Let the breakup bonfire burn

When you break up with someone, there’s the ‘dreaded’ pain that follows along with white space opening up where you thought you had a shared future. There’s likely a delayed reaction and it may take a day or few, or even a week before it hits you full force that it’s over. In the days, weeks, and possibly months that follow, you have to face the loss and your feelings about it so that you can pave the way to a different and hopefully better relationship. From Day Zero of your breakup, in the seconds, minutes, hours, and then days and weeks that pass, you, by way of your actions and mentality, have an opportunity to limit the amount of pain that you experience.

The limitation doesn’t happen due to you avoiding your feelings or trying to have your ex on some terms rather than no terms; it’s directly influenced by:

1) Whether you accept that the relationship is over and validate the reasons for it..even if you don’t like them.

2) How much you let your life spiral. The more it derails, the more things you have to deal with.

3) How soon you start to nurture you and allow the present to infiltrate your life – The happier you are with other areas of your life has a huge impact. If there’s problems with work, family, or even a current separation, you’re likely to attempt to avoid another problem or loss to deal with, to give yourself an illusion of control.

4) How much you blame and even punish you – if you absorb all of the blame, you are guaranteed an immense amount of pain. Don’t engage in blame – engage in honest responsibility and accountability.

5) How much access you provide to your ex, including type of contact you have and the frequency, sleeping together, ego stroking, lending money or trying to get it back, trying to get back even the most piffling of possessions etc. Less access, less pain.

6) Whether you internalise the breakup and make a judgement about you, which in turn negatively affects your self-esteem. Overcoming a breakup is hugely dependent on your self-esteem – you either need to have it, or you need to use the breakup as an opportunity to start developing it. Chasing someone down will not give you self-esteem – it will break it.

7) Whether you become trapped in and blinded by your feelings. If you do things that you later view as at best embarrassing and at their worst humiliating, you may feel compelled to return to the relationship to justify your actions, which will actually only make things worse.

8) How much time and energy is spent trying to have an illusion of control by tracking them on Facebook, Twitter, dating sites, or tapping up colleagues and mutual friends for info. Cut this stuff off – it’s like torture.

9) How much you occupy your life and how you cope with boredom, off days, conflict with other peoplecoming to a standstill, not having productive uses for your mind and time to reduce rumination, being unable to deal with the inevitable bad days and weeks that everyone has, and not being able to handle criticism and conflict, are often enough to trigger a fall off the wagon. Learn how to deal with these and you won’t try to self-soothe on your pain source.

10) Whether you’re still dealing with old losses and hurts that you’ve been avoiding by bouncing from relationship to relationship. If you have, you’ll find that breakups reopen old wounds and because they appear to be similar (they’re not – each experience is unique), you’ll react to the old hurts and what you feel is more messaging, instead of dealing with the current situation.

What all of these factors tell you, is that while you can’t control or change the fact that the relationship has ended or that you’re going to experience some pain, discomfort, and change, what you can control is how much more pain you experience as a result of what you choose to heap onto the experience.

Breakups are a bit like having a bonfire.

If you date, live, and love with your self-esteem in tow, while you’ll still be hurt after a breakup and it’ll take a while to get over it, all that is on the fire is that relationship. You have your memories, maybe some possessions that you keep back, but that part of your life is over – you don’t allow them to have an inflated amount of space in your mind or in your life by letting them or you keep a foothold.

You watch the fire burn for a while, weep, wail, eat your weight in brie, chocolate, and ice-cream or lose your appetite, spend a bit too much time in bed, pull a few sickies with work or take a well needed break, spend more time with your family/friends, try not to think about the relationship too much but then sometimes have conversations with yourself, and sometimes you have a damn good cry in the toilet cubicle at work and then have to leave when someone comes up in and does a #2 and you’re forced to leave or choke. Maybe you meet your ex for a last chat or for a catch up or to give back keys and life gradually starts to move on. The fire isn’t roaring and it’s beginning to burn down to its embers. In time, it will go out. Sometimes you don’t realise that it’s gone out until you look up from enjoying your life.

That is of course, unless you just won’t let the fire die because you keep throwing stuff on there to reignite it and fan the flames.

When your breakup bonfire starts, it’s actually catching on to the embers that you’ve been stoking from previous breakups and experiences – you’re already in pain and now you have even more pain. You keep thinking that the way to stop the pain is to get the validation you want – unfortunately, it just ends up creating further experiences to add on to the fire. Sometimes, it’s like you’re throwing fat or petrol on there.

Just as the embers are going out, you panic that the embers are going out and how it means that you’ll need to have a new purpose and focus on you, so you throw some stuff on it like a text, email, drunken phone call or showing up at the bar where they hang, and you feel better temporarily. You may feel so angry with yourself and may even be carrying anger towards others, that you throw open your proverbial storage shed and bring out blame and shame that you rescued from previous fires and throw that on there as well, which just adds even more pain.

Eventually you have to realise that if you want it to stop, that you’ve got to stop trying to keep the fire alive, stop trying to change the nature of the fire, and let it burn out so that you can face you, your present and your future.

You need to be helping you, not setting yourself back. It’s one thing if you give someone a second chance especially when it’s grounded in sound judgement, but it’s another thing when you keep returning to the same painful situation again and again and again, because you won’t let it burn and give your ego the opportunity to cope with and come out the other side. The more you keep going back, is the more it will feel like Day 5 or 10 or 30 even though months or even years have gone by.

Let it burn – I now have that Usher song stuck in my head.

Grieve the loss of your relationships and let them go. It doesn’t mean that you erase all memories both good and bad, but what it does mean, is that you say goodbye to that chapter of your life so you can say hello to the next one.

Your thoughts?

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

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204 Responses to Let The Breakup Bonfire Burn – You Can Control How Much More Pain You Experience Post Breakup

  1. neveragain says:

    Amazing post Natalie, as always just when I needed it. I’m over 2 months now with now contact, but I keep having this morbid facsination with checking his facebook page. The last thing I told my AC was that, “you will never have a normal relationship and you need therapy.” Well low and behold 2 weeks ago his facebook status changes to ‘In a relationship.’ I know that every time I look there I’m going to find nothing but pain – but I keep looking. In my heart I know in a couple of weeks he’ll be blowing cold again for this poor girl, but I just keep looking I guess to prove that I was right. My embers are cooling down now, the hurt is at a low ebb and just pops up once in a while, but I have learned to push the thoughts out of my head when they come. I guess it just takes self-discipline not to look – I’m almost at I don’t care, but then when I look at his facebook and see he’s so happy it feels like I’ve been stabbed in the chest. I just keep remembering what my friend once told me – I asked my friend, “How could I have meant so little to someone that meant so much to me”? and my friend relied, “No one means anything to him.” Truer words were never spoken and I hang on to that and feel sorry for the poor girl he is with now.

    • Working Hard says:

      Save yourself. Block him. Really. You will find ways to check on him, oh, I’m sure, but make it harder on yourself for being able to. Put a blockfilter in your preferences, whatever. Get him (and the new girl) out of your sight. They are not your business anymore and more importantly, you are not theirs! Don’t let it come that far that you slip your tongue about your ‘obsession’ to the wrong person and he’ll get to hear about it. Limit it, for your own sake. (I know what I’m talking about ;-))

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      I think most of us have been there. Electronic communication has changed things and made it easier to feed the ego monster. We want to find out what went wrong. We want to know if they’re in pain too. We want to look for magic signs that they’re coming back or what they’re up to. We want to play CSI.

      We want to feel like we still matter, and because that’s what’s in front of us and we can’t see anything else, that’s all we have to focus on for that time.

      My AC hadn’t been in a relationship for almost three years. That tells you a lot already. It wasn’t like I was going to be the first one to break the spell and I’m sure that many others have been down the same path with him. I cut off facebook immediately, but 8 months after I had a quick peek and his dating profile is still up and active – even though I saw him in a nightclub with someone else and they looked like they were together.

      He hasn’t changed. But I have.

      Also, relationship statuses can be used by the other party to p*ss us off because they KNOW we are hurting. I had a friend break up with someone, but still had their ex-partner hanging around on their facebook, so my friend was posting faux facebook status updates like ‘Oh, having so much fun with my new partner” and doing all sorts of mind effery, and of course the other person was like “who is this other person” and basically jumping at the stimulus.

      Bottom line: people can be total and complete assclowns when emotions become involved, and all rationality can fly out the window. Don’t hang around. Don’t be a victim. Most of the damage and mind effery for me occured in the second “return phase”.

    • Bermiegirl says:

      I totally agree with Working Hard. Block him.
      You’re obviously still wrapped up with him emotionally and making a fatal error in thinking it’s about you. It’s not about you and probably never was. If you wish to place your self-worth in his hands, you are truly asking for trouble. Why the need to tell him about himself? You honestly think he doesn’t know what you’re telling him already or that he needs to change?
      Block him and don’t find out about him or whoever he’s dating now as that will lead to the inevitable comparisons that will further trash your self-esteem.
      Time to move on. If you haven’t blocked him yet, you might as well still be in a miserable relationship with him. You have no chance of meeting someone wonderful while you are still wasting time on him, thinking about him, following him, trying to find out what he’s doing.
      Time to get back your self-esteem and pride. You deserve better; you really do.

    • Groundhog Day says:

      Save yourself even more – delete facebook!
      I deleted mine just over a year ago and its perhaps the best choice I ever made! No matter what sort of excuse or reason your on fb in the first place is not a good enough reason, we have emails and phones to keeep in touch with people we actually want to make effort with!
      However I still feel your pain – a guy who I split up (if u can call it splitting up as we weren’t even together) from was an EU and EVERYONE said hed never have a gf blah blah. Well he has and a mate txt me to tell me she found out (via facebook obvs) and it really hurt even though I’m not upset about HIM per se. Feels crap to know she gives him something I obviously couldn’t even thou I put my all into it :(

      I’m sure we’ll get over it though! Chin up xx (and hit ‘delete facebook’)

      • suzanne says:

        Groundhog Day: sorry hun but sounds like you need to delete the friend that brought you bad news also…x

      • HowPredictable says:

        I did this too. After my most recent breakup with an EUM, I deleted my FB account entirely. What a relief! Best decision I’ve made in years!

        It eliminates a handy source of daily self-flagellation, negative comparisons, and self-esteem-gutting information about what (or who) the Ex is doing. Because — who needs to bring themselves down further after a breakup? Or anytime? No matter how justified the breakup, we all have low moments afterwards, and it seems at those times we actually tend to seek out ways to make ourselves feel WORSE, not better. So eliminating FB as a means of dragging yourself further into the emotional muck is very liberating.

        Also, the Ex cannot see what I’m doing. Let him ruminate. Let him fill in the blanks on what I’m doing, and what he’s missing. PFFFfffft to him.

        There are benefits to doing it, even beyond the relationship realm: I have a female friend who has FB set as her work homepage. Every day she comes in to the office and the barometer of her day’s happiness and satisfaction (or not) is set by what she sees on FB: who is doing what, whether she was invited to events or not, and whether someone she wrote to on FB has responded. Many a day I have received a despondent email from her at noon; she is in a funk because she was not invited to some much-photographed, fun-looking event the night before, that is there on FB for all to see. Or she is upset because she wrote to someone on FB, and she can see that they answered someone else’s message, but not hers. She manages to give herself FB-instigated, self-inflicted ego hits pretty much every day.

        Who needs it? Delete!

    • Jessica says:

      I spent three years of my life with a man I thought was wonderful, and lived with him for two of those. In the last three months of the relationship he started acting a bit odd. Then he told me (by email) that he had ‘fallen for someone else and wanted to pursue it’. And split up with me. That was just over two months ago. Within six days of the breakup he was ‘in a relationship’ on FB, and within les than two months ‘Engaged’. I had to remain in contact as I moved out of our shared house (he went to live with his now-fiance), but the instant I moved I blocked him and all of his friends from FB. I don’t want to know what he’s doing, but more so I don’t want HIM to know what I’m doing and turn up unannounced. Flip it on its head; your ex WILL be checking to see what you’re doing. Grab hold of your self-esteem and block him, get on with your life. I still have conversations with him in my head where I make sure I ‘win’, but hopefully they’ll die out soon too. I have one last ‘tidying up’ financial email I need to send, then starts the no-contact, and also ‘no talking’ about him and the break-up rule. The end of the relationship is not going to define who I am anymore. But you have to make a very conscious decision about that. I have realised I hurt most when I perceive that he is living the type of life I want (whether that is true or not). So therefore I have to go out and make my life into one that I want. Then the hurt will go.

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        I have to say, this story ^^ is awfully common. Two people meet, they have a long term relationship that seems all above board, and then WHAMMO it breaks down suddenly and then they’re off within 4 weeks or whatever in another one and then they marry them/run off into the sunset.

        I have to say though, he did tell you he wanted out and was interested in someone else and therefore wanted to break up. There’s a post on ‘Is he an assclown because we broke up?’ and it might apply to this situation.

        • FashionMaven says:

          If you are in a relationship and you don’t uphold the proper boundaries so you don’t fall for people outside of the relationship, then yes – you’re still an AC.

          For him to be that gung ho about someone else illustrates that he was already having some kind of emotional affair/connection with that person and THAT is still a form a cheating.

          AC behavior.

          • Mymble says:

            That’s what I thought too. He had someone lined up, the timing suggests that there was probably an overlap. You aren’t “in a relationship” after 6 days of dating.
            Diagnosis – AC.

        • Thank God for That says:

          I agree with what you say…he did break up with her after a two-year relationship *by email* though! Maybe he was just a coward, but even if he had innocently become attracted to someone else and decided to come clean, I think a two-year girlfriend should be able to expect more courtesy than that. It’s like “here” *DUMP* “deal with it”. No opportunity for a real conversation about what has just happened – I would have a load of questions in that situation. He showed an absolute lack of respect and love for someone he had been committed to for two years.

          Also, from the story, it sounds like he’s pursued a fast-forward relationship – although it’s not clear who’s in the driving seat.

          Also, I think what you define as an assclown just depends on what proportion (20%? 50%? 80%?!) of assclownish behaviour you think is tolerable in a person. And how likely it is they are aware of it and want to change.

      • Sophia says:

        Wow Jessica. you are an inspiration.

    • suzanne says:

      neveragain….facebook is a great place with friends and people who are genuine..but there is a lot of shady stuff going on to..the fact that he has to advertise that he is in a `relationship` speaks volumes girl….to boost his own ego he has to put something on there to make himself feel better…as Natalie has said in previous posts..photos and comments on facebook mean nada…my EUM/AC was an older man and hadnt got a clue how to even start up a computer!!! but all of a sudden he had a facebook page and the woman he was supposedly seeing was on there to…they were having a `relationship` and there were photos etc…she was `in luuuuuuvvvvvv` after only a coulpe of weeks!!!! but it ended a couple of weeks after that!!!! hun it means nada…dont look girl thats what he wants you to do…its alll BS …good luck x

      • runnergirlno1 says:

        Neveragain and ladies,
        I don’t do FB other than to read what’s happening with my siblings and my daughter. Today I checked and there was a pic of my 20-something daughter and her new bf kissing. Then I scrolled down a few posts and there was a pic of her exbf (of 120 days) kissing the new gf. Talk about fanning the break-up flames. Clearly my daughter was responding to the kissing the new gf post with a kissing post of her own. FB and the internet has created an entirely new dimension to stoking the break-up bonfire.
        I’m with the others Neveragain, you’ve got to delete, defriend, and disengage. While the exMM and I never did FB and I defriended him/ blocked him early on, it took all my strength not to check his website or watch him on video (his work is videotaped). I used to watch. But it was just like Natalie said about fb tracking, it kept me hooked and kept the fire alive. It was a form of torture, not the fb kind, but torture nonetheless. Thanks to all the comments by Natalie and the comments by BR readers, I finally stopped.
        Then, I had to stop posting on a local political blog. A while back, I posted a comment and within moments, he responded to my post. It was the cyberspace equivalent of showing up at a place where I hang. On one of my slips off the NC wagon, he admitted that he stalked the local political blog (and everything cyberspace) for signs of me. I’ve deleted that blog too and stayed out of cyberspace, other than BR. Jessica’s comment is right on regarding him tracking you too. He admitted straight up to cybertracking me. Breaking up is hard to do and cyberspace has made it harder for me. I kept throwing cyberlogs on the fire (they burn too) by watching the videotapes and checking his website.
        Was breaking up easier before the internet?

  2. Working Hard says:

    Great, comforting post.
    I’m in that place, where I ended it for the umptieth time, but this time I’m confident. Yes, it hurts, yes he was at his best sincere, at his worst an AC, in reality an average EUM. I’ve come to grips with it, and made sure I built my life better and more profound the previous time we broke up. I’m feeling all the shame, pain, guilt and normal hurt, but I left him in the fire together with the agonising over it. His problems (because I’m misses Nightingale and working on that for myself) are now his and his alone. I’m not willing to say to him anymore ‘it’s all good’. (read: it’s my fault if only I could handle you better, made more effort to ‘understand’ you, let you do ‘your thing’) Let him learn to say that for himself without taking somebodies space, time and self esteem with it. Wether or not he’ll learn to be a better person after this rollercoaster relationship is no longer my concern. Our book is out. It’s time for living & growing in reality instead of flying highs and lows on a fantasyreel.

    • Ledon says:

      It is a great post. All the times I attempted to end it, I’ve wound up where I started. For my well being, it has to end.

      Everything you posted sounds like me. Now he is the one that has to deal with the pain of not having me. I’ve dealt with that situation for seven years.

      Its time to cement the door shut.

  3. Maryellen11 says:

    Mind blowing, very well placed words!!!

  4. Elle0412 says:

    I was the other woman who knowingly jumped into this passionate relationship with my boss. We both knew ‘ we didn’t want any life changes’ ( read divorce our partners) but I needed to FEEL something, anything after 2 decades of blah everyday grind. He also claimed that his wife ‘ doesn’t do it’ for him. 4 years of questions, passion, texts and sexts are left behind. He left me at my first complaint. I thought I was ready for the breakup of this relationship but sometimes it feels unbearable not to be around him anymore. Then I think I should tell my husband but he is a friend and I do feel guilty to hurt him. To this day, I am not sure if he was an assclown or EUM. He nevet wanted to talk about us. We would just meet and spend some time together and text each other in between. I am trying hard to take him off the pedestal and go on with my life but can’t kill this hope that he will contact me again. Yes, crazy… I thought I was better than this. Help!!!

    • timeheals says:

      Elle, I did the same thing. Married and jumped into an affair with a married man when I’d had enough of being neglected by my husband of over 20 years. The passion was incredible and it gave me all those things I’d been missing for so long in my marriage. I fell in love. We both started out thinking we would not want “life changes” either but the experience made me realize I could not stay with my husband, no matter what happened with my lover. I told my husband of the affair and after a couple of months of talking things out, we decided to split up. I could not stay in a marriage that was not fulfilling my most important needs.

      After my ex and I split, I waited patiently for ass clown because he assured me he was leaving his wife too and asked me to “hang in there” because he’d be there with me. Eventually his wife figured out that he was having an affair. He then lied to her and told her it had only been going on for 6 months. He told her he was leaving and he began looking at apartments. But she wanted to work on the marriage (after 3 years of no sex and no communication between them) and he decided he did too. Thus he unceremoniously dumped me in a 5 sentence email that he sent to me in the middle of the work day and he refused to see me in person. (Such a COWARDLY ass clown!) This after nearly 2 years of telling me he loved me and I was the woman he wanted to be with.

      To say I suffered pain from this would be a gross understatement. Worst. Pain. Ever. I was despondent over losing a man I really loved and wanted to be with. I missed him SO much. It was like a huge hole in my heart, an awful aching pain. I cried myself to sleep night after night and was barely functional for weeks on end. I was forced to deal emotionally with the end of my marriage (which I do not regret ending but which I had never fully faced) AND with the end of the affair, which was broken off in such a cowardly and cruel way. I was hurt and angry, and in the months that followed, I did so many things I regret…nasty angry emails, internet stalking him and his family, collecting his most meaningful love emails into one file and emailing them to his wife! All of this only gave him what he needed to re-frame it all in his mind and make me into the bad one. Thus he could look back and see me as a crazed lunatic instead of recognizing his own…

      • dody says:

        Time-I could of just about wrote your post word for word-minus the stalking and sending emails to the wife.

        But, I’ve cried for almost two years every night-missing the AC. Reality has finally sunk in-I see it for what it was-an affair that ended badly. My AC broke up with me in a email as well-only cowards do that as you say.

        I don’t blame any one but my self for the pain I’ve been in-it is the consequences of my actions-never again.

        I will be ending a marriage of 21 years soon-I no longer have it in me to continue a marriage that should of been ended years ago. My h never found out about my affair. In our 16th year of marriage I discovered my h had been having a 14 month affair-he broke it off with her-this is where my regret comes in-I wished I would of thought enough at the time to kick the cheat to the curb-but everything for a reason! Right?

        Sorry for rambling!

        Excellent post Nat-you have been my saving grace – I wished I would of know about you a couple of years ago-much time and heartache could of been saved.

    • NeverTooLate! says:

      Been there, Unfortunately you will hear from him, but why do you want to? Look back to your words, they say a whole lot of emptiness, what is there to miss? When you hear, and honestly, it may take a while, but you will, just remember it is not worth it, keep yourself busy, and remember nothing is going to change. xoxo

  5. Broadsided says:

    Thanks for this – perfect follow up to the article on “knowing someone fast or instantly” – as these are both of my scenarios lately. And I had been wondering – it’s been a month since he broke up with me for the second time (at which time I told him – you got one re-try, now don’t come back) – how long to get over it, truly? I don’t think of it as much any more – though it has crossed my mind about once a day, which is probably still too much – though we seemed close and spend a lot of good time together for 3 months. Being future faked when you’ve opened yourself and believed in someone’s love and what they told you IS hurtful – so it takes time to heal. In this article are all tools I’ll put into practice. He defriended me on Facebook, but I admit, I still have peeked at what’s open to the public, which has been a form of torture – and I need to stop. He just made a public post in response to someone asking on his wall what he’s been up to, that he’s back at the “singles bars” looking for women! Good for f-ing him. I’ve had yet to make bars my primary place to meet men – in fact, I’ve never done it. He also posted a picture of himself at a club with two large-fake-breasted women a week after we broke up. That was surprising! (One of his female church friends made a hilarious quip about the photo that I still laugh about.) But sometimes you learn more about a guy after you break up with him. We both like to dance but I really don’t want to run in to him again for a long, long time.

    I really liked your imagery about the breakup fire – you can stoke it, or let it smolder and die, which is what I want to do. I personally do not wish to date again until I feel completely over this, and have done some more journaling and reflecting. I am really tired of all these dysfunctional types I meet, one after the other, types I never previously knew existed. Where are the freaking normal, simple, loving, truthful men??

    • sm says:

      Broadsided I am experiencing both this and the last post as well. After a fast forwarding, future faking two months he broke it off with me. Its been 4 weeks today, the pain is lessened but I’m still not over it. Not to mention he returned some things of mine on Easter, I came home and found them so that stirred up the ’embers’ again. I had told him to throw them in the garbage so I’m not sure what that’s about. Anyway now I’m suffering a ‘pain’ relapsed, not fun. The thing is I do have other things in my life that I enjoy, my job, friends, family and I have fun things planned to look forward to. But I think about him all the time, I even read a novel in the last few days to distract my thoughts, but it was really good and I finished it too fast now I’m left with my thoughts again.

      • Found My Own Strength says:

        I too was with a fast forward, future faking guy whose fairytale in the sky I so wanted to believe to be true. I broke up with him after a barrage of ubrupt red flags. The first few NC days were hard and I started doing the “what if’s” and going down the “happy days” memory lane…which when I looked back at our texts were so momentary. I was exhausted just reading the roller coaster high and low of each day, the insane arguments over nothing, his crazy resetting minutes later, and the final, most difficult reminders that slap me back to reality. The cancelled dates/ time we were to spend together due to “forgotten several hours worth of meetings” even on Saturday, the business trip he invited and then disinvited me too which he was impossible to reach and taking forever to answer my texts. These last few incidences I know now he was not “faithful”. SM/ Everyone- those are the moments we have to remember. Screw him- I am and YOU are worth more than that…way more. Yet some sick side of me checked the online dating profile he was on when we first met- listing him as searching for “long term relationship” again…not the “casual sex, short term relationship” I discovered he CHANGED his ACTIVE online profile which he had up the whole time we were actually dating. That’s when I finally broke it off for good. He wanted me to believe that it was some computer error that changed his setting to casual sex. Really? That wasn’t what he wanted. He was about love and marriage yada yada. How I shouldn’t do this to us? I know his game now and that he changed his status to “searching for long term” so that I would feel pain and question myself, because he knew I would look. I was so livid that I unhid my original profile and used some of the great photos he took of me when we were together as my new shots including my main profile pic. Yesterday, he popped up as a system generated match for me and he was online and I started to think what am I doing?? Today after 6 days of NC he texts me w/ lame excuse of wanting back minuscule things he told me several times to throw away of his as a reason to see me. NOT ENGAGING. Your guy is doing the same hurtful thing and whatever you do don’t contact him! Our non response and self removal from these sites helps heal us, not damage us any further. We have that control. Own it. This post has made me decide…

  6. Stephanie says:

    Natalie, I know you’ve heard it 1000 times, but this post came right on time for me. I’ve made a conscious decision to move on and let the fire burn out. For months I’ve been over thinking, obsessing and fantasizing about someone who isn’t interested in me. After not hearing from him for 5 months, he sends a lazy text, I responded and then started the grieving process all over again with new pain added to the old pain. I want my life and happiness back, I’ve allowed myself to become lost, all over some EUM that uses women. A few weeks ago I checked his Facebook page after not looking at it for months, big mistake! However I’ve made a pact with myself to never look at it again. Ever. What he does with his life should no longer be of interest to me. My online dating profile has now expired and I won’t be renewing it as its a reminder of him (he regularly updates his profile and I get the updates). I’m doing everything I can to leave that chapter of my life behind me and move on to the next one. I remember being so depressed during November to December last year that I cannot recall one meaningful thing that I done during that time (apart from reading BR). For anyone thinking about breaking NC, please don’t do it. I’ve done it all, pulled a sickie, lost my appetite, cried in the toilet at work, asked God to bring him back, had conversations with myself (repeatedly) and told anyone that would listen the whole story. But it ends now, today I feel a tad better and I’ve started to realise what I’m doing to myself. Thanks Natalie, and like all the other women and/or men that read your posts, I think I’ll be eternally grateful for the time and effort you put into writing and sharing your experiences.

    • brenda says:

      Stephanie…I was wondering where you were:)..Thanks so much for your post today..After 4 months of NC..I was honestly thinking of calling the Narc!!!WTF Was I thinking…
      I will say it again,When they just dissapear,it is traumatizing beyond belief…Its like the song that never ends..Somedays I think my life would be better if I just had some sort of closure from him,but how can he do that when I am sure he feels he has done nothing wrong..
      Here I am thinking about calling and the song “I will survive”by Gloria Gaynor comes on the radio,and I started singing and dancing around,kinda laughing at what a appropraite song choice to be played as I am feeling this way….Divine intervention!!!!I did not call!
      I still sometimes do the whole FB thing and I have to stop,it does me no good,and makes it even harder to fully move on…

  7. slow learner says:

    Can’t seem to completely extinguish the fire, and it has been almost a year…

    • MaryC says:

      Its been a couple of years for me and it still hurts at times but the good news is the flames are getting less and less.

      Hang in there Slow Learner.

  8. Heather says:

    But what do you do, when you are 48 yrs old and live in an area where there is NOTHING BUT assclowns, EUMs. I am dead serious. I am not a bad looking woman, I have a great job, I own my own home outright, no debt, investments, kids are grown made my own way in the world and every man I meet, thinks he do better than me. They all want to sleep with me, or come and go as it pleases them, but none want a real, true life relationship with give and take. I have met jerk after jerk. I feel like I am invisible.I feel that there is not a single decent man left in my area. What then? It isn’t just that I have bad taste, all my girlfriends are experiencing the same things. So …surrender to a life alone? I don’t want to be alone, I don’t want only girlfriends as life companions. I don’t know what to do because you cannot force these asses to be decent humans. I am pretty damn depressed and lonely.

    • grace says:

      Try something new. Changing church worked for me. Not because it is stuffed with single men (though it is) but because there are plenty of lovely happy women there of all ages, and plenty of social activities. Happiness breeds happiness and that’s the state you need to be in before you can meet a suitable man. When you’re miserable, you can only meet crappy men. FACT.
      You’re doing better than me at least. No-one wants to sleep with me!

  9. Bermiegirl says:

    Such an awesome article. Could have really done with this at the end of last year!
    Blocking the ex on facebook was one of the best things that I could have ever done as well as temporarily rearranging my social life to avoid him. Perhaps some women are hard as nails; I’m not one of them. There is no way that I could get constant reminders of him and what’s he doing at the same time as detaching from and getting over him.
    Now, I’m in a much better place. I’m still trying to let go of some of the anger I had with myself for not recognising the flags sooner but…hey, we all make mistakes. Thank God I’m not having to live with this particular 2 legged mistake!
    I truly believe that if you’re still wrapped up emotionally with an ex, there is no way in the world that you will be able to find someone wonderful because, when you are not emotionally available, you are only ever going to attract those men who resonate on the same level as you; i.e. men who are also emotionally unavailable. Think about it. What self-respecting man is going to be interested in a woman who projects low self-esteem and lack of emotional availability.
    Move on and move on as quickly as you’re able!

    • grace says:

      well said
      “I truly believe that if you’re still wrapped up emotionally with an ex, there is no way in the world that you will be able to find someone wonderful because, when you are not emotionally available, you are only ever going to attract those men who resonate on the same level as you; i.e. men who are also emotionally unavailable.”
      Not only that. we actively seek out EU men (and then complain that all men are EU). I know that sounds ridiculous – we all of us think we want a good man. When I first heardthis theory (on BR, from our very own Nat) I thought NAH, THAT’S CRAZY! But I have found it to be true and it’s actually good news. As the song goes: change your heart, it will astound you.

  10. neveragain says:

    Thanks for your post Stephanie about not breaking no contact. I know my AC will be back eventually, he always is and he has no idea of the chaos he leaves behind every time. And each time it’s just as hard to get over. It’s crazy to keep going back when you already know how the story ends. I do think of what I will say when the lazy text comes and I’ve got to let go. I’ve started focusing on me – working out, keeping busy and spending more time with family and friends, but always in the back of my mind is when is he coming back. I know I’ve got to stop this, I’m doing it to myself. I wrote a list of all of the horrible, disrespectful things he has done to me and that has really helped. I’m not ready to date anyone as I know I have a lot of self-work to do so that I don’t attract any more of these toxic males into my life. But it’s hard knowing he’s out dating and I’m at home hurting.

  11. Jen says:

    I saw signs of the EUM on the first date and throughout the 4 month relationship, my gut was ringing the entire time (to the point that I was on this site reading blogs from the beginning) but my imagination and denial won for a bit. It was hard, his contradictory, moody, critical behaviors and attitude reflected behaviors and attitudes of my mother and grandmother and it still felt “normal” and the abuse felt subtle at one level. Once I finally accepted the reality of my suffering, I’m happy and proud of myself to say I ended it this time, finally called it like it is after so many times the EUM have left me in the past and after I allowed poor treatment for so much longer. Thanks to therapy/trauma work, this site, trust in my friends, my family, and most importantly myself I can see clearly now and I know I am headed into the 5th chapter.

    Autobiography In Five Chapters

    1) I walk down the street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I fall in.
    I am lost… I am hopeless.
    It isn’t my fault.
    It takes forever to find a way out.

    2) I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I pretend I don’t see it.
    I fall in again.
    I can’t believe I’m in the same place.
    But it isn’t my fault.
    It still takes a long time to get out.

    3) I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I see it is there.
    I still fall in… it’s a habit.
    My eyes are open.
    I know where I am.
    It is my fault.
    I get out immediately.

    4) I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I walk around it.

    5) I walk down another street.

    Portia Nelson
    From: Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

    • grace says:

      Love that poem!

    • cc says:

      word, baby. thank you for that.

      • navandro says:

        Love love love the poem! Printed it off and plan to read it daily while I try to “walk down another street”. Thanks for sharing!

        • runnergirlno1 says:

          I couldn’t walk anywhere today without thinking about that poem. Thanks so much Jen for sharing. I kept looking for holes and thinking all day about Chapter 5. Wonderful. So amazing how some folks can capture the most complex and complicated moments with such simple yet incredibly elegant prose. I’ve copied it to my journal too. Talk about describing my life in a nutshell!
          On another note, I was selected by the students of the poetry club to do a reading for a big event. I was about ready to graciously decline. I’ll be accepting the invite and reading this poem (hopefully without crying) and maybe the song “Let it Burn”!
          Here’s to Chapter 5 for all of us.
          Many, many thanks Jen.

    • yoghurt says:

      Thank you for posting that. I’ve seen it before, but it’s never quite made as much sense as it does now.

      I think I’m at Chapter 3 – having realised that I’m in the hole (again) I’ve just hopped out of it again – hurray!

      Also, any excuse to post a youtube clip that I love… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7lxOAHJ_80

      • Jen says:

        so glad you guys enjoy the poem! it’s a great one and applies to so many of the bumps in the road we have in life. Runnergirlno1- that’s so awesome you are reading it for the poetry reading…everyone’s going to love it. I read it to my clients at work a lot and they love it as well.

      • Jen says:

        yoghurt- that video is PERFECT!!

    • suzanne says:

      what a great poem! love it it says it all..will print that off and keep it! x

  12. You make a lot of sense. Every once in a while I peek. Mostly it just confirms for me what a loser he is! He’s dull, boring, hasn’t got one intelligent thought! He’s mostly an after thought for me. I’ve been getting interested in other men in recent months. Nobody special yet, but I’m in no rush! I’m no longer hurting or in pain. Got a lot of other more important activities on my plate like gardening and growing my own vegetables. Love your column.

  13. Ivy says:

    This is a great analogy! Yes, for all of us reading this, STOP knowing anything about the ex! It really wouldn’t do us any good. I know because I’m still keeping my sanity intact.. He’s blocked on facebook but I can readily get updates because I can view him using another accpunt. But I don’t and probably never will. It’s been almost 2 months since I looked at his profile and since his a really sahdy guy, he’s not the type who updates his profile much.

    We already did our best for the relationship. It’s done and over with.

    • Sarah says:

      I’m in the same boat, I stopped doing it about two months ago too. It was really hurting me every time. So I finally found the will to stop. I still wonder what his life his like (unlike yours, this guy posts every minute of the day..bit narcissistic). But it’s not worth it.

  14. You are so wise. The bonfire analogy is perfect. Adding fuel is a kind of unconscious habit, but a really unhealthy one.

  15. yoghurt says:


    I have breakups from twelve years ago that haveonly just entirely burnt out. In fact, until a few months ago the only breakups that I’d got over were the ones that I initiated. In the case of my longest relationship, there were two break-ups that I’ve never really got over (initiated by him) and one break-up that I’m fine with and moved on from without a care (initiated by me).

    I’ve been going through life as a massive pile of flammable.

    Thanks for the article – it’s really clear and it helps a lot.

  16. I’m so glad I read this right now. Believe it or not, I was actually thinking about sending an email to my Mr. Unavailable. I think it was more of a fantasy and I hope I wouldn’t actually do it but the fact that thought crossed my mind is enough cause for worry. I like the analogy here of an email or text adding fuel to the fire rather than letting it fizzle out. I’m happy my fire is fizzling out and I don’t want to fan the flames at all!

  17. Stephanie says:

    Natalie, this post is perfect timing. Haven’t posted here in awhile. Still hurting three years after I left my ex in Germany. The embers start to burn low, then I panic and throw on something to avoid losing the heat; even if the heat emitted from his end is now only lukewarm.

    A vicious self-destructive cycle that I struggle with daily. Some parts of life are better, yet I still keep holding on. Keep feeling myself letting him go, then get scared, and then self-sabotage. Meanwhile, my life is passing me by. Forget the days, weeks, and months, you mentioned. I am losing years…

    I will keep this post bookmarked and read it again and again until, miraculously, it eventually sticks…

  18. May says:

    Sorry to say that I’ve been living in misery for the past three years. Yes, I feel I was taken in by a real non-man human and to make matters worse we are working together and don’t have much of a choice of changing that fact without some extreme things that other situations won’t allow. This web site has given me some hope and breaths of air . I was fine for awhile but fall back in then it happened all over in a span of 3 years , now I have lost myself this go round , the first was bad but I bounced back to me then totally lost myself in the second round. It’s very discouraging how men treat women and I know it works the other way round too but in this case one of the good women is deeply torn down. All I can say is that I continue each day to have hope I’ll get my “happy” back and knowing others share their pain and situations help! This stie rocks!

  19. Tanzanite says:

    Hi Natalie/everyone

    This is a great post.

    Can anyone give me an honest answer to this question ?

    How do you feel when you see the AC,EUM, MM ?

    I saw the AC yesterday but he didn’t see me.When I look at him I have feelings of love and it’s followed by a sense of me betraying myself for not having the feelings that you should have when someone has treated you badly.The words ‘ self betrayal ‘ came into my head and when I got home I looked on the internet to see if there is such a thing, and sure enough,there is.It’s basically pretending to be something you’re not or not being authentic which means you can’t be truly happy.

    eg. Being a Manchester City fan but pretending to be a Manchester united fan.

    So,what I was feeling was not self betrayal but genuine honest feelings,but it felt like self betrayal to me.I have cried 3 times today and I don’t know why.I don’t want him back and I wish I didn’t feel anything at all, but I do.It would be better if I never saw him again. and I don’t see him that often and I don’t look for him either.These feelings only occur when I see him in real life.

    I have read books, read BR ,looked at my childhood and I have an understanding of why I feel like I do.I sometimes feel proud of myself for surviving it all, and I also feel anybody in the same situation would have felt the same.So ,if I understand it,why do I still feel like this ? ( after over 2 years no contact of any kind.) I have no interest in looking for another man. I am possibly EU now, as if it catching,which is strange when you think I was in a stable relationship for 18 years.

    I know not being financially separated from my ex husband and him refusing to pay to the mortgage hasn’t helped.I know wanting to leave my job because of other problems has not helped.I know having to do 2 jobs to cover the mortgage makes it worse.I know being tired and preoccupied doesn’t help but i’m wondering if I am suffering from depression and it’s such a familiar feeling that I haven’t noticed.

    I shouldn’t feel like this after all this time.I am considering going to the doctors for some tablets but even that feels like another failure.

    Am I the only person who feels like this ?

    • titi says:

      “Can anyone give me an honest answer to this question ?
      How do you feel when you see the AC,EUM, MM ?”

      To be honest, mostly I don’t feel anything (we live in the same neighbourhood, so I run into him occasionally), but sometimes, maybe a couple of times, I feel pure disgust. For example, I remember how I always hated the way he walks, his face disgusted me, his gestures, and body language were repulsive to me, and yet I somehow managed to convince myself I loved him. I wish him all the best, but there has always been something about him, that made me feel sick to my guts. Something physical. I sensed it from the very beginning, the feeling was always there, even during the brief “honeymoon phase”, before the abuse started.

      Ontopic: however, it’s a strange thing that when I decided I wouldn’t put up with his abuse anymore (he thought I was too pretty, too smart, and therefore he decided I needed to struggle for his attention by making myself stupid and ugly in public, which I never did, thank goodness), that was the very minute I went NC, and I was sure I wouldn’t break it EVER. I decided to stop thinking about him. There hadn’t been a single thing I liked about him. He was just very persistent, and for 4 years he was trying “pursue me into a relationship” (his words), and I mistakenly thought he genuinely liked me. I actually forgave him for raping me in the very beginning, that was the first sex we had (yes, really).

      Since the beginning of the NC, whenever I think about him, I make sure it has something to do with *my* personal growth, for example, when I think about all the red flags trying to learn something about myself. I will not let anyone control my thoughts again. I actually feel like everything happened to someone else. I don’t feel anything bad or good when something or someone reminds me of his abuse. It feels very liberating, and the moment I stopped judging MYSELF, I started to forget.

      • Tanzanite says:

        Hi titi

        I’m so sorry you were raped and I hope you got all the help you needed to enable you to move on from that ordeal.Is he sorry for what he did or is he in denial ? Does he think you will forget you were raped if you were in a relationship with him ? He has got some nerve,to say the least.I’m not sure I could wish him the best .

        You sound as if you are back in control.I really struggle with controlling my thoughts when I see him but i’m ok at other times.

        You are right not to judge yourself because it wasn’t your fault and also for not careing what other people think.When you get to that stage you really start to move forward.

        Take care x

        • titi says:

          Thank you Tanzanite for your kind words. It did hurt like hell, but doesn’t hurt anymore. I’m not mad at him, he’s a very fucked up guy (used to be a drug addict, now a heavy drinker, compulsive gambler, also a sex addict). And I have never even liked him, so I guess it was very easy for me to move on from him, but not from the pain he caused me.

          He actually managed to convince me that it wasn’t a real rape (he “just” made me give him a few BJ’s and do several other thing that disgusted me), and that it is normal. It was my first sexual experience ever, so I invested a lot to convince MYSELF that it was normal, and that I was just too inexperienced to understand it was a perfectly normal sex. I have never had any kind of physical contact with him afterwards, since I started to find him even more repulsive than before, but we did continued our “platonic” relationship for months after that night. Actually, I gotta admit the “platonic” part of our “love” was a worse torture then the physical abuse. Man, you should try not to puke while listening to that guy talking about life and trying to look smart lol. It’s like talking to a very mean and spoiled two year old about love, life etc. Geez, he was such a pain in the ass.

          Actually, when I realized he wasn’t sorry at all (he kept saying that I deserved it, that he’s actually a very gentle guy lol), I began trying desperately to get the ULTIMATE validation from him. It’s like I asked him to explain me why he had raped me. When I realized he didn’t care, I started taking care of MYSELF.

          Believe me, when you forgive yourself COMPLETELY for being naive enough to trust an EUM/AC/sociopath/whatever, you will become indifferent to him. Do not force yourself not to feel anything when you see him. Just accept your feelings for that very moment you see him, and let them *expire* (yes, the feelings can and should expire if they don’t serve your wellbeing anymore). Then try to understand that you are responsible for yourself, and that no matter how much you care for him *now*, you will stick to your own loyalty to yourself, and will not let him/or anyone else mistreat you anymore. You should try by being very kind to yourself first. When you fall in love with *yourself* again, there will be no place in your thoughts for a man who manipulated you. You will not let him control your feelings and you will not let him control your feelings and your life again. He’s really not important at all. *You* are important and you will take care of yourself. It’s time co close the chapter titled Dickhead:) and to move on with your life. Take care.

          • Tanzanite says:


            I’m not sure how old you are but you are very enlightened.

            I am glad you are over your experience and you should be really proud of yourself.

            You haven’t lost your sense of humour either.

            Thank you

    • Cherryblossom says:

      Hi Tanzanite,

      No, you’re not the only person who feels like this……so much of your post is similar to my own experiences and situation!!
      I too have felt like I betrayed myself. I work with my EUM and as such have to see him everyday, its been torture! I still have feelings for him that I have to push aside all the time. I’ve done the sickies, crying in the toilets etc described in Natalie’s post aswell.
      However, it is getting better….we recently started things up again (stoking the dying fire, mainly by him though I have to say), and now I know I have to stop things (again). I did this back in November and it was truly awful…it was the umpteenth time but felt final and I was so low. Just like you I am still financially tied to my ex husband and he refuses to pay half the mortgage aswell!! This pressure, the ex, the EUM….all of it had me totally at my wits end. I went to the doctor and he prescribed me some anti depressants in December……..I still have them, unopened. I think just going, getting it out, having someone acknowledge that I was in a state was enough for me to start to recover. I did!!! And although I’ve broken NC and have to start it again, have to see him and sit on the feelings I have, it is nowhere near as bad as it was…..there is light at the end of the tunnel and although I haven’t reached it, I can see it!!!!!! You are not betraying yourself…..the feelings are there, you cannot ignore them, but you can not let them consume you. Take care of you and be strong xxxx

      • Tanzanite says:

        Hi Cherryblossom

        I have one of those trees in my front garden in full bloom and they are beautiful.

        It must be very difficult working with him and I know it’s not easy trying to get a transfer or a new job at the moment.I think we allow them to stoke the fire in the hope that they are truly sorry and are willing to change.In the end we have to go no contact and throw water on the fire.It’s not easy.At the end of my experience I had zero self esteem and it has been a long way back.

        My DH abdicates resposibility for the house when it comes to the mortgage,repairs,improvements etc but he is there when it comes to talk of equity and a financial settlement.

        I have decided against AD after watching a programme on tv yesterday .A woman had her child took off her after a psycologist she had never met made a report about her saying the drugs she was taking for depression meant she wasn’t in a fit state to look after her child.That is true !

        I will try st John’s wort,up the exercise and go out with friends.

        Good luck with the house x

    • Mymble says:

      All the time.
      Ive been thinking about going to the GP for the happy pills too. I don’t see MM, but if I did, it would kill me. And i have the financial issues- husband still refusing to leave unless I give him £50k.
      I don’t know what parallel universe he’s living in, I havent got 50p.

      • Tanzanite says:


        You haven’t got 50p ? That reminds me of when I looked down at my feet and noticed my shoes were all split and I couldn’t afford a new pair. My outgoings were more than my incomings.Never again !

        It’s a good thing you don’t see him because I only have a lapse when I see him in real life,but if anyone brushes past me wearing Armani code( love it ! ) it takes me back in an instant.

        I have just got an extra job and hopefully it will be enough for me to take over the mortgage.I can only keep trying.

        As for AD read the message I left for Cherryblossom.

        One last thing Mymble,don’t be surprised if one day you look at you husband with eyes of love.After 2 years not speaking to my ex husband he suddenly started texting me and the next day he put his arms around me and said he loved me and I deserve to be happy.( I wont tell his new partner ) I do feel bad for what I did and I have told him I am sorry but it will never be enough.

        I have been where you are and all I can say is treat yourself well .x

    • Used says:

      are you sure that you have feelings of love first?

      you feel badly b/c when you see him seeing him makes you remember–seeing him takes you back in time to the time(s)–when you went against your own better judgment to stay in a relationship with him.

      oh, and, btw, they KNOW what they do: the ac that i knew once upon a time FIDGETS like crazy, and holds his head down low, when is around me.

      then he does fake compliments physically (e.g., he follows me around the room when we are at the same party–he follows my path, and acts as though he wants to be in earshot of convos i have with others).

      i actually get very sad when i see him, b/c it makes me remember how i felt when we quasi-dated: badly about myself.

      • Tanzanite says:

        Hi Used

        I’m not sure if you reponded to my message but I picked up on it especially the last line when you said-” you feel sad when you see him.” I think that is why I felt the self betrayal.I had feelings of love and the memories of the person he really was and even though he wasn’t that nice he was still pysically attractive.

        The last thing I am trying to work out is why something that didn’t really exist cause me the worst pain I have ever felt.

  20. Magnolia says:

    A great analogy for breakups or anything else where you have to take a loss and it hurts like hell. Taking the loss does not have to mean you have to feel like a loser. I love the message not to internalize it.

    I also love the image of the person stoking the fire of old hurts. Why would anyone do that? There are any number of reasons, but the image makes me go: what does one have to do to keep the fire of old grudges / hurts burning? We must have to get our little pieces of kindling to keep it going from somewhere. Now I picture not letting go of the past as deliberately looking for twigs to keep some old grudge alive.

    Yikes! Think of what else I could have been doing with all my twig-gathering energy! Building myself a little nest (egg), is the first thing that comes to mind! Or at least some radical twig-art.

  21. Lumos says:

    This is a great post – especially as I have recently stopped my casual relationship. And begun the process of getting over him. What I realised I did – and have always done – is that I focus on the positive bits about the men that I like and assume that they need putting into line when they hurt my feelings or disappoint me. Effectively I assume responsibility for managing their bad behaviour – I believe that men are good partners when their partners are “real” women who know the magic formula for getting men to behave well. I have always felt that my relationships were stressful or not enjoyable because I was lacking in some womanly qualities that you needed to be valued and hence treated well by men. I am attractive, relatively successful, fun, and socially pretty good so I really felt sad that I had some inner unworthiness… I seemed to think that if I am just good enough, attractive enough, successful enough etc they wouldn’t “misbehave” – ie that their behaviour was an indication of my intrinsic worthiness or not to men. What I have come to realise – finally – is that their behaviour is part of who they are. Frankly I think I wanted to believe in some ways that their unfair behaviour was because of my failings – because that way I felt in control of their behaviour and I could fix it and win! Unfortunately this is not the case, I am not that powerful or influential. I cannot, merely by changing myself, magically change the long standing values of a man… a decent man is a decent man regardless of who I am and how well I behave or not and a man with selfish values is selfish regardless of who I am and how I behave. I just don’t have that kind of control. Damn it. Would really be great if I had that much control frankly! But alas reality has never backed that up…

    Additionally I selectively focus and fantasize about the bits I like about men and dont put the negative bits into my picture of who they are. This all sounds so obvious but has been a real eye opener for me! Thank you :)

  22. cavewoman says:

    Thank you, Natalie!

    I am in letting go mode again, and this is extremely helpful.

    I dated someone for a couple of months. Please, anybody who still remembers me, don’t laugh: it was another academic. Yes, one more Mr. Dr. Professor — apparently I couldn’t resist! 😀

    I got some things wrong and some things right. I didn’t ask quite enough direct questions early on, did a bit of wishful thinking instead… but I did get some things right: I chose a decent but clueless bachelor type ‘easing back’ into dating… (I could have suspected it was just practice dating for him… but he’s decent nonetheless). I was upfront enough about my own needs that at least he himself concluded that we were to stop dating because I wasn’t going to get the relationship I wanted, not from him. Others might have tried to manage down my expectations to avoid losing the fringe benefits of keeping me around. Or, I might have let my expectations be managed and hung around in ‘unreciprocated feelings mode’, like I did in the past.

    My last EUM experience dragged on for over a year; this one was over under three months, and the damage and embarrassment is considerably less!!! Last time I didn’t know better and tried to be friends with a secret agenda; this time I de-friended, deleted, and blocked him the next day. (He sent a facebook friend request a week later and I deleted that, too. Maybe in a year or so, but it won’t seem all that important by then.)

    I was hurt and angry, but more with him, less with myself. What got me was that he somehow managed to tie our incompatibility to the fact that I have kids. Kids, who are pictured in my dating site profile picture, kids I talked about from message one, phone call one, date one. I didn’t suddenly pull them out of a hat. He had ‘open to dating someone with children’ checked off on his profile. He just hadn’t actually done this, and he didn’t figure it out until 2 months with… me, of all people! There is nothing I could have done differently, I had no control over this.

    I could beat myself up and tell myself he had used me, but I don’t think it was that sinister. And even if it were, I wouldn’t be doing myself any good making myself *feel* used. Yes, I had sex earlier than I had planned, but I can’t say I have real regrets because hey, I enjoyed it too, and it wasn’t going to influence the final…

    • runnergirlno1 says:

      Hey Cavewoman,
      Oh yes, I remember. You started an entire thread about academics, followed by a brilliant post by Natalie about being blinded by intelligence (or any superficial quality) that led me to great insights about myself. Did you see the poem posted by Jen above? Sounds like you fell the the academic hole again. I’m sorry things went south. However despite the hurt associated with the break-up, it sounds like you are quickly moving to extinguish the fire and listening to what he is saying about not getting the relationship you want and need from him. Good for you for not hanging around, stoking the fire, being managed down in the hopes of being upgraded in the future.
      Like you say, there’s simply nothing you can do about having kids. You can’t put them back in the hat. Unless this guy is 20-something, he’s probably going to have to come to grips with the fact the women have kids. Or he needs to dip down into the 20-somethings without kids…yikes! So sorry Cavewoman. But I’m thankful for your comment. It really is clear that this wasn’t about you or the fact that you have kids. Your comment also is helpful because you aren’t throwing petrol on the what- shoulda-coulda-woulda- have- been-fire. Based on your comment, I think I’m getting the picture of what “dating with your self-esteem in tow” means. You have your self-esteem in tow and you have kids. I think Mr. Dr. Professor Decent Academic has blown it.
      Yup, defriend has become my best friend. Good for you. You know the drill. Defriend, delete, and block. Still, I’m sorry.

  23. Balthazar says:

    The part that really resonated with me was “You keep thinking that the way to stop the pain is to get the validation you want – unfortunately, it just ends up creating further experiences to add on to the fire.”

    I finally got an apology out of the AC/EUM after using me as the fall back gril and disappearing after 18 months of tumoil and games. The hardest part is that he and his now live in girlfriend he cheated on work next door to me so I see them both on a regular basis – or I live in constant fear of seeing them.

    I had been dreaming of the day he would show up again, and what I would say etc. What an anticlimax. I was actually speechless when he apologised – didn’t say a word. I thought I had “won” because it showed I didn’t care. But then I had a complete brain spasm and ended up throwing petrol on the bonfire by getting drunk and texting him (I know how lame!) saying he could shove his apology becuase i couldn’t believe someone like me got caught up with him – he is pathetic scum – more ranting ensued. I thought I needed the apology – I understand I don’t now – all I wanted at that stage was some form of contact from him but it ended up feeling so empty and meaningless. I craved his attention and drama so couldn’t let it go when he did turn up again, but it wasn’t how i thought it would be. I really wish I hadn’t sent that text, but lesson learnt.

    In a way I guess him reappearing again (albeit to try to make himself feel better) did help me to move on, not because I have forgiven him for what he did necessarily, that will never happen, I needed to forgive myself – but more because I have realised I needed it to burn out to move forward. Fingers crossed the only way is up for me now. I am about 2 months into solid no contact and while I still think about him, there is no fantasizing that he is suddenly going to reappear and whisk me off my feet. The trust is broken, the relationship is dead in the water, what’s the point in torturing myself chasing an emotional terrorist? Fire extinguished.

  24. runnergirlno1 says:

    Let it burn, indeed. I’ve absolutely lived every second of what you have described for over a year now. Between him and me, we’ve kept stoking the fire, throwing every piece of fat on the fire, and creating pain. Just when it seems the fire is ebbing low, one of us puts another log on. And there is nothing but more pain. We are both like cockroaches after a nuclear bomb. Sorry to mix metaphors here.
    After over a year of creating my own pain over this break-up, even I’m getting bored. Bless you Natalie and everyone who has responded. You gotta be more bored than me!
    As you said Natalie, I couldn’t control when I would run into him again but I think it was the last dying ember. I saw him as a married man. He claimed that “therapy” didn’t work. He still loved me. But he was working on his marriage cos he wasn’t seeing me. Can anybody out there can follow that? I responded with the BR topline: You are married. Period. End of. We shouldn’t even be talking.
    Dear lord, I’m so ready to let this bonfire die. I actually don’t have anything left to stoke it. I’m now done with NC because I have nothing left. You are so clever Natalie. If I want it to stop, I have to stop. You are such a brilliant saint. I can’t erase the good memories or the bad ones. But, I think I said goodbye. Sheesh he’s been one sticky bugger.

  25. teachable says:

    Very very true NML. Prior to realising my xAC was still in a r.ship w someone else (he lived interstate so this critical fact was easily hidden from me for 12+ mths :( ) I restoked the fire of pain over & over, knowing something was terribly wrong with how he was treating me, but never what it was (we had been a cpl 17 yrs prior & he hadnt behaved that way back then, so I was really confused). After numerous failed NC attempts during that 12 mths based solely on his supreme assholery, I’m SO glad I finally thought (as an after thought in fact as I never dreamed he would be with someone else at the same time as me :() to do some checking up. Since learning the truth I have zero compulsion to add another twig to that fire so long as I shall live. Now I just feel sad that I allowed him to treat me so badly over & over again. I can’t change that I sure as heck can take charge now & make sure this never happens again!

  26. teachable says:

    PS He was the king of hitting the reset button & future faking! Kids, marriage, buying property together – it was ALL supposedly possible. Shame he forgot to include his PARTNER in any of it (& boy did she have a fit when I tracked her down & explained who I was & what I had been led to believe!). Poor woman. For all I know they are still together. More fool her I guess (as I discovered multiple other women he’d been cheating with at the same time also!) What planet do these idiots come from? Give me the coordinates for goodness sakes & let’s get NASA to nuke it!!!!

  27. next chapter says:

    For some reason I didn’t think other people had such a hard time letting go as I am. This made me feel tons better. I still chase after someone who is emotionally unavailable, not over the ex,and is still living at home in his early 30’s. He’s admitted to still being in love with a girl that cheated on him twice, had an abortion without telling him, and she is getting married soon to another man. The sad part is no one ever treated me better to compare it to. We went through some pretty traumatic stuff and he stuck by me when I tried to push him away. We broke up 5 months ago but I initiate contact and continue to sleep with him because the sex is great and he claims to still have feelings for me but can’t give me 100% because he’s not in a good place in his life. He has said he just needs time. I’m always praying he will come to his senses and realize he should be with the person that would never hurt him. I’m not sure why the I love you but I’m not in love with you wasn’t good enough for me. I guess I figure if traumatic stuff didn’t happen so early in the relationship we might have been able to have the chance to be happy. So I keep blaming it on that. Not sure where to go from here other than just try to forget but its kind of hard when I’m friends with his sister and we have so many mutual friends. Any thoughts?

    • grace says:

      i think the mutual friends are a red herring. I’ve stoked the fire plenty with men where there were no mutual friends at all. Even when we lived in different freakin countries! I get that mutual friends makes it somewhat difficult but so does FB, the phone, our hormones, IM etc. Theres’a always an excuse if you want one.
      If you want to do it you can do it. And mutual friends certainly don’t obligate you to continue sexing him!
      “he can’t give me 100% because he’s not in a good place in his life. He has said he just needs time”. They all say that!. Whether they’re married, not over the ex, cheating on you, casually sexing you, bleating about what someone did do them x years ago, BLAH BLAH BLAH. They all want time. YOUR TIME.
      Sometimes, I want to tell the crush that I’ve had a hard life and bad relationships and been hurt then I think “NO, GRACE! That’s not his problem, he wasn’t there. DO NOT give yourself an excuse to shirk responsibility and be a flip-flapping EUW!”
      That’s why they tell you that stuff – not because they’re sharing and caring. They’re warning you that they will treat you like shite. Listen!

      • runnergirlno1 says:

        Grace, as usual, you are spot on. There’s always an excuse to stoke the break-up bonfire. Next Chapter, I’ve pulled every excuse on the planet. Mine were always excuses to keep going back to see if he’d changed, come to his senses, and would give me the relationship I wanted. Grace is right. The exMM always said “he’s just f**ked up right now.” Not in a good place with his life is just another version of “I’m not available for relationship”. They all do say that. It’s a standard AC line. You’ll see it in almost every BR reader post. I was stunned. At some point, maybe just now, I’ve had to come to grips that the fire died. It also isn’t about the traumatic stuff that happened early in the relationship. That’s the typical FBG line. Have you ordered Natalie’s book?

      • Fearless says:


        “BLAH BLAH BLAH. They all want time. YOUR TIME.”

        This made me laugh out loud Grace – it’s so true – in a nutshell, that’s exactly it! (And they’ll take ALL the time you’re willing to chuck at them.)

        “They’re warning you that they will treat you like shite. Listen!”

        After ten years of my on again off again relationshit with the ex arse we still never had any “mutual friends” (if that doesn’t tell me something – nothing will!). But it didn’t stop me flinging all kinds of crap on the fire – just to keep it turning over. Thanks to BR I have now accepted the top line info and am not trying to fantasize it into something different: If a guy wants to be there – he WILL be there.

        Hope you’re all doing well. Still reading!

    • Ethelreda the Unready (formerly PJM) says:

      I’m with Grace – I’ve been out with this man as well, and it’s the same old same old. He has told you what he really thinks of you, but he will make good and sure you never move on to meet anyone else and cut off his supply of emotional massage.

      Cut and run. You can phase out the friends – or at least minimise the time you spend with them as part of this man’s self-pitying harem of emotional supporters.

      Stop chasing him – no man ever wants a woman who chases him anyway. This man seems to want to be treated very badly by women, for whatever reason, and it may be that he gets his jollies this way.

      I suspect you may have a covert woman-hater on your hands: a man who’s been smothered by women in his upbringing, and has deliberately chosen an EUW to confirm all his worst beliefs about the cruelty of the female sex. He is SO NOT INTERESTED in a healthy relationship, and he has told you this.

      Extricate yourself from this web, because it will simply suck you dry if you stay there. You CAN get away, but you have to want to do so.

      And BR can help you!

  28. Simon says:

    Allow me to join the chorus of “perfect timing.” I’m a guy who’s been reading BR for months but hasn’t posted. I am seven months removed from a mere nine-month relationship, but lately I have surprisingly plummeted back to the emotional state I was in after only 2-3 months. I have done the work to recover but it’s just not fully happening. I feel it’s been way too long. The reason? I think a big part of it is 6) The breakup did a number on my self-esteem, although previously I’ve never had a problem with that at all. When she broke up with me, I took her critique of me seriously (she said I was not “emotional enough”) and spent a lot of time exploring it, only to have multiple therapists tell me that I was, in fact, OK. Now I’ve accepted the reasons for the breakup (to the extent that I understand them), but my self-esteem struggles sometimes. I have a task ahead of me to truly rebuild my self-esteem, and I’m looking forward to it.

    • cc says:

      i have to say, it gives me strength that a guy reads this, experiences what female BR readers experience, and has the guts to post. so, thanks for this.

      suggestion: take a hard look at the ex who said that to you. is she really so great that her opinion should carry that much weight? doesn’t she have faults (one being she didn’t recognize how wonderful you undoubtedly are)? should you be giving her that much credibility? its hard to remember, but just because someone judges us does NOT mean we have to accept that judgment. you have professional opinions that say that she’s wrong. so, make her wrong in your mind and reject what she said. NML is right: she’s not that special.

      one thing i’ve found about self-esteem – sometimes the rebuild can be, in part, instantaneous. you just reject all the crap you previously agreed with about yourself. yes, some of it is a day-by-day rebuild, but some of it is just saying “screw that! and screw him/her! i’m way more awesome than that!”

      as for me – this post exhibited NML’s preternatural sense of timing. i am aghast that i’m still not over my (judgmental, future faking, withholding, sad sack) EUM. but i’ve stopped judging myself for that so i can nudge myself forward and feel whole. i aim for wholeness as much as i can every day, and it is getting better.

      thanks, all.

      • Simon says:

        Thank you CC. I started reading this regularly because I wanted to find out what “emotionally unavailable” really was, and I learned that while I have my challenges like most of us, I’m not an EUM! My ex complained that I was not expressive enough with my feelings (I’m a little laid back, but not cold or emotionless) and said all her exes were way more dramatic than I am. Yet she was the one throwing up walls when she was unhappy instead of letting me work on it with her. Who’s the EUW?

        All I can say is she was really good at making me feel really good about myself. I must have thought she was this great prize and I somehow began to tie up way too much of my self-worth in the relationship. Which was a recipe for disaster. At least I am cognizant of all this now, and should be able to rebound to the self-loving person I always was.

        • working hard says:


          allow me to interfere here, but you keep emphasizing you used to be a self loving person, with no self esteem problems. You are completely not EUM? I can say for most women here I think, at least a certain percent is definitely EUW themselves, but very ready to work on it.
          So the several therapists you saw were all about the relationships alone?
          Look inside yourself and at least admit some failure of your own.
          Because you sound like my ex and those were his exact same ‘excuses’ i.e. ‘it’s not me, it’s you, I’m just fine the way I am’
          And oh boy, was he not.
          I’m not saying you aren’t fine the way you are, but if she made you feel good about yourself and you got trapped in by that and that was ‘her good side’ surely, something is a bit off by that. Seem a bit ego stroking behaviour in my humble opinion.

          • Working Hard, I think that the term you mean is intervene not interfere. If you read back Simon’s comment you’ll note that he was not inferring that he didn’t have his own contribution or that he didn’t make his own mistakes, namely getting too carried away basking in the glow of this person and giving her too much power, which went on for some time. This could only happen as a result of losing sight of himself which he has to evaluate where and why that happened.

            I and several readers met a lovely woman recently. She was crying after a while. This happy woman who moved here from the US met a man who within a few weeks told her that she made him feel bad about himself because she was confident. She listened, she wanted to make him feel better and she didn’t heed the red flag. What followed was seven months of being cut down with sneaky comments. Abuse and manipulation come in many guises. Her first mistake was listening to the silly tit.

            Before you judge someone or start talking about “failure”, recognise that recognising ones mistakes is what provides the insights to gain lessons from. The relationship failed and he made his own mistakes, but he is not a failure nor is he failing. None of you are – you’re just on the way to making a success of a better relationship if you’ll accept that mistakes have been made. On both sides.

            And telling someone that you’re dumping them because they’re not dramatic like your exes is mind f*ckery.

            • Working Hard says:

              hi NML,

              I would never call someone a failure or even failing.
              Especialy if you try your best to see another persons point of view. I wasn’t judging either actualy, if it sounds or looks like that I’m sorry. I tried to state that if he said that her good feature was that she made him feel good about himself, that this is a bit contradictiory to somebody picking on him and mindf*ckery. (not saying this could not have been the case either!) I don’t judge Simon, and any reader can obviosuly see he went through hoops to please and make succeed his relationship with his girlfriend. I myself got picked on being confident, while actualy I wasn’t because it didn’t took long before I started to doubt myself big time. I myself hope to become ‘that old person again’. Only I don’t think I ever was. So trying to become this person is an insight I’ve got out of it. And what I was trying to express. (but english is not my native language, so it’s probably not that well said :-S)

              • Working Hard says:

                to admit some failure doesn’t make you a *failure* or does it? Just the opposite I think? *confused*

                • cc says:

                  just a thought here that i was going to keep to myself but am now sharing since the discussion has kept on…

                  simon – you say she was good at making you feel good about yourself. then, when she turned the tables on you, telling you you were not as emotionally exciting, or words to that effect, it made you feel terrible – and of course it did! i think i understand what Working Hard is saying, but from what you say, i disagree that you may be EUM, at least in the way that is generally discussed on BR. and i don’t see your ex’s telling you how great you were all the time as a *good* thing about her, just the opposite ….

                  i think that perhaps she was very good at being manipulative and shining you on to keep you interested and keep as much of the power as she could for herself. then, pulling an about face and criticizing you WAS total mind-effery, and very unkind, but maybe she was doing that and being that way the whole time. she wasn’t authentic.

                  that DOESN’T mean, however, that you aren’t all the good things you are. you are who you are. it just means that her motivations and actions must be discounted because she’s inauthentic. and i think you didn’t realize that your self-esteem could have been stronger – if it were, her blowing hot at you wouldn’t have puffed you up so much and left you ripe for deflation when she pulled away.

                  also – sorry to gender-generalize – you’re a guy, so admiration is very important to you and made you ripe for her picking. i do agree that women want love, while men want admiration. she knew this. she manipulated it. that makes HER deficient, not YOU.

                  and we ALL make the self-esteem mistake, thinking that we value ourselves more than we really do, not realizing how we leave ourselves unnecessarily vulnerable to a manipulator, and it is a very hard, very *painful* lesson to learn. we need to be masters/mistresses of our own worth, partly just so we are, and partly so we can see people of poor character, or ACs, or EUM/Ws for who they really are.

                  take back your power, your dreams. take back your definition of yourself and your power of choice. this advice also goes for me and for everyone else here.

                  anyway… good luck.

                  • Simon says:

                    CC, that is the best analysis of my specific situation that anyone’s ever given me. Some people have told me they knew her to be manipulative but I could never see it. Thanks NML and everyone.

                    • cc says:

                      whew! thank you…after i sent my reply i was so afraid i had judged your ex too harshly. i guess those powers of analysis are good for something.

                      so, there you go. NML’s right when she says we should use our support systems for reality checks, and even THEN its hard for us to see what’s happening.

                      i’m so sorry you (and all of us here) have gotten hurt like that. but now we’re all a bit wiser and we’re all brave enough to do this kind of hard, honest work on ourselves. we need to keep reminding ourselves of that. we have the guts to look down the lion’s mouth – guts that every one of our exes doesn’t have.

                      rock on. you’re gonna be ok.

                    • GL says:

                      Hi Simon,
                      Same situation here. Broke up with a girl who was friggin’ cold and emotional unavailable and did everything to hold me back. A girl I loved, but she never had the guts to show me she admired me. And yes, CC, men want to be ‘the best’ for their girl, I’m afraid. That has absolutely nòthing to do with ego-stroking or that kinda shit. There is no man on this planet who wants to be with a woman that hasn’t sorted things out for herself. I think a lot of women on this site are too damn extreme. Face it girls, those men you’re talking about are often far more hurt than you. It’s not that we don’t care, it’s because you thìnk we don’t care.

                    • GL, I think it’s important not to mix up the sentiment of your comment with Simon’s, which is coming from a very different perspective. It’s a bit like piggy backing of his comment as an opportunity to put the boot in. Fact is, this is an issue that affects both sexes, whether heterosexual or gay, and judging by the hundreds of thousands of people who read this site and email or comment, women don’t want men who aren’t prepared to sort themselves out either. When you love someone who is unavailable, you’re not so available yourself. And when you stay, it’s you holding yourself back. “It’s not that we don’t care, it’s because you thìnk we don’t care.” And that is bullshit through and through and a complete avoidance of responsibility.

                    • yoghurt says:


                      “Face it girls, those men you’re talking about are often far more hurt than you. It’s not that we don’t care, it’s because you thìnk we don’t care.”

                      Nay, GL, I think you’ve got that backwards. I can only speak for myself, but I’m NOT the woman that was loved and there ain’t nobody coming onto BR to try and work out my emotional unavailability issues. I’m the woman that was used in the process of getting over someone else, and who got chucked away after I’d bent over backwards to make HIM feel good.

                      If you read this blog and the comments, you’ll see that there are hundreds of women who’ve literally warped themselves beyond recognition trying to avoid ‘hurting’ a man (even when his definition of the term is laughable) and trying to show them that they care so I’m not sure how helpful a comment like that is.

                      “There is no man on this planet who wants to be with a woman that hasn’t sorted things out for herself.” That’s demonstrably untrue – there’s lots, it’s just that they tend not to have ‘sorted things out’ themselves, either, and thus aren’t very good at building healthy sustainable relationships either.

                      I’m not writing this in reference to Simon’s comment and, as it happens, I don’t think it’s exclusively a gender issue (although I do think that culturally, men find it easier to get into the driving seat of an unhealthy relationship… that’s a rant for another day). But I do think that it’s worth recognising that a relationship where either person is left feeling like they’re nothing just really isn’t any loss.

                    • grace says:

                      No, the problem most women have here isn’t that we don’t think he cares, it’s that we think he does, based on the following flimsy reasons that I am not making up and have seen on this very blog:
                      he has sex with us
                      he texts us
                      he’s said he’s gonna leave his wife
                      he showed us some pictures of his children
                      he IMs us for x months though he has never met us
                      he bought us a cake
                      he sent us balloons
                      he said x, y months ago, though x has never materialised
                      he goes barbecuing with us
                      he corners us in carparks to declare his love after dumping us
                      even when the man –
                      hits us
                      tries to make us have sex with other men
                      has sex with other women
                      disappears for days and/or weeks
                      dumps us
                      is married to someone else
                      marries someone else
                      has children with someone else
                      Also,I think you are reading your own situation wrong – if she was cold and did everything to hold you back – what makes you think she admired you?. You’re doing what we’re doing “He is doing X, but I say he means Y, because I know better.”
                      We must all learn to see what’s actually happening, not what we would like to be happening.
                      AND THAT is how you can control how much pain you experience post break up. What ACTUALLY happened? It is never 100% down to them or 100% down to us. It’s down to the ex that he punched me in the face, pushed me down the stairs and has left me with permanent injuries. I will never pirouette again. But it sure is down to me that when he started verbally picking on me that first day I moved in (it always starts like that), I didn’t just pack up my stuff and go.
                      And it’s not about apportioning blame down to the nth percentage. You have to learn or you will repeat the same mistake over and over, and maybe one day end up believing that … men are this, and women are that because – your’e stuck in your own cycle of hell.
                      Life is short but love is long. I see love everywhere. I see it because I stopped believing that what I had experienced is the whole truth.

                • cc says:

                  ok, i guess i’m on a roll, so i’ll take a shot at this one too. NML, please set me straight if you disagree with anything i say.

                  Working Hard, i think what happened here is that it was simon’s ex who was perhaps the EU one – not simon himself. SHE blew hot and cold on him. she puffed HIM up. when she asked for an emotional update from him, he gave it her. but since she was maybe an EUW, he could never satisfy her, because he 1) wasn’t dramatic, which is probably the only emotional language she speaks and 2) actually WAS emotionally available. its just that she was probably a good manipulator but didn’t want real emtions from him – because that would demand real emotions from her, and she wasn’t ready/able to give them.

                  just some thoughts.

                  • Working Hard says:

                    Hi CC, thank you for trying to understand my comment (if I could talk in my own native language I probably wouldn’t have come off judgemental, at least I hope so ;-)) I hope NML understands that to, but I also don’t need approval for my interpretation of Simon’s comment *sorry* :-)
                    All I wanted to say acutaly was that the information Simon gave, the dreadful remark of not being dramatic enough (off course way out of line) but also her making him feel so good, I found contradictorial. If only my ex could’ve said something in the likes off, ‘you’re doing so well’ ‘I think you’re great’ ‘let’s talk about you for a change’ and then I don’t mean me doing a ff’ing monologue, instead of ‘I love you and that’s it’ I would’ve smiled all day. Maybe that just hit a sensitive chord with me, well, it just did to be honest. How can that be manipulative, I’m not really clear on that. So giving somebody compliments is manipulative? (I understand that if you give compliments only to take ’em back at any point later, then yes, they weren’t complimenting in the first place).

                    @GL, why do you say that a man doesn’t want to be with a woman who ‘sorted things out for herself’. It’s a bit vague. What about when you end up in a crisis situation? Does she have to have ‘her shit together’ all the time? A person can ‘lose’ it sometimes no? We aren’t perfect all the time, nobody is, no woman or man. I personally wouldn’t mind if my partner ‘lost’ it sometimes, or through a period, that wouldn’t make him an EUM. If his bad situation would get projected onto me, and he would ask me to be the sole solution to HIS problems, yes, then it would. Everybody can get hurt, and has the right to be hurt by the things they find hurtful, but when you lose your boundaries or break somebody else’s, you’ll find yourself losing your ticket on the ‘I’ve got my rights too’ train. My ex would do this, ‘I feel bad about this this and that, past or present, no matter’ and ‘you hàve to be supportive -ànd show me I’m the best’ when he wasn’t giving me his best. So no, thank you. I’ll save my best for somebody who gives me his best.

                    • cc says:

                      Working Hard-
                      paying someone *honest* compliments and giving them *genuine* admiration is fine, wonderful, great, terrific! blowing hot at someone with false compliments and artificial admiration in order to keep them flattered into passivity and one’s self in the driver’s seat is manipulative and crappy.

                      everyone wants to be appreciated, seen, loved and admired, but we want those observations and emotions to be real, not the artifacts of some hidden agenda.

                      it sounded like simon’s ex was doing the former with him, not the latter. not that he isn’t the wonderful things she said he was, he undoubtedly is, it was her *motivation* in saying them that sounds like it was suspect.

                  • cc says:

                    (huuuuugs grace)

                  • Fearless says:

                    “Face it girls, those men you’re talking about are often far more hurt than you. ”

                    You must be friggin kiddin. Not the men we are talking about. You must be thinking of other men. I can assure you my on-again-off-again-Harry Houdini come willo-the-wisp impersonator of ten long years is no way on this earth more hurt than me. Reason: He as nothing to be hurt about.

                    “It’s not that we don’t care, it’s because you thìnk we don’t care.”

                    Nope. Reason I no longer contact my ex is because I was struck down with a dose of harsh reality: self evidently he doesn’t give a monkey’s brass ball.

                • jennynic says:

                  GL, I find it interesting that you refer to all of us here as ‘girls’. (ie, face it girls). That’s condescending. Most of the women here are ‘working things out for themselves’, that is why we are here. The extreme attitude you refer to probably just means some self esteem and self respect (and yes, sometimes anger to start) that we have gained after having our chains jerked as women, as wives, as sisters, and as daughters, and lovers….oh and mostly, as doormats. I take accountability for staying in relationships that were harmful, and I can say that these men, DID NOT CARE and certainly hadn’t worked things out for themselves’. I was too busy running and ducking after my ex punched me in the face or threw me to the floor by my hair to notice how ‘hurt’ he was. Thats like believing….don’t get mad at the rapist and his issues, you were raped because you wore a short skirt. Blaming women for the shitty things men have done to them is beyond caveman. The man has no accountability? But when we finally stand on our own two feet, we are called extreme. We need to let a man be who he is and just accept the bad behavior because underneath he really ‘cares’? If only I’d showed my abuser I’d admired him, he would of been able to be his best!!!!! Sorry, GL, men do not get a free pass on bad behavior, just like women shouldn’t. The ‘girls’ here are on the right track. Read more of the site and you might learn a few things, which may lead to you being able to be your best. We aren’t men bashers here, but we call a spade a spade, or are learning to. Great, kind, honest, people are out there, men and women. This site empowers us to be able to recognize them. I applaud a man wants to be his best…..and would need him to recognize the same trait in me. Unfortunately, sometimes people’s best isn’t all that good. It can be a blanket excuse….”I’m doing the best I can.” Doesn’t mean I have to except shitty behavior because that’s the best they have to offer.

            • Simon says:

              I am certainly open to working on the unavailable parts of me and acknowledging my own accountability; that’s why I’m here. My ex did not literally say “you’re not dramatic like my exes, so I am breaking up,” but throughout the relationship her only negative feedback was “I can’t tell how you’re feeling, I am used to more dramatic men.” To which I would respond with my feelings (I was never unavailable to talk about how I felt, though it didn’t seem to satisfy her), but it was the only issue she ever offered as a reason. And rather than saying “it’s not me, it’s you,” I internalized her critique and didn’t heed the red flag of someone yearning for more drama. And then I ended up in therapy wanting to explore my emotions and my mode of expression, only to find out that what I need to focus on now is myself, not her and her perception of me.

              • Working Hard says:

                I like your answer here Simon, because that was all I wanted to bring to your comment. I didn’t mean that your ex isn’t all the things you say she was, UEW and such, but to be with somebody like that and to stay with them and get affected by their behaviour or attitude or ‘drama’, there has to be a part of you that is not seeing it for what it is. (The others person’s projection of themselves a lot of the times) So then you wanted to find out about it, and wanted to explore the very things she said you couldn’t give her and you ended up discovering you need to focus on yourself and not her perception of you. Hurray! :-) Still, men do want admiration, very true, women want intimacy, also very true. And sometimes it’s not always a situation of drama seeking or big time unavailability, but a simple case of not speaking the same emotional language. People are different, how they feel and experience things and how they show it. And sometimes it’s just plain not compatible between two people. What they do with this incompatibility, is more often how they show themselves to be AC’s of EUM’s. A big problem and issue between a lot of couples is assuming things. A bit like what GL is talking about. But if you can’t talk about these assumptions, and get them out of the air in positive conversations, and one has to do all the work while the other is defensive and evasive, things can never proceed in a healthy way

  29. Mymble says:

    The talking about them is very bad. I did a lot of that for a while and then made a deal to stop (other than posting here). About a month ago I broke my rule while out drinking with a friend and consequently had not only a hangover but three days of misery/tears/depression. I am starting with a therapist soon, and a few days ago realised that I was LOOKING FORWARD to telling him the whole tragic story! Eugh. I have decided that I am NOT going to tell him, not immediately at any rate, because for one thing he is not in my life any more and will form no part of my future, I have already ruminated plenty about him and feel I have many of the answers. The things that I should be discussing with the therapist are my underlying issues with self esteem, my beliefs about myself, my marriage, etc etc. Those issues need to be my focus, I haven’t got the time or the money to spend talking about the ass any more.

    • amanda says:

      Wow – you have great insight on yourself. I, too, have come to terms that processing-about-the-ex with peers is another way of holding on. Sure, its important to do this to some extent, but it is only so productive. You know best when you rehash the same tired issues with your friends, and when they don’t seem to go anywhere.

      You should be happy that you are entering psychotherapy at this place. This is also an opportunity for you to take control in a relationship (if that has been an issue for you) and get out of it what you want. Why don’t you set up a ground rule with your therapist that you want to limit how much you talk about the ex; its important that your therapist get a good view of what has been going on with you at present, and he or she can also help you grieve this specific loss. But, if you ask him or her to help you, after the first quarter or third of the session, to bring the focus back on you, you can bring up the ex- without worrying that your $2.50/minute is going to be wasted on talk that gets you nowhere.

    • yoghurt says:

      I do that too – even now. And there’s a part of me that’s secretly pleased when he does something ACish because I can tell someone and go “Ugh! Can you believe what a manky specimen of humanity he is? Blegh!”

      I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s something to do with trusting my own judgement of the situation. I want someone to say “Yes, Yoghurt, you’ve been very good and very brave and he’s a twerp with a problem. Have some REWARDS”.

      The thing is, I KNOW that already, it’s just that I don’t particularly like or respect myself enough (yet) to feel validated by my own opinion – I want to canvas the whole world to find out if he’s a prat and whether it’s my fault or not. Why I think that’d make a difference – except to paint myself as a victim to all and sundry – I’ve no idea.

      The worst thing is, even when someone DOES confirm that he’s a prat (he is) then that isn’t enough either. On account of he still swans through life doing exactly what he wants and I’m still bothered. The ONLY solution is to force my thoughts away from him to the myriad other things in life that are less irritating.

      • yoghurt says:

        Reading that through, it’s also become apparent that I don’t particularly like taking responsibility for my own actions, either.

        Argh! I’ve not had a great couple of weeks and I’m spending my time alternating between thinking about everything HE’S done and feeling furious, or thinking about all the times and ways in which I’VE disrespected my feelings, ignored my instincts, messed about with and complicated the situation or just been plain dumb. Then I feel just as furious with myself.

        Then I get cross with myself for rehashing it all at all. Grrr!

        • Yoghurt, I *suspect* that fixating on your ex is a distraction. You’ve been through a lot and started to make changes, but you’re starting to feel uncomfortable and grasping at the familiar comfort blanket of How Annoying Is My Nob Of An Ex That’s A Drunk, Unstable, Knocked Me Up & Then Got A Girlfriend While I’m Left Holding The Baby.

          What are you afraid of? That people will think that you’re a single mother because there’s something wrong with you while he is a prince in a bad situation? He’s hardly a model boyfriend – he’s just with another Fallback Girl who actually thinks he’s a catch. That could be you!

          The things that we don’t like in others are things that we sometimes have to check in with ourselves regarding whether we do the same thing.

          This is a sad situation with a wonderful, if not tiring huge responsibility of a gift. Whatever the circumstances of your child’s journey into this world, you are blessed, not just because you have a child but also because you have options. Other women in the same situation don’t and then they make do with a drunk, flaky father. You could also have chosen to be together which would have been messy.

          You are not a victim. Nobody can come around in the middle of the night or phone you up at all hours and have you let them in or play armchair psychologist without your consent, verbally or through action. Getting pregnant is something that didn’t happen to you – you participated too.

          Yeah his life is easier and that’s part of the territory that comes with being a single mother with full custody. Is it fair? No, but I’m not sure you want to have your child with him half the time or be taking care of him as well as the child. Mr Unavailables also have an easier time simply because there are people who let them get away with it. Whether you were together or not, he would still be having an easier time of it. My father turned 60 last weekend – he hasn’t changed a great deal and really he hasn’t needed to. Now you could be like my mum who still grits her teeth 33 years later and will go off on one given half a chance, or you can stop feeling helpless out of trying to control the uncontrollable and take some if not most of his power away and be in the driving seat of your life. You can do this.

          • yoghurt says:

            Hahahahaha. Right, I’ve finally unstuck my hands from the side of my head, closed my mouth from its Munch-esque scream and put my eyes back into my head after the horror/relief of seeing JUST HOW RIGHT YOU ARE. Now I can reply 😀

            I’m not sure it’s enough to say that you nailed it, you’ve also staple-gunned and superglued it to the wall so that it can’t even wriggle. Genius.

            The truth is, I’m on holiday and I had major plans for this break – I was going to give up smoking, see all my friends, organise nights out, do some creative arty-type things, get out and about and go to the gym whenever I could. D’you know what I’ve done since the latest dramadramadrama? Nothing! Except sit, feel sorry for myself, read internet horoscopes (it’s all to do with Saturn, apparently, not me) and smoke whenever the opportunity has arisen. And bitten all my nails off, which is a shame because part of my Self-Esteem kick has involved keeping them really nice for the last few months.

            And the worst thing is that I manufactured the drama! Basically, I asked him not to take Son to stay at his girlfriend’s overnight (she’s just moved into a new place) because it made me feel horrible and uncomfortable. Why? What a pointless exercise! Asking him to be bothered about my feelings?! So he did without telling me, which I then found out about through other channels and had a meltdown about. He Involved Son In A Lie! He Used Him As A Prop In His Relationship Saga! He Doesn’t Care About Building A Proper Co-Parenting Relationship With Me! (that one really is a shock development, not) He’s Still A Manky Little Liar! (cue pause to snigger at the fact that he hasn’t really changed at all, despite all his protestations – I win I win I win).

            Now really, though, most of this I knew anyway and can deal with. Aside from the fact that he lied about Son’s whereabouts – and I’ve told him that if that happens again I’ll just stop him taking Son overnight, that’s a boundary – really I was fully aware of all this, and I can’t protect Son from having a naff self-interested dad, he’ll work it out for himself when he’s older. I can’t make it fair, either, but whilst sometimes life is unfair and you have to suck it up, there’s no point in sitting there thinking about how unfair it is.

            It’s still easier to get involved in silly little power games (that I really really don’t have to play) than it is to push myself out of my comfort zone and DO stuff. But yet again I’ve learnt it just makes me feel like absolute crap. So I’m going to go and read that poem about falling into a hole again and then we’re going to go out to a garden party that I was planning to skip.

            Thanks for your help! It’s interesting that all of a sudden things are very easy to explain, instead of being very very difficult… the hallmark of a shady situation.

        • grace says:

          Your comment rings a bell. I was at a dinner last night with the crush (don’t get excited, it was a group thing not a date) and had a wonderful time. I was on top form. Got a lift home with the crush and his friend – they were saying “Oh, you were so different tonight, you’re usually so quiet. You were very lively. It’s nice!” I said, “I AM quiet” and the crush said “I think you like to stay anonymous”. He’s called that right.
          And now, today, I am kicking myself for having had too much fun and that it’s not really me. I was just acting. I’m already thinking about how I need to lock down and put my guard back up. Old coping habits die hard.
          We are punishing ourselves yoghurt and we need to STOP.
          How much longer are we going to keep kicking ourselves over breakups that happened a long time ago?

          • yoghurt says:

            That’s an interesting point about ‘punishing’ yourself.

            I do it too – I do it by being quiet and withdrawn, by not eating properly so’s I can romantically waste away, by hiding in my house and by not talking to people (because I ‘can’t help’ talking about my dreadful life and other such).

            To be fair, it takes a fair bit of vigilance sometimes to suss out that that’s what I’m doing, but it is. It’s like I have to define myself by my cruddy experiences and choices and faults over and above my many many uncruddy experiences, choices and gifts.

            In fact, anything that I did or was before the Big Crisis was obviously Wrong And Bad – as though those mistakes were all steps on a path that culminated in the End Of My Life As I Know It. It’s like the mistakes I’ve made have killed off all other aspects of my life.

            Anyway, I’m going to stoppit. I’m a perfectly alright human being, some stuff’s gone wrong but I know why and I know how to avoid it happening again. No more deliberately denying myself of perfectly pleasant things… and don’t you either! Having fun doesn’t mean that you’ve let your guard down, it just means that you’ve had fun. Sometimes that can even be a healthy and a good thing 😉

      • Fearless says:

        Hey Yoghurt – (hope you’re doing well)

        I think all my friends already knew my ex EUM was a total jerk and waste of my time. Oddly, I am not sure why, I never wanted anyone to tell me what they thought of him (maybe cos I knew they would be right and it would only make me feel like a fool!) but I did get the ex to admit to me that he was an “arse” (his word, not mine, by email, of course!) and even that didn’t make me feel better; it only made me wonder at myself that I had given him the benefit of the doubt a zillion times – a zillion WTF moments and I still stoked the dying embers. Duh. Thanks to BR, Nat, and all the great ladies on here I now see him in a totally different light. I still have days when I feel infuriated by him – and astounded and infuriated with my own very poor judgement of him, which I managed avoid dealing with for years. Good luck to you!

        • yoghurt says:

          Hey Fearless (I’m fine now that clarity’s returned, thank you – how’s yourself?)

          Thanks for your reassuring post :) It’s a weird one, isn’t it? I still really struggle to find the balance between blaming him and blaming myself. I always eventually work my way round to realising that a) it was a bad dynamic, in which we each share 50% responsibility b) ‘blame’ is futile and useless anyway – if I can forgive him then I can forgive myself and vice versa and c) I can only control my 50% of the responsibility and will only drive myself round the bend fretting over his (see above posts).

          But then something else pops up – a memory, an issue, a sore point, and I’m back at the beginning. I have to get ridiculously angry at him, ridiculously angry at myself and then spend a few days tearing my hair out before I return to my zen-like state of acceptance. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  30. Terri says:

    Just got the “I need to figure stuff out and have some Rick time.” This was from a guy who I have been very good friends with for two years while he had a girlfriend. He finally broke up with her a month ago and immediately ran to me the next day…I said, “I don’t want to be a rebound but then let it go and went with it” Now, a month later, I got the boot with him telling me that he went from one relationship into another…and needed to get his shit together and DATE!

  31. Terri says:

    We had an amazing, fun, chemistry and sex-filled month together..laughter and emotional bonding…then he left…before this we had spent two years developing a friendship….i feel used, the fallback girl and am hurt that my friend who became my lover, did this to me…or did I do it to myself?

    • yoghurt says:

      Both. You knew full well, as did he, that getting together with someone the day after he’d broken up with his long-term girlfriend wasn’t a good idea but… you did it anyway.

      He’ll probably claim Emotional Instability as an excuse, but the truth is that he used you to avoid the manky feelings at the end of his relationship and the reason that he used YOU is that you let him do it. I suspect that it it hadn’t been you it’d have been some other poor schmuck, but when it comes down to it he valued his own short-term ego-fix more than he valued you or your friendship.

      On here a few weeks ago, Grace said something like “don’t bother trying to work out why you hit the ground after you jumped off the roof, work out why you jumped off the roof in the first place”, which I thought was brilliant. Maybe think about why you got into that situation at all, even though you knew it had an anorexic-to-none chance of it working out.

      If it’s any consolation, I don’t believe that ANYONE could hop straight from one relationship to another like that so while I sympathise and I’m sure it feels horrible :( , I really wouldn’t take it personally… you could be the Best Person In The Whole Wide World and it STILL wouldn’t have worked.

  32. grace says:

    Here’s a warning: Even if you’re happy and over it, you can still put your hand back in the flame.
    One of my exes broke up with me and we had no contact for over a year. I did everything right – cried, mourned, rebuilt my life, took dance classes and got happy. Then I CALLED HIM. Why oh why oh why oh why oh why? Looking back a part of me wanted validation but why did I even care? He wanted to meet me. When I saw him coming towards me the thought that went through my mind was “Is this really what I’ve been screwed up about for so long?” He asked me to marry him. The thought that went through my mind was “NOOOO”. Reader, I married him. And divorced him less than a year later.
    Yes, get over it; yes, get happy AND GET A CLUE as to what you want in your life.
    Forward, forward keep moving FORWARD.

  33. natslayer says:

    Five weeks of no-contact and counting. Had a minor slip last week and checked up on his Twitter page – it was like throwing chip fat onto a bonfire. The pain flared up again, but briefly – thankfully have blocked the stupid AC now and he has no way of contacting me, nor I him. And I tell you what ladies, it feels great to be free.

  34. broadsided says:

    I am wondering how long it will take before I will be strong enough to go to the same venues as my ex and have it not bother me and throw huge pieces of wood on the fire? For instance a great dance band is coming to town soon whom I’d love to see but he loves them too and I know he’ll be there. I don’t like having the past hold power over my activities but maybe that’s how it must be in order to care for myself while I heal. We both loved to dance and there are other local bands that we both like and where I know he’d be. His final post breakup email exchange with me was hurtful and he has never apologized so seeing him would be a downer. The whole way he ended it was hurtful. I am not pleased that it could be many months before I can see him and not care, but feel right now that the pain of seeing him let alone making eye contact or interacting with him would be a bad thing. None of these are huge venues so if I went I’d be in proximityl. Damn. One day if I have a date to go with it might be okay. I wish he’d have apologized for things he said and cleaned it up – but I’m quite sure he could now care less how I’m doing or that he was an ass. I guess no contact will have to include avoiding him in public. Has anyone got to the point where this is no big deal?

    • Groundhog Day says:

      Hi Broadsided…
      I dont think you should necessarily avoid something you would normally have already gone to, perhaps you could take a supportive friend? I bumped into an ex AC before at a nightclub (i wasnt expecting to) and yes it did hurt initially but i just turned my head and tried to enjoy my night, i felt shit during the night and it did feel like id relit the fire, but a few days after i was really proud that i managed to just ignore him. The way we ended things made him look like a complete tosspot, so I’m sure my actions looked much more dignified that he felt when he saw me, and saw me out and about with my friends and not cooped up at home crying into a glass of wine.

      So basically id say go, but take a supportive friend and be strong
      hope that helps xx

  35. broadsided says:

    @sm – Yes, thankfully there are other fun things to do. I realized re going out to hear live music that there are a couple of types of music he does not like that do. So I just may have to limit myself to those for awhile. Maybe by summer my skin will have toughened. It’s too bad your ex did that on Easter. I think mine behaved hurtfully to create distance and maybe create less guilt in his mind about dumping me. So stupid – class and respect is much better for all.

    • sm says:

      I’m sure you are correct. It’s happened to me more than once and to some of my friends, when the guy knows he is breaking up for an azzhole reason, he behaves hurtfully and lays some weird blame on the girl. I’ve found that I have to respect my own feelings, I’ve actually busted my own boundaries by forcing myself to do things that hurt me because I felt I should be ‘over it’. Take care of yourself and do things that add positively to your life even if that means avoiding him.

  36. Spinster says:

    Opposite situation for me (in romantic relationships & regular friendships): when a romantic relationship or friendship came to an end, I often acted as if it didn’t hurt. Big mistake. Implosions galore. The embers became a full-blown forest fire, and I either said or did things that I regretted (breaking “no contact”, acting silly if seeing them in person by accident or on purpose, etc.), which made the fire last even longer. Thank goodness for age, wisdom, and a damn good mentor to whom I’m forever grateful.

    • yoghurt says:

      D’you know Spinster, this really rings bells for me – my preferred method of dealing with any sort of fire is to cover it up with a mattress or something similarly inflammable and then pretend it isn’t there while it smoulders on and fills the whole house with smoke.

      Prior to this EUM, I used to deal with the end of friendships by retreating and withdrawing (smiling nicely all the while), and the end of relationships by pretending that the other person just didn’t exist… I thought that I was very healthy and that this was NC but it wasn’t really, because I was always still wide open to a ‘return’ and I didn’t actually stop caring – I’d back out of the door but I wouldn’t shut it. 99% of the time I got away with it because the other person (who generally had an iota of common sense and emotional literacy) would leave me to it.

      In my current situation, I’ve spent a lot of time saying (I’ve literally said it to myself) “imagine a point at which there are no emotions attached to this and act from there”. I truly thought that this was the best and most sensible and healthy way to go, but all it means is that the feelings haven’t gone away and I’ve manouvered myself into a position where I have little ‘right’ to express them.

  37. Screwed says:

    I was in a relationship with a MM for 6 months. It was wonderful. It was intense, caring, exciting. I got everything I needed. Then last week I found out he was seeing other women. In fact he had a three month relationship with one during our six months, while he was busy telling me I was the love of his life. When I found out, I did the only thing any self respecting woman would do and ended it – calmly but firmly. Since then I have resisted all temptation to call/text/email/cyber stalk and have been the model of self discipline. But, here is the the thing. Nobody knew about him and the pain I am going through now has floored me. I cry 24/7, miss him like nothing else matters and have this awful, constant pain that won’t shift. I feel completely alone with it and desperately in need of some support and kind, encouraging words, which I guess is why I am here. Thank God for this site.

    • amanda says:

      You aren’t alone, Screwed. (Wait, you wouldn’t happen to live in the Bay Area, wouldja? You’ve described my ex-MM to a tee.) How do you grieve the end of an affair with a MM? Everyone and everything (yourself included) shines a huge, glaring spotlight on how “bad” the affair was, from start to finish. If you have an ounce of compassion, you worry about the wife and the kids (if there are any), and don’t want to give them one more ounce of worry by demanding validation for your relationship.

      I give you all the kind words you want. There was plenty of good mixed among the bad in your relationship. Its going to be hard to unpack, to untangle, to separate. But, that love and that care was there… you did witness that in your MM or MW. He or she was so confused and messed up and directionless that (s)he didn’t understand how they were killing you, while loving you at the same time. The love was real, on their part, but it wasn’t sustainable, because they were robbing Peter to give to Paul. The world is a complex place. Acknowledge and grieve that love, but do not hang onto it.

      Its going to be hard getting the validation that you need from your peers. When you come out of this, you will be all the stronger, because you are going to learn to love yourself in the absence of getting that insta-validation from your peers. Know that there are thousands of people like you (men and women) who get spit out the rough end of an affair. Look for us. Start with here!

      • Screwed says:

        Thank you so much, reading your words made me cry! The first time I have shared with someone about what’s going on for me, received support, it’s really touched me. This site is proving to be my rock at the moment. It’s preventing me from behaving like a lunatic and keeping me focused in what matters – me.

        • amanda says:

          Screwed, awwww… you’re in a hard place. I know it well. As the ex-mistresses, we are, of course, very responsible for this, but we do a good enough job beating ourselves up. Our friends mean well (and take Magnolia’s following comments as an example), we may not be ready to hear the tough-love and the “reality-checks” that they throw our way. I hear that you are ready to move on, and not add to anyone else’s pain, but you don’t know what to make of the grief, or the fact that the love felt so real to you. It was real, and it was mixed up with all sort of untenable, painful elements that will make it impossible to separate the two. I am sitting with this conundrum, as well. I know, that when enough time passes, when I no longer feel so personally involved, and when everyone has healed, I can be at peace with how mixed up this all was.

          I wish that we could carry on this conversation, one-on-one! I understand why Natalie discourages usage of her blog-comment-section as a forum, so not sure what to do. I have a private blog (which I am the only reader / author on), which I have left dormant for a while. I have temporarily opened up permissions so that public can view it. If you are interested in building a connection, please visit the blog at http://compassionatehomewrecker.blogspot.com/, add a comment to a post, and I will add you as a reader (and then make the blog private again).

    • Magnolia says:

      Dear Screwed,

      I’m sorry you’re in pain. I must say I paused at the phrase “any self-respecting woman”. If you got into a thing with an MM doesn’t that say something larger about your level of self-respect? I also paused at “model of self-discipline” because that suggests that you value self-discipline. But it also sounds as though if you hadn’t found out he was seeing other women you’d still be sleeping with someone else’s husband, and “getting all you need.” So you’ll understand, I hope, when I say that sounds like someone who has been on a crack binge for six months stopping for a week because they got arrested and saying, “I haven’t touched the crack since the arrest, I’m a model of self-discipline.”

      You’ll find BR is full of women who have been where you are, and full of women who have been the one cheated on, and you’ll get lots of different kinds of support here. At this point, I hear you asking for support for the pain of having had to give up your crack, which you can find her, but not asking any questions about why you went for it, nor any admission that it wasn’t good for you, or that you were stealing it.

      You seem indignant that a man who was cheating on his wife with you should be cheating on you, too. Check out all of Natalie’s OW posts; you’ll find lots of posts that speak directly to your situation.

      • Screwed says:

        Dear magnolia,

        No, I’m not indignant. Just sad and hurt. Do I deserve it? I’m sure I do. Where was my self respect when I began a relationship with a married man? Good point. Just trying to salvage some now.
        You commented that I was sleeping with him – actually I wasn’t.
        Anyway, I take your comments on the chin. I’ve never been in that position before and I won’t be again.

  38. Lilia says:

    Deep down, I know you are right. Everybody around me tells me to throw my nutty EUM into the bonfire. He´s played with my emotions, manipulated me into believing we´d have a real relationship (this was long distance with someone who used to be my best friend), and just recently I discovered he had withheld telling me he has moved back to my city months ago and is dating someone else.
    All the signs of the EUM are there: 40 years old and never been married/lived with a partner is just one of the list.
    So what is holding me back?
    The fact that he clings to me when I move away. He plays this sick cat and mouse game, touching all my weak spots, and since he knows me well (we have been very close for more than a decade) he knows how to do it.
    Every time he contacts me I end up feeling completely powerless. I´ve never been in such a situation before, always had normal relationships with normal guys. So, what do you do when confronted with someone like that? It´s easy for me to get mad when he´s not around, but when he does contact me it´s like he disarms me, because I think on some level all the years of friendship make it very hard for me to break up with him.

    • sm says:

      Your post just goes to show that azzclowns are that way even to their friends, only its worse when you are romantically involved.

  39. butterfly says:

    Natalie you are incredible!! Your website has given me soooo much insight on my life and relationships. I just wanted to say THANK YOU!!!

  40. Cinderella says:

    AWESOME post, Natalie!

    Now I can read it and understand it totally, and am so grateful for it.

    I wonder if I could have even ‘heard” it when I was in the midst of my pain years ago, with no self-esteem and totally blaming myself for two long years.
    But that was the “pre-Baggage-rclaim-era” (lol)

    I so hope that many MANY women are helped by your site.
    It is life-changing in my opinion, knowing as I do how much progress I have made because of you!


    The wedding is almost here!

  41. butterfly says:

    I wonder if someone could offer some advice? I have been doing great with not contact for about 2 months now I think. Even when he sent me a text, I didn’t reply. I did make a mistake the other night and while a little tipsy sent him a text that said Hey. Thankfully he didn’t reply. My thing is that he has contacted my brother wanting some work done and I can’t stand it. I feel like he is “hovering” around in my life. I have so much anger toward him and I when he enters my thoughts I try and tell myself I’m not going to give him one more minute of my thinking time because he is NOT worth it. My question is what do you do when you feel like are “hovering” in your life and will the anger ever go away? I wish he could find his own people to do things for him and leave mine alone!

  42. TJ says:

    Great article. Wanted to mention one thing that I happened to learn the hard way, and that is ex AC’s will pop in and out of your life as many times as YOU let them. My ex, after a year and a half went by after we ended things, sent me a lazy e-mail telling me he “still loves me” and “wants to talk”. Of course, he had been seeing a woman before he broke up with me and he was still seeing her at the time he told me that he “still loved me”. I decided I would use lazy communication myself LOL and I e-mailed him back saying “Never contact me again for any reason whatsoever, goodbye”. Haven’t heard from him since. I know that it was totally up to me as to whether I wanted to keep being a pawn in his game. I could have chosen to stay semi attached to him and the situation, which was my old way, the old comfortable self destructive way, but instead I chose ME. I treated myself with love, care, trust and respect for a change, and washed that creep right out of my hair. Once a man has established himself firmly as a complete and total AC waste of time ladies, ditch him and never look back! Because if you hang around for the game you will end up regretting it. Move on to bigger and better things! We are worth it! :)

    • Happy Soul says:

      @TJ , I love your saying: “I happened to learn the hard way, and that is ex AC’s will pop in and out of your life as many times as YOU let them”. I still let my ex AC to “pop in and out” as I thought it was harmless, what I am thinking off??? HE stops me to move on, and it is my fault that I let him! It would be easy for me if he never contacts me, but he does unfortunately:-(
      @Natalie, you are my life saver:-) I adore BR, you and our lovely ladies!

      • TJ says:

        Thanks HS.
        That is just the thing. These AC’s have no intention of changing and becoming above board decent men. I fell for all the popping in and out of my life for about a year. When my ex dangled the hook I would grab it. I think I was in denial at first, not really ready to completely let go of him even though I knew deep down that he wasn’t worth the time or effort. I figure that if we waste our precious energy on a person that doesn’t treat us with love, care and respect then we won’t realize it when someone that is worthy of us comes along. I had to come to terms with the fact that my ex AC is just that an AC and there is no rhyme or reason to it, he is just not a good person and every relationship he has will be tainted with his toxic venom. As I learned to love me more and got my self esteem back I realized that he was draining the life out of me and I needed to walk away for good. Best to you. TJ

  43. Laurie says:

    I’d been stoking the fires of my break-up bonfire since September and my FIRST break-up with my ex-fiance. Tomorrow will be three weeks of no contact, which probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to most people, but this is by far the longest I’ve gone without seeing, speaking, fb stalking my ex. And I’ve noticed something—I’m starting to feel a little bit better! Duh!

    I did avoid going to a social gathering last night because it’s one of my exes favorite haunts, and I was afraid I might bump into him. So I guess I’m not doing perfectly, but I did end up meeting with some friends instead. I do feel nauseous at the thought of him being with someone else, and I feel anxious because I feel like I should already be in a relationship with someone else by now. I know I’m not ready, but for some reason I feel this unbelievable pressure…

    I was having lunch with a new acquaintance a few days ago and she asked me about a photo on my fb of me in my ex. “Who is that bald guy in that picture with you?” she asked. I felt my cheeks getting warm when I responded, oh that’s my ex-fiance. She stared at me and disbelief and asked, “Are you serious? What did you see in him?” I felt myself getting very defensive and thinking, how mean and superficial can this girl be? I kept trying to think of nice things I could say about him, oh he treated me really well, had a great personality, etc. But all I could come up with was, “He bought me a lot of things, wrote me a lot of letters, and spoiled me.” Now who looks superficial?!!

    But that question has been nagging me, “What did I see in him?” Other than someone clearly trying to win me over…initially. Did my ego so blind me that I didn’t realize we had completely different values? Regardless of what someone looks like (cause honestly I don’t give a rat’s) I deserve to be treated with love, care, and respect. And buying people things and writing them cards doesn’t mean sh*t if you are lying to them and treating them disrespectfully. Similarly, I need to be able to respect and trust my partner—if I don’t, then THEY deserve better than me.

    Unfortunately, I think I would have come to this realization much sooner if I had just accepted the break-up in September, and stopped fanning the flames of this completely wacked-out relationship.

  44. jennynic says:

    Frankly, I am so tired of getting over breakups. For the first time in my life I don’t crave a relationship, I think because it just seems like a source of distraction and vacation from myself, like a drug used to get through life. I have never felt like this before and it’s a relief and a little unnerving at the same time. Looking back at my old patterns, I see how I tried to use relationships to add purpose to my life and fill the void felt. So when they went bust, I was completely lost. The process of rebuilding was hard, each time. I really want to develop my purpose and fulfillment in my own life, on my own right now. It’s not like a feel jaded, but maybe just facing my own dysfunction for the first time. I have to make my life less hollow, not look for a man to do it for me. I’ve taken steps to accomplish this, and feel better about myself already. I use this positive momentum to keep moving forward. My last breakup was a wake up call for me. I’m getting over it in record time, interesting enough. I still have him blocked at all levels and avoid him, but it works for me. I just don’t want any more drama in my life, I’m just plain tired of it. Plus, I feel excited about some changes I’ve made in my life and what road it may lead me down, roads I’ve never taken. Blocking and NC work for me. Then getting on with your life by changing habits and crutches, which takes real effort. Bad days don’t disappear completely but they are happening less and less. I still have some clean up to do in my life but my distance from the bonfire is making it so much easier.

    • amanda says:

      I couldn’t have expressed that better, myself. At least, you express where I want to be, in a few weeks (months?) time. Thank you for the inspiration.

      • jennynic says:

        Amanda, I’m glad it helped. For me, the effort to change habits and patterns in my life opened up new things for me. I started going to new places, which introduced me to new people and fostered new interests. It helped ease my mind and refresh it at the same time. I also rented a lot of movies, like nature documentaries and kid movies that would not provoke any reminders. I went out in public everyday, even if it was to a new coffee shop with my journal. I allowed myself to express my feelings, hurtful ones, in my journal each day. The journal writing really helped me. NC is hard but it works. Breaking NC is like pulling the scab off a healing wound and then the healing has to start all over again. Good luck and hang in there. You never know what good lies on the other side of change. (((hugs)))

        • amanda says:

          Thank you so much. I will hold onto your words in the days to come… and I laughed when I read your suggestions about no-romance movies and books! I’ve been enjoying “Travels in Siberia” by Ian Frazier these days for exactly those reasons. (I swap between that and Howard Halpern’s “How to Break Your Addiction to a Person”)

    • blueberry girl says:

      Jennynic, I applaud your efforts to fill up yourself and your life-without a man doing it for you. I fall prey to this mistake so much. I’m heavy-hearted when I think of all the effort and time I’ve wasted trying to use people and things to give me the peace and happiness that escapes me. I know I get stuck on breakups and the drama of unavailable relationships because my life feels so empty. (Nat’s points #3 and #9 totally apply).
      I was a stay-at-home mom for many years and now, at my advanced age (I’m 50) , it’s difficult, er no, impossible, to get a fulfilling job in a decent field. My kids are beautiful but I’ve sacrificed so much of myself for them. I wonder if there are women here who have jump-started a career at my age and rebuilt their lives… How do you do it when you feel so hopeless?
      I agree, jennynic, I am so sick & tired of sticking my hand into the fire, getting burnt and allowing the drama to suck the life from me!

      • jennynic says:

        Blueberry, I’m in my mid 40’s and also raised a child, mostly by myself. I have a career in the medical field that does not fulfill me anymore, in fact I’d rather go to the dentist than go to my job. The job served me well when I was a struggling single Mom, but my son is grown now and I can focus on myself more, but crazy as it seems, I didn’t know how. Being a Mom was my focus for so many years. In fact, when he moved out, I realized that being a Mom WAS my purpose and identity. I was left wondering what the heck to do with my life now and the big void that just opened up around me like a vacuum. So, afterward, I stumbled around a bit, fell into holes, made bad choices and tried to fill that void with relationships. So now, even at my age, I’m making changes that will hopefully foster a new career in the arts and help me find a personal purpose that makes me feel good. Is it a guarantee? No, but staying stagnant and unhappy just doesn’t work for me anymore. I’m still falling into holes and run towards barbed wire occasionally, but I’m learning. Make small changes. They add up.

  45. amanda says:

    Perfect thing to read today, on day 8 of NC. This is the first time that I am really holding myself to NC. No more “I’ll stay in touch with him as a friend.” The contact we have had over the last 6 months was contrived (on my part) to give me the illusion that the relationship still existed, even though I know that he has moved on, and was just corresponding to me out of politeness, and so that he could feel like a nice guy.

    I haven’t commented much on this site, and when I have, fellow readers have justifiably given me slack for keeping up contact. By holding myself to NC, I am finally going through this breakup properly. Let me tell you, its hurts like hell. I’ve never had 8 days of NC with him before, and its making me face all of my demons, not only about how this relationship is *truly* over, but I am having to look at all of my self-esteem crap and old baggage squarely in the face, as well.

    It’s good to look hard at myself, but its also tiring, and sometimes feels like yet another way of holding-on. I’m trying hard to live in the present and enjoy this new life, with its new space. Hard to do, after two years of making a career of being miserable! But, I am bolstered by the fact that I am *doing it right* now, and hopefully, after a few weeks of this, I’ll really be happier.

    • Screwed says:

      Amanda, I’m on day 10 of NC and I totally understand how you feel. I’m hurting too, this NC thing is new to me, but feels healthy and right so will keep up with it. I’m afraid I don’t have anything amazing to say to you, I just wanted to show some solidarity. You aren’t alone in this.

      • amanda says:

        Thanks… hard to see the forest for the trees, eh? They *tell* you that this is the only way out, but I think that it will take another week or three to really get it. Meanwhile, gotta keep swatting away at those monkeys who jump on your back and screech “if you don’t contact him… you’ll lose him forever, and you’ll never be loved again!!! never!!!” So damned tiring!

    • amanda says:

      I have to add, something I recently did that made me proud of myself. The ex-MM recently moved across town. I was well aware of where he used to live (and had in fact come over for booty call when his wife was out of town. Not proud of that). I’ve only recently (8 days, sheesh) started on a serious program of NC, so we have been “casually” in “friendly” touch up until then. However, I asked him to NOT disclose where he was moving, and while he never said, “wow, great idea,” he respected my request. It was one of the first times that I set a real boundary with him. While I am still hung up on him, and at the bleakest times, wish I knew where he lived, I love feeling free to roam around town, not feeling magnetism/repulsion from his new address, and I love that I am respecting his wife and kids privacy. After two years of not displaying much integrity, this is a good change for me… and its helping me let go.

      • Screwed says:

        You should feel incredibly proud of yourself. Setting a boundary that shows respect to yourself and others, and sticking to it, is a much better feeling than any high the ex MM could have given us. It may not be instant, but I’m learning that instant gratification/validation is usually worthless in the long run. Congratulations Amanda!

  46. EarlyMorning says:

    Im so glad I found this site.

    I made this mistake 20 years ago. I didnt set fire to the breakup bonfire. possibly because we werent an “item” at the time (we were both with others when he disappeared out of my life without warning but had been with each other on and off for years as kids – I was his “fallback girl” it seems now). He met someone when he was 18 and I was 20 and within 1 month of meeting her she moved in with him. Within 3 months she was pregnant and within 6 months they were married. When he moved in with her I spoke to him on the phone and he said he’d call me back. I never heard from him again for 19 years. Until he tracked me down online last summer.

    His marriage had lasted 6 years. It ended badly. I dont think he’s over her although it ended 12 years ago. He says he is but he isnt. He said he came back for me cos she was a mistake and that he’d been looking for me ever since.

    And I gave it a go. I’d always loved him. I’d never married. He was the only one I’d wanted. But he hadnt changed. He was “willing” to change he said, but ofc he didnt/couldnt. He’s a “bad boy” and always will be. Why he came back? I dont know. Maybe to make me his fallback girl again. He said he wanted to marry me but then his actions forced me to end it with him. It lasted 5 months.

    I’m now in therapy. I want to understand myself. I want to move on. I’ve wasted too much of my life betting on his potential and waiting for him. I’m 40. I cant afford to waste anymore time. I will never get what I wanted. I dont even know now why I wanted it. A mixture of love/hate/denial/hope/jealousy/bitterness/entitlement/justice who knows?! All I know is that when he left 20 years ago I was sad and in shock but not a mental case trying to track him down. And i didnt hate him.

    Now, I just feel cheated all over again. I want to kill him but ofc I wont. Im staying no contact now. I left him in Feb, but its only a week ago since I went no contact. I couldnt not reply before, but something he wrote about his ex wife that I saw a week ago made me snap. and wake up. I texted him when I saw it to tell him that Id seen it and he called me but I didnt answer. He didnt call again, or text or email. Nothing. He doesnt care. And even if he did contact I now dont believe anything he says. he’s made no effort to come and see me since I left him in Feb. Hes only…

  47. EarlyMorning says:

    PS: He’s only texted me and emailed. LAZY. And full of ott love words that are all hollow. And since I saw what he wrote about his still feelings for his ex wife he’s not contacted me at all. I dont know if he will again. He has a track record of leaving me and getting married and not contacting for almost 2 decades so who knows.

    I left him this time but I felt forced. Not of choice. I know it shouldve been of choice obv. But it wasnt. I so wanted him and it to work. I so wanted to be his wife and have his children. That being because I miscarried his twins when I was 18 and I always think “would he have married me if I hadnt.” Im not saying my life with him wouldve worked. He said only a few weeks ago “back then we’d have either worked or youd have been under the patio ;)”. Nice. I cant seem to get the resentment out of my head that he married someone else and had 2 kids with her – no matter how badly that ended. I cant get it out my head that he came back to look for me and said he wanted me and a fresh start after his mistake 20 years ago, but still holds a torch for the woman who he left for “pushing his buttons eventually” who then went off with his best friend and had 4 kids with them.

    I guess Im struggling with the ‘why come back if you werent ready/able/wanting to give me what you knew i always wanted’. Does he hate me that much that he tracked me down after 20 years just to break me again?! He says Im the most caring loving person he’s ever and will ever know and that Im the only one who deserves his love. But still he cant give it.

    His life is shady. Hes a criminal. Hes been in prison. He cant seem to change. I keep thinking about the 10 year old boy, the 12 year old, the 14 year old, the 16 year old, the 18 year old. Its been my downfall.

    I need to be free. I’m staying no contact. I hope my hypnotherapy works. I need it to. I dont trust myself to heal without it and I cant stop loving him without it.

  48. teachable says:

    @ Blueberry. My uncle started university aged 50 yo & studied counselling. After completing his studies he now works in private practice as a counsellor part time & counsels students at a college part time also. He also teaches counselling & has more work coming his way than he knows what to do with. So to answer your question, yes it is possible to start over & build a career in later life. I hope this gives you some hope for the future. x

  49. Sad and Confused says:

    I love your posts. They always seem to help me out when I’m having a down day. Unfortunately, today is one of the worst down days I’ve had in several months. I don’t actually miss the ex Assclown at all. I didn’t even like him as a person towards the end, so there’s nothing to miss. So that’s not what’s making me sad.

    What makes me so sad and miserable is that I don’t like my present tense and I can’t envisage a future for myself. I work at home, all alone, all day. When I’m done working, I leave the office and sit in the living room, all alone, all evening. I really do enjoy my work, but I’m finding it harder to stay motivated. So I go to the gym. I watch fun comedy movies to cheer myself up. I give myself facials and long relaxing baths. I renovated my gardens. I joined classes and clubs. All your posts say get out there coz you won’t meet someone sitting on the sofa. Sure. But all my friends vanished while I was with Assclown. There aren’t any left. So I can’t lean on them for companionship or support when I’m feeling down, because they’re not there. And when you’re focusing on a class or club, you don’t tend to be chatting madly to new people because you’re focusing on the class.

    So when you say ‘learn to enjoy the present’ and ‘be happy on your own’ – that’s where I come unstuck. The present is bleak. And I used to be happy sitting here working on my own. It’s what I’ve done for years. But now I’m not. And I hate it :(

    • tanta says:

      Hi Sad,
      Have you tried meetup.com? Meetup for an activity with a group of people. Some of these things are socially oriented so you will have no choice but to be focused on the people around you and not a class.
      It sucks to have no friends. I know. Have you tried to reconnect with the ones you had? Sometimes life seems bleak but it is actually not. The key is to accept the fact that it only how it seems to you right now and it is not the true nature of life.

    • S says:

      Hi Sad,

      Just remember that “this too shall pass”….everything in life is impermanent. Have faith in yourself and a brighter future.

  50. So much wiser says:

    Me and my ex eum were broken up for a year and a half and hadn;t had sex for almost a year when he told me he married his exgirlfriend this is marriage number 5 for him! Even though we were no longer together it still hurt. Judging from the other posts it is quite possible he would have done this whether we were together or not. I have tried to move on after our breakup but of course he would always contact me. I regret still talking to him I should have been no contact but always thought he would come back because he loved me. I thought he was just scared because of all of his failed relationships. I read Natalie’s book after all this happened now I realize I was just a fallback girl. It has been over three months with no contact I will not be his friend or the OW I know this is what he would like be it will not happen. I am still hurting and have been depressed because I always felt he would do this but thought we would have stopped talking when it happened. I know that he was not the one that’s what keeps me going the one would have treated me better and would not have wanted everything on their terms. I should not be sad for not ending up with an assclown- I just should have hung that phone up and continued trying to move on.

  51. runnergirlno1 says:

    Natalie and all,
    This post brought up so many memories. In my 20-somethings with my first exH (a geologist), we did a ton of camping trips throughout the US. It was always nice to settle in by the warm camp fire at the end of the day while sipping tequila and sharing stories about the day’s adventures on the hiking trail. Inevitably, we’d all get to talking and suddenly somebody would notice the fire was burning out. Then there was a panic moment, where we’d run around trying to find something to throw on the fire to make it burn bright, hot, and make us all comfy again. Eventually, the fire burned out and we had to go to bed.

  52. Sam says:

    I broke up with my ex of 10 years about 3/4 years ago, he was a lovely kind guy when I met him, but was lazy, happy to just plod a long and for me to look after him, he just didn’t have the same ambitions as me and couldn’t give me what I wanted. He was made redundant and for a year made no effort to get a job. We broke up quite a few times, and admittedly I was scared of being on my own which is why I didn’t end it 9 years sooner. I did start to enjoy attention from other men, and at that point decided it was time to finally break it off after a number of failed attempts. A few months later I started to see someone and somehow the ex found out, I’m not sure exactly how he discovered I was seeing someone but he then started to stalk me on facebook, managed to change my password and get access to my account. He also stalked me at my home. He would turn up unannounced, phone, text, email me constantly. Vandalised my car 3 times. Very scarey stuff. Word of warning delete them from facebook and if they know any of your passwords, change them immediately, he knew the password to my email account which is how he managed to get access to my facebook, by requesting a new facebook password. If anyone starts to give you hassle after a break up tell everyone, your friends, family, get support immediately, contact the police and don’t e a victim. My latest AC really peeved me off and I so wanted to vent some anger at him, tell him what he did that hurt me, but after going through the above horror for 6 months, I wouldn’t dream of getting in touch again. It will take me a while to trust someone again and that’s not a bad thing.

  53. EarlyMorning says:

    I’m really struggling. The thought of him meeting and marrying a “newbie” again is destroying me. He cant get back with his ex wife. She’s moved on in the 12 years they’ve been apart and remarried and refuses to have anything to do with him. So if he is to “move on” he will move on with someone brand new.

    I keep thinking as I broke up with him 2 months ago and only stopped speaking to him a week ago that any day in the next few weeks I will find out that he is married to someone out the blue. And worst still she is expecting.

    He moved 3 weeks ago and said he moved in with a guy mate. I doubt that very much. So Im guessing whoever this person is, is who he will march up the aisle. She will be the opposite to me. She will be a unemployed, dole bludging chav. Sorry but she will. Thats what his ex wife was. She will probably smoke drugs like he does too (even though I managed to get him off that while I was with him).

    I KNOW good riddance. I know he deserves whatever. I know I deserve better. Im not sad about not having him in a way (although I am after all these years). Im sad that he came back after 20 years just to break my heart again with no other purpose it so seems.

    The last time I physically saw him in Jan when we were still together I knew he was distant and something was up. I felt like that would be the last time I saw him. And it turned out to be so.

    Anyone got any ideas on HOW to want someone else? I just dont know HOW to want someone else. I’ve not been through loads of s**tty relationships. I just always only wanted him. And he obv just wanted me to be his yoyo girl, his fallback girl, his effin PENPAL by the end. I KNOW he’s “just not that special” but he was my beautiful boy from the age of 10 and I cant seem to let go of that. I need my hypnotherapy…

    • grace says:

      I say this to you loud and clear and bluntly:
      He is not your beautiful boy.
      “Beautiful boy” is on of my buzz phrases too, and as soon as it popped into my head with the crush I worked damn hard to get it out and to deal with REALITY. You are in fantasy lala land.
      The solution is not someone else. You’re refusing to deal with your own problems and prefer “someone else” to come along and fix it.
      The only someone else who matters is you.
      Yes, I had an ex too reappear after 20 years. It seems so romantic, it isn’t. It’s garbage.
      Counselling may do you more good than hypnotherapy.
      This manboy is not the answer and you need to give that up.
      Quit contacting him and stalking him. Stop the madness.

  54. EarlyMorning says:


    Dont know if my ex is an AC or EUM or both. He did all of the things on the above link though with the exception of leaving me (this time round) and being with other women (that I know of). GOD.

    • titi says:

      EarlyMorning, it doesn’t really matter in which of the two categories (AC/EUM) you put him, what matters here is that your “relationship” is toxic for you. It’s not about love, it’s about your obsession and his (as well as yours) boredom/unavailability. You will move the moment you REALLY feel you deserve love, care and respect. You cannot really notice other men, because you are so freakin’ focused on the dumbass. The solution is in focusing on *you*, not him. You two have been trying to work it out for the past T W E N T Y years, and it didn’t work out. For God’s sake, move on with your life.

      • Fearless says:

        “You will move the moment you REALLY feel you deserve love, care and respect”

        This strikes a chord with me. It’s so true. I spent years trying to convince the ex arse-man that I deserved love, care and respect, but it was only when I REALLY came to understand for myself that I actually, really DID deserve love, care and respect (and that this was not just ‘theoretical’!) that I was then able to see that the relationshit actually had to stop (whether I liked it or not). It had to stop, and not because I had failed to convince him that I deserved love, care and respect but because I realised that I had been trying to convince the WRONG person – the person who needed to really get that I DID deserve love, care and respect was ME.

        If it hadn’t been for Natalie Lue and BR, I’d most likely still be laying myself out like a doormat trying to convince HIM of what I deserved while not believing it myself! Believe.

        • Lizzy says:

          nice to have you back Fearless! x

          • Fearless says:

            Cheers Lizzie. I am never too far away. Still reading. I will always read Natalie – she is so right on the money. And when you get it – you really get it. We all (or mostly, I think) start off on BR thinking that our guy and our relationship is different. They’re not. Same trouble. Same bonfire. Same solution. Take care!

        • Thank God for That says:


        • titi says:

          I totally get you. But I can assure you, for each one of us who is willing to stand by ourselves, there is this particular, enlightening moment. You take a look at your EU/AUM and ask yourself: “why do I keep putting up with this crap? Am I really that desperate to beg this ugly/stupid/evil/____fill-in-the-blanks______ emotionally challenged man to love me?”. Just prior to me going NC, my ex EU sociopath, had told me something like: “I’m sorry, I just don’t know how to show how much I love you and care for you”. I started to laugh, and actually asked him PLEASE NOT to love me. Geez, who would want a screwed guy/gal like that to love her/him. Thanks god they don’t love us, it actually means we deserve a way too better then those nutcases:).

  55. teachable says:

    @ Amanda. U are handling yr situation really well but just one thing (IMHO) I. disagree with abt MM or MW who hav affairs. Such ppl do not ‘love’ the OM or OW as by definition real love is not dishonest. The OW. or OM may feel it is so, & perhaps it is but for the one willfully deceiving a significant other, I (with deepest respect) beg to differ. All the best & hang in there.

    • amanda says:

      Thanks… I know. Rationally, I can understand this, when I take a step back and look at the sum of the MM’s actions. For all the times that he declared he loved me, there is the infinite greater times that he was simply absent from my life. Ignoring me, claiming that he had to be a Dad and a Husband 99.9% of the time. That hurts. Let us not forget the lies that he told me, his wife and his other lovers (and himself) so that he could keep up his act. There are times when I understand this, and there are times that I don’t. And while I claim that there is love, I see that its a “love” on the MM’s part that comes from fear, selfishness, and confusion. He wants something desperately from the OW or the OM, and it can feel like love. You, the OM or the OW, get a glimpse into that scared, confused person’s soul. That sounds melodramatic, but it is a very powerful experience, and one that you do not forget. It is a painful way to brush up against humanity, but it is nevertheless real.

  56. teachable says:

    ie it may be love for the OW or OM who is single & not betraying a sig other but cheaters cheating is not love. That’s just using (often nieve or vulnerable) others for their own selfish ends.

  57. EarlyMorning says:

    Excerpt from one of Natalies other pages: “To be fair, if you’re the Buffer, the Transitional likely recognises that on and off paper, you’re a great catch so they want to keep you as an option should they ever get their shit together. They’re afraid of making a mistake in letting you go and are afraid that if they do, someone else will snap you up. So they hedge their bets. On your time.”

    This is what I became.

    And thanks for the 2 replies. Really helped my esteem so thanks.
    Who needs him giving me s**t when strangers can do that for me!

    And yes maybe Im obsessed rather than in love.

    But i wasnt the one who effin tracked HIM down after 20 years. I was minding my own effin business. I didnt try and find him AT ALL IN 20 YEARS. He tracked me down. And spent 6 years doing it.

    I’ve so had enough of this life.

    • Early Morning,I think sometimes people’s recognition of a poor situation comes out the wrong way. When you’re in it yourself you can’t see it but they’re horrified at a situation that you should be horrified at.

      I’m sorry for your loss. I know it may seem like things would have been oh so different if you hadn’t lost your babies, but you’d just be in another bad situation with him. Address your grief – you talk about yourself and this man in the past which means you’re talking about a relationship that’s over and living in the past. You need to grow up your image of him – he’s not the boy you once knew. That’s not because he didn’t have the benefit of your love; it’s because he has his own problems and own agenda. If I had his problems and I had to find one person who still held me in the same esteem as 20 years ago, I’d look you up too. He chose his ‘mark’ well.

      Don’t give up on yourself. Remember that people say what they say based on what you present. You may love this man but you don’t love the real him. You also love a man who wouldn’t be a good husband or father. He’s not even a very nice person. Let him go. Sometimes you can’t help who you fall in love with but you can help who you choose to *keep* loving. Letting him go doesn’t mean that you let go of the love you felt for the babies that never came to be. You need grief counselling and you also need to take a very active part in the letting him out of your mind. Even hypnotherapy needs a level of mental consent from you and it is not instantaneous.

      • EarlyMorning says:

        thanks Natalie.

        I am taking on board what you’re saying. And thank you for what you said about my children. Noones ever pointed that out to me. Perhaps that is why I held on to the “love” through 20 years of absence. I cant let them go either. But I can let him go and not them you say. That makes sense. It upset me that he refused to even talk to me about them when he came back. He said it “upset” him too much to talk about them. I think he didnt give a monkeys about them like he supposedly does with his alive children because theyre not alive. He didnt even speak to me about them when it happened 22 years ago (“cant talk about things that really hurt me” yeah right) so dont know why I expected different now. Its not important to him.

        I need to let it go. He always wanted to be a dad, from very young. I felt by losing them I let him down. I felt I lost him by losing them. In retrospect it wouldnt have made a jot of difference, albeit I may have got the ring and the aisle. I wouldnt have got the love and respect.

        thank you Natalie. I will try to not give up on myself. x

      • EarlyMorning says:

        I’ve just had 5 texts in 30 mins from him late tonight. Its been 9 days of NC since I told him I hated him and wouldnt ever let him back in my life. Its upset me, angered me, made me laugh, made me worry. I dont know what to make of them. Please help constructively someone:

        text 1) rambling on about about loving me more than I’d ever know since the 1st day he laid eyes on me. Saying he thought I didnt want him and thats why he married his ex wife and not me. If I want to wash my hands of him thats fine but he wont stop loving me. and PS: he hopes whoever the stuck up c**t who I work with that I want treats me ok .
        (erm there is no man at my work, or any way for him to think/know such a thing – he has purely made that up for whatever reason!).

        text 2) “Hes in such a bad place atm. Dont cut him out of my life he will do anything! He really needs me. he will come to see me but he needs to know that we will be there for each other first. Please dont leave me, one more chance, dont cut me out, sorry yadda yadda.”

        text 3) “thats it then i will always love you”.

        text 4) “I will never give up hope. u have commitments with your daughter until 2013 then we will live together and be happy and have our children ” (that one REALLY PISSED me off because of my miscarriage of our babies 22 years ago). “Pls dont keep blanking my texts. I will never stop loving you etc.”

        text 5) “Im not gonna give up I do love you.”

        Yes you can say change my number. Will he just turn up? Or will it just be lazy texting whenever he feels low? He’s obv in a panic thinking I now mean what I say. I know NC is the way to go but somethings telling me he may contact me more with NC on my part than when I was willing to speak to him. Will it end up with him coming down? Should I be worried? Or will he get bored eventually?

        • It’s just texts Early Morning. Texts. More like “Remember the milk” instead of bullshit declaration territory. 22 years and a bunch of texts is pathetic. I’d have had a sliver more of respect if he’d picked up the phone. Cut him off, don’t engage, get grief counselling and professional support. You must have a very neglected life and sense of self if his crumbs look like effort.

          Also, you need to help yourself constructively.

  58. Hate Being Stalked says:

    I totally agree with this post. Went NC. Haven’t missed him yet. Actually enjoying being without him. But what does it mean when you ex moves into the house right NEXT DOOR and then proceeds to poison every plant in your garden when you’re at work, comes out every time I check the mailbox to abuse me, when I take the garbage bins out to the street, he’s there – alternating between begging to take him back and calling me the most awful names I’ve ever heard for ignoring him completely.

    And then he proceeds to parade a string of women through the house in an attempt to make me jealous?? If I had any regard for his opinion, we’d still be together, but why does he insist on doing this?? He treated me terribly for a LOT of years and when I did grow enough back bone to leave, this is the treatment I get?? It makes it impossible to move on. I don’t know what to do to get RID of the AC. HELP!!!

    • Natalie says:

      Get the police involved. This is harrassement – try keep a journal noting his actions and times/dates, and when you have got about a week’s worth, visit your local police station and make a complaint against him. This narcissist will probably try to escalate things as you are ignoring him, and thus your safety is paramount. Stay safe hun xx

    • Anon says:

      Hate Being Stalked, been there-he is making it his sole purpose to keep you from moving on, and then once he gets you- (or not)! his purpose is to destroy you. Your ex is not just a regular jerk AC, he is a sociopath, and his behavior is escalating, your problems are now bigger than the scope of this blog. Get on Lovefraud.com and contact the resources (law/socialworkers/therapist/victims) who have been through this.

      • Sad and Confused says:

        Sigh. I wish I could leave or move away. I’m paying a mortgage on this place. He’s renting next door. I’ve complained to his landlord about his behavior. I’ve contacted the police. They say it’s a civil matter, so out of their hands until something ‘real’ happens. Maybe I should just rent my place out and go somewhere else. But I bought this place because I love it and I love the neighborhood.

        Honestly, we were together 8 years. I wasn’t happy throughout most of it. It took me a long time to get up enough courage to leave. Now that I’ve done it, he’s turned into a psycho. I hide in my house every day in fear of what he’ll do next. It’s impossible to move on and move forward like this. I just want him to grow up and move on with his life – somewhere else. But that’s probably not going to happen any time soon is it?

  59. New York Girl says:

    We actually do stoke our own fires of misery, don’t we? I can see that I have, and many testimonials by commenters here shown a lot more of the same. It is madness!

    Your articles do help, Natalie. I am still not entirely free from my obsession, but I have taken the first and most important step in realizing that HE is not the problem, I am. He was simply the vehicle I chose to prove my worth – and isn’t it clear now? – I can see that in fact I was choosing to prove exactly how worthless I am. I’ve jumped off that rail now, I really have.

    I am committed to putting my focus on me and having the love and respect that I want and indeed deserve. I’ll never stop thanking you for an incredible service to us fallback girls. No more now!

  60. miskwa says:

    I hear ya! I too live in a town where the single men in my age range have serious issues with drug/alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and attitudes toward women that appear to date from 1950. Couple that with the fact that the town has a really bad (and deserved) reputation as being a trashy place and travel to/from here is a hazardous undertaking in winter. I too have a great job but still owe lots on my mortgage and help out my remaining parent. All of us older, educated, women here have the same issue. Some leave, some settle for the locals and eventually get burned, and some have become incredibly bitter. Guys are willing to come from Australia to visit me but not from Denver or Boulder, less than 100 miles away. Heather, first, can you leave? Some places just do not work out man-wise. You cannot fix broken people, broken towns. I intend to bail when I am 60, leave teaching for good, and farm full time back home. Have you tried the on line thing? You have to wade through a bunch of #$%@ and keep your spidey senses always alert but you may at least get a few men who share your values. If the men where you are are truly ACs, do not settle, youll just wind up dealing with some of those relationship bonfires that keep flaring up because your AC is close by if you are in a small town.
    Speaking of bonfires, whaddya do if its the AC that keeps putting wood on the coals? Been diligent about keeping NC with my at work problem man and he just does not get it. Nope, we cannot go back to where we were pre non- relationship. We are no longer even friends, no, I do not want you to help with my promotion, no, I will not orchestrate social gatherings anymore, no, you will not be on committees that you know I am already on and no, you are not going to help me fix up my house. Do these guys need to be validated so badly? Do they soooo need to make themselves seem so much better than they actually are? The one year mark of the end of two years of dishonesty is in June. I intend to go back to the town where he asked me to go out of town with him then told the hotel clerk to give his room key to another woman about half an hour later not knowing I was standing right behind him. I am going to symbolically take back the town, put down tobacco at the places we were (purification), go to the shops that I have been avoiding for the past year.

  61. ANC says:

    One of the immensely damaging features of 21st century media is that it insistently (and effectively) communicates to millions of women that complicated relationships are a sign of a complex mind, sophistication, urban life, in short modernity. Conversely, all relationships that are simple, stable, predictable (rooted in mutual love, care, trust and respect) are made to look plebeian.

    Think ‘Closer’ or even ‘Sex and the City’ as they sell Assclowns and Mr. Unavalables for living walking ‘Lord Byrons’. As Hollywood capitalizes on stretching the seasons of glam-coated New-York-Gucci-shoes-and-girlfriends soaps, millions of women in audience internalize Mr. Big’s disappearances and midnight booty-calls as part of the oh-so-complicated life of sophisticated people in big cities.

    (The trick is that healthy, stable relationships make for very boring TV series.
    Tolstoy wrote something very curious in the first line of ‘Anna Karenina’:
    “All happy families are happy in the same way, all unhappy families are unhappy for a different reason.” Drama is marketable, roller-coasters are sexy, unpredictable, it makes up for best of TV series, books, newspaper columns, poems. But it makes life miserable.)

    I am recently out of a very painful relationship with a someone much older than myself, a man of extraordinary intellectual capacity, an academic (points to those who guessed the student-prof cliche), a proud bachelor and self-absorbed narcissistic AC. After a headfirst dive into whirlwind romance, the status quo, future faking, disappearance, Outrageous behavior, Me-me-me talk were *all* there. But more importantly: he made me doubt myself and invalidate my feelings that came from his mistreatment. He made me think that a relationship between two highly educated people can *only* be a ‘complicated’ one – which meant all of the above-mentioned practices.

    I will soon celebrate 1 month in NC and on the way to healthy relationships. Ladies, I take my hat off before Natalie for injecting daily doses of sober common sense into (I’m afraid) a generation of young women who grow up watching that it is O.K .to be mistreated by AC’s and Unavailables.

    • yoghurt says:

      That’s a really perceptive point.

      I was reading an interview or something with an actress or somebody at the dentist’s recently, and there was a line that said “There’s always going to be a will-they-won’t-they relationship involved, because they-will! relationships just aren’t very interesting to watch.

      I’ve had enough of will-we-won’t-we relationships (no, apparently we never will). I want a nice good supportive I-will-me-too relationship next, thanks :)

    • grace says:

      ANC I disagree with Tolstoy but I agree with the rest of your comment. I think HAPPY relationships have a uniqueness to them; you show your real self, you bloom. The two of you grow in intimacy and, like trees entwining, make something special that only you two can make.
      Whereas EU is all the same rubbish – hot, cold, will-he, won’t he, now he’s here, now he’s gone, now he’s let you down again, now you’re chasing him, now you’re crying, NOW THE FLIPPIN TEXTS. It’s boring. I get that it makes for fun tv for an hour and a half but, no, I don’t want it in my life anymore.

    • jennynic says:

      Well said ANC. Congratulations on one month NC. I hate to say, but I think for all the work done and the advances for women in todays society, we are sliding backwards a little. I agree that young girls are still getting bad messages. I recently heard a male TV anchor man who was called out by his female co anchor for a blatant sexist statement on air, say to her, “Looks like someone took their Gloria Steinem vitamins this morning.” Wow. Does anyone else find that appalling?

  62. Kitty says:

    I am so glad I found this site. Natalie, you have been an absolute saviour. I’ve been in an on-off relationship with an AC for around 8 years with someone who was a work colleague of mine 20 years ago. We’ve spent more time off than on and the straw that broke the camel’s back( after years of hot/cold evasive non-committal narcissistic behaviour and excuses) was when he said ” I know you’ll always be there for me”. There hasn’t been a morning when I haven’t woken up without him being the first thing that popped into my mind. Total obsession. It’s been hard, I am a month into NC (managed 6 months before) – it’s like “cold turkey” – but the difference is that now I’ve found this site and I’ve seen and read everyone else’s experiences I realise that it’s not me , it’s him. I’ve finally worked out all the “hot buttons” he pressed and the tricks he uses to keep me coming back. Every women he comes into contact with he affects negatively ( ex wife who is sadly an alcoholic and has tried to commit suicide twice ). Seeing that I am not unique in this experience has really helped me understand that it’s not about me, and has helped me focus on myself, build up my self esteem and importantly to start to realise that there is someone out there who might actually have the capacity to love me without all the messing around and distance. However, I think it will be a while before I am on the straight and narrow and focussed on the future for good. We attract what we give out so we need to believe in ourselves as worthy of love and love and be happy with ourselves first without a man to validate us. Good luck everyone x

    • New York Girl says:

      It’s interesting to me to read your comment, Kitty, because above I commented, concluding that the problem is inside me, not him, and here you conclude the opposite. Also, my EUM told me “I know you’ll dump me, but I’ll never leave you.” (In our FWB relationship.) Yours told you that he knows you’ll always be there.

      What I’m thinking is that although we appear to be in opposite positions, in fact it may just be variations on the same theme. People – men and women – can be very cagey in relationships. Our guys just needed to keep us close (and available!), and each chose his strategy. Bottom line: does he show love and respect? And if not, what are we doing here?

      Let’s move on together!

      • Kitty says:

        New York Girl…very interesting. This looks like this is partly about the battle as to who is in control of the relationship. Either way it’s not balanced and healthy at all for either of us and we need to focus on a future that looks different. It’s out there!

    • Allison says:


      You were 50% of the problem!

      Until you recognize your complicity in this relationship, you are susceptible to returning to this fool, or getting involved with another AC.

      Address your issues and completely understand why you allowed yourself to be mistreated and disrespected.

      • Kitty says:

        Yep Allison, it is good to have a reminder every so often that I do have issues myself to address. I hope I am on my way in doing that (fingers crossed). Interestingly in the past I have been totally EU myself… makes me think ….

    • LisaLise says:

      Yes Kitty! Before I found out my ex-AC was married, he used to say that he doesn’t chase women down. For some reason, that resonated with me and I quietly filed it away in the fore front of my mind! Things started to get crappy with him ‘needing space’ and other rubbish, and I came upon this wonderful site. When the s%#t hit the fan, I immediately started NC and on the difficult days when I feel weak, I remember that ‘he doesn’t chase women down.’ LOL! He doesn’t chase them down cause they’re busy chasing him. Not me! He has texted me several times over the last month of strict NC and I haven’t answered one time. Nope. Imagine texting me during the long Easter weekend wishing me Happy Easter! I am not being mean when I say that I feel terrible for the woman who married him. I am happy that I got away, but NO woman deserves to be cheated on. SMH!

      • Kitty says:

        Lisa Lise, Keep strong and sit on your hands… Put your phone in a freezer bag and put it in the bottom of the freezer. Whatever it takes to break free. He clearly has no respect for any woman in his life.

  63. Mui says:

    again this was a post that reminded me about a lot of things.
    I havent been on here in a while, but still kept reading 😉
    All these posts of Nathalie have helped me more then my therapist did.
    I left that now, cause it didnt do me any good.
    Why i left the therapist, is probably cause i am finding my identity again, trusting my my judgement more and holding to my boundaries.

    This might sound a bit weird relating to a therapist, but as in Nathalies post about the wedding dress. It reminded me so much about a lot of things, at the end i said sorry no this i dont agree with and left.

    So how did it come to this:
    – she was trying to tell me i should work half time only as a mother
    – she thinks the right man, is someone “who will do” as in not great but yeah can put up with him
    – she didnt want to answer my question about why she thinks that living without a father is harmful for kids (asked her 5 times!)
    – then for justification for all this she said yes but you had 2 horrible relationships, so this is what you should want, someone who will do!

    So this raised all kinds of flags for me.
    I am not letting myself be bullyed into something i dont want.
    I am not gonna live, someone elses dream.
    I am not gonna trust and believe things for which there is no plausible evidence, even of a therapist.

    So thanks Nathalie, i think i have come a long way, still further to go.
    The AC also seams to have turned into a stalker
    so by

  64. FX says:

    This post really hits home. After going back and forth for too long and telling him all about himself and how his treatment hurt me repeatedly and even going NC for a few months, he threw a stack of logs on the fire and I sucked it and saw yet again. I finally did get it though and have been NC for about a month now for good. He’s tried to fan the flame with some texts but I’m well and truly letting the fire burn itself out. I know he isn’t done trying to reignite it but I’m not giving him any more oxygen.

    What I see now is that when he came back he had no intention of anything more than keeping me as an option. Again. He didn’t want to be in a relationship with me as we had been before the last year plus of flip flapping but he didn’t want to lose his fallback girl either. So, his behavior was devaluing and made me feel insecure and brought out the worst in me which, of course, reaffirmed his position that he could treat me as less than… I was an untenable Catch 22 situation that I could take myself out of and did.

    I’m much better able to focus on me and my life this time than I was last time I cut contact. I’m remembering the bad acts more than the benefits and working through my disappointment and anger. I’m concentrating on my work and joining and going to new events and Meetups. I am and look much older than last time I was out there dating but, on the plus side, I now know that I was EU and probably even a bit of an AC myself before. Probably why I connected with my Ex EU AC and engaged in the drama for so long. When I’m ready to put myself out there again, I will be EA and have my hard-earned knowledge, self esteem and all the wisdom I’ve gained here with me.

    • Lon says:

      FX hope I can to get to the place where you are . Can’t completely do the NC as we have children and a shared home all will time to sort. Just trying to focus on me and my needs and have minimum contact.
      Enjoyed your journey

      • FX says:

        Thanks Lon. I am a lot further along than I was when I found BR but I know I still have a way to go. I read everything here and still went back and sucked and saw again! But, the knowledge I had gained here made his behavior even less tolerable because I couldn’t lie to myself so easily anymore. I knew I had been demoted from a priority to an option. I had to let go once and for all even without a net and save myself.

        Please read and re-read everything here and NML’s books, too. You will learn so much about doing the right things for yourself to give you strength and help you heal. And, there is also a lot of information for people who have to continue some type of contact with their exes as you do. I really feel for you. Your progress may not be linear but you will be OK if you continue to keep your needs, self-esteem and boundaries in focus and do what is right for you and, therefore, your children’s well-being and happiness. I know it’s devastating now but it can and will get better.

  65. teachable says:

    @ early morning. Im so sorry for your terrible loss. NML is wise to suggest grief counselling. I hope you or your community has the resources to give yourself that gift. Otherwise, except for your miscarriages, you are telling my story.In my case though my xAC was still with someone else unbnownst to me when he came back. As soon as I learned this, I cut him off (although it took some time for me to stop sending angry & then alternating kind, emails. The final email was totally deviod of emotion either way & explained my position clearly which is that he is never to contact me again – no matter what. Needless to say I’m aiming for doing the same). I note that yr x had drug issues. So did mine. At the end I did a bit of checking up on mine & it was only after discovering a bunch of stuff that had been deliberately hidden from me that I moved from love to disgust & finally replusion. I too, thought why come back after 20 yrs just to jerk me around? I’ve never married & wanted to have his child. I was devestated when he had a child with his next partner after me when we were younger. Now, that I have the facts, I’m deeply grateful not to have had a child to my xAC. I have one adultchild already (25 yo & I am 42 yo) & choosing his father most unwisely (because I was such a young Mum & medical reasons were behind the decision to go ahead w an accidental pregnancy which I would have gone ahead with otherwise – as much as Iove my Son) is the single biggest mistake of my entire life. It has caused me a world of pain even to this day. As such maybe Grace is right. Whether he’s EUM or an AC doesn’t matter. He sounds like he doesn’t have the staying power to be a good father to children if you had them with him & the last thing you want is to be forever tied through parental status to someone who doesn’t treat you well. There are good reasons his ex wife left him & cut him off completely. Probably the same reasons you too would experience if you threw your marriage / family plans with someone not worthy of you. Hang in there & be kind to yourself. You deserve much better. x

  66. Lyz says:

    This advice works on other levels aswell – in work situations or with friendships. The bit about self esteem and whta you give out you get back plus never ever chase anybody theyaren’t that great, they aren’t special sorry but they have one a hole and are ass clowns (hope thats not offensive). Once you break that bit you realise dont get hooked on breadcrumbsd that they leave you. A woman who respects herself will get a man who does that fo rher as wel!!!! Some of this advidce applies to working and other relationships/friendships. Its great and got me oon the road to recovery from an ex boyfriend who was ‘not a nice person, callous in fact’ !!! I blocked him from fb after a year and 5 months, I still felt I couldn’t do it before then. In fact after reading one of natalie’s posts about the harems on facebook, I well and truly blocked this man who keeps changing his profile photo because he’s an AC and not even truly intelligent!!!!

  67. Tracy says:

    Your emails more often than not coincide with poignant events related to the AC. It has been six months since I ended a four year trainwreck relationship with him (he wouldn’t divorce his wife and she didn’t know about me so c’est la vie I cut him loose). I have been on antidepressants since June last year because I allowed him to control our relationship and what was and wasn’t allowed. My sense of worth and self esteem had left the building and I was an empty shell. Each day from June to October last year was like standing in the background and watching myself get stronger, wiser and stand up for myself. This in itself caused a huge amount of tension between us as I started to push back and not accept his old tricks and behaviours, eventually this is how it ended, I just said the words one day and walked away. However! He keeps popping his head up and does exactly what you decribe he will do and I sometimes react just as suggest I would. It always seems to be around a time that I am feeling good, positive, alive…..is it the universe testing me to see if I have learnt my lesson once and for all. I hope so, and I am committed to keeping him out, limting the access and letting the fire die. It was just about out but one last lot of junk got thrown on over the weekend, but I think thats OK, sometimes you need to clear out the storage facility and have a good burn up so you move forward without it. I love your blogs, don’t stop!

  68. Sarah T says:

    Despite having met and moved in with a wonderfully available drama-free man, I recognise that part of me is still stinging from my last break-up. There are no feelings of love, barely even like, but I still succombed to curiosity and peeked at the exes YouTube channel. What I saw sent me reeling and I have spent the last week feeling as though I’d been dumped again. I’m in a stable, loving, healthy relationship with a man I see a happy future with but my ’embers’ from the last chap are still there in my subconscious. I feel dismayed that seeing what I saw affected me in the way it has and that it has diverted my attention from the present. I won’t be peeking again, its just not worth it. I obviously still have issues which I am aware of and working through. It’s not about the ex, its about me. I’m lucky enough to have chosen the right path for me now but looking at the past reminds me of who I was when I was getting it wrong. Got to shed old skin and keep moving forward. Love and strength to all.
    Ps..Nat, you are psychic. I was going to send you a private message re this topic and the next day you wrote this post! Any advice on next weeks lottery numbers? 😉 xx

  69. Lon says:

    Natalie your book NC is a revelation.
    Having been in a emotionally unavailable relationship 4 10yrs it all came to heated end when I found out he started seeing another.
    Prior this I had telling him 4 years that we weren’t working I tried desperately to get him to understand what was wrong and make some minor changes mainly to do with time. He was always busy ever wanted to do anything with e or the children. I became a real nag always trying to change things he just listened but never followed anything through or made any attempts to make life easier.
    I have gone through absolute shock of finding out he cheated,to confronting the girl over phone, to threatening him, to fighting with him, to begging him to come back and now I’m calm trying to cope and trying to remember why I didn’t want the relationship in first place.
    all this in the last 8weeks.
    Hat has hurt me is the very things I asked him for whilst in relationship that he was so resistant to ie spending time cooking the odd meal. He has now started to show me he can. I Just don’t Get It. He states he is trying to be there for me doesn’t want to see me upset. HElp

  70. FX says:

    Lon, I’m not saying this is what’s going on in your life since I can’t know but this post may be helpful. It was and still is very useful for me.


  71. Hurt says:

    I was seeing an EUM, MM (didn’t have a clue until it was too late), AC for 2 years. Last week, I found out that he was married the hard way. His wife showed up at my door! Here I was stunned, not knowing who this deranged, checking -my-mailbox , woman was … then it clicked when she said her name. Long story short, I went through 2 miscarriages, hot-cold, love you, love you not behavior, and because his wife found out, I was dumped. I am devistated and dying inside to think that I believed everything, which turned out to be one big lie. Since being dumped, I decided NC is the best way to go. He’s tried to contact me, and it is hell to stay away … it’s difficult to let go of someone you loved (or believed you loved). I know now that I was in love with a mask of a person; not the real deal, but it doesn’t make the pain go away. I die inside anytime I see anything remotely close to our discussions, good-times, etc. Please help me find my way, I’m broken emotionally, physically and spiritually. Any support would be appreciated. Please remember, the AC lied about being married, so no judgements please!!! Thanks

  72. Deserves Better says:

    This article definitely resonates with me.

    I was completely in love with my boyfriend of over a year. He was my first love. One weekend I went away to attend an admit weekend for a graduate program I wanted to attend. I had a job and a boyfriend in a different state, so I had to seriously contemplate actually going to graduate school.

    Upon my arrival back, I met up with my boyfriend and on the steps of my apartment building, he handed me my extra keys and a check saying that he did not want to do long distance for three years (I had no inkling this was going to happen). He simply was not in love with me, nor did he think we were compatible as we fought all of the time. He was unhappy and was going to stay unhappy. Thus, we should not be together. This is the man who not only a month earlier said that the past year with me was the happiest of his life. Additionally, he had told me how we would definitely get through the long distance and how he had our 5 year anniversary on his calendar.

    The check was to pay me back for his birthday gifts that I got him two weeks earlier. I tore it up in his face. He was also kind enough to move everything out of my apartment, do my dishes, wash my clothes, and buy me cake and chocolates while I was away. He moved his stuff he said so he didn’t have to see me glaring at him. He said that he knew that I would be sad, so he wanted to make sure I had something sweet to eat. Although we should not be together, he still cared about me. He said this but while crying, he just stared coldly at me.

    Left crying and hyperventilating in my studio apartment, I tried to accept that the love of my life no longer wanted me. After all this was my first love who always said how much he loved me and just wanted me to be happy.

    A week later, I decided to text him to get back my guest gym pass. I sent him a simple text saying, “Please send me my gym pass. Thanks.” Of course, I got no response. I truly wondered if I would ever see that pass again.

    About a week later, I received the pass in the mail with a torn note. I half expected the note to say some form of “sorry.” I was obviously deluded. He had simply scribbled on the note, “Give me back my massage book, pair of blue scissors, and anything else that I left there.” Remembered he had moved everything out behind my back.

    This happened 5 weeks ago and I have been NC…

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.