knowing when to work at your relationship - hand with tools on it.

Knowing when to work at a relationship is a bit of minefield. Should you stay? Should you go? If you stay, should you just wait to see if things get better in time? Should you try to get your partner to change? Should you keep talking about the issues in the hope that it triggers understanding, remorse, resolve to change, and subsequent action? Should you stay because it’s better than going back out there and starting over? Isn’t something better than nothing even if something brings your self-esteem to the floor? How do you know when to work at your relationship?

The decision is driven by a variety of motivations, with some of these actually being smokescreens for fear, plus you’d be surprised at how many people want to work at a relationship that they know on a fundamental level is actually not right for them, whether it’s down to conflicting values (incompatible), conflicting behaviours (eventually incompatible if not resolved), or unhealthy behaviour that’s staying unhealthy (still incompatible).

  • You might, for instance, decide to stay because you reason that you’ve been there for X years so it’s too late to turn back now – the whole not wanting to lose your ‘investment’.
  • You might decide to stay because you remember how things used to be and even if that time was a long time ago, you want to try to get it back.
  • You might decide to stay because something happened that dealt a blow to the other party which changed their behaviour. It hasn’t always been this way and there was a time when you had a pretty healthy relationship.
  • You might decide to stay because you realise that you’ve accepted something for so long (being casual, putting up with abuse, repeated cheating) that to leave would be like “Oh my God, I put up with [insert whatever it is) for X years!” and you don’t want to face that outside of the relationship and may even wonder who will want you now.
  • You may feel like you’re dependent on them and to start over would create, for example, an emotional and financial hole. Particularly if you feel like you’re “too old” to start over, staying will seem attractive.
  • You might stay because you love them even if you don’t love your relationship and how your life is very much.
  • You might stay because you think that this is all that you’re worth.
  • You may have children together and worry about what leaving may do, or be afraid of being just like your own parents.
  • You may be afraid of ‘failure’ and feel like not continuing to work at it is an indelible black mark against you.

How do you know when to work at your relationship? When both parties are willing to work together and when you’re willing to also address any issues you may personally have.

Working at your relationship involves working together to find a solution you can both positively live with – compromise. If your solution involves you losing yourself, that’s not compromise – it’s loss. ‘Work’ is also not waiting for the other person to change…

You know when you realise that someone doesn’t share the same values as you and you try to get them to change to your values or what you think their values ‘should’ be? It creates distrust and communicates a lack of acceptance.

We trust people who share the same core values. If you push very hard for them to switch values, you’re actually disrespecting them.

The answer to all relationship issues isn’t to break up or threaten to – breaking up is what you do to end a relationship, not what you do to force through what you want. Sometimes stepping away helps to gain objectivity, but it’s not the type of thing that should really be done more than once or a couple of times, after all, breaking up doesn’t make problems go away – addressing problems addresses problems.

Some things to look for:

1. Having an already existing foundation to work from. If the relationship has lacked healthiness from the outset, it stands to reason that you’re working to fix something that never worked in the first place. The true test of a relationship isn’t how you weather the good times, but how you weather the inevitable difficulties in life.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they handle their problems in a relationship.

Do they avoid them or do they handle them? When someone avoids the existence or true nature of their problems, they’ll blame you or everyone else, or they’ll stonewall or make feigned attempts at addressing and then go back to their old ways, or they’ll cheat/look for attention elsewhere. Just like breaking up doesn’t make problems go away, neither does avoiding them – it’s like hiding all of the bills you’re not paying.
If the relationship is new and you have to work at it like a long term relationship, that’s jacked up though – you’re not that desperate.

Here’s a foundation – mutual love, care, trust, and respect, or at the very least care, trust, and respect. If one or more of these areas are breached by your partner, you’ll have to work with them to get past the issue.

2. The issues being identified and concerted effort to work at tackling the solutions. Maybe you can both figure it out together, but if you’re like the blind leading the blind or things are pretty difficult, a neutral third party professional can help to navigate the issues. Go to one that’s solutions and actions focused. Yeah you can talk but you also need to be doing.

If you mostly talk and you both keep reneging on doing the things to make your situation different, the window of opportunity for change will pass because you will both lose faith in your respective abilities to really do anything.

If one party has particular issues that greatly impact the relationship (maybe they’re affected by a bereavement, career etc), depending on what they are, they need to be working at addressing these with you and will need your support. And vice versa if it’s you that has issues.

3. Your boundaries, which are your personal electric fence and your personal code of what does and doesn’t work for you, also play a large part. I’ve managed to squeeze in my fair share of working at shady relationships in my relatively short relationship history. Guess what? For me, it doesn’t work to work at a relationship where there is mind effery, racism, alcoholism, drugs, and cheating. Fact.

4. The truth. I’m all for working at a relationship, but you cannot work at something and fix issues that one or both of you are in denial about. It’s also pretty tricky to work at a relationship with a habitual liar and it’s also difficult to work at something where they keep dripfeeding the truth or will beg, steal, borrow and lie to keep you in the relationship or to win you back, but then show little or no remorse and act like “Problem? What problem?” and guilt you into looking like a jackass for bringing up “Old sh*t” when actually, it’s current because the problem still exists.

Remember: If a problem has existed for a long time, it may take a while to unravel.

Also remember: Some people spend their lives flip flapping over decisions and some people stick with decisions for the long-term that should have been reevaluated because what they originally made the decision on no longer stands – this is also something to consider.

One of the best things that you can do though if you’re unsure of what to do, is make sure that you’re actively nurturing you and working on your own self-esteem. Not only does it give you personal security, but it also gives you a balanced perspective where you won’t blame you for ‘everything’ or make unnecessary changes based on panic and ego.

Ultimately, the decision and choice to work at a relationship is individual. Code amber and red behaviour is universal and yet every day people choose to be the exception for their own reasons in spite of compelling reasons to take a different course of action. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to give something a shot but don’t do it based on fear – one day you’ll look back and wish that you’d made a decision either way, based on love, even if that were loving yourself.

Your thoughts?

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158 Responses to How Do You Know If You Should Keep Working At A Struggling Or Even Flatlining Relationship?

  1. Lola Espinoza says:

    Natalie, you could have not put it any clearer! Thank you as I SO NEEDED to read this!

  2. My first thought? To share this article with my MM “friend”. Yes, he’s still in the picture – and no, we’ve not crossed my personal boundry (easy to do when he’s thousands of miles away).

    I know what I need to do. I’m in therapy and getting there. These articles are helping.

    Second thought – realizing how codependent my wanting to share this article is.

    Third thought? I have a way to go, but I know I will get there.

    I’m not sharing this article with MM. Haven’t had any contact with him today, and it feels really good.

    I’ve lived my entire adult dating life trying to put circles in to squares. “Fighting” for the relationships because of so many reasons (all of which are listed above, sans children – I have none).

    I’m in the middle of writing my own personal piece about why I sabotage my heart. It’s difficult to write, becase being accountable for my choices is never fun.

    Thanks for this ~ and know that you are providing a great service with your words.


  3. Liz says:

    I had to make the decision to walk away from something that wasn’t working.
    A casual relationship that went on far too long. I admit that I should’ve ended things when I knew I wasn’t okay with being casual. But still, he persisted on not wanting to lose me and kind of marking his territory, so to speak..yet he never made the moves to actually be together. He blamed it on distance, even though we met online and he knew where I lived from the very beginning. He said that he can’t give me a long-term relationship since he’s moving further away temporarily…but to bet on the future.
    I cut contact, but am still dealing with the loss. Did I do the right thing by not going along with his “bet on the future?” Does he have commitment issues?

    • rana says:

      good deed by cutting the connection
      he must be responsible of his choices since he knew from the beginning ur place he must not take it as an excuse to not meet with u he is irresponsible

      • Liz says:

        We did meet, we spent quite a bit of time together. He should of known what he was doing, but who knows what he’s thinking.
        Not sure what his problem is, or if I’m not *it* for him, since he won’t make any commitments.

  4. Awakened says:

    Definitely needed to read this post but the part that Natalie states when she says ” maybe their affected by a bereavement; or career etc makes it kind of tough to really understand my situation.

    My story: I met a guy online and we had been talking; skyping for about 7 months until he recently decided to make a trip to see me in person. We are 10 hours away from eachother. So two days before he had even left to come see me told he first lost his cousin to cancer and secondly he was called into the office by his supervisor and laid off his job of which he had been working last 10 years. Even though this happened he still wanted to make the trip. Before He was notified by his boss about the lay off He had already taken off that weekend and had his daughter so for those days and figured ge wouldn’t have any more days off so if he was going to come see me he would have to bring along. I really didn’t feel too comfortable about him bringing his daughter along but I also knew felt that hey he’s making a effort to drive 10 hours to see me and i guess he was just ready to block all that out what was going on in his life that week.

    With that being said he and his daughter came on to see me. We met; and had 3 day weekend together and really had a great time. It seemed like we had already known eachother. His daughter had a great time as well with both of us. It seemed like he and I both connected very well. He was surprised when he saw me but he never really let me know what he was thinking. He also got a chance to have dinner at my house and meet my family. My parents both knew we had been kinda talking for last 7 months and he was finally making the trip to finally meet me.. Anyway so we went out to dinner; movies; hung out a few other places and just had a great time. He is not a great communicator and has always told me that. What really stood out was that very last night before he left me to return back home he didn’t give me a good bye hug or walk to my door. He just let me out the car and said bye. That right there just said alot to me. Anyway when he made it back to his home he called me normally like he reached out to me first early that next morning and we talked normally as usual for rest of that week. He said he was glad he and his daughter made the trip and that they both had a great time. But I started noticing that his attitude started…

    • grace says:

      It’s not bereavement that’s your problem or a career. It’s the seven months of skyping. Of all the gazillion people online, how did the two of you manage to pick someone who lives so far away? And then it takes SEVEN MONTHS to meet? One or both of you LIKES the distance, not just the miles but the emotional distance, the convenience, the lack of risk. Like a relationship but not a relationship. Like a friendship but not a friendship. (Another note to sefl).
      I’ve had two of these virtual things. It’s not a relationship. Phoning, skype, emails and even texts have their place but they should be for a) keeping in touch with people you already know – and even then I’ve found that I’ve grown apart from long-distance friends and have had to make local friends or b) a fun add-on to seeing someone in person. It’s no good for the discovery phase.
      It took seven months to meet, he brings his daughter as a human shield and, though your comment got cut off, I guess it’s not going well since.
      I would quit this.
      PS and it was too soon for him to meet your parents and for his daughter to meet you. You need to get an understanding of what’s “normal” (for want of a better word).

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      Aargh! Fantasy altert!

      This is how I got my EXTREME PAIN fantasy relationship epiphany! STOP!!

      I spent many months chatting to someone in a city about an hour away. The bottom line is that they have to COMMIT to moving to be with you. This is already dangerous! I am a veteran of fantasy non-relationships and this just screams DANGER!

      He has already softened you up with chat, done the poor pathetic me whine and also failed to touch test. Fantasy Relationships almost ALWAYS fail the touch test, and is a special case of the larger ‘Is it actually a relationship’ test (something I hope to develop further) along with Are They A Friend test.

      I know all these ‘tests’ sound paranoid, but you can’t have boundaries without a quick way to define what something is.

      Fantasy Relationship Touch Test

      1. Crumb communication (internet dating site/chat/texting)

      2. Distance in space or time (other city/shiftwork – the shiftwork one was recently pulled on be before on a recent date and I flushed their ass!)

      3. Moderating excuses that maintain distance either in space OR time

      4. Failure of the touch test – Can’t physically touch them consistently on at least three occasions

      Tell this guy that if he wants to be with you, or continue seeing eachother that he’s got to live in the same city as you. And if he doesn’t move, dump him. I’d suggest a personal boundary – no dating anyone who doesn’t live within one hour trip.

      I am happy for anyone and everyone to reproduce the touch test. It is very useful. I’m also working on thinking up a quick ‘Friend test’ to tell if they’re REALLY a friend…

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        * Should read ‘Can’t physically touch them consistently on at least three occasions per week, for a series of weeks.

  5. Chloe says:

    This is what I’m going through. Broke up with my bf for the 4th (and final) time!! I tried, but with him being in denial about his anger; this is the 2nd time he’s broken up wtih me when he gets triggered, becasue he can’t deal with his anger and he blames me becasue I trigger him. Even though he finally told me he loved me, I knew I couldn’t trust him until he can handle his anger without blaming me. He can’t seem to do this, so this time I said to him, the only way that I would even consider trying again is if we see a counsellor. He finally emailed me that he will not do any counselling and that if he has to work that hard, it’s not worth it and that counselling will not change my personality. So, there you have it. He also said he does not see himself as angry, becasue he says when you are angry, you are angry at everyone, including the postman. He says I’m the only one who makes him angry. And this coming from a man with a degree in social work. I think it’s truly time to Flush.

    • sarjosowe says:

      hey Chloe, I would totally flush this dirtbag. He is NOT worth your time. Not worth anything for that matter. He is blaming you for his problems and making himself the victim and therefore null of any responsibility. I was dating a verbally abusive man for one year and that is the kind of crap he pulled on me ALL the time. Everything was ALWAYS my fault. And no matter how much I tried to “fix” the situation by compromising all my boundaries and putting in 200% effort, that was never enough. Because it will never be enough for them. They do not understand boundaries, responsibility, and respect.

      Love is respect. If he respected you, he would 1) take responsibility for his anger, (at least acknowledge his anger issues) and 2) see the counselor. He doesn’t want to see the counselor b/c he doesn’t want to deal with his anger. That requires work and change. It is MUCH easier to be with someone who is willing to put up with his anger and be the scapegoat for all his problems. You deserve SO much better. I dumped my verbally abusive boyf after a year, which is way too long. I knew something was wrong in the first few months when he started getting angry at me for the silliest things but I didn’t know that this was verbal abuse, manipulation and control at the time.

      Personally, the fact that he has a degree in social work makes me even more leery of him. It gives people like him leverage b/c they know how to mind eff people up even more b/c they understand the psychology behind things. When my boyf and I had fights, he would pull all that psychological crap out. It’s a technique to confuse you and lower your defenses b/c you start to question whether or not you are doing those things. It’s a way to diffuse the situation and to deflect responsibility from themselves. My ex had anger issues as well. He would get angry over the smallest things. He used to berate me to the point that I would be on my knees crying wishing I was dead and wondering how I got to that point. But it is all over now and I am so glad I got out of that hellhole!

      • sarjosowe says:

        I forgot to mention– I would also break up with my boyf after each verbally abusive episode! (That should have been a red flag right there!) So in total I must have broken up with him at least 4-5 times but every time I went back to him because of “love”… This last time I fled the state and quit my job b/c I was so scared of him. It was the RIGHT thing to do.

        I hope you dump him for good. You can do it!

      • sarjosowe says:

        Chloe! I just read your comment to crazybaby below! Wow, your ex sounds like mine! My ex was 14 years older than me… I’ve read some older men like to date younger women to control them. I know of situations where it has worked but I guess not for us!

        • Chloe says:

          Thank you sarjosowe! You are so right, I’m not even missing him and it hasn’t even been a week. He is so not worth my time!

  6. Lawrence says:

    This is one of my favorite essays of yours, Natalie.

    It’s hard to overstate the importance of knowing how to work on a relationship and when working on it is worthwhile. It can be an extremely vexing issue, and I think you’ve done an excellent job of breaking down the most critical elements. I think you’d find Mira Kirshenbaum’s TOO GOOD TO LEAVE, TOO BAD TO STAY very much complements your own thoughts here.

    I find it difficult to imagine two partners who are strongly motivated to resolve their issues failing to accomplish that. I think motivation is the key ingredient to success. As you point out, motivations for either wanting or not wanting to work on a relationship can be smokescreens for fear or other unhealthy desires, and perhaps the only true measurement of actual motivation is that something positive gets done.

    In my last relationship there was a lot of talk – and also a lot of avoiding such talk – about doing this or that to better are relationship, but very little actually happened. The talks were really more about venting frustration.

    It took a long time for me to realize that the reason nothing ever changed was not because we were so unreasonable or lacking in negotiating skills, but rather because neither of us truly wanted those changes. We weren’t motivated because neither of us were convinced the other was worth that effort – because neither of us truly wanted a “until death do us part” kind of relationship with the other.

    We wanted to pretend that we were that serious about each other, but when push came to shove, we weren’t.

  7. Crazybaby says:

    This is exactly what I’m struggling to get my head round right now. I started seeing a new guy a few weeks ago. He seemed very different from my ex (EUM). He was open, honest, talkative, keen to see me – always locking in the next date on the day of the previous one, even wanted to take me on holiday with him, and seemed genuinely into me. He wanted a committed relationship, but I said I wasn’t sure yet. I told him past relationships had been abusive, and he wanted to know all about my past – more than I really felt comfortable telling him, but I thought I need to break my pattern, which means being totally true to myself, and see if he likes me for who I am. I didn’t ‘feel it’ for him physically or emotionally, but again I thought I need to break my pattern, and maybe my feelings will grow for him rather than expecting the instant spark. All was well until he accidentally texted me and another person in a group text. I questioned it and he denied he’d even sent it. I found this odd so contacted the other number and discovered it was another girl he’s seeing. I didn’t have a problem with that because we haven’t agreed to be exclusive, but she called him up and got angry with him, and then he called me and got angry with me for contacting her, accused me of all sorts of things. I was taken aback, and forwarded him a screen grab of the text. He just said ‘okay cool’ which I found flippant considering his angry accusations. He called and grudgingly apologised. Because I’m so used to a guy treating me badly I find it hard to determine what is a ‘normal’ argument that can be resolved, and what is a red flag. Prior to this he’s been totally respectful. Is he another asshat?

    • Chloe says:

      I’d say it sounds like he has anger issues. It usually takes a trigger to come up and he was triggered. How angry did he get? The fact that he did that with you now, means he will only be more comfortable doing it in the future. There are many ways he could have handled that, more mature ways. Saying ok cool sounds imature to me too and immaturity can mean not knowing how to handle anger. My fellow was old (12 yrs older than me) and in my opinion lacked maturity because of his inability to handle his anger. You were blessed with a sign, if his response made you feel uncomfotable, I’d not continue with him. It’s better to get out early than to stick around for months. I had signs about my guy on the first meeting, not about anger, but about his inability to be authentic, even his approach was too flirty for my liking. I was right at the end, what I suspected was true. It’s so hard to say no so soon, but I think it’s the best time for you and your self esteem.

    • grace says:

      Here are your red flags:
      – Locking you into dates. Sounds controlling. It’s more normal for you both to go home, have time to think, and then call to arrange the next date.
      – Wanting to take you on holiday when you barely know each other
      – Talking about abuse after a few weeks when you’re not even exclusive
      – You feeling forced to talk about it
      – You thinking that being true to yourself = oversharing your past. You need to take time out to address the past if you think you have to keep putting it in front of people. There’s a time and a place and this isn’t it.
      – Him saying he wants a committed relationship but having more than one person on the go
      – YOU not being sure of what you want (open door to accepting anything)
      – Him lying to you about the text
      – You not believing him and going behind his back (I don’t blame you but it’s not a good sign!)
      – Him getting mad
      – Your definition of respectful.
      – You asking if this is “normal”.
      I’d like to think I wouldn’t touch this with a bargepole.

      • sm says:

        Grace I agree with everything you wrote but the ‘locking in of dates’. I think its perfectly acceptable if a gentleman is having a good time with you to show interest by asking you out for another date while still on the current. This particular man may use it as a control techniwue but generally it shows that the man is interested and wants to book your time before someone else does.

        • tired_of_assanova says:

          I’m going to disagree here and suggest that he’s locking it in because he is running to a set dating program/script that he has practiced many times before and also so that he can schedule in the other people (how many other women is he seeing – 2, 3, 10 ? perhaps you should ask!) without clashes.

          Multiple dating is a red flag
          Lies is a red flag
          Getting angry is a red flag


    • isabel says:


      There is such a thing as being way too far out your comfort zone. I do train working dogs for the livestock, and you dont send a border collie pup after your most difficult ram. You start them on ducks or easy going sheep, keep it fun, and when they can manage that, you increase the challenge until they can tackle anything. The dog tells you when he is ready and if you try to push too hard too soon and the dog gets hurt, you will set it back or even ruin it for future work. Emotionally, we are not that different. Going beyond our fear is not ignoring it, its progressing carefully toward it. If your abusive relationship left you raw, you might want to take care of that first, to know how it feels to be well and have a baseline you can compare. If you dont know how its like when you dont hurt, how can you tell if somebody makes you feel good or bad? So, make one babystep, see how it goes, and then make another babystep when you feel at ease. That is how you build confidence in yourself and in the relationship. It sounds like you are out of control and you let him dictate the pace. If somebody push you too hard and too fast out of what makes you feel safe, that is not a good sign. And somebody making a scene after only a couple of weeks is definitely not a good sign. Getting to know people is about closing the gap in an incremental fashion, not jumping head first without checking if there is enough depth in the swimming pool.

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      I think many of us think that WE CANNOT MAKE A MISTAKE.

      There are two types of so called ‘mistake’ – fail SAFE and fail DEADLY.

      A fail-safe or fail-secure device is one that, in the event of failure, responds in a way that will cause no harm, or at least a minimum of harm, to other devices or danger to personnel.

      It is actually better to experience a “fail safe” (i.e. dump the right guy) than a “fail-deadly” (i.e. retain an assclown). You can always find another nice guy/right guy but with an assclown, they’ll cause pain and problems.

      Fail safe and flush him. You think it is OK if he is seeing other people. Personally, I would be taken aback. Is he screwing her? Did you ask? This guy isn’t even putting in 100% effort into DATING YOU.

      In my fantasy non-relationship, my AC was screwing other people and I foolishly thought that was ok because ‘there hadn’t been a committment’, and so there I was wondering if I were 1st/2nd/10th or 200th in line for this chump. It was a horrible feeling and one where he benefited to my detriment. Of course he wasn’t going to get to that commitment of being exclusive, he wanted to play around!

      DUMP HIM I say! Find someone else that isn’t trying to play the flute from both ends!

  8. Halva says:

    This struck a chord with me. I think, according to this, that I’ve done the right thing.

    My partner, who I do love very much, was very, very, very unrealistic about financials. He is basically constantly broke and doesn’t want to work in a normal job so that he can concentrate on his arts career. He’s in his 30s now and the longer we lived together the more I saw all of my money go out the window and him refusing to see how unsustainable our situation was. It really stressed me out. I don’t want to be someone who relies on a man, but I do want 50/50 in my relationship.

    I tried to talk to him many, many times about how we can plan for our future and get some money together to set ourselves up. He wanted to move from his country to the UK where I’m from with absolutely no money apart from a gift of a few thousand pounds from his parents and live in a bedsit/flatshare. He seemed not to be able to see the harsh reality of that and I just couldn’t talk to him about it, he just blocked me out.

    I became so upset over this whole future of total instability, of listening to a man tell me he wanted us to have children yet get upset if I bought a newspaper or slightly more expensive jar of coffee with my own money. None of it made sense and it started to eat away at me and the relationship. I felt entirely alone.

    I tried hard to work at the relationship but as my financial situation worsened I got more and more stressed out and decided to come back to the UK alone with what tiny amount of money I have left after moving to his country to be with him.

    Is this an example of differing values? I guess, as Natalie says, if I kept trying to make him see my values over money that I’m trying to make him change. I became so hurt and felt so alone that I was really unhappy and I figured the best thing in the end was to leave. We were engaged by that time and that was scaring me even more because the whole of our future life was built on shifting sands.

    Have I done the right thing? I

    t’s scary to think that maybe I left and it was wrong to do so.

    • isabel says:

      Definitely the right decision. If you cant talk to somebody about the nitty gritty of life, and dont kid yourself, finance is a huge part of it, the rest is just fluff. The big wedding fiesta last a day, Valentine day is once a year, but the daily grind, bills, income taxes, dishes, sick children is what makes the bulk of life together. If you cant tackle those harmoniously, there is no point of being together. My rule of thumb about marriage is this: the honeymoon phase lasts 6 months, the rest is a long negotiation. If you cant agree on the terms right from the bat, the rest will just be a long nightmare. You dont live for money, but it does take money to live. In my opinion, you would have end up holding the bag for all the financial misfortunes and enable him to keep behaving irresponsibly. If he is willing to starve for his art, that is his problem, not yours.

      • Halva says:

        Thanks Isabel. Yes, the not being able to talk about the nitty gritty rang alarm bells for me. I feel that I need to know I can trust my other half to do the right thing by both of us. Isn’t that what a partnership is about? Maybe he just isn’t ready for the practical, daily essential aspects of making it all work. Like you say, you don’t live for money but it does take money to live.

    • Chloe says:


      I dated 2 men who were financially in debt, in la la land about finances. Drove me nuts, I can’t live like that. If you are finacially responsible, which it sounds like you are, then either you can look forward to a future of supporting this man, is his art even good? Is he getting anywhere? You are betting on potential, and this guy just sounds like a whiney baby who just wants to dream and be taken care of by mama (YOU). or his parents, they seem to be doing it. It was hard to get over my ex who is like that, but I couldn;t go back to him. I think you need to let this one go, it will be nothing but hardship all your life, and imagine that with babies. YOu can find someone in your own town who will be a breadwinner so you can be a mother without all the stress this boy will give you. Oh, in case you missed it, you already are a mom to your BOYfriend. Get a manfriend instead.

      • Halva says:

        Hi Chloe, yes, it’s so frustrating when a couple is out of synch on responsibilities and financials! Especially from the point of view of the more responsible person. Yes, his art is wonderful, he’s very talented. But he hasn’t done anything for a few years now and I think he lost his way. He’s a filmmaker and it takes a great deal of determination to succeed in this field. I hope he can find that determination!! I tried so hard to support him in his dreams but I think he felt crushed by the weight of responsibility of having me around. Which really isn’t how it should feel anyway.

    • lawrence says:

      Hi, Halva –

      I’m sorry it came to that. I was left wondering is how well you connected outside of the money issue. Aside from that, did you feel it was a deep connection – that you had lots in common? How good was your communication about this impasse?

      If you were well-matched in many or most ways, that does raise the question for me of whether or not it might’ve been (or might be) possible to negotiate some form of compromise on this issue.

      Of course, it only takes one big disagreement to sink a relationship. And this is a big one. I also wonder, though, how much this might be a passing phase for him. He’s still pretty young, and could transition into something more financially amenable to providing for a hearth and home.

      I had a dozen irons in the fire when I was a young man, and wasn’t terribly concerned with materialistic things – had a marginal income most of the time. But that did change after I got married and raised a family. I actually started enjoying making money (and I was an artist, too ;-).

      • grace says:

        I might agree except for the fact he doesn’t like how halva spends HER OWN money. hypocritical much?

        And, halva, I gotta ask given your screen name – Is he Greek?

      • Halva says:


        Thanks for your reply. We had a very deep connection, lots in common, a similar sense of humour and plenty to talk about.

        Our communication over this issue was terrible from when it first reared its head at the end of last year when we started living together until we split up. I tried to talk, he put blinkers on and brushed me off. His answer to everything was to rely on his parents, promise that he’d find more filming work and make big plans, including marriage, despite us having no cash at all.

        I was a bit silly and bought him clothes, equipment to help him, paid for flights for a trip back to the UK etc. I wonder if that just made everything worse because then when he didn’t put effort in to do more for himself, I took it harder because I was supporting him in order to help and really, nothing happened. His plan now is to give up his part-time paid job and spend time writing. We are in different countries now, I miss him terribly but I just don’t know what we can do.

        I appreciate your thoughts as someone who might understand his point of view. It’s very hard to let go.

      • Chloe says:

        Lawrence, please explain why it would take one big disagreement to sink a relationship. As a man, do you not believe that disagrreements are normal from time to time? Can you explain, please?

    • Magnolia says:


      As the child of a woman who has lived her whole life supporting a man who can’t/won’t be 50/50 because he wanted to pursue his art, which he always promised would eventually bring in money and pay off all their debt, but in fact just incurred more and more debt when he needed a new wheel, new pug mill, new studio, new what-ever-the-eff … I hated and still hate watching my mother be taken advantage of that way and there is no way in hell my father would ever admit to what a user he has been.

      I try and my mother tries to focus on the contributions he does make, which aren’t nothing, but it still breaks my heart. I just asked about where they are financially and … it breaks my fucking heart. My mother set what she thinks is an example of generosity and patience; I see that but I also see a woman without boundaries, who never said no to being a doormat, and consequently two people who could never teach me about appropriate boundaries and taking care of myself.

      You hit a particularly strong nerve with me. But if my parents are any example, the way it is in the beginning is the way it will continue; and in fact if they can get away with being supported a little, they’ll push to being supported a lot. The only way my mom could have set a real boundary with my father would have been to leave the relationship, she never did, and now I know she feels it’s too late. They have a relationship that is deeply rooted, but it’s deeply rooted co-dependence, not deeply rooted mutual support.

      My brother is now living the exact same scenario with his gf. He is an actor, now in his early 30s, who hasn’t had a gig in years. She is younger, did act and sing some, more than him; but now has decided to become a paralegal and just got accepted to school. My brother has decided he has to get his teeth expensively fixed, and that that will start the new acting career he has dreamed of.

      I don’t hope for my brother that she wisens up; but given how smart she is, I kind of see it coming.

      I think you did the right thing.

      • Halva says:


        I’m sorry that you’ve been through so much hurt with your family’s financial situation and the way that it’s been dealt with. I feel for you. I think the situation with my now ex hurt me so badly because my father has been very similar to yours – although an entrepreneur, not an artist. I think I’m very wary of anyone that’s not settled financially, or just plain realistic about how money works.

        I think you are so right in what you have said. In your mother’s staying she accepted the dynamic and it continued. It’s just so sad that in order to look after ourselves we need to leave someone we really love. I’m heartbroken and I am scared about the hurt and I worry about having left. But somewhere deep down I know that I am probably walking away from much greater hurt.

        I hope that you are managing to find a way to create boundaries for yourself, or have already overcome those challenges and are happy and settled in your life. I understand how hard it is to have a dad who is not entirely solid.

    • Crazybaby says:

      I have two ex husbands who were both irresponsible with money (and both Pisces, if you’re into astrology!). The first would always blame ME for the fact we were always in debt, when he was a compulsive spender and earned over 3 times as much as me. What I wish I’d done is actually call him out by sitting down with the paperwork and looking at exactly what is going in and out, and agree a budget for things. It wasn’t til I got divorced that I discovered how much debt he had secretly racked up, and then he used that as an excuse not to give me a fair settlement. Anyone who isn’t responsible with money needs to be made to address it before it gets out of hand. And it should be treated separately to any emotional aspect of your relationship. Money in a partnership is like business.

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        I’ve never owned a credit card and always paid my own way with a J-O-B.

        Bad enough these guys are emotional black holes without being financial ones as well.

  9. Wizzy says:

    Thank you so much for this article. Such a clear definition of the issues is what makes me read and re-read these posts. I realised how dysfunctional I have been in my relationships, stemming from a dysfunctional family upbringing; abnormality was normal to me but yet so incredibly painful.

    Since I started reading these posts I have learned to look at dating in a whole new light. I have learned not to get involved with the mind efferies, strange contradictions and disrespectful behaviour. I had courage to walk away from it after the first or second date ( as soon as I picked on it), I walk away even faster if I meet a guy an he’s talking about a wonderful future within a week! And I noticed that doing this actually lead to meeting and dating better quality guys!

    I met one recently, he is definitely different from every guy I have dated in the past. He is not self absorbed and demanding. And I am not dreaming about a wedding gown. I will wait and see. You never know if he turns out to be the wrong guy or the right guy. I will observe and see.

  10. Little Star says:

    I am not coming back to my AC, thanks to you Natalie and comments from readers of BR. I do not want to waste my time anymore!!! Before going to my holidays I talked to Assclown and told him, that all his promises mean nothing, without real actions. His answer was: ” Do not you think we have enough actions? Haha” HE even did not take seriously what I was saying, so f*** him! I will give other decent guys an opportunity to meet and date me, life is too short!

  11. Paula says:

    You’re brilliant Natalie

  12. Awakened says:

    My comment got cut off so let me finish…

    I started noticing that his attitude started changing. Everytime we started to communicate he would start throwing me off quickly; sounding frustrated and when I would ask him if things are okay he would pissed. My last words to him were” are things between us cool? And his response was Why Wouldn’t They Be? And I said well we haven’t been talking much and that’s not good. He knows I like to get to the root of things in communicating. He has not contacted me since and we both have been NC for 13 days now. I sent one email a week ago( which I absolutely hate I did but somehow it felt good) just being cordial and letting him know in the email that I thought we had connected; I had a great time when he and his daughter came and that he didn’t have to shut me out. He didnt have to tell me things were ok between us when I knew they were not. And I basically ended it by saying I didn’t think any less of him with his job loss and to take care. I got no response to that email. Deep in my heart I know this is not what I need in my life ; someone who I have been talking to for months; comes to visit; opened up my home to him and his daughter; we have a great time and suddenly you can’t talk; you can’t communicate and be honest. He has done this NC once before we actually met in person but not as long. If its his job being laid off he can’t even just say that. The fact is that I will continue on with my NO contacting him too cause I don’t really need for him to tell me what I have already know in hindsight. He was never the man for me and you can’t give away what you don’t already have. Taking this as a lesson and I mean never looking BACK.

    • Little Star says:

      Awakened, sorry you feeling this way…but you had only one date, you do not even know each other very well..Yes you did speak to him for few months on line, but it is not the same as physically seeing each other and talking face to face. I wonder why he brought
      his daughter and why you introduced him to your family?
      I think it was TOO MUCH and TOO FAST for the first meeting. Probably all this communication via Skype and emails did not met his expectations…maybe he just realised that you are not the person, who he expected to see. IT is not about him now, it is about you. Regard as experience, learn something from it and move on. At least you did not waste 4 years of your life, as I did!!! ALL the best x

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        I don’t think it was too fast – it was TOO SLOW! 7 months on skype! What or WHO else was he screwing in that time? There is almost ALWAYS someone else in these scenarios.

        • Little Star says:

          tired_of_assanova, when I was “talking” about TOO FAST – I meant Introduction to her family and bringing his daughter in the first date…It would freak me out to be honest…I hope Awakened feeling better and doesn’t waste her time on this loser:-(

    • Tea Cozy says:

      Awakened, it’s easy to get caught out in these types of situations where there is long distance + lots of virtual communication. I’ve been in your shoes more than once (took me awhile to learn my lesson), and it is painful. I’ve finally woken up to my pattern, and have set some new boundaries for myself: no long distance suitors, and no extended virtual courtships. It’s simply too hard to get to know who someone really is until you spend time with them, repeatedly; and it’s oh-too-easy to become attached to the fantasy of them. Very painful when reality doesn’t match up to the fantasy.

      I think taking your experience, figuring out what can be learned from it, and remaining in NC with the guy is the way to go. This guy sounds like no great loss. His saying he’s not a great communicator suggests to me that he was trying to manage down your expectations, and give himself an out for future poor behavior. I think you dodged a bullet with this one.

    • Lilia says:

      Awakened, I´m sorry you´re going through this now, I had a similar experience. I was chatting and skyping for all of those months as well with someone, and very confused by the fact that we didn´t meet in person (he was living about 2 hours away). It was particularly confusing because we did know each other in person, it was a friend of years and we had always had some sexual tension so to me it was obvious this was the beginning of a relationship.
      Anyway, after 7 months we met in person. It was fun and exciting. Then, some more chatting and plans for the future. And then he started to pull away. He stopped all contact and I did not insist because I thought this was some male elastic band thing (you know, the theory in men are from mars, women from venus).
      Anyway, some months later he contacted me again as if nothing had happened. But I heard from a friend that in the meantime he had moved back to my town and said he was dating someone else.
      It hurt like hell.
      But then he resumed our online flirting, again as if nothing had happened. So are these guys strange or what? He hasn´t changed, even though I´ve told him I´m not into this pointless casual virtual setup.
      I´m now reading Natalie´s Fantasy relationship book, it has really helped me. The other thing that helps me is not to dwell on his motivations, just go by his behaviour.

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        Lillia, these guys practice INFORMATION CONTAINMENT – which is they have a mental record of what they’ve told you and what they know that you know in their brain and they play on the fact that you think you’re THE ONLY ONE.

        They’re just lapping it up!

        Hard questions will flush these guys out very fast:

        – Are you seeing someone else?
        – Are you in a casual relationship with someone else (lots of people say they’re single when really they’re only technically single?

        Last time I looked at life insurance, the value of a human life was around $1.5 million. That’s what an insurance company will pay for your life if you die. Now, would you give someone something worth $1.5 million dollars without a bye nor leave?

        • Lilia says:

          You know, that´s the hardest thing for me to digest, that I was deliberately fooled and strung along that way. I did ask him at the beginning of those 7 months if he was with someone, and he said something like “well, sometimes I go out with some girl but I´m single”. He phrased it in such a way so I´d understand something completely different from what was really going on. In fact, he was most likely in some casual relationship(s).

          It seems plain mean. I think it´s normal to start out with a basis of reasonable trust in the other person, so it´s very painful when you find out these guys have been feeding you lies and half-truths.

          • tired_of_assanova says:

            Yes, these guys get all literal, technical and have more asterisks and clauses and exceptions than a bad life insurance policy!

            I’d say something like “If you want to be with me, then you can’t be seeing anyone else, casual or other, are we clear on that?”

            Give these guys any grey areas and they’ll expand into it.

            Bottom line- lots of questions, direct, to the point, YES or NO. And if it doesn’t add up, don’t hand over the $1.5 million in your personal value!

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      I am so sorry that you have experienced this. Recovering from a fantasy non-relationship and stripping down the illusions is a painful thing.

      Some suggestions:

      1. Ban instant messenger, e-mail, online dating sites, facebook chat PERMANENTLY.

      2. Go out!

      3. Dating and sex bans for a period. I did sex ban for 3 months and dating ban for 9 months. That plus intensive psychologist and baggage reclaim and NC helped me get through nine months of pure pain.

      4. Write some basic standards down of what you want from a relationship when you’re NOT in one. Mine are balance, care, trust, respect, intimacy, spends time with me and lives in my area. Use this as a ‘dating field guide’.

      Good luck!

  13. miskwa says:

    Any hint of anger issues, cheating/dishonesty, and saying he wants commitment but actions speak otherwise meam its time to bail. Usually stuff like drug/alcohol problems surface pretty quickly and these dudes dont even make it to the second date stage. Hot/ cold behavior means somethings really wrong even though one may not know what the something is. I find that if I feel uneasy in a relationship, there’s a reason for it. Also, if you dont look forward to seeing them, its time to bail.
    Happy Solstice

    • Broadsided` says:

      Miskwa, wise words spoken there. I was married to a man with a very bad temper and now avoid guys with any trace of anger problems like the plague. What I learned based on the last guy I dated it’s that it’s not always the demonstrative guys that have tempers. The last one was “nice’ but TOLD me he had a bad temper (after I told him one thing that didn’t work for me about my ex was his temper), which I finally got to see in action based on some criticism and uncaring words prior to leaving. My brother told me that if a man bothers to tell you he has a fault, believe it – it means it’s in a big way! (I have found from these two men that bad temper and a critical nature seem to go hand in hand – both ugly and hurtful traits – both of these two were also quite self centered.) I will take kindness and respect, thank you.

      And true – when a man is hot and cold “something” is indeed wrong. Whether it’s organic mental health issue, self centeredness or flat out sketchiness – whether or not the guy can explain it – you’re signing up for a painful, up and down, emotional roller coaster ride.

      And uneasy/intuition – yes, worth watching. Even though I felt comfortable for awhile in the last one, I had some out of the blue anxiety. I thought it was anxiety left over from the way my relationship prior to that was (EUM, king of hot and cold). Based on how this one played out – major future faker – I think something was not adding up to my intuition, but I so wanted to believe…..

      A lot of mindfulness lessons for me, going forward.

    • teachable says:

      I agree with all of this miskwa. And you’re right that ‘usually’ alcohol or drug issues surface quickly. Not always though. That’s how I got caught out with the ex who swept through like a hurricane 18 mths back. When we were first a couple 20 years ago, he stated in the early days he was (quote) ‘ a bit of an alcoholic’. I took this comment seriously and dug further. Had he ever had treatment? (No). How often did he drink? (not that often) What made him think he was an alcoholic then (He didn’t and was ‘only joking’) etc. Hence I let it ride and kept my eyes peeled for any signs. I knew NOTHING about alcoholism though – except for the stereotypes most of us imagine. As he wasn’t homeless, didn’t drink from a bottle in a brown paper bag in a park, and when he did seemed to do so within reason, I ultimately believed him. BIG MISTAKE! 3 years later I realised he WAS an alcoholic with a BINGE drinking problem & thus, ended it. Ugh. Have never been there since and don’t intend to!

  14. Shae says:

    This is the story of my marriage for 5 out of 15 years. I finially gave him an ultimatum and a 6 months time line which included couples counseling instead of endless conversations about what I needed and him telling me I was too needy. I stuck to it. Four months into it he ended the counseling because it “didn’t make him feel good” when the therapist indicated that what I wanted was pretty normal. That was what I call my defining moment. Although I have not found the right person in the past 6years I thank God that I am not with him still thinking that I am a woman who will never be satisfied because I am too needy. No matter how alone I am, I am happy with ME! I am 55 in two months and I truly believe that at some point I will have that relationship I want. I am alone because I will not settle for less. I am alone because I like my life and even though I get left out of couple activities I have great friends (yes there are some men) and I am not living in misery with someone just so I do not have to be alone. Yes this took some therapy and flushing toxic people. The best part was I no longer had to please people, including my INLAWS!!!! LOL

    • sm says:

      Amen sister, amen! Number 1 sign of an EU, they label normal wants and needs as ‘needy’, Nat has said it a thousand times. Life is good when you’re honoring yourself and not ‘twisting into a pretzel’ to meet someone elses ridiculous requirements.

    • kata1l says:

      Oh my gosh Shae I had to double check your name cause you sound exactly like me, except that I am 54, and it has been 4 years without my ex. I have flushed a lot of toxic people in the last year, including 3 friends and my brother, because of being treated disrespectfully, their having alcohol problems, anger management problems, etc. I have had some lonely days but I will manage, at least noone is tearing me down. And your line about not pleasing in laws to please? Priceless. I have dated 3 men in the last 6 months. One made comments about a very young lady he thought was sexy, right in front of me on our first meeting. Flush! Second one told me he was a machinist, but when me actually met, I found out he was unemployed, and living with and off of his mother, at 57 years old. And oh yeah, not looking for work either. Flush. 3rd one gets disability SSI in an amount more than I get working 2 jobs. He lives with cousins that decided to move out of state, so he decides to live in his car because he would rather have an expensive cell phone, computer, and other gadgets than pay rent. I do without a lot of stuff so that I can pay rent. Flush! Before joining this site 2 years ago, I probably would have continued dating and or trying to fix these guys instead of flushing. I went to therapy too when my ex refused to go with me. Just with that I had left sooner. Now I think life is testing you when toxic people show up in your life, to see if you will just passively accept their behavior, or FLUSH! If you get smart and flush, life will reward you with better people! It may take a while, but worth the wait.

    • teachable says:

      “I am alone because I will not settle for less” YES! Couldn’t agree more! Three cheers to you and all of us who are in this position!

      I don’t have unrealistic expectations, know I’m not a glamour supermodel etc, but also know, that many here, I’m a woman of substance (not sure how else to put it). Settling for an AC or idiot would be a fate worse than death!! 😉

  15. Shae says:

    Awakened: please don’t take this the wrong way, and i mean well but this is just crazy. How can you go no contact with someone you met in person once? It was more like a first long date with his kid that didn’t really go well. Where did it go wrong? Look back for yourself. When did the boundaries cross? After not meeting in person after the first Skipe? Please flip your thinking around. Also what kind of man does that to his kid? You may want to be thankful that you dodged this bullet girl. I’m sorry. :(((

  16. Awakened says:

    @ Grace

    Now you can finish reading my comment GraceYou said something that made so much sense about him bringing his daughter and using her as a “shield” totally agreed. And it was definitely too soon for him to meet my parents so I think all of that was just TOO MUCH for him and he felt like I was pushing him when I was not. He came to visit and the fact that he bought his daughter I was trying to make it all seem normal for her. And she had a great time. That I know. I think that scared him as well and he totally pulls back and goes NC.

  17. Awakened says:

    @ shae

    Exactly what kind of man does this to his kid. Funny thing is all his past relationships had been with females he met online. That should have rang a BELL for me. So what number was I that he had done this to? Using his daughter as a means not to get close or committ. And Bringing her when it was to be our first time meeting made no sense from the get go. That meant I had to make myself comfortable around meeting him and her and that was alot for me at one time. It was absolutely nothing that I did wrong other than allow him to come with her. When I doubted and said I didn’t feel comfortable that first time in him bringing herI should have left it at that. I think reality sat in when he came to see me. We are pretty well off financially; have a big home and all this just threw him for a loop. Me being Too much for him to maintain and keep up ( high maintenance). Right then was when things begin to change cause this was alot for him to process in 3 days. When he met me that first day he came he embraced me and if he really wasn’t feeling me It made no sense to stay 2 more days when he could have simply LEFT. This is if he wasn’t interested. He showed no signs that he wasnt. And then he continues talking to me after the trip to see me and now this so how do you explain that??

  18. Awakened says:

    And he was also LAID Off when he came to see me so that means his life was about to change. When he saw me and how I was living this made it more obvious to him that how am I going to maintain a relationship without any money. He even bought that up while he was visiting me. All he was thinking about was his job of which he totally depended up on. I also made a comment to him after his visit that possibly had something to do with him distancing himself right after. My comment to him was” Your job seems to be your everything and sometimes when we are not putting God first in our lives he removes that very thing that is everything to us when he should be first. ( I am not holier than thou person but I do believe and God; try to make an effort to go to church; and I have him in my life) he on the other hand made no effort to ever go and I told him that we were not connected spiritually and that can be a problem. How he took this comment I don’t know but I apologized to him in that email as well to let him know that if he took my comment the wrong way about God and his loosing his job I was sorry. I guess sorry wasn’t enough and not responding at all is enough for him.

    • teachable says:

      If you can believe it I’ve known WORSE. EX AC here tried to suggest that he could move in with me (presumbly rent free?) and lie to social security about the status of our r’ship to survive financially!! I told him that plan was dead in the water before the words even escaped his slimey lips!!!

  19. rosenfire says:

    “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to give something a shot but don’t do it based on fear – one day you’ll look back and wish that you’d made a decision either way, based on love, even if that were loving yourself.”

    The facts are: I don’t want to get divorced. It’s not the ending little girls (or women) dream of. But I’ve worked and worked (and worked) on this relationship for 15 years. I hate that I’ll be crushing my kid’s world when I break the news in two weeks. I’m afraid of what the future holds – for my kid, and for me – as I move out and try to make it on my own.

    But I don’t want to look back in another 15 years and see a life still based on fear.

    • Lois Lane says:

      Rosenfire, I absolutely feel you. I married my highschool sweetheart even though I had doubts along the way. We were together for 10 yrs before we got married and had a pretty good relationship. As long as we kept things somewhat separate. Money, time, chores, etc. We even went to different colleges and lived apart for A LOT of that time. Then along came REAL togetherness with adult responsibilties and a child.

      My ego didn’t want a divorce. AT ALL. I did love him and I didn’t stay with him for 16 yrs, compromise on some of my dreams, marry him, have his child, and try to build a family, all so I could wind up divorced. DIVORCED! (There goes that ego again)

      I realized through counseling, both marital and individual, that a lot of my decisions had been based in fear. Fear of letting go of the old, comfortable familiar. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of being financially on my own. Fear of being alone/single. Thinking this was the best for me out there. Was I asking too much? He was/is basically a decent/stable guy. But he didn’t want to get into the real “nitty gritty” of being a married family man. I wound up being and doing SOOOOO much for the relationship and it just wore me down. I was too tired to be afraid anymore!

      One day he says “You’re the one that sees a problem in this marriage. YOU fix it”. So I did. I was on my own anyway. What was there to really be afraid of?

      Of course, being VERY inexperienced and somewhat naive left me a prime target for the Mr. Unavailables and Assclowns of the world. I experienced one of those right out of the gate. But just one! LOL! And that’s a story for another day….. Baggage Reclaim has been my saviour and I haven’t been this happy with MYSELF in a long, long time. Keep your head up, sista!

      • ferncat says:

        Lois Lane you are an insipiration to me. I have posted further down this thread about my situation. I don’t have children so hats off to you for your bravery. I am almost paralysed by fear. All the best!

  20. Awakened says:

    Thanks @ TeaCozy

    God knows what I deserve definitely dodged a bullet and I definitely take this as a lesson learned of what not to repeat again. All I lost was TIME.

  21. Awakened says:

    @ Littlestar

    I have no idea why he really bought his daughter along cause he had always made it adamant that he would never bring her along on his first trip to meet me but he did. It was also a last minute thing cause I only knew that just a few days that he was coming to see me. So it was a last minute thing and when I said don’t you have your daughter? And he said yes but I’ll bring her with me. I don’t know what really made him make this decision from the get go cause I was actually not too comfortable; told him that I wasn’t too sure about him bringing her and got a second opinion from my best friend and she said why not. If he wants to bring his daughter and he really wants to see you then he obviously feels comfortable about it.

    As for my parents seeing him ( my parents are wonderful people and me meeting a man miles away for the first time they Ofcourse wanted to meet him and had every right( just in case I went missing not that I would have or didn’t trust him) he got a hotel room for he and his daughter for those 3 days( I did not sleep over or stay the night). We really didn’t have a chance to get to know eacother even on first date cause his daughter was there the entire time. So I guess that spoke not Normal at all for a first date a man bringing his child along. Don’t know what she actually saidwhen she maded it back to their home. Mom daddy took me on a trip and we met this girl and we had dinner at her house; went lots of places and so on… Can you imagine a child experiencing all that and not know what is really happening 10 hours away in different STATE. You can only imagine the pressure I was under. Wanted to be excepted; hoping I made a good impression; not really knowing what his thoughts were; etc… And I have been maintaining NC just as hard as he has for the last 13 days…NC To be Continued…..

  22. Crazybaby says:

    Thank you Chloe, grace, sm, and Isabel. The comment about me feeling out of control and him setting the pace has got me thinking. I guess there’s a fine line I’ve been unaware of between letting a guy do the chivalrous gentleman thing of ‘chasing’ after me and organising our dates, and just being controlling. He messed up our last date by saying he couldn’t make it (it was a club event), me saying I was going anyway, him saying he would rearrange his plans and get back to me (plus making me feel bad about going alone), not calling back to confirm, me not going, then him going without me, me discovering this and saying I’ll come and meet him, and him saying not to bother because he’s going home. I missed a great night out as a result. Maybe I really am a naive puppy who’s being given the runaround by wild rams. It’s making me more and more apprehensive, and disillusioned about the men out there. I’ve dealt with the rawness of past abusive relationships and still kept my heart open and optimistic. With each failed encounter I tell myself the odds must be stacked in my favour to find a good un, but sadly not yet. Baby steps with the next one, and I’ll keep my past in the past til I know him better.

  23. Amanda says:

    These posts seem to be so well timed for me! My ex and I have got back together and Im moving back in this weekend. I am wracked with doubt as I am petrified he will suddenly shut me out again (the reason we broke up in the first place). He decided that to deal with the pain of our breakup he would go and work abroad and now even though we are back together he has been offered a job which he is considering. I get what you mean about the values thing, we have the same values but now his seem to have been put on hold until he can get this traveling job out of his system and now I dont know if we are going to be strong enough because of our recent problems to cope with him working abroad.
    Since living apart from him it has made me consider other options of where to live and what to do with my life. I love him and want him in my life but am worried that we will ultimately want different things, he seems to be very career oriented at the moment, putting his job before me…
    I guess at the moment Im thinking move back and if its meant to be we will put our lives on a path together where we can both be happy with jobs, homes etc, Im just scared Ill end up at square one again.

    • Elle says:

      Be careful, Amanda – tread very carefully. I’m not entirel sure what moving back means – to a common home or a location, but, at face value, this does not seem to bode well. It’s not good that you’re already scared. It’s not good that he is already following up on options that would mean not having you around. It does not matter necessarily that he is career-focused, it matters that he is not making you feel like your careers are part of what you share, and support each other with, as a team.This is not the on-the-same-page dynamic that Nat’s post describes, especially given, it appears, you’re not expressing this to him and sorting it out fairly and decisively with him. Whatever the case, get your stuff together – a home, your career, and some friends around you. You will want and need them, whatever the outcome. In the big picture, this is the only healthy thing for you, in the small picture, it is the only strategy you have.

  24. Amanda says:

    I also dont know how realistic Im being with my expectations. When Im with him its all brilliant but in between visits its always me saying that I miss him and being flirty, he doesnt seem to reciprocate…

  25. Beatroot says:

    Should I stay or should I go?

    Bf and I together 5 years. Love him. He loves me. But we’re like brother and sister, very affectionate brother and sister but still. Every night we curl up together and sleep. I don’t fancy him. At all. It doesn’t bother me, we don’t talk about it. If we stay together will it cause problems in future? Maybe we’re just sexless. Whatever was there at the start has petered out. It makes me sad to think of breaking up though. Help. I’m 26, he’s 28.

    • Snowboard says:

      Hi Beatroot,

      Yours is a difficult situation, albeit a common one. Many marriages eventually end up something like this. The truth is, sexual passion usually can only last so long. Ultimately, you have to decide what you want, if this situation is fulfilling to you or if you feel yourself needing more. As Natalie puts it, in the absence of code red or amber behavior, no one else can really guide you – you have to make that decision based on what you are feeling inside.

      Two of my closest friends (a girl and a guy) were in a relationship together like this for two years, and ultimately, the girl broke up with the guy. The break-up was unbelievably painful for both of them. She then went on to date an AC (actually, my first AC!) for a year, and that was a total nightmare for her. But now she is married to a wonderful guy, with whom she has lots of sexual passion, and she is happier with him than she has ever been with any guy.

      As for her initial boyfriend, she and he are still really close friends, and he also has a different girlfriend, with lots of sexual passion, and always says that he never knew what a real relationship could be like until he met her. So, though it took awhile, the break-up was ultimately very very positive for both of them. :)

    • isabel says:

      Hi Beetroot,

      This is a tough call. And I think it depends very much what you want. To me, the diminishing sexual passion is not a huge deal and take second place to an awesome companionship. But what really keeps me in a relationship is to build something together. When the passion was gone with my first serious boyfriend (5 years together), we realized we had no common vision. He wanted a family, I did not. He was allergic to every animals, I could not see myself without. So we split off and he ended up being the father of a wonderful little girl and I eventually married another dog nut and we bought a farm. After a while, I think its really building a common dream which matters. The rest can be worked out.

    • grace says:

      I’m 47, not had sex in over six years, don’t miss it and don’t even think about it. Even I say HELL NO.
      You’re 26, not 76.
      And I’d be VERY happy if a 76 yo lady were to correct me and say she’s still having sex thank you very much!
      If you are both asexual that might work though.

      • Tanya Z. says:

        Grace, I am in my early fifties. Like you, I have been celibate for several years, but my 80 year old mother said the other day, “When I went to the doctor for my check-up yesterday, he asked me if I was still having sex regularly.”

        I said, “Oh? What did you say?”

        She said, “Yes, of course, I’m still having sex, I’m not THAT old!”

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      Oh, no not ‘cuddle friend’ / No Sex Mr Unavailable. There isn’t a whole heap of sexual rejection posts on here, but I’ve had one of these and it is a *massive* blow to one’s self esteem because their actions scream ‘you’re not good enough to screw!!’

      It can also be HUGELY confusing – my AC told me that my sex wasn’t that great, but they really really liked my cuddles, so much that I became an on call ‘friend with cuddle benefits’. It’s not just sex you can be used for! It can make you pursue sexual validation – extremely dangerous!

      If you want to have a relationship with no sex, that’s your choice. However, will he make the same choice too or will he start seeing someone else? Is he seeing someone else? Have you asked?

      Relationship minus intimacy is …? Friendship? Something else? Being used for cuddle? Maybe he should get a teddy bear.

    • ferncat says:

      Beatroot, I am in a similar situation – I have posted further down this thread. A good friend told me – you’re 43 not 83! Friends tell me that it’s not right to settle for a sexless relationship. It’s difficult when you are still close though and are scared of the alternative/unknown. My husband is my best friend but I don’t fancy him. Good luck. I am also pondering this dilemma.

  26. grace says:

    I note that you do a lot of thinking with him and trying to work out his motives. Let me share a recent experience with the excrush/whatever:
    He kept asking me about my family – how old my nieces are, where I come in the sibling order – am I the oldest? the youngest? I figured that he was trying to find out how old I am without asking me directly. (I’m fifteen years older.). I thought he had done the math and realised I’m in my 40s. When I finally told him the exact figure he was SHOCKED. He had not given it any thought at all. He had just been making polite conversation.
    Men aren’t thinking things out to the extent we do. It’s not because they are limited emotionally retarded idiots as is sometimes implied. I THINK (and here I am thinking for them!) they are more activity and action orientated than we are. They like sports statistics! They like action movies!. (yes I know it’s not all men but it applies in my case, maybe in yours, and to many of the playas).
    It breaks my heart a little to say this but if he’s not following up, asking you out, making a move, committing – he just doesn’t want to. He’s not burning up HUGE amounts of time thinking about why or why not. He’s doing what he wants, he’s happy with it, why would he need to analyse it? There isn’t a why for us to know.
    We, on the other hand, think and think and think. Because the disconnect between what we want and what we are prepared to do is so huge we have to fill the gap with the overthinking. We can give finely detailed reasons/excuses for why we are doing/not doing something. Surely he can too? Nope.
    When to work at your relationship? At the very least, there should be an actual relationship to work on! Not just stuff in our heads and a bloke that is 90% made up.
    It might help you to get Nat’s Dreamer book to get your feet back in reality.

  27. Sofie says:

    let me share this. (I’m sorry but I haven’t read all the comments…)
    I felt heartbroken by the things my ex did during our relationship. Maybe those things weren’t considered that big a deal to many otehr people, but they were to me. And he did nothing to fix my heartache. I was in pain, but all I (and especialy he) was thinking, ‘what would others do or say’.
    Well, that didn’t work out great. I forced myself to think about how others would deal with the situation(s). And so did he. But they were dealbreakers for me. So no matter how I tried and lied to myself, it didn’t work. No mather how many times people (ànd him) told me I was being too demanding, I couldn’t get my head around it. They were my personal dealbreakers. Key thing: establish your dealbreakers. No matter how many times, or how many people try to minimalise or rationlise them, they come kicking you in the face years after (but hopefully not that long!).
    They are what they are. They are you.

  28. FinallyDidIt says:

    It’s a kick in the pants when you realize you love him way more then he’ll ever love you. You just have to fold, call it a day and find the strength to move on.

  29. Ethelreda the Unready says:

    OK, so this may be ghoulish, but I read this article this morning.

    The urge to ‘win’ – to ‘get married’ because your friends are all married, or you’re scared of being alone, or as some kind of finishing line in life – can have tragic consequences.

    There were red flags all over the place in this relationship, but she kept on going – even though this relationship was clearly different from previous ones.

    ‘Different’ is not always ‘good’, is it.

  30. SkepticRina says:

    Is it me, or does anyone else (after reading ALL of Natalie’s articles) think that there are MORE emotionally unavailable men than there are not? I’m starting to believe that it is ME…I feel that all men just want to fuck and leave. All men don’t want to think about things, or feel things, or put effort into things. Seriously. The last few months it has been one after another. It hurts my heart. I self reflect a lot and wonder WHAT IS IT about ME that is attracting these kind of guys or is it that there is just MORE of these types of men than there are men who want to be with a women outside of the bedroom. :( Super jaded.

    • Broadsided says:

      SkepticRina, I do think there are many of these around. Some guys will put on any behavior to get a woman into bed. Not sure your age, but my daughter in her 20’s runs into this same thing constantly and it is discouraging. But in her case, I think she’s a little too attracted to “bad boys” or “athletes” which have not turned out to be good bets in that department.

      I’m over 50 and pickins’ are slimmer in this age group! What I can say is that I work in a profession where I get to see a lot of happy, solidly connected couples in functional relationships – so I KNOW these are out there! Don’t give up. My problem when younger is I was too quick to settle into things, and misinterpreted sexual interest as emotional interest. At least you are aware of that type – I think the only cure – which will weed this type out quickly – is to take TIME to get to know guys and keep sex at bay. And move on fast if a guy’s not working out for you.

    • kata1l says:

      I agree with you, Skeptic Rina, there seem to be more and more EUM;s out there than ever, young and old. I work in a beauty shop and I see a cross culture of men. You hardly ever see a mature, responsible, happily married or committed man, of any age, and most of them try to present themselves as playas, footloose and fancy free, and the catch of the century, even if they are overweight, unemployed, boring, and not very smart or even nice looking. Has our culture over convinced them of their importance?Do they think since there are more of us and fewer of them that we have no options and HAVE to put up with any behavior they dish out? Have women been too accepting of their bad behavior and too quick to give them the easy sex they seem to think is their due, without requiring anything from them in return? Even the ones in my age group. 50’s , most seem like they are in some kind of delayed adolescence. One answered my online dating ad, by saying he thought he might like someone to hang out with once in a while on the days he was off, which was not much, and what did I think? I told him it did not sound like he knew what he wanted, that he just seemed to want someone to make herself available if and when he was ever available, and that was not the kind of man I wanted, and he got mad at ME! It is almost funny. What do you other ladies think?

      • Broadsided says:

        kata1l – Yes, the last guy I dated was in his 50’s and WAS a delayed adolescent. He’d been out of a 20 year marriage for 3 years, which he said was neither happy nor sexually fulfilling. Well, guess what – he’s going through women like potato chips making up for what he missed, I suppose. Warning – these guys aren’t readily apparent. This guy was Mr. Clean in appearance – not one trace bad boy. I go back to my earlier lesson – no substitute for time and keeping them at arm’s distance to see if they lose interest when you don’t jump into bed with them.

    • Lilia says:

      Look at it like this: there probably ARE more Eums out there than before, but that is because there are also more women who are willing – not to say eager – to put up with them.
      Emotionally available people are just scarce nowadays, both men and women.
      The thing we have to learn from this, is how to be a woman who will not put up with EUMs and be emotionally available ourselves, so that the emotionally healthy men will recognise us, and we can find each other.

    • grace says:

      Nah, there are lots of lovely men around. They are lovelier than the men I knew when I was in my 20s. But have they changed or have I?
      Sometimes I look at the young(ish) single men I know and wonder why I didn’t nab one like them when I was their age. Then I realise I wouldn’t have fancied them. Those shallow, charming types did me in, even though, in the end I GOT BORED WITH THEM! Nutty.
      Change what you like, which starts by changing yourself. Love and value yourself (not the same as being bigheaded) and your taste in men will improve. And, no, he doesn’t have to be unattractive and boring (unless that’s rocks your boat) .
      Yes the playa types get around, they are in your face, they move in packs. They seem so many. But I barely see them because they don’t interest me. I’m not bothered!

    • Little Star says:

      WOW ScepticRina, I feel exactly the same:-( Why I am so “lucky” to meet only ACs…but yet again when I meet a nice guy, I usually think he is boring, no chemistry, no sexual attraction. But I do notice men do look for fun only, my best friend is beautiful and intelligent woman (in her 30s, with one child) met about six guys (from dating site), and all of them were after “one thing”, disappeared after having sex, they even do not want to carry on sleeping with the same woman!! They move so quickly to the next one. It is really shocking!

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      Some people want a relationship, some people don’t.

      I don’t believe that there is anything unethical when it comes to ‘just sex’. If someone wants to just hook up/one night stand, and they’re not a friend and they leave and disappear, then no-one is harmed.

      Where harm comes into it is when it starts being a booty call with frills – dinners, dates, I love you or when one party loses power/develops feelings or uses deception – the possibility of a relationship to take the goods without contribution.

      Ask hard questions
      Make them wait
      Say things like ‘I don’t want to sleep with you until I know that we’re exclusive’.

    • Crazybaby says:

      This part of the thread is something I have been mulling over with girlfriends, because we are all asking the same question. It doesn’t seem to make any difference what age, level of physical attractiveness, or background they are from, they all seem to have that ‘delayed adolescence’ thing going on, and you really can’t tell at first. And the older you get, the shallower the pool gets to fish from, so it’s even more soul destroying when yet another prospect turns out to be an a$$hole. I read a disturbing article that suggested it’s because men are still deemed attractive as they get older, and are still able to pull younger women, which leaves older women, no matter how amazing they are, being left on the shelf / scrap heap. I know many stunning 50+ women who have given up. Even friends in relationships and marriages don’t seem to be blissfully happy by any stretch of the imagination, and some I thought were rock solid have split – due to the man’s bad behaviour. Men seem to think that women in relationships are more trouble (and expense) than they’re worth, so why not fool around instead. And I think women are opting for more casual relationships because they’re not finding quality men, but still want sex, affection, and companionship albeit short term. It’s a very sad state of affairs, because no-one is being truly loved, and that’s what it should be all about.

    • LoopyLou says:

      Rita I feel the exact same, like someone else said im not sure how old you are.. but i’m in my 20’s (i know some people think thats young and i shouldnt worry about finding a fella, but hey!)

      I’ve been dating for the past year and a half and i’v simply met EUM after EUM after EUM!!!! its literally grinding me down, and like you i think it must be something about ME that men just dont see as commitment/girlfriend material…. especially when one man in particular had a new girlfriend plastered across facebook not two months after i told him to sling his hook. oh but with ME it was “i just dont want a relationship” “i just wanna keep things as they are” … hmph!

      xxx <3

  31. L. says:

    I just resumed a relationship with a guy I had been dating briefly several months ago. During our initial dating stint ,I found that we were not compatible in terms of interests, spirituality and desire for learning and growth. Basically, he is less curious about the world and does not read much, whereas I am one who places a high level of importance on these values. At the time, I felt the divide was too great, and ended the relationship. Now, several months later, I find myself dating him again as he is a really kind and decent person and there is physical chemistry between us. However, I am now finding my initial doubts creeping up again – is he intellectually stimulating enough for me and do I respect him enough given his lack of curiosity about the world, desire for growth, lack of shared interests, etc.
    My question to all of you is, are my doubts reasonable? Should I be overlooking our differences and continuing with the relationship (he is a good person whom I can trust) or should I cut my losses and listen to my doubts/gut? Thanks :)

    • grace says:

      Reading is not a value. That’s not a good reason to doubt someone. I used to think it was important too. It isn’t. Many men don’t read fiction. My brother doesn’t. You can’t write them off for that. Conversely, I’ve had relationships with several men who loved to read. They were still asshats. In any case, reading is a solo activity, you can’t share it unless you’re going to spend your evening in literary criticism.
      And, talking of stupid requirements, most men are under six feet tall. So we’ve already written off over half of them before we even know their names.
      The lack of curiosity might bug me but you have to look at the whole package and whether he makes you happy. Do not, whatever you do, look for a man who is a male version of you. You’d hate him!

      • L. says:


        Thanks for your comments. I do know that reading is not a value; however, learning and growing is. I feel that one of the ways in which learning occurs is through reading (non-fiction, magazines, newspapers, etc) and keeping up with what is going on in the world. This type of an awareness lends itself to interesting conversation, social consciousness among other things which are important to me. This is the crux of what has been bothering me about this guy – the lack of curiosity and spiritual & intellectual pursuits which I tend to value highly.

    • Magnolia says:

      L, reading is not a value, but curiosity and growth-mindedness are. I’m a writer and once expected to have to date a reader; but I have dated some writers and scholars who read tons but were jerkoffs, and some quite kind men who were less “intellectual”.

      You cited “his lack of curiosity about the world, desire for growth, lack of shared interests, etc.” – like you, I assumed shared interests are the key but NML and this site keep me focused on values.

      Is it that he doesn’t read or that he doesn’t show the kind of interest in the world around him that you assume comes from/is demonstrated by being a reader? What other *values* or *qualities* are you attributing to readers?

      I myself don’t particularly need a reader but I do need someone who values the arts enough to not be, like a couple of my exes, on their blackberry during my readings.

    • Lilia says:

      I´m also a big reader, my ex husband was too. Initially I found it so cozy that we could both lie in bed reading side by side. But then, it became really annoying that he would pull out a book whenever my family was over. It was quite rude, though he didn´t see it that way when I talked about it, and continued to do it.
      Then, later on he started to pick on my choice of writers, saying they weren´t worthwhile, and had me reading whatever he found interesting enough.

      This all made me miss my previous boyfriend, who hated reading but was so much more respectful of me and my family.
      So my conclusion is this: it doesn´t matter if your partner shares your tastes, it only matters if he treats you right.

      I see this also in one of my friends: she is very concerned with reading, studying, culture and spiritual matters, his only hobby seems to be watching tv. You´d wonder why they are together. But they are very compatible because they care and respect each other.

      I find it´s better to share interests with like minded friends, not with a partner. And I´m yet to come across a man who´s into embroidery and interior decorating.

    • Chloe says:

      L – I just went through this. The last guy I dated wasn’t very stimulating conversation wise. I found him boring and his idea of personal growth was improving his golf game. He presented as very decent and nice. What evetually happened was that he got triggered and couldn’t manage his own anger. He had repressed anger issues which I intuited by his constant clenched fists. It only got worse. He proved to be very insecure and his lack of engaging conversation drove me nuts afterwards. We had physical chemistry, but I didn’t feel we could be friends, and I need to be friends with my partner. So, it didn’t work for me. From now on, I want to make sure I click with the man’s personality as well as physically.

  32. miskwa says:

    I think EU behavior is becoming a societal trend. On line dating coupled with a breakdown in community perpetuates this. Back in the early 90’s, you saw this only on occasion. Now it seems that no one has taken the time to discover what they truly want. I have had a goodly number of men say they wanted marriage/commitment but their actions say the opposite.

  33. Kerry says:

    SkepticRina, Don’t get jaded. I know it can feel that way when dating, but look at Nat. She found a great guy. I firmly believe the world is filled with great guys… you just gotta step over the ass clowns to get to them.

  34. Broadsided says:

    Of all the articles that I’ve loved, this was one of my favorites. It provides solid guidelines as to when to bail. I’ve spent way too much time in my life trying to work out the unworkable.

    Two glimmers of “right” I’ve had was – the one time as described in an earlier post I had a FWB relationship – since I was raising my son and wanted to prioritize him and not have a man around all the time, (FWB is NOT my usual or preferred way.) While we both liked and respected each other, we could see there were some deal breakers that would make us not a good match for life partners. Yet this monogamous, “relationship lite” worked for us for a couple of years. If we “tried to work it out” knowing there were some serious differences – there would have been conflict – we were on different planets in some ways; had some viewpoints and interests that didn’t mesh, etc. What was precious was his willingness to communicate; he was fearless and open with it, so we were able to honestly explore our situation. Because of this and his big heart we are still close but not romantically involved. Hey, too bad I couldn’t merge this guy with the next:

    The other guy was my EUM I dated for over 2 years – darn him, too bad he was such an EUM for we were like puzzle pieces made to fit in terms of our interests, values, personal style, light hearted temperaments – we had so much fun for a time – and insane chemistry, hoa! What I got was the experience of being at ease with someone; of being on the same page – we almost never argued or had explicit conflict about our lifestyles, etc. (The occasional EUM stuff was different. He was uncomfortable talking about his emotions, or his periodic serious internal struggles with anxiety, depression and OCD .. when they’d arise, he’d simply disappear for a time. And i would be launched into my own anxiety and emotional roller coaster ride.) What I did wrong is to stick around too long thinking he would see the light. I did find some things that worked for me in this and the other relationship, that I hope to find going forward. Both men at least cared about me and after NC’in this one for nearly a year (after he disappeared yet again after giving me his word he would not), we can at least E mail back and forth occasionally.

    Some people you can and should only go so far with. Some should be dropped from the…

  35. MonaLisa says:

    At last! Thank you!

    I can relate to reasons 2 and 3, it used to be great even though the best times were before kids (so a long time ago). And what’s happened since is something that was hard to cope with: illness then job loss then bereavement. Those things weren’t his fault but they caused depression and then led to infidelity. I can see why that depression happened and I understand reacting with infidelity isn’t uncommon. We used to have a healthy relationship when he was healthy.

    The thing I struggle with is the loss. I can see that if I had amnesia I might be very happy with him now. But I can’t forgive what he did in the past. Not yet anyway.

    So should I try to work through that and settle for the reality that I’ll always know (and she’ll always know) he cheated once? Or should I say “too little too late” or “dealbreaker!” despite what that would do to our present?

    He’s more committed than I am to fixing things. He insisted on marriage counseling and personal counseling. He has gone part time and scrimped and saved so we have more time with each other. He has given up all work travel. The thing he struggles with is verbal compliments and physical appreciation. And that reminds me how he did that during the affair so effortlessly.

    I just need to decide if I can forgive or not. If not we can’t last. If I can ten maybe. He’s begging for forgiveness and trying to back it up. He’s trying to earn it. But maybe you can’t earn it.

    • cc says:

      also, if i didn’t infuriate you too badly and you’re still reading me and willing to listen…

      you’re trying to force a decision on yourself too quickly. the real point of doing the work on yourself is so you can process the anger, grief, betrayal, so you can get to a state in which you are healed enough to either know you have to leave or can stay without feeling like you’re settling (because, yes, staying when it feels like settling sounds like a slow, painful death).

      i would suggest that you CANNOT make any decision until you do the process work. of course you can’t – what are you supposed to do with all those feelings? this is exactly what you’ve been describing.

      imagine you were hit by a bus – how many injuries would you have, all the big ones, the broken bones, the body bruises, but also the little ones, how many aching places where you didn’t even know your self existed would there be? this is what happened to you. this is why you feel how you feel. you got hit by a relationship/life bus.

      so start doing the work you need to heal, to process what has happened, comb through all the details if you have to. you need to work through what you have suffered first. you can’t just decide to forgive or leave – no one could.

      and its going to take time, so its better to start. maybe look at the websites grace suggested to give yourself someplace to begin. don’t put any pressure on yourself, and tell your husband that you appreciate all his efforts, but you’re going to work on yourself for a while and see how you feel. you can’t make any promises now, either way. right now you need to process, to heal, to understand.

      and don’t feel pressure to make a decision in a certain time frame. you take the time you need to do the work. he cheated; he can wait.

  36. SkepticRina says:

    Thank you for your replies ladies. :)
    Look, idealy, my unorthadox ideas about dating are very different from most women. I think sex is a primal urge, not a golden nugget to work to. Just like Natalie states, common values, care, consistency, follow through, etc are the “golden nuggets” I WANT. I would love to meet a man, have sex, and continue to get to know if that’s what we both want. Men just skate out after sex and I still don’t see or agree to the logic. I don’t place a lot of value on sex, because SEX is SEX, that’s it. The way a man treats me, appreciates me, wants to be around, wants to talk about things, wants to do things, etc, is what I value. Plus, I am not caught up on the “god” thing or religious thing, so marriage and such doesn’t appeal to me, but respect, care, taking the time to get to know someone and having sex is ideal to me…

    • Snowboard says:

      I’m sorry you have been hurt.

      In general, it is good to remember that men have very high sex drives, and typically don’t take sex very seriously. Thus, at any given time, men encounter a LOT more women whom they would be happy to sleep with than whom they would be interested in dating.

      Yet, I think most of these men genuinely DO want relationships; they are not (unqualified) EUMs. They are just very comfortable with having casual sex until they meet someone special.

      For this reason, if you prefer to have sex right away, you HAVE to emotionally prepare yourself for the likelihood that nothing will develop from it. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for pain.

    • Crazybaby says:

      I’m kinda with you on this. I have a high libido, and sex is important to me so I don’t wait too long to find out if we’re compatible in that area. However I don’t think the majority of men do have a high sex drive, and I have been shocked at how many have problems (especially either being premature or unable to get it up) – even when they are only in their 30s. There is a certain degree of cowardly ‘honesty’ in a guy who sleeps with girl then vanishes. I’ve done the same with guys who are bad in bed or I realise I don’t like them as a person. It seems like a (excuse the double entendre!) ‘suck it and see’ scenario! And of course ideally the sex AND personality will be appealing so you keep seeing each other. Sex IS a primal urge, but sex alone is not enough, even for men in the long run. Sure it’s fun to chase after someone new, but sex is so much better with someone you genuinely care about, and I’ve heard many men say this too. Ultimately I think both sexes are just shopping around until they meet someone who stops them in their tracks. The real problem I think, is the ‘grass is greener’ element, where both men and women want a partner to tick a long list of unrealistic boxes, plus it’s ‘easier’ to move on than confront any issues when they come up. No-one likes criticism or admitting their faults.

  37. cc says:

    ooooook. i’m gonna say it.

    nml doesn’t need me to defend her, and this may be beside the points you’re trying to work on, and i am probably waaaaaaaay out of line here, *but* …

    i can’t help but notice a certain note of *entitlement* to what you’re saying. nml is a blogger, she doesn’t owe it to any single one of us to guess what our particular needs are and write about the one thing we need at any given time. yes, it often turns out serendipitously, or maybe entirely purposefuily because she’s reading our comments, that she picks up on something that is germane and explores it, and her blog is the more successful because she does this. and i’m glad (and i sort of sensed she was going to write something like this) this post helped you.

    but, and i say this gently and respectfully, that if you’re coming off as being entitled on a website where you’re protected by anonymity, the chances are excellent that you’re coming off as being entitled in your relationships. this, if true, i would aver, is something to work on.

    and again, i am heartfully sorry that you’ve had to go through what you’ve had to go through. and, forgiveness and rebuilding trust when it has been utterly destroyed may be well nigh impossible, and i’m sure it, rightfully, pisses you off to no end that you have to try. and did your husband owe you, were you *entitled* to, his fidelity, his faith, his fealty, his honoring of your trust? and does he still? unquestionably.

    but we all contribute to the health of our relationships, its not just one person’s responsibility, no matter what has happened. and we all have to look at ourselves and see on what things we could perhaps do a better job. so, i urge you, while you’re trying to figure out what to do with your relationship, to look at your sense of entitlement. that lil fist seems to be gripping a bit tightly, perhaps understandably, but i would say that, now, its not helping you. and whatever you decide, if you work on yourself, the outcome will be better.

  38. Still Very Angry says:

    This article definitely helped me put perspective on my situation. The problem that I am struggling to come to terms with and accept is that I think (maybe still living in an illusion world) that the relationship with my ex could have worked even if it was stuggling. However, he was the one to end it and ended it badly (when I came back into town from a trip, he gave me my keys and said he had already moved out- telling me three days earlier that he loved me!). His reasons were we fought all of the time, were incompatiable, he was unhappy and he didn’t want to do long distance. This was a month after telling me he would do long distance and the year with me was the best of his life. I continue to struggle with the fact that none of our problems got solved because he did not want to work on it and I was unaware of his happiness. How could I help fix our relationship with someone who does not communicate with me? Anyways, I still struggle with feelings of injustice, betrayal, etc. Espec since he “still cares for me” but has yet to call me for almost 3 months now.

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      I actually think this is a clean break up. I can’t see anything that indicates Mr Unavailable or Assclown here.

      He told you his reasons, packed his stuff and went NC with you. He didn’t stick around and use you for fringe benefits. While you may not agree with his decision to end the relationship, I can’t see how this isn’t a standard ‘traditional’ break up.

      • Still Very Angry says:

        Well, I did leave out a lot of his behavior. He said he wanted to stay with me to enjoy the good times we had left, but that he knew I would not be okay with that deal. So he moved out while I was away so that I could not glare at him. He also did say he feared me leaving him like his ex did so he wanted to break up with me first. Additionally, he gave me a check to pay me back for the birthday gifts I got him, bought me cake because he knew I would be sad and said I could contact him if I felt like it, but it was up to me. Additionally a week later he sent me back some of my stuff with a note asking for his pair of blue scissors, book, and anything else that he forgot back. It might be a traditional break up for most but it was my first serious relationship and he did tell me that he was the happiest with me and would marry me. It is still a struggle to have someone decide everything about the relationship on their own.

        • grace says:

          He sounds like a nutjob. You’re well shot off him. Don’t contact him and if he comes back with any more nutty requests and gestures either ignore them or get a friend/chaperone to help you deal with him.
          I know what I’d do with his blue scissors!

        • Chloe says:

          Sounds like a guy who doesn’t want to work on the relationship, that’s why things don’t get resolved. I’ve just been through this one, and am glad it’s done. You will be glad too, one day, becasue if you keep fighting and he won’t work on a resolution with you, then what have you got? Nothing worth hanging onto to. Cut him out…that’s what the blue scissors are for.

    • Snowboard says:

      This does sound very painful, and I’m sorry.

      I do agree with Tired though, that this break-up occurred in the healthiest way possible, and in a year’s time, you’ll probably come to believe that too.

      The thing is, when the guy breaks up with you quickly and then completely drops contact, it hurts soooooo soooooo bad. Which is why MOST people, after a break up, are happy to maintain contact, making themselves more ‘tolerably miserable’ for months on end, to avoid that soaring, gut-wrenching pain in the short term. With my first EUM/AC, I wanted so badly to avoid facing the pain of the break up that I maintained contact with him, kept hooking up with him, etc. for THREE AND A HALF YEARS after he broke up with me!

      But as my friend put it, “NC is like Jenny Craig. It’s really hard to do, but it works.”

      With your ex out of your life, you can focus on you, and be much more open to meeting someone new. Hang in there. Break-ups are so terrible, and I’m sorry you’re suffering.

      P.S. If he is on your facebook, delete him immediately.

  39. Jewel says:

    Awakened, Im confused, you said

    ” Don’t know what she actually said when she maded it back to their home. Mom daddy took me on a trip and we met this girl and we had dinner at her house; went lots of places and so on… Can you imagine a child experiencing all that and not know what is really happening 10 hours away in different STATE. ”

    You knew he was in a relationship or married ?

  40. miskwa says:

    @Tired of Assanova
    I like your fantasy relationship test, especially the part about crumb communications. However, many of us in rural/remote areas have to look beyond the one hour driving distance in order to meet quality men. Most of the older men near me have serious issues such as drug/alcohol abuse, extreme right wing views, and have little/no education. Then thereto is thethe ski resort guys that are called “the ski and screw crowd” for goodthe reason. This leaves my male colleagues, which as my AC was one of these, is a path I am never gonna take again. Since I am older and looking more for an active retiree, my criteria is that if you brag about travelling around the globe but cannot bother to drive to my farm, it’s flush time.

  41. lo j says:

    Definitely monalisa is in defense mode for self preservation. I always think of the woman in the Kevin Costner movie with the American Indian name meaning “She who stands with clenched fists!” OMG how I have been her. And monalisa, its a survival mechanism, because sometimes the underlying feelings are too painful to face. But to get past this and be HEALTHY, it has to be done. And you have to sit on those uncomfortable emotions. Natalie’s post guide us to self awareness, because we can only be responsible for ourselves. No one can TELL you what to do, only you can, but you have to be centered and strong within yourself. I feel for you, I really do.

  42. Awakened says:

    @ Lilia were we talking to the same MAN? lol that’s crazy. You guys finally met after 7 months and then he starts to pull away and had the nerves to call you back as if nothing had happened. He and I have both been NC for 2 weeks now and I have not been calling or texting him either but he has also pulled the NC on me before he even saw me for about one week. He finally initiated contact with me(his excuse was he needed time to think things out) and me ofcourse giving him another shot. So its all evident to me that he can’t communicate very well. I have to have someone in my life that when we have break downs; challenges; etc; we have to be able to TALK. If I was really in a relationship with him and we were living together in his hometown of course; this lets me know how I would be treated. The same way. I would most definitely NOT want to be married to someone of his caliber who couldn’t communicate and constantly shuts down when he wants only to return when its convenient for him or he needs a big EGO STROKE. I am not sure how long he plans to wait out of NC me this time around but I definitely want to be in better state self esteem wise; mentally and physically. He called me BOOBS one morning after he saw me. I told him YOU WISHED YOU WOKE UP LAYING NEXT TO THESE BOOBS!! and he goes ” NO YOU WISHED. I don’t know if he was trying to insult me intentionally or what. I am not a big person; average size well proportioned, and my breast or size D cup by nothing over the top. I also work out regularly. He himself was 240 pounds mostly muscle but just recently lost weight. “The funny thing is after we finally met I asked him how he was feeling. Was he glad he made the trip to see me? Him of course responding and saying YES when his heart could have been saying something else. I guess I will never know cause I definitely wont be calling continuing to press him for answers to find out why he’s gone NC the last two weeks. I have done exactly what I am sure he was not expecting and that is BACKED OFF… no text; no calls; just as hard as he has. I went and bought me two books today and my favorite OPI polish to brighten my DAY. The books are wonderful and they are putting me back where I need to be and that is FOCUSED on me and my life. NOT an unavailable; emotional assclown MAN. By the time and if he ever does DECIDE to come back around… I wanna…

  43. Awakened says:

    BE so far GONE……

  44. Awakened says:


    In that one email is sent I also told him that online dating was new for me and I always held in the back of my mind that when you meet someone online that when you finally meet; everything is may not be to your liking about that person but you have decide what are the important things and you have to think expect realistically. Yes looks are definitely top key importance; but character weighs far more greater and it makes everything line up when two people are spiritually connected; great communicators; family oriented; etc. We want to meet someone that will be exactly the way we FANTASIZE them to be and when they are not exactly we are disaapointed. ONLINE dating is SHEER LUCK. That is what I told him in that one email that I know he read and I got no response to. But you know what that is OK too cause he has probably reactivated his online MATCH.COM account; headed on his way SEARCHING for a different FANTASY only to PULL another RINSE & REPEAT; when reality sets in and he’s confronted with forming a REAL COMMITMENT which is totally not going to HAPPEN because he’s just not capable of ONE AND WHOEVER she is will be left WONDERING….

  45. Awakened says:

    @ Liz

    you met online….same senario as mine just a different ASSCLOWN. it has nothing to do with distance and everything to do with HIM. cut the contact….

  46. grace says:

    Save your dignity and stop telling him what he should do, think, believe and value. There’s nothing wrong with your beliefs but don’t foist them on other people. You have no evidence that he thinks the same way that you do and “telling him off” about it is only frustrating yourself.
    You’d be better off redirecting this forensic examination of him and his future to asking yourself how you’re going to approach online dating in future and whether it is for you at all. In any case, don’t wait 7 months to meet someone. I say a month, MAXIMUM. If it really is sheer luck you better start playing the numbers game instead of going on one date a year!
    Sorry to be hard on you but your fantasizing, projection and analysis is getting out of control! You need to rein it in. It is not serving any useful purpose whatsoever. I’m prone to it myself and it is 100% pointless and self-defeating. You’d be better off doing some weight training or cooking a nice meal.
    And back to the topic of the post – you don’t even have a relationship to work at! Ditch it.

  47. Suzy says:

    I have been reading through all these comments, trying to gain perspective on my own relationship and I still feel lost. So, heres my tale of woe. About 3 months ago, I hooked up with a guy who had pretty much dumped me 7 years ago. He flat out disappeared and I had no idea what I did to chase him off. I got involved with another guy several months later and I ended up getting pregnant. I was not happy but after being cajoled I ended up marrying the other guy and now we are getting divorced. My estranged husband ended up being abusive and his favorite term for me is ‘fucking bitch’, so after years of abuse I decided Im finished.

    Anyways, I got back together with ‘Billy’ and for the first several weeks he was awesome. I had conveniently forgotten his shitty behavior towards me 7 years ago and only focused on the ‘long lost love’ he was to me. Well, I told him initially that I only wanted to be friends, that until my divorce was final I didnt want a physical relationship. He told me ‘of course’ but over the next several weeks he constantly brought up sex, and everytime Id see him hed try to get me into bed and finally I broke down and slept with him.

    Well, after the sex he was good for the next couple of days, and than probably a week later he changed. He didnt disappear, but he stopped texting, calling or even initiating contact with me as he did before sex. I of course called him out on this and his reply was ‘im overreacting’. After several weeks of his behavior I told him Im done and he was only using me for sex and I tried to end it. He got so angry and accused me of being a crazy psycho and this and that, and for some messed up reason, I went back to him.

    So, for the past 3 months, his behavior hasnt really changed. He can go days without communicating with me, and when he does see me he is either all over me, or very distant and mean. He calls me names like ‘doon coone’ cuz my parents are Egyptian and Im dark, he calls me retard and accuses me of not having a ‘firm grasp’ of the English language. Other days he treats me like he is in love with me, he tells me that he loves me and want to marry me and help me raise my daughter.

    I am so confused. With my husband, his behavior got progressively worse and I stuck with it cuz of our daughter and for the hopes that he would change back to what he was, he never did. Now, I am with a guy who either treats me like a gem, or treats me like I dont even exist. I was with him last night, we went for a walk and he got a cramp, so I (like the subservient bimbo I can be) went back and got my truck to pick him up. This morning I text him and tell him I hope he is feeling better and all I got in response was ‘k’. thats it.

    I feel that I love him. He can be so good when he wants to, yet he can be so mean otherwise. He ‘playfully’ slaps me and bites me. I have bruises all over my body and he loves to leave hickies that are prominent on my neck which I have to cover with a scarf in 90 degree weather.

    I dont know why I keep on going back to him. He has not made it clear whether he actually wants me or not. I keep on getting mixed signals and I know that if I cut contact with him he will probably never contact me again, or if he does, I will be weak and go back to him for more of the same behavior. I know that I am the typical ‘fallback girl’ as I have deep issues with both of my parents who were very abusive mentally and physically. I dont know what to do anymore. :(

    • Fearless says:

      I am so bewildered that anyone would be “confused” by this current man’s quite patently horribly abusive behaviour towards you that I’m wondering if you are for real/genuine.

      Assuming you are genuine, OMG! This is a no brainer, Suzy. He “playfully slaps and bites you?” No he doesn’t. What he does is slap and bite you; he assaults you. He calls you names, like “retarded”; he ignores you whenever he feels like it.

      Of course he is “nice” to you some of the time – he has to be so as to “confuse” you and get away with his abuse. He is giving you a physical, verbal and emotional battering. If you can’t see that with the information you have already, then you need to get help to help you see it. If you don’t want to do something about this awful situation for yourself, then do it for your daughter before she thinks this is what a relationships for her will look like i the future! He wants “to help you raise her”! Jeez; he won’t “raise her” he will abuse her as he is abusing you. I wouldn’t let him within a mile of her.

    • Snowboard says:

      GET OUT NOW SUZY. THIS GUY IS EXCEPTIONALLY DANGEROUS and as Fearless says you will DEFINITELY be putting your daughter in serious danger if you bring him into your life. If you don’t respect the responsibility you have to yourself, respect that it is absolutely YOUR job to protect your daughter from this man.

      You don’t love him. You are trapped under a semi-truck and can’t see. Don’t call him again. Don’t respond to any of his contact. If it’s true that if you cut contact, he will actually leave, consider yourself VERY VERY fortunate, because this is the exact kind of guy I can imagine refusing to let you go.

    • Chloe says:

      Please get counselling now, because your self esteem is so low, you can’t even see how badly you are being treated. This is not the example you want to set for your daughter. You are her role model, do you want her to be abused when she grows up, or worse, have one of these loser men abuse her? I think you do not, so please get some counselling, becasue you can’t do this alone, you are not strong enough. Counselling will help you be strong and do the right thing. Good luck.

  48. Awakened says:

    @Jewel No he wasn’t married. I meant his daughter telling her moma (which is his baby’s mom) that. They had longed broken up years ago when they were younger and she is now engaged to someone else and has a whole bunch of kids by the dude. I was just saying to myself that I wonder when his daughter got back home to where they lived what she was saying about the trip he took her along for to her mom. that was all. I would never fool with someone that’s married. I don’t even like fooling with men who have kids. I made him an exception which Is why it has come to this. Never going out with another man that has KIDS…. I don’t have any and I don’t want any step kids… I do want kids of my own. That may be a bias thing to say but I am going back to my STANDARDS… and they will not be lowered ever again. When you lower your standards you sign up for other BULL CRAP SHIT that you never really asked for and SOME.

  49. Nicole says:

    I’m kind of confused on this one. I am with a person who confessed after 4 months of being together, that he didn’t feel that attracted to me sexually because I am fat. The thing is that we have sex and it took me by surprise. When I told him, that if he doesn’t accept me as I am, than whats the point in continuing the relationship. Than he tells me that he still wants to work on our relationship and still wants to be with me because there are a lot of other things that he likes about me. His actions have demonstrated interest all this time, and I know he was being honest. But I can’t help but feel sad and confused. I want to be desirable to my partner. But I can’t control his attraction.

    • teachable says:

      You could do worse. He could be like one male I know and NOT have told you and instead have just drifted along in the r/ship – ie essentially using you until something better comes along. You will handle this as you see fit but personally, I’d move on. I know what I’m looking for in a man and already know that a few extra kilo’s isn’t a dealbreaker for me. A LOT of extra kilio’s would be though (as eating and exercise habit’s are important to me for my own health, and I don’t want to be exposed to anything too far in the opposite direction of this, to where I am).

    • Chloe says:

      Nicole – I wouldn’t feel comfortable sleeping with him after he told me that. This may be the beginning of him eating away at your self esteem. Not good for you. I would be tempted to leave, becasue he doesn’t care enough about your feelings.

  50. Awakened says:


    I never told him “OFF” in that email at all. I was very cordial and I ended by telling him that I was there if he wanted to talk and to take care. Never went off on him but I think I had every right for wanting to know and letting him know that if he wasn’t feeling me or didn’t feel like we connected then JUST BE HONEST AND LET ME KNOW. He had just lost his JOB so I had no choice but to be cordial. If you keep prying someone you keep calling; texting; them trying to get answers. I never did any of that. The point I am making is that when I didn’t hear from him for days and he stopped calling and texting; I never called him EITHER. I have my dignity. I managed to keep that and not give it away. Completely understand what you are saying.

    • Tea Cozy says:


      You mentioned that you are new to online dating. The behavior you’ve seen from this guy isn’t unusual in the online dating world: people fall into that sort of virtual fantasy-relationship, meet, and then one or both people realize they actually aren’t attracted.

      For whatever reason, this guy just wasn’t wanting to continue on. He is allowed to reject you, for any reason, just as you are allowed to reject anyone who you don’t want to date. Really, the issue here is the long, virtual courtship you two had, that built up all sorts of expectations, and made the eventual rejection feel much worse than if you’d met after only exchanging a few emails.

      It’s a painful lesson to learn — I’ve been there, it was gutting — but I think you do need to own your own part in this scenario. Figure out what your mistakes were, and vow not to repeat them. That will actually make you feel better, I think: it gives you ownership of the situation, rather than feeling like things were being “done” to you.

  51. Awakened says:


    Totally agree. Much of it was just “virtual fantasy” with us just talking over a long term period before actually meeting face to face and I never wanted this. I kept telling him that hey if we are going to talk we need to be getting to a point of actually MEETING; so he knows that I stressed that. If anyone should feel bad about all of this it is him. When we finally met face to face it was just “OK “for me and OKAY is really not enough if you want to see yourself with someone long term. Physically; Mentally; and spirtual connection have to be on point. That I UNDERSTAND. I looked at all the things. All the RED FLAGS. I watched how we interacted those entire 3 days that he came to visit AND IT WAS JUST OKAY. He went back and interacted with me as if he still wanted to talk but I could also notice his change in attitude; his constantly picking fights with me just so i could get mad and give him an easy OUT. All of a sudden now I was too demanding; and very “impatient” is what he says. I don’t really think it has anything to do with him not being physically attracted to me. I think it has alot to do with him knowing what I am not going to except; that I totally want a man who is going to have to form a COMMITMENT TO ME ; and I believe Reality just sat in with him. He told me that I reminded him some of the ways of his mother. This is what he says in front of his daughter while we were all together in the car. Asking his daughter in front of me Who does she remind you of? he way His daughter smiling and replying “Granny”… I didn’t know what to take of this. I have to honestly say its been two weeks and neither of us have really made an effort to contact each other. A Part of me wants to reach out and say something to the effect; Hey just wanted to say hello. I never heard back from you. Hope things are looking up for you (with his JOB LOSS). Just being the Godly person that I am. Not expecting anything in return. Only showing him how lovable I can be inspite of. But apart of me says to not REACH OUT and let him contact me. Just trying to stay the course and hang in there ladies… Your thoughts to keep me on tract today would appreciated. XOXO

    • grace says:

      I’m gonna have another go at this. No-one is trying to make you feel bad. We’re trying to make you see your part in it so you don’t fall for it again. This kind of thing happens ALL THE TIME. It’s not like being struck by lightning. If you don’t get yourself in order, it WILL happen again.
      “Much of it was just “virtual fantasy” with us just talking over a long term period before actually meeting face to face and I never wanted this” but you did it. Don’t do things you don’t want to do.
      I totally want a man who is going to have to form a COMMITMENT TO ME . So why burn up this time and energy on a man who clearly doesn’t want those things. What are you trying to achieve?
      “Not expecting anything in return” but you ARE expecting something in return (which is fine if it were likely) because you later say “But apart of me says to not REACH OUT and let him contact me.” You are waiting for him to call the shots. Don’t do that.
      And to top it off. I get the impresion you don’t even like him.
      It’s like saying – the tobacco companies SHOULD feel bad that kids are smoking, they SHOULD feel bad that they sell this stuff, theySHOULD feel bad about the money they make but – I won’t quit smoking until they quit selling it and if I get cancer it’s their fault!
      Mind you, sounds like he has quit and you’re still there.
      You are in the danger zone. Your desperation to justify staying in this and making him 100% responsible for the (perceived) failure could land you in hot (or rather lukewarm) water for a very long time that will make seven months seem like a walk in the park.

  52. LoopyLou says:


    I have read loads of articles on this site, over and over and over…. i’ve only been dating my guy for about 3 months but i got to that freaky stage where you wannaknow whats going on, soi asked and he basically rejected me saying “can’t we just keep things as they are?” (er, no, if you cant decide if you want me after 3 months then its obviously a no… i get that) but then the most extraordinary thing happened, i told him that i was going to start seeing other people then, and to leave me think about whether i want to see him anymore… he then rung me an hour or so later saying “i think we should get together” …. what! this never happens, he was scared he wouldnt see me and bucked his ideas up. great…. NOT!!!
    He’s now speaking to me even less despite the fact hes going away on holidays today and said he’d be in touch before he left, my stalker within has checked his flight times and hes leaving in an hour and still nothing! last night when i called to see what was up he responded “phones work both ways” …… DING DING top prize smart arse, seriously… mind games make me want to die! any advice?
    Thanks xxxxxx

    • grace says:

      If he’s not looking to hook up with someone while he’s on holiday I will eat this keyboard.
      Drop him – you don’t want the same things. A knee jerk reaction to being given the push is not the same as commitment.

      • LoopyLou says:

        LOL!! thanks for your reply grace it made me laugh my head off!

        Your right, god knows what he’s planning on getting up to this week!

        Perhaps it was a kneejerk reaction but hopefully this week will give us both some space to think about things, im pretty confident i’ll be dropping this one though, its been stressful for the past couple of weeks feels like we’re in some sort of power struggle, which obviously isnt the basis of a good relationship anyway!

        Thanks again for your input =) xxx

  53. miskwa says:


    As one of those 50 somethings residing on the scrap heap, I hear ya. The handful of older, healthy, men available either go for the younger chicks, or just wanna play with no pressure to have any responsibility/ accountability in their lives. I feel strongly that our lives need to have actual purpose . Not all of us can retire and go play when we turn 50.

  54. miranda says:

    Three months ago my boyfriend of 6 years decided he no longer wanted to be with me. He said ” I like to argue too much.” I have a 10 year old son not with him but he was there with me since my son was 4. We lived together for the first 4 years and than the last two years we lived separately as we thought that was best. During the 6 years we were together I can not even count how many times we broke up and everytime we broke up he said its because I like to argue and he needs to get his life together. he is 38 and I am 32- he has 3 kids all of which live in different states and he never speaks or sees them they are 18 and 14- two of them are twins. I know that I should just move on and realize that i deserve better but in my mind i keep thinking if I can not get this guy to want to be with me or love me who the hell will. If the emotionally unavailable man is a loser and he doesnt want you than what does that say about who you are. I know I shouldnt think like that but I jsut find that anytime he chose to leave he put the blame on me and than when a few months goes by he calls again and wants to get back together. he called last night to “see how I was doing” and than when i started to talk about my feelings he said ” i didnt call to hear your feelings I called to see how you were doing” please help because i am feeling very depressed and i need to figure this out.

    • Fearless says:


      none of us can get emotionally unavailable men to love us – that’s the whole point – they are *unavailable* for a healthy, progressing, mutual relationship with you or with anyone else. I spent years trying to get one of these men to love me; he never gave a rat’s arse about how I felt about the “relationship” – he pretended to sometimes, but he so patently didn’t. Thanks to BR and Natalie, I now realise that the person I most needed to love me was me; the person I most needed to be emotionally available to me was me. I have the impression that you need to do the same. Keep reading BR; it is such a great help.

    • Allison says:


      Please don’t waste another 6 years of your life!

      He takes no responsibility for the relationship,doesn’t give a damn about your feelings, has no relationship with the children and has broken with you many times. He has shown and told you that there is NO Future!

      It’s time to accept that this relationship had run its course long ago. I would also consider how the instability of the relationship is affecting your son, he is picking up very poor relationship habits.

      You deserve so much better than this chaos. Time to stop the drama making in your life!

      • miranda says:

        you are definitely right… I am so angry inside because I feel like i allowed this man to come in my life and play games as well as pretend to be someone who is going to be around my son. i worry that because of how bad this relationship was that i will never be able to trust a man again

  55. Fearless says:


    let me just add:

    “If the emotionally unavailable man is a loser and he doesnt want you than what does that say about who you are.”?

    Answer: Nothing! Nada! Zilch!

    Why do you imagine your personal value and worth is dependent on the judgement of an emotionally stunted loser? What qualifies him for this?

    • Miranda says:

      You are 100% right…. I have been living with the “idea” that he is going to get better because that is what he has always put in my head. I have always known that if i could just be in the relationship and not said anything about anything he does it would be perfect but what kind of relationship is that. I try to explain this to him because I want to think he cares but his actions always show different.

    • miranda says:

      i keep obsessing over our relationship or what i considered our relationship because my fear of letting go is that he will get with someone else and be the man i wanted him to be in our relationship-

      • Fearless says:


        He is who he is, with or without you. I bet his estranged children and their mother hoped he’d turn into a better father/husband, but he didn’t, cos he is the man he is. I bet his ex wife/ex g/friends all wondered or worried that he’d be a better man with the next woman. You ARE the next woman and you didn’t get a better man; just same shit different pants.

        I used to wonder if my ex EUM would be a better man with a new woman. I don’t wonder that now. I know he will be exactly the same emotionally stingy fecker that he was with me, that he was with all of his ex’s… that he will be with whomever he takes up with next. I pity the next woman who goes through the same emotional spinner with him as I did (and truth is women with good self-esteem who know what they are looking for in a relationship would walk away from him within a week or two – and same goes for your man; he’s going to need to bag himself another messed up woman so all his relationships will be a recipe for disaster – it’s inevitable.

        You need to stop focusing/worrying about him changing (not likely!) and start worrying about YOU making the changes and the growth you need to make in order to give YOU a chance to make a better relationship with a better man! Stop imagining him in a better relationship and start imagining *yourself* in one!

        Lastly, stop explaining stuff to him that you don’t back up with action. Without action all he hears is ‘blah’ – ad infinitum. Be action based. Find Nat’s post about the ‘woman who talks too much’. You’re pissing into the wind with the endless ‘ let me tell you again for the five hundred and fifty millionth time how I feel and what I want….’ The more you repeat yourself the less credibility you have. He is not listening. Why would he be? The only thing he will hear is actions.

        • miranda says:

          wow your post said it all. I never thought about how I was the other woman and how he was the same to me that he was the his ex’s. thank you so much for your response

  56. ferncat says:

    I am in a dilemma about whether I should work at a relationship (or two…!). I am married to a man who is honest, reliable, caring, loving and respects me. He’s not perfect but he is generally a good guy. However, I do not find him physically attractive and no longer wish to have sex with him. I think I only married him because he makes me feel safe and secure. This is important, but then so is sex. Last year I met a man who I think is probably textbook emotionally unavailable and yet I find him incredibly sexually attractive. I am not proud of this but I have been having an affair with him (a bit on and off because he’s EU…). I guess once the initial sexual excitement wears off I will be left with an EU man which won’t make him seem like a particularly good choice. Regardless of whether I end up with the new man, I just don’t know whether I should leave my husband when I don’t want any physical contact with him. We are essentially best friends and I am depriving him of being with someone who will love him in *every* way. I don’t exactly want anyone to make the decision for me (!) but would value anyone’s opinion about whether to stay in a sexless marriage, which is clearly making me rather unhappy. Is this a case of Natalie saying sometimes you’re just incompatible?

    Best wishes to Natalie and all you wonderful ladies who post on this site. xx

    • Fenella says:

      Hi Ferncat,

      I can’t answer your question other than to say since you’re a) having an affair and b) having an affair with an EU man, it’s pretty clear that you’re emotionally unavailable yourself. If it were me, I’d end the affair, sit tight and try and figure it out. I’d also aim to be honest and fair with your husband. Good luck!

      • ferncat says:

        Thanks for responding Fenella. Yes, I believe I am EU myself. I do believe that ending the affair will be the best way to get clarity on my situation. I have discussed the lack of interest in sex with my husband and we are currently in separate bedrooms. He doesn’t know about my affair. I do need to speak to him again soon but am absolutely dreading it. After reading this site for about a year the alternative of divorce and entering the dating world again doesn’t look very hopeful at all…!!

    • Mymble says:

      I was in this situation myself. What has helped me has been therapy and exploring how I feel about my husband. To begin with I had felt that my lack of sexual interest in my husband was the problem. I had never really been very attracted to him. However therapy has helped me see that it does go deeper than that. There is a lot more wrong between us and my reasons for marrying him were based a lot on fear of being alone, feeling not good enough, fear of marrying a man like my father. I am now sure I want to end the marriage, for the right reasons and not the affair, and am trying to do that, although there are great practical difficulties, which are another whole issue. The affair no longer seems relevant really, it never was a matter of choosing between them. At this point the thought of being alone does not alarm me at all. I would welcome it. Personally I think that deciding whether to stay or leave a marriage, if the man isn’t an AC (though in fact I realise that my husband has behaved like an AC and I was in denial about that) requires some real serious self examination and I have found therapy very helpful for that purpose. If you did feel attracted to you husband at the beginning, I would say there is more hope for you of getting that back, but not while the affair is ongoing.
      For your own sanity I would end it. You will feel much better about yourself.

      • ferncat says:


        I am very grateful to you for sharing your story with me. There do seem like there are a lot of similarities in both our situations. I have tried therapy in the past and am just not very good at ‘getting at’ the real issues. I don’t know if I just haven’t found the right therapist but I obviously have some deep issues that haven’t been addressed. I think my affair was a catalyst for change and although I have been enjoying feeling like a sexual being again he is damaging my self-esteem by basically being an AC like all the others that are discussed on this site. I can’t say that I was hugely attracted to my husband at first – I guess initially it was fairly lustful because I had been single for quite a while and was happy to be getting some…! But that was 12 years ago and for most of our time together ever since I have not felt any desire for him and we are just coasting along as friends, albeit pretty good ones. He had anger issues for years which did some damage to our relationship, and although he has actually been better at managing his anger over the past couple of years I feel I have kind of detached myself from him emotionally and can’t ever see myself enjoying sex with him again, particularly as it was never exactly amazing in the first place. I think the affair is coming to an end anyway – he is becoming increasingly flaky and it has more lows than highs. He’s the one that resembles my father in some ways – pretty much an alcoholic and not fully present. I presume you meant end the affair at the end of your comment rather than my marriage? I really appreciate you taking the time to post a reply to me.

    • Polly says:

      Hi Ferncat,

      I’m in a similar situation myself too and trying to work through it. I had an affair with a married man who was extremely unavailable and in fact a grade A shit but that I found extremely attractive sexually. I thought that I had hit the jackpot because I found a feeling I was missing. But what I have come to realise is that it is the unavailability and ambiguous treatment that fuels the desire in a EUW/me and that safe and secure is too close and can be a turn off. And is also linked to your own feelings about yourself. If they like me they can’t be that great.

      What I am trying to do is see if I can work on my own unavailability and try and open up more to my LT partner and enjoy a physical relationship and it is starting to work. It is such a change in mindset though and there are no miracles unfortunately. But I think trying to appreciate the safety and security and recognising it as important in a rounded relationship is important. And trying to create a different sort of desire. One that isn’t built on fear. Not sure if this helps – it is certainly helping me to articulate it!

      • ferncat says:


        Many thanks to you too for telling me what you’ve been going through. Yes, the jackpot feeling is very familiar to me! And it’s hard to let go of my lover even though he’s not really a very decent human being if I’m totally honest. You don’t say whether you were fully attracted to your LT partner at the start – I was a bit but it didn’t last. In fact we split up after a couple of years but I carried on living in his house, and we got back together about a year later because he clearly wanted me back and I wanted the security of the house etc and didn’t want to go it alone. Not exactly the best basis upon which to get married! If I had moved out when we first split up I doubt very much that we would have got back together because it just didn’t feel completely right with him. I have found though that sex has gone ‘off’ in all my long-term relationships and I do wonder if deep down maybe I’m frightened of true intimacy or something, even though I have maintained it in the past for a good while before I go off sex. It’s all so difficult! I wish you lots of luck with your onward journey.

        • Polly says:

          Thank you for your response Ferncat. In answer to your question – yes I have been attracted but never in that mad obsessive way we feel when we are trying to extract love from someone who witholds it. When it is freely given it doesn’t seem to hold the same value. It sounds to me like we have had similar feelings and issues. I too ended things early in the relationship and ended up going back. I have often regretted that decision and feel like I trapped myself. Although I now recognise that as a response related to my fear of intimacy and commitment. We also have children.

          It is a dilemma indeed to work out whether you can recreate something good from a LTR that has always felt like something was missing – even when the thing missing is your own emotional availability. I remember someone on here – I think it was Sunshine – throwing me some clarity on the subject. She said that the reason things feel off with someone who is open and keen is because it is at odds with your own feelings about yourself. Once you start thinking you are great then people who agree with you are congruent with your own values so you are attracted. It makes sense intellectually but it is acting it and feeling it that is the difficult bit. But I do believe that you can’t feel it if you don’t try and live it. So I am determined to persevere. My 2 yr affair ended about 8 months ago and it is only in the last 3 months ago that I have been able to start really focusing on my relationship.

          Thanks for sharing x

  57. Awakened says:

    @Grace You get the impression that i don’t like him. Wow you are so head on…. when you said that! lol I can definitely say that I know that this man is not a good fit for me(IF HE WERE HE WOULD HAVE NOT WENT POOF…. for last two weeks going on three AND WE WOULD STILL BE TALKING. You lost me when you said you are letting him call the shots… His birthday just passed this Sat. THAT WAS MY DIMSAL IN DISTRESS SHOT RIGHT THERE, (to have a reason to reach out with a HAPPY Birthday and I didn’t athough I am sure he was probably expecting for me to.

  58. gina says:


    If you thought talking for three weeks without meeting was too long because it’s going to develop an attachment without meeting the person to see if you are attracted physically, mentally, emotionally, etc… then there is no one to blame but yourself for doing something that you were not cool with.

    Secondly, you say that when you met him – you didn’t even find him really attractive. So, first you were annoyed about talking on the phone for so long, then when you actually met him, you realized that he wasn’t doing it for you.

    Then, when you didn’t get the adoration you expected from him after you met, you turned the tables saying that now you want a commitment from him. So you want a commitment from a man you weren’t attracted to? Or is it that now he isn’t available to you, there is a pull towards you feeling abandoned and reaching out for him…

    You aren’t being a godly person by sending someone a message who clearly is not expressing interest in you, secondly – someone your not even interested in, a lastly you are more or less disrespecting yourself, you aren’t being genuine, or godly, you are trying to prove your worth to him because you sensed some sort of rejection in a man you werent even interested in. And, after meeting someone for the first time in person doesn’t call for a relationship off the gate either even if you were into him.

  59. Demke says:

    My ex of 7 years has been texting me, and tried calling two weeks ago after two months of a break up. Not the first time we’ve broken up, but the last. I have stuck to NC religiously. And it’s because I want to be NC. I slowly made changes in my life the past year to get away from him. Wasn’t easy, but when I finally ended it, there was no stopping me. It was hard the first 6 weeks, but then I started getting out, reconnecting with old friends, making new, dating… and not from a place of ‘need’ or boredom, but because I’m actually happy with myself. He started txting me a few weeks ago, called once. Saw me out with a very good-looking man Tuesday night, would not stop staring at us. Followed me to the bathroom, he was shaking he was so nervous. He tried kissing me, but I wasn’t having it. I blocked his # beforehand, so he was messaging me through FB the rest of the night. Saying how sorry he was… loves me so much, he bettered himself, wants to show me… yada yada yada. I have to admit, some if it did sound genuine. But, he equals pain to me. I have tried changing him (without realizing it) for years. It was me that changed now, and I don’t want him. I still miss him, still have feelings for him, but not enough to put myself in the possible line of fire I know all too well. Could he be genuine? who knows… that’s the thing, I don’t know. All I know is what he put me through, how he made me feel hundreds of times… and why would going back to that… appeal to me? Where has he been? who has he been with? what changed? and… tells me he “let me go cause I thought i was doing the right thing for you”… umm..whatt?? I have not responded other than, “I am happy, do not contact me any more, you did do the right thing by leaving me alone, continue to do so, I want no part of this. Good bye”. He continued to message me through 6:30am… and the next day. I cannot go back this time… I just can’t. And I think he’s shocked that I haven’t responded at all… and not at his door. Never again.

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.