slot machines

I was reading an article about pattern breaking this morning and the author Chris explained how use of social media like Facebook and Twitter are similar to the dynamics of playing the slot machines. “Hit with even a small win every once in a blue moon, and you’ll reinstate that pattern incessantly”, which is basically how casinos make their money basically bleeding you dry.

When you’re inclined to talk about ‘good points’ and ‘good times’, or you chase a ‘feeling’, you are someone feeding their energy, emotions, and esteem into your Relationship Slot Machine. The tendency to talk about ‘points’, times’ and those feelings is highly indicative of an non-mutual relationship, which you’ll notice that like an actual slot machine, it’s one-way traffic.

I’ve heard from countless readers who will invest everything including their dignity into a relationship, while leaving a scorch mark and dust where their life and identity used to exist, even thought the object of their affections is actually only putting out crumbs.

Experiencing a ‘win’ in these ‘relationships’ is mind effery though because:

1) Over-giving magnifies and distorts what’s actually going on. If I’d been pumping everything into someone who was giving back minimal returns, I’d make a big deal out of something that in a normal context, I wouldn’t see it as such as big deal. You also have to recognise that when you’re in the territory where you’re actually neglecting yourself in pursuit of the ‘win’, then really, them giving you a minuscule amount of attention is going to make crumbs look like a golden loaf, as contextually, you’re not giving you very much either.

2) A ‘win’ suggests that there is the capacity and likelihood for more to be experienced. If your imagination and hopes go into overdrive, you’re also likely to forecast and expect that the subsequent wins will be bigger and better. In your excitement at experiencing these occasional ‘wins’, you may fail to realise that the win is the same or even less than before, especially when you factor in the amount of time, energy, emotion etc that you’ve been pumping in.

3) You don’t realise how bonkers the whole thing is. You focus on the reward, the feeling of the win, the buzz of the mission, and in truth, you also prefer thinking about and pursuing all of these things than dealing with your fear of rejection, or what you’d have to do with your time otherwise, or even some uncomfortable truths. It’s bonkers though, that you would have to gamble for someone’s affections and invest so disproportionately in the first place.

4) The ‘house’ always wins – what you ‘spend’ along the way may mean that when you ‘win’, you end up losing because you’ve cost yourself you in the process, often doing things that at best leave you feeling embarrassed and at their worst, humiliated.

Ever watched that episode of Friends when Phoebe is in Vegas and there’s a lurker hanging around that swoops in and nabs the jackpot each time she moves away from her slot machine?

Well the reason why you’ll be reluctant to walk away is that aside from the whole coming so far and investing so much that it seems too big to turn back, it’s actually the perennial fear, that someone else will come along and your Relationship Slot Machine will decide to spit out a committed relationship and change of character jackpot. And let’s be real – you may even be aware of the lurker that’s waiting to swoop in.

But really, how long will you hang around keeping an eye on your shady investment on the off chance that it will give you a big enough win that will secure you ‘permanency’? Do you really want to live your life being afraid that the moment you walk away that they’ll spontaneously combust into a better person in a better relationship? It doesn’t matter what they might or could be in your imagination and based on your fears of what you think you’ve done to ‘make’ them this way (trust me, it’s not about you) – what matters is what’s happening right now and before, which gives strong indications of what comes next.

Going back to the idea of sticking with an incessant pattern, it’s also important to recognise why it’s called a pattern – even the spitting out good times, or good points, or highs is part of the repetition, but it’s not about to do it all the time, which means that you’re never going to win in the way that you want to:

– an all round person instead of ‘good points’ person

– a steady relationship

– intimacy and just being instead of chasing and trying to recapture a feeling

It’s better to be with someone whose pattern is to be consistent in character, action, and ‘meeting’ you in the middle of a mutual relationship. Do you want to be ‘high’ on a once in a blue moon win while battering your self-esteem in the meantime, or do you want to be in a mutual relationship with love, care, trust, respect, and shared values in it?

I’ve never had much to show for any of my shady investments besides a very distorted view of myself and love, less money, some clear heeled hooker shoes, a fat headache, and plenty of “What the eff was I thinking?” memories.

Relationships aren’t about gambling in the sense of you attaching yourself to someone and a situation that represents ‘winning’ love against the odds and basically getting them to make you the exception to their rule of behaviour. Relationships do require a certain amount of healthy risk, but it’s two-way because they’re copiloted and if it’s not mutual, rather than bankrupt yourself, it’s better to know your limit and your value and walk. Leave the unhealthy relationship casino – there’s a fabulous you that already exists within you plus a better relationship, to discover outside of it.

Your thoughts?

The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship is now available from my bookshop along with with Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl. Both books contain lots of tips for breaking unhealthy patterns.

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211 Responses to It’s Time To Stop Playing The Relationship Slot Machine

  1. happy beginning says:

    I love this post. Bonkers is the word, how I once put all my tuppences into that machine just to ‘win’ some plastic wind-up replica of a relationship in crappy packaging , put it up there on the shelf in front of all my beautifully crafted objects that I’d collected around the world, or acquired from friends and family, friends thinking ‘what the hell is she doing putting that piece of trash up with all those lovely things she already had, blocking them out? Where did her taste go?’. Sorry for the metaphor but bonkers? You bet!

  2. yoghurt says:

    This is so wise. I love the analogy of throwing good money after bad.

    “The ‘house’ always wins – what you ‘spend’ along the way may mean that when you ‘win’, you end up losing because you’ve cost yourself you in the process, often doing things that at best leave you feeling embarrassed and at their worst, humiliated.”

    I was thinking about this recently – before I met the EUM I had hobbies, friends, passions… they fell by the way-side because when he demanded my attention, he demanded ALL of my attention, sometimes for weeks at a time. But it’s emotional as well, I ended up giving him so much importance and investing so much well-being on the ‘outcome’ that when it fell through (natch) I couldn’t even read new books anymore – and I used to LOVE reading – in case they had a love story in, or happy people, or people who were sad for the ‘wrong’ reasons. Stupid. No wonder life’s been drab.

    “Hit with even a small win every once in a blue moon, and you’ll reinstate that pattern incessantly”

    Also true. I NC’ed him a few nights ago when he rang me at 3:29am (yay me!) and although I really wanted that ‘small win’ of talking to him and being on his mind, I also knew that it’d lead to a big loss when it turned out that it was yet another drunken weeble about how bad he felt etc that he wouldn’t even remember the next day (and he DIDN’T remember it the next day, so I was right). I thought “It’ll only make you feel good for a short time, it’ll make you feel worse for a much longer one. Not answering will make you feel better overall”. And it DID.

    Thanks :)

    • Polly says:


      I was interested that you said you stopped reading. I too used to read all the time, always had a book on the go. For the two years I was seeing the man I probably read 2 books and since it ended 5 months ago I’ve managed a few chapters. I will see getting properly engrossed in some good books again and deriving pure pleasure from it as a sign of recovery!

      • stella says:

        me too! i loved to read and the entire year i spent with him – i did not read one book. i was too busy worrying about us. absolutely insane, not to mention utterly EXHAUSTING. then, after he left, i coudn’t read either. one of the things i enjoyed most in this world – i stopped. looking back – i “stopped” so many of the enjoyable things in my life. it has taken a couple years and i am back to reading and it is fantastic. one of the first books i read months after he was gone was called, I loved, I lost, I made spaghetti. you should check it out.

        • yoghurt says:

          Cheers Stella, I will.

          Glad it’s not just me. It feels weird to have just lost my desire to read – my mum used to say that I’d read the labels in my clothes if there wasn’t anything else available – but I have. Like I’m not myself anymore.

          Still, I read BR and I work damn hard (also involves some reading) so I guess it’s not a dead loss :)

        • Stephanie says:

          Its funny how we were all big readers until they came along! I’m an avid reader too, and after 5 months the only book I have managed to read was Natalie’s. I became lost after I met the AC because I over invested in him so much and believed the future faking, that I couldn’t remember what my life was like before him. My mind still wanders whilst I’m reading so I’m not quite there yet. I think the best way to do it is just pick up a book and read it.

          Polly, you are right – getting engrossed in a good book is a good sign of recovery.

          • Maz says:

            It is indeed funny/strange how reading or even listening to some music, doing particular hobbies disappears by the wayside when we’re avoiding pain from a breakup. I know when my heart was first broken, I couldnt read, listen to music or even watch tv/movies, there was always something my mind would incite from those mediums relating back to the “good times” which were now painful memories. I have found that various hobbies I did, like crosswords, sudoko’s and alike I’ve avoided also, primarily because we used to do them together, they’ve now become a link to those memories.

            I read e-books mainly, lots of online stuff, following links, looking for distractions, which surfing can be. Fortunately, music did not desert me this time, it’s my sanctuary and still is.

            As with Stephanie and others, my mind wanders every day and having a photographic memory of video/still images which play back in my head, I try not to dwell upon. Sometimes I wish I had the magical reset button, but I can appreciate the qualities and values in me which prevent me from having just that.

            Recovery is being able to think of them when we want to and being able to move on quickly from those thoughts, I’m still a wee while from that day, but I know it will come.

      • pinkpanther says:

        I was a big reader, then after a break up I became an even bigger reader. I even asked my therapist if I was “using” books.

        I read In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past (French: À la recherche du temps perdu) a novel in seven volumes by Marcel Proust. His most prominent work, it is known both for its length and its theme. Running to nearly 1.5 million words, it is one of the longest novels in world literature.

        those 1.5 million words did help!

        • Snowboard says:

          Ah one of my favorite books ever!!! (Although I’ve only read the first volume!)

          I think it is very important to stick with your passions while you’re in a relationship – in my case, studying hard, reading, going to the gym, etc. Keeping your passions keeps you from becoming too obsessed with the guy, reminding you there are other priorities in your life, and also making it less likely that you are willing to put up with bad behavior because you keep thinking of all the other fun things you’d rather be doing. :)

          A relationship should be a way of enriching a life that you are already happy with by sharing it with someone else; it should never *detract* from the quality of your life nor *become* your life.

          • Broadsided says:

            @Snowboard – couldn’t agree more. Memo to self: put it into practice next time!!!

    • MissusHeron says:

      Me too, an avid fiction reader. Now I am reading factual books. I can’t quite tune into things that will set me off emotionally. That includes films and music.

      Still, I’m learning lots of facts.

  3. Movedup says:

    Ironically enough I met the Ex/EUM/AC at the casino… go figure

  4. SM says:

    “I’ve never had much to show for any of my shady investments besides a some clear heeled hooker shoes” This cracked me up! I had a guy show up for a date with some thigh high stockings and stripper heels. I laughed, I thought it was a joke but it wasnt. I sold those things(they were never worn) 6 years later at a garage sale where all the proceeds sent a missionary to Africa to help the poor. My friends and I had a good laugh about that one! But seriously Nat you are dead on, I could have done without all those ‘experiences’ that left me heart broken and big dents in my self esteem.

    I met a guy this weekend and we exchanged numbers. Spoke on the phone today then he sends a ‘fun’ email asking me to describe myself in 5 words. I mean seriously, the man hung out with me for 5 hours Saturday nite, what else does he need to know before he asks me on a date.

  5. AngelFace says:

    Wow. Such a good comparison. I LOVE this.
    …and when you play the slots and you get two hearts and one jackend – don’t you just pause for a moment…wishing that you had gotten three hearts & the prize!?

    Thanks Natalie, and PS: Hawaii was FANTASTIC :)

  6. Clay says:

    One thing I always like to say is:

    The way you found ’em is the way they’re likely to stay.

    You should never expect someone to change for your (or even for themselves). Yes, people can and do change, but to place all your bets on them doing so, is a losing proposition.

    Get clear about what you want, what you won’t accept, and then measure every potential partner by where they fit into those criteria. And remember, never count on them changing.

    I love the casino metaphor!

    • Karina says:


      You couldn’t have said it better. I was beating myself up because my ex was a better man with his current gf and ex friend of mine. But the last time I spoke to him, he showed me he hadn’t changed one bit. I am ghlad he’s not my mess anymore and I don’t have to deal with a man-child anymore.

      I for one have changed and my parents have been quick to point it out. Can’t say I don’t have my flaws, but things keep getting better. Two steps forward, one step back. As long as I take it day by day, I’m ok!

      • cc says:

        clay, karina-
        yes, absolutely.

        i realize that because i have the capacity to change, and have made continuous transformation a practice, i grant that capacity to adopt that practice to others. mistake!

        not everyone is like us. nor can we expect them to be or to change to become so. besides being disrespectful, its just (now that i can see it) just dumb.

        • A says:

          In addition to not expecting an AC to change, it’s also ridiculous to give them the benefit of the doubt. If someone is treating you badly, don’t try to make excuses for it or try to be the bigger person and ‘let it go’ hoping that he will get past whatever his issue is (this was my mistake). They just take it as permission to treat you worse and worse.

          Also, I don’t think these guys have any incentive to change. They don’t want a healthy, give and take relationship, they want what they want, when they want it–everything on their terms. It’s easier to just find a new woman who will put up with their bs, at least for a while.

  7. Coloradosky says:

    This is uncannily timely. I’ve been mind-wrestling with a relationship that exactly fits this description and it was refreshing to realize I’m not the only one who is afraid he’ll spontaneously combust into the right person for someone else. What’s happening right NOW is what’s important and right now, I’m being fed crumbs. I am worthy of the full 11 course meal.

    Thank you.

    • Chloe says:


      I know how you feel. i am revisiting my relationship, we broke up for a week, he called for my B-day and now we seem to be back, he says he wants to try again. Crumb! I was afraid of that and the crumbs i feel i get, yet don;t feel i have the power to say no right now. all i can do is keep working on myself and hopefully i will find the strength to finally learn….not get out (cause I always do), but really learn something about me and why i keep attracting this type of man, or a version of the EUM.

      • happy beginning says:

        Chloe, Coloradosky, I guess that like quitting smoking, there’s a long lapse between realising it gives you no benefit, and actually giving up. But you’re not really ‘giving up’ anything because it was a load of toss. It’s been 6 months for me, and I wonder if he’s become some wonderful person for someone else, but this worry is fading out, lasts seconds, and it was there all the time when I was involved with him.
        I wish both of you joy in flushing and living by your own rules x

        • grace says:

          happy beginning
          I used to smoke.
          OH HOW I MISS having stinky hair and stinky clothes. Ah the joy of waking up in the morning with the taste of ash in my mouth. It was so worthwhile spending all that money on fags! Ah, the coughing up all that lovely phlegm. The dead pallor of my skin! The addiction! What fun I had imagining my long, lingering death from lung cancer.
          Some lucky people smoke and don’t care about any of that! They’re not bothered by the risks. Why can’t I be like them?!
          Yep, ridiculous.

          • happy beginning says:

            I miss the nicotine hangovers, and yes the coughing (yuck), the skin.
            I know humans are more complicated but I see similarities with ACs – I felt like I was lacking in something as soon as we were apart, he became the only thing that could make me feel right again, he was the problem and the solution, and then when the illusion disappeared, I realised this thing that seemed so important to feeling whole, to my whole identity, was really taking away my sense of self, that I was so much more complete when he was out of my system.

        • Chloe says:

          Thannks Happy. It does feel like quitting smoking, as I refferred to in my reply to Grace.

      • grace says:

        oh chloe
        YOU are attracted to THEM. It may not seem that way, when you feel so powerless, but you are actively picking these losers. You say “and now we seem to be back”. Careful girl. One day I ended up married to someone I didn’t even like very much – it just seemed to happen.
        You better get behind the driving seat of your life rather than just sit there watching it career into a ditch.

        • Chloe says:

          Grace, Thank you for that. I can see how that can happen, marrying someone you don’t like. I seem to be immune to that, well, even to marriage, but there’s always a first time. Even if you do like them, it’s often a problem. I have been through too many relationships (more than i expected in a lifetime) and so far I haven’t been able to make one ‘stick’, which is funny, becasue I’m sure Nat would say, you aren’t supposed to try to make them stick, they just do or they don’t. That’s why I am interested in trying, but trust me, I don’t put up with it for long, I just ask myself if I am being too hard on him when he says love takes time. Like right now, I am out of town for almost a week and he hasn’t even emailed to say hi, but then he never emails, but he did after my B-day call to say that somehow, I touch him inside. Yup, I liked that and told him, but haven’t received any of that again, and he got what he wanted eventually. Normally, before the Break up he called everyday pretty much, who knows. I get mad at the slightest suggestion of inattention. Could be my stuff, after all it’s a recurring pattern for me. But I know that this will not last, next fight, we’ll end it and there is always a next fight. I tend to find like quitting smoking, it doesn’t usually happen in the first round of breaking up (unless the guy disappears). For me, it takes a few times. The sad thing is that I already know how this story is going to end and it’s like I have to play out my part in the fricken drama. Anyone else feel this way?

          • grace says:

            if you carry on with what you’re doing, then you will keep getting the same results (as you would if you were playing the slot machine and never walking away).
            “For me, it takes a few times”. It takes/took us all “a few times”. That’s why we can’t break up, that’s why we hang around for crumbs, that’s why we break NC. “I don’t put up with it for long” – you’re broken up and you’re still waiting for him to come good. It’s already too long.
            More than anything, what FBGs have to learn is to make a decision. It’s all very well recognising our pattern but we have to change it. The habits get ingrained, the years go by. If you have ALL the time in the world, are 100% sure you never want children and are happy to mess around in halfhearted relationships that tilt on an email until your 50s and beyond, then carry on as you are.
            In my 20s and 30s I just went with the flow – the men just kept on coming. I can’t get that time back. Your “few times” and “not for long”s add up.
            That’s what really upset me about the excrush. I realised what I had gambled away on no-hope men. I guess it’s what’s called a midlife crisis.
            You have choices and options. Take them.

            • Chloe says:

              Thanks Grace and unfortunately I am past the child bearing years, wish I read all this before, but even then, my relationships did not last long. Just was never lucky enough to find the right guy, but boy did I try. I think becasue I ( or he) end relationships so quickly is why I am hesitant now. It’s not been an easy journey. It still isn’t.

      • dancingqueen says:

        ” I was afraid of that and the crumbs i feel i get, yet don;t feel i have the power to say no right now.”

        Chloe, you are doing some of this to yourself; listen to what you just wrote. I don’t feel I have the POWER to say no… have a mouth right? You have a mind right? You have the power…..but you are actively choosing not to use it. Are you seriously saying that this person has power over you? Are they a hypnotist? Are they your jailer? No. You are CHOOSING to give them power, and your are making the concious choice to tell yourself that you can’t do it “now”. If not now, when? If you got in a serious car accident tomorrow, would you feel that this time, in a horrible relationship, was time well spent?
        I don’t mean to be harsh but there is no such thing as someone have “power” over you….you give that to them and it is, whether you want to admit it or not, a choice….

        • happy beginning says:

          Chloe, “The sad thing is that I already know how this story is going to end and it’s like I have to play out my part in the fricken drama. Anyone else feel this way?”
          I think many here have felt this way. It takes so much longer after knowing in your mind before acting on it. It is self-destructive, nihilistic behaviour, we carry on saying ‘whatever..the damage is done’ because of habit and feelings of powerlessness, when really YOU have CHOSEN to give away that power as dancingqueen explained. Now I can see why I handed over my power and in taking it back, I am in a strange, sometimes difficult place, with nowhere to run to (early days), but it still feels so much better to know that you are looking after your own interests and not letting you and others cause harm, it’s not half as scary as it seems and it’s so much better than living in fear of the inevitable.

          • Chloe says:

            dancing, happy – Thank you, I am aware of how I sound, and it’s not good. I will choose, but even then, I don’t feel too hopeful anymore. Oh well, all we can do is try.

            • happy beginning says:

              Chloe, it’s not easy, but don’t lose hope. I know in some way, we are all struggling, but it is still wonderful to reclaim your life, take it back from someone who has no regard for it. You will do it when you’re ready and things will be infinitely better. It will be hard work, but a job you are qualified to do and which you’ll get rewarded for, so much better than being unemployed and on his dole crumbs! x

  8. FinallyDidIt says:

    I had a WTF day today (still can’t believe it). Received an email this morning from my ex-AC (have been ignoring his contacts since Christmas) inviting me and my current BF to dinner at his place (he actually offered to cook for us) to pay off a bet we made almost a year ago! He must think I am still in “stupid mode” (thank you Natalie). I fed that slot machine until my pockets were dry and always come up on the losing end. Was always afraid to walk away from the machine, thinking that this time, this time, I’m going to hit that jackpot! What I hit was a brick wall. I’ve got the whole loaf now – not the crumb diet he fed me. Casino is closed.

  9. Tambie says:

    Wow! another post that hit home for me. I’ve been reading BC for over a year and thought I had it figured out until he showed up again Feb this year saying all the “right” things that he knew I wanted. We have been on again off again for 7-8 years and the last break up being one year long I thought I was finally done with him. When he phoned out of the blue I betted on potential again and the big win I thought I had coming. I agreed to start seeing him but did actually go in with eyes and ears more open than I had in the past. After about 7 weeks, I confronted him with all the promises he had made and he began the back peddling immediately. I cut off all pysical contact yet still have to see him at work and he likes to bring stuff and leave it on my desk like we are all good and nothing has happened. He throws these crumbs and thinks I wont see that the true commitment has never materialized. After two emails from him over the weekend I finally texted and said leave me alone now. I missed work today and spent the day re-reading NML’s posts so I don’t lose site of reality. This guy has done every shitty thing imaginable and I use to feel sad when I would tell him to piss off, now I don’t feel the same emotion. I would love to hear feedback on how to deal with NC when you work in the same building. Thank you NML for giving it to us non-stop even when some of us take more time to get it than others. The support really makes a world of differance.

  10. LIFE GOES ON! says:

    Its a bit like spending all this money on a designer brand only to find out that the label inside says ‘made in china’ and you feel cheated, having invested your money into something that’s not actually that exclusive. I remember in one of your posts Natalie, you spoke about a healthy relationship having consistency and that you need to trust what to expect from the relationship you’re in and the person you’re with and this adds to that actually! Its so easy to get caught up in reminiscing about the good times and when things were great, but the minute you get back together with them, you realise ” oh yes!now I remember why I hate you”. When things were good, it was like a treat, because I wasn’t used to being treated nicely all the time…but I soon realised that one good thing doesn’t make all of the crap he’s been pulling okay! it felt as if though I had to be so grateful when he was nice to me…there was no consistency! and not knowing what to expect made me anxious…But I no longer want him the way I used to and I’m glad that I finally reached this point. I can actually fall asleep at night without worrying about my future and the nothingness of the relationship. I cheated on my fears, broke up with my doubts, got engaged to my faith and now I’m marrying my dreams by focusing on myself :)

  11. dancingqueen says:

    I never got plastic hooker shoes, but I did get a cheesy sundress that was not my style, designer sunglasses that were an odd shape for my face and were ostentatious and made me look like a reality TV star and, for the finale, I bought myself multiple self-help books…..there is nothing like standing in line at Barnes and Noble with When your Lover is a Liar, Smart Women, Foolish Choices and If the Budda Dated to feel like the ultimate loser….even the checkout guy was luck “Uh, breakup much?”
    Then I found this site and discretely bought the ebook….and when I was finally over it I took all his gifts and sold them at the used clothing store, sold the books at a used book store and bought myself some perfume….no more slot machines in my life thank you:)

  12. rosemary is gone says:

    I love your posts, always timely reminders that i deserve better.

  13. blueberry girl says:

    “I’ve never had much to show for any of my shady investments besides a very distorted view of myself and love, less money, some clear heeled hooker shoes, a fat headache, and plenty of “What the eff was I thinking?” memories.”
    You said it, Nat. I have a pair of $200+ sunglasses he gave me on the second night we met. Big deal. I would’ve rather he’d been man enough to treat me with respect, care and kindness. I certainly lavished him with that despite his shady drunken behavior.

    The gift was somewhat diminished when he reminded me what a nice thing it was for him to give them to me. Jeez, even the sunglasses don’t get to be about me!

    On a bad day, I want to crush them under my feet. Most days, I think they look pretty damn good and I feel sexy when I wear them. Is it wrong to want to keep one of the few positive things I got out of meeting him?

    • Tulipa says:

      Personally I don’t think so.
      I have a great dress and a handbag and expensive perfume I do like to wear. I don’t attach any significance to them as in wow these are so special coming from the ex eum. I just use as intended.

      • blueberry girl says:

        Thanks for that, Tulipa. If it makes me happy to wear them, wear them I shall. I jokingly consider them a “consolation prize” for playing at the no-win relationship slot machine.

        Good point about attaching significance to them. It matters less and less that he gave them to me. They’re just a pretty pair of sunglasses I happen to own.

  14. AMD says:

    Best Analogy EVER!!!

  15. cc says:

    holy crap. I’ve seen everyone else here yell out “god, natalie, how’d you know, this is me” but…

    god, natalie, how’d you know, this is me! especially the over giving, the distortion, and the bonkers.

    I went back recently and reread the email trail during my last relationship (the EUM) and I was embarrassed at myself at how HARD I was trying when he was being a cold, remote assflint. omg, yes, what was i thinking…

    I wasn’t alone, though, he kept teying to “reassure me” and I wanted so badly to believe his crap. but crap it was.

    now I really see how I was totally in this ridiculous state of trying for the win because I believed there was more to be had. there wasn’t.

    and you know- I used to be mad at myself for chasing my tail over him, trying to be happy and then trying to contain my disappointment when he’d do something callious – now i see that that was the healthiest part I me trying to break out. didn’t work, though I couldn’t fathom leaving him. I finally had to force him to break up with me, it was like chewing my own leg off to get out of the trap.

    ugh. ok. thanks Natalie. good metaphor, the gambling thing. you nailed it.

  16. Lilia says:

    When my recent EUM was stringing me along I actually had the thought “I´d better spend my time at a casino in the off-chance I win… seems more likely than getting a decent relationship out of this guy.”

  17. cc says:

    …and you know what? all that fantasizing and compromising my self-esteem when I knew that something was fundamentally wrong with him? THIS is why I always felt so AT RISK. because I kept feeding the one-armed bandit, hoping for the jackpot, when i had already gambled away the emotional rent money. living in my dreams because I couldn’t bear to be alone.

    yeah…and like real gambling…it’s totally addictive.

    well, at least now I know. but, wow, change is painful!

  18. Janine says:

    “I’ve never had much to show for any of my shady investments besides a very distorted view of myself and love, less money, some clear heeled hooker shoes, a fat headache, and plenty of “What the eff was I thinking?” memories.”

    Hahah…this sounds like my past relationship AND my past career in theater:)

    Thanks Nat for the reminder…and another great article!

  19. mumsthwd says:

    Great analogy (if I spelled that right). I know that every young woman has done this few times and I don’t know if there is a way to help them avoid it. I think we can help show them that if they work on their self esteem that they can limit their Experences and survive without too much hurt pain. Great article:)

  20. riotgirl says:

    “It doesn’t matter what they might or could be in your imagination and based on your fears of what you think you’ve done to ‘make’ them this way (trust me, it’s not about you) – what matters is what’s happening right now and before, which gives strong indications of what comes next.”

    This post was totally apt for my mistake yesterday. I had totally NC’d my ex for about a year which was really hard to do, but yesterday I slipped back into my old habits. I must have been ‘bonkers’ or suffering from ‘relationship amnesia’ when I decided to contact him and apologize for whatever hurt I’ve caused. Needless to say, it started out cordial before it turned down right nasty. He called me names, told me that he will never forgive me and that it was all my fault that I made him so effed up from everything that he almost had to be admitted into hospital. I think I made the situation more about me getting to apologize, and overlooked the way that he might feel. I’ve lost my dignity and regret breaking NC.

    • Chloe says:

      Ouch, I’ve had that happen too. Lots of anger there on his part, you’re better off to be outta that and this only confirms it! He won’t take any responsibility for his part, which they rarely do, but anger, loads of anger that I am positive he would love to throw your way by blaming. Continue with NC.

  21. Ann says:

    Oh how I wish I had read this eight months ago. I got involved in a whirlwind, facebook, reconnect from the past that left me totally embarrassed, humiliated and out quite a bit of cash. And I’m old enough to know better (not telling my age – just trust me). Never, never, never let them come on fast and furious. They usually leave the same way and it will be at your expense on many levels. At least it was for me… Thank you Nat! Better late than never…

    • Broadsided says:

      @Ann. Yep, this is so true: “Never, never, never let them come on fast and furious. They usually leave the same way.” Happened to me – but I was able to keep my cash!

  22. teachable says:

    The gambling analogy is great NML! It is also very consistent with the literature into process addictions (i.e. addictions to a behaviour be that gambling / relationships etc)

    “Hit with even a small win every once in a blue moon, you’ll re-instate that pattern incessantly”

    There is a well researched body of psychological literature re what makes gambling so addictive (& destructive unhealthy r.ships which, you’re right, are underpinned by the same brain & emotional processes).

    The aforementioned quoted sentence, is a reference to what the literature refers to as ‘intermittent reinforcement’ which underpins one of the most powerful types of bonding. It is precisely so addictive because the reinforcement (crumbs) ARE so intermittant. As I write, I’m trying to combine what I’ve learned through my psych studies with your common sense / plain language brand of no BS philosophy. According to the literature, in order to hook & commence the addictive process there is usually a ‘win’ of jackpot proportions in the very early stages. The ‘gambler’ then seeks to reproduce this & is kept hooked by the (crumbs) minor reinforcers in the meantime.

    So, I wonder then, if it is helpful for us each to reflect on what the jackpot proportion win was for us as FBW in the early stages. I suspect it may be different things for different people depending on eachbperson perceives to be a ‘jackpot’ in their meaning construction of the world. Perhaps FBW’s early win ‘jackpots’ might be things like (but not limited to)

    mind blowing sex
    alleviation of painful loneliness
    distraction frm other serious life issues with the perception that the new r.ship has the capacity to resolve these (i.e escapism)
    the possibity if deeply desired wish fullfillment i.e marriage, children etc (as borne out by what is later discovered to be future faking)

    Of course though, as NML points out, ‘everything which glitters is not gold’ & in the end we are left hurt & dismayed that our crumbs never did materialise into warm brown ‘feel good’ loaves.

    I know that many of readers are aware of these things & that’s what kept me coming back to this site (ie the standard of it’s high quality) as opposed to others. This is life & death for me now & I needed a place that stripped back all the B.S & got to the crux of the matter.

    PS NML, am I able to purchase the Mr U & the FBG to…

    • Teddie says:

      There is also this often quoted experiment with the monkeys: the lever and the nut, or whatever it is, they hit the lever, get a nut, know what to expect, however, if they get a nut not every time, but just intermittently, guess what, they double their efforts at hitting, become frantic, oh, how well we know this!

  23. Broadsided says:

    This is a great analogy, and describes the 2 year off-and-on relationship I had with an EUM….I’d go from high (win) to low (lose)…and for awhile thought the highs made up for the lows, and that maybe over time it would even out. He took me higher than anyone had in various ways (which kept me around), and then sent me crashing down further than anyone had, just by his in-and-out, hot-and-cold behavior. I don’t believe he was intentionally an ass; he had some mental health issues and I’m convinced an attachment disorder. (Gosh, that makes 2 in a row for me, with serious mental health issues; the only 2 in my life; but the last guy WAS an ass, too, as well as a future faker.) I wound up NC’ing the EUM for 10 months, and only then did I get to where I could exchange an occasional E mail and feel no emotional charge whatsoever. He’s moved across country. I just am not up for these “games” any more.

    I really, really need reliability and someone who as consistently into me as I am into them. Anything else is a waste of time and emotion. I am choosing to rest my emotions for a couple of more months before I even think of dating again, and hopefully will enter the scene a bit wiser.

  24. kay says:

    Wow, this hits home because it just gave me the push to cancel a date with a guy who is going through a divorce, and too old for me “54”, I’m 33. I have a daughter and want marriage and more kids. How can that possible happen with a guy who isn’t even divorces yet. Although I’m not interested past a free meal and conversation, I must as you say “stop incessant behavior”. Which is dating men I know there is no future with. I must, must, must keep this in mind. this is my motto. Keep men I know I’m not going to be with around so I can get some dinner, or company now and then but no real intimacy or commitment. Learning Learning and Learning. Thaks for the post.

    • Teddie says:

      Kay, it is legitimate to date for the sake of dating, helps upkeep the abundance mindset. It’s much worse to slip into a scarcity/last saloon mindset. Just make sure you know the stakes and keep you wits about you!

    • Tea Cozy says:

      I think cancelling is a wise choice, kay. The guy is still married, and so is truly unavailable. Who knows how long the divorce process will take, and who knows how long it will take him to emotionally process that loss?

      There is also a risk that, despite your best intentions, you might form a bond with this guy. I had that happen. I got involved in a long-distance pen pal situation with a guy going through a separation. Over time, I let my boundaries get chipped away, and eventually, we became intimate. I eventually broke things off, but it’s still left me shaking my head a bit — I *knew* better, yet I got sucked in.

      More to the point, I recently went out on a lunch non-date with a guy I knew I wasn’t really interested in. I’d made it clear upfront that it wasn’t a romantic date, and I’d by paying my own way, and he was fine with that. But still, afterwards, I wondered *why* I’d even bothered. I think I was trying to be “open-minded”, but it felt like going against my gut. It felt a little icky.

      I also think there is an element of unsportsmanlike conduct in dating just for free food and convo. It’s not fair to the other person. So, I’m glad you’re stepping away from that scenario.

  25. Teddie says:

    Yes, our investments do get us hooked.
    There is this thing called “The Benjamin Franklin effect”: when you ask someone for help and they oblige, they are more willing to do you a further favour in future than if you had been the one helping them.
    Interesting, huh! We, girls, are only too willing to dispense favours and goodies even unasked, and where does this get us? Hooked on the slot machine.

  26. Kelly says:

    “What you ‘spend’ along the way may mean that when you ‘win’, you end up losing because you’ve cost yourself you in the process, often doing things that at best leave you feeling embarrassed and at their worst, humiliated.”

    There is so much about this post that hit home, I had to re-read several parts of it just to shake my head all over again. The part above basically sums up the entire two-plus years I spent on my AC. The hardest lesson I learned is never to overlook the little insults and red flags that come up in the early days of the relationship. I remember him trying to booty call me after a concert at 1 a.m., or talking about other women who’d caught his attention. He made derogatory “jokes” about me being six years older, or not skinny like Kate Moss. He’d openly stare at other women and flirt with my roommate. Eventually, the putdowns got more cruel and pointed, ie., “you are your father’s biggest disappointment,” and calling me “dirty pussy” in front of his friends. Unbelievably, I hung on for the “wins,” which usually involved me getting a tiny sliver of appreciation, like him acting respectfully and normal towards me again. More often, I settled for being treated like a call girl, because, hey, at least it was attention. At that point, I’d have taken anything to boost my fading self-esteem, basically. That’s how bad it got. When I look back, the “wins” were so small that it’s a wonder how long I withstood all the abuse.
    Oh, it’s humiliating, alright. And 10 months of NC has put it all into perspective. On nights like these, when I start ruminating and thinking about those “wins” because, well, nothing else has come along (argh, I hate that I still think about him) … I come here to get a better perspective again.
    Thank you!

    • ixnay says:

      Those are not little insults. They’re straight-up abuse.

      The hard thing is, to not think you’re “winning” by calling it out and sticking up for yourself. The hard thing is to really see and accept that a person who says or even could say such things is really effed up and even if you can give as good as you get you’ve still got a mean-spirited guy who gets off on destabilizing and devaluing.

    • Miranda says:

      “Unbelievably, I hung on for the “wins,” which usually involved me getting a tiny sliver of appreciation, like him acting respectfully and normal towards me again. More often, I settled for being treated like a call girl, because, hey, at least it was attention. At that point, I’d have taken anything to boost my fading self-esteem, basically. That’s how bad it got. When I look back, the “wins” were so small that it’s a wonder how long I withstood all the abuse.
      Oh, it’s humiliating, alright. And 10 months of NC has put it all into perspective. On nights like these, when I start ruminating and thinking about those “wins” because, well, nothing else has come along (argh, I hate that I still think about him)”

      Kelly….you are not alone, this is also a perfect description of the situation I was in with my ex-EUM. Yes I too am starting to gain some perspective on things after nearly 4 months NC (yes!!!) but still find myself during the odd lonely moment thinking of him and those infrequent “wins”.
      I’m glad I ran out of coins to feed the machine…..I don’t care if the new “girlfriend” has won the prize….it’s a lousy prize and won’t be shiny for long, the glossy coating will rub off and the true, ugly layer underneath will reveal itself soon!!
      Stay true to yourself.
      Miranda x

  27. Little Star says:

    Thank you Natalie!!! That’s how I feel now, but I like my feelings, yes I did not “win”, but finally I realised that I do not want to be part of this “circus and slot machine”! I do not care anymore if AC texts me or not, I am in control of the situation, he lost me forever and no way back. I was just fed up after all these disappointments which men brought me for the last ten years of my life. I am happy that I can apply my new founded boundaries and already flushed couple of men on the way:-)

  28. Sarah T says:

    I guess also, after all the emotional, time-related, financial and physical investing I’d commuted to, I felt owed. It feels kind of unjust even when we know the house always wins and, as adults, we are aware of the probable outcome.

  29. Urfabnat says:

    I have had one instance like this, and it tore my guts apart. I have kicked myself many times over and struggle to answer myself: what the hell was I doing?

    But Nat, I find it easier to communicate with women. Most men are switch on switch off types. So how do you advise your kids how to choose the right person? How do you decide for yourself who this person is? After a few personal encounters and shocks, I am thinking there is something more fundamentally wrong with the entire system of who we are and turn out to be.

  30. dancingqueen says:

    @blueberry I agree with Tulipa there is nothing wrong with keeping the good gifts if you can detach the emotional value from them….I kept a cute blouse and vowed to wear it on my first hot date months later when I was healed….and I did:) as far as dating just for abundance sake Kay I have to say that, for me, I would not want some guy letting me take him out for a free meal or date “practice” so I have to say that a date should be a date….not fortifying yourself emotionally while giving attention crumbs to someone else who might be a really nice person.

  31. teachable says:

    RE gifts from ex’s

    I threw all of mine out with the exception of one scarf & hat which I really liked. I wore them a couple of nights ago & noticed a bit of a sick feeling in my stomach at first when I remembered who they came from, but forgot about this as the night went on. It just goes to how how much damage these clowns do. I like the scarf & hat though so will keep them although prolly only wear them infrequently.

  32. Spinster says:

    Good post to help keep me grounded while being surrounded by men on a regular basis. Clear-heeled hooker shoes aren’t much of a win… clearly. 😐

  33. Lessons learned? says:

    Like Tambie, I read this blog to make sure I don’t loose sense of reality.
    I broke up with my ex one month ago. He was close to an assclown, distant, controlling, but I dont think he is worthy of the ignoble title. We dated for a year. I was very upset when we broke up, but I think a lot of that upset stemmed from the fact he hadn’t “fixed” me after the end of my shambollic previous relationship. Before him, I dated my ex-EUM for around 4.5 years from when I was 20-25. We broke up for 6 months in the middle of the 4.5 years. He broke up with me right after I had major surgery. I was so angry at him, and devastated. I felt like I had given up so much for him (like foregoing the opportunity to study overseas), and got so little back. He tried to work his way back into my life after we broke up and I resisted. He then spent 6 months convincing me he had changed – he did all the things i’d wanted from him – he cooked, he cared for me, I had another surgery and he spent every day with me. He was perfect. I insisted on travelling for two months to clear my head. When I came home we officially got back together. His job made him move to another city, and he genuinely had no choice in this. For six months we were fine, and then it started falling to pieces again. He called it off again after about a year of officially being back together.

    I was upset, but not as upset as the first time. I moved on with the most recent ex-boyfriend. I told my ex-EUM that it was disrespectful for us to stay in touch while i was pursuing a new relationship. I gave him nothing, and he faded into the background. I hardly thought of him at all.

    As it became clear that my most reecnt boyfriend wasn’t the answer either, my mind turned back to my ex-EUM. While he is a EUM he’s not an assclown, and in many ways we were best friends, we grew up together, and probably know eachother better than anyone else. He was an EUM because he would grow more distant with time, not closer, would future fake (both at the origin of the relationship, and when we got back together) and he would blow hot and cold.

    Since he heard I broke up with my boyfriend he has been in touch, a few phone conversations and a coffee when i was coincidentally (honestly) in his city. No talk of reigniting the relationship. We do reflect on our relationship. It’s now over 1.5 years since we broke up. He acknowledges that he caused most of our problems. I do take some responsibility thought and think I held unrealistic expectations, something else Nat has talked about, when you want your parter to be you panacea – the cure-all for everything in your life, to love you unflinchingly like a perfect parent.

    Thank goodness he lives in another city, but I feel like I need someone to scream at me DO NOT GIVE HIM A THIRD CHANCE. Unfortunately, after my boyfriend and I broke up recently, all my friends are asking if I will get back together with my ex-EUM, they think he’s great, that we were great together. I’m SO confused.

    • Spinster says:

      For your own sake, leave it alone. (Is my gut feeling correct, Natalie?)

    • grace says:

      I’m going to tell you something amazing:
      These two men are not your only choices.
      Take relationship advice from your friends with huge shovelfuls of salt. And – here’s the sexist bit – add more salt if they are women. Women are all for giving second, third and fourth chances long after your male friends/brothers have told you he’s a waste of time.
      Ultimately, it’s down to you. No-one know you like you do and you’re the one who has to live with the consequences. Still here goes:

      • Broadsided says:

        @Grace – isn’t that the truth!!!! My male friends/son/brother told me that my EUM boyfriend had exhibited fatal, red flag behavior (disappearing for a significant period of time with zero communication) and all were perturbed that I gave him another chance. My gal friends listened to me emote and rationalize – bless their hearts; I thought the guys were being hard core. Turns out the guys were right on the money. The guy disappeared again, after multiple assurances that he would not. An MO is an MO.

        A NICE ex boyfriend, one of my current best friends, acts as my relationship referee, seemingly able to call the plays much better than I can. From now on I’ll listen up more carefully. As I described my last guy he said, “I think you got another weird one.” He was right. He called me out on eating up the future faking words I was fed….and he even predicted that the guy would break up with me soon due to some evasive behavior he exhibited upon returning from a trip out of town (and he broke up with me that night!!).

        Guys know the ways of guys much better than we tend to!!

        • cc says:

          yeah, grace i have to disagree about the friends.

          maybe i’m lucky, but my friends, both male but especially female, are really smart and intuitive and very much on my side. when they think something is wrong, they stand up for me better than i do. i think this is why they’re my friends – i can take constructive criticism, but i cannot handle my friends not having my back (and i have theirs) – and they always try to steer me in the right direction with respect to guys. they are nearly always right.

          lessonslearned? – try broadening your friendships. you need better advice and you need smarter friends who will give you the right advice. you KNOW that their advice is wrong – so don’t let it confuse you. stick to your guns. and, like grace says, open your eyes to more possibilities, make your world bigger with respect to both friends and men.

          • lessons learned says:

            Thank you all for your comments. I read them on the way home from work today and you all made me smile.

            Re friends, I have lovely friends, who most certainly have my back. They honestly think that the happiest they have seen me is when I was with him (or at least happiest from the outside). That does not make their advice right, as you are all very correct – if he was going to change he would have. He says that now he’s turning 30 he’s grown up, that he needed a few years to be by himself to work out what he wanted, and he knows now. But I don’t trust him – I think he just wants to have a piece of me back, know that i’m an option, and that he will ultimately disappoint me. And as one of my friends said, “you deserve a big love”.

            I know the best thing I can do is nothing. But I have to say, I do share the fears of Chloe in her post below, that Im throwing away something workable, and potentially (i know, “betting on potential”) great away. I am only 26 tho, so I think I have some time to spare (I hope!!).

            For now I will do nothing, and like you say take some time to myself. I am very very sad, but trying to fill my time with productive things i love. I am going out this Saturday to an event with lots of new people – so I will try and spread my wings.
            Thank you all for your support, and for being an objective reality check .

    • ixnay says:

      You’re not confused; you’re really clear.

      Your friends weren’t in the relationship and your love life is not a game show with the audience shouting “door number three!”

      Take a break. You’ve been with one guy after another without break.

      • Lilia says:

        What I´ve discovered is women are great to share your feelings with, but the guys are the ones that give the soundest advice (and also NML, of course).

        Like when I told my girlfriends about this EUM, most of them remarked on how hard it must be for me, especially as I really seem to love him, and doesn´t it sound like he is afraid of intimacy? How could you (aka me) help him trust you? Poor dear, it must be really frustrating for him…

        While the men simply said What a wimp. Kick him out of your life. And do it now.
        And also: Who does this moron think he is? Any real man would be lucky to be with you!

        • cc says:

          agree that guys do give brutal but dead-on advice.

          the unanimous man-reaction to my ex-EUM? “pussy! he has a car and he won’t come see you, why doesn’t he offer to come pick you up and drive you to his house? no no no, this is how he’s treated every woman in his life and he’s too old to change now. dump him. why have you waited so long? you need a real man!”

          ouch! but correct!

    • Chloe says:

      I have different take most won’t like here. I had a counsellor ask me one time, many years ago, ‘Is it workable?’ about my relationship of the time. We were friends first and I wanted kids and many years later, I regret not making it work, becasue I didn’t find anyone else and the baby ship has sailed on without me. Unless you have a will of steel to flawlessly follow the BR rules, I’m not sure I wouldn’t give it another chance…IF he is willing to propose to you…NOW. No to boyfriend, yes to fiancee (if marriage and kids is what you want). Good luck!

      • Chloe says:

        the above post is for lessons learned. Good Luck!

        • lessons learned says:

          Thanks for sharing your view Chloe – i appreciate it. I think that’s a really good question, and I guess I don’t really know the answer. Perhaps when they are EUM they are not “workable”.

          • Chloe says:

            Lesson – I know what you are saying, not workable for life….but you can’t wait too long, maybe the guy you have a kid with isn’t workable, do you want to miss having a kid? I did and I regret it.

            • A says:

              Have to disagree with this. Just read some of the posts on here by women who have children with their Ex-AC’s. It cannot be easy to have no choice but to have one of these guys in your life for at least 18 years because of your child.

              Besides, don’t children deserve for their parents to at least try to work on themselves and, if in a relationship, have it be a healthy one before someone plans to bring them into the world? Surely a child deserves better than an AC/EU father, (sometimes it’s not planned, of course) but if you are planning to have a child, why choose this route?

    • Sue says:

      He won’t change or he would have done it already.

  34. Paula says:

    Love you Nat :)

  35. teachable says:

    Peeing my pants at Nat’s clear heeled hooker shoes! What rock did these cretins crawl out from under I wonder? lol

  36. Gonk collector says:

    LOL! Won a few prize gonks in my time. All that effort for a hollow piece of tat!

  37. Longterm Relationship says:

    This post really struck a chord with me. Even though my relationship with my EUM is over and there has been no contact whatsoever for over a month, I still find myself holding onto the hope that he’ll come back to me. Part of me feels that if I let that hope go and move forward with my life, than all hope is lost and it’s really over. (Even though technically it very much is — I dunno, it’s a mind set or something). I truly am afraid that he’s going to be this better guy in a better relationship with a different person. My friends keep telling me that I’m crazy — he is who he is and he’s not going to change for anyone. (We were together 3 1/2 years, he was extremely emotionally unavailable, and out of the blue decided he was done). But when we were together, I did see these instances where he was my “dream guy,” so he’s capable of being that guy …it’s just frustrating to think that he could be happier with somebody else when I gave him so much of myself and invested so much into the relationship. I try to focus on what’s happening now, but it’s difficult not to feel heartbroken, betrayed, and lost when somebody walks out of your life and doesn’t look back. How do you move past the hurt and stop focusing on the “what if’s?” I’m trying to move forward, going out with friends, and trying new activities, but I think about him all of the time and keep picturing that he’s off having a better time without me.

    • A says:


      “I did see these instances where he was my “dream guy,” so he’s capable of being that guy “. He’s capable of acting like that kind of guy once in a while. It’s not who he is. What you saw from him on a regular basis–that’s who he is.

      I felt similar to what you describe, but for me, I think it was that my feelings had lessened but I was hesitant to give up all hope…..that I had wanted him for so long and had such strong feelings for him that I didn’t want to completely close the door. I think it helps once you accept the reality of who he is, rather than thinking/hoping that he is secretly the good guy who he showed you every now and then. Why don’t you make a list of all the crappy things he did and everything you didn’t like about him? Refer to that when you’re feeling nostalgic.

      You’re not losing anything by letting go of the hope. If by some miracle he becomes a completely different and better person AND comes back into your life, you can assess whether you want to be with him then. In the meantime, try to put the focus back on your own life and happiness rather than wondering what he may be doing.

      • LIFE GOES ON! says:

        This is true! accepting them for who they are rather than what you think they could become. There should have been consistency in the relationship, not every now and then when they feel like being nice. Its unfair to put yourself out there when they’re busy playing it safe by being emotionally unavailable. My EUM actually said to me, I didn’t think that I needed to see you all the time or be there, because I knew that you weren’t going anywhere and that you’d always be there…anyway I’m not there anymore, and I no longer want him the way I used to.

        • A says:

          Wow, that’s brutal…”I didn’t think that I needed to see you all the time….I knew that you weren’t going anywhere”. It’s obviously what these guys think, but to say it out loud to you like there’s nothing wrong with it….what an ass****!

          • LIFE GOES ON! says:

            Yip that’s just one of many brutal things he said to me. After 3 1/2 years I was never invited to one single family get together, yet my family was kind enough to invite him and his parents to our family gatherings, but when I confronted him about it, all he had to say was ” I don’t see why you need to be there, you’re not my fiance or wife, you’re my girlfriend” yet I was the same girl he said he saw a future with. I couldn’t believe the stuff that came out of his mouth sometimes. His own mother told me that whenever she had suggested he invite me out with them, he’d say no. Its embarrassing, I didn’t know what to say to her and it made me feel so crap!!…And now he wants to meet up and talk things through, because he feels that we didn’t handle things correctly, oh and my mindset irritates the hell out of him, he said! I had no idea that walking away from a relationship that wasn’t making me happy anymore, annoyed him and that wanting commitment and to be treated with the same and respect that I had shown him, was an issue. I don’t want to speak to him though, because I have zero tolerance and he’s going to tell me the same old sh*t again.

            • tired_of_assanova says:

              After 3 1/2 years I was never invited to one single family get together, yet my family was kind enough to invite him and his parents to our family gatherings, but when I confronted him about it, all he had to say was ” I don’t see why you need to be there, you’re not my fiance or wife, you’re my girlfriend” yet I was the same girl he said he saw a future with.

              I just cannot believe the ATROCIOUS behaviour of these ASSCLOWNS. You got ‘containerised’ – put in a special containment box and kept away from everyone else. Unbelieveable! The same thing happened to me, it was CRAP.

              • LIFE GOES ON! says:

                So true! I asked him if he was ashamed of me and he said no, his parents knew we were together and he said “of course my parents knew I had intentions with you”, but his actions never matched his words, because if he was that serious about me it wouldn’t have been an issue to have me become a part of his family life. I told him that I’m not some porcelain doll you can dust off and take off the shelf when you need me, needless to say he didn’t like it. He also said that he didn’t like being told that what he was doing was wrong. I just found it sooo strange that he was like that! like he was hiding something.

            • A says:

              “I don’t see why you need to be there, you’re not my fiance or wife, you’re my girlfriend”.

              Wow, mine used a similar line when I said that I wanted to be some kind of priority in his life (i.e. not at the bottom of the list). Apparently if I were his wife then he would make me a priority…..umm, how do you think you get to the point of marrying someone? I really don’t understand their thinking….do they think that one day they will wake up, get married on a whim, and then spontaneously combust into the kind of person who is loving, responsible, considerate?

              • LIFE GOES ON! says:

                omw!Mine said the same thing ” obviously when you’re my fiance and wife, you’d be with me and would attend family gatherings” *cringe*…If they’re not capable of showing you that they want you to be a part of their life now, that’s not going to make us want to be with them. I told him that if this is the way you are are now I don’t see a future with someone like you. He told me that he has his priorities in order… listen to this ” gym will always be a priority and it was there before you and will be there after you” instead of sorting out the issues we had he would tell me to wait because he can’t sort them out now, he needs to go to gym. They’re such asswipes GRRR

                • LIFE GOES ON! says:

                  Natalie says ” When someone keeps excusing themselves for not having the time,energy,decency or even ability to evolve into a copilot in you relationship, its a roundabout way of telling you to lower your expectations ..” but we know what we deserve and that’s a lot better than the bread crumb they were offering.

    • LIFE GOES ON! says:

      Long term relationship

      I know exactly how you feel, I’ve also just come out of a 3 1/2 year relationship with my EUM, its also been a month, but ever since I came across Natalie’s website its changed my view on things for the better. I have my on and off days but I know that I am better off without him. It’s taken me a while to get here, despite us only being apart for a month. I also used to hope that he would wake up and smell the coffee, but I just ended up wasting more time focusing on him, instead of focusing on myself. I strongly suggest you read some more of NML’s posts, they’re brilliant!

      Your friends are right, he isn’t going to change. When someone shows you who they are, believe them. I used to get caught up in this idea that he’d change and that he could really be so much better if he tried (remembering the good times) but you can’t make them change or force them to see what you see. The only thing worth controlling is you :) that’s when I realised that I need to be in control of my own happiness..your happiness is not dependent on anyone, its only enhanced by them. Don’t break NC, keep holding going. I know how frustrating it is, having invested so much time and energy into a relationship for so long only to be left feeling worthless and unloved. But you have to ask yourself, is that really what you want? to make yourself emotionally available when the other person isn’t. At some point you have to let go and move on, because your fear of letting go is holding you back from becoming the person you deserve to be and that’s someone that’s happy! It’s hard, but it gets easier once you start realising your own worth, instead of waiting around for someone to come back and validate you. I had to learn to love myself more and to respect myself during this time and looking back I’m glad it happened because I would’ve been hung up on somebody that was giving me shit for thank you, after everything I had put into the relationship.
      There’s this song by Wilson Philips – Hold on..” I know this pain, why do you lock yourself up in these chains, no one can change your life except you, don’t ever let anyone step all over you, just open you heart and your mind, is it really fair to feel this way inside?”it helps me when I feel like I’m about to go down memory lane.
      Stay strong and remember you’re not alone :)

      • Longterm Relationship says:

        Thank you! I actually listen to “Hold On” all of the time and even made a “Confident Woman” cd to get me through those tough days. I think deep down I know that I’m better off, that I had both feet in the relationship and he only had one, that I deserve better… but for me, it’s still letting go of what we did have and being frustrated/sad/confused about why he isn’t reaching out to me to make sure I’m ok. I almost want to write him and tell him that he threw this relationship away, didn’t try, and is a huge coward — but will that do any good? Probably not. He’ll just see that I’m still emotionally invested while he’s still not. This relationship was a big deal for me, the first one that has lasted for years and I think that is a large part of why it’s so hard for me to let go. We weren’t communicating and the big difference between us is I was willing to try anything to make the relationship work, and he wasn’t. So that says a lot. I guess it’s just hard to let go of something that you believed in for so long and it just baffles me why he doesn’t want to try. For me, I didn’t think our problems were “that bad” and could have been worked out. But his actions (moving out and leaving abruptly) have made things so much worse. I’ll stick to NC, I just wish that he would reach out to me. It’s hard not knowing what he’s doing, what he’s thinking, who he’s with…I hate this.

        • LIFE GOES ON! says:

          I know exactly what you’re going through. This was also my first proper relationship. Its normal to be thinking about all of those things, I used to think like that too, but eventually I got tired of it. I also felt at times there was so much explaining to do or things that I’d want to say to him, that would maybe make him see that he was wrong and that he should do the right thing, but the question is, do you want to be happy or do you want to be right? …I gave up trying to tell him what I was thinking and how we could’ve made things work, because he’s not a child that needs to have things explained to him, he should’ve known the difference between right and wrong and anyone with an ounce of decency would’ve known the difference and would’ve understood what we’re asking for. The fact that he’s not even looking back to check up on you show’s the type of person he is, selfish! He is only thinking about himself, so now is the time to ask yourself, How much time are you actually spending thinking about you? NML actually has a post about this. A friend of mine actually told me that, wondering what he’s doing or thinking isn’t my concern anymore and that my only concern was myself. I was exactly like that, always willing to make things work and always the first one to initiate sorting out the problems, but I only ended up frustrating myself ! but I learnt that it was only convenient for him that I was always so readily available, which required him to put in minimal effort or none for that matter. After reading many of the articles on BR, I finally understood that the relationship I had was an unhealthy one. Guy’s like the ones we’ve dated are stubborn and they clearly feel that they have nothing to learn which is why the relationship was never able to progress in the way it should’ve. I know 3 1/2 years is a long time, and he would always say stuff like ” i’ve been with you for so long doesn’t that say something?” actually NO it doesn’t! what matters is, what has been happening during that time, but as Natalie said ” talk is cheap, actions is where your relationship is at” and the only thing they were good at doing, was being emotionally unavailable, while we put ourselves out there.
          I also thought that it would be nice if he would reach out to me, but what good would that do, because the reality is that we still won’t be together…

          • LIFE GOES ON! says:

            ps” Go easy on yourself,for the outcome of all affairs is determined by God’s decree. If something is meant it go elsewhere it will never come your way, but if it is yours by destiny, from you it cannot flee” :)

            • Longterm Relationship says:

              Thank you! Sometimes I just need to be reassured and it sounds like we’re both in similar situations. You’re 100% right – these guys are only thinking about themselves and I need to put the “what ifs” out of my mind. It’s always about him, even after the break up — my feelings are null and void. I’m tired of it. I’m trying to move onto better things, maintaining NC, and getting myself straight. It’s amazing how much I learned about myself through this and whenever I’m ready to start dating again, I’ll hopefully be much more tuned in to the red flags.

  38. Karina says:

    This came at a good time for me Nat.

    It seems that everytime I post here I’m goign through some change. I can actually use this for a friendship and not a romantic relationship. My college roommate is getting married in a few months and I have chosen not to go to her wedding.

    Years agho when I was sick as a dog and in the hospital with my depression, she had the nerve to call me and my sister and say to “snap out of it”. Needless to say, I was devastated, angry and hurt!We reconnected a few years agho, but she never apoliogized for what she did and recently at a mutual friend’s baby shower, I told her I missed how close we used to be and she said “oh…but you were mad at me”, Till this day she sees nothing wrong in what she did or said. I used to hit the reset button with her ALL the time and it was until I realized that I had to take care of me and not our “friendship” I finally broke loose. Even now when I had knee surgery she didn’t bother to contact me, and for my birthday not even a call, just a post on Facebook! UGH!

    My sister even invited her to her wedding two years ago and she didn’t even have the courtesy to send a card or the RSVP card declining to go and we had to play everything by ear. Now she sends me the save the date for her wedding and I really had to laugh.

    It’s funny because this is a pattern I have created with friends as wells as significant others. I give of myself so much and get nothing or very little in returnt that at the end of it all I feel emotionally and mentally drained. And yes, we might start out giving love and care selflessly, but it turns out that we also wouldn’t feel ill if we got the same in return.

    I’m fully aware I am far from perfect and I understand that I have as much to blame for our relationship just like any other, but to me friendships are sacred and I value them more than many would think. To me friends are the family you choose and most of them are like siblings to me. I truly wish her the best in her wedding and marriage, but I will not be attending and I doubt she’ll miss me there anyway. Plus, I have class that day and with all the money I’m paying for school, I can’t afford to lose one day of class!

    Thanks Nat…I know what pattern I have been falling in to and your site has trulyt hepled me!

  39. Kelly says:

    Looking back, I don’t know if love even played a part. It was just one long mind fuck for me, in which I actively took part. The ex wasn’t even that great, but in my mind I made him to be so much more. I feel like I was brainwashed. And weirdly, this one has been harder to get over than relationships where I truly was in love…

    • Miranda says:

      Kelly….you and I are definitely on the same wave length, I totally feel this too. I had been involved with the ex-EUM for over 5 years on/off and yet I’m still struggling to get him out my head etc etc, yet an ex boyfriend from 3 years back who I was with for almost a year and was in love with I’ve managed to move on from over time. Weird….just shows how these Ac’s/EUM f**k with our minds!!!
      M x

      • blueberry girl says:

        @ Miranda & Kelly
        I agree with you both. Involvement with these men has an addictive, obsessive quality that lingers like a bad hangover…for months.
        It’s taken me the better part of six months to recover from a four month dalliance with the ultimate EUM. That’s so embarassing to admit.

        I was hooked on the promise of what we could be if he would stop drinking, the lure of our physical chemistry, his youth and good looks, his carefree lifestyle which is so different from mine, laden with responsibility. My mind was filled with “if only’s” instead of reality. You can’t have a relationship with an alcoholic, his looks mean sLike you, Kelly, I was having a relationship with this great guy…. in my mind!

  40. katy says:

    I am in a lot of pain and I am not even quite sure how to articulate it as I only can blame myself. I will try to make a long story short. For those who followed past posts it may make sense but will try to make a long story short. I was involved for almost 2 years with an older man. We started out as what he called “playmates” (dinner, sex, occasional gift ) then developed into what he termed ‘more than playmates” (every day phone calls, he talked of traveling ) and he also asked me to a swingers club. I was upset by this and we never went but I may have, not sure.well, he flaked out on visiting me after a surgery in dec and I went on a horrible texting rant, bad. and after that, he and I did make up and had sex again a month or so later, then he backed off and said we weren’t going back to where we were before.( weekly dates, calls) he ignored most of my contact after that. we ended things and out of nowhere on St pattys day at 5 am he texts me (‘shame you can’t play)”. I call back, he ignores. after a few more calls he picks up and I ask him why he is doing this to me. he says he didn’t call to get scolded at 5 am but wants to see me. I say i can’t but maybe the next day. he lies about his plans says he can’t , and ignores my texts all day long. then he surfaces the next day, wants to see me.i agree, we have sex. he calls the next day says he didn’t want me to think it was a “full time gig” i agree and a few weeks later get a 1 am text. wants to see me the next day. i agree, then he cancels says an emergency please don’t rant at me. Ignores all my contact after. well, i lost it and had ANOTHER texting rant on him, I am so upset at myself, it was bad. I was so angry at him and me and confused about why he did this to me. I can’t let it go, it hurts. I want to believe he wanted to see me because he missed me and I don’t know why he would do this to me. THis is someone who at one time professed feelings for me and I am confused.

    • FX says:

      katy, Reading more of the NML’s posts and the comments on this site will help you to wake up and see that there is nothing to be confused about. He just wants to keep you around as an option and booty call at his convenience. Not pretty to accept but the sooner you do, the sooner you can cut off his totally undeserved access to you and get on with your life and get your self-respect back.

      • katy says:

        the hard part here is that I don’t think i have anything to get “back” it was never there to begin with. how do i deal with that?

        • grace says:

          then start from ground zero. Many of us are doing just that and enjoying the journey.
          Until you learn to respect yourself (fear not, it’s NOT the same as being selfish or bigheaded or a meanie) it’s almost impossible to find a healthy relationship. But a relationship isn’t the endgame, it’s waking up in the morning and feeling all right.

          • cc says:

            go, grace, go!

          • katy says:

            yes, i am so tired of my life sucking!i don’t expect to be happy every minute, but I am telling you that i look at these guys lives (i have been involved with a few) and am so jealous. They have tons of friends, money, freedom, always land on their feet, well liked, i could go on and on. I am not saying they are bad, but bad for ME. i struggle with the jealousy, because i feel trapped by my life

    • A says:

      Oh Katy, please go NC on this guy. Don’t respond to his texts and calls. He’s a selfish user. “Playmates” and “more than playmates” are both just another way of saying “this is a casual thing, don’t expect anything of me….oh, and it’s going to be all on my terms”. There was never anything good on offer with this guy, and it’s only gotten worse. Why does he does this to you? Because this is the kind of person he is. I don’t think we can ever really understand how someone can be so selfish, careless, and hurtful, but the real question becomes, why put up with it? He is not respecting you, but you need to care for yourself and show some self-respect by no longer engaging with him.

      • cc says:

        and katy-
        there is no point in ranting at someone who already has assumed all the control. it doesn’t matter what you say to him, the only direction to go with him is down.

        you have NO say in this situation, which is completely degrading to you. please stop fantasizing that he feels something he obviously CAN’T feel – decent people don’t treat other people like this. he’s not treating you as you are, he’s treating you as he is – this is who he is. but the more you agree, and then protest, and then agree, and then protest, the more he gets the idea that he can walk all over you.

        it is difficult, but you must do it. cut him off. completely. as in do not ever accept or initiate contact with him at all again. ever.

        in the meantime, take care of yourself. keep reading BR. do things you like, even if you do them alone. and give it a month. in a month, you’ll feel better, and you’ll have the strength to keep going.

    • yoghurt says:

      If he’d ever had worthwhile worth-having feelings for you then he wouldn’t have taken you as a ‘playmate’ (although ‘concubine’ does in a pinch as a synonym). People who want to show others respect and care don’t get into casual relationships with them, because casual relationships – however they’re dressed up and ‘more than playmates’ is one hell of a way of dressing it up – are not caring or respectful things.

      Don’t be confused, it’s simple. You broke his rules and challenged him (heaven forbid that you should mention his shitty behaviour when you were ill – didn’t you realise that he was God and his tender feelings are too sensitive to deal with it? Shame on you), he doesn’t like it, he’s got no intention of changing and he’s showing you that he’s got no intention of changing.

      I wouldn’t beat yourself up about it, though, because if you HADN’T challenged him he’d only have carried on in the same way. At best you’d have a lifetime of being picked up, used and unable to voice any of your own opinions to look forward to. Joy.

      I’m going to use a Graceism here and say: stop wondering why you hit the ground after jumping off the multi-storey carpark – he was ALWAYS going to end up behaving like this. Start wondering why you jumped off the carpark in the first place.

    • grace says:

      “I don’t know why he would do this to me.”
      Because you put yourself right in front of him. And underneath him it would seem. And I don’t want to know what else. You do know that a playmate is a Playboy “model” don’t you? I would be insulted.
      And what feelings did he profess? I don’t see them in this comment. I don’t remember them from previous comments and I don’t see any evidence of them in his actions. I suggest you have overvalued some crumbs that he threw your way.
      As for texting – we’ve been over that!
      “I can’t let go. It hurts”. Are you having so much fun now? Is he sufficiently old enough that he’ll croak while you’re still relatively young or will you do something for yourself?
      We are all very fond of blaming ourselves here. I say quit that and re-divert the energy to taking useful action (hint – nuke him).
      Have you got either of Nat’s books yet? A strong dose of sense is what’s required here.

      • Fearless says:


        ‘a playmate’! – what the eff are you? A Barbie doll? A blow up doll? Dial-a-lay? You may as well be as far as this guy is concerned (and as far as you’re concerned too, I am sorry to say). If he wants sex on tap with no strings, no questions asked, no expectations of civility even he should go use a prostitute (though I imagine even prostitutes expect to be treated in a civil manner while they are being used for sex).

        Sheesh! Katy, wake up. This guy is a user and an abuser – that’s the reality. Just hearing about him made me angry – on behalf of all women everywhere! Who the eff do these men think they are. Stop texting the wanker. Stop giving him sex. Stop taking his dial-a-lay calls. Stop everything! He is treating you like shit. And you are letting him. Stop it.

      • katy says:

        Grace, you are right about the texting, I lost total control of my temper. I was really mad at myself because it didn’t go the way I wanted. I knew this would never be a “relationship” but I thought we could as least be caring friends. at one point he said ” you know I have feelings for you” and “im crazy about you” . Well, I CLUNG to this and to a brief time when he was generous, helping me around my apartment, etc. I didn’t want to believe that he could use his little hands just fine at 5 am but not any other time. He would always have a reason at first, work, family etc, but then would go flat line quiet on me when I would reach out to him. Yes, I need a harsh dose of reality because I have no confidence at all.

        • cc says:

          ok, i can’t let this one go.

          katy, love-
          “I didn’t want to believe that he could use his little hands just fine at 5 am but not any other time”

          whether or not he gets his rocks off is not the main concern of your life, he’s not going to dial 911 right after he dials you to get an emergency orgasm. to say you are worth more than that is the understatement of the century.

          please, prioritize yourself over EVERYONE. your needs are more valid to you than his or anyone else’s are because they are YOURS.

          this is so hard for us to learn – when a person seems to be giving in the beginming and then begins to become stingy and treats us poorly, this must be our cue to pull back and reassess and reestablish boundaries, not to go grasping after the other person, slipping in puddles of our own leaking self-esteem. his pulling away is a reflection of how big an ass he is.

          and i have to agree with grace and fearless – never allow any man to call you by derogatory terms – you are not a playmate. you are a lovely you. do not agree with anyone’s degradation of your, even the degradation you give yourself.

          take yourself back. take your dream back. because him? he’s trash.

        • dancingqueen says:

          “We started out as what he called “playmates” (dinner, sex, occasional gift ) then developed into what he termed ‘more than playmates” (every day phone calls, he talked of traveling ) and he also asked me to a swingers club”
          This makes no sense at all to be sorry about losing….if I ever got invited to a swingers club by someone they would be going to the emergency room.
          You can’t be a “playmate” for someone when you claim to want a serious relationship; that is like gorging on pizza and then claiming that you are on a diet.
          You can’t have good things in life without letting go of short term pleasure…..”playmate” is short term pleasure for long term abuse and also, blowing smoke up the bum of a man who should grow up and learn to treat women like humans, not dolls.
          You need to think what is going on in your head, that you are sad about this.

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      We started out as what he called “playmates” (dinner, sex, occasional gift ) then developed into what he termed ‘more than playmates” (every day phone calls, he talked of traveling ) and he also asked me to a swingers club

      One thing that irritates me greatly is how these EUMs and ACs stick to their casual relationships. And because they’re all untitled, they are free to say that they are single, and they ‘technically’ are, even though in a practical sense, they are not. It is SO INFURIATING!!

      Even worse, my circle of acquaintances – two or three people met their partners by sleeping around/random hook ups. Another one was a casual booty call and got upgraded (or seems to have), another one is contemplating polyamoury with a ‘friend’, another one seems to have gone back to their ex, others have booty calls/casuals galore. Everyone else seems to be going via the back door and it’s working.

      Normally I would not care – BUT I CAN’T EVEN GET TO THE SECOND DATE USING THE NORMAL ROUTE! They’re so flaky!

      So frustrated right now.

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        Right! From now on, I ask – “are you in a casual or untitled relationship with anyone” … so sick of this cr*p!!

        • Lilia says:

          When my ex EUM/AC started to pursue me I asked him if he had a girlfriend because I didn´t want to get any ideas about us being together if he was taken. He answered “what would you say if I told you I do?” and I said “what kind of an answer is that!!” And then, stupidly, I let him convince me he “sometimes goes out with a girl but that he is a free man”, which he made me understand to mean that he was dating ocasionally but that he had always wanted to be exclusive with me.
          Of course, it meant something completely different: he didn´t want to be exclusive with anyone but he liked to collect victims for his harem.
          Of course, this was an extremely manipulative lying evil *sshole, other guys will probably give you a straight answer, but from now on I´m going for their actions instead of their talk.

      • grace says:

        one day you’ll be glad that these flakies have gone. That’s if you even remember them when you meet your keeper. He’s still out there and you’re free to find him cos you’re still (properly) single. Yay!
        I met someone through a random hook up and we went on to have a relationship. He’s the same returning sweetheart who sexted me while married. Unless you’re going to stalk your acquaintances’ relationships for 20 years (which would be weird) you don’t know how these things will turn out.
        Keep to your values. Don’t throw your toys out of the pram because two dates didn’t go anywhere. It’s really not a big deal. I know, it’s a bit rich coming from me but I HAVE stopped obsessing about the ex-crush and have zero anxiety about it now. It can be done. We have more control over our panicking/fantasising/ negativity than we think. I aimed to be over it by the end of the summer but I’m over it before the summer has even begun (crappy British weather has helped me out there).
        Frustration won’t get you a good boyfriend. Give yourself room to grow, enjoy your life, and it will happen. And even if you don’t meet him (which you will), at least you’ll be happy and not giving yourself frown lines!

      • yoghurt says:


        I think that it’s difficult in the contemporary cultural climate but, believe me, you and me and the other unusually sensitive and intelligent BR women actually don’t WANT people who float through life, risking their own and other people’s feelings until they eventually hit it ‘lucky’.

        It’s the price that we pay for being so great… or at least that’s my explanation and I’m sticking with it 😉

        I had an eighteen-month relationship that resulted in a baby with my ONS (only it wasn’t ever a relationship and it made me nowt but appallingly miserable). A friend of mine got together with her boyfriend of three years after a ONS, it ended spectacularly badly after the dynamic gradually grew less and less healthy. Yet another friend met her husband in a ONS and lived happily ever after. Oh, except for when he secretly went and lived with another woman for six months, after which she took him back.

        All that energy that we put into wanting a Super Specially Romantic Happy EndingTM (“it’s just like the film ‘Friend With Benefits!”), we need to redirect into wanting a Super Specially Emotionally Honest and Good-Hearted Man. The bother is that we all go out looking for the fairytale instead of for the genuine prince.

        The other perspective that I find helpful is to think “would I want to marry, have children and settle down with someone who might run off in twenty years time with the babysitter if he feels like it because he’s got no moral reason not to?” No I do not, thank you very much.

        • yoghurt says:

          Did I mention the time that I hopped from one relationship into another with a borderline EU borderline alcoholic who openly told me in the first three months that we’d never get married, never have children, and that I’d never be more important than football or the pub?

          That was SIX YEARS of my LIFE. Not a ONS but not healthy either.

      • katy says:

        i don’t understand why that happens for some people and not for me, i don’t get it

    • NeverTooLate! says:


      Sorry for the long post, everyone, but Katy, your story sounds so eerily similiar it makes me sick to my stomach. He is an older man, although I am not young, he is older than me. I met him around 2 years ago (the supposed separation.) My EUM/MM asked me to go to a swinger party that some nurses from work were having on our second date; he told me he had never been but if I was into it, he would take me. I told him I was not, and then he said that when he really thought about it it was kind of disgusting and he would probably run into some of his patients there. I had plans the following night, so I never found out if he went. He too, promised me trips, which never materialized. He led me to believe he was separated while his family was living in another state. Eventually, he got a job and moved to be with his family, he was never separated at all. He and his wife are doctors and she fund a job before him, plus I think he was teaching here and was waiting for the semester to end. We’ve been in contact, mostly initiated by him, sometimes by me, I’m more of the idiot for not ignoring him. Sometimes he’ll call me when he’s coming into town and I will agree to see me, if he calls me in advance. If he is in town, and calls me last minute I refuse. Really, I am still an idiot, I should not be seeing him at all! Anyway, he called me Friday night of St. Patrick’s day weekend and asked me if I wanted to celebrate, and party all night. I told him I had plans. I didn’t get whether he was in town or planned on coming into town that night or on Saturday. Then he said come on can’t we have a ‘playdate’? Do these idiots have a script they follow or what? Either that or it is a very small world. Seriously, the more I read your post I wonder if they are one and the same! It does hurt because he set this up as a very no strings attached situation, I thought he was separated, by then I was hooked. Even now he says things like I have met women before my wife and women after my wife but I have never met anyone quite like you. (Vomit!) I never have really let on how much I liked him, he may not even realize I liked him that much, but how could he not? I have told him off, but like you, really because everything was on his terms I feel like I have no grounds. Hang in there!

      • katy says:

        I am sorry for what you went through and it does have eerie similarities!! I knew this would never progress but what I couldn’t accept was the rapid decline in attention, respect, communication, and plans. It hurts alot and I am the one to blame here, I hate that!

        • Allison says:


          Doesn’t sound like there ever was respect.

          Leave this, it no more than a booty call,

    • Sue says:

      He is a jerk. Don’t take it personally. Cut him loose.

      • Spinster says:

        Yes, it may be difficult, but you NEED to leave this thing alone for your own sake. Like Sue said, cut it loose. This is a walking shit stain. The title “jerk” is just a few steps above this skidmark. 😐

  41. Lilia says:

    Ladies, I need some pep-talk. I completed 3 weeks NC with this EUM who had me playing the relationship slot machine for almost a year. I simply disapeared from cyberspace (he always contacted me through chat, email, text) so he´d have no easy, lazy access to me. The thing is, today I find myself wondering why he hasn´t picked up the phone to get in touch with me. Why he hasn´t sent me any mail to ask what´s up.
    Worse, why he has put up the red icon (that means Do not disturb) on the chat site – I shouldn´t have checked, that was stupid, couldn´t help it.

    In my mind, I know he´s not good for me and that I should be happy to get rid of him, but somehow I feel I´m not out of the mindf*ckery. As if he´s saying “Ah so you´re NCing me? Then I NC you back. Big time.” It´s so sick and inmature. How do I deal with this?

    • grace says:

      Continue to ignore him. Get off the chatsite – deactivate yourself if that’s possible.
      Why hasn’t he contacted you? Maybe he finally realises that you have standards and that you will live by them.
      When they contact us (especially with a stupid text or poke or whatever) it’s not because they love us so much – it’s because they know we’re a soft touch and are likely to give them what they want – a bit of attention, an ego boost, sex, forgiveness.
      It’s only been three weeks though. Keep hanging around the website, keep checking your phone every five minutes, and it’s likely he WILL contact you again. For more of the same! But slightly worse cos he’ll know that not only do you have low standards but that he can jerk you back in whenever he feels like it.
      I have been down this road a gazillion times and it always ends with the same shite. Spare yourself.

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        As grace would say, NUKE HIM!!

        Now, I will tell you a story! When I was off with the AC in our non-relationship/fantasy. I was out of the city for four weeks. During this time I went online and had chats with him – guess what. Towards the end I was just grieving so much because the contributions were so low or non-existent. I went on to chat one day and he popped up in my IM window.

        “I am making fruitcake”

        And you know what? Later on I asked “why are you talking with me”
        his answer?

        Because you are online?

        That there BR readers is the level of thought. Because they can. Because it’s convenient. Because they’re bored. Because they like chatting. It’s that simple.

        Shocking really!!!

        • Tea Cozy says:

          “I am making fruitcake” is such an absurd opening gambit, I had to snort. THANKS for the update, Betty Crocker! Sheeeeesh. Talk about crumb communication.

          Plus, fruitcake? Ewww! :-)

          (The guy I had to kick to the curb sent me ridiculous email-crumbs after I broke things off, too: “I’m watching old TV shows from the 80s, and eating donuts.” Oh, really? How exciting! I’m on the edge of my seat! Tell me more!

    • cc says:

      3 weeks is teeter totter time. you’re not at a month NC yet, and you’re starting to waver, and this relationshiT went on for nearly a year, so yes, you need a bolster.

      first, read (or reread) all natalie’s posts on no contact, coping with rejection, what the guy is thinking, and EUMs/ACs. you could use a refresher. just key word search the list with a word you are feeling and keep reading (that’s what i did).

      next – DO NOT cyber stalk him, every time you want to look at his FB page, or his icon on the chat site or what have you, grab your mind and put your attention on something else. get up and away from the computer, and do something else. leave the house if you have to.

      next – stop thinking that his attention is worth something. it isn’t. he’s an AC, so he has nothing to offer you and his attention means nothing about you and how wonderful you are. its all about his ego, his sex needs, etc. stop wondering why he’s not paying attention – there’s no good answer to that question, and if he’s acting like a baby, then so what? do you want an immature baby paying attention to you? you can do much better than him.

      next – make a list of the attributes you want a good man, a man who is good for you, to have. be very specific. then make a list of attributes this good man does NOT have. be very specific. anybody who doesn’t meet the criteria of BOTH lists does not get any part of you whatsoever – not your mind, not your heart, not your esteem. trust me, this AC won’t achieve this hurdle, its high. so don’t give him any part of you.

      then – put more stuff in your life, fill your life with things to do that you like, that fulfill you, that make you laugh, that teach you something. when you’re busier and more distracted and you’re evolving yourself, this guy’s antics will pop into sharper relief.

      i know its hard. do it anyway. we all have to….

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        Sigh. I went through this. It was HORRIBLE.
        As I say to everyone, go and see a psych. You can fall into a very deep depression very easily, you can get panic attacks/anxiety and so forth.

        I would try to import new friends into your life so that you can dilute the focus off him. This is a classic case of you putting all the focus on him, and him putting all the focus on himself.

    • Fearless says:


      My ex EUM could always go one better than me when it came to me ‘putting my foot down’. It was infuriating. If I withdrew, he withdrew even further. It’s like whatever bet you lay they can raise you (and some!).

      My advice is to take your NC seriously. When you do, it won’t matter what terms or what odds he lays down cos you won’t be betting anymore. Swallow your losses, cash in any chips you got left and leave the casino. You can’t win.

    • BRwiserNOW says:

      “In my mind, I know he´s not good for me and that I should be happy to get rid of him, but somehow I feel I´m not out of the mindf*ckery. ”

      Sounds like you KNOW what’s right for YOU Lilia! Go with it! He’s NOT good for you, don’t allow yourself to prioritize this ACs petty crumbs! The only mind f*ckery here is what you’re doing to yourself. Perhaps the reason you’re feeling this way is because taking care of YOU makes you feel uncomfortable?

      Some BR articles that may help you gain some perspective with your thoughts:

      HUGS to you from a recovering FBG :)

      • Lilia says:

        Ah, thanks to all of you, I really needed that! Am rereading everything in the hope it´ll stick in my mind and I can finally let this AC go.
        I must add I´m taking medication for all the anxiety and the slight depression this guy gave me, it does seem to help some but not completely.
        Actually when I was reading your replies I remembered the last drop that made me want to go NC. He asked me to send him a photo of me and I sent him one of the two of us together. It was such a sweet pic, taken without us noticing, and we looked very happy, laughing together. I thought it was romantic and would´ve been really glad if my love interest sent me something like that. But his reply? “Nooo, I want a sexxxyyyy photo of you!!!”
        Really, am I his personal stripper?
        What a jerk.

        • blueberry girl says:

          @ Lilia, the sexxxyyy photo request tells you where his priority lies.
          I take medication for depression as well and you’re right. It doesn’t take you instantly to happy, clappy land, as Nat would say.
          This might sound silly but music is my sanctuary and it’s pulled me through many bleak times. What helps me is taking sunny walks with my ipod blaring Ne-Yo’s “Better Today,” Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor,” etc. Please no Adele or other heartbreakers!

          I find myself grinning like a fool. Maybe our BR ladies have some playlist suggestions for uplifting, hopeful songs?

  42. Intothelight says:

    I recognised a lot of traits of myself in this post. I was putting so much into the relationship with my married future faking AC and getting so little back. When he ended it a month ago it was like … “but you owe me!”
    Ive read lots and lots of relevant posts on BR about moving on but i’m at that difficult ‘Ive accepted its over but what now phase’ I need some advice!
    I’ve been NC for a month now, my only comfort was that he really saw his arse when I said I wanted complete NC, I ignored his text when he called, but after 6 years (I know I’m an idiot) I’m stuck on 2 things:
    Number 1. My ego – its like “he could have tried a bit harder to contact me even though I said NC” I wouldn’t have responded but I was still hurt he let go so quickly- it was like my NC worked too effectively!
    Number 2. I keep reading about getting myself out of stuck and moving on but I’m just not sure what to do with myself.
    I just want to be 6 months down the line. Ive read all the posts on brilliant BR but nothing seems to stop the obsessing – please girls give me some advice and talk some sense into me.

    • Fearless says:


      I know how you feel. I am further down the road now – it’s a bugger. When I was at your stage (scraping myself off the ceiling!) Natalie gave me some great advice: 1. Get right behind your decision. 2. Draw an emphatic line under this.

      The solution to your problems/your turmoil/your sadness/your pain does not lie with him. He is not the answer. He is the problem. Know this. Another thing Nat said recently (which I thought was spot on, and struck a pleasing chord with me cos I realised I had reached that point): Learn acceptance.

      At this point you have not quite accepted that it really is over. You are still hoping that some bets may still be on – that the slot machine will give you one more pay out. You can’t quite get that it’s not paying you out a few measly pennies even, after you sunk a small fortune into it (goddammit!) Understandable. It takes time. Give yourself time to get to acceptance. Stick with NC (get behind your decision and no matter what, come hell or high water, just ride it out – and all will become clear, eventually.)

      • Intothelight says:

        Fearless, thanks for the advice. I feel confident I won’t break NC and I guess you are right, maybe I haven’t accepted its all over. After the drama of the breakup which lasted for about 5 weeks, again ‘Why did I allow it to drag on?’ I think that its the calm after the storm that freaks me out – I know that in the past boredom has sent me in to one bad relationship after another. That space thats suddenly there and you kind of feel a compulsion to fill it. When in fact I now realise thanks to BR I should have been thinking more about myself and what the bad experience had taught me. As I said thanks for the post, Im a bugger for being inpatient but its posts like yours that will help me stay focussed on healing myself rather than obsessing about him :-)

  43. happy beginning says:

    Lilia, you could equally be talking about my ex-EUM and about one of the hardest parts of NC.

    The key here is that the EUM invests nothing and that means he can walk away at any time and for any length of time, meaning that unless NC is genuinely because we decide it’s no longer good to have them in our life, we will lose out.

    You are dealing with an EUM who indulges in mindf*ckery as you have written. You can never out-mindf* him because he is not invested and you, playing that slot machine, have tons to give. The right person won’t eat it all up and leave you with nothing like this clown has done. You just can’t win over, or win against, an EUM like him, none of us can. But you are winning for yourself by walking away and it will get easier, you will celebrate your freedom as time goes on.

    • cc says:

      happy begining is right, and someone else said it the other day on this site.

      NC is for you, not for him. its purpose is to free you of him completely, not to have you turn him the cold shoulder in the secret hope of luring him back. you have to mean it, on the inside of your head, even.

      look, we all have felt like this. and its HARD. i’ve had no contact with my EUM for weeks and weeks now – don’t think for one second that my subconscious doesn’t just spit him back up at me, in the form of some crazy fantasy that he’ll come crawling back – and this happens to me every day. EVERY DAY! still!

      but it gets less over time. it is very hard to handle in the beginning but stick with it, arm yourself with the knowledge that your AC bites the big one. you have to literally retrain your mind. i’m here to tell you its hard. but its worth it.

    • Lilia says:

      Thanks for that, it´s somehow easier to stick to a decision when I understand why I´m feeling like I do – because I´ve invested so much and he has invested nil – and so understand the dynamics of what´s going on. I think in some part of my mind I had the idea that me going NC would be painful for him, that at least he would miss me enough to make some sort of effort at contact. But I see now that if he doesn´t, it just goes to show how un-invested he is in me.
      And that really hurts. The house always wins.

      • A says:


        Be grateful that he isn’t contacting you. It sounds like you would be tempted to answer his call. He’s making it much easier for you to go NC and move on this way.

      • BRwiserNOW says:

        “I think in some part of my mind I had the idea that me going NC would be painful for him, that at least he would miss me enough to make some sort of effort at contact.”

        If he had a conscience…if he valued you…LOL, been there (that’s what brought me here). Sounds like the same narcissistic sociopath (yea, looked it up…fits him to a T) that I was dealing with…over two years absolute NO CONTACT and WOW does the sun shine bright for me now.

        Mama always said to me “the best revenge is to live well”…she was SO right! PHOOEY on these turds…let them swim in their own cesspool of sh*t, while we dance across fields of flowers.

  44. Tracy says:

    I gambled on a jerk for a year and a half, putting up with some emotional abuse; I was never thin enough, my clothes weren’t ‘labels’, my apartment, dog, friends, whatever. He was never outright critical, just constant snide remarks…drip, drip, drip. Last September, after a weekend where I thought we had jumped this hurdle and he was acting like I walked on water, he called me to tell me he ‘couldn’t be in a relationship’ anymore. Of course, within days, my investigations led me to find him on-line. Of course, he thought he was going to score some hot, young chick (he’s over 50, BTW)

    Cut to last Thursday, when after 8 or 9 months of NC he calls me out of the blue. Tells me he made the biggest mistake of his life, dumping me. I was the greatest thing that had ever happened to him, no one has ever been nicer to him. Damn straight, I told him. Then I said ALL the other great lines I have learned from this site, they flowed like water out of my mouth. It was beautiful. I reduced him to sobs, then I told him I hope he works on his issues…BUH-BYE. Click. Jerk even tried calling again, but I didn’t pick up.

    HE gambled that his beautiful face (and it was, though now I find it rather ugly) would propel him into a fantasy world of hotter women. He didn’t gamble that I would grow as a person during the intervening time and be able to reject HIM without pausing.

    • grace says:

      (Continue to ignore the calls. You know the drill.)

      • cc says:

        what an asshole…

        good for you tracy!! you’re my idol right now.

      • Elle says:

        Tracy, that is the outcome most of us AC-sufferers want to experience (at least in that first 6-12 months anyway): to be able to enact all this new knowledge and growth! So glad for you.

        NML – Love the image of those clear-heeled shoes. HOT! (My image of indignity is, unfortunately, not fit for polite company.)

        As for me, the AC’s name came up in the most unlikely and unpredictable of places a week ago, and I had to look side-to-side to see if I was going to toss myself down the well of doom. Nope, I didn’t. There was nothing but a kind of internal shrug. All good, well pretty good.

    • A says:

      Well done! Is it wrong that I want to live vicariously through you and hear all the details of what you told the jerk? :)

    • dancingqueen says:

      high five!

    • jennynic says:


      “He didn’t gamble that I would grow as a person during the intervening time and be able to reject HIM without pausing.”

      That is Awesome and Inspiring!

    • Allison says:


      Whooooo Hooooo!

    • blueberry girl says:

      Hallelujah, Tracy! You had the moment most of us here only wish for!

    • Used says:

      Isn’t it comical (& actually very sad) how they think that they can “do better”–and maybe even get “the best” (hit the biggest jackpot)–WHILE THEY ARE ALREADY DATING THE BEST WOMAN THEY EVER HAD?

      I know why they think this, cos you know: b/c, though you may be the greatest person they ever dated, THEY (STILL) COMPARE YOU TO THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE, AND THINK THAT YOU WILL PUT UP WITH SHITE (them looking for better WHILE dating you) b/c other women put up with it before you!

      Hence the term “merry go round” for all of this nonsense.

      See my first sentence above: the tragedy & the comedy truly are flipsides of the same coin, or mask–as the ancients used to point out to us.

      • Used says:

        Also wanted to add that you are right on the money: they don’t even have a human standard to go by–meaning, they want something, and are reaching/looking for something, that does not exist in reality.

        The Perfect Woman who they are looking for and who they feel “entitled” to (which they feel is their entitlement as a result of dating someone who IS great, you!) does not exist.

        Or, even if they do “find” her, she will call all of the shots (if she can keep him on his toes, that is, during the WHOLE COURSE OF THEIR TIME TOGETHER). Very likely not possible.

  45. katy says:

    Thank you for all of the responses, I hesitated to share because I was embarrassed but it helped alot, I appreciate it all!

  46. Magnolia says:

    Ladies, this is somewhat off-topic because I’d like to share with you that I am waiting to hear back about a real, bona-fide teaching job at a good university after having had my interview today (not tenure-track, but considering I don’t yet have my PhD, it’s a year-long gig with a decent title – would be a very good first step).

    The department head has already called back, hours after the interview, to say I’m on the shortlist and he has a couple more questions for me, so I’ll speak to him tomorrow at nine am. From the sound of it, they may even reorganize the way they’ve constructed their positions to offer me the salaried, higher responsibility job that originally they aligned with fiction teaching (I do poetry).

    I’m nowhere near interviewing for the kind of high profile, high responsibility job the exAC had (and got fired from, ahem) but if we’re talking about “hits” – the fix for me was feeling like a real adult with a real profession, something that I managed to get every time his big shot friends seemed to take me seriously (god, it’s a little embarrassing just writing that, but I felt it SO deeply that I put up with hanging out with him for almost a year!).

    It just goes to show that when we’re investing in shady relationships, we must, at some level, think that investing in ourselves is an even worse bet. No, no, no! It doesn’t matter if HE has all the friends, all the money, all the confidence, you can’t get what you need from the little boosts of “maybe I AM okay” that come every now and then in these non-relationships. The last AC was my epiphany relationship, I realized that I was after far more material and social standing than I had been prepared to go after myself (though I was more than happy to let someone else give it to me).

    Learning to trust myself is a continuous process that I started when I came to BR over a year and a half ago, I keep having to talk to myself: Magnolia, invest in yourself today. Magnolia, invest again in YOU today. It’s not like I suddenly have it all figured out or anything, but I do think I’m pointed in the right direction.

    I get so much support from checking in here – though my mind really isn’t at all engaged by thoughts of ACs or men right now, I get a lot from everyone who is working on themselves. Please cross your fingers for me!

    • Tulipa says:

      fingers crossed for you, Magnolia

    • Spinster says:


      GREAT words of wisdom. Thanks for sharing; this made my heart smile for so many reasons. Let’s move onward & forward together. :-)

    • cc says:

      fingers crossed! and good for you! you’ll get it, and all of it is a huge victory.

      “we must, at some level, think that investing in ourselves is an even worse bet. No, no, no!” – totally agree. until the light dawns, i think we don’t even realize that investing in ourselves is an option. or we can’t imagine not being lonely if we don’t chase something else. or we don’t get nearly the satisfaction that we get from slapping the relationshit vein, we bunch of drama/attention/obsessive love junkies.

      the more i think about this whole thing, the more i think of it as an addiction. addicted to obsessive love.

      good for you, girl. proudofya.

      • Lilia says:

        Fingers crossed, Magnolia, let us know how it went!

        You adressed something I´ve been dealing with since I started dating, many many years ago. I had always been quite the creative girl, good at writing stories, making music, things like that. But when “men” came into my life, they actively talked me out of doing those things. My first serious boyfriend didn´t like my writing because it made him felt left out (?) – but I did have to go listen to all the boring rehearsals and gigs of his band. It was sort of okay that I played an instrument but only on the assumption that he was a much better musician. So I guess that relationship turned me into a groupie when I had the potential to set myself on the center stage of my own life.
        From then on, I´ve always had relationships in which I had to keep in the shadows and I got used to the idea that it was either be in a relationship or be myself – with everything that implies in terms of expressing myself, investing in my own success, etc. Only now am I trying to concentrate on me again and it´s quite a challenge.
        Your story is very inspiring, I hope to be able to get to where you are some day!

    • Magnolia says:

      Ladies – you’re great. So I got the call – not to offer me the job, yet. They wanted to know if my PhD work would prevent me from doing the admin duties, that sometimes involve weekends, that they need done.

      There are two jobs, one that in fact pays quite dismally, $6300 per course for 5 courses, no benefits. I’d have to move out there. The other is a “negotiated salary”, also five course but plus admin duties. I was already asking myself if it was worth it to go out there for this much.

      Then he asked if I’d be willing to take “2 and 2”, meaning only four courses, at the above rate. Without too much extra thought, I said no, that won’t work. It felt dangerous to say no to teaching work, especially a job that would let me seem to be “that girl who got a job before she finished her PhD”. But it’s just not worth it.

      No picking up and moving for the first guy who says I’m great, only to find he’s stingy and I’m now always expected to bend over backwards!!

      The dept head thanked me for “being honest” and said they’ll get back to me by the end of the week. This job looks great on paper, but if I’m at all managed down, I’m less besotted. It’s not like I have millions of other offers, but if I engage in this negotiation as if I am just lucky they’re interested in me, I feel like I’m just asking to be used.

      Let’s hope that saying no to his testing my openness to minimal compensation and status means they come back to me with a solid offer. If not, then maybe I’ve dodged a bullet.

  47. Teddie says:

    I saw my ex-fantasy partner yesterday, for business. Our fantasy affair stretched for almost 5 years and was a fantasy for the very obvious reason that we live in two different countries and are/were both unavailable (with families), albeit I was/am still dealing with the psychological issues of my husband, who, due to severe depression has been out of employment for 10 years and it took a conflict mediator to get him to seek treatment some years ago. So, basically, I saw the affair as a recreational means to do something about my own resulting depression and frustration (not trying to justify it, just providing background; also, my husband has told me that he prefers me to go on and convince myself that the grass is not greener elsewhere, rather than to throw away our marriage on account of a fleeting infatuation, and that if it is something that has been and is over, he does not even want to know about it, which is basically a license for a dalliance, I have never told him about the actual thing though). I never wanted my affair partner to leave his family, glad I don’t have this weighing on my conscience. I checked out of the affair a little over a year ago (or contac consisted of 2-3 meet-ups per year and occasional texting/e-mailing in between, with periods of up to 6 weeks with no contact at all, yep, a classically long distance fantasy thing that was very unhealthy for me, but apparently much to his liking. Never did we discuss any possibility to join our lives on a more stable basis for the obvious reasons that had been there from the outset. He even got one more kid by his ex during our affair, it felt like a blow in the solar plexus for me.
    Well, he did leave his long-term partner some months ago, apparently, moved out and is with somebody else already. Yesterday, he told me some details: that it’s all working out great, his children are very accepting of his new partner, hers like him, they are all close in age a play together, his former partner is cooler than expected. So, obviously, he has dealt with his unavailability issues and has made himself available for a mutual and progressing and committed relationship with this new lady, who I have no doubt is an amazing person, and they are business partners as well. Honestly, while I don’t second-guess my decision to bow out of the affair, it hurt like hell to hear about these new…

    • Teddie says:

      I didn’t realise my post was not complete. What I was trying to say is this: my head is buzzing with the familiar “why her not me?”, and for some reason I feel rejected. I guess the answer is I’m just not the one and he’s always been somebody else’s man, this is the topline data. He’s found someone with whom his life meshes well and is happy, this is actually good news, it’s possible, it’s never too late!
      I guess I’ll have to reread the “Letting go of a relationship… that does not exist” post. However, the pain does not seem to stop once the realisations are drawn, especially if it is self-inflicted.

      • Tea Cozy says:

        Teddie, I wouldn’t be so sure that all is sunshine and buttercups in his new relationship. All you’ve heard is his side of the story. Who knows what it’s *really* like for the woman involved? Or what it will be like when the bloom is off the rose?

        In any event, yes, you did the right thing to excuse yourself from the affair. He was married; you are married; all topline data, as you say.

        • Teddie says:

          Thanks for responding, Tea! Had I known what I’ve learned from BR, I wouldn’t have got myself into this painful thing at all. And you are right, this new lady will probably not be the last one either, there is something very fallbackgirly in her situation.

  48. teachable says:

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re in so much pain. What you’ve been through is awful & I understand why it hurts. Basically this older guy does not care about you (despite what he might say when you actually see him). From day one, he was using you for sex, nothing more. I’m not sure if I’m reading this right, but it seems as if you’ve gone along with this & knew (at some point at least), that this was the deal. If you want to be happy you need to flush him. He’s destroying your self esteem but so are you by willingly pqrticipating to the shady empty deal he is offering. You deserve a fully committed loving r.ship, not someone who considers you a mere ‘good time girl’. I’m not sure how old you are, but I learned in my early 20’s that casual relationships were not for me. I want the whole box & dice or nothing at all. Perhaps this is the lesson this man was in your life to teach you? If so, now you know, move on.

    • katy says:

      Thank you!Yes, it’s true, that there was no deception here. He offered me playmates, but to me it felt different at first because we talked on the phone ,he helped me out around my house, we went to dinner etc, so I never thought or wanted to be married to this man, i did think we were close. I am 36 and he is 65 . i have done these type of things before , so I have myself to blame for that, I just always have this hope in my mind that I will develop a special friendship with these men , because I am afraid of the total commitment too. I can say that I never treated anyone badly, ignored calls, etc, because I hate when that is done to me. You are right, this is the final straw on what I can accept. I am not looking for marrriage, but I am looking for a respectful, consistant, relationship where I can can depend on the other person. I’ve never found it yet

      • Spinster says:

        Wait. Hold on a minute. This man is SIXTY-FIVE yers old, acting like a young-dumb-and-full-of-cum male under the age of 25? Wow… don’t even know how to respond to this shit. 😐

        It’s WELL past time to get rid of this wanna-be-young-playboy piece of garbage. He has at least 1 foot in the grave anyway; run Forrest, run! 😐

        • katy says:

          yes, that makes it that much more humiliating that even HE doesn’t want me, he does think he is still a “player”!!

          • A says:

            Katy, it makes him even more pathetic. It has NO reflection on you. He treats people like this b/c he is an ass****. Don’t internalize his treatment (again, it’s a reflection on him, not you), just get away from him and work on figuring out why you would put up with such crap treatment from this poor excuse for a man.

        • blueberry girl says:

          My dear Katy,
          I’m 50. It’s appalling that a man of this advanced age would be acting with such a blatant lack of respect and trampling all over your self-esteem.
          I always say, what I don’t have in youth, I make up for in experience & wisdom (and I’m still learning here on BR).
          He is definitely behind the learning curve.
          I sound like an old fart, but your age alone is heavily in your favor. I would give my right arm to be still so young, with a life full of promise. Don’t let this overgrown casanova steal any more of your “good” years!
          You can do sooo much better. Get rid of him. “He is not that special and you are not that desperate.”

          • katy says:

            Thank you so much for your encouragement, I truly needed it . I have been so run down emotionally that I had stopped alot of my writing and reading, things i was doing to improve my self esteem.i am starting to feel that there may be hope for this life to turn around after all the positive feedback. I was at fault here too, I don’t know why I am so slow to take the hints, but feeling hopeful sure feels alot better than wanting to chase him down,
            thank you

      • Fearless says:

        “I am not looking for marrriage, but I am looking for a respectful, consistant, relationship where I can can depend on the other person. I’ve never found it yet”

        Sounds like “marriage” to me.

        Are you really looking for these things, Katy? So long as you are seeking these things at the beck and call of this s-cum bag of a man, then you’re not really looking for these things – if you were you’d be looking for them somewhere else from someone who had them on offer. You’ve not found them yet because we don’t find anything worth having by rummaging around in pig-shit.

        • katy says:

          true, it hasn’t been lost on me that I have some commitment issues of my own (im twice divorced) and for other reasons too, so the thought of a marriage again scares me. I don’t believe in being legally bound to someone to be committed and care for each other. I totally agree that this guy was never going to be it and i have had a trail of others.

  49. teachable says:

    Hi Tracey.

    That post about how you handled the returning ex was AWESOME! I fear my xAC will show up unanounced on my doorstep one day. I’ve severed all other means of contacting me, so if he had anything to say to me this would be his only way. Atm my plan if this happens is that I will simply prentend not to be home & not answer the door. I’ve already done this once & it was very effective but it turned out it was not him who had been knocking.

    I can’t wait until I get to the place you’re at emotionally. I know I will because I did once before a few years after I left xAC the first time around 17 yrs ago. Meanwhile, I’m just trying to focus on my health. Not hard to do as I’m seriously ill :(

    Thanks for reminding me that there is indded light at the end of the tunnel, even if I can’t see this yet, this time around. x

    • tracy says:

      I really, really couldn’t have done it without this site. I read it over and over pre and post breakup with this clown.

      What has happened is that it has empowered me and made me see that people who act like such fools are SO damaged that they see their immature actions as OK. But unless they’re walking around with tin foil hats, they usually present well, and if they aren’t actively berating you, which they usually don’t (they are more subtle and insidious), it doesn’t seem like what they’re doing is so bad…but it leaves you feeling unsettled. Then, before you know it, you’re mentally beaten down, taking their crap because you’ve come to believe you don’t deserve any better.

      The power I felt over this clown when he called was like nothing I had ever felt before. He could no longer hurt me. I think his sobbing was a lot of crocodile tears, but the most important thing was that I made it VERY clear that he was no longer welcome in my life and I certainly didn’t think he was fabulous any more. Other than the sobbing, the stunned silence on the other end was pretty cool.

  50. runnergirlno1 says:

    Hey Natalie,
    I really like how you adapted and built on the article by Chris to apply to EUM/AC/MM’s and extended the gambling analogy. The gambling analogy and the comments by Teachable and Teddie really helped me to clarify the addictive aspects of my involvement. After extremely low points, where I would realize I had lost everything and my denial cracked, we’d talk about how high the highs were and I’d own back up to the table for a future hit. Those hits were euphoric. It was like being involved with a walking. talking, future faking slot machine that knew precisely how to hit me with a small win just when I was ready to walk away from the table . (I’ve not been addicted to drugs (except cigs) but this reminds me of a dealer as well.)
    As a 20-something, I played Blackjack/21 in small casinos (single deck) in Vegas as well as on Fridays at home with EX#1 and friends and was learning to count cards. I actually got pretty good even with two decks. We knew that the “House Always Wins” but it was euphoric when there was a small win because you are “beating the odds”, the exception to the rule . It was just like you’ve said, it was like points, times, with the big win just around the corner. And you can’t leave the table. Totally addictive stuff. Fortunately, I was young and had no money. Thus, when what little I had ran out, the House wasn’t much interested in keeping me around the table so I had to walk. I haven’t been back for 30 years, not even a buck in a slot machine. Way to addictive.
    Your gambling analogy and how just a small win once in a blue moon helped me see how I was doing the same thing with the exMM and why it was so addictive. The House Always Wins=The MM Never Leave Their Wives (and AC’s Never Change). But I “won” once in a while which feeds the wining against all odds, dreamer, exception to the rule mentality. It’s like he was the House and knew precisely when he needed to pay off. I won big time when I walked away from the tables when I was a kid because I knew I had no money. That was an objective fact. Thank you Natalie, I think I’m winning again by walking away because I ran out of emotional money. Sometimes the House loses but only when you walk.
    PS. I got a UCLA sweatshirt, no clear hooker shoes. Still laughing. Do you still have them?
    PPS. The WTF was I thinking memories have now replaced the highs.
    Natalie, you are the bomb. So empowering, so uplifting. Thank you so much for your inspiration. BR will always be my “habit”….it’s my equivalent of drinking eight glasses of water and eating veggies and going to the gym. It’s good for me.

  51. Spinster says:

    Just finished reading something that goes quite well with this post – destructive faults in ways of thinking. One of them brought (relationship & other) gambling, as well as failed business ventures, to mind:

    “10. Trying to diminish losses by continuing to pursue a previous failure. – Sometimes called the sunk cost fallacy, this is a thinking fault that motivates us to continue to support a previously unsuccessful endeavor. We justify our decision to continue investing in this failed endeavor based on our cumulative prior investment, despite new evidence suggesting that the cost, starting today, of continuing to pursue it outweighs the expected benefit. The logical thing to do would be for us to cut our losses and change our course of action. However, due to the sunk costs we have already invested, we feel committed to the endeavor, so we invest even more time, money and energy into it, hoping that our additional investment will reverse the outcome. But it never will.”

  52. Cherry says:

    Hi Guys,

    Well, im just over a month split with my ex, and haven’t been able to retain NC as he makes it so bloody difficult, knowing im still vulnerable, turning up at my house, being nice, being nasty, trying every way possible to either convince me that he loves me ‘more than anything’ or that it was all my fault and I need to take a good look in the mirror at myself and resolve my own issues. Although I havent kept NC I am starting to feel a lot better about everything and committing myself to NC for good. He asked me to go get naked and take pictures with other guys and if I did that our relationship would be good and it would right all the wrongs from the past!? WTF… He then gets angry at me for telling people his business and says that he feels betrayed, hurt and rejected and that ive made him feel like a sicko / paedo and that he is perfectly normal. He thinks because he has attended counselling sessions 3 times (this is his sixth attempt – he never stays in it longer than 3 months) that he has the right to lecture me about change, saying that he doesnt think that I am ready for it!!! I have told him he cannot give me what I want, that he says is because I want too much apparently. He just wants someone easy going – AKA puts up with all of his crap, his abusive behaviour, his blowing hot & cold, his rejection, his demands. I am slowly, but surely, after nearly 4 years of being in the relationship from hell and worrying that he will change for someone else, getting nearer to thinking that my life will be better, that I will meet someone better, and that for short term pain I will achieve long term happiness. I am not afraid of being alone so much anymore. I am 26 years old. It is now time for me to do all of the things I want to do, to relinquish the passion I had for things, and to give the love that I gave to him to me. Thank you BR for just being there.

    Big Love.


    • cc says:

      good, break free from this guy. (taking naked pictures with another guy will make your relationship better?? wha…? o.O?? in what universe? no!!!)

      he’s awful, and you’re at an age where, if you learn these lessons now, you willl absolutely change the course of your entire life for the better.

      and if i may:
      – NC means not discussing his business with other people, certainly not anyone who will repeat it to him. have your confidantes, but be otherwise completely aboveboard with impeccable behavior. he doesn’t deserve any notice, so he should not be able to detect that he is even a topic of conversation. do not feed the drama in any way.
      – NC means you don’t argue with him about … well, anything. NC means NC. period.
      – and don’t worry, you won’t be alone, you will find someone, but you must learn NOW to choose better. you want a guy who is straightforward, respectful, decent, honest, clear about what he wants, and consistently good to you. at first this guy will seem boring, but trust me, you’ll be glad you chose wisely when you’re able to have, eventually a good, healthy marriage + kids with a guy who fits this description.

      good for you for breaking free of this.

    • Snowboard says:

      Hey Cherry,

      I’m so happy to hear you’re still fighting for yourself and telling this dictator-posing-as-boyfriend HELL NO!! This guy really terrifies me; he is NEVER going to go away so I would recommend making a plan for escaping him (e.g., move if possible, and then when you do, get a new phone number, get a new e-mail address).

      As for him saying ‘you need to look in the mirror,’ that is classic turn-the-tables mind-eff-ery. He’s going to pull out every stop, and you just have to turn yourself cold against him.

      I have a question: where are you friends in this situation? They may not know how much you need them right now, so you have to tell them, so they can get behind you. My mom, sister, and best friend have been calling me regularly to make sure I’m holding strong on not getting back with the new AC; I’m not sure I could do it without them.

      Picture yourself in a long hurdle race. You have to jump over these hurdles, but at the end lies happiness – and probably even a super-cute sweet guy! You’re so young, girl. Live it up.

      Wishing you strength xx

      • snowboard says:

        P.S. Cherry, if you haven’t yet, you and other readers of this blog might want to read books like Robert Greene’s The Art of Seduction, Neil Strauss’s The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick-up Artists, and Mystery’s The Mystery Method: How to Get Beautiful Women in Bed. I hear guys (even the good ones, who are my friends)) referencing these books all the time, so I know that they have been more than a little influential on today’s dating scene. Anyway, while these books aren’t 100% evil, they rely on a fundamental principle that a man who wants a woman needs to bring down her self esteem, so that she’ll turn to the guy for reassurance, allowing him to get easy sex and (if he doesn’t want to leave it there) dominate her throughout the relationship. In this dating climate, women should probably arm themselves with this information, to better recognize what is going on.

        It’s funny; I was incredibly attracted to my new AC during the first week, in this really intense gut way that I couldn’t understand. He admitted later he was using tricks from those books, including “negging,” “kino,” even doing magic tricks :( When I went to look into these books, I found that they had influenced him in other ways, and a lot of the whining-to-get-what-he-wants, turning-the-tables crap that he would pull on me is detailed in these books as well.

        • cc says:

          holy crap, snowboard. thanks for the tip.

        • Fearless says:



          I have heard of these books. What strikes me – and disappoints me – is that all the women’s books on dating are basically about ‘how to get the relationship you want’ / ‘how to get a man to commit’ (not that I am recommending these) while the ‘dating’ books for men are simply tips and tricks about ‘how to get an easy shag’.


          • happy beginning says:

            Snowboard, I am warned. Can’t believe those ACs are making a living out of it and spreading their AC ways.

            • Teddie says:

              There is a whole PUA industry out there, they offer seminars and trainings, just google PUA and see for yourself how many forums there are and what they discuss and read. I was on a female happiness forum once, then checked out the male side, offered by the same person, well, they really study how to induce trance-like states and suggestibility by gazing, sending and similar techniques to pierce through the natural defense mechanisms of a woman.

              • happy beginning says:

                I had a quick look and convinces me that if I ever decide to do online dating, will meet them VERY soon so they can’t build up a fake image and hook me (and then I might be slow to face the truth when I meet them). I tend to assume that people are decent until proven otherwise, especially if we have things in common, like someone is instantly alright because we can talk about music for half an hour. (not that I’m a Bridget fan but-) Note to Self: the next time you meet a man, the jury is out until their actions show who they really are.

        • Broadsided says:

          @Snowboard – good heads-up to learn the game from the other side.

          I know my last guy did things which I assumed meant he cared right from the get so – behaving oh-so-like a gentleman, opening doors, and if we met somewhere, always waiting on the porch to walk me in….incredible, lingering hugs and deep gazing into my eyes during slow dances…..writing cards full of simple endearments….various things like that which made me feel special and as though he liked/loved me as much as he claimed (plus, of course, good conversation, fun times, ah yes regular hops in the sack, etc.). When he was finished with me, he quickly dumped me and moved on like a meal he was finished with, and was hitting the singles bars again within a week to run his plays again. I now wonder if he read books like this, and they were all just plays he ran – clearly they did not come from his heart. It’s all a form of future faking….faking period….which totally sucks.

          Looking back, it seems that he just likes the game and the challenge itself. He’s a popular, attractive guy and man can he go through the women. He told me I was “different”, and indeed, I lasted a whole three months with him!!!

          • Johanna says:

            @ Broadsided & @ snowboard –

            Are you sure we didn’t date the same guy? Popular, attractive, has a beautiful 10 year old daughter, very successful at his job, displays his persona of perfect dad/family oriented/honest…but behind the scenes he’s a fake.
            He did the same to me…ran these “plays” while he was running plays with tons of other women all the while trying to get back with his ex gf of three years. Then I found out he was on Adult Friend Finder, Ashley Madison, Craigslist, etc….trolling for god know what.
            He displays this outward appearance of perfection but it a totally different person behind closed doors. And nobody knows. It baffles me. He has put on a show for everyone. I don’t understand how he does it. One must have this amazing ability to compartmentalize their life to carry on like that for so long.
            I’m angry and hurt and obsessed about he might go find someone better than me and have a good relationship with them. I’m angry that nobody knows the real him except me. Its infuriating. I’m also pissed at myself that I care so much.

    • Allison says:


      Have you considered a restraining order?

  53. teachable says:

    Best wishes for the new job Magnolia x

  54. Harriet Bond says:

    Relationship addiction is a classic amongst many women! It is just as destructive to the self as an actual physical addiction, and can leave you emotionally bankrupt. It is really hard to break, and in my job I see so many women who would rather spend money following their partners and finding out what they’re doing, than just walk away. After so much time and energy invested into the ‘relationship’ (and I use the term loosely here), how can they just throw in the towel? Unfortunately, it takes a few wet towels thrown back in their faces before they give up and wake up. Makes you wonder if it might just be better to be single for a while until someone decent comes along… but many women feel they can’t face being on their own, and that crushing feeling: ‘Oh my gosh, what if I am on my own forever?’ Well, I think I would rather that than have my self-esteem steam-rollered every day, waiting like a hungry dog campaigning for scraps. It doesn’t sound like much fun to me.

  55. lisa says:

    oh dear ..been there done that..why did i not know any of this stuff as a young woman..oh well ONWARDS !! UPWARDS!!

  56. cc says:

    even more holy crap. the art of seduction is online, here:

    just glance through it – it says flat out that no perfectly satisfied, secure person can be seduced. you have to target a victim (VICTIM!) that is insecure or you can make insecure. that’s pretty evil, and is all the more reason why we all need to jack, JACK, *JACK* up our self-esteem.

    • happy beginning says:

      cc, that’s creepy. someone suggested before that maybe my ex-eum had read one of these books – i thought it was a crazy idea but now am not so sure. it’s important to flag it for us. these books are really popular, they seep into culture even for those who don’t read them, and it creeps me out that the readers clearly don’t like women, want their friendship, respect them, see them as equals. none of the men i now know would do anything but ridicule it, there are so many decent ones out there, but it’s really helpful to know that this and similar books are a kind of mainstream and plenty of the ‘normal’ ones think like this. ugh!

    • yoghurt says:

      D’you know what’s depressing, thoughbut? They don’t WANT a person with low self-esteem cos that won’t make them feel any better about themselves – which is the whole point of the exercise in the first place. So what’s the point?

      It’s like: Hey, drag someone down to your level and then maybe you’ll feel better about being at your level! Eh? No!

      Bleg, sick taste in mouth.

  57. teachable says:

    Lessons Learned,

    Re Being 26 & ‘still having plenty of time’. Please do some research into female fertility. At 30 your reproductive potential begins to declines rapidly. Many women are already unable to have a child naturally by this age. Unfortunately, the feminist movement left out the small matter of fertility when it sold us the lie that we could ‘have it all’ ie family, education, kids, the big career etc. If you want children, (presuming yr not done with that yet), I imagine you would want to spend at least a few years really getting to know the man you’d consider being the father of your children. So actually, you may not have anywhere near as much time as you think. Just something to consider.

    Kind regards. T.

    • grace says:

      my sister got accidentally pregnant in her mid 40s – how we laughed! On the one hand she’s giving her 16yo daughter sex education, on the other …
      For those who want children, I wouldn’t rely on this well-known phenomenon ( my youngest brother was a surprise baby too) but 26 IS still plenty of time PROVIDED the next five years or so aren’t spent in crap relationships. There have been a lot of babies at work recently, all to women in their 30s and 40s.
      If you’re 26 and worried about it – you can get a fertility scan. Though they might tell you to save your money for sexy lingerie.
      I’m not saying ignore the fact that fertility declines with age, but putting ourselves under pressure (must have a baby, must get engaged, must get married) can have the counterproductive effect of keeping us at the slot machine. “I gotta do it, I gotta do it, I gotta do it. I already spent to much!”.
      And even if we don’t want children or to get married, we’re not spared from the need to have our wits about us and flushing the no-hopers as early as possible. None of us – whether we’re 15 or 45 or 75 – can spare the time to have our self-esteem kicked about the place.

      • Lessons learned? says:

        Great advice Grace. I’ve bought the ebook, and it certainly makes a strong case for not getting back together with him.

        He told me last weekend that he still loves me, and was saying “Wow it’s six years since we first started dating, we’ve been in eachothers’ lives for so long now! We know eachother so well!

        I’m not falling for it this time!!

  58. Astrid says:

    I found the hard thing not only facing that he didn’t truly like me – and that he wasn’t interested in a relationship with me – but that I had deceived myself! I couldn’t even blame him because all the evidence was there – I just didn’t want to know. I have only just broken it off and now that the missing him is wearing off I feel so much better – I even respect myself. But it is so embarrassing realising how many times I analysed what I had done, convinced myself he had issues it wasn’t just that I didn’t inspire him towards a relationship, that he was just an arse who would want me if he wasn’t such a wanker, that he was inexperienced with women and would learn – that over time he would like me as he did in the beginning, that it wasn’t working becuase it started when I was on the rebound, that he was immature etc etc. I believed, utterly, anything other than what was stareing me in the face – he didn’t love me and he didn’t like me enough to want a relationship with me. And somehow I thought that if he didn’t no one would. I also believed him when he said he is such a nice man (he believes this utterly) but he isn’t being nice to me so oh no even a nice man behaves badly around me becuase I just don’t inspire men love and respect and men! But I realised that his standard for what is a nice man is too low for me – I expect a lot more of a nice man than his behaviour! He may think he is nice but I think he is disillusioned about himself and I do not think he is decent man – he is sometimes nice and sometimes dishonest and a user – not good enough frankly! I didn’t realise that he genuinely thinks he is nice but if he doesn’t love me and want a relationship with me it means I am not good enough so using me for sex if I agree to it is ok as I am too flawed for anything else anyway. Well actually, I disagree with him. He doesn’t have to bloody like me for me to be a great person, he’s not so special as to decide that cause he doesn’t love a women she goes down in worthiness – he just has a job with authority and the power gone to his head. I brought what he thought – and he thought I don’t want you therefore you aren’t good enough for a relationship – I believed that was “a truth” – rather than just his opinion (and a dumb one at that given I am attractive, nice, intelligent and have friends and with good values -…

  59. Fearless says:

    A bit of curious googling has led me to a disturbing cyber planet called “the manosphere” (I don’t recommend it!) If I was ever in any further danger of falling into the futility hole of the ‘relationship casino’ never mind play its ‘slot machines’, I am well cured!
    I hope I am not out of line if I post here a shortened example of the ‘diary’ of one of these ‘man’ blogs. He’s talking about one of his booty calls trying to have the ‘relationship talk’ with him:

    “Basically, she doesn’t get […] that if she is getting emotionally invested, it’s her job to have The Talk early on, probably even before she starts having sex with a guy. She naively assumes that she can just f*ck a guy 25 times, fall in love with him, never discuss what he wants out of it, and then he will magically feel the same way as her.

    […] She is […] frustrated that at this juncture, I don’t want a relationship. She is trying to decide if she can keep going, keep seeing me and sleeping with me.

    […] the fact that she is clinging and acting like she is my girlfriend makes it all the worse. This might just be the final straw.

    I don’t really participate in the conversation much, just letting her talk, and saying “Uh huh” once in a while [….] I keep thinking that I would just tell her it’s over and send her home if she wasn’t so drunk […]

    Eventually she calms down and we have sex. The following morning […]
    I was glad to be rid of her […] of course by that evening, she was already calling me again. I didn’t answer.

    I really need to put some space between us right now. She’s a nice girl and I don’t want to hurt her, but her expectations are unrealistic. Here’s what I wanted to say to her:

    What do you value more: A relationship, or sex? If you value a relationship more, then you shouldn’t be having sex until you’re in one. You’ve been giving me free sex for almost two months, whenever I want it. Why would I want to sacrifice my freedom, my time, and my ability to b*ng many different women just to keep getting the same thing I already have?

    For women today… giving away sex for free to any man who demonstrates some “alpha” cred, they will end up in de facto harems […]”

    This is an example of a typical ‘slot machine’? Player beware!!

    • Teddie says:

      Yes, typical and spot on topic-related.
      I spent some time on a male forum, for a fly on the wall learning approach, it was very eye-opening.

  60. Portia says:

    I just realized I’ve been married to the “slot machine” for six years (second marriage for both of us, no kids together but kids from previous marriages). He’s an emotionally constipated guy with chronically low self-esteem. What do I do now?

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.