta say, your eloquence on this is TRULY inspiring. all the “if i were him* examples and the mirror stuff from the other thread has made this all sink in for me and made me see clearly now how i totally did all this stuff with the ex-EUM (which i’m sure you’re all very sick of hearing about). i would spin and spin, grasping to get him to care the way i wanted, to treat me the way i wanted, instead of being quiet, looking calmly at the situation, and figuring out who HE was rather than how to get him to be who i wanted him to be. oy. or, god forbid, just leave when he spectacularly blundered, which he was always, always doing. but no. i gotta prove my worth. to an EUM.

          why didn’t i just find a nice, hard wall to bang my head against…it might have been more productive.

          oh, well. screw it. live and learn. and y’know what? i’m thinking about him less and less! (takes a relieving breath) i think i finally can say i’m actually in the letting go phase of letting go – y’know the one in which i actually let go. thank the blessed stars and all that is holy. ’bout friggin’ time.


          • cc says:

            runnergirl, if you’re reading-
            i gotta credit you with the above as well (all that mirror stuff from the other thread). thanks all you guys.

            i am humbled and grateful by everyone’s wisdom. and natalie’s. thanks, guys.

        • Fealess says:


          We understand. These guys make us feel so crappy about ourselves that when we know we need to cut our losses and run is also when we feel the least capable of doing it because we are at such a frail emotional low and our instinct is to reach out to him, not to reach out to ourselves. i remember feeling this way; thankfully I reached a point where I knew I had to stop reaching out to him (he could never help me – he only increased my misery) and I had tried to end it too many times by reaching into myself, but I did not have the armory – that’s when I reached out to the world (well, Google, actually!). I think my epiphany, finally, was that he couldn’t help me, I couldn’t help me; I had to get help from somewhere else – finally I had fallen so low that I had the humility, desperation and, yes, embarrassment to do that. I found Natalie here at BR and eventually with her advice I developed the armory to help myself. The best advice as a first step that I got at that time was simple – No Contact.

          Lilian, this relationship your in is rotten. It’s done; you are merely prolonging the inevitable and dragging yourself further into the pit of self-annihilation. No contact will give you the space and distance to get the clarity, to clear the fog and so to regain the emotional strength you to so desperately need and want. NC him asap, as hard as it is, do it, and then sit back, feel the pain, focus on you, and trust in the process. It works!

          • cc says:

            i thought more about this.

            recently i briefly dated an AC, probably my first true AC, a bona fide future faker, woman user, jobless, lying lothario good for nothing. and that’s putting it nicely. i’ve chronicled this on other posts.

            he told me i had “trust issues”. now, once upon a time, i would have wigged and then turned myself inside out to prove to him that he was wrong. but, thanks to the work i’ve done, including BR, my AC-to-non-AC decoder ring kicked in and it translated his statement as “you actually have a spine and i see that i can no longer pull the wool over your eyes. i can’t manipulate you. therefore, i have no use for you.”

            see? of course he told me i have trust issues – he was a con artist. and everything he did was so clearly a manipulation to set me up so he could use me in a very specific way. and his rejection was still a rejection, which never feels good, but really, a rejection from an AC? that’s a compliment!!

            now, where i could have gotten hung up is in the knowledge that i do in fact have trust issues. but now i know that a normal person who actually wanted to care about me would have slowed his roll and worked to build my trust. just because i have trust issues doesn’t mean the AC wasn’t an AC and wasn’t trying to use me.

            and, in fact, my “trust issues” acted as a boundary that prevented me from falling for his (rather transparent) crap. and my resistance to his bullshit acted as a way to verify that he was in fact bullshitting me. i proved to not be easy prey – therefore, he moved on. to a more willing victim. and i know this for a fact.

            • cc says:


              now, did i, for one second, envy her? yes. but then the decoder ring kicked in again – and i realized she’s just a female carpet, ready for him to walk all over her. i thought back on his recounting of their (prior) relationship – and realized that she laid herself out for him from the very beginning. that’s what he’s used to women doing for him. i’m proud to not count myself among their (rather large) number.

              and it makes me wonder what the hell was wrong with all of them. truly, what was so great about him, if what you need to do to win him is basically let him mooch off you for money, housing, food, sex, and get nothing back, all while just handing over all of your self-esteem. his loyalty was LITERALLY bought. no thanks. talk about sticker shock.

              so, don’t psych yourself out. stick to your guns. losing this guy is no loss. it is you who will be gained.

              more hugs

              • Lilian Lauderdale says:

                CC – This is exactly what I needed at the exact right moment. This mind manipulation is out of control and is leaving me in such disarray.

                After a horribly upsetting day of boundary breaking and lying by the AC, I was talking with one of my best friends from childhood via IM about what’s been going on and how upset I was with my situation. Well little did I know the AC had hacked into my computer and was reading my conversation. Then told me he would never talk about be behind my back and could not forgive me for doing so. So let me get this straight – you break into my computer and read a private conversation where I have the right to vent and express my feelings to my friend and then you tell me I have done something wrong and unforgivable! No matter how many times this was discussed it is always brought up as a strike against me. That flag wasn’t just red it was on fire and I stuck around and got burned.

                I too have caught myself being jealous of the other woman he has in his life – but when I am really honest with myself I know that I don’t want the relationship she has. If it’s anything close to the crap he has offered me for a year it’s nowhere close to the relationship I want and deserve.

                Things are tough now, but I want to be able to look back in the near future and be proud of myself for finally choosing to not stick around and accept this behavior and continue to defend myself to someone who does not have my best interest at heart (if he even has one).

                Thanks again for your support. :)

                I too have caught myself being jealous of the other woman he has in his life – but when I am really honest with myself I know that I don’t the relationship she has. If it’s anything close to the crap he has offered me for a year it’s no where close to the relationship I want and deserve.

                Things are tough now, but I want to be able to look back in the near future and be proud of myself for finally choosing to not stick around and accept this behavior and continue to defend myself to someone who does not have my best interest at heart (if he even has one).

                Thanks again for your support. :)

            • runnergirl says:

              cc and Lilian,
              cc,I loved the “Decoder Ring”. I couldn’t figure it out but you nailed it. It is the “BR Decoder Ring”. Lillian keep the faith and keep reading BR. It’s like the prize ring at the bottom of the cereal box. And this one really works. Just a short example. I went out with a nice guy a few weeks ago. He seemed nice, things went well and I agreed to a second date. His idea of a second date was at his place on the beach. Umm, er, no! Even though the idea of playing frisbee on the beach and a bbq sounded wonderful, this guy was a perfect stranger. When I said I was not ready to go to his house after only meeting him for 3 hours, he responded that I wasn’t being clear and we weren’t reading off the same page. My handy dandy BR Decoder Ring came in handy. Me: I’m not hopping into the sack with you on a second date. If it were me, I’d never expect that. Him: I don’t like your answer, therefore you aren’t being clear. Since I am me and not you, I expect that.
              Like cc said, if he would have slowed his roll and we could have gotten to know one another, maybe? We will never know.
              Lillian, I know you are in the throws of it but keep reading BR. There is an amazing prize at the end of the box. I don’t want to spoil it but I can’t resist…the prize is YOU!
              If it were me, I’d do…oh it is me. Hello me. Love to you all.

          • Lilian Lauderdale says:

            Fearless – Agree. It seems that the point at which I am so fed up is also my lowest point. I have been so humiliated by my situation and caught up in the whirlwind of all the lies that I haven’t talked to friends and family about it. So just being able to talk to this community has enabled me to have a sense of relief and gain some long-needed support. I have been telling myself the same things you are telling me for quite some time – it’s just I now need to commit to following through with action. Thanks for all your support. It is truly appreciated.

            • runnergirl says:

              Keep going Lillian. Take action.

            • cc says:

              lilian, runner-
              uh…with the computer hacking, best friend chat reading, and ensuing recrimination – i use the term deliberately; he commits a criminal act, then points the finger at lilian – i think we’ve gone past garden variety AC with this guy.

              somebody correct me if i’m wrong, but he’s a super-sicko. kinda evil. lilian, honey, please get the fuck away from him. get some protection on your computer, your phone, your identity, your credit. i mean, he’s PREYing on you, and i’m sorry, but i don’t think you really see it clearly, fully, yet, you’re still blaming yourself in some way. meanwhile he’s despicable and frightening. the fact that you’re still struggling at all with the concept of leaving him, that you’re even continuing to bother to defend yourself in arguments with him, worries me.

              his treatment of you is waaaay beyond. please get some local support, some therapy, something – you need help getting away from this guy.

              he is toxic, bad, unforgivable. bad to the bone. you are fine. the only thing wrong with you is that you don’t really see how unconscionably awful he is.

              please – take yourself out of danger.

            • Fearless says:


              Find at least one good and wise friend, Lilian, and start talking about this. If you can, think about the possible benefits of talking to a counsellor. Reading your post above about him hacking into your computer conversations with your own friend and then complaining about what you were talking about – WTF? Who the hell does this arseh8le think he is? Tell him, that since you are not him (and a separate human being altogether with your own rights!) you will talk to whomever you like, about whatever you like – whenever you like! Am now getting very angry on your behalf! This guy is an abuser. Get him to eff out of your life, Lilian. Start right now.

              • Lilian Lauderdale says:

                This is all true…and scares me as well that because I grew up with my father acting this way, I have somewhat normalized this behavior or become immune to how serious this act of betrayal is. What I said to my friend and the fact that I even said anything is thrown in my face constantly as a “reason” why he cannot commit to me and why he now has such big reservations about me. I should have run right then and there. But I constantly doubt my own reactions and emotions and instead feel the need to defend them constantly. I am working with a therapist to discover why I would put up with such behavior and even more so, why I would stay to defend myself. I also just joined a women’s support group. But it’s still a long hard road. I read and read and read…and give advice…but have a hard time putting it all into action in my own life. I can say that I 100% do not want this person in my life and honestly have no respect left in my entire being for him. And while I am working on completely cutting things off, I am not fully there. I feel in my heart I will be very soon. As I keep saying, thanks for all the support.

                • cc says:

                  if you’re beating yourself up, don’t.

                  these are old, very ingrained habits, its your training, learned at your father’s knee.

                  when you are ready, you will stop. in the meantime, please be safe, and take as little crap as you possibly can. make yourself stand up for yourself how/whenever you can.

                  and, very soon, you will be done. and you will just stop.

                  its ok. we all, who were raised this way, do this. we stop when we are ready.

  62. Sarah T says:

    To continue the psychological aspect of self-awareness, google the Johari window. Quite revealing, I think!

    • Fearless says:

      Sarah T

      Thanks for posting that. Yes it is quite revealing. I was at an interview for a job last month. One question asked was ‘tell us three words that you think describe who you are’. I really struggled with my answer (trying too hard to be honest!). When I thought later about the three words I offered, I felt that at least two of them were very suspect indeed and wondered why I’d picked them!

      I think I have trouble describing who I think I am because I could answer very differently depending on the context or my mood or what I’m trying to achieve at any given time. I recall once chatting with my friends, I happened to say that I was not very assertive – they all choked into their drinks and laughed! I was bewildered that they had a totally different view of who I was…. I don’t feel like an assertive person at all, after all at that time I was letting the ex EUM walk all over me! (but I know I can be quite assertive depending on the who and what, and how angry I am!).

  63. Hi all. Yes, still reading, but not obsessing any longer. Keeping very busy with projects and goals this week and doing much better.

    Succeeding with my projects, too!

    Feeling good.

    Keeping my calendar full and spending time with quality friends.

    Have a great weekend, all.


  64. Fearless says:

    Runner, et all

    Ah, I see!

    “I am not what I think I am and I am not what you think I am; I am what I think you think I am”

    Genius. That’s it. (It’s like a sketch from Abbott and Costello!)

    So who the f**k am I then!!? :)

    I’m not sure yet. But I don’t need the ex arse to tell me. That I do know!

    • runnergirl says:

      Yup, it is genius and it is like a sketch from Abbott and Costello. But more genius is the fact that we don’t need the ex arse to tell us who we are. Sorry to go sideways Natalie. Your post and the comments by Fearless just summed up many, many social psychological articles.

      So, do you know this one: Who’s on first?

  65. Awakened says:

    Sit back; feel the pain; focus on you and trust the process
    Such a great concept @ Fearless!! Thanks for that. There will definitely be PAIN and it’s normal and okay to allow yourself to feel it for a while atlease but you get through it and you have to allow yourself to go through that Pain to get through it and get to a better place. I am 5 weeks NC this week and I have felt that pain some days more and some days less but I know I am much better off today than what I was when I first started out and the EUM went poof…. With no warning; no formal goodbye and no reply to my take care email giving him the easy OUT. Good luck to everyone especially those that are moving forward successfully with no looking BACK…. And remember that Time heals all Wounds….Allow that TIME

  66. Awakened says:

    You know it’s also funny how time flies. Just yesterday I came across a post that I had written in 2010 on baggage reclaim about a previous ex before now who I was trying to remove from my life. Reading that post I read that it he called me after 5 months after that breakup. His number was blocked for the first 3 months. I never even answered or responded when he called and left a message. So I say this to say don’t worry about the TIME and how many days you haven’t heard from him cause it only slows down your healing and progress of moving on. Instead just let it fly and it will as long as you keep busy with living LIFE. Days will soon turn into months and months into years…..

  67. Ellyb says:

    I had another weird experience this week which is vaguely related to the topic of this post. For years, I’ve been struggling with a very toxic deputy team leader. Some years ago, I even accepted another position within the company, even if this other job was not suited for me at all. Just to get away from her! After a few years on that other completely unsuitable, frustrating job, I gave up and ended up on her team again *sigh*.

    Of course she hasn’t changed. In an almost brutal way she is thwarting my ideas and my initiative. Or she steals my ideas and presents them as her own, bragging how great she is and treating me like an underperformer. She treats everyone on the team like an underperformer, even if it’s coming more and more clear how poor her OWN performance is (unfortunately, I realized that almost immediately after she joined our team – which didn’t make things easier).

    It drove me crazy. I tried to “empathize” with her. I wondered why she didn’t act the way I would have acted. I tried to consider myself an underperformer, because she did, and “create” harmony that way. But I couldn’t. I tried to focus on things outside work, like some former friends told me to do. I couldn’t. How could I enjoy my hobbies while she tried to pour all my talent down the drain??? And secretly I believe I have such considerable talent!

    I tried to be super-friendly with her, super-supportive, super-cooperative. But she only exploited that.

    I’ve finally given up on seeking harmony. I’ve started fighting for my ideas and my projects. Whenever I’m suggesting something, I send it to a wider mailing list including our boss before even talking to her. So far, she hasn’t managed to thwart those initiatives. And others praised me for those accomplishments (she didn’t, of course).

    I’m sometimes seeking support from other team members, too. Apparently, they are a bit annoyed with her too, and they consider my contributions so valuable that they don’t want them to be thwarted. Sometimes we are rolling our eyes together when she’s at her worst.

    The weird thing is that I’m not happy right now, but depressed. It’s like I’ve given up on my childhood dreams. She somewhat reminds me of my narcissistic mother, and I tried to control her in a “childlike” way, with friendliness, jedi-mind-tricks and the like. Now it seems to me as if I can maybe control her – but only in an adult way, by seeking support from my other superiors (by putting them cc in my emails) and my coworkers. That wouldn’t have worked with momster. Nothing would have worked with momster. Makes me cry.

    • cc says:

      oh, honey. i’m sorry.

      that wicked witch is triggering you, and even while you’re reacting very well, you’re grieving. you should be proud that you’re fighting fire with fire. i find that our actions sometimes are ahead of our emotions, we start behaving in more adult ways that are helpful to us while our little abused children are still cringing inside of us.

      your little self will catch up. you’ve already tried everything else, and you’ve finally arrived at a good place of action. now, just feel how you feel, be very gentle with you, but keep doing what you are doing. don’t take any crap from her. eventually you’ll cry it out and find a more comfortable emotional place to put momster. you will defang the tiger. you’re right – nothing would have worked with her, but that’s her. i’m sorry it hurts.

      but its ok. honestly, it’ll be ok. just cry it out.
      huge huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugs

    • Magnolia says:

      I agree with cc. You’re reacting well; reacting from an adult place, drawing support from appropriate places, validating your own worth in the organization and managing the impact of a bad boss.

      I also agree that it sounds like you’re grieving. I’m no expert, but it can be very lonely when you start to grow up inside, because the little person still wants your Mom’s love. It’s very painful stop waiting for a loving mother to be there with you as you grow. It’s like deciding to stop sitting at the window waiting for mom to come home and finally be attentive to how great you are. And growing is sometimes hard and painful, and it’s lonely to go off alone and grow and do things to be proud of, finally accepting that the first person you looked to for mothering isn’t going to be watching. It’s also very very brave.

      In time you will see that there is a side of you, EllyB, that is a reliable mother figure to the side of you that is still scared and needs support. It is damn scary to have to be that mother figure, because the mother figure inside you is going to be one that momster would never have approved of, and wouldn’t understand.

      One day at a time.

      • cc says:

        right on mags. exactly. “its like deciding stop sitting at the window waiting for mom to come home and finally be attentive to how great you are” – nailed it.

        ellyb – here’s how i think of the being your own mom thing. nobody knows you like you know you. nobody knows exactly how you feel, what you need, what you want, what you fear. but you do. you know exactly.

        i used to think it would sink me into the depths of the bleakest, darkest loneliness to give myself what others did not, like it was the final proof that i was alone – but i was wrong. its the opposite!! its the final proof that i am NOT alone – i have me!

        no one is equipped to love you the way you can. so give yourself precisely what you wished your momster had been able to give you – all the understanding, all the boundless compassion, all the patience, all the recognition, all the sweet coaxing to smile and the gentle rocking and comfort when you can only cry. all the generosity. truly, try it. love yourself, fully.

        we each can completely comfort ourselves. yes, we still absolutely need each other, BR is a testament to that. but really, it sounds weird but appropriate self love is the best love there is, and it teaches us what to ask of others. you didn’t get from her what you should have – so start giving it to yourself, now.

  68. Lilian Lauderdale says:

    @Awakened Thanks for that! I hope that I will read my posts two years from now with a big sigh of relief and be able to tell other women and even myself that the process does indeed work and you WILL get through this. Just that thought alone gives me hope and encouragement. Here’s to moving on and moving forward!

    • Fearless says:

      the NC process *does* work; don’t merely hope in it (there lies defeat); trust in it. Get behind yourself; for now that means giving yourself up to *trusting* in the process. When you can’t support yourself, the NC process will do that for you (like learning to ride a bike, at some point you’ll be doing it all by yourself and you won’t even notice; until then every contact you have with this guy will have you falling off the bike with yet another skint knee – or worse!).

      (sorry, am digressing off the topic here)

  69. Fed UpToo says:

    @ Magnolia,

    I have reported him for listening to my cell calls, but the cops told me that there is not much they can do. I wonder why anyone would want to do this and enlist others to help? We haven’t even spoken in a year. I just wanted to vent how unfair it is for one person to get away with doing this to another. Why can’t he just move on?

  70. Sarah T says:


    It is odd isn’t it? I have the same reaction when I disclose that I see myself as anxious…my friends have a very different view!
    That’s why I rarely say ‘if it was me…’ Or ‘what I would do…’ because I am aware that I change in different circumstances!

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

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

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

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