sad woman silhouetteBack in November ’08, I wrote about He’s With Someone Else! Why her and not me?, a question that’s reverberating around a lot of women’s minds as I type this, and then last week I read this great post Why did he marry her and not me? (You’re not the one) over at Naked With Socks On. The author states,“Well, I’m here to tell you the truth. The answer is extremely simple: you were not the one for him. Point blank.”

He also admits that a guy does know when you’re not the one for him and that “The problem is we don’t always realize it.” There’s a lot of thinking in the ‘now’ and not wanting to “rock the boat” by thinking about the future, but there’s also the very real admission that sometimes a woman is a “stopgap” and that love takes different forms, just not not always a permanent one.

I know women and men who are with someone for a really long time, the relationship doesn’t pan out, and then in two shakes of a lambs tail, their ex is professing undoing love or doing the ultimate slap in the face of getting married or even quickly having children. They think ‘I wanted to get married! I wanted to have children! What the hell is so different with him/her?’.

I have a very close friend who was with someone for a very long time that kept stalling the hands of change. “If he knows he can’t come up with the goods, why has he eaten up my good years when I could’ve been with someone else who wanted what I want?” I always ask ‘If you’re with someone who you know cannot give you want you want and is wasting your time, why stay?’ Because it seems easier to stay and try and make him change – the quest for return on investment.

On the flipside, even if the relationship isn’t a very long relationship, what I also come across a lot is this situation:

Woman meets guy and he seems to be everything she wants either because she has illusions, or because he hypes himself up, his actions don’t match his words, and talks about things that he may very well believe at the time but he quickly forgets or he overestimates the level of his interest .

After a while, it becomes evident that all is not what it seems. And so the blowing hot and cold, the tension, the flip flapping, the lengthy conversations, discussions, arguments, ultimatums and ‘defining the relationship’ talks ensue, as well as making up to break up, placing too much value on the sex and yada, yada, yada, yada.

She wonders where she’s gone wrong. She wonders if there is something flawed about her. She tries to show him how much she loves him and stem any rejection she feels by pursuing him for validation and attention. She tries to get him to change. She thinks it’s just a matter of time. The relationship’s mostly fleeting highs and a lot of lows. Eventually, despite all her efforts, it comes to its inevitable end.

She says to herself that he’s an assclown (he may well be), that he doesn’t want commitment, and he’s no good for any woman, but drives herself batty obsessing about why things didn’t work out. Then in two shakes of a lambs tail, she hears that he’s shagging the woman in the office or that after just three months of dating some woman, he’s moved in, when he could barely bring himself to leave a toothbrush in her place.

Naturally, particularly when you have expended a lot of energy, emotional or otherwise, you’ll feel pretty damn outraged if you’re in this situation.

What’s so different now? Why her and not me? Is he different with her? What’s wrong with me?

There are all sorts of reasons why relationships don’t work out although they pretty much fall into two camps: potentially right for each but behaving in ways that are counterproductive to the success of the relationship making you eventually incompatible, or you’re wrong for each other and fundamentally incompatible.

The thing is, most guys know if you’re not the one for them. There are some men who are so distanced from themselves and reality that they don’t know their bums from their elbows, but generally speaking, a guy knows when he no longer considers you to be the one for him, he just won’t share that information with you. They fear conflict if they do tell you plus sometimes they do say they’re not as into it and it stimulates your interest further as you try to prove yourself to him. Some just don’t want to endanger the possibility of a shag, an ego stroke, and a shoulder to lean on, and they like having you there to ‘fallback’ on.

At some point he felt enough to pursue you/express interest. He then felt enough to have sex, enough to let it build into a relationship, enough to say he loved you (or maybe he didn’t say it…), enough to say he saw a future, but in the end, not enough to actually make it a reality.

Whilst your mind’s racing ahead looking for signs of commitment and indications that you have a shared future, some guys just want to be in the now. They don’t want to think ahead, and when they do, their chests tighten, or they get panicky, and start acting like jackasses by picking fights or just plain ‘ole disappearing so that you’re not getting any ideas about a future.

Relationships require a leap of faith and quite frankly, when a guy doesn’t see a future with you, or isn’t prepared to try, he’s not willing to take a leap of faith and put in the effort, the emotion, and the commitment.

However…plenty of men will coast, put in just enough effort (or may even get away with throwing in crumbs) and still enjoy the fringe benefits of a relationship with someone who believes that they’re going somewhere.

He’s either waiting until he’s got somewhere else to go, or afraid to commit to an outcome which will involve him removing you as an option. Some men don’t like being alone either.

And, I want to say at this point out of fairness to men, women do it too. Women coast in relationships all the time because they don’t want to be alone, they’d rather be with someone than no one, and they think that things could change in time.

The guy that stays even though he is inclined to believe you’re not the one and he doesn’t see a future, sometimes has an element of hoping that something will change. In some respects, men and women aren’t all that different.

As I wrote about earlier this year, relationships serve to teach us about ourselves and when we find ourselves in the same relationship, it’s because it’s like you’ll keep getting the same lesson thrown at you until you learn it.

You also get the relationship that’s ‘right’ for you at the time and where you are emotionally and mentally, for instance with your beliefs. It’s a pain and can cause you pain, but we get involved with people who reflect what we believe about love, relationships and ourselves.

There is also the harsher side of the coin where the reality is that sometimes things change. That means someone can believe that they love you in September and not feel it by December. It’s cruel.

It also means that when someone moves on, if they’ve ended up experiencing their own epiphany about themselves or what they want, they may step into a different mindset which may suddenly find them ready to take a leap.

But…a lot of why someone who you thought you loved and wanted, resisted whatever was on offer and didn’t come through, is because you were that ‘stopgap’ or as I also refer to it, an ‘option’.

They were always looking over your shoulder to a future without you or keeping their options open for something better that might come along. In some instances, you’re a rebound to a previous relationship and you inadvertently help them grieve that loss…and then when they’re ‘better’ they see you as someone who nursed them through the pain but they don’t ‘see’ you in ‘that way’. They may even think that if you’d had a greater self-respect, you wouldn’t be with them.

This is why I consistently say to readers that you must get real with yourself, have an honest conversation, and work on you and adapt your love habits so that you choose better partners.

If you involve yourself with assclowns and Mr Unavailables, expending energy on separated or divorced men that want the fringe benefits of a relationship without the commitment whilst flip flapping around in indecision, or the married guys that are never going to leave but keep you in limbo, the men that live with their mothers and have no desire to cut the apron strings, men that sleep around, men that pursue their ex, men who are allergic to the truth and commitment, men who don’t know what they want, think, or feel from one end of the day to the next, and are consistent at not matching their words with actions, you will be treated like an option. Period.

The more you accept, the greater the bad message they receive, the more time you waste being someone’s option or stopgap.

You have to believe in you more than you believe in the power of the illusions and know when to fold on a bad investment. You also need to be honest with yourself and recognise that some of these men aren’t trying to be caught and that when you’re with these guys, you’re not that happy anyway.

Is he different with her? Who knows. Just like when you change how you are, you change the relationship you’re in, you can’t really legislate for what is going on in someone else’s relationship. Asking why someone who didn’t treat you with love, care, trust, and respect, is now with someone else, is like wondering why they didn’t stick around to kick you some more.

One thing I do know, is that much like when I’ve talked about the ‘reset button’ in relationships, for the habitually dubious men of this world, each new relationship is like a fresh start, with a fresh boatload of optimism and an all new persona, but if they run true to form, they soon slip into old habits.

If they’re not dubious and it’s a case of love don’t live here anymore, it’s painful and difficult and you have to grieve the relationship because from the moment that someone no longer wants a relationship and moves on, it’s a major red flag that something is very wrong and they don’t value the relationship that you’ve had any longer. Grieving the relationship and accepting that it’s over will let you move on because they have moved on. Not everyone moves on at the same pace and to continue to expend energy analysing what they’re doing now, will only cause you to waste your time.

The fact that you want a relationship with someone doesn’t mean that they have to continue wanting it too.

Sometimes you’re just not right for each other. You may have been right ‘once’ but you’re not anymore. Let them go so you can open your heart to someone else.

Your thoughts?


Dedicated to helping people improve their emotional and relationship literacy, think of me as emotional baggage declutter, shady relationship buster and self-esteem booster all rolled into one! Find Out More | My Books | 30-day projects | Weekly Podcast .
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45 Responses to Is He Different With Her? Why Did He Choose Her Instead of Me?: When You’re Not The One (or they move on to a fresh victim)

  1. Wendy says:

    Never a truer word ever said NML. Nail banged right on the head, as always. I got away from my Ass Clown 8 months ago, now with a guy who is the complete and utter opposite from him. At first, I wasn’t sure, better the devil you know so to speak. But you get so used to Ass Clowns, sometimes it’s hard to believe that there are actually guys out there who really appreciate you. It takes time to accept the interest of a good guy, because you’re so used to running rings around the bad ones. But for all those gals out there wondering “what was wrong with me”, there is NOTHING wrong with you. The harsh reality is that two people just aren’t meant to be together sometimes. Trust me, when you get past the hurt, you’ll look back and wonder what on earth you were ever doing being with him in the first place. Have hope girls, your knight in shining armour is out there, and dont be afraid to believe it. xxx

  2. Tanya says:

    Wow, I wish I’d had this article, and this website, when I was breaking up with my ex. I also like that you pointed out that women can behave this way too. I’m a lesbian, but my break-up with my ex-girlfriend sounds so similar to what other women have posted about their ex husbands or boyfriends.

    When she and I first got together, she was really much more in love with me than I was with her. Over time, I did fall in love with her, and for awhile everything was wonderful. We began making plans to live together…then all of a sudden, she turned cold. Didn’t want to live with me, wasn’t even sure she wanted to see me anymore. We hadn’t had any fights, nothing on the surface had changed…I couldn’t understand it, and she wouldn’t talk about it.

    We went through several months of her blowing hot and cold. Sometimes she’d tell me that we were soulmates and of course, we’d end up together. Other times, she’d ignore me, or just say that she wanted to be friends. I couldn’t understand it. Sometimes she’d be so cold, and I would plead with her to tell me what I’d done wrong. Other times, she’d be devoted and loving, and I’d tell myself, “See, she really does love me…if I’m just patient and loving, it’ll all work out.” Ah, denial!

    I was finally shocked out of my denial after a trip together…she’d been so sweet and romantic — and then abruptly turned cold and nasty. I was deeply hurt and angry…how could someone who claimed to care about me act like this?

    I suddenly realized I could not continue this roller-coaster with her. I was depressed, irritable, tense, and my work was suffering. I told her not to contact me again. We didn’t stick to it strictly at first….she’d write, I’d get sucked into writing back. We exchanged a few nasty letters, until I wised up and realized that I could not have contact with her at all. NML, you are so right about the No-Contact Rule!

    Even without the contact, I spent too much time overanalyzing the relationship. Why had she seemed so in love with me at the beginning of the relationship — and yet fallen out of love so quickly? As Natalie said, people’s feelings can change, or sometimes they overestimate what they really can or will commit to. She and I both may be emotionally unavailable women.

    Looking back, I think I did everything I could have done to make the relationship work. If it didn’t work out, it just wasn’t meant to. Maybe what I need to do now is work on my own emotional availability rather than worrying about hers.

  3. CB says:

    wow. right on sister! (or brother – not sure which) but either way. ive screengrabbed some of your precious words and feel like im applying them as i type stronger than ever so thanks!

    i will say that sometimes if a person does switch from “youre the next one that matters” to “im just not that into you anymore” – as crushing as it can be… its still their choice and if they do/say it in a way that dignifies you and doesn’t destroy you – then it’s not so disappointing really and there is hope for a friendship.

    but if you (the person dumped) cut all ties at that point and youve only been with that person for a few months and it was a random meeting (aka ex an internet dating site), then you *may* miss out on a friendship that actually works. so sometimes staying friends can work – *until they meet someone!* trust me, thats when you really need a break – kinda the break up you never had – and if you take it then (like i have just now), you have a better chance of preserving a future friendship if it’s still something you value (again, from my experience just now – it seems a friendship worth keeping is likely now, coz my ex gave me the space i said i needed and called last night after 3 weeks and said “time’s up!” which funnily enough, just that afternoon i’d thought was also the case – that it was time to get over anything i was hanging onto with him coz he was honest when he said he’s just not that into me – as a girlfriend – yep, he knew just like you said and has started dating someone else – but my timely time out allowed me to let it go *mostly* aka enough that i can see its not good for me to hang onto someone in my heart who doesnt hold a flame for me as a girlfriend – but he is still a good guy that i can and would like to be friends with – who has showed a huge desire to stay friends with me!)

    heck maybe ill even meet my next BF/hubbie thru him!

    at the end of that day (or even at the the beginning or middle), the biggest lesson, as you say, is to ACCEPT (as fast as possible) when a guy moves on. and not be the one left hanging on wanting more after that!

    keep up the great work and writings – love them, thanks! x CB

  4. CB says:

    opps… ahhaa NATALIE – you are a chic chick! thanks 😉 CB

  5. freeatlast says:

    Let them go so you can open your heart to someone else.

    Put beautifully! I don’t want to waste another second thinking about him, he’s taken enough of my time already.

  6. Trinity says:

    I found this post made me cry.
    It’s hard sometimes to face the ugly truth that even though, right to the end a person could ask you to please hang on, I want you in my life and I love you. Then just leave. Well I guess it can make you feel like whole relationship was a lie. All intimacy, secrets shared, building of trust and foundations, meant nothing. That’s hard to swallow at times. Yet all you can do is let go and grieve and move on. It’s not always that simple and going through the ever ups and downs of the grieving process can be exhausting. 5 months NC and while I am seeing progress, learning about me in a big way, seeing more happiness in my life and even forgetting about him some days. I also feel a longing sort of lonely feeling and I think it’s because I’m going through the acceptance stage which is harder than that lovely word sounds.
    NML, I think a post on this stage would be great because I think a lot if people could come unstuck at this point after so much hard work. At this stage the connection is being lost with your x so that gap, space or lonliness really sets in and you find yourself wanting to reconnect through confused emotions, fear and panic. I’ve literally had to sit on my hands, more than I did at the begining of NC. Luckily I read something about this phase which helped me understand what I was going through. This has stopped me from making a fatal mistake of reaching out to the x. The acceptance phase sounds happy, peaceful and easy and I was shocked to find it is my biggest test yet.
    Happy Easter to everyone, enjoy your long weekend :)

  7. Sherry says:

    Dear NML,
    Another great post!
    I myself have been the “other” person that coasted on relationships because I didn’t want to be alone. Being on that side once made me realize when guys would start coasting with me too. I know the signs, the feelings, the shallow commitments right away and “I” tend to make up their minds rather than waiting for them to dump me. However, there have been times when a true player had played me and kept me guessing which I then end up being hurt.
    I’ve learned that the more honest I am with myself, the more I tend to see things clearer when I’m dating or in a relationship. I also tend to listen to myself more and deeper when I’m honest with myself. I tend to question myself and how I”m feeling. I see “him” clearer whether his actions match his words. I am more in tune with my surroundings when I’m being completely honest with myself and my surroundings.
    Thank you again Natalie.

  8. Cathy J says:

    All true… sometimes the guy even thinks you are the one and yet the timing is not quite right… same advice applies – move on, then if he is the one, he will come back.

    Choose not to be an option, then you are opening your life for the right guy (which may or may not be that one)!!!

    What I love about this blog is the atmosphere of encouragement – thanks Natalie.
    .-= Cathy J´s last blog ..Guy Magnet: Step 1 How are you feeling? =-.

  9. Happy Soul says:

    Thank you so much Natalie!!! I dont know what I would have done without you and BR!!!
    This is the best post ever, what an eye openner! It is so true what you said: “The thing is, most guys know if you’re not the one for them”.. I love your new word – “Stopgap”, gosh, that what I became…I dont have any idea how to behaive with men, honestly. When I am “caring and loving” or when I am “total b@tch” – the ending still the same – they meet someone else and getting commited 100% and me(?) like a rubbish bin outside of their house:-( I am so upset with myself, that I allowed these men to do this to me…When I finally learn???

  10. skelly says:

    I like the title alone of just ‘move onto fresh victim’. All you are is an option, he was only with you because you were too afraid to ask for anything. He is only with her because she is useful at the moment. As soon as she has needs of her own, he will be gone.
    I had NC for 7 months and still dealing with the blow to my self esteem, but it does get better. I actually started dating and am getting good at seeing the red flags, the inconsiderate man, the boundary crossing immediately and run the other direction. But I am starting to meet nice guys, thoughtful, respectful, considerate men who actually have something real to offer me. Just take the time for yourself and heal. It’s worth it. Good article NML.

  11. raven says:

    A great post, NML. Wow

    “I always ask ‘If you’re with someone who you know cannot give you want you want and is wasting your time, why stay?’ Because it seems easier to stay and try and make him change – the quest for return on investment.”

    This post had so much wisdom in it but that quote strikes deep – So much time I wasted imagining I’d get a return on my investment. I feel sad for my ignorant self and so wish I’d known better earlier. I really did think that what I had to do was to prove my love and the man would somehow be enchanted by that – I was totally deluded, conned by the love peddlers (romantic novels and films). And nothing to bring reality because my parents *did* meet in that fairytale way so I had no reason to think otherwise. No wise woman in my life to warn me. I’m so grateful to this site if only because I feel I can now advise my two daughters with confidence. It may be too late for me but I can make a difference to their lives at least.

  12. Kathy says:

    At the risk of sounding callous, I’m going to say that we women need to learn to toughen up about a relationship ending. To me, growth is a necessary characteristic of a vibrant life and therefore it is easy to see how two people might grow in different directions or how one might outgrow the other.

    And, to be honest, wouldn’t we all think twice if something better came our way?

    • Trinity says:

      @ Kathy.
      I don’t think it’s the ending that’s the issue with most people.
      It’s the way in which it’s done. Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness, care and respect.
      “wouldn’t we all think twice if something better came our way”
      no, in fact I think that’s part of the issue. Always on the look out for something better. I believe, if your happy, with a loving partner and with both feet in the relationship and commited to a future, then “something better” wouldn’t even register.
      Something better really just translates to something different or new anyway. If your always chasing an upgrade or something different, then where does it stop? When do you stop and decide to stick? You could end up alone?
      You should never settle but I also think chasing the “something better or different” isn’t the best option either. Isn’t it almost another way of bening comitment phobic?
      I think people must see what could be standing right in front of them instead of missing it because they are looking over that persons shoulder to the next thing :)

      • Kathy says:

        Can you name any other relationship or life choice that we say FOREVER to? We don’t do it with jobs, friends, homes, or anything else I can think of. Even children eventually grow up and move out. I just think it’s a ridiculous expectation and it doesn’t work. Are you familiar with the work of Abraham Hicks? He (they) teach that traditional marriage vows are based on fear and insecurity. They advocate this approach to relationships: “We like each other pretty much. Let’s see how it goes.” I’m for that. If you think that makes me commitment phobic, so be it. I’m against relationships that feel like prison sentences or straitjackets.

        • Trinity says:

          @ Kathy, I actually agree with you on the marriage thing whole heartedly. I find the idea of marriage very odd and I might say completly outdated. Do I would be interested in reading that book. When I mentioned commitment phobic I was talking about the type of person who constantly searches or is on the look out for something better. So in a way you never settle down, it made me think could be another way of being comittment phobic.
          Like I said in my original post, I think most people understand that things end, I think it might be how it’s done that’s the issue? For me, if it’s the right person where I can evolve with him and grow as an individual, where we trust each other which gives you freedom. Then it could never feel like a prison sentence, I’d be to busy having a great time :)
          I might look into that book :)
          hope your enjoying the Easter break.

      • MaryC says:

        I don’t want someone to be with me if they’re unhappy or want out but please have the courage to tell me. He was seeing her 3 months before he told me. Its not so much he left its how it ended. After over 10yrs I think I deserved better than that.

    • Tanya Z. says:

      Oh, absolutely, there are times when breaking up is the best thing in the world for both parties. I just think that people should be honest about their intentions, and make a clean break, instead of all this blowing hot and cold, which just drags the pain out for the person who didn’t want the break-up. What I get from these articles, is that if the other person won’t give me a clean break, then I need to step up and do it for myself.

      • Trinity says:

        @ tanya z,

        What I get from these articles, is that if the other person won’t give me a clean break, then I need to step up and do it for myself.

        Dam good call girl. I’m fine with a clean break when I’m nit emotionally invested, obviously but when I am and my partner starts with the hot and cold or anything else. Well I find it hard to step up or have done in the past.
        It’s the same with closure which I was always big on. I used to think if only he would give me closure. Instead your often left with a confused jumble mess to sort through and your self esteem has taken such a blow that you take on most of the blame 4 why things ended. I read an article which said closure can only come from you, that it comes from inside of you. That you font need it from the partner and in fact, why would you give someone that power? When the power is yours and no one can take that from you. So what if the x doesn’t get things, so what if he blames you and so what if there was no good reason 4 him to leave. Let him think what he wants and have his version if the truth. As long as we sort through our own stuff, have an honest look at what took place and work on our own issues, grown, learn and evolve. Then we will get closure, we can give it to ourselves :) we don’t need a drop kick who is emotionally disconnected from himself to and thank god, you would be in for a loooong wait :p

        • Tanya Z. says:

          Trinity: “I used to think if only he would give me closure…..
          I read an article which said closure can only come from you, that it comes from inside of you. That you font need it from the partner and in fact, why would you give someone that power? ”

          This interests me. I thought the same thing after break-ups….that I needed them to give me closure. I was always trying to get the other person to talk to me, listen to me, explain why they broke up with me. What exactly did I want; WHY did I keep trying to talk to people who clearly were not interested in talking to me? Did I want an apology? An explanation of why they didn’t want to be with me? What could they have said or done that would have helped me accept the end of the relationship…even if they were willing to, which they weren’t?

          So is that the answer — that closure for me must come from my own understanding, not from anything an ex says or does? I must admit, this is a complete reversal of the way I used to look at closure. Yet it makes more sense than my old view. It’s also more empowering, the idea of changing my own thinking rather than pleading for attention from someone who doesn’t want to give it.

          I’m wondering what experiences others have with closure after a break-up. Have you ever been able to talk with an ex and get something that you would consider closure? What exactly does closure mean to you?

          • Trinity says:

            @ TanyaZ
            hey :) these are just my own personal thoughts which could be right or wrong. Closure for me was two things. 1 I was usually left so confused that I needed answers, because logically a lot of times (especially my last relationship) things made no sense. But what I should have realised is if this man made no sense then, had no idea who he was then how the hell could he of all people give me closure. He never did of course so I had to do it for myself, trust my own judgement and learn.
            That’s the big thing, trust me, trust my own judgment, this helps with building trust in yourself and confidence. Slowly, even though scary at the time (what if I’m wrong) you start to see that your judgement is spot on. You will see and hear him do things that validate your “closure or understanding” of what took place if what emotional baggage belongs to you and what is his. Let’s face it most of them will let you take the blame or all the responsabilty
            right? The 2nd one is validation which the 1st thing I wrote about above should help to dilute that need.
            Sometimes when a person leaves without any real reason, thought or care and seems to just move on, especially if he has confused you as well. You want validation, you want to know he gets that your a great girl, that the time you put in, the energy, emotion, loyalty, trust and love meant something. You want him to understand that perhaps you didn’t deserve this, to be treated like something insignificant that could be just turfed aside especially after all you shared.
            It can also be infuriating that the partner (if a assclown of EUM) has taken judement on you! Left you! When in fact quite often we look back and see that they were not worth our time and we should have left.
            NML has other pages on validation which really helped me, a lot !!
            At the end of the day who cares if he doesn’t get it, if he is wrong, deluded, made a mistake or lost out on a great girl, who cares if he takes no responsabilty, has his own version of the truth. Let him :) he will just make the same dumb mistakes while you grow, learn and move on.
            Closure helps to bring about happiness, growth, freedom and change. Don’t place the power in his hands to do that, u will wait for ever. You have the power to do it and I bet you can trust YOU 100 times more than you could ever trust him and his judgement.
            Hope this helps :)

          • Trinity says:

            Just as an after thought, when doing the closure thing yourself and using your own judgement. It’s crucial to not accidently fall into victim mode and just lay all the blame on them. This won’t help you to grow and learn. Most women usually take on to much blame as well which won’t work. You have to be very fair and realistic when doing this. I’ve walked away with some things I need to work on which helps me to be happier and not make poor choices :)

          • trinity says:

            Thanks NML, its nice to know my thoughts were on the right track. Your article clears it up nicely :)
            Hope your doing well.

  13. Dawn says:

    Bravo! Explains so much. Thank you Natalie for sharing that with us all. I am sure it will go a long way in helping a lot of people who read it gain some well needed insight.

  14. Kim says:

    Wow. In one paragraph, this sums up the entire last six months of my life:

    “If you involve yourself with assclowns and Mr. Unavailables, expending energy on separated or divorced men that want the fringe benefits of a relationship without the commitment whilst flip flapping around in indecision, men that sleep around, men that pursue their ex, men who are allergic to the truth and commitment, men who don’t know what they want, think, or feel from one end of the day to the next, and are consistent at not matching their words with actions, you will be treated like an option. Period.”

    I fell in love with who I believed was the most wonderful and honorable man I’d ever known. I was wary of getting involved with him because he’d just been divorced from a woman he was with for 17 years. I wasn’t his first post-divorce relationship, but I was the first serious one. He assured me that he was at peace with the past and wanted to make a life with me.

    The week we moved in together, the flip flapping began. It was immediate. What also followed were his weekly crying sessions, obsession with his ex-wife and her new boyfriend, drinking too heavily and sudden decision that he didn’t want a baby now or ever (he had a son and daughter already). But some days, he was excited by the idea of having a child together, and he’d blow hot…only to return to cold and withdrawn and “conflicted”. I became Florence Nightingale and printed out oodles of literature on divorced men with depression, and excused every bad behavior on the pain of his divorce. This went on for 6 months and finally ended two weeks before Christmas 2009 (which we were to host for both our families), when he said he needed to be “free” to figure out who he is and what he wants, and perhaps pursue other “tracks” (which he admitted to be other women). I also learned that during the last 6 weeks of our relationship, he’d been secretly corresponding not only with an ex-girlfriend, but his ex-wife’s best friend. Both were interested in starting a relationship with him. I had no idea and my world fell apart. I lost my relationship with him, his 2 children (whom I loved) and our dog. He told me I deserved better, then cut me out of his life and put every photo of me out with my boxes for the movers to take.

    Since the breakup, I’ve taken off the rose-colored glasses. I stopped blaming myself. He hasn’t so much as sent me an email to find out if I’m alright. I’m still healing and trying to make sense of it all, but this website has certainly opened my eyes to being accountable for my own choices in life. So thanks! At 37, I’m finally recalibrating my definition of a good man and learning to love and be loved in a healthy way.

    • Trinity says:

      @ Kim, Honestly, what a tool of a man.
      It’s perfectly fine for him to being going through grief, upset and work through his issues. The problem comes when dragging innocent people into their mess, screw them over, blame that person then leave. Often leaving behind confusion and a mess to someone who didn’t derserve it. These men rarely accept any responsabilty for their actions. Which really means they have added even more guilt, mess, conflict, upset and issues to their already emotional wreck of a life.
      Keep your side of the fence clean by remaining the bigger person and let him fill up on more emotional rubbish. One day it will overflow into a big mess.
      Chin up and the no contact rule really does work :)
      take care :)

  15. RES says:

    Very hard to hear….However, when I was in this situation TWICE I wish I would have been able to accept all that Natalie mentions in this post. You can have great sex, chemistry, conversation, but if you ultimately have different relationship goals….the commonality means nothing. I am getting married to a great guy, and though we are very different, we both want the same thing. He isn’t the man I dreamed I’d be with, he’s much better. We both agree on the fact that I deserve to be adored. :-) Right on, as always Natalie.

  16. Butterfly says:

    It’s also very possible that someone else is the stopgap after you…

    and you shouldn’t even be worried about that for one second. Live your life.

  17. Imdone says:

    Thanks….I am almost slipped today but I was quickly slapped back into reality. I had been “entertaining” myself for the last week with Mr. UA…I told myself it won’t matter what he says…because I know the truth. But the truth is…until you work really hard at breaking a bad pattern it is very easy to fall right back into it again. I think this can be said about EUM and AC’s….they are bad habits that MUST be broken if you plan on having healthy view of yourself. I discovered that I can’t even entertain a thought about him…because thoughts lead to action. Anyway, once again thank you for helping me again.

  18. shattered says:

    I’ve left my eum of 9 months twice but always gone back. Now I’ve done it for a third time – he contacted me and said he missed me and loved me. I went to see him and yes another booty call – afterwards he said he had to rush off. I’ve found out to see another much younger woman he’s been seeing for 3 months – insisting she’s just a friend. Yeah right! I feel so cheap and used – needless to say he hasn’t contacted me since. I sent him a text to say we are finished but he hasn’t replied. I know he’s no good but I wish I didn’t feel so ashamed and used – and stupidly upset. I wish he’d reply so I could tell him to get lost. In the time I’ve been seeing him I’ve lost 3 stone, started smoking again and cry easily. He’s blown hot and cold, made feeble excuses for not seeing me. It seems inexplicable that I miss him and that I’m so upset at being dumped.

    • Happy Soul says:

      Shattered, I am so sorry to hear about your AC’s behaviour. My AC done to me twice, I was hurt, but never showed him that I was in so much pain… few days later he would be back again and asking me to meet. I would ignore him for weeks, and blow him cold/hot. I played his game! But got so tired and fed up, that I finally stopped responding. Honey, you know now what he like, change your number if you can, do NC and never ever see him again! Stay strong.

    • Trinity says:

      That sounds just awful. He really is showing you that he is not a very nice or well adjusted person. Remember anything he does is not a reflection of you and your worth. It’s a reflection of him and why he is completely wrong for you, in fact for anyone by the sounds of it. I would start the no contact rule as of now. I know you would like to take back some control over what this guy uis doing to you, well no contact is it.
      Trust me, he will contact you again but this time do not respond and spend your time working on you.
      In the archives there is many great blogs on the no contact rule.
      It can really help with your self esteem.
      Good luck :)

    • Imdone says:

      Shattered…I know exactly how you feel. I have been in a similar predicament to you and…to tell you the truth the only person that I am upset with is myself. I know better…I know exactly who this person is and what he all about. I did not put the most important person first(me).

  19. Vanna says:

    It would be nice if other people could realize they are not fixers/healers and get a few ideas out of their heads.

    • Trinity says:

      What would be even nicer is for the people who do have baggage, issues or relationship/personal issues. Would actually take responsabilty and resolve them instead of dragging them into relationships and other peoples lives. I’m sure it would work out better for them also, that way they could “fix/heal” themselves :)

      • Moving on in 2010 says:


        Couldn’t agree with you more. Those who have baggage should clear it up before deciding to get involved in a relationship. Of course, it’s my fault too that I fell for the doucehbag hook, line and sinker with his charm. Hope you are doing well :)

        • trinity says:

          @ Movingon in 2010
          Hey, im doing alright, some days are great and i even forget he exists and some days are still hard. So its still a struggle. The best part is im learning a huge amount about myself, huge !!!
          I think as NML as stated in past blogs, that this was my aphinany relationship. I really dont think ill ever be the same again after the last relationship, in a good way and this is all my doing, my hard work and using tools from this site that got me here :)
          It made me think about that age issue NML wrote about a month aga. I was actually thinking “oh my god im 40, im screwed, ive wasted my life away” but now im actually thinking, right now ive never been closer to finding real happiness, within myself and perhaps with a partner and even friends. I had no idea who i was when in my 20’s and 30’s and no idea why i was cought in such a horrible web of bad men. I honesty thought, just, like NML did that it was just dumb luck, i was to nice, to nieve and so forth. I was laways the victim. WRONG ! Ive realised im where i am because of me and no one else. Which is scary to think but awesome coz that means i can change it. All this is hard work but again ive never learnt so much about myself and understood myself and my choices. This has been life changing for me. So screw it that im 40, im closer than ever to getting what i want for me and then the icing on the cake a healthy relationship, when the time is right :)
          All the tools ive learnt from this site guided me and free’d me up, took me out of the mess so i could actually think clearly. It got me thinking differently, gave me options id never thought about before and most importantly as i shifted though the break up, the wonderful blogs would pop up and appear to be just what i needed at the time. Plus an outlet to let of steam and no know you are not alone….very powerful stuff :)
          I hope you are well :)

  20. VLC says:

    I’m glad I came accross this article. Very long story short, guy persuaded me, I was not interested. Few months later we saw eachother again, I gave him a chance, meaning I gave him my number, we talked, there was insane chemistry, we got physical. Next thing I know, he says he’s gotta be honest and he is just getting out of a relationship and does not want a girlfriend, he just wants a friend…it so happened that I was also getting over a relationship myself, so long story shorter, we agreed to be friends with benefits and nothing else. Everything was cool, we were two adults doing what felt good to both of us for almost a year…fast forward I just found out (not through him) that he is now all of a sudden in a relationship, I had just asked him not too long ago, if he was seeing someone if we were still good, he said no girlfriend and yes we r good and we had agreed that if we found someone else we wanted to see or be serious with we would stop our “special relationship”…well he has not told me!! I feel a way I shouldn’t feel, I wouldn’t say I’m romantically hurt because I put a wall around my heart from the very beggining but I think my ego may be hurt and maybe just a lil tiny bit my heart, just because we have always been honest ( i thought) I did not feel used with him until now…and I did start wondering “why her” why not me?” But i guess I understand now, I was always an option and he intends to keep me that way, which is why he won’t tell me. But to hell with him, I am sure if things dont work out he’ll be calling and he will have to settle for a dial tone because I won’t be there. I am definitely 10000% better than an option, what the hell am I thinking!!? I gotta let it go and stop wondering why her and not me and just take it for what it is, he is not right for me! at the end of the day it does not matter why her.

  21. debbie says:

    As I was reading this post it’s exactly where I am at right now. Wondering whyis it that this other woman has what I’ve struggled for the past 6 or so years to get? The wanting him to get more serious,moving in together etc.. and then it dawned on me that even though she has what I want she is no better off than I am when it comes to being invoved with this man.

    Bottom line is this he doesn’t give to cents about either one of us. If he did he wouldn’t be cheating on her with me and visa versa. It’s all about him and that’s that. When and with who he can get his “needs” met.

    I learned that all the pleading,ultimatums and the like don’t work with these people they just think that you are blowing off steam and in time you wiil calm down and the two of you can resune your “program”.

    Matter of fact I recently sent this man yet another email telling him that I was tired of the lies and deceit and that he neede to stay with whoever the woman was and make whatever they had going work.

    Will he believe what I wrote? Probably not because of the many other times I have said very similar things and always took him back. He’ll lay low for awhile as to come up with some BS story to tell me in the hopes that it will smooth things over and we can pick up where we left off.

    Well it ain’t happening this time. I really have had enough of his BS. I would rather be by myself than to continue with the madness.

  22. sadthing says:

    ‘Bottom line is this he doesn’t give to cents about either one of us. If he did he wouldn’t be cheating on her with me and visa versa. It’s all about him and that’s that. When and with who he can get his “needs” met.’

    Gosh Debbie are you me? I’m sitting with tears pouring down my face because after 7 years, it’s over, or at least it will be in the next couple of days because the OW is giving up everything to move to this country to be with the AC. who has been conducting a relationship with both of us for the last 5 years. I know this, she doesn’t.

    I don’t know if I’ll see him for a last time before she gets here, I really would like to have one last ‘goodbye’ but I suspect that he’ll duck it, neither of us is good at goodbyes. This is maybe what hurts the most, the absence of a proper ending after so long, to me it seems wrong but I know that you’re right. They just don’t care about anyone else enough to bother to think about how their behaviour might affect them.

    I’m very non confrontational but blew up once, he still refers to this as it was so atypical of me, but I think he sees it as a measure of how much I was affected by him, and I know that OW is frequently very angry and gives him a really hard time, they argue a lot which I think he is more comfortable with in a strange way. Guess it reinforces his belief that if someone cares enough to get furious then they really care.

    What they do care about is how their behaviour might get in the way of getting their own needs satisfied, so they can do the right thing when they want to. I know OW is going to have a life of frustration and loneliness because he cannot give emotional support at all, cos that would require him to understand emotions, and that’s the main reason why I could never have had a full time relationship with him. I could see the future, nevertheless there was always that fantasy, and a very powerful chemistry that was not just lust – more a sort of fitting together thing, though we both knew at some level that it would not work full time, physically we fitted, emotionally we fitted (though not in a healthy way) intellectually we were a million miles apart and I would have had to be the one to adapt to his life, and we were at the opposite ends of the educational scale, we both know this.

    So my head knows this, my heart is in pain and I’m dreading the next week or so. I know that it’s for the best, but I keep thinking that I’ll never get to spend time with him or touch him again, and it’s breaking my heart. He was/is my first love, after a lifetime of avoiding anything other than casual relationships I fell heavily at the age of 45 and I’m now nearly 53.

    This is horrible, I just can’t stop crying, I don’t know what to do with myself, I want to curl up in a ball and cry myself to sleep.

    • debbie says:


      I don’t even cry anymore for what? I know it’s hard but the best thing for you me and everyyone else is to get a grip realize who and what these fools are and just move on.

      Now me I just sent him an email telling him to stay with the woman he’s with and make whatever they have going work and to leave me alone.

      Will he comply to what I ask of him? Probably not. He’ll lay low for awhile assuming that I am just pissed off and will calm down and eventually give in but not this time.

      When he does show up again which they almost always do I have surprise for him. Total silence.

  23. shattered says:

    still missing the eum I’m sorry to say – even though I know he’s moved on to a much younger woman. It hurts! Haven’t heard from him for over a week now. I wish he would even send a text just so I’d feel I hadn’t been so completely dismissed from his thoughts. Its hard being rejected after 9 months (only 2 weeks ago he said he loved me!) but harder still to think that I mean nothing at all – not even worth texting. Any advice on getting over feeling worthless while he enjoys himself with his new girlfriend?

    • Been there, done that says:

      Went thru the same 3 years ago. Was dumped unceremoniously by someone I felt ‘connected’ to for a MUCH younger girl. He didn’t even notice my existence. I worked at the same place with him and he would invite her over and they would pass by my desk as they go for lunch. I felt used, stupid, name it. I realised that I could compete with her. I behaved like a zombie for weeks, including drinking myself to sleep, taking long walks and talking to myself like a looney. I took a trip to clear my head; and broke down in a restaurant. Finally I realised that I cannot change what has happened, including the fact that I had been used. I told myself to put the relationship behind me. The exact words I told myself were: concentrate on moving forward – without him. I had found this site by then, and it made a difference. I practiced NC (mainly because my pride couldn’t let me call and face rejection again). A few months later I was surprised that I could take a day or two without thinking about him. The scar is still there, and sometimes I wonder what I would tell him if I met him again. But painful as that experience was, it forced me to put things into perspective and to take a long and hard look at my self and my contribution to where I found myself. I realised that I tend to go to stage 3 of relationships (getting physical) without getting to know the clowns well; and that I had to change the way I conduct my relationship business.

  24. VLC says:

    It is hard at first to let go, it almost becomes a challenge to figure out what’s wrong with you! and the biggest part of the challenge is that you almost want to stay there, call, email, beg and all of these things just so that he comes back (even if it is just of a little while) so that you can prove to yourself that you ARE in fact good enough. NOW, if we analyze this, are we really going to base our self-worth on some random AC who really doesn’t know what he wants or realizes how good we are??? why!? so that he’s ego gets stroked everytime he gets a woman to want him?? This type of a man, will never every achieve satisfaction and contenment with anyone!! and we do not want to be like this type of a man. This men always are looking for the next best thing, nothing is ever good enough, I don’t know about everyone else but me? I don’t want a man who I will always doubt, a man that I always have to worry about, I man I cannot count on or who is going to always make me feel not good enough! hell no! it’s hard but we all have to wake up and be happy that who ever the woman that he is now seeing is not us, because while we are on our way to healing (if he choose to) the OW is on her way to hurt and she will soon sadly realize it.
    So this goes for all of us, I read this once :Stop comparing yourself to other people, there is always going to be somebody taller, prettier, skinnier, smarter with a better job etc someone that you think is better than you, so just stop! don’t compare, feel good about you.

    I think we should all make a list about all the good things about us so that we can see how good we truly are and how much better we deserve than a person who is too stupid to see it and who will fall for anything that wears a skirt :))

    My final thoughts:
    We should all want to be with someone who wants and appreciates us as much or more than we want them!!
    Life is so so short that we cannot waste it persuing a lost case who disrespect us and does not value us, because if we do we may just be walking by (with our eyes close) a worthy and good man.

    Yes he chose her, ok. so be it! stop wondering why, I did!! and I’m good now! I have learned, and the lesson is never ever under any circumstances involve myself with someone that is emotionally unavailable regardless of the reason!! We are not to be their counselors, or mommy to help them get over their issues!
    So if he is with someone new,ok fine, at the end of the day, as I said in my other post, the reason doesn’t really matter.
    I am a firm believer there is someone out there specially made for me, I believe God will bring him to me as soon as I stop wasting my time with fools and when he thinks I am ready for a wonderful guy :))

    Best wishes everyone!!!!

  25. Res Judicata says:

    It’s funny. NML wrote her first column on this issue when I first met up with the EUM. This column came on the heels of its finality.
    Here is my history:

    1.Girl met guy who was separated 18 months; divorced for 12 of them.
    2. Admittedly, guy had massive baggage issues, such as alimony, support, short sale, sick stepdad, overbearing mom, and tenuous job issues.
    3. Guy was decompensating, so I left him alone to work out his issues.
    4. Guy resurfaced this summer, and saw him three times in four weeks.
    5. Guy seemingly went off deep end again after short sale.
    6. Again, I left him alone to work out his issues.
    7. I would intermittently e-mail him to see how he was doing. He would respond.
    8. Last saw him: August. Last e-mailed him: November
    9. Meanwhile, I attempted to move on, and date others.
    10. Still felt strong connection to guy. (yeah — I know — hopeless romantic when it comes to connections and shared interests).
    11. Guy sent text this week forwarding new phone number, with new area code.
    12. Girl sent three follow-up texts, with no response.
    13. Girl follows up with guy’s F/B account, at which point she learns he is in a relationship with someone else, and has moved to neighboring state!

    Girl is other very savvy and sophisticated, but dense in these matters. Can you share productive insight so girl does not do this again?

    Someone like this should wear a CAUTION/BIOHAZARD or HAZ-MAT or TOXIC t-shirt.

    The other posts above are so similar to mine it’s crazy. Each time I read a new post, I could point to a time in my continuum where he was either saying or doing the same thing, or I was as whacked out by what he was saying and doing that I thought I would go crazy.

    Do you think they live in a hive out there together, or?

    Finally, last summer, when guy tells girl, “I have attachment issues with my mother”, does this mean girl should run for the hills???

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.