When you don't know & assert your needs, you end up hungry in crumb filled relationships.

If you don’t have a clear view of who you are as a person and you’ve become used to suppressing your needs, expectations and wishes by being passive, you will have found yourself in situations, particularly relationships, where your needs aren’t being met and you’re at conflict with your values. This gives way to potentially busting your own boundaries possibly while others are busting them too.

In order to be in a mutually fulfilling relationship, you need to have enough self-knowledge to understand what you need in in order to feel happy and authentic, as well as knowing how you want to live – your values. When you neglect to reflect on and live them, you end up lacking the self-awareness to opt into situations that are befitting of you.

Decisions will be made without understanding if if they’re a reflection of you, because without being able to go through the consideration stage of decision-making and evaluate based on self-knowledge as well as possessing the self-trust to listen to you in the first place, you haven’t got very much information to go on. To make matters worse, you may actually be seeking approval from the other party or even expecting them to fill voids and give you an identity. This puts them on a pedestal where you can end up assuming that be pleasing them and gaining validation that somehow the needs, expectations, and wishes that you don’t understand, articulate or even respect, will somehow be met by them.

When you understand your needs, you understand your values. When you recognise your values they also tell you about what you need. This is for you to work out and when you don’t, it’s why you end up feeling like something is “missing” or that you’re being neglected.

Being attracted to someone and wanting a relationship with them doesn’t mean that you’ll have a great relationship with your needs being met. When two people are willing to value themselves and meet and respect their own individual needs and values, they’ll be happiest in relationships and situations where they share common values.

If you’ve ever been in a relationship where the other person was happy as Larry with the status quo while you’ve been ‘hungry’ on a crumb diet, they’re content because from their perspective, what they feel that they need and want is being met even if from your perspective it’s not enough. If empathy isn’t their strongest suit, they’ll assume that if it’s alright with them, it’s alright with you.

When you live your life in a way that reflects and respects who you are, it’s harder to ‘wake up’ in situations being ‘surprised’ at how hungry or even malnourished you are because you seek out what you need, you recognise when it isn’t and you do the due diligence as a natural part of the process of getting to know someone.

You get a sense of this person as they unfold and you process the feedback from their actions and words (including what’s not said and done) as well as considering your experiences with them over time and then you relate it to the ‘data’ you hold on you. Whatever you’re going to continue in should resonate with your own value system. When we waver on how we feel about ourselves and don’t believe that we can go after what we deserve and even have needs in the first place, when we listen to that feedback, we can end up shutting down our concerns because we’re worried about ‘losing’ him/her and overriding our true selves with what we think that others would prefer us to be or do.

We go “Well I do need that but I have to hold it back because I don’t want to be ‘needy’…”

What you need to realise is that you have a bigger problem at hand when you’re prepared to lose yourself in your relationships. It leaves you very vulnerable with an identity that’s dependent on external validation from a specific person.

Life serves you lessons to teach you about where you need to adapt your thinking and behaviour and as I’ve said before, certain lessons will keep coming back like Michael Myers in Halloween until you’re ready to listen and apply the insights gained. Dates and relationships give you a window into positively understanding you further because when they don’t work out, there’s information in there about what values that you might not have realised you had or where you might have been at conflict with your values, and ultimately you also get some insight into what you need.

When I was ready to listen I realised that my relationship experiences weren’t some damning indictment of my worth as a person but they were telling me that I didn’t really treat me like a person of worth. I didn’t even think about values or what my needs might be and when I did, it was an afterthought when I was already feeling very invested. I needed to stop daddy hunting, I needed to be and do the things that I expected from others, I needed to be more proud of who I was instead of morphing, adapting and seeking approval.

How wonderful it would be to get it ‘right’ first time but in reality it’s trial and error and each experience if you take even a little time to positively learn from the insights gained is taking you closer to being in a relationship that’s more befitting of you.

Many people who find themselves ‘hungry’ in their relationships and recognise on some level that there’s a disconnect between what is wanted by each person go into change mode. They expect the other person to change so that their needs can be met even if aside from their needs not being met, they ultimately are at odds with their core values. It’s easy to go “I love them; they should change” or “If they loved me and wanted the relationship they’d change” but who they’d have to become would not be who they are and it still wouldn’t make you you. That’s your job.

Being self-sufficient doesn’t mean that you don’t need others but what it does mean is that you’re not deficient without others. Address your relationship with you and your relationships, romantic and otherwise will be more nourishing. Pretending that you don’t have feelings or needs is like trying to pretend that you’re not a person of any worth – that’s not an act that you should be wiling to pull off.

Your thoughts?

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159 Responses to If You Neglect Your Own Needs You’ll End Up Hungry In Your Relationships

  1. Kit-Kat says:

    WOW… Another ah-ha moment for me to say the least. I have always put everyone elses needs & wants ahead of my own. And of course that hasnt been working in my favor so time to change. They say its never too late eh :)

  2. Learner says:

    “When I was ready to listen I realised that my relationship experiences weren’t some damning indictment of my worth as a person but they were telling me that I didn’t really treat me like a person of worth. I didn’t even think about values or what my needs might be … I needed to stop daddy hunting, I needed to be and do the things that I expected from others, I needed to be more proud of who I was instead of morphing, adapting and seeking approval.”

    Wow, Natalie – yes! This post dually describes my behaviour and feelings towards my father AND the exMM. I love the idea of paying attention to what was NOT said and done. That speaks volumes! Six months after the “break-up” and ~ 4.5 months into NC, I still have days when I subconsciously judge myself based on my faulty or deficient processing of feedback from these men. I still feel hungry sometimes due to being fed crumbs by my dad, and by exAC. Other days, I feel great – when I am focusing on MY life, and on being the best person I can be – to others AND to myself. I am slowly starting to realize, and to FEEL, that I am whole without others, while still needing others. We are all worthy, because we exist! Dependence is not so healthy, but “interdependence” can rock!

    OK, you asked for our thoughts, and I will share my newly refined thoughts and beliefs – many of which have materialized because of you and your wonderful BR community.

    1)I deserve to be loved. I am worthy of this.
    2)I need a relationship partner to value and respect me as a person, while respecting themselves.
    3)I need honesty from friends, family, my partner.
    4)I need a partner who puts 100% into the relationship, to match the 100% that I am willing to put in.
    5)I need to be with a partner who shares my values, and hopefully shares some of my interests.
    6)I value the following (just my “top ten” – there are others!)
    a. Love
    b. Trust
    c. Family
    d. Honesty
    e. Integrity
    f. Respect
    g. Caring
    h. Friendship
    i. Passion (for life, NOT referring to sexual chemistry here!)
    j. Making the right choices

    I plan to make myself accountable for achieving all of the above! I have taken the exMM, AND my dad down from their respective pedestals. The exMM shares few of my values, so he is history, but he still occupies much too much of my brain power. I am fervently working on replacing thoughts and memories of him with new thoughts and memories (tougher than I would like, but it is what it is).

    I am working on my relationship with my original EUM – my dad. I know I will never change him, and I have given up trying. I am not that powerful. I know he has ways of controlling me, even into adulthood. But now that I have my BR knowledge, and have done some reading on ACOA and narc parents, I will do what I have to do to keep the peace with him, as long as my needs are respected. I will view any ego stroking I have to do with him, NOT as a way of him keeping control of me, but as a way that *I* can manage his responses to me – to keep things positive without sacrificing my needs or value as a person. (it’s actually quite easy to make him feel all nice and good about himself, which results in positive interactions. Not a huge price to pay). I am aware of what I am doing now. I will not compete with him, but will act with understanding, love, and respect for us both. I am seeing my dad this weekend, and I have decided to accept him for who he is, and to act kindly, while maintaining boundaries.

    I will not accept a relationship with anyone who I catch in major lies to me, nor with anyone who is already “taken”. I will put boundaries into place to protect my needs, values and heart.

    I will “pay it forward” to others by helping out where I can along life’s journey.

    Natalie – all I can say, as usual, is THANKS!

    • Teddie says:

      “We are all worthy, because we exist!”
      Absolutely! So true!
      All life is valuable! Just think of the potential we all have within ourselves going back millions of years to our earliest ancestor that has evolved to be us!
      Of course this holds true about the ACs as well, they too have a chance to change and evolve and become their best selves, bless their hearts, should they wish to put in some effort to have a look in the mirror and recognise this same potential!

      • Learner says:

        Yes, good point – the AC’s have potential too. It’s a shame more of them do NOT wish to put in this effort!

    • Freya says:

      HA HA! Learner,
      you and I must be on the same wavelength right now. I TOO have refined my thoughts and beliefs thanks in big part to Natalie and the BR community:

      ~Freya’s Relationship Rules~
      * In person, face to face, conversation is primary
      * Don’t tell me who you are SHOW me
      * Let’s talk about something other than sex and/or the past
      * Respect – Nuff Said!
      * No Scandal, No Drama

      ~Plan of Attack~
      * Become a Good Woman
      * Have fun and take a few risks/chances
      * Put honest effort into getting to know people
      * Pay attention to how you project yourself

      ~Suggestions on Becoming a Good Woman~
      * Lead by example
      * Take care of your body, mind, and spirit
      * See the good in people
      * Have firm boundaries
      * Use your instinct and intuition as a guide
      * Show off your beautiful mind
      * Have as much fun as you can
      * Savor every moment – Amor Fati (love your fate)

    • Little Star says:

      Thank you for your lists Learner and Freya, I need to print it and follow:)

    • runnergirl says:

      Nicely done Learner. I was in Natalie’s self-esteem e-course (highly recommended) and I couldn’t help but laugh at how my values had changed since discovering BR. My former top values were things like “fun, adventure, and passion” which are certainly nice and I fulfilled those values with the exMM but still ended up hungry. No wonder. Love, honesty, respect, commitment, and integrity are now my top values and I figure the fun, adventure, and passion will follow.
      YUP, YUP, YUP…it happened to me too. One day, as I was writing an Unsent Letter to the exMM, I realized it was the same Unsent Letter with regards to my father. I could mostly copy and paste.
      I’ve got the same Number One boundary: NO ATTACHED GUYS…talk about signing up for a steady diet of starvation and neglect.
      Good job Learner and good luck with your father this weekend.

      • Learner says:

        Little Star – glad you like them :)

        runnergirl – I would love to take that self-esteem course! How does one sign up? Yes, those top values are hearty and satisfying. The others are good for dessert :)

        Unsent letter to you father, huh? Great idea. I did the one to the exMM, but I think I will follow your lead and do one for my dad, too.I suspect it will seem eerily familiar, too! Thanks for the luck for this w/e :)

  3. Lilia says:

    Thanks for this post, it´s just what I needed to read right now and it makes so much sense.

    The thing that still confuses me is this: when you´re in a relationship that is leaving you hungry, and the other person is perfectly fine with how things are (say, a regular AC/EUM), what do you do? Just flush it altogether? Express your needs? Or do you not enter in such a relationship to begin with, because it doesn´t match your values?

    I understand that we ourselves are responsible for upholding our needs but there are a lot of people (I´m thinking of my father) who don´t bother to take them seriously. So, as I can´t really flush my own father, what do I do? Silence my needs (something I´ve done since childhood) or defend them even if it will lead me into conflicts with no end?

    • Rosie says:

      Lilia, if you’re not living at home with your parents then, yes, speak up for yourself in a respectful manner. If you’re living at home with them then standing up for yourself could leave you homeless depending on the type of parents you have. Speaking up for yourself in a respectful manner has nothing to do with what the other person deserves. If it’s with your father, saying what you need to say respectfully sends the “tell” to yourself and to him that you are a self-respecting adult. What he does with it is up to him but you control you. Keep your car keys in your pocket where you can feel for them easily. If your father replies in an abusive manner, walk away. You are an adult. You know how to find safety.

      (I’m emphasizing “adult” because it’s so easy to respond as children to our parents even when we are adults. I remember being 37 yrs. old, stamping my foot in a temper tantrum while telling my mother that she is being childish. 😮 )

      • Lilia says:

        Rosie, thanks for your feedback. It actually made me understand that I´m not seeing myself as the grownup I am in relation to my father. Which makes no sense, as I´m now a mother myself. Some years ago I went on a trip with him and my kids and I noticed I felt tense and was continually trying to avoid conflict so he wouldn´t get a bad temper (which he did all the time, instead of just enjoying being with his grandkids). It was very stressful but it was the first time I realized he was just a grumpy manipulative old man and that it was no fault of mine.

        Now I have to learn not to duplicate this pattern of feeling responsible for everyone else´s behaviour. It still takes effort to change my way of thinking and lately I feel that if I´m honest with myself, not many of my (male) friends are really worthwhile. I know there have always been nice guys around but somehow I prefered to relate with the ones who were too full of themselves. I´m wondering if I should just severe ties with them? This seems like some huge decluttering process.

        • kendo says:

          Lilia, I have had relationships like this all my life and it is only very recently I have realised it – with the help of a lot of counselling and this site.
          My sister is all I have left as my mum and dad are both dead. But she carries on the family behaviour that I am trying so hard to break free of. The pattern was set very very early that my needs didn’t matter as long as I was making everyone else happy. I lost myself very early and am now working on who I really am. Christmas is always a tense time for many of us but my sister wants it her way, my needs and wants are going ignored again. It is my chance to say this, break a cycle. I know I risk losing her (she gets angry and throws tantrums, calls me names) but hey, maybe she isn’t there for me to loose?
          Like you say its a decluttering process and it shows we value ourselves most of all, hard as it is. Love to you

          • La Pintura Bella says:

            Kendo & Lilia:

            I too have had relationships like this my entire life. It stems from having a narcissistic parent. It WAS my “normal” until I hit 40 and got into therapy. One thing I learned as I began healing and getting healthier is that some people are just plain toxic to us. If they are continually trying to control and busting boundaries, even when you stand up and call them on it, you CAN always flush.

            I too found I was “cleaning house” by ending contact with people who just dragged me down and really weren’t my friends. Funny, none of them have attempted to find out why we’re not in contact anymore. A sure sign the relationships were unbalanced and based on me giving while they took.

            Regarding what to do about a family member, just because they are related to you doesn’t mean you have to maintain a relationship if they are toxic, causing you untold pain, treating you with disrespect, etc. Sometimes, hard as it is, letting a family member go to be who they are and to spare yourself the constant pain IS called for and a true necessity. It is OK if it is what you need to keep your sanity and have peace.

    • P. says:


      I have been in a relationship like that for several months after my divorce. Finally, I “forced” a discussion. My unmet need was a lack of intimacy, physical and emotional. I clearly saw my bf did not have the need to be with me as much as I wanted to be with him. He offered committment, but did not have time more than twice a week for about 3-4 hours. Or perceived it that way. When I broached this subject he said he was perfectly happy. When I broached his subject again he said he needed to meditate on this for a few days. I did call him after and he said it would not work bc he was in a situation that he could not change for 2 years or more (living with his mother was one of the reasons). I gave up, but it was very hard. Sometimes I wonder if I should have waited? It has been 2 years since our breakup, and I realize my needs were not being met, but since I have not been in a serious relationship since then, my needs are still not being met (I would say only the sexual ones, though; I made a big progress on my own emotional state, loving myself and that feels very good.)

  4. gentle soul says:

    “I needed to be more proud of who I was instead of morphing, adapting and seeking approval”.

    This is very true for me. I tend to adjust, adapt, and even mimic behaviours and try to find “common ground”. E.G. when someone adopts a certain pose if you adopt that same pose it is an active listening response that shows interest etc. I work in the health care industry with all walks of people all the time and adopting similar behaviour seems to be a way of finding common ground and gaining trust and building rapour.

    With these skills built in I find I can tend to bring out different traites when I hang out with different people. Sometimes I feel like a camelion who has lost some of there sense of self and is not sure what colour and pattern to be today. It is okay to adjust and adapt in a relationship if it helps in a positive way but as soon as it becomes about validation then these useful skills become detremental.

    • MRWriter says:

      I suffer from being a chameleon too. I think it comes from being sensitive but I was a former actress so maybe I picked this skill up (I call it mirroring).

      I don’t do it consciously so it’s hard to work on it and there are sometimes when this trait does come in handy. If you figure out, lemme know. (-:

      • P. says:


        being a chameleon, i.e., people pleaser, does, I think, come from one’s childhood. I have a hard time seeing anyone would condition himself or herself that way on his or her own. It took me over 40 years and a very blunt therapist to realize this at the time I thought I needed help getting over my marriage. Given that, basically, I married my mother (makes me sick), after one sharp comment from a psychologist I felt like my whole identity fell apart and I needed to build myself back up. This was about a year ago and it is a back and forth process.
        There are many books that can help you determine what could be the cause; from what I have heard on this site most times we try to please others when we had narcissistic parents, were abused emotionally (or in other ways), or simply did not get our needs met for some reason.

  5. Heartache Amy says:

    Hi Learner,
    Thanks for sharing that. Those are all the things I’d like for myself. I, too, have accepted crumbs, from my ex-husband and then, two MM. My self-esteem is somewhat better than it had been, but it’s still low. I know I have to love myself, but what I can’t seem to understand is…how? My relationships have left me feeling less than worthy. And my outlook for meeting someone worthy of me is pretty bleak.

    • Learner says:

      Heartache Amy,

      At first I thought they were a bit “hokey’, but I find that affirmations are helping me to increase self-love. “I am focusing on me” “I am worthy of love” etc…helps to keep some of the “ex-thoughts” at bay, too! Therapy was also helpful. Hugs to you as you learn to love yourself more. You ARE worth it!

  6. teachable says:

    I have always said that one is not ready for a relationship one does not need to be in one. That is, until such time as one is independently physically, spiritually, financially, emotionally & socially fit & self sufficient. Although this involves a measure of healthy interdependence with others, codependency, emeshment or looking to another person to meet any of these needs is inappropriate.

  7. teachable says:

    Correction: I have not ‘always said…’ Rather, ‘many years ago, I was taught…etc’

    • Freya says:

      Very nice correction teachable.

      I too have always been taught not to be in a relationship until I was – all the things you listed, and probably more. The problem I see with this line of thinking is that it could lead to waiting for perfection. If you are never perfectly independent and healthy there is never going to be a relationship option.

      I don’t know about you but I have entered into relationships based on need. An example: After a falling out with a love interest I felt so empty and needed someone to love me. Yes, to validate me and tell me I am worthy of love. A male acquaintance saw my need and stepped up. He would constantly tell me he loved me, and tell me all the wonderful things about myself TO love. This lasted for maybe two weeks. Pretty much until I stopped crying.

      Without him I probably would have gone into depression. Though we played around at being romantic nothing ever happened in that direction. We are still friends, however, and talk once or twice a week online.

      I thank the universe everyday for sending someone to fill my need. I also thank the universe for giving me clear enough vision to see the true potential of that relationship. If I had not been paying attention I might have been hurt further instead of being healed.

  8. miskwa says:

    Tis funny, it’s always others who feel I should squash my needs, desires, settle, morph into someone less intellectual, less than, more average American. I’ve been told to dumb down, try to fit in since I was a child. B.S. I fully intend to keep living my life, keeping to my values. I do often try and kill my feelings by overwork not because I have no right to them but rather because I am tired of hurting, feeling sad, horribly lonely and cannot seem to fix it. I don’t enjoy life being that way nor do I get enough done as being sad makes me super exhausted. Often I do wish I could emotionally shut down for a few years.

    • P. says:

      Come on over to Denver sometimes, Miskwa! Even if you do not have 4×4 from what I hear there is not even enough now to go skiing…

      • P. says:

        sorry, that would be “snow”. Shutting down emotionally – I don’t know,but it sounds very hurtful to one’s soul.

    • Skadia says:

      I experience this on a daily basis. it’s like being a successful, intelligent woman in the U.S. is a curse. God help you if you’re even remotely attractive on top of it. Has anyone gone at you with the you expect too much? My least fave. Of course they have a really annoying habit of throwing my age out there too you really shouldn’t be so restrictive on what you want, you could be missing out on really great guys. besides I mean at your age most single guys are going to have kids. Huh.. interesting concept… I should dumb myself down and accept raising someone’s kid with him and his ex wife and all of the ensuing drama… sigh. SMH :( because that spells happiness…

      • rave says:

        I feel the exact same way you feel.

        Sometimes, I can get super angry when people feel they absolutely must tell me what’s wrong with me and how to fix my life.

        It helps to remind myself that sometimes, they mean well, even though they surely talk like they don’t know me well at all.

        I’ve come a long way baby! And I’m not settling for less. I was a nanny for years and though I adore children, I can only take care of someone else’s child when paid.

        I’m no Mary Effin’ Poppins. The thought of having to have all the inconvenients of living with children and none of the joys and advantages or even parental rights makes me angry that someone would even suggest that lifestyle for me.

        Older means you have to settle for less, accept the ugly, poor, derelict, fucked up guys! Nope!

        You work on yourself, you spend years bettering yourself, working on your issues, trying to respect yourself so you can get some divorced guy with 3 kids and a crazy ex to poison your life with his inadequacies and issues he hasn’t worked on because he was too busy changing diapers……Nope…

        On top of that, they are sexually inept and have already been used up by the ex-wife…
        Rant over.

        • Skadia says:

          BAHAHAHAHA! Well said! Yes, I am coming to the conclusion that I may miss the boat on having children of my own but I am not ready to throw in the towel on an appropriate life partner.

          Take heart, you aren’t the only one out there. HUGS

  9. Claudia says:

    The key word here is SELF-RESPECT.

    When you RESPECT yourself,

    1. You listen to your true inner voice and you PAY ATTENTION.

    2. You don’t bend at the will of others. (Boundaries, Nat would say)

    3. You look for your own well-being FIRST.

    For years I neglected myself, taking crumbs, doubting my self-worth and other self-punishing, self-disrespectful BS.

    I broke up with Iberian Assclown Master six months ago. Now he finally found his princess: a submissive lady who washes and irons his clothes, cleans his house, and believes he is a prince, even though of course he does not want her children anywhere near his house, but she has to cater to his children’s needs. To her, the fact that he lets her stay in his house for free is more than enough. TALK ABOUT CRUMB-FEEDING!
    Poor woman. She doesn’t know that he can’t love anyone because he doesn’t even love himself. That woman needs some BR.

    I, too, was crumb-fed at the beginning of the relationship. Then I ‘made him pay’ by choosing other guys over him just to see him come back to me begging me for another opportunity. I did this three or more times and I satisfied my sense of revenge until I broke down his macho ego to the minimum expression. However, in the process, I violated my core values, I lost a lot of energy, and most importantly, I wasted time I could have used on REALLY loving. I thought it was only his fault that I felt appalled at his reluctance to appreciate me for who I was. I should have known better. But now I do. Now my motto is: RESPECT YOURSELF.

    • Little Star says:

      Exactly Claudia, thank you! How can I expect to be loved and respected by others if I do not love and respect MYSELF?! Your comment and Natalie’s post “hit home”!

    • Allison says:


      Too much work!!!!

      How do you know the details of his current relationship?

      • Claudia says:

        I ran into him a couple of weeks ago at a bar. He made sure I knew how happy he was now that he “finally found someone who truly loves him”, while of course he flirted with me.

        His pattern is so obvious now.

        Looking within oneself is at times painful, but it pays off. BIG TIME.

        It also helps to learn to leave the past where it belongs, while taking with you all the lessons learned, so that the present and the future are as happy as they can be.:)

  10. searcher says:

    Learner, you totally said exactly what I was going to say. I agree with everything that you’ve written and I think we can all say that those are the things that we need to implement into our lives in order to become whole.

    To be honest, if it weren’t for Natalie and all of the feedback, I wouldn’t have realized all the things that I have in such a short amount of time. I still have a long way to go but I’ve made a ton of progress. I want to thank you all for your stories, advice and most importantly, for Natalie’s wise words. I have realized so much in the past 3 months after finding this site. I am finding myself with less desire to think of and miss my ex AC’s like I did before. Instead, I recall everything I’ve learned and remember that I am the one I need to love, not them. I am learning to respect and trust myself more. I know you hear it a lot Natalie, but I want to say I truly appreciate how much you’ve helped us all. You’re an amazing woman!

    • Learner says:

      Oh yes, Natalie’s blog and books have really kick-started my recovery from AC’s too. Thank you BR!

  11. Genie says:

    Heartache, have read most of your posts in the past year and IMHO you probably shouldn’t worry about dating right now. You sound like you still have some work to do and that’s okay. I think Natalie wrote a post about there not being a fire ( I paraphrase of course), try to revisit that. Try to love and take care of yourself first & from reading your comment, it sounds like you know that. Go to the gym, eat well, treat yourself to a manicure if possible, call and hang out with people you love and who love you back, force yourself out of the house, get a new hobby… Just try to get out of stuck- natalie’s words. I am rooting for you!

    • Heartache Amy says:

      Thanks Genie. It’s been a very hard year for me, between my divorce and my mother passing away. My life right now isn’t very fulfilling. I’m trying to bounce back, but it’s hard. I periodically wonder why it seems like everyone is happy, with someone, doing lots of fun things, and then I try to stop the self-pity. I know not everyone is happy, of course. But, it eats away at my sense of worthiness, I admit.

      • natashya says:

        i am sorry you’ve been going through such rough times, may. but keep in mind, things aren’t always as they seem. a lot of people who do have a partner, are not happy, either. i sometimes look at my friends who seem to have it ‘all’, but then when i scratch beneath the surface i see financial strains, illness, worries about children or jobs, having to take care of elderly parents, and the list goes on.

        i journal a lot and part of my journaling is giving thanks. i find reading this back and also writing, helps me tremendously, when i feel sad, broken and lonely.

        • Heartache Amy says:

          Yes, I try to remind myself that everyone has troubles and worries, even the people who seem to have it all. It would just be nice to get through life’s troubles with a caring, faithful and devoted partner. I’ve heard that journaling helps a lot. Although I write as part of my career, I haven’t been able to get the hang of journaling about my own life. I should probably try it again, though. Thank you!

          • natashya says:

            “It would just be nice to get through life’s troubles with a caring, faithful and devoted partner.”

            yep, it would be. i would love that, too… but better single than being in a relationship where you constantly wonder where you stand, get mistreated, ignored, abused etc. in my last (non) relationship, i felt ignored and rejected a LOT. it made me feel anxious and jealous (as he was treating the milk man, the dog down the street and even the ants in the backyard with a lot of respect and care, while walking all over me). those feelings of confusion, that knot in my stomach… that’s awful. i would wake up every morning hours before sunrise and just look at him sleeping peacefully and wondering what the hell i had done for him to be this turned off.

            my self esteem took a huge hit, but i’m working on getting it back. i have come as far to realise that as he said himself, it’s him, not me.

            if journaling is not your thing, it isn’t… but for me, it’s been helpful. i have entire lists of why i don’t want to be with the ex EUM. i have made lists of what i do want from a relationship and what i NEED. i read these on almost a daily basis, just to reinforce that i’m on the right path. it’s hard sometimes as i feel lonely a lot and my friends have grown tired of hearing about the ex EUM, but i’m unfortunately not quite done yet.

  12. La Pintura Bella says:

    Oh boy, did this one hit home.Which is why I am so very grateful that I have found this website. I’ve been aware for awhile now that I gravitate towards romantic relationships with EUMs and ACs and I’ve gone to therapy to unpack the underlying causes. The one thing that was missing though, was concrete ways to make these changes. Things like common values being the necessary ingredient on which to base and judge real compatibility; words and actions matching; and I’ve learned about the fast-forwarding and future faking; and most helpful the No Contact rule; all of which I’d never been aware of until finding BR. It has been a life-saver.

    I’m finding that I’m not morphing,seeking approval and adapting as readily as I have my entire life. Because I am FINALLY seeing my own worth, defining it for myself and actually beginning to really like and yes even love who I am. I hadn’t known who I was for the majority of my life.

    The one thing that I’ve noticed and find distressing, is how many of the people who comment and are on this journey with me, have similar backgrounds to mine. I.e., having a narcissistic parent…or in some cases having been romantically involved with a narcissist. My father is a narc and it truly did condition me to become a people pleaser, a care-giver and to seek out people who are eerily like him. It made my tolerance for really bad, and even abusive, behavior way too high. It has been MY comfort zone. While I wish nobody had to live through the hell that a narc creates, it does help to now that others have been there and understand just how soul destroying they can be. It helps to know I’m not alone.

    No more!!! I’ve hit rock bottom on putting myself last, on putting up with BS and really horrendous treatment, on making everyone on the planet more important than I made myself. As a result I’ve kicked the last EUM/AC who will ever be allowed in my life to the curb. I will not allow myself to re-create this cycle played out with narc Dad a minute longer. Stand -ins and substitutes need not apply. And thankfully, I’m gaining the necessary tools through Natalie’s diligent work to be able to really do this and make it stick.

    Natalie, and all of you wonderful people who are a part of this great community, THANK YOU!!! Your insights, your willingness to share your hurts and pains, you courage to heal yourselves and create the beautiful, wonderful lives you were created to have has been an inspiration. And I wanted you all to now that you’ve helped me a lot as I’ve been lurking here the past several months. I finally do feel like a true Bitch…Babe in Total Control of Herself…instead of Babe In Total Chaos and Hell.

    Thank you all for walking this path to true healing with me. It makes it much less terrifying.

  13. Gina says:


    This post really resonanted with me. I kept repeating the same mistakes in each relationship, and getting the same negative results. It took me a while to understand that not only was I NOT paying attention to how people were unfolding, I was also not taking ownership for meeting my own needs. Rather, I unwisely kept looking for a man to do that for me.

    Thanks again for another eye opening post!

  14. Tinkerbell says:

    Amy. You need to find out how, what methods will help you in getting to love yourself. First, you have to accept who you are and grow to love that person. Once you’ve accomplished that, which will take quite some time, (definitely not overnight), you will become different. Your thinking, how you view yourself, especially in relation to others, your feelings, your values, everything will change. And when it does, you will begin to draw in healthier people who will love you and, in turn your love for yourself will grow deeper. i’m not able to explain it any better than that. But, if you can find out where to start, the rest will follow. That’s what has happened for me and I’m still working on it. It’s a slowly developing process but totally worth it. Love, Tink.

    • Heartache Amy says:

      Hi Tink,
      You’re right. But I often feel that I’m running out of time. I’m 48 years old and that means that at least half of my life is over. I feel like I’m missing out on so much, and my fear is that I’ll still be trying to work on myself when I’m 70 – and then it’s too late. This probably doesn’t make sense, I realize.

      • natashya says:

        i’m also in my 40s… and i have the same worries. the pool of available men is pretty dry for me.

        but you are working on yourself. so am i… and only when we have built up enough self esteem and self love, will we be able to be in a healthy relationship.

        i know myself a lot better now than when i got married in my mid-twenties. i know what i want and i am finally realising what the red flags and amber alerts are.

        regardless of how much i’d love to have a partner, as soon as i find out he’s an AC or EUM, i will push that mental flush handle. TWICE. just to be sure.

  15. maya says:

    My mother taught me that putting myself first was selfish. So, she taught me as she has taught herself – put yourself last. Aim to please. As much as possible. Everyone. Needless to say, it didn’t sit too well with me, but it took me way too long to realise that.

    Now, whenever some well meaning people try to tell me to change whatever – my expectation, my attitude, learn to settle, heck, even how I dress … I will take it under advice because I’m so darn tired of thinking about others’ needs while ignoring mine. So there.

    • Claudia says:

      Yes, Maya. It happens more often than not. Some mothers perpetuate the stigma. And society reinforces it, especially in certain chauvinistic cultures. It requires a lot of critical thinking and a bit of stubbornness to rightfully assess others’ expectations.

      • maya says:

        I really hate to point fingers at societal norms, but yeah, it is something like that. Being resolutely stubborn can be so tiring sometimes. Ah well …

  16. regressed 2012 says:

    During my relationship with the ex whenever we had an argument or a disagreement, he would stop talking to me for hours, days, weeks depending on how he felt. Now mind you the arguments were usually my telling him it is not okay for him to curse me out or roll his eyes when I speak etc.

    Despite knowing he had hurt me, I would feel this burning desire to seek him out, pretend everything is okay, joke around and basically make it a safe space for him to either give a half arsed apology or to pretend nothing happened.

    Luckily this person is now my ex. I initiated no contact and we don’t speak anymore. However I saw him on the street last week. I was with a friend and he was by himself. He walked past me like he did not see me and I kept on talking to my friend.

    I understand that he probably thinks I hate him considering I went from the girl he said “loved him too much” to one that does not give him the time of day.

    However after I saw him, I felt like i had regressed because afterwards I felt the need to run up to him or call or Facebook and pretend like everything is okay and just reassure him that things did not have to be awkward and that I did not hate him. Luckily I did not.

    Grr I am so annoyed at myself. I don’t understand why with all the progress I have made I still want to make it easier for this person who did not treat me with love and respect to be in my life.

    Someone please help and explain. I am at a low point.

    • Sejal says:

      Hey ..hi..regressed..

      Even i think the same way about the person wom i loved..but unfortunately we are not together…
      Trust me..it happens coz we
      Ove the person and genuinely cares abt them.
      We cannot see them being hurt or sad..
      But..thats not the point..trust me here again..that it not significant how much we want to make them feel easy..the thing is that they dont dont deserve our care and concern..honestly if ever they have concern about us..or wanted to live with us..they wouldnot let the relationship go to the fire..

      Dont see him as the person u love…instead see him as the person u didnot give u what u deserved when u were with him..
      See him as the person who never respected your feelings..ur emotions..what u want from him..frankly..if he would have loved u..he wouldnot go into his cave when u complained of something…my guy was the same..
      These are the men..u would mentally give u torture by not talking to u..and letting u think..make u unnecessary desperate abt them..coz they enjoy the attention which thay dont get frm others excepy us..
      Sostop giving him attention now…
      Trust me ..to them it reallly doesnot make a diffrence..i have experienced it

      • Sejal says:

        and yes….just completely ignore them..show them that they donot even exists for us..i know its difficult..and it sounds a little mean too…but thats ok..give them a taste of their own behaviour..
        Please..stop feeling guilty..i know how it feels..
        U feel guilty coz u saw him alone walkking down the lane…but..just think if u would have seen him with a group of buys..or say some bitch..then also u have felt guilty…think dear

      • kendo says:

        this is really helpful for me – like you, regressed, I had someone who would disappear after I called him on something – he would usually tell me it was my fault and then disappear until I went after him, making it ok again. This is my pattern from childhood that I am now working on.
        We ended because I asked him not to do something which opened the floodgates to all the reasons why I was cruel to him. He refused to deal with my issues of him and after a long long argument (all by text because he refused to speak to me) He said I had no loving understanding in me, he would always be who he was and all he would take from the last 4 years was the ‘what if’s’ and so it ended.
        I made the mistake of ringing him the other day. I was low and I picked up the phone but put it straight down. He knew I had rung and today texted to ask if it was me. I just said ‘yes, sorry’ and heard nothing more from him. But I’ve been sitting here wanting to contact him and say I’m sorry, it can all be ok again…I miss his company (it was sometimes good fun!) and I miss the similarities we shared as I don’t seem to have anyone in my life like him. BUt like Sejal says if he’d have cared he wouldn’t have behaved the way he did and he knows I will come back each time and so makes no effort, he isn’t loving and I have to keep that in perspective.
        I’m sure no one will see this – its a bit late posting but I’m glad of the comments on here

        • Sejal says:

          I felt the same some months ago..it was always hus mistake.and when i used to tell him that he is wrong and that he shouldn’t be doing this..
          He would turn on his COLD side.he would stop talking.and even when he talked it felt like as if he was oblizing me forcefully..this is not love..all of us..who love these sort pf guys..no matter how much we lovw them..it is a rock fact that this is not about love..this is a forceful relationship frm their side..let me tell u one thing.which i have analysed through this type of behaviour which he gave me..
          That “” they are searching for your mistakes..which are actually not your mistakes..they would just do that because they want to show you that they have an ugly side..and if u can tolerate them..then they can keep u ..and if u will protest even a lil bit..they would straight away show u thier backs..””””

          Its just insignificant for them the love.warmth.bond of the yesteryears..this is selfishness..

  17. grace says:

    This post sums up how my life has changed vastly since I came across BR about three years ago (time flies).
    It’s not about “finding a man” it’s finding yourself. When you have a strong sense of who you are, what you need, what your values are, what you want, what you feel, what motivates you, you become a more integrated person. Thoughts, feelings, behaviour, actions line up. There aren’t any huge cracks where an EUM/AC can get in.
    It’s not about being an impenetrable wall of boundaries, which is where I used to be. It’s about feeling safe enough and whole enough in yourself to venture forth. I did come across a few unsuitables but they had no effect. Before I may have been intrigued, or insulted. .
    “Pretending that you don’t have feelings or needs is like trying to pretend that you’re not a person of any worth – that’s not an act that you should be wiling to pull off.”
    So agree. I used to be embarrassed by feelings and emotions and needs, not that I even let myself feel emarrassed! I thought it made me weak or illogical. Now I share these willingly and it’s connected me with people, men and women.
    My boyfriend and I have a strong emotional connection. It’s a mutual relationship. I can call him whenever I want and he will answer or return my call quickly. I know where he is all the time. We see each other often, instigated by both of us. I get no mixed messages. He never blows hot or cold. We do what we say we will do. We are two separate people. We aren’t glomming onto each other. We have maintained our identities, our sense of self, our differences. We aren’t looking to change the other.We are dating with a view to marriage. It’s not an amazing romance but it’s real.
    my problem wasn’t so much that the man was abusive, or a playa, or cold (yes those things are wrong but they weren’t about me), it was my loss of self. When I was in a relationship, even a good one, I would feel like I’d been taken over. That’s why I liked LDRs, I could keep my identity.
    When women comment “he did this, he did that, what does he think?, why does he do this?, I can’t live without him” the problem isn’t really HIM (even if he’s an idiot), it’s that she lost herself. Nat said that when she’s advising women in the early stages of their recovery she gets very little sense of who the woman is. I understand now what she means. My counsellor said similar, that when he first spoke to me it was if I barely existed.
    Find out who you are. It’s not about being loud, or a bitch, or telling people, or as a means to find a man. It’s just for you.

    • sushi says:

      You are right grace, and Natalie, that post sums up…everything. My counsellor said to me; you are allowed space on this planet.Indeed.

    • P. says:

      Grace and Natalie,

      I might have said this before, but when I first left my ex (Jan. 2009) I actually told someone “OMG, so and so just said this to me. I feel like a REAL person!” That was just the beginning of the whole painful process of finding myself after being out down for years in every possible way.

    • kendo says:

      thank you

  18. angelus says:

    Yesterday my best friend crossed the line, and I enforced my boundaries for the first time. Result? Said friend is no longer in my life. Yes, the price was heavy for taking a step back and saying “Hang on a hot minute, what you said to me isn’t true, or even called for”. What I got back was a deluge of vitriol and spiteful abuse – and ultimately an insight to how that friendship really worked, if I refused to capitulate to her as I always did. It hurts like hell now, like I have been bereft – but also know that I have rights to be respected too.

    • sushi says:

      I was in a similar situation a few months ago….had to flush someone because they were outrageously awfull to me, like you I would not play ball anymore.It feels horrible, but the insight I got after a few months, I had no idea just how much negativity that “friend ” brought into my life and just how abusive their behaviour has been over the years.I feel happier and lighter now, give it a little time for the dust to settle.

    • Little Star says:

      Angelus, I do understand how you feel and I support your decision!
      You know, I rid off my best friend three months ago (we have known each other for TEN years). I was so fed up to listen her little spiteful comments towards me: my work, my relationships with men etc…I used to tell her so many personal things as I trusted her 100% and whatever we had an argument, she used to throw all my “secrets” at me…It was very painful to listen and in one point I got fed up and told myself: “Enough is enough, I have to move on”…I am not in contact with her anymore and I am happy:)

      • Skadia says:

        My best friend that chose my ex narc bf over me just tried to reach out to me, thanks to Natalie I now know that she is a friend that “presses reset”. Looks like early mother abandonment resulted in a high tolerance for EUF in friendship which ultimately bled into a high tolerance for EUM mirroring my narc wounding father… wow I read like a DSM manual ha!

        I also ignored, I think the NC principle applies here :) chin up HUGS

      • angelus says:

        Little Star and Sushi, yes, that is what happened. My problems were belittled to “tiny dilemmas” in this one argument, and all my insecurities were used like a massive baseball bat. In that moment, all the trust, loyalty and respect I had for this friend evaporated. It hurts like hell right now, but thank you ladies, for your support.

  19. Victorious says:

    Thank you again Natalie. this post almost made me cry. I morphed to olympic standard to try to be the perfect girlfriend for ex narc, and we all know how that story goes. I lost myself and now I can see I have done this before, not to the same level but there is a pattern. It is really rather interesting and fun rediscovering me. I have surprised myself in that I seem to like me, the real me, a lot more than I thought I would. This is quite a relief I can tell you. Staying NC is still painful (4 weeks after a slip up)but it isn’t the agony, minute by minute agony, it was at the start. I know I can never go back and that being on my own is better than being “with” him. As you said in your post, he was happy as Larry, all his needs were being met, and then some, by me in full on Goddess Girlfriend mode. But my needs? Er, what? It seems like the more I read the more work I realise I have to do on myself, but that is OK.

  20. P. says:

    I have a question on needs. I am doing pretty good on fixing myself up, but I am not sure how to deal with my sexual needs. So far I have not had the courage to do casual sex (yes, I know some people advocate for this, even here), so do I start a collection of vibrators? To me it is not the same as a physical touch of a partner / lover / friend.

    • grace says:

      I’m not sure casual sex takes courage. I think it takes carelessness or emotional unavailability or a devil may care attitude. I think it also takes practice. I don’t think you can do it once a month, it has to be regular or you lose the ability to do it. And we all know what happens when you have regular sex with someone. i guess you could have men on rotation. It’s hard enough to find one man you want to sex up never mind several thuogh.
      I found that after the first six months to a year of celibacy (as a choice), I hardly thought about sex. Even though the boyfriend and I kiss and cuddle I still don’t think (much) about sex. It’s a nice idea and we would enjoy it if we did it, but I’m not driven by the urge. It’s best not to feed it so I can’t recommend vibrators!
      I get what you mean by physical touch. A pet may help. Or a tactile hobby like knitting. I have five nieces so I was able to cuddle them.
      There are a lot of attractive young men at church in their 30s and younger, swilling with testosterone. They aren’t having sex (that I know of). They seem to be coping all right. They’re happy, not aggressive or moody.
      Play a lot of sports though.

      • Victorious says:

        Good advice from Grace. She is right, after a while you lose the urge quite a bit. In terms of touch, you could try a massage or even having a facial is nice.

      • Lilia says:

        I had the same problem. And it was one of the biggest incentives to remain in contact with the exEUM – the promise of sex.

        Only, it rarely happened because he had some very strange sexual preferences (like masturbation and voyeuristic setups). So as my real, more down to earth needs weren´t being met I became oversexed, thinking about it all the time. It was hell.

        I went NC and had some casual sex with someone else. When that happened, the thing that surprised me was that I found sex to be so normal. Pleasant, of course, but nothing to get obsessed about. Also, I realised that I had had this need for validation – that indeed I was worthy of having regular (as in normal) sex.
        So that was a relief.

        Now, months later, I rarely think about it. I know it wouldn´t be hard to find someone willing to have casual sex but it seems like too much trouble. Sometimes I´m tempted but then I think it has more to do with validation, when there isn´t someone I´m terribly attracted to or in love with I don´t really get the urge.

        I do stay away from vibrators as Grace says and other incentives (like erotic books or whatever), because I don´t want to go through that futile craving again.

        • Victorious says:

          Once the idealization stage was over, my ex narc would rather masturbate and had very voyeuristic tendencies. He wanted me to tell him all about my experiences with exes (in detail, which I refused to do) I gather this is very common with narcs. When they do lower themselves to have sex with you, it usually has to be in, erm a certain position which avoids eye to eye contact.

          • P. says:


            My ex-husband always preferred dark, as far as I remember, and I was thinking in the US people were more prudish and/or religious, but maybe it was just him. After I left him and had a brief relationship with someone else, he visited and wanted me to tell him graphic details about that. I am open minded, but that just felt weird.

          • Lilia says:

            Victorious, this guy was exactly like that! And the same with avoiding eye contact.

            He wanted me to tell him every detail of my past experiences (like I was some femme fatale, jeeez I´ve just had the normal stuff).

            He also told me the weirdest fantasies he had with me, like me doing striptease in front of an audience of older men while he looked on. I didn´t understand what that was about, sometimes I wondered if he was testing me and it confused me because he would insist when I told him I wasn´t into that kind of thing.

            At least it´s good to know that this is a narc characteristic, now I can recognise it.

            • jewells says:

              OMG, my ex MM EUM – told me that he wanted me to have sex with other men while he watched! I thought he was just testing me too! It was done over a ‘text conversation’ so it was easy to play along as I didn’t take it seriously. I did’t realize until now that this was a narc tendancy, but I have read up on narcs and figure whole heartedly that this is what he is….Oh, I just keep reading this site and all the pieces just keep falling into place!

              • Claudia says:

                LOL! Same here! I spent hours trying to figure out why an ex wanted me to sleep with someone else and then tell him all about it! or also sent me pictures of different naked guys asking me which one I liked best. I thought he was “testing” me too, but he got upset when I told him: “I’d rather sleep with you”. That’s how I learned about Candaulism, but I didn’t know it was a narc tendency. Like you, Jewells…I see all falling into place now :p It was confusing back then. Now it’s funny!!

                • jewells says:

                  Claudia you made me smile! Candaulism – that’s a new one, I’m researching that one now! Yes, so many confusing things happened in such a short period of time, and it’s taking me just as long to sort through it all and find perspective and understanding of ‘what the hell just happened!’ This site is a life saver, with how I internalized everything I would have been curled up in the fetal position indefinitely after this bozo – he took the cake of all the EUM AC’s I’ve ever been with, in fact I think he is the culmination/the complete unadulterated complete collection all of them balled up into one person. If I hadn’t found this site. But then, because he was so outrageous he was my epiphany relationship that propelled me to find this site and sort myself out once and for all!!! I’m learning to laugh at me now :)

                  • Lilia says:

                    Wow, I´m researching Candaulism too! I recognise everything you two mentioned, this is actually a relief because now I can put a name on all those horrible dynamics instead of wondering wtf it was all about… I feel I´m finally healing, all thanks to this site and all of you lovely ladies!

          • MissBliss says:

            My ex AC-narc would keep his eyes shut during sex, and kind of went into his own weird zone. It made me feel like I could be absolutely anyone, or a blow-up doll. He went from being incredibly exciting to a cold and selfish, almost mechanical sex partner. Sex became very very routine, when it did happen. Many times he wouldn’t be interested, as if he were punishing me, or just keeping me away. He also watched a lot of porn and kept kleenex and personal lube by his bedside at all times – so he definitely masturbated a lot. The fact that he made it so obvious seemed to me particularly narcissistic, oblivious to others, and all about his own gratification. I can’t believe I was actually addicted to pleasing such that loser.

        • P. says:


          Yes, after my breakup I wanted to try something, anything, to see if there were any normal guys out there, at least physically. However, the guy I met (he reached out to me; we knew each other a bit)turned me off from casual sex for a long time, because even though he was, how to say it, very skilled, he was also emotionally unavailable (and admitted to it when I saw him about a year later – by that time I knew the term from BR!), and it so killed the passion. Plus, he had a harem, and was a psychologist (dirty tricks and all), and I got a sleazy feeling and could not do it anymore.

        • rave says:

          I’m a big advocate of casual sex, when it’s done for healthy reasons such as getting one’s sexual needs met.

          Think Samantha in Sex and the City for empowering sex.

          If casual sex makes you feel disempowered,or if you are unable to separate sex from love, don’t do it.

          There is an ethical way to indulge in casual sex. You can do it according to your values…For example, I would not have sex with an attached person. As a matter of fact, one day, I noticed a ring on a guy’s finger, after we had decided we were going to be intimate and I left as fast as the wind.

          I know a lot of women still think that it’s not important, or that it’s dirty or even means that you have no self-respect because you’re giving it away, basically still operate under the whore/madonna complex but the feminist perspective is liberating.

          If you can’t do this safely, can’t take care of yourself and don’t project an aura of confidence and strength:don’t do it.

          • Little Star says:

            Rave, I tried to do casual sex with my ex AC, but it did not work out…Men or women get attached and someone will get hurt in the end!

        • Mymble says:

          That figures.
          The MM also asked me for details of previous experiences. I didn’t really have anything to say, I don’t really file away that kind of thing. Anyway I hadn’t had a particularly wild life.
          He also admitted to porn usage, which was completely outside my experience.
          At one point he was mentioning threesomes and wanted me to go
          with him on an overseas
          conference, with that in mind, I am fairly sure.
          Written down like this it sounds horrible, but he was persuasive, smiling, pleasant, and made it seem normal and okay.
          The whole thing was so disturbing for me that I had no cycles for months on end and thought I was in early menopause. It has only in the last 3 months returned.
          The awful thing is that I do still miss him, and a part of that is the physical, but at least I am functioning properly as a parent, socially and at work. I have so much on my plate and there are never enough hours in the day. I can’t go through all that ever again and if that has to mean celibacy then I reluctantly choose that.
          I really don’t know if I could survive another experience like that.

          • jewells says:

            This reminds me of my “weird” cycle while I was with my ex MM EUM Narc…my cycle was predictable as clockwork…until I got involved with him, at first he would intersperse mild sexual innuendos (I now see as testing the waters, checking my boundaries) amoungst the charming and innocuous romantic statements and gestures, the sexual innuendos got less innocent as my walls collapsed under his relentless pursuit and charm, leading to him divulging his desire to see me having sex with other men (which I mentioned in an earlier post that came about in a text conversation and as a result didn’t take as a particularly serious one) But as I wasn’t in touch with appropriateness or red flags I denied how I felt about it in myself and went along with the storyline in this text conversation. I was already in his web at this point. Anyway, I waited three weeks before we initially became intimate, after all the whooing and sex talk, and in retrospect it was disappointing, he didn’t look me in the eye, didn’t ‘make love’ to me the way I expected due to how he ‘said’ he felt about me. My first period after that was late. As I mentioned before, I’m clockwork, no exceptions and I’m 42. So I was convinced that I was pregnant. A week and a half later, it showed up much to his and my relief. I realize now that I was in denial of how I felt about his behavior and suggestions, I was so enmeshed with the ‘fantasy’ of him and what he was offering me that I was blinded to the reality of the situation and what he was doing was actually grooming me to ‘take what he wanted’ while really ‘giving’ NOTHING. But my body knew and was trying to tell me. Thankfully that ‘relationshit’ didn’t last past 2 months and my cycle is back to it’s predictable ol self….

      • P. says:


        Thank you for your kind words and advice. I would not even know how I would go about getting casual sex, honestly. Other than maybe online. I will write a bit more about that in the next post. As for sports and exercise, I have had a minor, but painful and long lasting injury in February and spent the months since mostly in bed. I am allowed to walk/drive for maybe an hour a day (perhaps a bit longer now, but it started at 15 minutes or so, and with a cast), and I use that time for going to physical therapy / therapy if I have the $$, as it is around an hour drive and expensive. On the days I do not have therapy I walk in the park for 45 mins. I work from home for several months at a time (otherwise I would not have a job and not eligible for benefits, anyway). I get hugs from my son :). Still, my social life is severely limited, and became more so bc of my injury – people tend to “forget” you cannot walk and it inconveniences them, it seems like, when they have to walk slower or think of a parking space close to a movie theater. I lost a potential friend that way, I think, because the theater she picked had the closest parking over 300 feet away and she perceived me as whiny when I said that was painful for me (I still went, figured I could stretch the limit bc I really wanted a friend).
        I did manage to finish my degree during that time, and move away from the college town (those of you yearning for the educated men there, please, keep in mind they want to date the coeds).
        maybe sex comes to mind because I spend a lot of time in bed? (LOL)
        Grace, I have been following your story for over a year for sure, and maybe longer, and you are a great inspiration.

        • Freya says:

          I’m with Grace. If there is anyway you can find a nice man to have sex with – and you are capable of not falling in love with someone you have sex with – do it! I have met many gentlemen willing to have a sexual relationship that is open to be whatever it turns out to be naturally. If you can’t do that – vibrator. Mine is one of my best friends. Only problem with the vibrator option is that, depending on how long you go without actual sex, it could turn you into a lazy lover. It did me. Now I find myself having to relearn how to have sex with a real person. LOL.

          Good luck lady. :) I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

    • pinkpanther says:

      P: This is complex. This is a little of my process, and long one, but I think sex is really important for some people. For me it is something which makes me feel whole.

      After A/C then N/C, I had the problemo of how to integrate sex in a healthy loving way. Since I am a good lover to myself, I think making love to yourself is self care. It’s doing something loving for yourself like making a nice meal, exercise, art, etc.

      But my problem was that when I’d get off with myself, I’d often think back to the A/C using them as my modus of completion so to speak. Which always left me feeling sad. So I started associating sex with sadness.

      So to make matters more complex, I turned to porn. Sorry ladies, but it’s the truth. Free and easy internet porn does the job, but it freaks me out because one of the things I love the most about myself is my imagination. For me porn kills imagination and that made me dissapointed.

      Soooooo, I had quite a while there where I was in a pickle. But for me, since I do value sex as an expression of self love, I just kept at it.

      And let me tell you, I am now in a place where I can have all the sex with myself and not shed a tear over A/C, or wreck my mind on mindless porn.

      I’ve won the battle of reclaiming sex!
      Loving our own bodies is such a great way to celebrate life, single or in a couple.

      Sorry for the off topic, but she (P) asked for it.

  21. Sammy says:

    After reading through this, I realize it may be slightly off topic, but…

    I married a narc who originally had me completely fooled. After a while, I thought with a little nurturing and emotional “fixing” he would be perfect. I arranged for therapy for him, he got put on medication for ADHD, we went to marriage counseling. He didn’t want to continue counseling. But I didn’t know and couldn’t really fathom that a person could be this dark. I have realized that being a great mother, nurturing wife, great student (I’m furthering my education), great cook, nice, attractive and funny person will never be enough for him. He always points out my flaws. I stink at cleaning and I am not good at filing the household bills…one of our biggest fights!!

    I have lost myself trying to please this man. He sucks the life out of me every day, even makes things up to fight about. He won’t divorce me “until the kids are out of the house”. He hates himself so much and takes it out on me in front of our kids.

    I have a three-year plan to get out of this “relationship” – more like dictatorship.

    Ladies, if you sense that something is not right and your needs are not being met, kick him to the curb!!! It is not fun to wake up next to someone you despise and who despises you, especially when you have children in the mix – it becomes so complicated.

    Be thankful that you are single and have freedom to choose your own path, if you love yourself, the right man will come into your life.

    I have learned this the hard way and have every intention of getting out of this in one piece so I can be myself again and my children don’t have to see this horrific relationship unravel before their eyes.

    • MissBliss says:

      Sammy, thank you for sharing this. I dated a narc for two years, and I felt like I was walking on egg shells trying to please him. I became especially sensitive to his every mood, hoping not to make him angry or insulting, hung up on getting my little handful of crumbs to get me by. It happened gradually. At first, he was amazing and charming and future faking me into lalaland. Once the emotional abuse started, I felt like an addict… addicted to crumbs that offered no real fulfillment but a very temporary high.
      It’s a sad existence, and the cost is huge – our self-esteem. And they also gaslight you to make you feel crazy, like you’re imagining things (they lie a lot), which is especially dangerous. I really hope you get out before three years. The longer you stay, the more damage he will do. Your life and your kids lives are precious. Please move away from this toxic, unhealthy, self-loathing man and take care of yourself.
      You don’t need his permission to leave. You just need to put you and your kids first.
      Big hug.

    • Allison says:


      Please leave!

      You’re not doing your kids any favor by staying, it actually detrimental to their emotional well being.

      Why does he get to dictate when you end things?

    • La Pintura Bella says:

      Sammy, I wholeheartedly agree with Miss Bliss and Allison. Leave! Please.

      I am the child of a narcissistic father. I’m 50 now and it took me until I was 40 to realize that this was not normal; that my problems connecting with people; that I sought out majorly dysfunctional men; having practically no self-esteem; and not knowing that I was supposed to have boundaries all stemmed from having a narcissistic parent. I’ve been working on myself and have had a lot of therapy in the past 10 years. It’s taken that long and A LOT of very difficult, painful, depressing work for me to just now reach the point where for the first time ever, I actually believe I have the right to not just exist but to live a life.

      The chances of a child of a narcissist NOT having major problems in adulthood is extremely slim. It’s also a very difficult problem to rectify, the damage is so insidious and deep seated. Curing a narcissist — almost impossible. Please take those precious children and get them out of this environment. They are at high risk.

  22. lo j says:

    Oh Grace … absolutely. Beautiful. I am not sure if your name is Grace, but everyday at some point tears of gratitude come to my eyes as I have recently felt true grace … how freeing, forgiving, how can I not pay it forward every day? True peace.

  23. Sejal says:

    The great batkes going on in my head..everytime i think what went wrong…Gets so easily resolved after reading your posts.!!

  24. Espoir says:

    ”Full Goddess Girlfriend mode” – I love it !!!! This is what I morfed into so my ex could just comfortably walk in ”Larry’s” shoes.
    Thank you Nat and the Universe for opening my eyes.
    I also started listening to Paul McKenna’s CD’s and it really helps with regaining confidence and finding the courage to act.

  25. lo j says:

    When you know who you are, you stop looking for others to tell you. You just ARE.

  26. Yevette says:

    In an attempt to pay it forward, I rented out a room to someone I’d met on a mutual school alumni website. We had met before when she came to the west coast to visit family and hit it off. When she stated that she wanted to move from the east coast to the west coast, I had her sign a contract, charged her cheap rent, and opened up my home to her. I also gave her advice on the best areas to work, (she teaches children) and provided her with a catchy name for a side business that she was starting ( per her request).

    Well, as she began to unfold, she revealed herself to be a competitive, boastful, braggart who would make one-upping statements about how much bigger the houses were back home than they are here–I live in a small, but cute little home in a quaint and lovely little town near the water. She came from a small town that she was always complaining she wanted to get away from because she hated it there. She would also brag about how she had received ten marriage proposals, but turned them down. If I wore something nice, she never complimented me (she is overweight and I am on the slim side). In fact, she never really took a genuine interest in me, but made sure that I got an earful about all the wonderful and amazing things that she was doing. I could see her looking for weak spots in my personality as a means of control and manipulation. Example: she made a comment about how her friends were jealous of the fact that their friends liked her better than them. When I invited her to join me and a friend for dinner, she would then try to kiss up to one of my male friends (she also showed herself to be man crazy) and kept glancing at me to see what my reaction was. Looking back, I remember her telling me that I am very trusting and think that people are nicer than what they really are…she was referring to herself.

    I continued to quietly observe this person (without revealing any “tells” about myself, and recognized that she was behaving this way because she was envious of me, felt threatened by me, and was very insecure. People who are comfortable with who they are and what they have do NOT feel the need to brag about it to others.

    When she brought a strange man to my home that she’d met while walking and who was married, I sat her down and used “I feel” and “I” statements: “I feel very uncomfortable with you bringing strange men into my home. “I would like to apologize for not stating what my expectations were regarding this when you first moved in. I would like to do so now.” “I invited you to stay in my home as a gesture of kindness. My goal was to provide you with the foundation to get yourself established with the expectation that you would eventually move out and get your own place.” Each time she tried to respond to my feeling statements in a condescending manner–as though she was talking to a small child who was being to sensitive and overreacting– I did not engage her. Rather, I continued to repeat how “I” felt in a calm and firm manner. When I stated what my expectations were, she appeared to be surprised and replied, “I see.” Two days later she emailed me giving me her thirty day notice that she was moving. I happily accepted.

    I am and will always be a kind and generous person. However, I will not allow people to take my kindness for weakness.

    • Revolution says:


      You handled that situation brilliantly, IMHO. I read your story about this girl and in my mind I was like, “Yep, check. Yep, that too. Yeah, that’s familiar.” Because my ex-best friend (of 14 years!) was toxic and pulled this kind of manipulative, selfish, bullying all the time. It’s really true when people describe these types of people as predictable. They find a soft heart and a sympathetic nature (sometimes people pleasers, though not always, as they are really good at manipulating everyone–even therapists!) and they go to town, sucking them dry. They are relying on you to feel sorry for them, to prove yourself “different” than the “others” in their past who “judged/abused them.” I’m very impressed how, when you detected you were being used (which, admittedly, takes time as it’s not easy to discern in the beginning) you cut her loose. Let her go attach herself to someone else, all the while lamenting on how “cruel” you and everyone else has been to them. Whah. Build a bridge.

  27. Marie83 says:

    I know a lot is written about the relationship between women who go for EUM and their Fathers but could there also be mirroring of your mother going on. My relationship with my Dad is ok now – we will never be massively close and I do think that the awful relationship I had with him in my teens and the ability to connect with him emotionally, see my point of view etc is where a lot of my problems stem from. However my mother s a ‘people pleaser’ – she is adorable but puts everyone elses needs before her own, will never stand up for herself even to her own sisters – whe I was growing up it was very much her ‘job’ to get my Dad’s dinner on the table when he got home from work, do the housework, all the child rearing etc. I jut wonder whether my co-dependency issues also arise from my mother

  28. teachable says:

    That’s an interesting experience Freya & if it worked for you then all’s well that ends well.

    For many though, if say things had become fully sexual (I don’t know if they did or not in yr sitch & I don’t need to) that would then trigger one of two highly likely outcomes:

    1. ruining the potential for friendship after the short term sexual fling evaporated

    2. suddenly finding themselves with a high likelihood of being involved in a long term r/ship with someone totally inappropriate due to having totally skipped over the discover phase of getting to know the other person & instead become sexual before ascertaining if they shared similar values / life goals etc

    There is a third possible outcome but it is highly unlikely. That is that the person who happened along whilst you were still blowing your nose into your snotty tissues from breaking up with an ex (remember we’re assumimg a sexual involvement here) would majically be totally compatible & the two of you would sail off into happily ever after land together!

    Now, why is is this so unlikely, you might wonder? Well, the reason is, that there are REASONS for you & the ex breaking up & the fact is, that while one is still wiping ones snotty nose one is yet fully aware of what they even ARE yet! THAT knowlege & learning does not come until LATER, usually some months, or a year or two down the track (depending on how long the r/ship lasted). By this time, instead of blaming the other party, as we often do in the heat of a break up, we are often more ready to take,responsibility for our part in what occurred.

    If we enter a new relationship befre we’ve done this, there’s a pretty good chance we’ll repeat the same mistakes with the next person. Hence, not much likelihood of sailing off into happy land on the smell of a snotty tissue!

    If it works or worked for you though great. If not, re~read this post. This will be why.

    I must sleep now. Nite all. x

  29. teachable says:

    Apologies Freya. Just re-read yr post & see it said ‘falling out,with a love interest’ not breaking up. I misunderstood. You must be refeerring to having a fight & someone stepping in to comfort you. Still sounds like a line ball call there. Were you still in a r\ship with the love interest? Do they know a third party was declaring their love for you for two weeks? What did they have to say about that? Just a stab in the dark but your boundaries sound like they could use some work. If I was fighting w my love interest the LAST thing I’d want or need is some other manipulative twerp trying to use the situation as an opportunity to get their knob in. If anything, this would cause me to DUMP a (supposed?) platonic friend at a time like that. With friends like that you don’t need enemies!!

    • Freya says:

      ” the LAST thing I’d want or need is some other manipulative twerp trying to use the situation as an opportunity to get their knob in. If anything, this would cause me to DUMP a (supposed?) platonic friend at a time like that. With friends like that you don’t need enemies!!”

      This is exactly my point. If I had been thinking along these lines I would have missed an opportunity to be healed. I did not have a physical relationship with this person. That was never on offer. The person I had the falling out with was never my boyfriend. I liked him a lot and he didn’t like me back. He was the AC that decided to exploit my naive feelings. The friend is the one that recognized a soul in need. He was never taking advantage of me or trying to exploit me. He was trying to show me that I was person worthy of love. He did this because he had been in my situation and knew what I was going through and how desperately I needed to be loved.

      If I had not recognized what he was doing I may have believed he was expressing a desire to have a long term relationship with me. Later, I would have become angry and felt that he exploited me at a time of weakness. Since my eyes were open I could see what he was really doing and I knew he was doing it because he really does love me. There is no way I will ever let a friend like that go. When I needed someone he was there. You may see it differently but I stick by my version of the story. My view of it is corroborated by the fact that he is still in my life and still tells me every time he sees me that he loves me.

      • teachable says:

        All’s well that ends well then. You can understand my point if it was as I described though. Heaven forbid some nutter professing his ‘love’ for a woman who is in the throes of emotional termoil with her partner! Ugh!!!!

  30. kendo says:

    I can only add that this post resonates deeply with me too.
    I have had such a lot of counselling this year to grasp the notion that bad things are not all my fault, my needs are valid, I AM a good person, I DO have values and they are worthy enough to be respected by others.
    My counsellor helped me to take care of me – that if I was seeing to my own needs I wouldn’t look to others to give me what I wanted and so wouldn’t give them the power to take it away. That if I was self supporting I would be able to enter into a relationship on an equal footing instead of with an expectation that they would validate me…..which I have been doing after a lifetime of pleasing other people – a behaviour set up by my mother and father and sister who all treated me like their personal dumping ground.
    I am only just seeing it now and I know its going to be hard – somehow I have managed to surround myself with people like this but there are a few good ones with whom my friendship doesn’t depend on me giving to them the whole time…time to focus on what serves me

    • P. says:


      From what I read, it is a common occurence in dysfunctional families to make one of the children (often the mentally healthiest one) the scapegoat. My family called me very openly the “lightning rod” and I took it (apparently judging from their approach) as a badge of honor. BTW, my parents are both highly educated…

      • Tanzanite says:


        Brilliant post.

        @ P

        I have never heard of “lightening rod ” before but it probably applies to me also,although my title was “black sheep”.

        I was reading an article on bullying and it was basically saying the same as you.People with integrity are often targets because they represent everything the bully wants to be but can’t be.

      • kendo says:

        yep me too – I was praised for being the caring one, who made sure everyone was ok whilst all the time a little girl was losing herself. When my parents divorced my sister(4 years older) was hysterical – all attention was on her, poor her. I showed no reaction, hardened my heart and they were so wrapped up in each other that they let me walk away. That has caused me the most damage that I am still recovering from now.
        We are strong in one way and not in another. Thanks P – best wishes to you

  31. Revolution says:

    I think I’m a hybrid of a covert people-pleaser mixed with a dash of Florence tendencies. A friggin’ cocktail of dysfunction.

    I should correct: I’m a RECOVERING (ach, that’s so overused, how about this?) FORMER covert….well, you get the drift. Gimme a break, I’m going through a depression here, so my thoughts are foggy.

    Anyway, I say “covert” because I am such a tough-guy and I lay down my needs upfront (nothing unreasonable, just the basics like respect, monogomy, etc.). Where things go bad is when my boundaries are busted. That’s when I pull out all the stops, virtually defending my own thesis to myself as to WHY it’s really NOT that they are an assclown, that they are acting like this. It’s because when they were 7 1/2, Dairy Queen didn’t have the flavor of ice cream they wanted, or their mother didn’t warm their bath towel for them in 1987. Or maybe they’re still getting over those horrible, awful things that their exes (unprovoked, of course!) did to them. Sheesh. I’ve been a freakin’ chump A LOT of the time. And make no mistake: this has also applied to my friendships. I just can’t fathom (and STILL can’t fathom, seriously!) that someone in a bosom position to me could have a knife aimed at my heart. Will I ever get used to that thought? SHOULD I??

    That being said, let’s get out of the “victim thinking” and remember: we have the power to dump these people out of our lives. And fast. Comforting, isn’t it? Because, Natalie, you’re right: these types of people leave us “hungry” in these relationships. WORSE! It’s like they grab food out of our MOUTHS and leave us STARVING! Who the eff do they think they are? Sheesh. Talk about a bunch of entitled little mofos.

    • teachable says:

      You are not alone here Rev. I relate complete. Here is how I see our ‘problem’:

      1. We have to take responsbility for our flo nightingale tendencies. This behaviour, even in subtle forms (which for me, it mostly is these days), needs to cease. If a partner needs ‘fixing’ in any way shape or form we need to, MOVE ON. In my case, ‘fixing peeps’ (for want of a better way of putting it, althoug it would be more accurately described as assisting ppl to heal themselves), is what I have just spent the past two decades doing for a living. The LAST thing I am remotely interested in, is needing to do this for my partner!! IF he needs a counsellor, he should go and get one for am NOT she!!!!!! End of!!!

      2. The reason we cannot fathom the AC behaviour and look for all sorts of reasons to ‘explain it’, apart from , well,the bleedin bloody obvious, is that we are not AC’s! As such, we don’t have the AC ‘gene’! That’s right, our heads are not wired that way!! So, it is compltely outside of our realm of understanding that someone could possibly be behaving in such rude, disrespectful and downright arrogant and AC ways, because hey, we wouldn’t DREAM of doing such a thing ourselves!!

      Now, this is where you and I suffer from an additional condition which accompanies the flo nightingale complex. It’s called the Pollyanna Complex!! This one will be hard to get your head around because girls like us who don’t get messed with, at least not easily, are the LAST people in the world, we would ever EXPECT to suffer from the Pollyanna Complex but in fact, when you examine our (and I say ‘our’ as I can see you suffer this too, from the tone of your post) unconscious irrational THINKING, you will indeed discover just what Pollyanna’s we are!!

      So, what is a Pollyanna? Pollyanna’s (I made this term up btw after discovering I suffered from it in my mid 20’s so this ‘complex’ I describe was discovered and worked our entirely by yours truely, however, I believe you will find it absolutely applies) are upstanding moral people, with good values and high integrity, who have an underlying belief system that deep down inside OTHER PEOPLE THINK LIKE THEY DO! Sure, they’re smart enough to realise there’s a few ‘nasty pasties’ out there (axe murders, & serial killers perhaps) but they don’t seriously expect that the ‘nasty pasties of the world will ever target THEM. Why? Because Pollyanna’s know that they are good people, and after all, why would someone DO such a terrible thing to such a nice person? Shock horror, such a thing would just would not make sense!! This of course is totally false thinking and the trap of the Pollyanna skippping through life, sying to people after the latest psychopath has blown a through like a cyclone, left in tatters, and saying, but how did this happen, don’t people know, I’M SUCH A NICE PERSON, I DIDN’T DESERVE THIS, WTF??!!!

      Now I’m not saying that we are not decent people as in fact I believe just from reading your posts you indeed are, and I sure as heck know I am too! But what we need to lose is that naive innocence which AUTOMATICALLY EXPECTS OTHER PEOPLE TO BE DECENT JUST BECAUSE WE ARE.

      It really sucks to have to adjust our natural inclination but unfortunately this is the reality of the world we live in. Of course it’s all a mater o balance, and we don’t want to go too far in the opposite direction either, by being overly suspicious or guarded, but the trick I think is to find the happy medium.

      I’d mcuh rather be too guarded than too trusting though. I can always take more time in slowly getting to know someone. I can’t always so easily undo the damge done by letting someone who is unworthy in too quickly.

      I hope that helps a lil.

      Hugs. T x

      • Revolution says:

        Hey Teach,

        I just left you a long-ass comment on the current post, so I’m a little winded from that (lol). But I just wanted to say thank you for your very frank and correct assessment of my (our) pattern. The Pollyanna thing was spot-on. I’m starting to get to the point where I’m NOT expecting everyone to be like me in this way. Though it makes for a rather depressing pop of the bubble, eh? Still, necessary. I completely understand the balance you suggested between dogged suspicion and wide-eyed innocence regarding people. It’s a tough one. I’ll always try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I will try to be more discerning. Sheesh, you’d think at 35 I’d have figured this out by now, and be more jaded. The irony is that I’m not. I don’t think I’ll ever be, though, as that’s not my nature. I believe in people. But I just have to be more discerning. (Are you familiar with the enneagram? I’m a 7 if that explains anything.)

        Anyways, love, as usual you saw right to the heart of it. Thanks for your words of wisdom. Your little sister was lucky to have you batting for her in childhood, just so you know.

  32. Stephanie says:

    A mistake I made with the disappearing AC and previous relationships is that I tried to become someone I wasn’t. I had my own values and interests but decided to share his values and interests in the hope that it would make me more likeable. During the process I completely lost myself and after he disappeared I didn’t know who I was. I had forgotten about the life I had before I met him. I then wanted to seek validation from him because I thought he was going to complete me. I remember on my 2nd visit to see my counsellor she told me to vision a portrait painting of myself with the name of the AC splashed all over it. She explained to me after I told her the full story that by not asserting my needs, people pleasing and not realising my self worth I had allowed this person to treat me insensitively. The thing is I believe he would have done this anyway but if I had looked after myself first I would have been able to flush him and move on a lot quicker than I did. I have definitely learnt this lesson, being lost and not knowing who you are is one of the saddest things you can do to yourself. It took me hard work, prayer and determination to get this guy out of my system and move on with my life.

    • Kit-Kat says:

      Stephanie… This is me also :)
      I have definitely learnt this lesson, being lost and not knowing who you are is one of the saddest things you can do to yourself. It took me hard work, prayer and determination to get this guy out of my system and move on with my life.
      I feel I am a better person because of this experience as painful as it has been. I know myself better, I know what I want & dont want from a relationship. I see my past mistakes with the AC very clearly now. I think to myself why did I think he was so special, one of a kind,why did I stay so long, eweeeee

  33. Tinkerbell says:

    Victorious. I totally agree with you when you say that the more you read (and learn) the more you feel like you have so much more work to do. I felt the same almost to the degree of a mild panic, like it wasn’t happening fast enough. But that has been the story of my life – needing immediate gratification or at least fairly rapid results. Now, although I still have much more work to do on myself, I no longer have that sense of urgency. I suppose having met a fine man helps, but regardless. I realize, “there’s no fire”. I will stick to my purpose with the assurance that as long as I stay focused on “me” and the goals I’ve set for myself, things will continue to get better. And, having this happen slowly is okay.

  34. oc says:

    I got triggered from the last paragraph of this post with the comments about the difference between self-sufficency and being deficent. It just seems like such a grey area for so many people. I’ve heard from a few bitter and independent singles in my FB network utter the phrase, “I want a man, I just don’t need a man.” To me this seems like a smoke screen from an angry woman on guard. To whom I offer this:Even the most self-sufficent, grounded, kind and well-balanced fellow out there wants to be needed. It triggers the biological trait in men that makes them want to protect you. If you don’t want a man to protect his woman, what you want is not a man. I am fascinated by gender roles in our society and how they have mutated. . . We are all becoming so much more aware of each other and yet we still don’t know ourselves. Anyhow, just my two. Yet another very great post that speakes volumes.

    • Mymble says:

      I beg to differ with you. My observation is that happiness and confidence are the two most attractive traits, to either sex, and “neediness” is most unattractive (in either sex). I know what you mean however about defensiveness; if someone goes around insisting they don’t need a relationship it makes you wonder if it isn’t a case of she who doth protest too much. If you would like a relationship or are open to the possibility there shouldn’t be any shame in saying so.

      • yoghurt says:

        I think it depends on how you define ‘neediness’, doesn’t it?

        I’ve been thinking on this recently, and wondering why I want/need/wouldn’t say no to/whatever a man.

        After I’d compiled my mental list I weeded out the duff ones, which were:
        – to be able to look at other women and think “nyeh nyeh nyeh, I have a man just like you do! I’m just as good as/better than you!” (not nice)
        – to stop feeling as though there’s something wrong with me after the debacle of the last few years (based on an inaccurate assumption)
        – to nag me into being more organised about things like car tax (shouldn’t be necessary)
        – to come with me and help me feel less awkward about doing new things (shouldn’t be necessary)
        – to potentially beat up son’s dad if he annoys me (not nice)
        – to be better-looking than son’s dad so that I can feel superior to his gf (not nice)
        – to help me feel as though there’s something to strive for (based on an inaccurate assumption).
        – to boost my confidence and make me feel attractive (shouldn’t be necessary)

        Once I’d got rid of those, I was left with:
        – company and intimacy, am lonely
        – help with house and bills and responsibilities and the like
        – to share son’s childhood with me, so that most experiences no longer just exist with me.
        – encouragement and support
        – to look after me when I’m ill and be on my side.
        – safety-net in case of redundancy/bankruptcy/ill-health

        That seemed like a short and naff list and far too functional. But then, in the days before survival was more than a case of flicking on the heating and going to the shop, those functional aspects WERE a valid reason to be with someone else. We’ve got so obsessed with the ‘luxury’ aspects of relationships that imo we’ve lost sight of the functional aspects.

        I wouldn’t want to be with someone who ‘needed’ me to prove something about him to everyone, or to himself. On the other hand, I’d be seriously concerned if I was with someone and he DIDN’T ‘need’ me to share his life and provide company and intimacy and support – so long as he was providing them back.

        A good relationship will work on the basis of what you can share, imo, rather than what it ‘proves’, about you or anyone else.

        • yoghurt says:

          whoops – can’t believe I missed ‘sex’ off the second list. I miss that too.

          Although I’m comforted by the thought that I’ve so far managed two years without it :)

          • oc says:

            @ Mymble, I would agree with your two most attractive traits in a woman. I have a strong tendency to remain single for long periods and then chase after the most confident women. Come to find out they usually aren’t the happiest however. Smart (or foolish/cagey) enough to put up a good front I suppose. Typically I am for women what I’d refer to as a ‘charging station.’ They plug in and lick the wounds from all the assholes they’ve dated and then toss me like a tissue. A big part of the reason why I like what Natalie writes so much is I’m learning how to develop a backbone. (Thanks Nat! :)

            As for you Yoghurt, I love your list of “really good things” you you’ve made for yourself with regards to finding a partner. I especially resonate with your comment regarding the “luxury aspects” of relationships. I’ve found that I’ve only ever really been interested in the functional aspects of relationships (sex is a neccesity imo not a luxury) but I’m usually chasing unattainable and unavailable go-getter types with substance abuse issues. . . because of course you’ve always got to have good wine and good dope right?

            As I used to always say to my ex-gf, “it takes one to know one.” I never knew exactly what I was running from with that one. Initially, I thought it was an emancipated woman that knew who she was. Something tells me that wasn’t really the case. As for me, single now for 8 months, clean and sober for 2. Baggage Reclaim is MY charging station. :)

          • yoghurt says:

            It occurs to me that I didn’t link this very well to the preceding comments!

            In summary – mymble, I agree with you that confidence (although I’m going to quibble with that in a sec) and happiness ARE the two most attractive qualities, but I also think that it’s possible to ‘need’ someone without being ‘needy’.

            ‘Neediness’ to me denotes a black hole of a person who, no matter how much support and reassurance you give to them, is never comfortable or happy in themselves (I know this because I used to be that person!). This is where I’m not sure about the word ‘confidence’ – I’d call it ‘happiness in your skin’ (so concise and catchy…) because I think that it’s possible to come across as VERY confident externally but to still have this void that you need to learn to fill yourself, instead of pressuring other people and/or looking for externals – such as substances – to fill it all the time.

            All the items that I scratched off my ‘list’ above were the voidy-type ones. Those are things that I’ve got to sort out for myself. Otherwise I’ll just be looking for a charging-station myself – I like that phrase, oc!

            On the other hand, I think that everyone DOES need intimacy, support and just good old human contact to be happy. You don’t need to be in a relationship to be able to get these (friends, family etc) but at the same time, there’s no point going into a relationship if you aren’t open to receiving them. That was how I read your comment, oc.

            An illustrative story… A friend of mine met a man after years of contented singleness but quickly split up with him when she realised that she had so little free time, with work and other activities, that she resented having to spend it with him. As it happens, I’m not sure how good a match they were anyway but she’s since making an effort to calm her life down a bit so that, if she meets someone else, she WILL have the space for him in her life.

            • yoghurt says:

              It just occurred to me, as well, that it’s only SINCE I’ve been happy in my own skin that I’ve been comfortable with saying ‘I want a good relationship’.

              Before, I used to think that wanting a good, loving, supportive and intimate relationship was something slightly embarrassing, like having athlete’s foot…

    • Grizelda says:

      Oc you raise a good point about the very public announcements some people make about their own confidence. Proclaiming over and over again that one has strong confidence always seems… highly unconfident. And the way some people express it is just plain repellant. If one’s angry about not being found attractive, putting that anger on display is unlikely to work any kind of magic. One doesn’t catch butterflies by setting out vinegar.

      But I agree with Mymble and would say only the most childish and emotionally undeveloped women want replacement fathers to make the scary day-to-day okay for them. I have no idea why men seem to labour under the delusion that women want to be ‘protected’. Protected from what? What could possibly cause a woman the most unbearable physical, mental and emotional pain in life? The obvious answer is… men. Welcome to the hall of mirrors.

      If a man feels unneeded, unappreciated and disconnected unless he’s ‘protecting’ a woman, what does that say about him and the limited way in which he relates to women? The small print of the protection racket agreement many men (usually quite young men) insist on issuing to their girlfriends (usually quite young girlfriends) contain a lot of clauses about subordination and control. Under the pretense of ‘for your security’ is a whole world of human rights abuse.

      A woman wants a man, not a bouncer. If he wants to feel strong, and to be seen by her as being very strong indeed, he can pull something else out of the hat that’s not ‘all about him’ for a change but is actually of genuine benefit to her too… like loyalty, how about that one? Or fidelity, not a popular choice for many men. What about financial responsibility? Emotional maturity? Thoughtfulness? Ambition? Personal improvement and intellectual growth? Five’ll get you ten that women will choose a man with those attributes every time over a ‘protector’ who grants himself permission to punch the face off anyone who stands a bit close to her on the bus.

  35. babyangel says:

    yes i can say that being brought up by my narcissistic mother and withdrawn father that I am a classic case of a girl with no boundaries, values or abilities to make connections – unless they are to EUM’s of course!
    Even though I was the youngest child, I grew up thinking I was responsible for everyone’s happiness or unhappiness. I learned to have no needs, to not make waves, to not ask questions, to live my life unloved, unnurtured, unnoticed – unless there was a problem.
    Now I find I am severely EU, I can not make connections with people. The friends I tend to make are people who are bossy, selfish and uncaring, or are at least to me. I find it hard to see the good in people and I can easily shut people out if they hurt me as if I am honest I don’t feel deeply for them. It is strange how I can feel so much for the EU I have known for a few weeks but don’t seem to have much feeling towards people I have known for years – or my family.
    It scares me and I don’t like it but changing or trying to change scares me more. It hurts so much to know I am like this and why I am like this – it all seems so unfair that an accident of birth gave me a life of struggle, fear and unhappiness.
    I don’t mean to sound like a misery guts, but sometimes I get tired of the fight to be aware, to change myself, to have what I deserve – it always seems like it is one step ahead of me.
    I am so grateful to read everyone’s stories and know I am not alone – not an alien from another planet which is how I felt growing up.

    • Scarlet says:

      Oh wow Babyangel, you could have been writing about my life. Same story of an accidental birth into this life which has been nothing but struggle. I am tired of it too. Sorry, I’m not much help to you.

    • grace says:

      I had the same parents. We, the survivors, are very capable of change. We have the motivation (cos we,re unhappy), we have the self-awareness and we have the sheer bloody mindedness and resilience.

      • Victorious says:

        You always put things so beautifully Grace. My mother is narc and my father a largely absent alcoholic. It has taken me along time to see how all that has affected my life. Not just relationships but my huge underacheiving and lack of self esteem. I am, at 47, trying to rectify some of this. It isn’t too late.

      • jewells says:

        Oh, this rings true for me too. Thank you for writing this, it’s so hard when you grow up like this, feel so alone and unloved. It is heartening to find that I’m not alone in this, that it’s a struggle that many of us have and that there is happiness for us out there. Hang in there, I’m determined to find happiness in my self, as you are. Sheer bloody mindedness and resilience is right!

        • La Pintura Bella says:

          “I am a classic case of a girl with no boundaries, values or abilities to make connections – unless they are to EUM’s of course! …I grew up thinking I was responsible for everyone’s happiness or unhappiness. I learned to have no needs, to not make waves, to not ask questions, to live my life unloved, unnurtured, unnoticed – unless there was a problem.”

          Babyangel… First of all THANK YOU for so succinctly and perfectly describing the damage done to the children of narc parents. I too am the child of a narc parent (father)and like you have felt like an alien and outsider my whole life. I’m going to be honest with you…undoing the damage to those of us raised by a narc is very, very, very difficult. Not impossible, but it is one of the most challenging “problems” therapists deal with. Because for us, this was what normal is. We were born into it. Who the heck knew that your best friend and the neighbor across the street didn’t also walk on eggshells every single day hoping that the land mine wouldn’t blow up??? Hell, I was so conditioned that I didn’t know until I was 39 that people were SUPPOSED to be connected to each other. Literally had no idea it was even possible let alone was necessary.

          But I digress. What I’m trying to convey is that WE can be healed. the narc in our lives, not so much. But WE can. I know, I’m doing it and it’s working. It’s a bitch of a process, and it takes determination and it’s oh so slow. But it can happen.

          I actually am feeling connected to people now. I can still flush people when it’s necessary to do so, but that cold, unfeeling, instantaneous ability to do so has actually become harder for me to achieve. Because I actually do care now.

          It will all balance out. I just basically wanted you to now that we do understand. The rest of the world looks at you as if you’ve grown three heads and purple horns if you tried to explain the crazy making, insane crap you’ve experienced at the hand of your own narc parent. But those of us who have also lived this, get it. And together, we can all heal from it by doing what the narc fears most…bringing it out into the light.

  36. Tinkerbell says:


    I used to worry about “time running out”. I think that thought is very common among us older women. But, Honey, don’t think of yourself as old. You can reasonably look forward to another 30 years of your life. How do you want to spend that time? Wouldn’t you like to have your act together long before then? And, no one ever reaches “perfection” anyway. You just need to know that you are a decent, well-meaning individual who puts her values above crap, who treats others as she would want to be treated, who tries to live her life authentically and attempts to pass on this legacy to her children and other young folks coming along. It’s the EFFORT that is so important. You don’t “run out of time” until you’ve taken your last breath on this earth. Be strong and know that you are getting “better” every day because you understand what’s important.

    • Jennifer says:


      What an elegant reply! I needed to hear that too. Thank you.

    • Heartache Amy says:

      You make a good point. I suppose it’s never too late. But the reality is that meeting someone decent seems harder and harder the older I get. The “pool” of eligible men seems to have shrunk, in other words. I was so happy when I first got married because a) I had always thought that I’d never get married and b) I thought I’d found someone to share my life with. Well, that didn’t quite work out (and that’s for the best, I might add). But now it just seems like my chances have dwindled. I hope you’re right and I’m wrong!

  37. Tinkerbell says:

    Yevette. You handled that situation with self-assurance, self-control and a covert “kick ass” mentality. What else could she do but give notice. LOL! Kudos to you!

  38. miskwa says:

    Thought I’d answered your comment, but it seems to have evaporated. I do go to Denver when it’s not 100 degrees there and the interstate is not clogged with kamikaze ski traffic. Actually will be there Sunday to catch a flight to deal with my dying father. I have gotten a lot of rejection from guys there due to where I live/work. That’s where the wanting to just shut down comes in. Not sure I can afford to relocate, been sending out resumes but no go. Still trying to get the property valued. Yearn for human touch, intelligent conversation again but instead I have to deal with my now very hostile AC at work. Am trying to start a multi million dollar center at our campus and found out yesterday that 6 businesses intend to close here by years and end. Sigh.

    • Skadia says:

      Hostile AC at work, it’s like having a second job :( sending you good vibes as I barely hold onto myself in the midst of my AC’s shananigans :/


  39. Spinster says:

    I’ve been so busy trying to live life, that I’ve not sat down to reflect on my values in a long time. Luckily, there isn’t anyone (romantically or otherwise) or anything in my way, so I’ll do that pronto.

  40. Rachel says:

    I find I don’t have a clear view of who I am and I may be suppressing my needs, expectations, wishes for my boyfriend, for my family, for what society might think the right career path is. I’ve taken on a passive life and it’s close to destroying my motivation and passion for life. I have a lot of needs that aren’t being met and I’m afraid I’m letting it out on my boyfriend, when in reality its my fault.
    How do you find or understand what it is you need to feel happy and authentic? I thought I knew once, but I feel so lost now. How do you re-find your values?
    I feel like I’m on a “crumb” diet and that I need his approval or opinion to build my self worth- I’m not even sure how I got to this point.
    How do you re-find what you “need”?

    • Skadia says:

      it’s sort of simple advice but I thought I’d respond with what I have been doing and what finally clued me into why I needed to leave AC in September. Do stuff for YOU. I have a job that isn’t quite fulfilling though i am extremely successful – I remember when I was excited by the possibilities of life instead of monotonously checking off tasks on a list of things that I need to do. I started scheduling massages every month and looking at sites such as Groupon, Dealfind, Living Social and signing up for adventures even if I couldn’t find someone to go with me. When you start doing things simply because you want to try THAT you start to become YOU. I recently became an organizer for a Meetup dot com group where I invite people to join me on my adventures but really, I’ve already purchased the adventure because I want to go… company is fun but I will go alone. Knowing you is about doing things for YOU regardless of what people think (within reason of course). Start small and eventually you will get to a place where you will be doing things you never thought you would be doing… AND LOVING IT. To your point, it is NOT your BF’s job to make you feel better about yourself but a bf that is not good for you will interfere with the above exercise and then you will know if he is the positive person SUPPORTIVE person that you need in your life. BF’s are not supposed to MAKE us happy, they are there the sidelines cheering us on when we ARE happy. And after you’re really comfortable with doing things you like to do, heck, invite him! Whether he says yes or no shouldn’t matter and maybe you two can have an adventure together :):)

      The signal to me to leave my AC was when I was out there experiencing my life, meeting random people that enjoyed my company and I couldn’t even depend on him to stick to plans HE made with me, often blaming me for his cancellation because I hadn’t met some expectation which he didn’t mention until it was conveniently not met and provided an excuse for my mistreatment. He was always more than available for counseling, work assistance, and sex of course SMH

  41. Janice says:

    Great post! Definitely an important thing to note also is not to base your self-worth on romantic relationships, and to learn how to be truly single (without always chasing someone or being chased.) There’s more to life than dating and relationships!

  42. swissmiss says:

    There’s another aspect to being in a relationship with someone who lacks empathy, and I am living it at this very moment. I have been married for 20 years and my husband has become more and more isolated. There’s almost nothing left of him except a brain that works all the time. We have lived thousands of miles apart for the past 7 years, because of our careers, and decided to have an open marriage because my need for intimacy had not been met for a long time. I was actually heart broken when he agreed–I guess I was fishing, thinking my request would shake him up.

    I have just come out of an affair with a MM. I finally had the courage to break it off after months of being one huge band-aid for him. I loved the intimacy and connection (however unsustainable) and thought, I want this with my husband.

    My husband came into town last week and was more remote than ever. He is not interested in an emotional connection with me, not interested in counseling, thinks we should stay married and by some miracle, we will find one another again, and even if we don’t it’s fine, that’s what the companion phase of marriage is (to him). This is so crushing, especially as the MM had to cruelly ‘report’ to me that his return to his wife is working out: “She’s not you, but I can make the best of it.” Eeeeuuuw.

    My therapist said a few weeks ago she thought the affair had been good for me. I don’t think so. I should have left well enough alone. Or should I have? This is a painful time. Big decisions ahead.

    • jewells says:

      Swissmiss, I feel for you. I haven’t been married, but I have dated EU’s of all sorts for various lengths of time. I can relate to the cruelty of your exMM’s statement – mine did something similar – thanked me for saving his marriage! This was because in my upset in my rude awakening to what was going on, I told him that if he had any chance of saving his marriage he better tell his wife as it would come better from him than me armed with his text messages and emails. A couple days later he reported to me that they were in counselling, thanked me for saving his marriage, that he was happy because he had hope for the future for the first time in a long time (which flew in the face of the future fakey flakey crap he fed me during ‘our’ relationship), oh, and that the wife and the counsellor stipulated cutting ties with me or no go. And he did. Oh I smarted, I wished I’d found this site before that happened and implemented NC before he did. But I have come to a place where I don’t care anymore, I’m just glad he’s not in my life anymore messing me around. The crux is, I am also coming to a place where I might be able to thank him too. That mess of a person caused me to start looking at me, focusing on me, I’ve even opted to part time work to give myself the gift of time for me. I’m in therapy, working out, reading everything I can get my hands on about relationships and personality disorders, this site, Nat’s book, facials, mani/pedi’s, I also have a problematic spine and neck that I’m lining up treatment for, and finally finishing the reno’s on my condo…All the stuff I’ve neglected or deprived myself of because I didn’t have money/time/motivation/desire, whatever the excuse, it was just because I didn’t love me and didn’t think I deserved the caretaking. I’m not that woman anymore!
      The only thing I can say for you and your marriage, is that you need to go to counselling for you and figure out what you need to do for you.

    • Sadder but Wiser says:

      It’s really hard to answer the question “was this good for me?” until some time has passed and the emotional roller coaster subsides. I suppose that if it leads to greater self-awareness and wisdom, then the answer would be “yes” even if it’s nothing more than realizing that you wouldn’t do this again. Generally, affairs with MMs lead to massive heartache, which you certainly don’t need more of – sounds like you have enough of that already with your distant husband!

      Your situation just seems deeply sad all the way around. It’s so painful when you love a man and he just doesn’t want to try any more. I too had an ex-husband that slowly withdrew from me and wanted no real intimacy even though I was desperately longing for it and for him – the loneliness from living with this was 100 times worse than anything I experience out here in single life. Divorce wasn’t easy, but it has turned out to be the right decision. Wouldn’t it be better to break the ties of this dying marriage and start over fresh?

      • swissmiss says:

        Thank you Jewells and Sadder But Wiser. I had a brain wave today: good thing I broke up with the MM BEFORE my husband arrived. We know what would have happened. I would have said, “I have found someone else,” and would have been left high and dry with the MM abandoning me, despite months and months of him begging me to have a (fake) future with him. Or worse: I’d be stuck with him forever! Jewells, knowing someone said something similar to you brought me some relief. The MM said I should be HAPPY he went back to his wife because “at least I am not out looking for other women.” I thought I would be ill. I don’t know what will happen with my marriage. It’s heartbreaking. The man I married has disappeared. Back to counseling to see what answers emerge.

        • jewells says:

          My MM was full of advice and suggestions about how I should feel and do too. It’s to make himself feel like ‘a good guy’ in the end like saying ‘see, I have your interests at heart, I’m thinking of you’ when what they are doing in trying to avoid feeling like the shit that they are and getting you out of their life without repurcussions of your anger and potential wrath. It’s still about them. And coward is the word. I hate to say it but in that they were right in a way a) we DO deserve better and b) you will be happy soon enough that he went back to his wife, but the reason will be because he’s no longer messing you around and now you can focus on you and find someone who treats you with love care trust and respect unlike him.

  43. courtney says:

    I am done being hungry :/

    Recently engaged in a 3-week relationship which I believed was the happiest and healthiest I ever had. Best communication I have ever had, we would talk hours into the night, he was incredibly responsive, we had great physical chemistry as well as emotional intimacy. We accidentally (and I really do mean an accident) fast-forwarded a bit too much emotionally which was a mistake on both our ends. Because we connected so well, we felt optimistic even though he had always had a job offer in a different state and that was always in the background (plus the fact that his ex would harass him even though she had a new boyfriend as well- another red flag).

    He broke up with me recently because he has health issues, and he had always had a job offer he was going to take before he began dating me and could not deal with the long-distance relationship prospect. Which is fine. But the way he broke up with me was extremely cold and harsh I felt (over phone call, no warning, thought we were just having a discussion as we usually do about any conflicts that arise) and I told him that I couldn’t believe he was just giving up after he had made me believe so much in this relationship. Later he told me that it was more his fault than mine, etc, that I am great, that he didn’t wish to become too physically intimate with me before he left (which shows that he cares, and I appreciate that) but he just doesn’t want anything long-term, that in the future if we lived in the same city it would have been different. I was happy with his response and felt like I had the closure I needed to move on.

    I even felt a sense of “true” love for him in the sense that I wanted him to be happy and move on with his life as well.

    However, and this was a huge mistake on my part, I reached out to him to clarify some things (which he had been perfectly happy to do before because we had a great communication going) and this time it blew up in my face because we were still trying to decide whether or not to talk in the future. I had suggested we didn’t, and he agreed, but I still wanted to talk about other things. And, when I said something that annoyed him, he completely shut me out (which is what he did right before the breakup as well) and says he doesn’t wish to talk anymore right now.

    This is where…I am paradoxically the Fallback Girl. Even though it was me who suggested not talking right now, to detach ourselves from each other, I found myself reverting back to needing some of his validation again –and wanting to be friends, wanting to talk…but it just leaves me, as Natalie says, “Hungry.”

    The relationship is over and I have accepted that. So why is it so hard for me not to be the Fallback Girl still? I am nobody’s option – I even told him, “I am a person too with feelings and a life. I matter, and you can’t just shut me out anytime you feel I’ve said something unacceptable.” But he is the type who makes me feel I disappear at the face of his own problems/issues. He says it is “survival instinct,” but the thing is…he wasn’t that way before.

    He UNFOLDED. I realize that now. I saw this perfect person before…or near perfect…and believed him to be emotionally mature, ready for long-term…but now I realize, when I unfolded, and showed any of my less-than-perfect sides, even just a HINT (I can tell you honestly I have been my best in this relationship – the most positive, amazing sides of me) he unfolded as well and showed me he was not ready to accept someone who was not this perfect person.

    And of course love is all about accepting someone’s flaws too not just the beautiful things about them. So right now I have all the anger I need to stop being hungry and start feeding myself and that is what I intend to do!

  44. Jennifer says:

    Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. When I met my ex unavailable I was in place where I thought, yeah I’m pretty, I guess (I’m actually a beautiful young woman inside and out)– and I thought life is pretty sucky so you just have to settle (I was settling with a job that wasn’t so good for me in the long term and choosing a career path due to family pressure and wanting approval and validation from my boss and coworker). So naturally I attracted and was attracted to a man and pseudo “relationship,” where yeah, he thought I was pretty, wasn’t too crazy about me, and where I reasoned “If I want a romantic relationship, I guess I’m stuck with this pompous idiot, as, you know, life is about settling.” Well, what happened, is I was really repeating the pains of my childhood, as thinking you HAVE to settle is just operating from a very unaware, hazed and numb state. He was an addict (just like my father) and mentally ill (just like my mother). He also had a propensity to be suicidal (my mother committed suicide). And he was insanely insensitive toward me like most of my family. So I became addicted to him. I developed an eating disorder, and here’s the real kicker: I was near death from this eating disorder that began and got worse with our “relationship” and I thought I couldn’t live with out HIM! Lunacy. So THANK GOD, I was already in therapy and going to a support group. I got out and began the road to recovery. I broke up with him in a non dramatic/direct/respectful way, and initiated no contact, delved into therapy, journaled like crazy, tried extra hard to perform well at my job. It’s been seven months of no contact and I try to avoid the ex like the plague. Because for me he is the plague. For me he is toxic. He went back to an ex. When I found out initially (through facebook) I was crushed. But now I see it this way: In order for us to have worked he would have had to drastically change/ I couldn’t accept him as he was. That’s not fair to him. I’m not saying he’s a stand up guy, but I don’t think he deserves to be with someone who thinks he’s not good enough and who wants him to change. He deserves to date who he chooses and if they are a better fit for each other good. There’s too much hurt in this world. And truth is he didn’t do anything shitty to me I didn’t allow. So if they are a better pair, though it hurts, and yes I miss him, I really, really do wish them well. And if he goes on to have a better relationship with her, then, good. I wasn’t available myself either and fully incapable of giving anyone (myself included) even the basics of a healthy relationship. Truth be told: he deserved better that what I had to offer.

  45. Kate says:

    Thank you AGAIN, Natalie – this article enabled me to have a huge epiphany this week. To be honest when I first saw the title, I felt something wilt inside me – the knowledge that what you wrote is right, that our needs matter, but also the feeling of fear and anxiety – of conflict, of being “rejected” for having needs (thanks, Dad). That very issue came up this week with my new guy, and I knew if I didn’t say something about what was bothering me, it would go underground and ruin everything. The way I thought about it is this – we all have needs. They are subjective, not right or wrong. They are what they are. If I speak up, and ask for my need to be met within a mutually fulfilling relationship, then two things can happen. If you’re with someone that actually cares about your needs, you are opening a dialogue about what your needs are, you’re being honest about yourself and you’re giving them to chance to respond. If you’re with someone who can’t or won’t meet those needs, you find out now, and can then opt out and move on to someone else who can or will meet those needs. In a weird, twisted way, its a win-win. So, I screwed up all the courage I had and broached the subject with my guy, and to my surprise, he thanked me for being open and communicating my needs to him, he said having an open and honest relationship is very important to him, as are my needs and wants. He explained that I am special to him, and that we need to sit down together and work out a way for both of us to be happy and have our needs met, and he’s willing to work on that. Honestly, I was totally shocked! I’ve never had a man respond to me stating my needs like that before. I can only credit finding a guy like this as a result of reading BR and finally really being able to conceptualize what it means to be in a relationship that feels GOOD. Thank you, thank you, thank you Natalie.

  46. emerldeyez says:

    thank you, all of you guys! I didn’t want to respond till I absorbed all that everyone has written.
    I too morphed, swallowd my values, was good at becoming whatever he wanted me to be, and lost me in the meantime. It happens slowly, bit by bit, during the first blush, the honeymoon, the feeling you found your soulmate. Coming from a generation of having a mother who put herself in a box on the closet shelf, to have a husband, and be a mother. I swore I would never, be like my mother, and find a man like my father. HA!! how could I do anything different if I didn’t change me. I know today, I have to stay in the here and now, and be who I am. And if they don’t like me whoever they are, I don’t have to change, they just need to go away. I am not willing to give up myself again and feel so empty whether I am with them or without them. that is a prime moment for any addiction to fill the emptiness that I feel within. I continue to get my strength from this blog. It’s now a few weeks without contact. I sometimes miss him, but I ask myself what am I really missing? The illusion of what he made me think he was until he showed his true colors, and I was already emotionally hooked. I’m in no hurry to get involved. I too am not a spring chicken but that’s ok. I enjoy my time alone, to do what I want, when I want. I moved to Colorado for this AC so I have a whole state to explore!!

  47. Emerldeyez says:

    Skadia, your EUM must be mine or at least friends. I laughed out loud when I read, he would cancel something, that he planned with me, over something I did, or some expectation that I did not meet, that I didn’t even know that I did or the expectation was in existence. I can think of two such examples. The sad thing this became almost a daily thing. I thought I was losing my mind I realize he was just mind “f”ing me. One time I was sitting out at the pool, waiting for him to tell me he was on his way, it takes 20 mins to get to my house from his. So he texts me he is on his way. So I go back get changed and now I am getting texts about flirting with all the men at the pool, ( there were none, but let’s not let reality get in the way) and that he was already at my place and since I didn’t respond fast enough he was going right by and not stopping to pick me up. I was ready and waiting for him. But once again let’s not let reality get in the way. Another time, I didn’t even know he was coming over, and he texts me open your door and wave I’m leaving. Another time, he came up to my door I was sitting down on the couch putting on my shoes, he started to yell at me because I didn’t have my shoes on, and ready to go by the time he got up to my door. And he left. I would stand there in shock, asking myself what the hell just went down. There was never ever an apology. Any time I wanted to talk about it, I was looking for trouble and couldn’t stay in the here and now. He was becoming so chaotic and unpredictable, I couldn’t count on him for anything. Yet he would profess he loved me, wanted to marry me, and would have, if I would have, but he was becoming more and more bizarre. I was becoming afraid of going any where with him because he would get mad and threaten to leave me, where ever we were. we would be hundreds of miles away from home, on a motorcycle ride and I would say something, that the normal person would find absolutely nothing wrong with, just conversation, and he would blow up and threaten to leave me. When I could no longer count on him for anything,and that it was becoming threatening and dangerous to me was when I decided I have to get away from this man, and do it calculatedly because I was now fearful of what he may do to me. I have been moving away since July, with several periods of no contact in between. It’s now been two weeks, without any contact both ways. He would often throw a text out there to get me to bite. This time nothing. As I have said in other posts, my dog died, two weeks ago because of a bone he gave her without my permission, and because I was so upset and put a robe on because I was freezing cold, i think in shock, he told me to leave at 3am in the morning after I just told the vet to put my dog done. I didn’t use him to warm up I put on a robe. No emotion what so ever, of understanding that I just lost my dog, and I was wrestling with the words that the vet told me it was because of what he gave her to eat, put her into an acute pancreatitis attack. I left, with my other dog, and went to talk to the vet and she listened to me and my feelings when EUM was more concerned about himself. To me he is a monster in human being form.

    • Mymble says:

      He does sound like a monster, not a common or garden EUM/AC. it made me shudder reading about his aggressive, punitive behaviour. It sounded like he wanted to reduce to a wreck and if you had married him he would have done it. Someone so nasty and controlling might well stoop to physical violence. Don’t ever let him nice you into going back to him.

  48. Izzy says:

    Great post! I am 5 days into NC with an AC/EUM and just about everything I read here resonates. I broke it off with him after a lightning bolt of recognition hit me that he doesn’t respect me — heck, he doesn’t even respect himself.

    I had the blessing of a wonderful marriage to an amazing man who loved me completely. Sadly he passed away many years ago. Dear fellow readers of BR, once you know what a respectful, authentic, relationship with a soulmate can be, you just don’t ever want to settle for less. Amazingly, because I had been alone for so long, I allowed an AC into my life. Fortunately, I’ve nixxed that relationship and am now just trying to stay strong through the first, most trying days of NC.

    Predictably, he has tried to contact me via text and even hailed me down on the street. If I hadn’t read BR, I wouldn’t probably have been grateful for his attempts and figured we should get back together. Now I realize it’s just a typical, controlling AC/EUM behavior after being dumped.

    Thank you Natalie and all BR commentors. I’m usually more of a ‘lurker’ on this site than a commentor, but you all deserve heartfelt thanks for offering up your experiences and enriching this extremely helpful site.

  49. Emerldeyez says:

    I have realized that this man hated women. He triggered in me needing to get his acceptance of my very existence toward the end of the relationship. He would have continued it, just to get sex, to me I might as well become a prostitute and get paid if there is no feelings or committment. My father is dead my mom is in her 80’s. So to do any work it needs to be done without ever talking to either of them, as to the damage my childhood did to me and how I was set up unconsciously for these unhealthy relationships. Today it is up to me to make the changes in my life. To listen to my intuition and to trust that if this guy isnt the right one another will come along. I too am a very independent successful career woman. I have three grown kids and soon 7 grandkids, who mean the world to me. This last AC was jealous if I talked to any of them. I understand today, he is a narcissist, but has borderline personality traits, besides being verbally and emotionally abusive. I had to look at why I was so charmed by this man. And why I was so vulnerable. I
    can only blame myself for allowing the abuse to continue when in my head I knew it was so wrong, yet my heart got sucked back in every time he said he loved me. So women, keep up the work, it is well worth it. I deserve a healthy relationship, even if it is only with myself. That is empowering and I can face anything, if I trust in myself.

  50. teachable says:

    Hey Revvie. Yeah I saw that post & replied. Thankyou. & you were right btw. I too am solution focused / action oriented when it comes to dealing with probs. In the case of the dead ex & the OW though I need to ice it for a while. I have my own issues to deal with first. Highly unlikely to get the truth from her anyway. Will wait n see..

    Back now to you..

    The pollyanna complex is very subtle. In fact, I would bet that you would not in a million years see yourself, nor indeed would others see you as the niave type at all! Rather, your immediate gut reaction / internal dialogue to that statement would probably be something like ‘actually I’m pretty street smart & I reackon I can see a wolf coming ok’! And in some respects, you’d be right. However, this is where the Pollyanna Complex is so sneaky because the faulty thinking is subconcious! Conveniently, it strikes AFTER THE FACT on occassions WHEN WE DIDN’T RECOGNISE THE WOLF! Suddenly, as if struck outta no-where by the wide eyed doe dumb stick, we then indulge in the irrational belief that others THINK & BEHAVES LIKE WE DO ie with integrity etc despite a lifetime of experience & daily news reports to the contrary!!!

    When we examine at this thinking in the cold hard light of day, it becomes rather cringey as it takes on it’s true form which is that of victim thinking, it’s close first cousin.

    So, what to do? Well, here is what I believe we, as Pollyanna’s need to remind ourselves of on a regular basis:

    People do say & bad things & they will do them to us IF WE LET THEM.

    We are not so powerful as to control other peoples actions but we sure do have the power to decide whether or not to stick around & endure them.

    This is not kansas & clicking our heels three times will not bring back toto or take us home!

    You’re on the right track Rev. Just give yrself time. U havent been at BR for all tht long yet & these wider issues take a lifetime of practise. I don’t think we ever perfect them. We just keep slowly evolving & refining them. But you are definately on the right track so don’t push yrself too hard, he
    . xx.

    • Revolution says:

      One more thing, Teach (yes, can you believe there’s more?!)

      “You’re on the right track Rev. Just give yrself time. U havent been at BR for all tht long yet & these wider issues take a lifetime of practise.”

      Gulp. Actually, I will admit that I’ve been reading (though not commenting on) BR for nigh on over 2 years! And (you’ll LOVE this) do you know how I FOUND BR in the first place? As a link from another website, “Narcissists Suck” by (pseudonym) Anne Valerious! (FAB blog, btw.) I was working through ending my relationship with a toxic, narcissist best friend, and so I was reading that site. Then, lo and behold, what was that on the side-bar under “Blogs I Like”? BR! So that opened a whole ‘nother can of worms (thankfully so)! So yeah, I got no excuse. Lol. :)

  51. teachable says:

    PS We can also slip into Pollyanna mode after getting burned in situations where we may RECOGNISED the wolf but foolishly decided that we would IGNORE the danger & enterain it in some way, shape or form.

    Now, if you’re REALLY ready to learn (I’m teaching myself as much as anyone else as I write) suck it up & get this (warning: this will sting a tad).

    The Pollyanna Complex is an act we play out to absolve ourselves of responsibility for our part in things! You see Rev, we are not REALLY Pollyanna’s. Rather we are grown women, making choices of free will about our lives. And sometimes we make bad ones. And bitching & moaning about the other persons wrongdoings, & how we are oh so superior in whatever ways we think we, are isn’t going to help us make better choices next time.

    What will help us to make better choices is to see OUR faults, OUR wrongdoings, OUR fuckups. And one of them is this BS Pollyanna act we pull. It’s a bloody crock!!

    Wow. I can’t believe I said all that. If it doesn’t apply to you please disreguard it. I know it applies to me though. I’m ready for change on a fundemental level Rev. I’m not bullshitting myself in any nook or cranny of my thinking anymore. I hope I haven’t been too harsh. You’re 35 with no children. I think you spoke of hoping for them one day.

    If you want straight up no BS, lets get this sorted type feedbk you’ve found yr girl. But it also comes with bucket loads of love & the understanding that hey, we’re in this together. xxx

    • Revolution says:

      Yo Teach,

      I hear you, loud and clear, girl. You’re right. Especially about Pollyanna’s ugly snaggle-toothed cousin, Victim Thinking. Ugh.

      I love how you said that we can’t control bad things, and “bad” people. We just need to learn to jump ship when we feel those gut reactions. I’m learning these things. If I’m honest, I will admit that I felt those gut reactions with both of the major ACs in my life. I think I just wanted to be the one whose love could magically transform them into the prince. You know how that story ends.

      So now, in relationships, I’m looking for a home with sturdy foundations (not a fixer upper, feet from the train tracks). But, and as you mentioned, on a wider scale, I have learned how to not be a beacon to the conscience underpriviledged. My fault is that I see the “potential” in people.(Am I hitting all of Nat’s titles here? Lol.)But the more nefarious have a gift for taking advantage of that.

      You know something? It’s actually a relief to me, the thought that it’s not up to ME to create “better people” out of the ashes of user friends and bfs. And if I’m honest, it’s a bit controlling to be wanting to do that in the first place(even if our goal is for world peace, the hungry to be fed, and the assholes of the world to shed their assholery and unite in some wonderful global bond of redemption). :)

      I get it, Teach. Seriously. Thanks.

      Oh, and btw, nope, don’t want children. So at least I got that going for me, timewise. 😉

  52. Yevette says:

    @ Tinkerbell and Revs: Thanks for the support! This person is actually still in my house. She says that she found a place and will start moving some of her stuff this week. I took pics of everything in the house because she made a comment a while back that gave me the impression that she was capable of secretly doing something to sabatoge my home. I will also be doing a thorough walk through of the property before having her sign
    the rental agreement stating that she left everything in good condition the same way that she found it when initially moved in. I am learning to listen to my intuition, as well as applying what I learned about these types of people from reading Nat’s posts.

  53. teachable says:

    Ok got it Rev. Doesnt want kids. Apologies. My mistake. I do get confused in my fuddly middle aged mind
    these days (43)! LOL

    Also, just so you know everything I was saying applies to me too of course. Primarily, in fact! Just so you know. It’s up to you to decide if anything I ever say fits for you or not. Just discard what doesn’t. It’s all good…

    It doesnt surprise me in the least to hear that you’ve been around BR for a couple of yrs already & another site before that. I can see that you have a lot of self awareness & maturity. That’s partly why I ‘click’ with you, as well as that we are similar in many respects, personality & values wise :)

    I’ve been working on this stuff for a long time though Rev. Conciously at it with deliberate intent for 27 years. That doesnt give me any greater knowledge, not by a long shot (ie look at how I’ve just been humbled!), but I do have a measure of experience at ‘walking in the world with my self esteem in tow’ so to speak… that coming intuitively to the point where we don’t even need to think about how to do it, takes time. I was at that place for many years before my current episode, which was a one off slip up, due to particular vulnerabilities which came into play. I’ve learned my lesson. That wont be happening again.

    That said, what also takes time, is HEALING. This is the phase we are both in now. Depression in this phase, if we have been badly burned, is not uncommon. Tread gently. We have been wounded. We need to be wrapped in cotton wool until such time as our emotional skin grows back & we’re ready to take on the world again. It’s ok to rest & recouperate. In fact this is the most responsible thing we can do for ourselves right now. Sending love n hugs. T xx

  54. teachable says:

    And Rev, can you do me a favour? Hold me to account on this! If I come to BR with a story of some lame ass guy with fixer upper issues you have my FULL PERMISSION to TOTALLY NAIL MY ASS TO THE WALL!!! Got it? Cool. :) LOL

  55. teachable says:

    And Rev, I haven’t really got a handle properly on yr ‘backstory’ other than there has been a r.ship who didn’t work out & that it has caused an episode of depression. I also
    noted (I think?) somewhere that you onced dated a musician but then realised they are lame. Good call. Most are. I know. I am one (but would never date one in a million yrs & have a day job career behind me). I do apologise for not knowing too much more. I’ve been a bit ‘patchy’ with popping in & out lately, but have been here the last few days. I will try to pick it up a bit I can get a better sense of your situation. For what it’s worth though, can I say, my guess is you’ve been on yr own journey of some sort of personal growth for a while too. Just remember though. Easy does it. Rome wasn’t built in a day & broken hearts & damaged self esteem too take quite some time, work & effort to heal too. It’ll happen in good time. Just be gentle with yrself in the interim. Treat yrself like yr own best friend xx

    • Revolution says:

      Oh Teach,

      Everytime I read your comments to me, I make this low guttural chuckle to myself(it’s kind of creepy, actually. Lol.) How the hell do you just….get it? 😉

      My story…. *sits back with a pipe, stroking chin, looking off into the distance, reflectively* Well, it’s a tale of assholery. :) Okay, I’ll try to give it to you in an nutshell: Mom left dad when she was pregnant with me, because he was cheating. Was a (responsible!) EUW in my late teens/early twenties. Wasn’t “available,” but didn’t ever pull the shit with guys that the ACs that we read about here pull. I was honest and clear with my intentions. No double-speak from me, ever.

      Anyways, yes, dated musicians. It seemed an easy fit as I am a writer and always tended toward the right-brained chaos, like it was a warm, fuzzy blanket. Now I see the holes.

      The last AC (dated a couple, as I was emerging out of my EUW cocoon) was just a friend, but gave me all the markings (even saying he loved me) of maybe it going further. Then, in one fell swoop (actually, I’ll admit, it was a while in coming, seeing all of the red flags I burst through) he did something disrespecful when we were out having a drink. I would’ve left his ass at the restaurant, but he was getting a little wasted, so I waited with him to sober up before he could drive, and then I let the NC guillotine down on him (after telling him, in no uncertain terms, that I DID NOT DESERVE and WOULD NOT ALLOW that type of treatment).

      Now I’ve pretty much caught you up to speed. So here I am, dealing with a depression (ah, my old friend) that was *triggered initially* (and not currently) by this whole ordeal of losing a friend and potential love whom I thought I could trust. I don’t get over things as quickly as others do, I’m starting to suspect.

      Anyway, you didn’t overstep in any of your comments, T. You are bang on. If something doesn’t “resonate” (overused word alert!), then I’ll let you know without anger. And HELL YES I’ll nail your ass to the wall if you’re straying into AC Land. :)

      True, been on this personal journey for a while. Probably started it sooner than some, as I’ve always wanted to get to the heart of matters. Even as a kid. Plus there was a pervasive sense of needing to have my own back, and pull myself up from my bootstraps, from a young age. Despite having at least one parent who really, truly loved and cared for me. Still, nobody’s perfect.

      I know you’re right about us taking the time to heal our wounds. Sigh. I just get SO FRUSTRATED with the healing process. I’m not good at inactivity, waiting, patience, faith. None of that. I’m good at riding the rails, biting off more than I can chew, working my ass off. But life is giving me the smackdown right now, and I’m forced to do all of this “quiet time” healing business. It’s bloody hard ass work. Any suggestions?

      • Revolution says:


        Oops, just realized we may be straying precariously into “off topic” territory. Well, comment to me if you feel comfortable. Or work it into other posts, if you want. No worries. Nat, I’m trying to respect your rules.

  56. Nancy says:

    I have been doing a lot of reflection regarding my life and my relationships. Many of Natalie’s articles have been hitting home. Currently I have begun dating a man, I like a lot, so I am really evaluating and observing both mine and his behaviors to make sure this is a really good thing and not something I am trying to mold into something that I want.

  57. teachable says:

    Hmmm… thankyou for sharing with me/us Rev. It helps a lot. What an amazing, strong woman you are for standing up to that AC & going NC! Well done!! :)

    First & foremost I want to be mindful of respecting Nat’s forums guidelines too. So here’s what I will do:

    I’m bookmarking this thread so I can refer bk to yr post & try to keep in mind those basic details when I read your future posts. No doubt a bigger picture will emerge as I catch more of yr posts when I am here…

    I’ve also been thinking about what you said about my posts being amoung those you really pay attention to on BR & I realise I sort of brushed what you said. Rejecting compliments is one of my very old low self esteem behaviours. I recognised what I had done at the time but I didn’t know how to respond.

    Because I was so young when I got into therapy, throughout my life, even much older people have often noticed, that I possesed (in their view at least) some sort of wisdom beyond my years (I say in their view only, as in Buddhism we are taught never to see ourselves as wise, for if we do, in that moment, we cease to be open to learning & become not so).

    To this day I still struggle, much like when we first learn how to be assertive, & we accidently come accross as aggressive & overshoot the mark, with how to be humble & I really want to learn this very important skill. No-one likes a know it all or a person who is full of themselves (which I can come accross as sometimes, without meaning to) & sometimes I fear that by accepting a compliment I might come across this way! (silly huh?)

    I have classic see saw self esteem where I sometimes think I am either ‘better than’ (ie how many could have survived my upbringing in such good shape? Not many, so look, there’s the evidence, this is total BS thinking btw! LOL) or ‘less than’ (i.e. my childhood was shite. I didn’t learn the things everyone else learned properly. How will I ever catch up to others? Also a load of BS! LOL) When I’m travelling well, my self esteem is somewhere in the middle. (i.e I’m good at some things & not at others. We all have strengths & weaknesses & that is ok b.c I don’t need to compare myself to others. They have not lived my life).

    On the other hand, I need to learn to say thankyou when someone is recognising something in me that I know is a genuine strength, as you have done. Thus, thankyou. That was hard for me to say. Phew. Now YOU are MY teacher. X

  58. Brenda says:

    Nat and Ladies..It has been some time since I have posted…If anyone remembers me I am the lady with the Guy who was an angry Narc and dissapeared….Well so much has changed in my life,and I owe alot to Nat and all of you…After reading Nats book that she so amazingly sent me up in Canada..I read and reread to the point of people at work teasing me.
    I became strong and starting really dealing with “me”and I stopped making it about the angry asshole…I no longer think of him,and more importantly I have been meeting great people.I had a wonderful freind who saw me thru all of the bad times I was going thru,and the other Day he commented on how much Ihave changed and for the better..How smart and secure I have become..Well that just made my day..I will never settle again or feel hungry in any relationship…I love being single,I am ready to date,and have no problem doing so,But at the end of the day,I love who I am!!!I pray for all of you who are hurting,and just know how special and wonderful you really are!

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

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

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

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