stressed woman by trublueboy sxcEvery day I hear from readers who just can’t figure out what they feel, why they feel it, or even why it feels like a big deal even though it doesn’t seem like a big deal. One of the greatest examples of this is having doubts no matter how small that keep niggling, but that you just can’t put your finger on. Or even worse, having doubts that you can put your finger on but you keep ignoring or attributing to something else. In fact, you may not refer to them as doubts – you might call them ‘misgivings’, ‘insecurity’, low self-esteem, or even blame them on a past relationship or even a parent instead of on what is actually happening.

It then becomes ‘I’m not having these doubts because I’m making choices that work against me or am experiencing a current stress/have a current concern that I’m ignoring – it’s because I’m not good enough / they’re amazing and I’m just a very insecure person / my parents did X/Y/Z / I’m scared because of all of my previous relationships”.

The thing is, some of these may be true or may highlight things that you need to address, but the problem is that whatever you attribute the stress to (or insecurity, misgivings etc), it will remain a stress as long as you keep thinking about or putting it to the back of your mind but not actually addressing it.

It’s also important to note that if you’re actually denying the cause of the stress and blaming it on something else, the cause will remain a constant factor no matter what. Hence why if you keep playing down those niggling doubts about a partner and saying it’s your insecurity and a previous relationship, if they’re actually behaving in ways that give just cause for doubt, it will continue happening – you just won’t be addressing it and damaging yourself in the process.

What I do know after having the immune system disease sarcoidosis and then vertigo, tinnitus and TMJ is that when you get used to dealing with ‘stress’ whether it’s emotional, or work pressure, physical stress or whatever, you acclimatise to it. At it’s worst, like when I had sarcoidosis, you don’t even know where to begin when you have to figure out what is wrong because ‘everything’ seems to be wrong. It’s only when it becomes intolerable or you get a proverbial boot up the bum that you finally change.

That’s why I ended up addressing everything – health, work, family, relationships etc – which balanced me out and they all had a knock on effect on each other.

Much like when I wrote about the Broken Windows Theory applied to boundaries and relationships, where you’ll ignore one thing that you shouldn’t, it paves the way to ignoring another. Ignoring, delaying, rationalising, denying, minimising are habits, and habits can most certainly be broken.

If you’ve ever found yourself putting up with stuff in your relationships that on later reflection have you wondering if you were on crack, or even have you feeling like you practically have to learn a new (healthy) language post breakup, it’s because you normalised dodgy behaviour.

What you might not have realised is that you’ve also normalised treading water in stress instead of resolving it. In fact, it’s the fact that you may be used to stress and even numb to it that will have you failing to realise that you’re knee deep in an unhealthy relationship until you’re very immersed in it.

You’ll also find that it won’t take much to tip you over when you hit ‘capacity’.

I think there’s a certain amount of stress we can all manage with, after all we’d be wrecks otherwise, but after that we can become very sensitive to it. Then little things that genuinely aren’t that big a deal can throw a monkey wrench in the works and have you in a serious tailspin or you start seeing rejection, problems, ‘flaws’ in yourself, and a lack of options. You become indecisive, panicky, anxious, find it hard to articulate what you’re pissed off about or can articulate it but won’t action it, or you compare problems and try to identify which one is the ‘biggest’ one as if that will change the nature of the others. You may inflate the size of the wrong stress while still continuing to ignore the core stress that you really need to address.

While surfing Pinterest for wedding inspiration, I came across a factsheet on stress and the first line flicked a lightbulb in my mind: “Your body doesn’t care if it’s a big stress or a little stress.”

This was only a few days after writing about How I Learned To Listen To Myself where I explained how realising that bouts of tinnitus, vertigo and TMJ were triggered by not listening to myself and stress. That stress was a combination of some work stuff which in turn I was privately busting my proverbial balls about, some family clashes, and even at times child induced sleep deprivation.

Hours after reading the fact sheet, I spoke to a friend who was feeling panicked because she was experiencing what were clearly stress symptoms but was insisting she wasn’t stressed about anything big or ‘new’. I suggested that maybe it was a just some freakish thing and not to worry about it, but then I asked if there was anything she could possibly be stressed about – man that list couldn’t stop coming!

I think the way we live has us very ‘programmed’ to take stress in our stride and while this has its uses, we’re not supposed to take it so much in our stride that we become unable to really have a quality life or are unable to figure out what we feel.

You know that you’re too acclimatised to stress when you you find it hard to identify what’s bothering you or you reel off them off like your grocery shopping list. You get used to Staying/Talking and Complaining.

It’s like ‘Yeah, so I’m stressed! What am I supposed to do about it? It’s just groundhog day around here!’ You may even think ‘Well this is nothing compared to other stresses I’ve had. Hey ho, hey ho, it’s off to work or dodgy relationship I go!’

By being available and feeling out all of your feelings and taking your time to address stress in your life (whatever the source of it) rather than letting it run and run, you can differentiate between your sizes of stress.

Because our bodies don’t differentiate, it’s important not to let it pile up, because when you hit capacity, you will find that suddenly, even though you thought you just had a problem in your relationship, now you’re struggling to concentrate at work, have become sensitive to certain foods, or are feeling physical symptoms of stress.

If you’re feeling ‘stress’ or doubts, anxiety, or whatever you want to call it, and you can’t nail the source of it and basically keep going round and round in circles, you know that you’re too acclimatised to not listening to yourself. If you keep wondering “Is it them or is it me?”, aside from always looking at whether it’s internal or external fear talking, what you immediately know is that if you can’t figure out which one, it’s because you need to address both.

Our natural inclination is to put the focus on others or external factors because that puts action in an area that’s uncontrollable – it’s no wonder our stress increases. Learn to listen to yourself, keep a Feelings Diary, have an honest conversation with yourself, make decisions – take the focus off ‘them’ and bring it back to you.

Your thoughts?

Check out my book and ebook Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl in my bookshop.

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220 Responses to If You Can’t Figure Out What’s Bothering You, It’s Because You’ve Normalised Treading Water In Stress

  1. MaryC says:

    I think unresolved issues about my ex and his behavior kept me from NC for a long time. I wanted him to fix everything and take responsibility for everything because I thought he owed me. That was a lost cause because as I found out he could of cared less. The stress and anxiety I felt was overwhelming at times but little by little I learned I had to fix my own issues whether he manned up or not.

    You’re so right Nat ” Take the focus off ‘them’ and bring it back to you”. When I started to rely on myself for my own happiness I was so much more happier.

    • NML says:

      You addressing your own issues MaryC has given you so much strength. Out of adversity and betrayal, you’ve learned a lot about yourself and can very firmly stand on your own two feet. In the end, him being himself set you free from an unhealthy relationship and pattern.

  2. Natasha says:

    Loved this! I went through a period like this after I broke up a five-year boomerang decable where the guy begged me to take him back and treated me horribly. I was in total denial about how badly I’d actually been treated, decided that he was probably a decent guy and I was too sensitive (OY. VEY.) and insecure and was haranguing myself over being so upset. The final go-around with this guy only lasted two months and I was beating myself up for being so upset. I finally had to get real and admit that a lot of bad stuff can happen in two months (hell, with some of these guys, bad stuff can happen in two minutes) and that, since I was blaming myself for someone else’s awful behavior, I had some serious self esteem issues to deal with.

    Before I got to that point, I was a wreck physically and emotionally. I can remember going into total hysterics over minor things! As much as it can be really tough to sift through all the dross, it’s really the only way to let things go. It’s amazing the confidence that comes from conquering issues, especially the ones from Assclowns Past. It’s like, “Well, I dealt with THAT. No need to stress the smaller stuff now! I know I can deal.”

    • Fantasy Girl says:


      “It’s amazing the confidence that comes from conquering issues, especially the ones from Assclowns Past. It’s like, “Well, I dealt with THAT. No need to stress the smaller stuff now! I know I can deal.”

      I completely agree! Not that I know what I have been doing and taking the steps to change it is empowering beyond measure.

    • Karina says:

      Natasha…you and I really date the same guy! I went through the exact same thing. I think we all need to take a step back and reevaluate how much we’re worth and process the pains, the stressors, and everything else we have been through in order to finally feel comfortable in our own skin. Even though things have been tough to learn growing up, it’s better to learn them now before we do eventually find someone worthy of our time in order to have the right relationship with someone else and ourselves as well.

    • Natasha says:

      @Fantasy Girl – Amen sister, it IS empowering! As Nat says, we Fallback Girls used to convince ourselves that the situation is hopeless and we have no options. It’s so refreshing to say, “Not so!”

      @Karina – Love it! We’re both not only gluten free, but assclown free 😉

    • NML says:

      “Well, I dealt with THAT. No need to stress the smaller stuff now! I know I can deal.” I agree Natasha. I feel like a warrior after all of my escapades!

      • Leisha says:

        Nat, You ARE a warrior! BTW I found it amazing viewing the differences between Ms. O and Ms. Lavender…both came for advice and one has grown and the other remains stuck. Your response is part of the reason so many of us love this place and you. You address it as you see it and with full-on honesty…with truth we can deal…it’s deception we must battle.

  3. Izzybell says:

    I find that I’m often afraid of acknowledging that I feel upset about something, addressing the source of stress, setting boundaries, etc. because I’m afraid I’m going to end up alone– and I guess somewhere I’ve figured I’d rather be upset and stressed than alone. I’m beginning to realize that alone can be MUCH better than stressed and upset, especially when I’m taking care of myself whether I’m by myself or not.

    • NML says:

      It’s good that you’re recognising this Izzybell as there’s such a thing as being alone in your relationship. It’s also time to ask yourself what is so bad about your own company, being single, having a life, moving forward with a view to meeting someone who is a better fit for you? Just because you don’t acknowledge something, it doesn’t mean it’s not there, it just means you’re ignoring it to the detriment of yourself.

  4. ms.option says:

    I have been going through this very thing all day today. Two weeks ago mm told me he wanted a divorce and wanted to be with me. Two weeks later nothing has happened and have seen him once in two weeks. Today when he called I was very down and didn’t have much to say. He kept questioning the fact that I wasn’t saying much. Told me he would call back later but didn’t. Then I spend all day kicking myself for not being happy and talking to him. I send him a text and say I’m sorry for being down but that I get down because we rarely see each other,he says he understood and that he gets frustrated too and that he really needed to see me. But did not address the fact that he is the only one that can do something about it. Has made no more mention about getting a divorce.
    Anyway I have been so on edge and panicky because of the phone call and mad at myself because at least he is making the effort to stay in touch every day and calling instead of just texting. So I’ve been going through the” he is so amazing and I’m just insecure ” banter all day.

    • Tanzanite says:

      Brilliant post !

      I feel so much better now I am at the core of my problems,I have always known,but treading water is what I became good at.

      Your post reminds me of a diet quote-” if hunger isn’t the problem,food isn’t the answer.

      I also feel as if I need to write less,is that a sign i’m on the way up ?

    • Fantasy Girl says:


      Please do not beat yourself up. I was in a similar situation. It’s not you. He is setting the relationship entirely on his own terms and this is stressful for you (and me, before I went NC). As someone here posted in response to me, you cannot date a MM. Instead of apologizing to him for feeling NORMAL feelings under the circumstances, you may want to ease up on the situation. It sounds like he has you in deep. You may want to seriously contemplate going NC. It works wonders. All the unrequited or unbalanced love for him I put into myself now and it feels good. Sure, I still miss him from time to time but he hasn’t left his wife yet so it really doesn’t matter. I cannot put up with a man who disappears for two weeks and basically NCs off and on. It’s an energy suck and it is SO much more fulfilling to think about myself and what I want out of this beautiful life than what some shady MM is doing. Also, if he goes through with his divorce, isn’t he going to be an emotional wreck? Shouldn’t you give him time to put his house in order before being with him? Men usually want what they don’t have so even if he leaves her, there is no guarantee he won’t go back.

      I think the distinction between calling and texting applies to the beginning of single/single relationships. When you know you are with a MM, I don’t think it really matters. You basically already know YOU are his booty call. In fact, I find the moment a MM starts talking, all the lies and manipulation start coming out. I’d rather have a booty call text. At least it’s more honest. The MM I dealt with (for a year) preferred the phone over everything else, still treated me like crap and never left his wife (even though he acted like he planned to). Just my experience.

      My honest advice having been through this? Kick him to the curb and find a nice, single man who loves you for you and who isn’t a cheater. You may think your situation is unique (I did) but, sadly, after being on this site for awhile I see it wasn’t. Now, reading your story, I see the same old story again. We need to stop enabling these cheaters. You are worth so much more than what he is giving you. Believe me when I tell you this.

      • NML says:

        Very well said Fantasy Girl. “I think the distinction between calling and texting applies to the beginning of single/single relationships. When you know you are with a MM, I don’t think it really matters.” Word. We must stop talking about and applying expectations of normal relationships to affairs. When someone is on a legal leash and sneaking around, they cannot have a proper relationship with you because they’re *attached*.

    • Fearless says:

      Ms Option,

      what you describe is classic OW ‘stress’ – or classic ‘stressed out’ woman involved with EU man – trying to get him to “see”, to “understand” how all of this is making you feel and do something about it, because after all he is the *only* one who can do something about it? Is he? Here’s the thing – the real nub of your stress – that you don’t seem to have identified yet: he is *not* the only one who can do something about it – you are.

      You want him to fix it for you yet you are not prepared to fix it for yourself. He is giving you exactly what you are telling him you are worth. Why would he pay more when the cheaper rate has already been agreed? You are wanting to up the price tag after the sale!

      Here’s a wee analogy for you that occurs to me cos today I am shopping around on the net for a new mobile phone The best deal on the kind of phone I want has a price tag of £15.99 a month – with enough free talk time and texts etc. there are other better phones out there at double the price – but I can’t afford them and I don’t need them. So it occurs to me that your situation is like me (the MM/EUM) taking the phone company (OW) up on their £15.99 per month phone deal. I (the MM/EUM) take the phone home and then I get O2 (OW) constantly on my phone telling me they want me to pay more for the phone; they whine on about how they’ve provided such a great service and deserve more cash from me for the phone I bought at £15.99 cos they are going to go bust if I don’t give them more money than they originally agreed to. Maybe just to get them off my back I promise that one day I will buy an upgrade but not right now.

      The problem is not that I am refusing to pay more than the agreed price when I bought – the problem is that O2 sold me the phone too cheaply. The problem is theirs – not mine. The problem is yours not his! You’re waiting for a upgrade but the price has already been agreed – you agreed to the deal when you took on the MM and you are still providing the service at the agreed rate while all the time grumbling that you want him to pay more. Why would he? You are the one dishing yourself up on a cheap deal – you are selling yourself too cheaply and that’s not his problem – it’s yours.

      Surviving on crumbs is very stressful and demoralizing. It’s not up to him to turn the crumbs into a loaf – it’s up to you to stop taking crumbs. I know from experience that until you bite that bullet – or suck that up – your problem is not going away.

      • runnergirl says:

        @ Ms. Option, the comments from the others are excellent and I’d like to lend my encouragement and support. As a former OW who used to dine off crumbs and tried to normalize an affair for 2 years, I know what it’s like to try to justify, rationalize, and ultimately deny the real problem: He is married and has a wife and children. That’s a huge, niggling problem that I finally had to break down and address with the wonderful support from so many caring and smart folks who post here. As I discovered, what his wife does or doesn’t do is irrelevant. He’s married to her. Lunch and shopping with you is a crumb. Sorry. I used hiking and bbging as proof he wasn’t using me as a booty call. He was. Natalie’s comment about “damaging yourself in the process” is scary true. I won’t list the things that happened to me while I clung onto the fantasy and dined off hope and crumbs but by the end, I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. What’s happening to you while you are thinking about him? Lots of hugs to you. It sucks, I know.
        @FantasyGirl, congratulations and good for you for going NC, addressing the problem, and kicking the lying cheat to the curb. I’m with you about prefering a straight up booty call than the lies MM’s dish out. You just can’t date a MM! We have options. We don’t have to be anyone’s option.
        @Fearless, you seem to be using the American phrase “just suck it up” nicely! Here’s another one used in baseball when someone screws up “walk it off”. Sometimes you have to suck it up and walk it off. Boy, did I screw up but I’m sucking it up and walking it off. Cheers to you.

      • Complicated says:


        Great comments as always! Today was my Day 4 of NC. This stress you refer to has given me what I would consider heart palpitations. My MM sent me a text tonight (remember I had sent him that goodbye letter last week?). He said he “couldn’t believe I wanted to stop being friends.” That was his response to me pouring out my feelings for him after being together 4 years and me saying I couldn’t do this anymore because it was too painful for me. Again, this was his response I got in return for trying to get him to understand how I’m feeling and how much pain I’m in.
        MM are soooo not worth it and the crumbs aren’t enough to sustain us…nor should they be! I’m telling him I’m worth a whole lot more than that by not responding to him. I figure he’ll run off shortly anyways and stop trying…MM aren’t known for their courage, bravery and trying to make things right with the OW anyways. Now, I just have to suck it up myself and stay on NC.

      • Sushi says:

        Reading your comments on the OW and stress situation….so similar to dealing with an alcoholic. You are the other woman to his addiction.

      • NML says:

        Brilliant Fearless, brilliant. I want to clap you on the back!

    • ixnay says:

      hey, ms. option,

      What you describe is so familiar to me. You’re “not allowed” to express your real feelings or just be in the mood-state you (totally understandably) are in because that could “ruin everything.” You need to consistently be the more understanding, more vivacious, more sexy, more commitment-worthy prize. When the real you breaks through, you panic that that is what will make him take the offer of commitment off the table. So you ameliorate, make nice, beat yourself up for having been real. [This pattern doesn’t need a MM; just any commitment-phobe guy playing keep-away.]

      I’ve been thinking recently about how damaging this is. What happens is that the interactions are all about him, his needs, his doubts, his ambivalence. Even if that’s not the *content* of the interaction, it’s the subtext. So in a weird way, there is no you in the relationship. You’re entirely subsumed in the service of reflecting back to him the rosiest outcome, his best self, your empathy about his dilemma. You both are having a relationship with him. There is no room for you, not really. Not because he’s married, it’s not about the amount of *time* you have together. It’s about the core, the center of your relating being so off-balance and skewed that you as a separate person with your own needs and moods, are obliterated. Without any malicious intent on your part you become manipulative, because you are asked to be both an enticing fantasy and a compassionate sounding board, and you’re focused on your success on those terms (measured by whether he seems to be coming closer or drawing back).

      The stress on you is intolerable, because you are cooperating in a self-obliteration, and demanding that you be a good sport about it at the same time.

      The other people who’ve responded to your posts are spot-on. You may not be ready to take action that could mean you “lose him” (lose the crumbs and the promises). But maybe you could really sit with the truth that this is not working for you. It feels bad, it’s not what you want, it’s unsustainable, it’s intolerable.

      • yoghurt says:

        “What happens is that the interactions are all about him, his needs, his doubts, his ambivalence. Even if that’s not the *content* of the interaction, it’s the subtext. So in a weird way, there is no you in the relationship. You’re entirely subsumed in the service of reflecting back to him the rosiest outcome, his best self, your empathy about his dilemma. You both are having a relationship with him. There is no room for you, not really. ”

        This is so wise and so true.

        And the scary thing is that it doesn’t change, not even – and I speak from experience – if you’re six and a half months pregnant, in the middle of moving house, you’ve crocked your knee and it’s 3:30am. It’s always going to be about how he feels because, ultimately, he holds the balance of power.

        • ixnay says:

          That’s terrible that you went through that, yoghurt. And it’s a good reality check for those of us (ahem) who think that the moving-in together and making a baby also mean true adult partnership, even with someone who can’t tolerate a partner’s separate needs in less-high-stakes situations. (You don’t want to go out tonight and I do?! Maybe you’re not the woman for me!)

      • jennynic says:


        “The stress on you is intolerable, because you are cooperating in a self-obliteration, and demanding that you be a good sport about it at the same time.”

        So true. This is such a confusing dynamic, but you hit the nail on the head concerning relationships involving a fall back girl or EUM/MM.

        Your gut gnaws at you to start protecting yourself but you bury it and instead contort even more to fit the dysfunction, while you lose a little more of yourself everyday. One day you don’t remember who you are anymore. It’s a slippery slope and once you start sliding, you build speed on the way down. Most of us have had to slide down to rock bottom before the real situation becomes clear to us, but by then we are so shaken and completely off balance. The climb up is hard but has been the most profound learning experience for me. Now, listening to the gut gnawing is key for me, no matter how much someone protests. Listen to yourself first, act on what is real and see how solid the ground beneath you becomes. We are the captains of our own ships, don’t let others steer you into the rocks.

      • Izzybell says:


        Brilliant and eloquent description of one of the worst (and all too familiar) feelings on earth. Thanks for this – as cringe-inducing as it is to read this it’s also freeing to see this dynamic, and it’s collateral damage, for exactly what it is.

        • runnergirl says:

          Sorry to butt in on your response to Ms. O. It’s such a brilliant comment. Decribes me perfectly. Thank you for the reminder and the memory of the cringe moment in the parking lot when the exMM wanted to know if I was “in”. “It’s a slippery slope and once you start sliding, you build speed on the way down.” Totally spot on and it was a long way to the bottom. Your comment, reminded me of my trigger: I can handle this. I’ll see your bet and raise it (childhood survival issues). The minute I hear that old tape, I know I’m not addressing some niggling doubt, not listening to myself, and I am headed down the slippery slope. “The stress on you is intolerable, because you are cooperating in a self-obliteration, and demanding that you be a good sport about it at the same time.” That one sentence describes how I survived childhood in a nutshell and how I’ve played out my adult relationships personally and professionally.
          Thank you for sharing your insights. I love how Natalie’s remarkable and amazing insights tap into our remarkable and amazing insights. Natalie, you are amazing. Ms. O, I hope you can hear this.

      • Fantasy Girl says:

        Everything ixnay said! Wow. You hit the nail on the head, girlfriend.

      • Fearless says:


        what a great comment! So spot on and expressed/explained/described so well. Thanks for that. Hope you keep posting!

      • Mango says:

        Really great post, ixnay. Thank you. I’m a head bobbin’, cringing, wincing fool over here. And that’s a good thing.

        My experience has not been with a MM, yet as fallback gal to a true blue, card carrying EUM, I also resonated with the soul-crushing, stress inducing, can’t eat enough ice cream to block out the pain feelings of self-obliteration, and walking on eggshells to please him and try to make things work. Such a humiliating and devaluing experience.

        I think perhaps instead of contorting myself enough to join Cirque de Soleil, and losing myself enough that a search party would be needed, I am going to lose myself in mySELF!

        Hell YES I am! (hahaha…props to Natasha for the earworm!)

        Thank you, Natalie, for another thought provoking, eye opening post.

      • SM says:

        “The stress on you is intolerable, because you are cooperating in a self-obliteration, and demanding that you be a good sport about it at the same time.”

        Ixnay I think this sums up everything. Even if the person we’re involved with is not married just emotionally unavailable, it is all about them and you better be happy with it.

      • dancingqueen says:

        Awesome comments: “You need to consistently be the more understanding, more vivacious, more sexy, more commitment-worthy prize. When the real you breaks through, you panic that that is what will make him take the offer of commitment off the table. So you ameliorate, make nice, beat yourself up for having been real. [This pattern doesn’t need a MM; just any commitment-phobe guy playing keep-away.]”
        and “Its all about him”; both so true! You hit the nail on the head Ixnay; it is all about them for these types of guys whither EUM’s or I assume MM’s: when you date a narcissist Ms. Option, you will always be an option and furthermore, you will always have to be inauthentic; these types of guys can do the initial big romance but when the settling-in part comes they don’t want that; they need to create emotional havoc to manage you down to get you back to that “charming, carefree” mirror that reflected back to them the most gallant parts of themselves….it is a no win. Dump him and leave. I can tell you, promise you, that no man, much less a MM or EUM, is worth doubting yourself, losing your own self-awareness and self-esteem. It is just not worth losing yourself for the “prize” of their “love” lol.
        With that said, going back to the original post, I had a kind of uncomfortable moment last night; I saw my epiphany relationship, who I have not seen not spoken with since he broke up with me in a highly dramatic and hurtful, blaming manner after flying me to meet his family a year and a half ago. He was walking past a window in a bar that I was sitting in with a freind. He did not see me. I saw him and he was holding hands with a woman. It was so weird; I had all these mixed feelings that I think, had I not read this website so much, I would not have understood. I felt 1) glad he was gone. He had a really negative frown on his face that reminded me of how not -fun he could be when he felt like being negative. 2) Petty: she was not that pretty or should I say prettier than me ( I know, petty on my part to say that but we all think that comparison thing)and she was my age; he had given me the impression that he would end up with some 25 year old from the way he always micro-managed my appearance and weight ( always trying to put me in clothes that he had bought me and btw, I am 108…really disturbing. He told me that I was getting too heavy for a two-piece at 111 “as a joke”) 3) A bit sad that I have not met anyone in so long that I want to hold hands with. 4) Happy that I did not feel hurt seeing him, I just felt kind of sick, like seeing some man who had attacked me in the street or something…Mostly I guess because I associate him with the abusive side that came out still; that was the last impression I had of him, his Mr Hyde switch, and so I will always remember that. But my point in this long post is….It is so important to process emotions and sometimes I think what is hardest is giving yourself permission to feel all the feelings you have and not try to lump them in one emotion: ie Happy, Angry, Sad. You can sometimes have lots of different feelings and not need to hide from them, not act on them, just let them surface, journal, process, mourn, celebrate and then keep MOVING ON!:)

      • Namaste says:

        “So in a weird way, there is no you in the relationship…You both are having a relationship with him. There is no room for you, not really.”
        This does feel weird and it is so true. Nicely put ixnay.
        “The stress on you is intolerable, because you are cooperating in a self-obliteration, and demanding that you be a good sport about it at the same time.”
        Staying in this kind of dysfunctional dynamic is so depleting and self defeating. It wore me out and I hit the wall hard before I was able to slowly come out of denial. I thought the stress I was taking on was a normal part of life. It had become normal for me in the context of that relationship. Thank-you ixnay for your astute observation and Thank-you Natalie for one more wisely compassionate post.
        Reading BR has been a life saver for me. I love it and all the courageous women who comment here.

      • Spinster says:

        Pardon me for being late.

        ixnay: EXCELLENT comment. Never thought of it that way but it’s so true. That is a LOT of work to put into a dicksplash [(c) Natalie Lue]. It’s like having multiple personality disorder (a.k.a. dissociative identity disorder) – do you REALLY wanna go through all of that for a man (or woman)?. It shouldn’t be that much work with anyone, in my opinion.

      • EllyB says:

        @ixnay: Brilliant! Why, oh why did we put up with this?

        I guess most of us learned it as children. Last night, I had a nightmare about my narcissistic mother (whom, in reality, I haven’t spoken with for years – LUCKILY!). During that dream, however, I was thinking: Well, this is going pretty well. I seem to anticipate fairly well what she wants, I don’t seem to make many “mistakes”, I somehow “manage” to not make her angry today. As a consequence, she doesn’t abuse me today, even if that’s what she usually does. Could I maybe get along with her after all?

        NOPE. What kind of mother is that who expects her daughter not to be a person on her own, but only an extension of herself? Of course, that’s an endless source of stress. I’ve been treading water not only throughout my childhood, but during adulthood as well, because I fully “internalized” my abusive momster (even during the first years of NC!).

        Btw, that dream had other (seemingly unrelated) parts. During those parts I was lost in a forest, running for my life, meeting scary people, being deeply troubled and in severe stress. I’m not a psychoanalyst, but to me it’s pretty obvious that these parts represented my real feelings about my mother.

      • JadeSesame says:


        Wonderful, wise words. It’s true, every word you’ve described (lived through it, been there, felt overwhelmingly stressed out) and this erasure of our personalities create a very dangerous situation, unsustainable in the long run. Impossible! One isn’t even recognized, honoured, loved, respected, acknowledged, one only becomes a shadow or shell of her former self, a hybrid of trophy wife/girlfriend/doormat and emotional/sexual servant.

        Every time I have a “down” moment, I will reflect upon these words and ask myself if this is who I want to be:

        “You’re entirely subsumed in the service of reflecting back to him the rosiest outcome, his best self, your empathy about his dilemma”.

      • NML says:

        Brilliant Ixnay, brilliant and certainly up there as one of my favourite comments of all time. I actually felt like you described me when I was the attached guy which only goes to show when you include all of the responses, how so *not* unique these situations. You’ve lived my experience, and I’ve lived yours as have many others.Thank you.

        • ixnay says:

          Thank *you*, Natalie. I thought I was alone in this and everything was so exquisitely baroque and complicated and I was going to get to the bottom of things and prevail. Turns out it’s not unique. One of my best friends called it, in probably 2000 (!): “This guy has so many ways of being unavailable to you it’s not even funny.”

          It’s been really strange spending time on BR and hearing my situation and feelings echo from so many women. Sometimes I feel denial: I don’t want to let go because of the dizzying void.

          It’s much much easier to see and write about how other women could be powerful and free. But of course I am them; I am trying to break through to myself. Thanks for providing a safe space.

    • Australia says:


      “Then I spend all day kicking myself for not being happy and talking to him. I send him a text and say I’m sorry for being down…”

      I’ve been browsing the net a lot these days and I came across a quote that said “most of it doesn’t matter” meaning so much of what we waste our time, energy and thoughts on, turns out not to matter.

      What you said about spending all day kicking yourself for not being happy when you talked to him on the phone, is one of those things that turns out not to matter. Think about all that energy you spent on beating yourself up that could’ve been spent on anything else – exercise, work, building your self-esteem, hanging out with friends.
      You are giving this guy way too much power because you are focusing all your thoughts on him, when really you don’t know what he’s thinking. He probably gave it two seconds of thought and then stopped thinking about it.

      Like ixnay mentioned, you are trying to be the vivacious/carefree/easy-going/happy-go-lucky type because you want him to be drawn to that. But how the heck in this situation, when you are dealing with someone who is married, can you possibly be carefree and easy-going?
      If you want to be that vivacious/carefree type then you have to opt out and leave him. You won’t be stress free until you do.
      And like Fantasy Girl said, you are in deep. If one conversation has you kicking yourself all day long, you are in deep.

      I hope I am not sounding to harsh. I can actually relate to what you said because I have been there. But no matter how hard you try to be understanding and easy-going and use that to try and convince him that you are the perfect women, it won’t work. Why? Because like NML has said, you aren’t being authentic if you are trying to be or feel something you don’t. If you are being authentic you can freely admit yourself that you do want a full, committed relationship with him. Because he is not giving you that at this present moment (and it doesn’t matter if he has said he wants a divorce and wants you – what matters is he hasn’t gotten a divorce yet and who knows if he will – what matters is RIGHT NOW), so you only have one option. And that is to leave. Well the other option is to stay in it like you are and how does that make you feel?

      Just try it. Leave and go live your life – go discover the beauty around you. You will find yourself less stressed and anxious out of this relationship and be more in control of your life and your happiness.

    • Outergirl says:

      I understand what you are going through, but if I may be so bold, you have been coming to this site for some time now and are still not doing NC. I worry that you are still looking for some way to ‘fix’ the situation w/MM that does not involve walking away with dignity & self respect. It WILL hurt some to do that, but it will be for the greater good. You are hurting now and he has all the power. (Hugs)

    • NML says:

      Ms Option, I’ve thought of your comment and the onslaught of replies ever since you posted and then Outergirl pipped me by telling you some of what it is that ‘perplexes’ me about your comments and situation. I think she’s 100% correct that you seem to be looking for solutions to fix a married man situation, which if I’m being honest, if you’re vocation in life is to ‘win’ a married man, this is the wrong place for you. But what perplexes me more is that you are Reset Button presser, big time. I don’t just mean in your affair where you seem to have a bad case of Relationship Amnesia – there is absolutely no connection between what you have commented about previously so you like to breeze in like it’s a new situation and then welcome the attention that comes from it. Of course any reader unfamiliar with your Dynasty level drama will fuss and flurry around you because they don’t know how many times you’ve already taken us on this trip. But I *do* remember so it would serve you better to stop spinning the same tale and clarifications and be a person of action. This is also not the first time that you’ve come back to clarify your position by dropping in something about the wife that you think legitimises what you’re doing. You’ve accused her of being a thief, of showing him up all over town, a neglectful mother, addiction to painkillers etc etc.

      It is not for you to judge his wife. I’m not saying that she is or isn’t any of the things that you’ve said, but trust me when I say that there’s no ‘judge’ that would say ‘You are a thief, an embarrassment, a neglectful mother, and addicted to painkillers. I order you to be turfed out and custody of your husband should be appointed to Ms.Option because she knows how to treat him right’.

      It’s not that it’s unnatural to feel anxious about this man but being anxious about the fact that a married man who has told you he would leave and be with you on a number of occasions hasn’t, is a bit like stripping off, cutting yourself, getting in a pool of sharks and then saying ‘I’m anxious about whether the sharks will attack me’. Are you? Really? No. When you’re ready to be honest with yourself Ms.Option, you’ll realise that you actually like the drama and it feels more comfortable for you to be hemorrhaging thoughts about what he will or won’t do (all the while knowing he won’t), than it does to have *no* drama and be responsible for your own life. Stop pressing the Reset Button.

  5. JadeSesame says:

    This is a really nuanced post, NML, thank you for sharing your personal insights and journey. You write about how important it is to be available, honest and present with ourselves. We can’t truly be with another, if we can’t with ourselves. It’s great how you identify thought patterns and behavioral tendencies as manifestations of an emotionally dysfunctional/imbalanced state. It’s so crucial to recognize and acknowledge stress and to even allow ourselves to experience it in its entirety, before we can even begin to resolve it. Internalizing stress and negativity to the extent that it becomes a normal and part of us, is dangerous and certainly, physical ailments/symptoms symbolize a kind of eruption, outbreak or the failure of our emotional selves to contain it all, to carry on waltzing through life.

    “If you’re feeling ‘stress’ or doubts, anxiety, or whatever you want to call it, and you can’t nail the source of it and basically keep going round and round in circles, you know that you’re too acclimatised to not listening to yourself.”

    Never really considered it from this perspective, but it’s food for thought! As a child and within the context of my upbringing, the notion of self-will and “listening to yourself” was deemed as selfish, bratty, egoistic, undesirable and so I believe on hindsight that I must have responded by negating, distrusting and doubting my emotions. My first significant romantic (highly stressful and volatile) relationship at 20 was all about “threading water in stress”, I was told I was needy, insecure, needy, immature (my partner then was a much older EUW who gave me sufficient warnings but I didn’t know it, or was at least undeterred by it) etc.. I didn’t even know it was dysfunctional and unhealthy. Over time, I did start to negate my own feelings and internalize these criticisms, self-reproaching that it was my fault most of the time. I never believed that I adequately confronted what it represented, no wonder that all this negativity snowballed, a precursor to the episode with another EU person.

    Am learning to listen/honour myself now, this blog has helped me come a long way.

    • NML says:

      Great comment JadeSesame. “As a child and within the context of my upbringing, the notion of self-will and “listening to yourself” was deemed as selfish, bratty, egoistic, undesirable and so I believe on hindsight that I must have responded by negating, distrusting and doubting my emotions.” This is very true. If you get used to being told that what you feel is incorrect or doesn’t exist, you become used to shutting down the feeling it or rationalising it as something else before it really has a chance to blossom. Self-reproachment is one of the worst things that we can do to ourselves. It’s not that we shouldn’t sometimes give ourselves a boot up the bum, but telling ourselves that we’re wrong, a failure, not good enough and responsible for Other People’s Bullshit Behaviour will drain us of everything.

  6. Mika says:

    Stress is inevitable. If we react to stress in a negative way, our worlds are turned upside down. The best way to deal with stress is actually by not resisting it. Embrace the reality of your stress. By resisting what’s actually happening, overcoming adversity will be a long and drawn out process because you’re basically adding more pain to your situation. Stress is a silent relationship killer. If we don’t find a good way to cope with stress, that’s when things get ugly.
    Good points, Nat.

  7. Hayley Rose says:

    NM- first I want to say I love your blog. I happened upon your page tonight because of some issues I’m having. Coincidentally I wrote a very similar blog tonight- in fact it touches on how we seem to internalize everything and blame ourselves for this stress that is often caused by dating ass clowns and certainly not coming from within our selves. Below I’ve post the link xox

    • Tanzanite says:

      Hi Hayley

      I have read your post and I agree that we internalize too much.

      You have had hard time, and good for you for knowing what you want and need.

      • Hayley Rose says:

        Thank-you Tanzanite! I think when we have been abused we lose site of our own voice and take the opinions of others too literally. Glad you liked my post :)

    • NML says:

      Hi Hayley. Thanks for sharing. I read your post at the weekend – you have done a lot of work to rebuild your self-esteem out of very painful circumstances (kudos) and keep taking the classes!

      • Hayley Rose says:

        Thanks Natalie! You as well. It is rewarding to help women find their strength and voice through sharing painful and even humiliating experiences… It is truly making lemons into lemonade

  8. colororange says:

    There’s a lot I want to say but I’ll narrow it down to one thing: I feel very stuck in my life right now. I have had this disease for over two decades that I have traveled quite a bit (even recently) to find a cause for it, and no one knows what is causing it. My body works against itself for some reason and I guess I’ll go to the ends of the world to find out why. I am persistent in that way. This keeps me on a leash financially. I absolutely must have insurance since the surgeries/procedures I need are expensive.

    So, I’m like what’s the point of all this? I mean, really?? It’s like I was put on this earth to friggin suffer. I’ve been hit from all sides with BS and I’m left with having to find a way through it with a moment here and there when I feel good. Most people say “well, you need to be grateful for what you have.” I’m like “seriously??? Do you even know what I’ve been dealing with with this illness????” The rest of the time I feel bad. I’m used to feeling bad and used to feeling like it isn’t ok if I feel good especially if another person is displeased with something I’m doing. Quality of life? Ha. I live for the moments when I can do what makes me feel good. I really keep searching and finding an action to even take to get me to a better place. To get me to a place where I’m not so miserable all the time. I had a few fleeting moments where I wanted to cave and contact MM but I know the image I have in my head of him is simply not him. He is not going to be supportive, he is not going to be a soft billowy place for me to collapse into and he’s not going to get it. He’s so far detached from emotion for his own reasons and me going there would be like trying to milk a bull. Oh yeah and he’s got this wife. But I have not caved, so no worries there. I’m just having a poopy time right now desperately wanting answers and finding there really aren’t any. It’s just me and the support I have from my effed up family. I’m angry that I have this disability. I did not ask for it and I’m wondering what I did to cause it, if anything at all. I know I am feeling sorry for myself but damn it, how much more can a person flippin’ take? Is this a joke? I mean, can someone come out of the bushes and yell “You’ve been Punkd!!” And we can all laugh, I’ll be mad briefly and go on and be happy. I mean shit,…

    • grace says:

      I think you sound pretty good in this comment! Angry but at least not confused. it can be freeing to get mad. Sometimes you just have to see the crap for what it is, rather than trying to minimise it, analyse it, see the bright side, or normalise it.
      Hope tomorrow is a happier day.
      And well done for not contacting the MM.

    • NML says:

      Hi Colororange, go and see a kinesiologist. My disease sarcoidosis attacked healthy organs in my body including my eyes, spleen, lungs etc and they couldn’t give me a reason. Sometimes they can’t narrow it down to one thing so maybe consider treating the body and yourself holistically as a whole instead of focusing on the illness. I also did 5 Elements acupuncture. Leave the married guy alone. Seriously. He’s married. It’s at this moment that the trapdoor should open and he should get dunked in a load of slime. He’s married. There is nothing further to debate it. Dunk.

  9. AngelFace says:

    My stress is lessening at 4 weeks of No Contact. I am actually surprised at actually how good I feel lately with more and longer hours of peace – no thoughts of him, the abuse that I acclamated to, etc…

    I’ve been eating good food…had some amazing piroshkys last weekend from Pike Place Market in Seattle… I exercise in the mornings… and I love going to sleep early in my quiet and dark bedroom…. I make it a point to schedule fun things to do…. I’ve made a couple new acquaintances. I sing a little, pray a little, and sometimes shout a little. I don’t over-use alcohol. Never use drugs. Don’t smoke. And importantly, I did go through all the stages of grief. I’m listing these things because I think I must address stress in a variety of positive methods, and staying in No Contact with someone I really wanted – who was totally wrong for me, takes a lot of effort to really break-up and heal.

    I don’t even mention all this lately, to my closest friends whom have been supporting me through this. I really am living my life without him, and I am OK. Thank you Natalie, because YOU have given me truthful tools to work with!!

    • Fantasy Girl says:

      “Thank you Natalie, because YOU have given me truthful tools to work with!!”

      Yes, thank you NML. I do not know what I would have done without you. I never had a MM experience before and it was intense. I may have actually slept with him and continued to take is abusive, shady behavior thinking it was “love.” With this site, I was able to avoid a pretty crafty trap and save myself. And it goes beyond this silly MM into all areas of my life. You are a gift to us all. Thank you!

    • NML says:

      Thanks for sharing AngelFace – this made me smile because even though you’ve hurt, you are recognising the very positive benefits and differences to your life, now that you’ve shed the weight of a human. Well done – I’m so pleased for you! Keep moving forwards!

  10. Michelle says:

    I think living an inauthentic life to some degree causes me to feel a constant sense of stress and unhappiness. I focus on the negatives too much. Opportunities I’ve missed, failed relationships, failed friendships, whether I’m on the right career path, and so on… I feel stuck. I do have physical symptoms after so many years of internalizing but being unable to find solutions that work for me.

    Now that I’ve realized a bad relationship only makes things worse, I’m left to focus on myself and really look at myself, only to feel more confused and lonely than ever. I know what I *don’t* want, yet am still trying to figure out what I *do* want.

    • Janie says:

      I feel exactly the same way right now…

      • RadioGirl says:

        Michelle and Janie

        “Now that I’ve realized a bad relationship only makes things worse, I’m left to focus on myself and really look at myself, only to feel more confused and lonely than ever. I know what I *don’t* want, yet am still trying to figure out what I *do* want”.

        Every single one of us on here has surely felt like this – I still do, to some extent, as I strive to move forward from the last “epiphany” relationship and learn from it. It certainly does truly suck to be at this point. But it’s a place to start. Take baby steps to explore what you want your life to be, and be patient and gentle with yourself at all times.

    • NML says:

      Hi Michelle, this is a painful situation to be in and one of the first steps to reducing the pain is to stop living in the past. We’ve *all* missed opportunities, we’ve all had failed relationships, we’ve all had failed friendships. This is life. Sometimes we’ve missed opportunities we didn’t even know were there. You’re not going to fix a present situation by living in the past. Let it go. Of course you’re stuck – in the halfway hell between past and present. You can’t find solutions looking at everything from a failure perspective. If you’re not on the right career path, speak to a careers advisor or even go on line and take some aptitude tests, buy a motivation or careers book. Write down your short, medium, and long-term goals so you can get your head straight about where you’re going and get focused. I know people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and even 60s who have changed careers – the only thing stopping you is you, which means that you have the power to make change. Take the list of what you don’t want and work it up into a list of what you *do* want. Make a list of positives about your life and keep adding to it. Keep a gratitude journal and find something to be grateful about every single solid day until you learn to value your life and the opportunities that present themselves no matter how small every day. Because that is the irony – living in the past lamenting opportunities you missed, causes you to miss out on further opportunities as life passes you by.

  11. Magnolia says:

    Natalie, you are amazing me with the pace of articles these days. Was it like this before and slowed over the summer? Or are you just tearing it up? And the tone is somehow … deeper lately. Hard to describe. Anyway, feels from the reading end like you’re in a hot streak.

    This post reminds me of the slowly boiling frog story. You know the one: if the water’s already boiling, a frog who falls in might go eek! and jump right out, where as if you put a frog in a warm bath and keep turning up the temp he might be boiled before he knows it.

    I think stress can be like that. We start out as fresh little babes and depending on what happens, you might learn by the time you’re six, or sixteen, that high drama, high stress, high uncertainty, etc. is normal. Or, as NML has pointed out, you can be fine, get into a dodgy relationship, and slowly you normalize him commenting on your hair, then it seems not so big if he makes you change your dress, then it’s alright if he wants to dictate who you see, etc. Next thing you know you’re with someone who bruises your arm when he takes you by the hand and it’s all just normal, right?

    • Jasmine says:

      I have often used the slowly boiling frog effect to describe what it was like being in my last relationship. I would feel a pang of stress over something my ex would say or do, then ” forget” about it a few mi urea later. After a few months I developed heart palpitations, and my puzzled doctor asked if I was expiencing any stress (I was only 34 at the time and physically active). I said no, but the palpitations stopped the day we broke up. I just didn’t understand what was happening because I’d grown up in a physically and verbally abusive home. He didn’t hit or yell, so I tolerated all sorts of things that were taking a toll on me. I have actually spent the last two years cutting myself off of adrenaline/anxiety roller coaster. No dating, moving away from friends that were not healthy and making new ones, enforcing boundaries and feeling safe because I trust myself. It’s awesome.

    • NML says:

      Thanks Mags. I did less posts over the summer so I could chill but I do feel like I’ve gone into another gear – long may it last! I loved the slowly boiling frog story – you do make me smile as you always manage to add further depth to the subject with your comments. “you can be fine, get into a dodgy relationship, and slowly you normalize him commenting on your hair, then it seems not so big if he makes you change your dress, then it’s alright if he wants to dictate who you see, etc. Next thing you know you’re with someone who bruises your arm when he takes you by the hand and it’s all just normal, right?” This was so spot on and describes exactly how many people find themselves in abusive relationships that seem to just creep up on them.

  12. Magnolia says:

    For me, a lack of trust in people (esp. men) has been so normalized, it has taken BR for me to realize that I seek the peace that comes from having people in my life that I trust. I got into bad relationships because I didn’t know the mistrust I felt, and had always felt, could actually not be there.

    Also, I have normalized being angry at life/people/’the world.’ I must be in a good place because for some reason, this week, this resource really spoke to me. The stress of always being unhappy, disappointed, etc has been getting to me. I felt super negative all the time, but I don’t think I knew what was really bothering me.

    The article made me think about whether or not I really want to control people as much as it suggested. Probably. I didn’t ever think of it that way. But I always wanted to control my father’s way of being, change his mind, get out from under his stupid pronouncements. Combined with a family attitude of helplessness before uncontrollable forces (bankruptcy, racism, bullying, sexism), it became my defiance, and my habit, to see the world as “shit that I goddamn well should be able to control”: ie. money, people being assholes.

    I guess I was defining personal success as a life where those forces didn’t touch me. And then I would feel furious, or helpless, or a victim of race and gender, when I was “too weak” to control others’ behaviour.

    I’ve had a much less stressful week this week. A few times I’ve noticed myself getting irritated, and I just stopped and said: “Wow. Is that person ever behaving differently to what I wish the world would be. Too bad I don’t control the world.” That has been quite freeing.

    • Artemisia says:


      One of my friend is a terribly selfish and money crazy person, despite the fact that she could give me the shirt of her back. She is unhappy and does not know why, and more to the point, does not want to know why. She is depressed, insecure , with ailments , does not care of herself and her behaviour screams : help me, I am an helpless woman of 55 who needs to be rescued. She is controlling and has not one self-awareness or introspection gene in her body. It’s me, me me all the way. There is a brilliant chapter on Jordan ( a post-feminist fame-whore as such because becoming your own pimp is seen as empowerment these days ) in Caitlin Moran’s book on “ How to be a woman”, where she explain Jordan is not interested in anything unless she is at the center of the action.

      My friend is a like that, I refuse to play in her games and leave her alone in her crap. I will not be a co-dependent. She buys stuff to make her herself better. She has a son who is a gormless mummy-boy that borrows her car, gets parking tickets that she has to pay. But he is her baby, at 37, pity the woman he is dating, I do. She used to make me angry but not anymore, I can’t change her, she has no interest in changing because she is doing well, manipulating people and getting what she wants. Her behaviour does not make me angry, it used to. I have a short fuse and I can be quite fiery, when I sorted out my EU fixation, some of my anger sort of vanished, ( not in rush hour when people can run into you and excuse it on the fact that you are in their way or when women are treated like crap). I wanted things from people who could not give it to me, ( a behavior learned from childhood) I could not own up or face that reality because of my fears and I used to be so angry. My last EU did not want to be what I wanted him to be – less of EU and I could not change that.

      Now that I no longer see stuff from the wrong providers, I am less disappointed and frustrated, not so ruled by my fears and less prone to losing it.

      • NML says:

        “Now that I no longer see stuff from the wrong providers, I am less disappointed and frustrated, not so ruled by my fears and less prone to losing it.” Yep Artemisia – you’ve stopped trying to control the uncontrollable.

    • NML says:

      Ah, so you’re finally breaking through the anger Mags! It is indeed very freeing! Trying to change others or even the world as a way to feel less angry was always going to be a monumental, impossible task. Changing how you feel about controlling what makes you angry is very much under your control. That anger link is a very good read. I do actually agree that anger has a lot to do with controlling the uncontrollable – I think the more rigid an idea of how you think things ‘should’ be and what people ‘should’ do, is the more likely you are to be pissed off. Anger however does have its place and is a very healthy emotion in the appropriate context. Rage isn’t nor is continuous simmering anger. I think when there are previous experiences of feeling powerless, helpless, taken advantage of, abused etc, the rightful anger you didn’t necessarily get to express then may snake its way through new experiences so you may find yourself responding disproportionately. Equally I also find that if you’re used to being shot down by family or are used to going toe to toe with a family member but feeling unheard, that it can make for a you that will let rip on people like your colleagues or strangers on the train – you’ll be ‘fight ready’.

  13. Mish says:

    I don’t see how anyone in your situation could possibly feel happy and secure. It’s no surprise you feel awful. You’re getting a few crumbs, don’t beat yourself up for feeling like you’re emotionally starved. Respect what your feelings are telling you, and look after you. Love yourself, nurture yourself, stop waiting for it to come from someone who clearly is not able to focus on what another person needs to feel safe. Can you imagine how insecure his wife feels as well. He is probably also “reassuring” her. Trust your feelings, and don’t try to force yourself to buy an illusion, it’s very stressful. Stop waiting for him, you can be kind and loving to you today.

    • NML says:

      “You’re getting a few crumbs, don’t beat yourself up for feeling like you’re emotionally starved. Respect what your feelings are telling you, and look after you.” Great comment Mish!

  14. brenda says:

    Nat,I have been really struggling with my feelings about the Ex!Not so much because Its over,but the way in which he dissapeared.I guess it has really affected my self esteem and worthiness of myself.I feel like he is off living his life and I am here,feeling sad!I guess I just need to be reminded again I am better off!

    • Alice says:

      ? could have written that post, brenda…
      I feel exactly the same. He disappeared and I’m in NC for the third time and I hope, the last! This time I’m determined to dissappear myself as well. For good. He may never come back but right now, I’m not sure I really want to hear from him. Not really. Not the way he is. And If I do hear from him, I won’t respond. He won’t have anything new to tell me or to offer me. The relationship we had was not healthy and I was not not myself in it. I was someone else. I don’t even recognise the woman I see in the mirror, sometimes. I used to be confident, pleasant, happy, full of dreams and full of love inside and now all I do is looking at my cell phone from time to time in case he texts or calls me!! I can’t do this any more. I have enough stress in my life already, at work, etc. There are times I can’t even concetrate on my work or can’t sleep well. These all have to stop. Be my old self again.
      Finding this site, made me think differently, woke me up. It can’t stop my pain but at least it can make me believe in myself. And LIVE again…
      Read as many post as you can in Natalie’s blog and you will feel better. I promise you.

      • brenda says:

        Thank you so much for Alice,It means the world to me when I hear feed back!
        A Male freind of mine called me today,He is a great person,Oddly enough he is British,I live in Canada!Anyway,he now lives here and we have become good freinds.So he called me today telling me that he was reading up on diff types of poeple,He told me that whilst he was doing this,he shared that the type of person I am is “anxiety”,the other person is “avoidance”,So ina round about way,I am always feeling inadequate,stressed out,trying to have the “talk”and it probably stems from my childhood having 2 parents who I know loved me,but it was ine day your good Brenda,the next your Bad!It really got me to thinking,yup thats true!The “avoidance” person is the one I atrracted to,the one who cant deal with emotion,shuts down,walks away,and carries on,Perhaps this stems from Parents who just did not care…Anyway,It is my situation in a nut shell…

        I cant tell you how many times I felt anxiety or stress,I always always scared to say anything for fear of him leaving me,I was not myself ever,the smile I put on my face was a mask to hide the pain and insecurity I felt around this Man.I have dated many in my life,but none even come close to being as diabolical as this one!
        Somedays the only thing that keeps me somewhat sane s comeing here,and reading and posting..
        The bottom line for me is that I HAVE to start to “GET IT”,See it for exactly what it was,quit stressing about what he is doing or thinking,where he is,who hes with,etc…For as long as I continue to do that,I will NEVER BE FREE!!!..
        I love it here,it is unconditional love for me…….

        • Artemisia says:


          and anyone else,

          Take the test:

          I was in love with a saboteur – passive aggressive – emotional avoidant = the type that resent demands and suggestions, is better at sulking than a 2 year old child ( years of practice), use silence as a weapon, is a master procrastinator ( for stuff you ask of him ), conveniently forgets stuff and is a master at sabotage ( his own life, his and your happiness) .

          The truth is that he feels he is of little worth, lives in terror that you are going to find out that he is as bad as he thinks he is if you get to close, makes you feel like crap, inviting rejection. Nothing is as stressful as being in love with an emotional avoidant ( they get close real fast and pull away when things get real – when secure people welcome that phase). All this for them is unconscious. You are the nuts, not them. I nearly lost my head, my sanity, I was admitted to hospital for a panic attack, the stress was unbelievable.

          This type of emotinal attachement can apply to men and women, men are more prone to being that style, while women are more prone to be the anxious headless chicken running after them screaming ” why don’t you love me like I love you”.

          • brenda says:

            You have just took the words right out of my mouth!
            Wow,I took the test,altho I already knew what the outcome would be!This Man I was with,was the worst of the worst!
            One day he would care about me,the next he was an angry asshole slamming doors in my face,driving insanely,telling me he cant do this relationship thing,he even told me on numerous occasions how bad he is in relationships…But did I take heed NOOOOO……I put the blame on me for being to needy,to this to that!!!
            I look back now,and thru out the whole crappy thing,I lost Brenda,I would cry everyday,came to work stressed out and disheveled,lost interest in just about everything,unless it revolved around him,and Yup I was the crazy Phycho,with all the ISSUES!!!That makes me so f”in angry,I have not heard from him in 2 months,and I have been in NC for about a month,Somedays are good but others are terrible,I come here read posts all day,and I feel better…and thanks to Women as yourself,I now I am never alone…

    • NML says:

      Hi Brenda, I think this is a natural part of grieving. You have up and down days. You’ll take two steps forward, one, two, and even three steps back and then push forward again. Eventually when you take two steps forward, you’ll keep going forward.

      Being honest, there’s no ‘ideal’ way to disappear. Even the most decent of breakups may not be palatable – you just don’t want to feel the pain or experience the loss in the first place. The thing is, people who disappear are cowards and if you continue to take the blame for his behaviour, you’re actually only allowing the image of him to escape even further responsibility. Yes you are there feeling sad, but what else are you supposed to feel? You had a painful breakup where he disappeared. Equally, you don’t *have* to be sad all the time so you can choose how much of this you want to blame yourself for. You will only stall the progress of letting go if you keep making this about how worthy you are. You could be the Queen of the frickin Universe – he’d still disappear.

      • Artemisia says:


        This book :

        really helped me to figure out why I was with this type of man and why I allowed myself to be the headless chicken in the relationship. Any books by the authors are helpful as well.
        I see the avoidant as an iceberg who can sink a ship if you lose control of the rudder. They look normal but they are emotionally immature, all their anxiety is below the surface, deadly to themselves and to others. Avoidants see a relationship as stress inducing, they fear engulfment, someone telling them I love you sends them into an anxiety tailspin and they desert you until their anxiety levels falls below an acceptable level. You might find your guy showing again, acting like nothing happened.

        Yet, something in them calls out to you, otherwise they would not attach themselves to you. Avoidant rarely go for a secure person because their behavior gets tiresome pretty quickly to someone who say exactly what they mean and mean what they say. According to Wiki “ Avoidants are attracted to people who have difficulty thinking for themselves, having healthy emotional boundaries , or taking care of themselves in healthy manners- the love addict”. If Avoidant obvious fear is intimacy what they really fear is abandonment ( nobody will leave you if you kick them first) , if the love addict seem to fear abandonment, the real fear is intimacy ( real) so they do a push – pull dance together but never really get together. They are made for each other, if you want to get off the mad-merry-go round, deal with your fears.
        Avoidants are very needy themselves but they are unable to accept that, as they learned from a messed up childhood to deny them, so they project all they needs onto you and you are THE NEEDY ONE. I refused to follow him, run after him and behave like a headless chicken, I told him “ I love you but your behavior is driving me crazy – not him – his behavior, I must leave you”.
        One of my friend is living with one, she is a wonderful co-dependent, used to take care of everyone in her family and she tells me they never had an argument in the 4 years they have lived together. And I think that is because you live in a fantasy world, neither of you is showing your true selves.

  15. chloe says:

    I’ve been sick on and off for a month with a virus of some sort. I’ve been doing NC for 2 months, well except for one email which confirmed that my NC is valid. Anyways, being sick and all, I miss him and feel I’m stressed out becasue I’m doing NC and not telling him how much he hurt me and expressing my anger, but when I really get down to it, I just miss him and want him back to nurse me back to health…and to tell him how much he hurt me. I think about him everyday and wonder, do I need to express my hurt/ anger to get well? Will that give me the closure I need?

    • Lynda from L says:

      Chloe, oh been there. Listen have you done the NC letter yet/signed up for Natalie’s No contact newsletter. I needed to write a bit down in early days/months. It sorted me rather than had me obsessing about him.
      Also, he might come and make noises for a while and you’ll feel looked after but would it sustain?? Being down/ill/ hoping for contact is completely normal, wanting to stay in a relationship that hurt you is not. Your virus will pass…inviting more pain from him could last for a long time. You can make it x

    • MaryC says:

      chloe, yes you probably do need to express your hurt/anger to get better but that doesn’t mean you need to express it to him. If he doesn’t give a damn as mine didn’t telling him anything is a HUGE mistake and actually puts you further back in your journey to heal.

      There is nothing worse than pouring out your heart to someone only to find out it doesn’t matter to them. It took me a couple of years to figure that out with my ex and I also figured out that he took my love/pain/sadness that I was always telling him about and used that to keep me on a string. He knew how I felt but never once acknowledged or validated a damn thing. As Nat has said many times before no one owes us anything, once I accepted that NC got alot easier.

      My savior was writing, actual real writing with pen/paper. Getting it all out and re-reading it as many times as it took. There is something theraputic about the written word. That and lots of excercise to get out the physical stress. Wallowing is self pity is a soul destroyer.

    • NML says:

      Chloe, if you want someone to nurse you back to health, you’d be better off hiring a carer or asking a friend or family member to stay over. You wouldn’t ask someone who you cut contact with to come and take care of you. How could they? Also what kind of remit is that – to take care of you and tell you how much they hurt you? Write an Unsent Letter, see a therapist or counselor and vent your frustrations and get your thoughts organised, keep a Feelings Diary, allow the feelings to come – you can express your hurt and anger without him there. If you’ve ever read about how people in times gone by would dodge being called it for army duty, then you’ll also recognise that most people are keen to come and do a service of I Hurt You Duty. You’re not stressed because you’re doing NC – you’re stressed because you’re actually fighting with yourself to welcome back someone into your life who is toxic. You will be even more stressed if you let him back in.

  16. Caroline says:

    I’m just starting to learn this, at 30 — that if I have that icky feeling in the pit of my stomach I should pay attention and not think it’s about other things that happened to me in my life.

    I just found out the guy I was hooking up with very briefly, the guy who told me he was moving 2000 miles away and couldn’t date or have a relationship with anyone in this town, asked out another woman (a woman I know and socialize with regularly, how stupid is that) on a date right after telling me that. And I feel like an ass for believing him and saying “thank you for telling me before I got too attached” and kissing him goodbye with all the goodwill in my heart, but…really, what an AC. Tell the truth or find a better lie.

    • NML says:

      Hi Caroline, if it is a lie, it’s a dumb one. He’s either lying or he is moving but is still asking people out. The difficulty is that with hooking up, you just invite more bullshit into your life because it’s like breaking up from a non relationship and non dating. It puts people in no man’s land so they make up ridiculous excuses. Flush! Don’t dwell on it – if you were just hooking up then it clearly wasn’t that special otherwise you’d have been dating.

  17. Shiv says:

    This is exactly what I can’t seem to get right in relationship after relationship. My tendency is to tell myself that I’m the one with a problem – trust issues. And that’s very true. But it causes me to end up rationalizing all kinds of shitty and disrespectful behavior. I really don’t know how to get this right. I guess it starts with choosing someone who is actually worthy of trust.

    • NML says:

      Hi Shiv. Yes that takes care of half of the problem and the other half is addressing your own personal security so that no matter who you’re around, you can trust yourself.

  18. Christina says:

    I think that often things sneak up on you gradually as well. The relationship starts with no bad behavior, then a few instances that could be considered one-offs, and then it just builds and builds. Then one day, you’re feeling horrible and wondering how you came to tolerate so much.

    I’ve been in that place in my life where almost unbearable stress (severely mentally ill spouse and super-demanding job) seemed perfectly normal. I don’t know what tipped mind and body over the edge, but the panic attacks and chronic health issues all seemed to arrive at once.

    Being self-aware and having a base for what’s actually normal is so important!

    • NML says:

      Hi Christina, it’s true that they can creep up on you, but that said, it’s rationalising what turn out to be significant indicators of what’s to come as insignificant. Your body can only take so much. It may not have even been something huge that tipped it over but the accumulated load had reached capacity.

  19. FedUp says:

    I found myself in the past ignoring, rationalising, denying any bad treatment because I found if you do say anything, the bloke would blame it on me no matter what. And then of coarse he used it as an excuse to breakup with me. Is this what you’re talking about?

    • NML says:

      The key FedUp isn’t ignore, rationalise etc bad treatment – it’s to opt out. Of course someone who is treating you badly is going to blame you because they’re already treating you badly. I think you have a very distorted idea of what constitutes a good girlfriend. This type of behaviour described by you is not a ‘good’ girlfriend, it’s an ‘unhealthy’ girlfriend, one who will hold onto her man at all cost while he treats her poorly for fear of being blamed for his behaviour and having the crappy relationship broken up.

  20. jen says:

    I’ve just come out of a 2 year relationship and I had misgivings about our relationship for a large part of that. It turns out he was emotionally unavailable but I kept making excuses for his behaviour. I was also too scared to confront him about my misgivings because I thought he might end it. Guess what, he did anyway. It should have happened a lot sooner. I’ve learned a lot from this one. Better late than never I suppose.

    This website has helped me a lot to see what the issue actually was. He used another excuse as to why he wanted to break up with me. Of course he wasn’t going to say he was emotionally unavailable. Even though it all happened pretty recently I’m surprisingly okay with it and don’t pine for him at all.

    • NML says:

      Hi Jen, you’ll find that most people of both sexes aren’t going to say ‘I’m emotionally unavailable’ – they’ll tell you or show you in other ways. I’m glad you’re OK with it, you deserve much better.

  21. Clarissa says:

    Fantasy girl
    I found your words addressed to ms option very kind and helpful for me also. I am also involved with an MM who is NC with me last few days but I am sure he will pop up agin. It’s been going on 6 months and has been stress stress stress. And the thought I had today when I read natalies post was that because I have been stressing out with him, I have neglected other areas – job, house family – which in turn causes more stress. I used to think he added so much to my life, with his culture, art, intellect but it seems to me now that my involvement with him is diminishing me. He doesn’t bother too much with any of that stuff any more now anyway. His marriage is breaking up – at the instance of his wife – but it makes no difference as there is no indication that he will want to be with me in the future.
    I need to NC him for good this time. (managed a few weeks before but caved). I think I have come to the end of the line now.
    The stress is too much, the guilt, fear, and anxiety. I don’t know why I ever did this, it certainly hasn’t been my MO in the past.

    • Fantasy Girl says:


      I don’t know if I already posted this but the MM I knew last contacted me on a month ago via e-mail to say something to the effect that the more he felt reproved, the further the would stay away. Haha! I always called him out though. Anyway, I kept e-mailing him and then went NC about a week ago. I feel great. He’s an ass. He played so many games with me it was ridiculous. It was the first and last time I do that too. My MO was never to be with an attached man and I don’t know how it happened either. Thought it was love, was probably pressing my daddy issue buttons. Who knows. But, having learned a great deal, NML’s NC is working wonders. It really does work. That and reading this site, I think. And, of course, putting on your big girl pants and focusing that love on you and trusting yourself to make the right decisions.

    • NML says:

      Hi Clarissa, there’s no culture, art or intellect that is worth destroying your life for. The job, house, family are symbolic of where you are neglecting yourself for someone who has his own life and marriage. He’s not adding anything to your life other than headache and toxic waste. The culture, art etc are superficial – you have a conflict of values that are far more important. You have to ask yourself what you’re caving for, and I say this from experience – I caved loads of times. Here’s the thing: When you cave, you’re caving to the same or even less than what you had before. You’re saying ‘Oh ok then, you’re married and I’ll hang around for a bit longer listening to empty promises.’

      • grace says:

        Plus you can get culture, art and intellect from other sources! You can even do all that stuff on your own.
        And you’re correct, with a MM/EUM, they soon stop doing things with you anyway so it’s all becomes irrelevant.
        What is relevant is what you NEVER had with him – trust, availability (he’s not even single!), respect, care, love.

  22. Lynda from L says:

    Natalie when I read this article…I saw how in touch you had become with yourself, your actual holistic self and what it was saying to you. I totally admire that and am getting there too… I also applaud the work you do to stay there.(You have worked your arse off girl!!! Wow, sob and hug x)
    I’ve been trying to do this fifteen years and only in the last two have I made any progress. There are no shortcuts, particularly if you tend to take the focus off of you or blame others or minimize effects. That is so easy to do, to stay in chaos or in the dark in relationships because it is familiar.
    I started to know myself and my stresses, became aware and scared of my stresses… hell, I hit out, had appalling anger,obsessive Florencing, need for control and then I blamed others- family,friends,EUMs…circumstances,timing.
    I had to get beyond this and blame noone. Not even myself, because how I was interacting and feeling was typical or even rational given what I invited or as a result of what I had been through in childhood.
    What is working beautifully and brilliantly for me is staying in the ‘Now’, I stay aware of my reactions to guys, friends,family and stay true to those reactions. If I recognise stress or code red… I protect myself. If feel curiosity or interest or strong liking or consistent behaviour.. I move forward and reciprocate. It feels great and secure. I’m excited at the future…
    Your site should not be minimised and the ways of you and the strengths of you should not be minimised. You are a watershed, a place of sanctuary, albeit if we get it. If we don’t, and I didn’t get it for a while…we can still partake of the water. Then we can share with others and you and if we choose to begin to go on..
    My stress is wholly manageable today and tomorrow I can deal with.

    • NML says:

      Ah thanks Lynda and I’m so proud and pleased for you because I *know* you’ve worked hard and had to deal with a lot of very painful stuff from your past. You seem…lighter. I think initially, before it gets better, it feels incredibly painful to be confronted with your truth because it hurts. The past you can’t get back hurts, the parents that let you down, the old relationships, the dodgy choices, your own habits that suddenly look very different now that you’re not ‘helpless’ or saying it’s ‘them’. But it does pass and seeing it as an opportunity to learn what doesn’t work for you and grow out of it is immensely rewarding. I agree that the ‘Now’ is so important – unavailable people live in the past and/or future. Thanks for sharing and I’m honoured to be a part of your journey ((((hugs))))

  23. Gina says:

    @Lynda From L – ^^^ to everything that you wrote! Beautifully written.

    @Natalie — You inspire me to be a better person. Because of the inspiration that I have received from you blog, I am now in the best relationship that I have ever had in my life: it is the relationship that I am having with myself. God bless you!

    • Lynda from L says:

      Hi to you Gina.. I am hearing every word you say about having a relationship with yourself and loving it. That’s me at the moment…problem is I feel so rested, that, this time it will take a lot for me to consider a relationship. But rested and secure is fine for now. I love your posts too…you’ve ditched the negativity and I learn so much from that. Thankyou.x

    • NML says:

      Thank you Gina! You made me beam!

  24. ms.option says:

    Fantasy girl and fearless,
    Thank you for your good advice. I do want to clarify something and I know it probably doesn’t make a difference. But if he leaves his wife it is not because of me, it is because of her continual addiction to pain killers and the way it is affecting her care of their children. They have separated and gotten back together several times,when I wasn’t even in the picture. He has told me he feels nothing but resentment towards her and that she has stripped away all feelings he had for her by her actions. So I don’t know if that makes a difference. I guess what matters is that he is still with her despite her behavior and despite him telling me he wants to be with me.
    Fantasy girl, I have dealt with him disappearing, coming back and I guess I have been turning the crumbs of him actually maintaining contact every day into a loaf. I also don’t feel like it’s just a booty call. I mean we spent a whole day last week just shopping,eating lunch and nothing physical except some kisses. He said he just wanted to spend the day with me,showing me how much he cared. I know I have it bad :(

    • grace says:

      ms option
      Who is it supposed to make a difference to? It doesn’t seem to make a difference to him. He is still married. I said it last time but I’ll repeat it anyway – the fact that they break up and get back together isn’t a “good sign” for you. It means that next time they break up – you’ll get your hopes up – and they’ll be back together!
      It makes no difference to you what his wife is like. You’re not married to her.
      The thing that should make a difference, which you are not grasping, is that he is married.
      This is not a normal dating situation. To focus on how often he calls/text is entirely missing the point. It’s as if your house is on fire and you’re busy re-arranging your wardrobe. It’s not normal for your house to be on fire. And it’s not normal to date a married man. Talk about normalising a bad situation!

      • Fearless says:

        “It makes no difference to you what his wife is like. You’re not married to her.”

        My thoughts exactly. There’s a lot of muddle when it comes to identifying the true source of the stress in these MM/EU/OW relationships. That fur coat of denial is a lot to blame for this!

    • Fearless says:

      Ms option,
      spending one day with you once in a blue moon is a crumb. Yes, that crumb should show you how much he cares . One day much.

      You do seem to have normalised all his nonsense – you have bought into all his excuses and you seem to imagine that you are two people in the same boat with the same problem and the same source of stress. You’re problem here is not the same as his – he’s not sitting about stressing waiting for you to leave your man for him. If he’s stressing about anything, it’s about his wife – not about you, and you are feeling more sorry for him than you are for yourself! Someone above said, I think, something about you needing to see where he begins and you end. I agree; this is a huge source of the problem and why you are treading the same old water, and you imagine he is in the water with you – and you’re waiting for him to go swim ahead and find a raft for you both to cling to (a la “Titanic”!). He is not in the water – you are treading that water all by yourself; believe me – and he’s not throwing you a life jacket from the shore – he’s turning up every now and then to wave at you – and promising he’s coming with the lifejacket soon. Pfft. Option, you need to save yourself – that’s the bottom line. Start swimming.

      • RadioGirl says:

        Love your continuation and extension of Natalie’s “treading water” analogy, Fearless – great comment!

        • Fearless says:

          Thanks Radio. I think its important to come to the realisation that with these men/relationships we are on our own with the problem – it’s not a shared problem and no-one (especially not him) is going to bail us out – no-one other than ourselves can do that.

          I knew my relationship with the EUM was a problem and a source of stress in my life – I knew that. BUT the very day I woke up to the fact that not only did I have a huge problem, I was ON MY OWN with that problem, or as Nat would say, I had been riding solo to Miseryville the whole time – that was the day I found BR. I had been in the same mindset as Ms Option, that since he held all the power only he could do something about it. I was very wrong – and he was NEVER going to anything about it. Finally I got that solving the problem was entirely down TO ME. We need to recognise that we are not “in it together” with the MM/EUM, we are very much alone.

    • Spinster says:

      “I mean we spent a whole day last week just shopping,eating lunch and nothing physical except some kisses.”

      ms. option:

      I’ve spent time with my male friends (bonafide friends, NOT friends with benefits) doing those things (well, minus the shopping for the most part). I’ve spent time with my girlfriends doing all of those things. I’ve even spent time with in co-ed groups doing those things, no strings attached. They’re my friends and I love them. But honestly, what’s the big deal about it? He’s not even offering you cake… he’s giving you a piece of a damn CUPcake. 😐

      If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know better. For your sake, please do better. Take it easy & take care.

      • Leisha says:

        What no-one has mentioned here is the danger he is placing himself and Ms. O in, perhaps he enjoys the thrill of getting away with it? Not long ago another reader’s MM’s wife busted him for his affair…private detective…Hello??? Can you see how the legal aspects can turn out? Public humiliation? What about the kids? Is anyone in an affair with someone with a partner really being careful and considerate and thinking of long term? Ms. O: the man isn’t even taking care to be good about being bad! Get the fire out before you find yourself in legal hell…but of course that is a consequence you may be okay with…he obviously is! So, if the moral aspects aren’t enough to wake you up and the legal aspects aren’t enough; what the hell is it going to take? Don’t you deserve more? As someone said earlier: choose your hard.

  25. Clarissa says:

    Ms option,
    The things he says about the wife, do they all come from the MM? remember she may have her own story which may be quite different. Not saying he is a liar but there are always two sides and he isn’t likely to tell you the good things about her, the ways in which he has failed to support her or the difficulties she faces. Also if he is so worried about the kids why is he spending his time with you instead of them?
    Sometimes I think the OW can actually be keeping a toxic marriage going because he is getting his needs met without having to deal with the marriage issues. (Hindsight that was my MM s plan.) That’s well and good for him but what’s in it for you? (Or, me for that matter.)

  26. 1st runner up says:

    We all need to reread Fearless’s reply above…she does a GREAT job of spelling it out how we get ourselves into this mess…And once we are there, have made that agreement about our worth to him, it is nearly impossible to renegotiate and ask for more without ruining the relationship.

    • grace says:

      1st runner up
      I don’t think we EVER get an upgrade. And the relationship is already ruined if you’re too scared to expect, never mind ask for, some common courtesy.
      I was watching SATC 2 and was struck by how unrealistic the marriage was between Big and Carrie. While their relationship through the series had me shrieking in rage, at least it seemed real (if undesirable). And, yes, I admit it was sparky. I could see the attraction.
      Their marriage was so completely fictional. Yes, a Carrie character can kick her addiction to unavailables and move onto a good relationship. Yes, a Mr Unavailable can change and settle down. But can a FB girl EVER make it with “her” EUM. I don’t think so.
      We live in a lala land where we believe it’s normal for relationships start out a bit crap, ambiguous, and halfhearted but by some effort we can progress it into a proper relationship. I don’t think we can.

      • Spinster says:

        “We live in a lala land where we believe it’s normal for relationships start out a bit crap, ambiguous, and halfhearted but by some effort we can progress it into a proper relationship. I don’t think we can.”


        Spot on. That’s some good food for thought, never thought of it that way before. By the way, I’ve watched a bit of SATC (not a die-hard fan but saw enough) and watching the interactions between Carrie & Big infuriates/ed me to the point that I change the channel. It’s like the show is spreading that load of EU bullshit worldwide. 😐

  27. Apricot says:

    It took me a long time to decide if I should write here or not. I have been reading your blog for the last two months and I cant tell you now that the hard truth is hard but it frees me.This is my 3rd week of NC. I admit its extremely hard. This morning I woke up crying and feeling sorry for myself. Feeling alone, and used. And then I remember you, Nat, and how you help me realize that sometimes I do make him better then me, that I make him more special and forget things that he has done. I’ve learned I can forgive someone for what they have done but I don’t need to forget and then be surprised again and again when they continue to hurt me. Its very hard doing NC but I know its the best thing for me. I need to put the attention on me. Its always on him because I always want to know why but its not right.
    This blog really spoke to me because the stress was/is overwhelming. It effected my performance at work, I’ve been depressed for so long. I went to the doctor yesterday. He told me, “You have great parents, graduated with a great degrees, have friends, whats the problem?” And then he said I might have mild depression. I know that this emotions, physical pain, tiredness, getting sick all the time is because I’ve put so much love, support, thought, emotions on someone who didnt do anything for me. I thought for so, so long if I showed him my love and complete support he would stop what he was doing and I realized how stupid, how wrong I was. How very wrong. And that hurts so much. To give so much, to love so much, to forgive so much, and get nothing. To hold on to hope and get nothing. I am not asking for the moon, just that he says, “I see you, I see what you go through for me.” I feel so extremely childish posting this, but my heart is breaking and sometimes I can’t get through it. I kept making excuses because I knew he was hurt but allowed him to hurt me. I put the knife in his hands and twist it around and around in my heart.
    I’m sorry for the emotional outburst. thank you for listening.

    • grace says:

      this stage is a pain, but it passes. You have become so wrapped up in trying to win him, please him, understand him, that without him you feel like nothing. You’ve lost yourself.
      This is the difficult process of MENTALLY separating yourself from him. It’s very painful, like when a kid cries at nursery. But at some point they stop and do some painting, or make friends.
      Of course, for the child, their mother will come back.
      Mind you, the men often come back. Don’t run into his arms. Ignore, ignore, ignore.

    • Australia says:


      Be strong. Your post was very emotional and tug at my heart.

      You sound like a very caring, thoughtful, good person, and do not be ashamed that you loved with all your heart. Never regret loving someone, for one day – maybe not today or tomorrow – they will feel the love you gave them. It will hit them. Love is never wasted, it goes out into the world and one day it will come back to you tenfold, in so many other ways.
      Whenever I think of my ex – and I am in NC, as much pain as I have been through with him, I send out a little love in my thoughts because I know he needs it. The difference now is that I am no longer with him and now I only want a healthy relationship where the other person is fully capable and willing to give me love back without a doubt in their mind, and I know my ex is not going to do that right now. So why wait? Why waste precious life waiting? So I send out love in my thoughts, and go on my merry way.

      Hold your head high.

      • aboutme says:


        Your post was beautiful. Often times we feel full of regret when our love is not returned. Sometimes those regretful feelings often turn bitterness. But after reading your post and thinking about past relationships, almost every boyfriend at some point appreciates the love that was given.

        One particular boyfriend wrote me a letter apologizing and wishing me well. He was a classic EU. It was a beautiful letter that I felt was sincere. This letter came almost five years after we broke up with no return address. I had not intention of responding to the letter but with no return address I do not think that he wanted me to respond.

    • Fearless says:


      you are doing the right thing. It will get better. Look after yourself now – the person you need to really love and care for now is you.

      • Apricot says:

        Thank you for the encouragement Jasmine. =)

        aboutme-I am so glad to hear that!

        • Complicated says:


          Your posting said exactly what I’ve been thinking and feeling for a long time now. I spent 4 years with a MM/EUM putting his feelings, thoughts, needs before mine and accepting crumbs thinking I could handle it. I’ve spent more money than I had flying to see him (he lives in another state) so he could give me a maximum of 4 hours face time each time (or however else he wanted to spend the time). Just writing that sentence makes me want to cry and feels like my heart will break in two. I know all too well the feeling of being used and waking up crying. I know I would be diagnosed as depressed also. Today would’ve been Day 4 of NC, but I broke it when responding to one of his attempts to contact me wondering why I didn’t want to be friends anymore. Just hoped I was more than that after all these years and all this time spent worrying and riding the roller coaster up and down. Makes me very sad to think I’ve wasted 4 years hoping he’d come around and realize he feels the same about me as I do him. Guess that’s why i kept flying to see him. When I make it to one full week of NC without breaking it, everyone around me will think I’ve won the lottery!! Just hate that I broke my NC by responding to his measely attempt at trying to get a response from me…it worked.

          • Apricot says:

            I’ve broken it once too but this time it hasn’t happen because i cut every kind of contact he can have with me. Its going to be on my terms if I want to talk to him or not, not his, NOT ANYMORE. I’ve gotten the whole, “i can’t lose you, I want to be your friend” crap so many times I feel sick just hearing it.
            I’ve heard the, “you are better then me,” “I don’t deserve you,” “I’m not worthy of you,” “I’m in love with you but I’m sleeping with another woman.”
            Each time I got it, each time my heart would break in ways I can’t even describe. Each time he would hurt I would be there, but if I was hurting, then I should have “gotten over him by now.” Each time something happened with him, I was his emotional support, but if something happened to me, it was a few lines and back away.
            It was always “I want to keep you, but I know I’m selfish.”
            I felt it, all of it being wrong, I knew it was wrong but I didn’t stop it, I allowed it to happen.
            Sometime I feel so weak but I know with NC its going to work. When I read Nat’s emails she describes a lot of the things I feel and want, and I feel good knowing whatever I am feeling is apart of the process and I can get through it because I want too, because I know who I truly am.

          • Complicated says:


            I would literally fall to the ground and have a heart attack if he ever said anything similar to “I don’t want to lose you or I’m in love with you!!!!” He wouldn’t have to worry about me responded…because I’d be dead haha! Today I feel very weak…on here trying to get some strength. Just wish he would respond with something, anything. I’m at least a habit right? I mean that’s what they say when you do something more than 10 days…and we communicated daily for a year!!! Why can’t he be sitting around missing me? I hate this feeling of longing for him and hoping for one, little text.

    • Jasmine says:

      Your grief is completely understandable and it will pass. Being in a relationship where you are doing all the work is exhausting and will obliterate your self esteem because in trying to win someone over to get them to treat you well, you are already starting from the point of, I need to prove I am ” good enough”. Someone who needs to be catered to that way is usually very self serving and usually doesn’t appreciate others in general. Once you heal hopefully you’ll see you are “good enough” just as you are! Good luck with NC… Hang in there!

  28. jupiter23 says:

    I was treated horribly by my exEUM, and normalized that bad behavior like crazy. Even though I’m not the worst that I’ve been, I’m definitely not the best that I could be.

    I was in a non-relationship with my exEUM for five years on and off. One time I went one year without speaking to him and the next time a year and a half. He called me. It was always the same thing: he wasn’t ready for a relationship or the kind of serious relationship I wanted. He actually told me: I don’t care about you the way you want me to. I can’t tell you how much hearing that hurt. But I still thought I could change the situation. In one of our on stages, he actually told me that he couldn’t fall in love with anyone anymore because the first three, and only, girls he loved cheated on him. That was his sob story.

    A couple of months ago I found out that he was seeing someone else because I ran into him at the store while he was with her. When I talked to him right after that, he basically told me that he was in love with her. He also told me they were not “really” exclusive. I believe he was trying to sleep with me, and I blocked him.

    But now they may be exclusive.

    Just last week, I found out he is still seeing her and that he seems to be really in love. He is bandying around the world love and that pisses me off. I was kept a secret for such a long time and now he is claiming some other girl. It hurts so much, and I feel so stupid and unworthy and ridiculous for holding on to this guy for so long. And I’m angry that I feel bad when he has totally moved on. I just knew that this would happen, and it hurts that it has.

    I feel okay sometimes, and then other times I feel like I’m going to double over from pain. I got treated like shit for so long, and now someone else gets what I wanted.

    I also wanted to say that I changed my email (which took me hours), my phone number, and made everything else where I can be reached private. I am now unlisted. I don’t think he will contact me because he’s so in love (hate him), but if he does, it will be one or two years from now and I will have to hurt him if I ever see or hear him again.

  29. chloe says:

    @ Lynda from L
    @Mary C
    Thank you for your support! I appreciate your story Mary C. He would keep checking in on me if he knew how badly I felt and keep stringing me along, which would make me attach again. I am having a hard time actually writing the letter, and will give that a try first. I miss the physical affection the most (not the sex). Lynda, I totally get your comment that he’ll make noises for a while, but will it last or only lead to more pain. Anyways, I have signed up for NC and will write the letter. Thanks:)

    • Lynda from L says:

      Chloe Get as angry as you like on paper…all the nitty gritty bits that have been sticking to you, all the bare faced lies and stuff…and truly feel your’ll possibly cry and storm for a few days but it’s totally authentic feeling that you are entitled to. Then practice letting go…you may have to write letter or three! but you’ll get there… I always had warm bath, spoke to someone else about light stuff afterwards, did my supermarket shopping. In short I returned to my own life. One big help for me was taking each hour and day as it comes, not obsessing whether you’ll hear from him at the end of the week or wondering about next year. Listen, if YOU want it to be over…it will be.

  30. shouldknowbetter says:

    OMG!! yes yes,I can relate to all that Nat is saying.. my health is actually falling apart from the stress of just about everything,but mostly from my on off relationship with an AC,and EUM,if thats the right term.ive only left one comment before here on the..Should I send the x a birthday card etc etc…and I thank everyone for your comments.I have a condition(amongst other health problems) called labyrinthitus which is a bad dizzyness,and other horrid symptoms wasnt too bad but as soon as I started seeing him again(he dumped me 3 times in past and ignored me)then came back and at present I see him couple times a week,it isnt right,we havnt had any bed relationship cos I find the forgiveness thing impossible,I dont even know if I actually like him anymore…but im stressed all the time.I ended up in casualty(ER)(sadly there was no Dr Carter to take care of me!!) last monday due to a bad turn and thought I was having a heart attack!!! I was in a terrible state and I dont know what on earth is going on..thats not strictly true…the truth is,and I can barely bring myself to think this let alone write it down..but its cos I dont know what on earth im doing,self destruct comes to mind.Im living in fantasy land I so want to be in love with him again and im not!!I even make excuses not to go out with him as I just want to lay on the sofa watching tv on my own and enjoy my own 18 yr old son thinks hes a waste of space and after the 3 times dumped hes too scared to come into my house in case my son says something to him,he wont,he just thinks the man is a joke…and so on and so on…im so messed up and the stress is doing my health no favours at all..I tried to end the relationship a week ago and I couldnt even do that properly!!the man is trying to be very nice to me,and is..but it just doesnt feel right in the pit of my stomach…sorry,ive probably gone well off track on this subject but felt compeled to add my bit..thanks Nat for such an amazing site,its helped me so much..and in 55 years old,so really should know better!!

  31. ms.option says:

    You described my relationship soooo well. This is exactly how I feel. The stress is very hard to take. You have given me a lot to think about.
    No you are not being too harsh. Everything you said makes sense,especially the part about worrying all day over something so trivial. When I apologized and told him what was bothering him and why I was down, he said it was ok that he felt that way most of the time.

    • Fantasy Girl says:

      ms. option,

      Speaking from personal experience, I would just like to add that sometimes the MMs don’t have sex with you and will hang out with you for self-gratification… like Johns who hire prostitutes to have the “girlfriend experience” (they have made movies about it) where they have a date and no sex. Sometimes that’s all they want, believe it or not, just to look at a nice girl all day and kiss her from time to time, to receive the attention, to pretend they are on a real date.

      • grace says:

        You know what, I’d quite like to have a pretend date! We’d go out, have something nice to eat, flirt a bit. I’d got some attention, he’d tell me I looked pretty. I could pretend to be super glamourous and mysterious, rather than someone who knits and keeps pet fish. Go home and neither of us bothers the other again. It would be a bit of time out from everyday life, like a play. Curtain comes down and it was a nice evening thanks very much.
        So, I can understand this desire for attention, of course I can. What I am able to do now, which I could not before, is see it for what it is. For many of us A Crumb of Attention = Love, and This is Meant to Be, and I Should Treasure This!
        It doesn’t. It’s still a crumb.

      • ixnay says:

        LOVED the film “The Girlfriend Experience” Thanks for the reminder Fantasy Girl, I want to watch it again.

        Directed by Soderbergh, who broke through with “Sex, Lies, and, Videotape.” Which is also worth re-watching; Andie MacDowell’s character trusts her gut and refuses to be bs’ed out of her boundaries.

  32. Em says:

    I´m starting to believe that I´ve started to deal with my relationship with my guy friend because it´s the least of the things that´s been bothering me, and that it´s come to the surface not because it´s unmanageable, but exactly because it´s manageable. If I told him no, he´d never, ever question it. Unlike a lot of other people in my life.

    My job, on the other hand – I´ve had to enforce strict (contracted) boundaries, and I have to inform those who do not respect them that they´re not up for negotiation almost on a weekly basis. I have to keep constantly watching some of them to ensure my company doesn´t become associated with corruption – so far all good, but that´s because I´ve stopped anything dodgy before it became reality. But for (non-dodgy, complicated) reasons on the management level above mine, the unruly ones get new contracts with us on a regular basis. Oh, and the budgets I´m responsible for is about as much money as everyone in my company earns in total in a year.

    My mother – I don´t know where to start. Perhaps with the fact that she wants us to be in touch several times a day and that she sometimes starts to fear I have been in a horrible accident (out of the blue) and will call me at 6AM on a Sunday to ensure I haven´t. Or that she´ll call to badmouth the siblings to each other. Or that she has no curiosity about how my life actually is, and whether it makes me happy, just strong opinions about how it should be and what I should be doing, in matters small and big. And my loyalty to her has been so strong that I haven´t been willing to realise how mean she is to me. I make excuses for her all the time and I have such a hard time upsetting her.

    I came to your site to learn how to deal with my relationship with my friend. That wasn´t all that hard. We´re now better friends than ever, and I´m fine with that. But falling out of love has left me without any smooth fantasy escape from all this other stuff. It´s such a mess.

  33. molly says:

    This post harkens back to how our primary caregivers defined and experienced their “relationships,” including those relationships with us. If there was lots of stress, push-pull, no love, abusive and/or absentee behavior going on in your early life, you’ll be hardwired to believe that is the norm.

    That’s why it’s so hard to take a step back and take responsibility for our own behaviors and thought processes. It’s why “calm” and “normal” relationships are so elusive. Stress was our default position from an early age. I would imagine biochemical reactions and neurocognitive transmitters play a role as well, which is one reason it’s so difficult to overcome this learned behavior.

    It’s why it’s hard if not impossible for these EU men to change and it’s why it’s so hard for us to change as well.

  34. Apricot says:

    @grace and @Australia, thank you so much for writing and reading.
    Some days are easier then other but when I read what others go through I don’t feel alone. I don’t regret loving, I just wish I didn’t hurt so much but thats the price you pay to love someone.
    I can’t find the post now but someone here said they were afraid of being alone and they rather have the pain and hurt rather then just alone. And it hit me so hard reading that, cause its true. I fear that I can love again or if I do I’ll end up never getting what I give.
    Australia, I think sending love to the world is a beautiful things. Its just like smiling. You can walk down the street and just smile and somehow it makes others smile.
    I know he is hurting and I know its from his hurt that he does this to me, but its not right. I just wish I could give this all of to someone who would take it without leaving me empty. But I have to work on myself first before I get back into something like that.

    • Australia says:


      “I fear that I can love again or if I do I’ll end up never getting what I give”

      That’s where this site and your desire to work on yourself comes in. Do not fear what you have said above because once you build up your boundaries and have them firmly in place, and are able to see red flags in a relationship you will opt out of that relationship. You won’t stay in hoping to get more and more or start denying/rationalizing/making excuses, because you’ve tried that, and even though you had great intentions, it didn’t work. You will heal and you will love again … smartly.
      Like you mentioned, you know your ex is hurting and that hurt is causing you pain. You have shown him great love so now let him go. And don’t think for a second that a few weeks down from now he’ll magically change. It takes time and serious work and acknowledgment from his part – and who knows if they ever see the need to put in the work, if they are hurt but can keep getting attention and approval from different sources to mask that hurt. But that is up to them. It is just like the work we need to do is up to us, even though in the past we’d look to them for validation and approval. No one but ourselves can fix us, the the same goes for them.

    • Apricot says:

      Australia, you are right, he has been getting comfort from other places and other women that is why he keeps doing what he does. For so long I thought if he saw who I was, if he saw that I didn’t want anything like his money and was there for the good and extremely bad then he would see I wasn’t someone who was temporary. We would get through things together and work on them together. He tired to keep me in his life for all the wrong reasons. He would date other women and then hold on to me with one hand and it hurt so much. But I let him do it. How does someone who says they love you back do that? They dont love you, they just don’t.
      God, there is so much I have learned from here and its hard learning about my mistakes but I am SO SO glad that I have cause I can’t take it most of the time.
      I dont think I’ll ever forget the day he called me a passionless doormat. He was right, cause I allowed myself to be that. In so many ways i am ashamed but in other ways I am working to never be anyones doormat. Its sad that you can love someone with all your heart and soul but they see you as a doormat. =( I want what you said and what Nat has been talking about for so very long. I am working on my boundaries and recognizing red flags more so now then I ever did.

      3 weeks feels like 3 months. I’m so glad I get NC emails and I usually get them when I really did it and I like that I’m told its okay to grieve.

      • grace says:

        he’s doesn’t get a say in who you are. He had no respect for you, or for the other women he was seeing. You shouldn’t have any respect for his opinion.
        I know it does hurt – I’ve been called names as well but it says more about them than you. Even my little niece when she was seven was telling me about some name-calling going on at school (thankfully she wasn’t involved) because she could see it was wrong. A child can see it.
        strangely, on some level I think they DO know that what they are doing is wrong – but instead of taking responsibility, they blame you for their behaviour. Anyone who has been the victim of domestic violence knows how that goes.
        Stay away from him. He sounds very toxic.
        Don’t blame yourself. You made a mistake. That doesn’t give him the right to mistreat you.
        You stood up for yourself, well done. Carry on taking care of yourself and it will become second nature. You can be loving, still be yourself, and have good friendships and relationships without having to tolerate this kind of BS.

        • Apricot says:

          Grace, its funny you say that because I work with children and I see how they view life and they are so real with their emotions and how strong they are when they believe something is wrong. In many ways I learn from them as much as they learn from me.

          I feel like I lost myself in all of this. I lost a lot of myself.
          Fearless, you are right, I think my wording was off. And I believe that to be true as well.
          I’ve put my foot down but its hard at times, and I’m glad I wrote here cause I feel strength from it and I KNOW I am a strong person and I dont want to live my life this way. Its already taken a good year and a half of my life away, I dont want it to take anymore. I dont want to live in the shadows of who I was before. So many of my friends tell me how even in this state they see me as happy and full of life but I can’t seem to see myself as that. I’ve become so sad all the time.
          I put so much value on what he said and thought when in the process I lost value in myself. Ugh!

          Thank you so much for reminding me.

          • grace says:

            I’ve noticed we have a lot of women here who work with children and students. I think it’s terrific to see the potential in children, to encourage them, be patient, not give up.
            However, these skills should not be applied to grown men. They aren’t using it for our benefit, or even their own! They just suck it all up and want more. They won’t grow and develop. Well, they might, but not because of our help. We aren’t helping them at all. Where’s the motivation to change when he has a woman all over him – sexing him up, telling him how great he is, giving him money? Sometimes multiple women! In his position, I’m not sure I’d say to myself – this isn’t working, I need to change.

    • Fearless says:


      you said: “I don’t regret loving, I just wish I didn’t hurt so much but thats the price you pay to love someone.”

      No, it’s not the price you pay to love someone – it’s the price you paid for “loving” this particular man who was not worthy of you or your love. When you love the right person – someone who has the capacity to love you back with trust, care and respect – you will not be paying for it in pain and misery; you will be content and comfortable and secure. Love is not about how much pain you can tolerate – if it’s painful, run away. It would do many of us here some good to remember this – me too!

  35. mh says:

    Is it me or is it them is the exact question I asked myself today and came on this blog to hopefully feel better. The title today gave me hope.
    I am with a group of aquaintences on a trip at a cabin and the only fun I have had is brief periods by myself. I am classifying them all as emotionally unavailable people and that is why we are not clicking. I asked questions, they asked nothing of me. Only two asked what i do for a living when we first met on the road trip. I am now feeling like the last day of trips with my ex eum when he was cold and depleted but this is like being on a trip with a cold, eum. One of the guys, interaction here is if he can either make me food, a drink or if I want the lid open for the hot tub, he mind as well be the manager here because there is not much interaction here. I am at my wits end with trying to make myself happy in life or working on my issues or figuring all this stuff out. I have gotten uncomfortable by joining groups so that I could continue doing things I loved but none of my current friends can afford or feel like doing. The things my ex I did I am trying to do these with groups but everyone ignores me like I don’t exist. I even mentioned it to them and nothing changed, just heard excuses.I joined in on some activities only to watch them all talk to each other and barely say much to me. the weird thing is they don’t know each other that much more than me and yet they make me feel excluded. I asked myself today what is life trying to teach me, what haven’t I learned yet that I am still being treated like the eum did but now by a whole group. Again is it me or them, how do I address this.

    • Magnolia says:

      MH, I really identified with your post. I do think the same issues of confidence and discernment come into play in dating and in social groups. I tend to feel caught between wanting to fit in and not wanting to have to behave as it seems everyone else is behaving in order to be accepted. It’s a big deal to work out who you are. Being your authentic “you” will mean you’ll have to judge what kind of groups work for you. You don’t have to blame them or yourself. In time you’ll give yourself a bit of a test-and-see zone with new people so that while being confident that you’ve done your best to connect, if you still don’t click, it’s no one’s fault.

      • Fantasy Girl says:

        “I asked myself today what is life trying to teach me, what haven’t I learned yet that I am still being treated like the eum did but now by a whole group. Again is it me or them, how do I address this.”

        Don’t be so hard on yourself. Sounds like they aren’t very nice or considerate. I don’t think it has anything to do with you or your previous relationships. Sounds like you made an effort. Enjoy the time on your own and don’t worry what those people think of you. You could be with a nice group of strangers having a lovely time. Socializing is like that. Sometimes you can believe people LOVE you and they are really talking about you behind your back. Again, I think it comes down to giving yourself all those things you want from others and finding your “authentic self” and happiness just to be.

    • grace says:

      it’s probably you. Which is a good thing. You is something you can work on.
      In social situations you have to make an effort. For people who are confident, who don’t doubt themselves, feel attractive, don’t always second-guess themselves (by the time you’ve decided to say “hello” to someone, they’ve gone home), that effort is FUN! For people like us, it’s all a bit of a strain and we’d rather not bother. Others can sense that, yep, even if they’re not as observant and as sensitive as we are. They get the “vibe” that we don’t want to talk.
      I will also say that most people who seem super confident weren’t always that way, or inside they do feel a bit wobbly. They just hide it well. I don’t know many people who’ll walk into a room full of strangers and think “Yay, great!”. I’m sure there’s a moment where everyone has to brace themselves and give themselves a little pep talk. At it’s worse, people take cocaine and drink too much just so they can socialise. So it’s you, but not just you.
      If you really are lost for words and don’t have a clue, just smile a lot. Works wonders.
      If you are a pretty young woman, it can put people off from approaching you – it can be intimidating. Now, don’t feel sorry for yourself for being attractive! Just make it easier for others to talk to you.
      And as Magnolia says, you don’t have to click with everyone.

    • Fearless says:

      don’t know if this helps or not or even applies to you, but sometimes it helps just to loosen up a bit – not be so serious. Asking other people questions about themselves is a good conversation opener so long as it progresses into a dialogue and the other person doesn’t feel they are being interrogated – you’ve got to actually be interested in what they say and then tell them a bit about yourself, but in my experience people who struggle to interact with other people are overly self-conscious about doing it – they are too self-aware rather than being more aware of the other person or people. If it feels to you like a chore or you feel you’re trying really really hard, this is readily picked up by the other person. All meetings are a bit awkward at first, but that should quickly pass if you show genuine interest in the person, listen properly and take the conversation forward (faux interest is off-putting and has the other person thinking that *you* are actually very hard work for them). Be yourself – don’t try so hard – loosen up – and have fun; you know that weird thing that people do sometimes – just plain old fun? ! (lol)

      • MH says:

        Thanks for the replies all.

        After I posted I had the opportunity to almost have one on one time with each or more likely learned about each individual a little more. I learned that they were where I was over a year ago when I first found this blog. I couldn’t relate to them because they are all emotionally unavailable with many issues. I mentioned a few things when one of the guys said he is seeing three women at once. It seems that I made some comments about their issues and now there was more interaction, inclusion, and joking with me. They seem to like focusing on their dysfunctions. As long as they were talking about themselves they were happy. They do not want to know anything about me which was my ex eum. I will not be continuing with this group I have decided because I do not need eum relationships with a group of people. I will stick to my group of friends who I met some of them last year and they like to know about me, they don’t just talk about themselves and they don’t make me feel excluded. The only problem is they only enjoy dinners and movies. This other group does a lot more things. However today I reached out to one of the girls that couldn’t make this weekend and so I will see if she likes to hang out and if she and I will click as friends. I would agree it is not me or them, it is just not the right fit. I guess it is like dating, you just have to keep on getting out there until you find the right people. The problem is I hate that about dating. I just want to gel with people get to know them and eventually end up in a relationship with a guy after getting to know him in a group, casual setting, not having the pressure of going on dates. Yeah I have no confidence issues and I can talk to anybody practically. They liked talking about themselves so when you asked them questions they love it and they didn’t act interrogated they just don’t care about other people’s life. I went looking for the group because of the friends I have now that exhibit emotional unvailableness, I guess I just found more. I will run and jump to another adventure.

    • NML says:

      It’s difficult to really gauge this situation MH. I find the whole clique thing a very subjective thing that can actually be a litmus test of where you are personally. My 4 year old started school recently and it’s like *I’ve* started school. People are funny creatures and even with a group of people it can be easy to feel excluded if you start buying into the dynamics. What I can say is that it’s unlikely to be personal and that people are very up their own bums, even very nice people. They don’t see how their actions are perceived. We can also feel like we’ve made a huge effort by getting out of comfort zone and look for reciprocation. It may be no big deal to them that you asked these things and there isn’t an implicit expectation that they must do the same back. There’s nothing to say that on another occasion, they wouldn’t recall something you said and ask you further questions then. This all sounds like an over expenditure of energy – whatever you say in future, just say it ‘because’ without having too strong an idea on what you’d like to get back. These situations are unpredictable – they’re not the only people in the universe so don’t sweat them.

      Oh and I think it’s a bit of both of you.

  36. runnergirl says:

    Ixnays comment “The stress on you is intolerable, because you are cooperating in a self-obliteration, and demanding that you be a good sport about it at the same time” sent me back to Natalie’s new edition of Mr. U and the FBG and the section on Daddy Hunting. Natalie writes: “With the father that shows up from time to time, you get to learn how to seek his approval by trying to do all of the right things. The child mentality says that if you just do enough, he’ll stick around and be your father full-time. But then, he’s gone again. You’ll have developed a pattern of your hopes being raised, trying to win him over, and then feeling disappointed, even though you have not given up trying, you learned what to expect and started to derive your value based on your interactions with him.” Here’s the kicker: “You’ll find it easy not to be a priority which will make you ripe for being the Other Woman.” Natalie goes on to state: You’ll revert to being that child that wants to make her father stay for a bit longer, to put off his ‘other life’ to choose you over ‘them’…OMG, I tried so hard as a child to get my father to stay for a bit longer to put off his ‘other life’ and chose me, my mom and my siblings. Then I grew up and replayed the same senario with the exMM. If only I could get the exMM to stay a bit longer, he’d see how wonderful I am and if I could get him to put off his wife and children, he’d see how wonderful I am. I’ve contributed to the same cycle for his wonderfully innocent daughters. I’m so sorry. Cheating is not fair to the innocent children who just want their parents.

  37. TRL says:

    Ms. Option,
    VERY recently, I was involved with a MM. He promised me he was going to leave his wife, that he was never more sure of anything in his entire life, and that he couldn’t wait to build a world for us. So, I acclimated to the stress. I waited for texts, for calls, and for him to leave her. I believed his WORDS. I was always in a constant state of anxiety over when and if he was going to leave her. There always seemed to be some excuse, and it was always postponed. I wouldn’t listen to others, and truly believed WE would be the exception to the rule, and our relationship would work because of the love, passion, and deep connection I “thought” we had. I, like other OW would hang on to his promises. There was always an underlying sense of discomfort and angst, that I just learned to live with, but it never went away. I just felt if I waited long enough, he would make good on his promises. Over the summer he told his wife he wasn’t happy and was going to stay at a friend’s house. He was living with me but basically spent all his time at his house with his son, and I’m sure with her too. His wife became suspicious and got a hold of cell phone records and confronted him. He basically minimized my existence in his life, told her it was “emotional affair”, and disregarded me. It made me feel awful. Even after that, he still promised me we were going to be together, wanted to have children with me, blah blah..and I STILL believed him. About a month ago, he told me that it was too difficult being away from his son and he left. I am now working on ME! We are spending way too much time, emotion, and energy on these men that don’t value us, instead of putting the energy into ourselves. Like Natalie says, we should never settle for less than love, care , trust, and respect. I finally see I NEVER had that with him, and obviously wasn’t feeling enough of that from myself. I will never let a man or anyone else, make me feel insignificant or unworthy of a real relationship. WE DESERVE BETTER. YOU DESERVE BETTER!

  38. TRL says:

    I also wanted to say that I too, thought he was “making an effort” to stay in touch when he would call or text, or send the daily “Goodnight, I love you” or Good morning love ” texts, or the “I can’t wait to wake up next to you for the rest of my life” text. But now I realize those texts were just lines he threw at me to keep me as an option. I was surviving on crumbs too, and it was just as painful and demoralizing as all the other ladies who post on here says it is. These MM are cowards who want to have their cake and eat it too, and remaining an option allows them to continue to do so. I will no longer be anyone’s option. We all deserve the real deal.

    • Complicated says:

      Hi Runnergirl,

      If I hadn’t been sitting down while reading this, I would’ve fallen out of my chair! I had a father that just showed up from time to time and I got used to the “getting my hopes up just to be disappointed” and then I kept trying to get his approval. No wonder I ended up being the OW!!! Just receiving a text with sports bantering made my day. Ugh. I’m in Day 4 of NC. Don’t walk around crying all the time now. I’ve moved to feeling numb as if punched in the stomach. You may remember I sent my “goodbye letter” last week pouring out my feelings and saying I had to say goodbye since he didn’t feel the same or couldn’t acknowledge it after 4yrs. GUESS WHAT??!! He texted tonight…4 days later saying this:

      “Can’t believe you want to stop being friends. Unbelievable”.

      Yes, he says how he can’t believe I want to stop being friends!!! I didn’t reply, but it was very hard. After all, what was I going to say?…please refer to the email I sent last week detailing how hard I’ve fallen for you and you don’t feel the same after 4yrs so I have to go because it’s too painful for me? He didn’t even say anything about it!!!

      • runnergirl says:

        Hi Complicated,
        I always read the insights on this blog while sitting down and I still fall out of my chair. I can perfectly believe that his response was lame. He’s lame. Not getting an appropriate response is, I believe, one of the reasons Natalie and the others advise us not to send the it. The good news: It sounds as though you are no longer normalizing his lying/cheating and treading water. Keep building on that realization. You can build on the sent letter and not send it this time. My Unsent letters are helping me work through my feelings of anger, blame, and shame toward myself as well as the MM and the orginal cheater, AC/EUM in my life, my father. Do you have Natalie’s Unsent Letter guidelines?
        I read your comment above where you broke NC and responded to his lame-arsed text. When I screwed up and responded, I kicked my arse around my backyard, dusted myself off, and got right back on the NC wagon. You just swallwed a giant gulp of water. Spit it out and breathe. Natalie describe the exMM as a cockroach after a nuclear bomb. When the fur coat of denial starts slipping away and I stopped gulping water, I felt like I’d wasted my time too. Since I discovered BR, I’m seeing that I didn’t waste my time. I’ve learned a ton about myself and how I carried long-standing childhood patterns into my adult relationships, even after 5 years of therapy. Apparently, I understood the connection between my past and my present intellectually but being an OW and discovering this site made me see it and FEEL the connections emotionally. The exMM is my one last ass (as another brilliant BR commenter said).
        The thing I had to address is as an OW was I was not the main woman. I was living in denial, stressing, lying, and treading water in a cess pool. MM’s have wives. Their wives are not niggling doubts, they are their wives, the main woman. Their wife is a women with feelings who is being betrayed by the person that is supposed to love, care, and respect her. Of course, then I had to address “Is it them or is it me?”, aside from always looking at whether it’s internal or external fear talking, what you immediately know is that if you can’t figure out which one, it’s because you need to address both.” I am very sorry for my role in the deception. I had to lie too. I was a cheater. I am very sorry for the pain, anguish, and despair I…

        • Complicated says:

          Hi Runnergirl,

          I don’t have the “Unsent letter guidelines”. I’ll have to look that up. Thank you so much for replying. Today is not a “feel good” day for me. He hasn’t replied to my text from Monday saying “Can’t believe you haven’t responded to my email…what no, I’m sorry, what can I do, don’t go?” Part of me knew he wouldn’t respond, but I had really hoped he would to be completely honest. That way it would validate that I wasn’t used and tossed aside like bagged garbage…after 4 years. Wouldn’t someone who communicated with me on a DAILY basis for ONE YEAR think enough of me to not want me to go so easily??? At the very least, wouldn’t communicating with me be a habit since it was done more than 10 days? I don’t want to lose him either, but I’ve come to the realization that there’s absolutely nothing I can do to win him. Trust me, I’ve tried it all. Being the one who was always there no matter how he treated me, the one who made all the effort, the one who accepted crumbs and changed my life for him. It’s like that song ‘Nothing’ by the Script…”I wanted words and all I got was nothing.” I’m walking around feeling as if I’ve been punched in the stomach. I just want to hear something back (but I won’t be texting him asking for a response. Been there. Done that the two years prior and obviously it didn’t work. Just want to cry, but there’s no tears left for him. I feel empty.

          • TRL says:

            Hi Complicated,
            I know the hurt your feeling. I too was angry because I kept wanting him to fight for me, for us, Why wasn’t he fighting fore me? How is it that he doesn’t care after all we went through? How can I be so disposable? You’re asking him, as I did my MM, to be completely honest and authentic. But that’s the problem. These MM are never honest and certainly the farthest thing from authentic. That’s what allows them to continue living a double life. We, as the OW have a hard time grasping that. I’m still in the healing stage and learning a lot about myself, as well as getting tremendous insight from BR. When I started to think about what a healthy relationship REALLY looks like, I didn’t see any of that in the relationship with the MM. Stay strong, you will have bad days, relapses, you will cry, but then you will find that you are a lot stronger than you think. And take care of YOU! Wishing you happier days ahead.

          • runnergirl says:

            Hi Complicated,
            I would highly recommend signing up for Natalie’s NC guidelines and purchasing her e-book on the NC Rule (I think the Unsent Letter Guideline are included) as well as her new edition of Mr. U and the FBG. What I realized is that while I was looking to him for a crumb of validation, I was tossing myself aside like garbage. I’m thinking you may be in “faux NC” if you are still swimming in the stress pool of waiting for a response. Once the stress is normalized, the lack of the drama and stress may feel empty at first. At some point, the lack of stress and drama becomes peaceful and normal. I tried it all too, to no avail. Breaking my exMM crumb crack habit has been the worst and the best experience. You don’t just want to be a habit, do you? I have another habit: Smoking. Should I just continue smoking because it is a habit? (Kicking that habit is next on my To Do list.) Click on all the links Nat has provided in this post. The Broken Windows Theory was one of the best for me.
            Make your NC talk match your NC walk. We can kick normalizing our dodgy behavior habits. As soon as possible, block and delete him. It was so incredibly liberating once I sucked it up and did it. You haven’t “lost” him. You never “had” him because he has a wife. And after all the text messages to you, he hasn’t left his wife and probably won’t no matter what type of topping you put on your preztel. He can only continue to use you to meet his needs (at the expense of your needs) as long as you let him. I don’t know how old you are but I’m 52 and realized that I could have been an OW forever. I could have died an OW. Maybe you are younger and got more of your life to waste as an OW, waiting for a crumb text from a MM because you are a habit?

          • Complicated says:

            Hi TRL:
            Thanks again for the comments. Please keep them coming. I read them when I first wake up..which is my hardest time of the day because I always had a goodmorning text waiting from him. I’ve always been one of those women who want to overanalyze everything. Now, I’m overanalyzing the last text he sent and wondering if he’s turned it around on me saying “I can’t believe you don’t want to stay friends.” Just makes me look like the bad guy now doesn’t it? I had really hoped that our situation was different and he really would see I had so much to offer, and make the effort to be with me. All I had ever asked of him was to send a daily text and that all started to change a few weeks ago and I called him out on it. If I was a man, I’d want to keep around a woman who constantly gave me compliments, was there to talk whenever I wanted it, and someone who could also banter about sports. Today is Day 3 of my NC (I started over my counter since I responded to his text) and I still haven’t received a text response and looks like I probably wont…til I least expect it.

          • Complicated says:

            Hi Runnergirl,
            I think you might be right about my “faux NC”. Part of me is trying so hard, but I notice he’s even still in my prayers everynight. Prayers he’ll realize how much he cares, that he’ll have a head full of wonderful thoughts of me, and that he’ll send a response soon. Afterall, I’ve been praying for this man daily for over 3 years!!! I’ve tried signing up for the NC Daily email several times and still haven’t received them. The All Day daily texts I received from him made me feel as if he was a part of my daily life…although I do realize I never really “had” him in my life. I’m 37 and have loved this man since I was 19. Also, thank you for keeping the comments coming…it helps fill the void where I used to get those goodmorning texts each day. Now, I come on here and read comments to strengthen and encourage me so thank you so much!!!!

    • Complicated says:


      I’m in the same predicament with a MM. I’m currently on Day 4 of NC. The hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and definitely the most painful. We were together 4yrs and I thought the daily text communication (at least this past year) was his way of making an effort for me, but I realize it’s just crumbs. He definitely is a coward…that word has come into my head on several occasions. He contacted me tonight saying how he “couldn’t believe I didn’t want to be friends anymore. unbelievable.” That was his response from the email I sent him last week detailing why we couldn’t be together anymore since basically I was sooo in love with him and he couldn’t show or make the same effort for me. We were childhood sweethearts who reunited 4 years ago. He’s been a part of my daily life for a solid year out of those 4yrs (the other years he was on and off and I accepted it) so it feels so painful as if something is missing. But, I’m out of bed and not crying today so I guess it’s true it gets better.

      • JadeSesame says:


        Can imagine how much pain you’re in, it’s really difficult letting go of someone who’s been in your life for 4 years whom you envisioned a future with. On being NC: keep reiterating to yourself why you’re doing so (the NCR newsletter is really great, as well as all the articles here and the support within the forum, I think). You’re doing the right thing by going NC, your instincts know it too, you know his SMS is lame, be insulted! After all that you wrote at length, is that all that he could say, a one line SMS, whining that he can’t believe you don’t want to be friends. (a man who truly loves you and puts your interests and welfare at heart would NEVER treat you this way. He’s manipulative and superficial, trying to make you seem like the aggressive, petty one by throwing a fit and cutting off the friendship. Not addressing all the issues you raised but basically just pouting about not being friends. See him for what he is.) NC will be good and beneficial in the long run. I felt that the passing of time became excruciatingly painful when I was(still am) in NC , it was as if time was measured in terms of Day 1, day 2, it was measured in terms of his absence (but his “presence” was correspondingly illusory and false). I wish you well on your journey of healing and letting go. Meanwhile, seek out the good company of friends, treat yourself well, stay strong, focus on you, as NML always says.

        • Complicated says:

          Hi JadeSesame,

          Yes, his text was definitely lame. It now has me wondering if it was all turned around on me since he said “Can’t believe you want to stop being friends.” Ummm, yeeahh…what about the part where I said (in my long heart felt poured out feelings email) how much I cared and wanted to be with you, but you don’t feel the same. Now, I’m the one who looks like the bad guy and doesn’t want to stay friends. Ugh!! Obviously he doesn’t want to be friends (or anything) enough with me to respond to the one I sent back saying “What, no I’m sorry, What can I do, don’t go, etc.” Am I right???!!!

      • TRL says:

        I know exactly how you feel with the frustration of spilling your guts, explaining your feelings and why to him, in turn to have him throw you a lame response. I did that very same thing. and overestimated his ability to be a caring and understanding human being. I told him via phone everything he did to hurt me, and reminded him of all the broken promises and all he could do was ask me what I was doing for lunch the following day and if I wanted to “go to his car”. It was like, HELLO!!!!!!!!!!!Did you even hear a word I just said to you. No, they don’t hear us. Sadly, they don’t care to. It’s all about them, them, them. I do feel your pain. I’ve been there.

        • runnergirl says:

          TRL and Complicated,
          I’ve been there too and came up gasping for air when he basically ignored everything I said for 2 years. Toward the end, I did a daily update telling him all about what a scumbag he is. Of course since I cooked and shagged him the next night, my actions didn’t follow my words, why would he listen to me? I was a walking-talking-unavailable-available-wanna be contradiction. (Oh ick, TRL…”go to my car” made me want to spit up.) There’s no such thing as the last word. From his perspective, I can see now how I normalized our dodgy affair, lying, and cheating for 2 years, why not continue? From his perspective, I settled for crumbs for 2 years, minimized my needs, rationalized being a liar, and treaded water in a stress-cess pool, why not continue? From his perspective, his needs being met, why wouldn’t I want to continue? Because I finally had to address the issue (with the discovery of BR): He was married and not to me, no matter how hard I future faked and tried to remain wrapped in my fur coat of denial. He is married and I was a mistress. I remember the pain of the first month of NC and I struggled like you are. I remember the first morning when I did not get my crumb “Good morning sunshine” text and the first night when I did not get my crumb text, “Night, night bright spot”. Thought the world had ended. It didn’t. The next guy that declares anything similar will be next to me, not texting me while he is with his wife. BTW, do MM’s text their mistresses before or after making love with their wives? I’d like to add to Grace’s comment, daily text communications from a MM are simply crumbs and rubbish. Complicated, you’ve got to face the fact that he is married. I’m really sorry. I know your pain.
          Thnks to you Natalie, I’m going to stop smoking after too many years to count. Your message of treating myself with love, respect, and care as well as a few other things has finally made me address how I am damaging myself. “Ignoring, delaying, rationalising, denying, minimising are habits, and habits can most certainly be broken.”
          I’m pretty sure my first smoke-free day will feel like the world has ended and I may have to go on a 12 hour hike. My BR community will be the first to know the world ends!

          • grace says:

            Have you read the Allen Carr quit smoking book? That’s how I finally kicked smoking. He addresses your core beliefs about smoking – that you need it, that withdrawal is impossibly difficult, even that you enjoy smoking.
            It’s not completely off topic as it takes you down the road, that you’re already on, of facing what’s actually true, which is very freeing.

          • lizzy says:

            Runnergirl, just wanted to say good luck giving up smoking, I quit my 22-year habit in March this year and I have Natalie/BR to thank for giving me the impetus and motivation to do it. Funny how it ties in… much like bad men, smoking cigarettes is a symptom of not treating yourself well, not caring about you and not taking care of your future. It was another thing on my list of regrets – and it gradually dawned on me this was another bad habit I could do something about. I didn’t have to keep doing it, much like I don’t have to keep getting involved with men who make me feel ‘less than’. Another positive side effect of reading this inspirational site – thanks Natalie and good luck Runnergirl! x

          • runnergirl says:

            Thank you Lizzy and Grace for the suggested reading ( just googled it) and the support. I’ll get it. You are right, this site is great for facing what is actually true. As I’ve started to treat myself with love, care, and respect, prior bad habits don’t fit anymore. Smoking is one bad habit that has gotta go along with the exMM.

          • Complicated says:

            Hi Runnergirl,

            Good luck on your journey of quitting smoking. I have no doubt you’ll kick that habit and be strong. Afterall, you already overcame one bad habit and succeeded!! Well, it’s Day 4 of NC for me. I actually woke up last night in the middle of the night and just about threw up. I could feel it rising inside of me and I know it’s a side effect on my body AND MIND from this withdrawl. I’ve had the migraines, aches, pains, and now this?! He still hasn’t responded to me so essentially I now feel sooo stupid for breaking my NC and responding to him on Monday and then of course, not hearing back from him. Why is it he always ends up with the last word and feeling as if he owns me??!! Maybe since he knows I’ve done the goodbye thing before and I was still there 5 months later (after he ignored me all this time) that I will be there for him again. I just want the victory of knowing he’s longing for me while I could care less about him. Why can’t this happen vs. me waking up sick at night and going through all these “withdrawl” symptoms and I’m sure he’s just as happy as can be living his life with his friends and wife??!! I keep telling myself he’s got a wife, but the things that happened between us and things that were said just keep nagging me. I mean it was just 2 weeks ago he was asking to “sext” me!! Ugh, guess I should be glad I didn’t do that!!! I hate feeling so rejected and him getting the last word and leaving me hanging (wondering what he’s thinking) as always!!

          • TRL says:

            Thank you, thank you, thank you for the support. I was that walking contradiction too. And you know, I really agree with what Natalie and you and all the other great women who post here have said, it’s because we already showed them what we think our worth is, or that we had low self-esteem, we can’t really expect them to see us as any better. We agreed to the price and can’t go back and bargain for more. We can only toss out the trash (them), work on us, and THEN demand better for ourselves. I wish you the very best with the smoking cessation, and like Complicated said, you’ve already proven how strong you are and overcome hardships, so you will DEFINITELY overcome this one!:)

      • grace says:

        The daily text communication is rubbish – that’s what I had with “my” MM a year or so ago (who was also the returning childhood sweetheart. Well not quite childhood but he was only 21 when we met and I was a very young/immature 26).
        YOU are unique and speical but a man dipping in and out of your life for years, and then coming back when he’s married for an affair is quite … old news. Lots of women, and men for that matter, have experienced the same. I thought it was special until I came here and saw my story repeated several times. You mistake longevity for quality. I had a male friend who I was friends with for decades. Cutting him off (for failing to show up for pizza) was one of the most liberating things I ever did.
        You can do way, way, way better than this. Even sitting at home watching dvds (have you tried prison break – it’s good distraction?) and crying is better than being the OW! Persevere. When I cut off the MM I was crying at work, I couldn’t stop myself. I had heart palpitations. Now I couldn’t care less except sometimes I say to myself, “It’s a shame that X turned out to be just another clown”.
        He can’t believe it? Who the hell does he think he is? Why don’t you want my crumbs anymore?! Who am I going to send my (free) texts to now?
        At least “my” MM had the decency to leave me alone when I finally shut the door in his face.

        • Complicated says:

          Hi Grace,
          It’s good to hear from you. Thank you for commenting, that is a tremendous help right now!! I understand all too well the heart palpitations (never had those til now) and the crying all the time. I’m past the crying part, I think, because I just feel numb and don’t understand now. Today was Day 3 of NC since I started my NC journey over again. To be honest, I’m not sure which is worse….Them trying to stay in your life when you say goodbye *OR* them not saying anything at all. I’d prefer someone who at least made an attempt to stay in my life. But, I’m left here with no response to my breaking NC even though I responded to his text, and said “What, no I’m sorry, what can I do, don’t go?” I hate this numb feeling and would like to hear from him just to have the validation and satisfaction of cutting him off. Now, I just feel like the bad guy since I responded to his “Can’t believe you don’t want to stay friends.”…and got nothing in response to mine. Ugh, I fell for it and he had the last word.

          • TRL says:

            I hope you’re having a better day today. Don’t worry or obsess about whether he’s happy or not while living his life, etc. while you’re left with all the hurt. I kept telling my friends the same thing, “He just gets to go back to his happy family life, while I have to pick up the pieces”,etc. I learned that they really aren’t happy. They’re not. How can they be happy? Not with themselves, they know they are deceptive cheaters and that has to eat away at them. I had to train myself not to let my thoughts go to that place. When I thought about what he was doing or made assumptions about it, I turned that thought to me. It’s just about making us more important!

      • TRL says:

        Hi Complicated,
        I know what you mean by “withdrawal” symptoms. I felt physically ill too in the early post-break up stages. Now I think I bounced back maybe a little bit easier this time because he had done this to me before. He ended things with me after about two years to “work on his marriage”. I was so incredibly devastated. I felt sick, even took off from work (we also work together, yeah, bigger mess) He then came back professing his love, promising sun, moon, and stars, to be together forever…well, we know how that ended. He just did the same thing all over again. This time I was not only hurt but also angry. I think the physical symptoms, or withdrawal if you will, stems from the fact that we put these men at such high priority in our lives, WAY above ourselves, and we do this to the point that our happiness is actually dependent on how they are treating us that day. If we are at least getting their crumb “I love you” texts, then for the meantime we are happy and satisfied. When we get an undesirable text or email, or don’t hear from them at all, anxiety and worry kick in, and we just work on getting them to love us again. You see, all this energy and emotion needs to be directed toward ourselves. They cannot be more important than us, or the sole reason for our happiness, or our main goal in life. This may sound a little dramatic, but I’m just speaking from my own experience. I’m not proud of the fact that I made him more of a priority than myself and was happy to take crumbs. I AM glad however, that I discovered BR, and all of you who are a great support and allowing me to see his actions for what they were AND my own. I am also 37. And I do feel like I wasted too much time because I want children one day. A really close friend told me that she watched a friend of hers waste all of her childbearing years on waiting for a MM who never did leave his wife. I wasn’t going to be her. Sending you hugs!

        • TRL says:

          Also just wanted to say that I understand wanting him to fight for you, wanting that text that says “Don’t go, I love you, what can I do? ” It’s because we are much more invested in the relationship than they are. It’s like we have both feet in, and they’ve barely got a toe in the water, even though they led us to believe otherwise. That’s what, for me at least, hurt so much. I was way too invested in him, instead of myself. Also, regarding what you said about why wouldn’t he want someone who was so giving, and loving to him, and could banter about sports? I get that too. I was cooking, making sure I had his favorite foods, planning cool stuff for us to do, we enjoyed same TV shows, movies, etc, same sense of humor, Who wouldn’t want that? Well I guess none of that overrode the fact that he was married. And not to me. So I totally understand what you meant. x

          • Complicated says:

            Hi TRL,
            I find myself STILL hoping everyday to wake up to the text message that says “I Miss you, sorry.” But nothing. I kept thinking with time that this urge to receive a respond would go away. I know it’s only been 5 days, but I still want to hear from him. Is it going to go away??? If so, when??? I’m just giving it all I’ve got to NC him. Like you said, I had both feet in, was fully invested, and he wasn’t…obviously. The last I heard was 5 days ago when he said “Can’t believe you want to stop being friends.” I often think to myself: Wow, that’s all I got for pouring out my feelings of how I’ve felt for him the past 4 years. That’s very sad actually, that it’s all he could say. Even a decent man would at least muster up a “sorry” or even be sarcastic and say “sorry you feel that way.” Anything!!!

        • Complicated says:

          Hi TRL,
          You don’t know how much your responses meant to me today!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! This was the first full week in a YEAR that I haven’t communicated with the MM. I am feeling really weak right now and your messages were very much needed. To make matters worse, I’ll be on the road tomorrow traveling 15 hours with nothing but an overeager mind to drift places I don’t want to go. I’m dreading that and the pain that will be associated followed by the overwhelming need to contact him and ask why I haven’t heard from him. I’m going to do everything I can to fight this urge!! Also, I definitely made him more of a priority in my life than anything!! If I received a text, my day was going to be a great one and there was nothing I couldn’t achieve. I was so happy. But, when I didn’t hear from him…I was crushed and the day was ruined before 10am. You’re soooo right…when I would get an undesirable text or email, or didn’t hear from him at all that day, anxiety and worry would kick in. Everyday, he seemed to disappoint me because even if I heard from him, it wasn’t the “Yes, I feel the same as you do” comment I’ve been waiting for 4 years. You see, I’ve never had him say these things to me. He always said “I’m not good with my thoughts and feelings.” But, his actions always made me think he had to really care to do all those things with me. Yep, everyday for a year(s), I was just left hoping and praying I could get him to respond and feel the way for me as I did him. Still do feel for him unfortunately. Ugh. Today was Day 5 NC. Still hanging in here…by a thread…but hanging in here. Wish I would receive the NC emails, but I’ve signed up so many times and still haven’t received them yet. :(

          • Fearless says:

            It’s going to take much longer than a week to gain the distance you need to see this situation with the MM for exactly what it is. You have to simply trust in the process. It will work. But you do need to give it time to work and to stick with NC – not faux NC but the real thing, and for as long as it takes. With every week that goes by you will sense a shift in your thinking – the fog will clear so long as you keep moving away from the source of your problem (him!!).

            It is time to start turning your thoughts on YOU as much as you can – stop worrying and ruminating about what he wants / doesn’t want / feels / thinks / doesn’t feel / does/ doesn’t do / should do / could do – he is NOT important. YOU are. Start turning all these ‘questions’ away from him and on to yourself. Ask yourself: what the hell are you thinking?! What are you doing with this man – who is MARRIED?! Don’t you care about yourself and your own life and your future?

            It is clear that this man is a clown – and a selfish one. Two weeks ago he was asking you to “sext” him?! You want to know what he thinks and feels and what he wants from you – well, there it is, right there – he wants you to “sext” him.

            Think about why you sent him that long “letter”? What for? My guess is that it was to get a reaction from him. The letter didn’t work. His reaction is HIS reaction. He did the passive aggressive bullying thing, accusing you of being unfair and “not wanting to be friends”. Friends don’t ask you to “sext” them. He knows full well that “friends” is not what either of you are wanting out of this! You want an official relationship; he wants a shag and some sexting and for you to know your place and stay in it. These people know they have you by the emotional goolies (so to speak) – and his response is nothing short of emotional blackmail. You should have told him to shuv his phony friends card up his arse. He doesn’t want the same things from the relationship as you do (he has a wife already!) you need to get that you are on your own with your feelings and on your own with what you want from him – you need to start sucking up the reality of what this “relationship” is actually about. Focus on YOU and why you need this man’s crumbs to feel worthwhile and like a valuable human being. You have your value – inherently – with or without his crumbs – his crumbs are only making you feel like a worthless piece of crap – don’t fall for it.

  39. RadioGirl says:


    “I think there’s a certain amount of stress we can all manage with, after all we’d be wrecks otherwise, but after that we can become very sensitive to it. Then little things that genuinely aren’t that big a deal can throw a monkey wrench in the works and have you in a serious tailspin or you start seeing rejection, problems, ‘flaws’ in yourself, and a lack of options. You become indecisive, panicky, anxious, find it hard to articulate what you’re pissed off about or can articulate it but won’t action it, or you compare problems and try to identify which one is the ‘biggest’ one as if that will change the nature of the others. You may inflate the size of the wrong stress while still continuing to ignore the core stress that you really need to address”.

    This was me a year ago, having been getting increasingly depressed over the previous months and not being able to figure out why. I thought of every possible reason – bad reaction to the Pill, work, family illness, nagging neighbour – everything except the one right under my nose, i.e. my relationship. I was vaguely aware of feeling insecure and “not good enough”, but as you say in your post, thought it was my “shortcomings”, and was in total denial about how he was actually making me a low priority in his life after his daughter, gliding, parents and work. In fact, I’d slotted into his lifestyle so completely that nothing much had changed for him, whereas I felt like I’d been sucked helplessly into the chaotic whirlwind of his “busy” life. I had a breakdown in the couple of months before we broke up, plus migraines and tummy upsets. Sure enough every other area of my life suffered – work, home, everything. Finding out he was writing to/phoning/FB chatting several other women and had obviously not got over his previous gf was the final straw that pushed me over the edge. After we broke up, despite the painful heartbreak, slowly life started calming down and my health has been improving. No more migraines, no more panic attacks, no more feeling overwhelmed at work (in spite of current redundancy and pension issues). Eight months on, I’m still not quite there yet, but with excellent posts like this one, Natalie, which make what happened really clear and focussed, I know that with patience and the courage to face my issues and address them I’ll be fine. Thank you.

    • NML says:

      Hi Radio Girl, you’ve been through a lot with your ex and of course it was intolerable. In fact, everything you described was all too familiar. Finding out that he was trying it on with others also didn’t help… My big problem stemmed from the constant lying to myself which meant not seeing the truth, not hearing the truth and certainly not experiencing it. What I refused to acknowledge and heed, my body did. After a while, I only had to come within a few paces of him to feel a distinctly negative physical reaction. I would never deprioritise myself again. I have never felt so abandoned and rejected as I did at the hands of myself via these men. Never again. Stay cool.

      • Used says:

        “I would never deprioritize myself again. I have never felt so abandoned & rejected as I did at the hands of myself via these men”.


        You have to acknowledge this very fact: they make you feel sooooo badly about yourself. Even if you have very high self esteem (but then only temporarily, but the memory is still there forever).

        My physical reaction to such men (even to men I have not dated sometimes) is sick-to-my-stomach, like having just eaten food that had gone bad.

        Because I went against myself, at/via my own hands, in how I had dealt with them previously.

  40. Magnolia says:

    This post has helped describe what perhaps others mean when they have described me as ‘too sensitive.’ If you’re constantly in stress, and little things send you over the edge, as NML describes here, that must be hard to get close to.

    I think about my first two boyfriends, both long-term (because back then I didn’t know that you didn’t move in with the first guy that was ‘nice’ to you). Both of them met me before I started really working on my issues, when I was probably one big frayed raw nerve to the outside observer. I didn’t know I could be any different.

    I used to wonder why I attracted two exes who both had neurotic moms whose anxieties and coping behaviours had made them neglectful to and manipulative of their sons. I didn’t identify with those ladies; what could we possibly have in common? But with my own unprocessed anxiety and fears, I was never fully available to those guys, and probably didn’t react well to their normal foibles. Of course, they were both full-on Florences who wanted to right the wrongs of their own pasts through healing my angry victim.

    I think it’s years of perspective, but also the non-judgmental way this post puts it, that I see how not understanding how my stress was above normal contributed to both my reactivity and my inability to process that reactivity. You couldn’t tell me that I was overreacting. I would blow up.

    Since starting to practice compassion for myself and focusing on me, I have been able to look at the early hurts and stresses that had been left unprocessed. I had been pushed well above a normal level of stress most of my early years. I was a wreck by late high school, I’d say. Then undergrad being a sea of sexual assault meant new layers of crap piled on to the early stuff.

    Never too late to start loving yourself, is it? Who knew it would take years of gradually rinsing away the calcified residues of stresses past before some of the oldest, most caked-in-there ones would start to loosen?

    So clear to me now that as long as I continue to be a walking ball of anxiety and self-doubt, I will only attract men who expect and want that. In the case of the most recent exAC, my doubt and anxiety likely was attractive in that it meant I could be easily controlled or lied to, because I barely trusted myself. No more normalizing this constant low-level (sometimes not so low!) worry/anxiety/fear/anger!

    • Leisha says:

      Awesome Magnolia! You have come down to the crux of the origins…congratulations! I was so hoping you’d get there! You have the heart and intelligence to do all you need…I am so glad for you!

  41. Sugar and Spice says:

    I used to believe that the more stress I handled the better: I had an attitude of “bring it on!” .

    So many people in my life used to tell me “You sure put up with a lot” and “You need to take care of yourself,” and they were right. I put up with a lot just like my mother did, just like I did as a child, and I got off on it. It made me feel like I was a strong woman because there wasn’t anything that any of my ex’s, coworkers, management, family, etc. could do to break me…I am used to chaos, and used to bad treatment; it is scary how some things don’t bother me, and they really should!

    For example, I put up with a lot of mistreatment on my job (What boundaries? ), and I always overextended myself, stroking my own ego because somebody needed my help, and I was able to help them, never mind the dark circles under my eyes, and I basically looked and felt like shi&. Taking care of myself? wtf is that?

    It finally occurred to me that I didn’t have to “take it in the first place.” I didn’t need to do this to survive as I did as a child, and I thought: You can just opt out of the madness.

    And then, it dawned on me that I didn’t need to get angry about everything that was bothering me, nor did I have to retaliate against people, etc.

    It is amazing to me how misguided I was…oh how I allowed other people to take advantage of me, and oh how I was so addicted to external validation, and I never thought I had self-esteem problems, not me, right? I am strong. Well, …. I am so grateful that I love myself enough to take care of myself now. Baby steps, baby steps…eating right, exercising, facing my problems, meditating, praying, trying to flow with the Universe, …managing stress…still learning…still trying to change…but it’s “gettin’ good.” Geeshhh, but honestly, some days I am so confused, and I fight not to get angry when I realize that there is yet another thing about me that needs to change.

    • grace says:

      I hear you regarding the job! When I started my job I was so eager to be please and be liked that I was helping people out right, left and center. Then my job became more demanding, and my boss point blank told me to concentrate 100% on a particular task. I had to stop helping people. And, get this, they were ANNOYED that I couldn’t help them anymore. And started BITCHING about me behind my back. Even to my face.
      If you help people too much, they take it for granted and suddenly YOU end up being the bad guy when you have to say no. They’re grown people getting paid as much as I am, if not more. Do your own freakin job! These men you deal with are adults. He can pick up his own flippin dry cleaning (or whatever).
      Of course, I’ll still help if I’m asked nicely or I see someone is sinking. But I’m no longer putting myself in the line of fire.

      • Sugar and Spice says:

        Oh yes Grace, our time is just as valuable as theirs, and they need to do their own job, and I don’t need to do things for my man that he can do for himself. As you said, I don’t mind helping people, but I too have learned to set boundaries…limits–it really reduces my stress.

        And, “adult men,” doing things for them…oh, boy, I don’t want to even get started on how much they don’t REALLY value that kind of support. You know, kind of like the woman who puts her man through medical school, and then he decides he needs to leave her for someone else–“Thank you so much honey, I will always love you, you have been a great friend to me, but I need to spread my wings and fly to the next lever without YOU–it’s time for an upgrade,” or, “You know honey, we’ve grown apart; I’m sorry, but this just isn’t working for me anymore; you are the cause of my misery; I don’t think you are the “one,”–‘gotta go,’ but hey if it doesn’t work out, I’ll consider you…baby, you can be my option, just lose your dignity and respect, wait for me, stress out every day from all of the self-deprecation, and I’ll give you a fantasy that will rock your world. Hey, you don’t know how to create your own life, so I know your’re “in,” and so do you. …been there done that (I didn’t put a man through medical school; I supported a man who left me for greener pastures without blinking and eye), still makes me want to puke my guts out!

        I am so grateful that I learned this lesson before I destroyed my health from all of the stress. It is sooooooooo nice to take all of this energy that I invested in them, and invest it in myself and my family, and my life, etc.

        I didn’t have a clue as to how much of my time I was giving away to other people…oh, it still makes me shutter to think about how much I was putting on myself…oh, the stress…. glad it is “history,” but I won’t let myself forget it because I do not want to repeat it.

        • runnergirl says:

          Sugar & Spice and Grace, thank you for posting your comments regarding your situations at work. This post and your comments really helped me connect some important dots. I’ve done the same thing in my professional relationships as I have done in my personal relationships creating stress beyond belief. “Bring it on”, was my motto, although I could barely keep my head above water. Oye vey. Head smack. Gulp.
          Here’s the thing, there is a new admin job opportuntity at another institution and I’ve been struggling all week with the niggling doubts. Should I apply? I have the perfect teaching job now, can arrange my own schedule, and there is abolutely no, none, nada stress. Do I want to jump back into the admin fire? Is it me, my low self-esteem, my insecurities? It it the fact that I would give up lifetime job security, unless I commit a felony? Your comments provided great clarity for me. I put up with such absurd sh*t in my professional life at my current institution propping up high ranking adminstrators who were paid substantially more than me and when it came time for them to step up, they stepped and bailed on me. I was clearly on crack professionally and personally. As I addressed my niggling doubts about the new job opportunity, I found that I don’t have to carry that load of baggage into a new job opportunity just like I don’t have to carry past baggage into a new relationship. I also didn’t want to apply because it would mean updating my resume and the exMM and I worked on it together last year. He wrote some nice things. I figured I can’t avoid my own resume forever so I sucked it up this weekend and updated my resume, despsite some tough moments. My bottom line or boundary, thanks to you all, I won’t accept any pay less than I’m making now, although the starting pay is $15k less than I’m making now. I won’t prop up highly paid administrators creating undue stress for me. Niggling doubts are no longer niggling me when I get clear on my boundaries. I HAVE BOUNDARIES for the first time ever both professionally and personally. I feel safe for the first time ever because I’m watching out for me and not trusting some random alpha male who reminds me of my father be they in in guise of a professional colleague or a romantic interest. A crossroad for me. Thank you.

  42. Donna Lopez says:

    I need help with this one. After reading this post I started thinking about the degree to which insecurity played a part in my relationship. I read some older posts about insecurity and I have to conclude that I was insecure in this relationship. I’ve always had self esteem issues and can e sensitive at times but I can’t seem to untangle where my insecurity starts and his shady behavior stops.

    • Sushi says:

      Hi Donna,
      I `m the same, feeling insecure in my relationships. Trying to get my head around my own contribution here to see if it is me that ruins them for no good reason ( as was told by my ex EUM. ) I did some experimental thinking: how would I feel/behave if the red and amber flags were not flying? I would have nothing to watch cautiously, nothing to “work out” from vague and conflicting messages and behaviour and nothing to feel insecure about. I also played the relationship in reverse- if I behaved like he did- he`d be outraged, gone, no second and ninth chances or explanations. The deeper I went into my bad relationship the more insecure I felt. The only way to feel secure is to trust in your own judgement and just accept your perceptions as right. I am having a great deal of trouble getting to that place, but think it would make me feel very peaceful. We are too harsh on ourselves, we need to give ourselves second chances, not them.

    • Lynda from L says:

      Donna Lopez,
      You may be in danger , and it’s a big danger of equating insecurity,hot and cold behaviour/drama, his aloofness…not getting in touch with passion and strong bonds or even a sense of challenge. A loving relationship, with mutual respect, whatever form it takes does not make you feel insecure. Ask yourself who you have been attracted to in the there a pattern? That’s the starting point.
      If you recognise that you are addicted to that kind of shady behaviour…tipping point!
      Check out some of the posts mine and others from the last article(one before this)There is some useful discussion about what you are raising…how we equate insecurity basically as a green light??when we should be saying ‘Whoa!!!!’

    • grace says:

      Don’t imagine that if you were less insecure he would have been a better boyfriend. Your insecurity is a factor, but not in the way you think. You picked him and stayed with him because you’re insecure. If you had been more secure you wouldn’t have picked him and he wouldn’t have picked you. For him to be himself , ie shady. he needs an insecure woman. A secure one would see his BS and kick him to the curb.
      Or, maybe, he picks a secure woman and gradually grinds her down.
      You being “better” wouldn’t make him better. It doesn’t work like that.
      Moral of this story – up your self-esteem and your personal security THEN find a man.
      Of course, if he had been a decent, upstanding man then a girlfriend’s insecurity could possibly wreck the relationship. I expect it would get tiring being doubted and questioned for no reason. But I don’t get the impression that this is the case for you.

    • Natasha says:

      Donna, I’ve been in a simlar position and I want to second EVERYTHING Grace said. Even if you have insecurities/self esteem issues, these things don’t “make” a man act shady. It’s totally normal to feel insecure in a shady relationship – in fact, it’s the only rational way to feel. That uncomfortable feeling is saying loud and clear, “Bad situation.” Speaking personally, now that I’ve taken a lot of time out to work on my own insecurities, I think, “If I had addressed my self esteem to begin with, I wouldn’t have given this guy the time of day.” If your ex was a Shady McGee – that’s on him, not on you!

    • NML says:

      Donna, I think you’re still going through the two steps forward, one, two steps back phase. It’s like you won’t rest till you can blame yourself and you’ll find you’ll never be able to make yourself responsible for his actions unless you lie to yourself.

      It was not a figment of your imagination Donna. Don’t even bother bullshitting yourself further. You did not imagine what happened and if you think that your insecurity caused his actions, you have such great powers, you should be running a country. Being insecure and being with a thoughtless jackass aren’t mutually exclusive.

  43. Fantasy Girl says:


    “One time I went one year without speaking to him and the next time a year and a half. He called me. It was always the same thing: he wasn’t ready for a relationship or the kind of serious relationship I wanted. He actually told me: I don’t care about you the way you want me to. I can’t tell you how much hearing that hurt. But I still thought I could change the situation. In one of our on stages, he actually told me that he couldn’t fall in love with anyone anymore because the first three, and only, girls he loved cheated on him. That was his sob story.”

    You have to admit that had you known of BR you would have tossed him after the first time he disappeared on you. So you let a bad relationship go on a little too long and he ended up with another girl (he likely does not treat well either). We learn from this stuff. You deserve better. Focus that anger on love for yourself. Do something good for yourself today. The best revenge truly is happiness.

  44. Darkness says:

    I too have wasted time with a MM who dated me, married someone else and claimed he made a mistake. Each time NC was on he would show up at the door to interupt the time away. He would claim he was tired of his situation and needed to get his life together. After seeing me things would go back to the usual BS. When I’d call him out on it, he would stop contact or answering my angry text. He won’t want to talk because he would say I am fussing. You think!!!! After bullshi#ing for so long!!!. There is a saying, “Piss or get off the pot!!” When things go back and forth for so long you start to forget any of the good times and start to realize all of the crap layed at your door. That crap (sh#t) starts to pile up and stink after several years!!! That’s when you have to get a pooper scooper and throw him and the crap in the receptacle!!!!

    • molly says:

      LOL @ pooper-scooper.

      Yep, sooner or later you just get sick of dealing with the “drama.”

      It ends up not being about him, or the two of you. It ends up being about the “drama.” Reminds me of that line, “Sooner or later you just get sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

      Basically, you have to hit bottom with a lot of these guys. Where’s the bottom? If we’re emotionally healthy, it’s after the first or second assclowny thing they do.

      If we don’t have our heads screwed on straight, the bottom can be a l-o-n-g ways off into the future with multiple incidents of bad behavior and assclownishness in between.

      How badly are you willing to be treated? Ask yourself that every time you have an “incident” with these guys.

      I also saw a great quote on a fitness forum: “It’s hard to be overweight, tired, and out of shape. It’s hard to lose weight and exercise. Pick your hard.”

      So pick your hard, ladies. It’s hard to be with ’em, it’s hard to be without ’em. Which one of the “hards” leaves you with your sanity, your dignity, and your love of self more intact?

      • Australia says:

        So pick your hard, ladies. It’s hard to be with ‘em, it’s hard to be without ‘em. Which one of the “hards” leaves you with your sanity, your dignity, and your love of self more intact?

        Love this.

    • NML says:

      Darkness, I’d stop calling him on it. It’s like chasing someone up to ask them why they’ve hoodwinked and bullshitted you again. It’s obvious – he was never going to do what he claimed he intended. Every time you allow him any access to you, you’re saying ‘I’m still an option for your married, lying arse”

  45. Rachael says:

    I love this post. I dated and was engaged to a guy who pretty much abused me in almost every way. It was like I knew what was happening was wrong, but I think I didn’t feel I could do any better- which was crazy because I was (and still am) the sweetest person and gorgeous too. 😉 I had nightmares constantly about running from some unseen danger the entire time I was with him. He was my own personal monster and my very soul was screaming “DANGER” and “RUN” but I just kept trying to ignore it. I shut down all logic and hoped things would get better. They got worse. It made me very sick. I finally took my “soul cue” and fled the relationship. The nightmares stopped and I haven’t looked back since.

    • Apricot says:

      My goodness Rachel! I would have nightmares like that TOO. For months on end of a man trying to hurt me continually. And in each dream he would become more terrifying, more hurtful, more painful.
      My heart, mind, and spirit were saying the same thing, to RUN, to get away and I didn’t and it got worse and worse, then I did stop it. And now I don’t have nightmares like that anymore. Actually, these few weeks when I see something horrible I fight it and win.

      I’m sorry you went through that but I am so very glad you got away from it.

  46. Magnolia says:

    Hi Complicated,
    Hoping you will block your exMM from your phone. You don’t need to see texts from him slowing you down.

  47. Spinster says:

    Good one.

    I’ve been acclimatised to stress for years. YEARS. I’m USED to my back hurting all the time. I’m USED to other pains. I don’t enjoy it at all. But I’m used to it and trying to learn how to be UN-used to it. I’ve gone to the doctor for a few tests due to chronic pain, the results of which will be available in a few days, and I’m close to 100% sure that the doctor will say that it’s just stress.

    The GOOD thing about this is that my job has a masseuse that comes in once per week (sometimes every other week) for 3 or 4 hours and gives each worker who gets a time slot 20 minutes of neck/shoulder/back massage. I’ve been dealing with him for well over a year now and he said that my back has JUST NOW started to mold to his hands – well over a year later. (Damn shame.) He also felt my legs when I told him about the pain and couldn’t believe how tight & tense they were. 😐 He works outside of our job, of course, and gave me his card to contact him for longer massage outside of work. He’s currently in bereavement, so I’m gonna call him at the end of the month. When I get the results back, he’s gonna say “I told you so.” 😐

    My rambling point is that I’m gonna try taking better care of myself. I’m looking forward to the longer massage and I may have to incorporate it into my life once a month or so. I’m not young, but I’m not old either and no one should live this way. Take it from me. (Luckily, the stress isn’t from romantic relationships. That’s absolutely not worth it.)

  48. Alice says:

    After 2 weeks of no contact with my ex EUM (who dissappeared), I made the biggest mistake in my life and texted him yesterday. There was a reason, of course. Someone stole my wallet in the bus while I was going downtown and in it I had all my money till the end of the month, all my credit cards and bus tickets and one card from the Super Market (in which I work). I had 2 and I had given the other one to him 2 months ago in case he wanted to buy products much cheaper (I have 10% discount because I’m an employee there). So I texted him to send me the numbers behind the card because I explained to him that I was stolen. Of course I was in a bad state because I really don’t know how I’m going to pull it off until the end of the month with no money at all. I guess I was upset and felt weak and vulnerable. I was ignored all day yesterday and today I texted him again telling him that all I wanted were the numbers and it would take him only one minute to send them to me. You know what? He texted me 5 min. ago writing only the mumbers. Nothing else. Not even “how I was doing”, nothing. I felt even more worse. We were 2 years together with on’s and off’s and I know he’s bad for me but I expected something more. I suspect he’s moved on and he doesn’t even care for me any more. It hurts. But what hurts even more is that I have to start NC all over again. And this time I must be determined to stick with it. I’m feeling so sad. I don’t want anything and anyone right now. I can’t even continue to write here my friends….I’m sorry.

    • JadeSesame says:


      Sorry to hear about your situation and your wallet getting stolen. It stinks, it’s awful to be ignored and it’s precisely these moments of feeling weak/vulnerable that will cause you to lapse back into contact, or to use whatever ostensible reason/excuse to get back in touch. You’re doing the right thing by NC, though the sense of finality, that this IS it, is devastating and hard to accept– this man’s ego is so inflated, he probably wants you to start crawling back to him, might not even make the initiative to get back in touch with you because he’s smugly confident and expects you to (just speculating.. I don’t know the details of your story, but there must have been a certain dynamic/pattern?). He’s rude, callous, and uncaring, showing you his true colors, yes it’s incredulous that you only received numbers but he’s showing you very clearly what he is prepared to offer you– disappearing when he feels like it, you having to put up with periods of inexplicable silence, not being able to stand it, getting back in touch with him, the whole cycle playing out itself. Men who pull disappearing acts deserve nothing but a solid kick in the butt. We need to regain our dignity, self-love and not crawl back to men who should be booted out, we make the decision of not wanting them, not the other way round. I wish you all the best in gaining objectivity and clarity for yourself. Take care. xo.

    • Leisha says:

      Alice, It wasn’t your biggest mistake…not at all, you received the info that you asked for, you were taking care of yourself (although I think you may have been able to get the #’s another way)…anyway he’s showed and is showing you how much he’s capable of caring/giving/empathizing with you (and truly, you don’t know what is in his mind or what is happening with him…but it obviously isn’t what you had in mind for a relationship of intimacy and caring) and it would be nice for you to realise that you have so much more to give and deserve to receive much more…learn here, explore and accept your feelings, heal, give it time…it does get better…

    • Fearless says:

      Aww, Alice that’s terrible and compounded by the EUM crap. You turn to these men for some support in a crisis imagining they must have some caring empathetic bone in their bodies for us and all you get is another bucket of ice thrown over you – cold, heartless f*ckers. Take care of yourself as best you can till pay day – turn to a real friend next time! x

  49. Sunshine says:

    Geez o petes. When I was with the king of mindf*ckery, I had over $1,000 in supplements in my cabinet…herbs, amino acids, vitamins, floral essences, anti-depressants. I spent tons of money at the doctor getting tests, I had migraines every single day for days at a time, I had zero energy and couldn’t keep a job. After owning my own successful business I could barely drag myself out of the house long enough to get a minimum wage part-time job, on threat of eviction. Of course the ex benefited tremendously when I had money and had nothing to offer when I needed help.

    When I told him I wouldn’t sleep with him anymore, we went around and around about I don’t even know what and it got so effed up I pulled out the tape recorder because we were in a “you said, no YOU said, I didn’t say….blah blah blah” loop from HELL.

    I had dream after dream after dream of calling 911, and of being attacked.

    And I thought it was just me. I couldn’t understand why I felt so bad.

    It has taken me YEARS to understand the level of damage I suffered. I would probably STILL believe the nutcase was my friend if it weren’t for this blog.

  50. Complicated says:

    Hi Fearless,

    I guess I had just hoped that my situation was different since we had known each other and dated seriously before he was married. I’ve known him since I was 19. We had gone our separate ways and reunited 4yrs ago and the spark was still there as we discovered over a lunch when I was in his town on business..but the difference was now he is married. I’ve put my thoughts and prayers into him daily for 4 years and now it feels as if it’s all gone…as if someone died. I know he wasn’t mine to begin with, but he was mine years ago. And his “I love you’s truly belonged to me. That’s just a little background on why I care what he thinks and feels. You’re right, I did want a reaction out of him and had hoped for more since we had a connection. Yeah, “friends” were not how I would characterize our relationship…nor would he, so not really sure why he’d say that. I don’t ask my friends to ‘sext’ me or meet me at hotels. I miss him and want to know he misses me too, but i’ll continue fighting the urge to send that text until the urge fades away. Feels as if I’ve been punched in the stomach and slapped across the back while being stabbed in the back!

    • Fearless says:

      Complicated, regretfully, I do understand your pain very well, but it doesn’t matter if it’s been fifty minutes or fifty years or who met who first and how long ago – shite is still shite (pardon my expression).

      The thing that strikes me about your comments is that you make an awful lot of assumptions about him based on how *you* feel. But you are two different people. What motivates him is not what motivates you. He is married to someone else.

      “and the spark was still there *as we discovered* over a lunch when I was in his town on business..”

      Obviously it was more of a “spark” for you than for him cos four years later and he’s still married to someone else. What does that tell you? Cos it’s got to tell you something. You were desperately reaching out for an emotional connection with him and what he wanted was a “sext” message. I know what that feels like, if it’s any consolation – but it’s got to tell you something about how different your needs and wants are. If you were meant to be together, if you had such a spark of connection, if he felt the same way as you do and wanted the same things as you do, you would not be so miserable. But you are. What does that tell you? You’re miserable for a reason – and it’s not because he is your Mr Right, it’s because he is very much your Mr Wrong.

      Love doesn’t hurt like this, complicated – it just works and it works because there are TWO people who are living in ‘normal’, in reality, two people both wanting and willing it to work. One of you doesn’t want it to work – one of you has a whole life and relationship going on with someone else (think of that while you’re pining after him) and one of you at least is not living in reality. In these OW/MM situations reality is a very ugly and hurtful place to inhabit; we’d rather makeup our own alternative romanticised version. It’s especially difficult if you’re the OW who imagines he is singing from the same hymn sheet as you – he’s not. He has a whole different song, you just were not listening to it. I hope you keep up NC and I wish you all the best. I’m sorry you are hurting; it’ll get better – but you need to get your head out of cloud cuckoo land.

      • grace says:

        fearless, complicated
        The reality IS ugly and hurtful. But so is shoring up the illusion, especially in the long run. We have to lie to ourselves every day, pretend we’re not as hurt as we are, pretend we don’t expect anything, pretend that a text every day is enough, pretend that someone who barely sees us is thinking of us. Hang onto the throwaway remarks they make as if they were gold. It’s exhausting, upsetting and numbing.
        complicated, how can he be your friend? He can be your friend the day he can invite you to his wife’s birthday party and introduce you to his mother in law. It just doesn’t compute.
        As fearless says, you are imagining that what you feel is what he feels. To you a friend offers support, is there for you, shares your ups and downs. To him a friend is just someone on layby that he can call up should he want to, at his convenience and for his purposes.
        they all chuck this “friends” thing about. he’s not that special.

        • Fearless says:

          “We have to lie to ourselves every day, pretend we’re not as hurt as we are, pretend we don’t expect anything, pretend that a text every day is enough, pretend that someone who barely sees us is thinking of us. Hang onto the throwaway remarks they make as if they were gold. It’s exhausting, upsetting and numbing.”

          Yep. That was all me – one tablet of relationship amnesia four times a day and one teaspoon of pretend elixir after every meal…. you can go on like that for years.

          I much prefer the complete Natalie Lue bullshit diet – works wonders!

        • Complicated says:

          Hi Grace,

          Good to hear from you! You are spot on as always. A friend is always there and offers support when needed and can share ups and downs. This, is what *I* did for him. And no, he wasn’t there for me. Just last month when I wasn’t feeling well and he hadn’t heard from me in a day, he sent me a text to check on me. When I told him i wasn’t feeling well, he said “bummer.” That makes me want to cry and I have a heaviness in my chest just thinking back on it. So, the very idea that he would text “Can’t believe you want to stop being friends” is appalling!!! As Fearless said above, we all know friends isn’t what he wanted from me. He has enough friends that he banters with and can actually hang out with. He hangs out with them every weekend and posts their pics all over the social sites. Also, a friend would have responded when I broke NC and texted back “What, no i’m sorry, what can I do, don’t go etc?” If anything, he would have considered that an open door opportunity to come back into my life right??? But of course, he didn’t respond. I don’t need a friend like that. I don’t need someone who wants to dip in and out of my life, I want someone who’s going to be there for me as much as I plan to be there for them. Watch him pop up out of nowhere just as I start to get my head on straight!! That would be typical. When I asked him last year why he started talking to me again after him going NC on me, he said “I just got tired of fighting it.” I don’t have to fight off talking to my “friends.” Sooo very mad at him right now, I don’t even know what to say. Hey thanks…maybe I’m ready to move into the MAD stage from this grieving stage :). Tired of feeling sad, numb, and rejected all the time.

      • Complicated says:

        Hi Fearless,

        I appreciate your comments. Thanks for helping with another day of NC. I made it! You know, I did make assumptions based on how I feel, but I’ve also made them on his actions since they’ve spoken louder to me than words… according to him, “he’s not good expressing his thoughts or feelings for me”. Excuse me while I throw up haha! Funny thing is, 4 years ago I’m the one who fought him off for months and told him I couldn’t do this nor could I even remain friends. I bet you can guess all the nice things he said and did to “woo” and win me over. The daily “I miss yous” “good mornings, and good nights” texts started pouring in. The sweet words definitely got emotionally connected to him…but now you have me wondering what all this was to him. I’m now second guessing the past 4 years. The visits where no sex was involved, just two people sitting quietly together taking in sights and talking over wine were wonderful. There was no sex even until 3years later. At that lunch date years ago, I reached to shake his hand when it was over and that’s when he grabbed me into his arms and kissed me. Like something straight out of a movie. When I asked what that was for (shouldve slapped him looking back on it), he said “I needed to know if the spark was still there and it was”. So, the emotional relationship for me began at that point. He just became scared and yo-yo’d in and out of my life for the next 3 years. I know he had feelings for me, but as you said, not the same as I did (and not as intense).You are right, he is my Mr. Wrong and doesn’t want it to work. He’s married to his best friend’s wife’s best friend. He told me there was no chemistry (after they’d been married one year). But obviously she has something great to offer him. He’d have more to lose than me. It’s a very hurtful place to be and I wish I had never seen him all those years ago to reconnect. Now, I’m the one picking up the pieces while he’s out enjoying life with his wife and friends and I don’t even feel like leaving the house. Reality sucks right now.

        • Fearless says:

          complicated, good luck.
          “I’ve also made them on his actions since they’ve spoken louder to me than words… ”

          Have a wee think more about those “actions” – married man; lying and cheating, keeping you stringing along… sweet texts every morning???So what – texts are the lazy man’s idea of a relationship – how much effort does that take on his part? The right man would not be sending you texts – he would BE there.

          His actions tell me a very different story than they are telling you. You have normalised crumbs and you see them now as a big “action” loaf on his part. I just see crumbs.
          all the v best!

        • JadeSesame says:

          I’d been following your thread, I hope you’re feeling as well as you can be. You will make it through NC, if you believe that you can and if you want it enough :)

          “he’s not good expressing his thoughts or feelings for me”. You know, Complicated, it’s difficult to face this, but the depth of expression and medium of communication he has opted for, is all commensurate with the level of emotional involvement he feels for you. I’ve heard this line before, and we like to imagine our men as burying some unfathomable, deep, monumental love within their souls that cannot be articulated verbally. But you know, it’s self-delusion when we perpetuate this thinking, we end up lying to ourselves by inflating the significance of a line like this, and attribute more meaning to it than what really is there.

          You talked about his actions speaking more than words. What are they? NML writes a lot on this site about how EUMs and ACs do lovey-dovey things to reel us in, to reaffirm control and the status quo. If you fought him off before (and if he did love you, hypothetically), the loving and respectful thing he would have done would have been to honor your boundaries and leave you alone instead of coming back to chase you in circles.

          Maybe you could ask yourself honestly, in your sober, quiet moments: what is it you like about him? How does he make you feel? And make a list of all the actual, concrete actions that he has done. It’s all too easy to became fixated on asking the wrong questions, of “why doesn’t he want me. why doesn’t he miss me”. Is it love, or dependency? I think NC would be easier if you come to a point where you truly are ready to do it, desperately needing to restore your emotional well being. Perhaps start by actually visualizing flushing him out of your life? Fake it till you make it? (I did a mini visualization ritual every morning when I moved my bowels, literally, I associated flushing the toxins/waste material out of my body with the ex EUM, whose name I’d mutter).

          “I miss him and want to know he misses me too, but i’ll continue fighting the urge to send that text until the urge fades away.”

          Advice: DELETE HIS NUMBER, honey! And every single trace of him in your phone/computer, saved messages in the sent folder, so you won’t be fighting this urge. Take care of yourself xo

          • Fearless says:


            Yes Jade sesame – that is well put, that the method of communication they choose is commensurate with the level of emotional involvement they feel. We normalise their crumbs like texting and emailing as if it’s a normal and effective way to run and contribute to a relationship. It’s not. It’s worse than useless and that’s why they like it so much. They don’t use texting as a means to communicate – they use it as a means NOT to communicate.
            So it says a whole lot when we’ve to fight the urge (and stress ourselves out no end over it) to send him *a text*! A text, for god’s sake! it shouldn’t really be that hard. But just one more measly text message will make all difference, won’t it? Not.

            I’m about a year down the trot from my NC trials – about seven months since I saw “him” last and with every week that passes I feel less and less for him. I have no “urges” at all now, except to slap him, maybe. I see him as a very different man than I saw him as a year or more ago. I see a coward and and a very duplicitous and untrustworthy character and I just would not want to go back there treading that murky water and dealing with all that stress (mostly over crap like texting!). These men are all cloak and dagger, smoke and mirrors and trying to be with them, to love them, to get anything real, tangible or authentic out of them is really a very unpleasant experience altogether, which I have come to realise very clearly. I wouldn’t entertain his crap for one minute in my life now. The thought of letting him back in would actually frighten me. I would be fearful of the consequences. I was fearful when he was in my life – that’s the stress they cause I think – fear.

            Thank you Natalie for helping me so well to come to this much better place where I am listening to me, finally, I hear the voice inside me telling me to stop, look, listen, sit up, wake up, take notice cos Fearless, you in danger girl! That voice that I stifled and gagged for so long has now taken centre stage. If ever there was a Mr Wrong for Fearless it was that manipulative fecker of an EUM. Good riddance, I say!

  51. Complicated says:

    Wouldn’t you know he started texting me this weekend?? First there was a “hey”. Yep, big words there! Then, he sent a “you don’t have to reply, I don’t understand why you wont…but whatever. Your team is slipping in the rankings. Just thought you should know.” He can’t understand why I wont reply??!! He never replied to my heart felt message. I’m gonna fake it til I make it!!! He is garbage that I’m discarding. Ugh. Stupid crumbs..but at least I see what they are now.

    • Fearless says:

      “He can’t understand why I wont reply??!!”
      Reply to what? There’s nothing to reply to. There never is! He has thought it’ll be good enough for you that he ignores/dismisses your heartfelt email. You’re not supposed to have any expectations and that’s the lesson he is teaching you here; should you choose to learn it! He’s managing down your expectations; should you choose to have them managed.
      He’s just poking you to see if you get it yet. They really do have some gaul: “hey”? Wtf is that? and “…but whatever”. Yes, quite. Whatever. Me, bothered? Not.

      I always remember Natalie’s post that talked about how they come back to poke you like a nasty child who tries to kill a cat and keeps coming back to poke it to see if it’s still alive (cos if it is they can have some more fun with it). That’s all this guy’s texts amount to, Complicated. My EUM used to do same thing – he’d text with some benign thing about an interest we both have – it’s an excuse to get you to show him you are still willing to be a doormat/an option for him – he’s just checking up on your status on that. That’s all it’s about. Pffft. Pathetic.

      I’m probably prattling on too much on this thread of the post – but I sure do get mad on other people’s behalf!

  52. JadeSesame says:

    Love hearing about how far you’ve come on your journey of self-empowerment. So much of what you write resonates and I take delight and consolation in the fact that one’s life is in fact, much more beautiful and better without an EUM. Texting IS a way of non-communication and especially when it isn’t supplemented by anything else, it’s the best tool to assert control, distance, inauthenticity, frivolity, deception, in short, keeping it casual. Can’t believe I was once that girl who could be euphoric over SMSes of sweet nothings, his SMSes when he was in the mood to reply, were all faux assurance. Worst than nothing. How dangerous and foolish it is, to believe that it is a sign of reciprocity. Very glad to hear that you’ve disentangled yourself, Fearless, that you’ve arrived at a more objective picture of him (I pity my EUM) and yes, you’re so right in saying that the predominant experience of them was that of fear– fear of losing him, fear of him not replying to a SMS, fear of me being too “pushy”. Hearing stories from women like yourself, Natalie’s and all the open sharing via BR, keeps me grounded, hopeful, wiser and inspired.

    I hope you won’t fall off the NC bandwagon, but unfortunately it may take multiple regressions before we can say, THAT’S IT! (I feel like I’m doing NC for at least, the 30th time over 2 years and this time, it’s for real. Am only 2 months into official NC, but I’ve been convinced enough that he deserves not love, but a hard kick in the ass, I am the one who should start loving myself and that means booting him out of my life, no question about it). I think the key to start this disentanglement, is that we must want and start imagining a life without the EUM. Was unthinkable once upon a time, but it does get better with time and with the “right” investment of energy. :)

    • Fearless says:

      Thanks Jade S
      I have found that reading all the posts on here about other people’s EUM experiences has eventually led me to see quite plainly that mine is exactly the same. No different. Complicated’s recent comments are a good example, which is why such comments arouse an emotional reaction in me. Sooner or later reading BR over a long period we can’t fail to see “him” for who and what he is – if we are reading about “him” almost every day on here and recognising him we will see it, eventually! Grace said recently something about how gobsmacking it is when we finally comprehend that the man we looked up to, loved, even worshipped for so long is just another dickhead. That is my experience exactly! I took my time, but I see it now and yes, it is quite gobsmacking but at least it makes us truly done with him – and we can get out of the water now that we realise we were in there up to our necks, treading away, all by ourselves.

      • JadeSesame says:

        It’s true. For the first year at least, I was perplexed by my dark Byronic romantic hero/Mr. Mysterious/Mr. romantic ambiguity/ Mr. Man of few words. Then I discovered BR a year later and got a bit wiser, was quite horrified to find my own story echoed all over here in various permutations, women sharing the same sentiments, but I still slid back into my old patterns, became a BR dropout, hoping that my man could be different. Now I’m back, with my eyes open. Multiple rounds of chemotherapy to get rid of a malignant tumor. I am now realizing I was soooo unimportant and literally, zero priority in his life, that I’m not even worth the fun anymore, he’s not even the sadistic child poking to check if the abused cat is still alive (I was so consistently attentive, I probably got boring and there’s always someone else in the narcissistic harem to keep him happy). Things were going “well”, I had my goodnight kisses via SMS up to 2 months ago, he went abroad on a trip and promised to email/send a photograph with a koala, but never did, never responded to my last SMS. I’m not writing back (having reached a point of nausea, after allowing myself to be strung on and was sick to the bones of being the one to always ask/enquire, was sick of these fizzle-out pseudo conversations via SMS), ever, and I know he won’t contact me too. Have had enough confirmation that I am practically nothing to him (this still haunts me at night, jolts me like a bolt intermittently, in my daily life… am beyond the “I’m so in love” phase, it’s more of disbelief, incredulity, that I really mattered so little. I think Complicated mentioned how she’d expressed her hurt/emotions and we normally assume that the other person would get it and want to treat us better (after we communicate our hurt, I did it all, 2 ten page hand written letters, hundreds of SMSes, even crying in his presence this summer in which he “comforted” me, I thought it was a turn around, that we’d reached some deeper understanding, because according to him: “you’ve made me open up to you due to your female mental powers”). But nothing changed. All stupid, flirtatious empty, banter. He just wanted to poach me from my then-boyfriend. My friends were all against him, for good reason. That’s the insipid ending to a one-sided casual relationship, no passion, no heart-to-heart talking it out, no truth. I…

        • Fearless says:

          Jade S

          I so hear you! Mine doesn’t poke me with the stick either (he used to before I became NC serious) – but never when he knew I was really pissed at him – he does the total and complete silence thing and would require an invitation from me to come back and be a total jackass all over again.

          I should be glad for that cos, like you, I *know* when I won’t hear from him. Like you I did get very very “sick to the bones of being the one to always ask/enquire, was sick of these fizzle-out pseudo conversations via SMS)”

          Yep, it becomes nauseating. They (and their whole MO) become nauseating.

          Like you I too “Have had enough confirmation that I am practically nothing to him”

          I know this feeling very well: “…(this still haunts me at night, jolts me like a bolt intermittently, in my daily life…”

          I am over that now, for the most part; I am more now taken aback at the consistency of my thinking now- that he truly is a person that I would do well to avoid! I don’t doubt my decision to get away from him. I am certain of it. Consistently.This is real progress for me -I feel happier, more cheerful generally, more confident, less stressed, more self-aware and self-caring.

          I too “am beyond the “I’m so in love” phase”. And yes, I went through months and months “of disbelief, incredulity, that I really mattered so little.” But now’s the good bit – that you will get to very soon: I don’t care much now that I didn’t matter to him. I have stifled those thoughts now so long it’s second nature to me – I think it’s also cos I matter now to *me*! And more, HE doesn’t matter to me; what he thinks, anyway, doesn’t matter to me. Not anymore. New doors are opening all the time, bringing in fresh light and these things (aforementioned) are the changes that are really beginning to take root in my consciousness now. E.g. I matter/he doesn’t matter/I don’t matter to him/I don’t need to matter to him. Yay! I don’t care that I don’t matter to him! And from where I started…well, who would have thunk it! It’s a miracle!

          What I know and am determined about is that I will be damned – damned! – if I ever allow him to make *me* feel bad about *me* ever again. Don’t let him have that, Jade S, not that, above all things, not that. Not anymore.

          • JadeSesame says:

            Thank you for sharing and the encouragement, Fearless. Your words made me beam (and laugh, at the uncanniness of the first paragraph!). That is a hallmark of true progress and transformation on your part, indifference is not a lamentable state and there’s nothing to mourn or nostalgise. I’m hope I’ll get to the state of consistency/clarity that you speak of, I feel I have them but they’re still elusive and fleeting. At least, no more crying spells :) There’s much to celebrate in your life, sans him. I believe you’ll find someone who truly deserves, loves and appreciates the being that you are. x.


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Start any of my courses within the next 48 hours and take advantage of the low prices in my summer sale. Current courses include Build Your Self Esteem, The Pattern Breaker and The People Pleasing Diet.