NO isn't a dirty word

When you’re averse to saying and sticking to NO, you have longstanding negative associations with it and boundaries, which means that when you’re faced with the prospect of having to decline something, it builds into Dynasty levels of drama in your mind.

You imagine them being slammed into the wall by the force of your ‘rejection’. Often, from the moment there’s a hint of NO or conflict, you’re already wounded and unbeknownst to you, have begun adjusting your behaviour to protect yourself or to ward off potential conflict.

You imagine them feeling bad about themselves. This is because you can’t handle hearing NO so you imagine that everyone else can’t either. You make a judgement about you when you hear NO instead of judging the situation.

You imagine people thinking badly of you. You often think badly of people who have said NO even if they had legitimate reasons. You also might associate getting a NO with the assumption that they must think badly of you if they’re saying it – not everything is about you.

You imagine the sky falling in. This is because when you experience NO, this is how you feel.

You worry that if you say NO, that no one else is going to say YES. There can be this assumption that you’re being asked because otherwise no one else can do it. I know it’s nice to think you’re that special, but really, you’d be surprised how many others will say YES to boundary crossing…

You worry that if you say NO, that someone else will say YES, which will then make you wonder if you were wrong for saying NO. Your NO isn’t good enough for you. If someone else would say YES to the same thing, even if it’s the sh*ttest thing you’ve ever been asked to do, you invalidate your boundaries and your judgment.

You worry that you’re being rude even though the other option is being a doormat. This indicates a fundamental problem with having boundaries – you believe that it’s rude to decline something or have limits.

You worry that you’re burning a bridge that’s actually already burnt. This is why so many people are collecting exes and shady friends like dusty medals and junk cluttering up their home – you’re keeping them as a just-in-case-you-might-need them (or they you), or just-in-case-they-decide-to-spontaneously-combust-into-a-better-person-in-a-better-relationship.

You worry that saying NO means that you’re not being helpful or compassionate, or even empathetic, even though saying NO is actually often helpful etc to both parties if you’re prepared to look beyond the short-term. Just look at Hollywood as an example of why hearing YES all the time is incredibly dangerous.

Your brain plays tunes from your Greatest (S)hits Collection in advance of the prospect of saying NO. “You’re a bad, bad person don’t you know?”, “Maybe You Should Have Said Yes But You’ve Effed Things Up Again By Saying NO And Now You Deserve To Be Unhappy”, “You’re So Rude (I Bet You Think This Song Is About You), and other such tracks.

Most of the drama from saying NO or the prospect of it, is in your own mind. NO isn’t a dirty word.

If you have a poor relationship with the word NO, it’s time to nurture the kid inside you that wants to sulk, tantrum, or retreat due to feeling like you’ve had love withdrawn or been judged as being unworthy. It’s also time to recognise that limits aren’t a bad thing. There can be this reluctance to deny yourself or others, even if doing so is actually for the greater good, because you associate limits with being denied things that you want and think you should have. Next thing you’re thinking “I’m not going to deny myself anything like the way my mother/father did when they wouldn’t do X,Y,Z.”

You may have learned that NO creates negative consequences, either in childhood where you’ve become nervous of conflict, criticism (even if it’s constructive), or experienced punishment, or in adulthood where you think you think you lost out on a relationship because you wouldn’t participate in a boundary busting situation. If your boundaries were violated in childhood, you may never have learned that it was OK to say NO because you had basic human rights ripped from you.

However you’ve arrived at this juncture of being afraid of saying and sticking to NO, as a fully-fledged adult, you are entitled to own your right to say NO. Helplessness isn’t going to help you and as many can attest to, saying YES when you really mean NO isn’t going to help either.

If you don’t learn to say NO you will become a prisoner of giving negative YES’s – agreement given, not from a genuine positive place but out of fear and sometime’s or even often, a hidden agenda of trying to bend people to your will by always saying YES with a view to ‘collecting’ at a later date.

NO doesn’t always or even very often mean rejection; it means you want different things.

It means whatever is being proposed doesn’t meet your needs.

It means you may not be able to meet their hopes and expectations and that saying YES would be misleading and create far greater pain than the result of saying NO in the short term.

It means this isn’t good for you right now.

It means that whatever is being proposed doesn’t work for you in that format but that if it had been in a different format, you might have said YES.

It means that you have other things going on that take priority – that’s not about them; your priorities are your priorities.

It means you’re busy.

It means you don’t want to do something for whatever reason, and you know what? That is your right and you actually don’t have to explain why and justify yourself. Write down a list of everyone you know and ask yourself how many of these people run around justifying why they say NO – it won’t be many, so why are you?

It means that it’s not workable because it would make you uncomfortable and go against your values – it busts your boundaries.

And sometimes it just means NO.

People say NO because of themselves just like people say YES for themselves hence whichever one you choose, do it for you for the right reasons.

Write down a list of people who you’re afraid of saying NO to. Do they say or demonstrate NO to you? Yep! It is amazing how often the very people who have no problem busting up your boundaries, have their own that they have no problem enforcing.

Just like decisions, if you say NO and then don’t stick with it long enough to affirm your right and decision to say NO, you’re never actually saying NO – you’re saying a delayed, flip-flapping, knee-jerking, YES. You’re also teaching people around you that you’re full of hot air which gives them the blueprints to eff you over.

I’ve learned to say/show NO because even though I sometimes get anxious about it, it’s nothing compared to the anxiety and gut wrenching ache caused by avoiding NO. Try to say NO without justification, especially for stuff that would leave you being treated without love, care, trust, and respect. Other people with boundaries would say NO to it, just like others without boundaries would say YES – don’t opt for the path of least resistance.

Experience has taught me that 9/10 times when I experience anxiety about saying NO, it’s unwarranted. The rest of the time I can handle it. So can you. I would never have discovered this if I’d continued to say YES to screwing myself over – I’ve had more pain and anxiety from saying and showing YES than I’ve ever had from saying NO.

If you don’t learn to say NO, you have no objective, balanced place to say YES. Being a doormat isn’t sexy – learn to say NO and mean it.

Your thoughts?

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

Natalie Lue is the founder and writer of Baggage Reclaim and author of the books Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship and more. Learn more about her here and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter – @baggagereclaim .

Natalie (NML) – who has written posts on Baggage Reclaim by Natalie Lue.


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202 Responses to NO Isn’t A Dirty Word

  1. Confusedd says:

    No no no no no no no!

  2. For years I was emotionally dyslexic. I thought “No” meant “On”.

    Seriously – I love how you explain it’s all about self worth. We are all worthy of people making plans for.

    Hugs from California,

    Christine
    @thatgalkiki
    xxoo

  3. Magdalena says:

    As my best friend often tells me, “The word no is a complete sentence.”

  4. Movedup says:

    No means NO. It does not mean maybe and it does not mean yes. NO means NO. How easy it is to say to your children – no you can’t have a cookie right before dinner, no its bedtime, no don’t stick your finger in the light socket… How come it is we have a hard time saying NO when it comes to other people and their expectations of what we will and will not do. Gotta be a childhood thing. I can easily say no to a stranger or my child but add any other type of “relationship” and it becomes an issue… go figure. Work in progress…

  5. Can'tSayNo says:

    How about pushy relatives that are always asking you to do stuff you’re not interested in doing? The other day, I was asked by a cousin to go see his band play. I told him I MIGHT if I don’t have my child that evening, but I’m not much into late nights anymore or into seeing live bands. The day of…I’m called several times by him, his mom and his grandmother to see whether or not I’m going. It’s suddenly a matter of crucial importance. It’s like some sort of control thing. The way I look at it, if I want to go, I’ll get in my car and go. I KNOW from experience that if I answer their phone calls and tell them that I am not going…I’ll be asked WHY I’m not going, and they will try to convince me to go and then guilt trip me about not going. This happens all the time. I feel bullied and end up just avoiding them. I accept one invitation and it leads to a hundred more invitations to things I am NOT interested in attending and then they seem personally offended that I didn’t go to 2 out of 10 events they’ve been pushing. ARGH! How do I handle this? It’s so annoying! Ask me once, then LEAVE IT ALONE ALREADY! If I want to go, I’ll go!

    • It’s all about how you say it. “Might” suggests that it’s a possibility hence you invite follow up. “No” says that you can’t make it. “Thanks ever so much for asking me, but I’m not able to make it that evening. I hope your performance goes really well and hopefully I may be able to make it the next time you’re playing.” I don’t think he was calling you up because he’s a bastard – I imagine that he’s calling you up because the very nature of being in a band suggests that you might want people to show up hence you’ll round up everyone you know, possibly annoying the crap out of them.

      “Why am I not coming? I’m busy that night…oh is that the time? I’ve got to go.”

      “Sorry, I’m on a deadline the following day. It was nice of you to ask, but I won’t be able to make it.”

      “I’ve already got plans but thanks for asking….right I’d better go” and then exit out the door.

      “I already told you on X day that I couldn’t make it and my situation hasn’t changed.”

      Put your voicemail on.

      Put together a list of 5 things that you could be doing and memorise them. These are the things that you’re doing next time you’re asked.

      As someone from an Afro-carribean family, pushy families come with the territory. Other people from other cultures will attest to the same thing. I don’t feel guilty because I am an adult and I have to take responsibility for managing people’s expectations, including those of family who seem to think I must be here, there, and everywhere. I say NO and if they’re pissed off, it’s their issue to deal with, just like it’s mine to deal with if I feel harangued and yours to deal with if you don’t like what’s going on.

      Instead of victimising yourself, use language and action to cut off the ask at once. If you said NO at the outset and firmly, they would leave it alone. You’re the one who is being wishy washy and people like your family will take the ball and run with it.

      • P. says:

        Natalie,

        You are right other cultures do this, too. Try Eastern Europeans! Like “Can’t Say No” stated, they bully you – and, moreover, when you say no from the start, they still bully you. I am printing your post with the suggestions on how to react, because I ought to memorize this!!!

        • Little Star says:

          I am Eastern European, and I have to agree with you:-) Somehow, I always felt guilty saying “NO” and explained why I could not do it, but later was bullied by my friends or family members and I ended up saying “YES”, even it was not right/comfortable for me!!! I became more aware if these situations, and when I say “NO” these day I do not feel guilty…does not matter if they are my friends, family members or ACs.

  6. Can'tSayNo says:

    I guess what I’m trying to say is…sometimes NO is a dirty word. When you’re dealing with someone pushy and/or manipulative, they will make you very uncomfortable about saying the N word!

    • Lizzy says:

      Brilliant advice as usual Natalie, I’m going to memorise five things I could be doing, in case of emergency…
      This post reminds me of an article I read a couple of years ago about ‘askers’ and ‘guessers’, that has stayed with me. Here is is: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/may/08/change-life-asker-guesser . I’m most definitely a guesser but getting better at asking (and just saying no)!
      Thanks again for all you do Natalie x

      • cc says:

        oh GOD i’m a guesser. thanks for this, lizzy.

      • Great article Lizzy – thanks for sharing. I used to be a Guesser and I have been working on my Asker muscle over the years so am definitely leaning more towards that now. Indeed saying No is like muscle – the more you say it, the stronger your ability to say it without guilt gets.

        • Sunshine says:

          What a great article!
          I really like, “That doesn’t work for me.” A guy I work with recently asked about hooking up. I asked, “Aren’t you married?”
          He said, “Sometimes I’m bad.”
          I said, “Nah, that doesn’t work for me.”
          Over, done, on to the next thing, no drama.

          • Brenda Renkema says:

            He needs a kick in the “B@lls” and really has NO respect for women, for one like that the rush isn’t even sexual as they tell themselves .. I think the rush is in degrading them, what a PIG.

            Same for the ones that claim to” love” women so much but only look for sexual conquest, the last thing they can do is love any women, lol!

          • Allison says:

            Sunshine,

            What would HR think of this?

        • Fearless says:

          Yes, interesting article. I am a guesser too, though am trying to get better at being an asker and am working on the ‘no’ word. It’s so true that when people ask me favours or to do things I don’t want to do I feel stressed with what I perceive to be their expectations of me and grumble that they are rude and presumptuous (because I would never ask such a thing – I would send out the feelers first!). It has never occurred to me that these people – the askers – are not necessarily expecting me to say yes or feel entitled to a ‘yes’ – they’re just asking’!

      • Magnolia says:

        I am an asker, with a strong tendency to assume the answer is no, and so I just don’t ask! :) But if I do ask, I expect a yes or a no.

        This article totally explains some major conflicts I have had in the past couple of years. I have dealt with guessers and who dropped every kind of hint that they were saying ‘no’ but they wouldn’t actually do it – I found this so passive and frustrating.

        Then I would just push – if they weren’t saying no, then there was still no answer on the table – we covered this a few posts back, when we talked about words vs action; I had to accept that some folks will take every opportunity to avoid saying no directly and better if I can recognize that I’m dealing with that when I first get the sense of evasiveness (even though in my head I’m screaming – just say yes or no already!)

        But I’m struck by how much dating is like a guess culture. I used to expect that me expecting that someone would “say no” when they wanted to not date me anymore, or “no” when I asked for a committed relationship and couldn’t give it. Maybe the guy I end up with will be like that, but the majority I have met would never say no to my face!

        • Fearless says:

          Magnolia:
          “I had to accept that some folks will take every opportunity to avoid saying no directly…”

          I have to plead guilty to that. I can see it must be annoying. Since reading BR I have tried to be better at straight answers. A friend recently invited me (at too short notice) to a gathering at her house. Pre BR and dealing with my general issues surrounding the ex EUM etc. I would not have wanted to say no directly. I would have felt stressed trying to think of excuses and left my answer as a ‘maybe, I’ll see’. As it was, I said ‘thanks for asking but I’m not going to be able to make it today’. They key is definitely to be emphatic. What’s annoying though is when people take ‘no’ as a starting point for negotiation!

          Today I opened an email at work from someone asking to meet me at ten past eight in the morning to discuss a work related matter. Previously, even though I’d have found her request rude and presumptuous, I would have felt duty bound to agree to meet her at the time that suited her even though I don’t actually start work until 8.30am (which she would know!). I still did find her request rude and presumptuous (maybe she is just an asker!) but the difference is that I answered her saying, ‘no that would not be possible for me but I could meet with her at 3.30pm if that was suitable’. Result!

        • sm says:

          Amen Magnolia! Dating is like a guess culture. People wont ever tell you no when they mean it, they just dance around it. It is difficult when someone asks if you want to go out again to look in their face and say ‘No’ or ‘I’m not interested’. We will just have to get better at taking the hints when people arent or are interested. Or just blaze a new trail and be brazen and up about it ourselves. I got a crash course recently from a guy that my friend dated, at the end of the second date he asked if she liked to go out on a Sunday and she said ‘no, I have to go to church and then take a nap’, well he took the hint and never called her again. In the meantime she was discussing with me how she was going to blow him off if he called her again and get this, none of her excuses included ‘not interested’. So I’m gonna learn to take the hint like this guy and I’m going to try to aware of when I’m doing the ‘guessing’.

          • Fearless says:

            “at the end of the second date he asked if she liked to go out on a Sunday and she said ‘no, I have to go to church and then take a nap’, well he took the hint and never called her again.”

            It’s the same as the perennial cry of the EUM, the oft repeated “I’m really busy right now” which is a euphemism for ‘not interested in pursuing/progressing/nurturing/giving a shit about a decent relationship with you’.

            Yes, we really do have to know when we are hearing a ‘no’ by any other name.

            • sm says:

              Fearless but unlike the EUM, she truly wasnt interested and didnt call or email him again either, she didnt need his ego strokes. My experience with EU’s is that even though they are blowing you off, they think nothing of coming back at you later with a text and such. Whether for an ego stroke, or whatever it is they want regardless of your feelings etc. That’s how I differentiate an eu guy. When I’m not interested in someone, I do not contact them again, I leave them alone. EU’s dont have the decency to do that because they arent interested in anyone for any length of time.

              • Fearless says:

                Yes, sm. I agree.

                My EUM certainly knew how to say ‘no’ (how to manage down my expectations, essentially) with the ‘very busy’ excuse – and yes, he’d be back when he felt like it blowing all hot again (managing my expectations back up again to a suitable level for him to get what he wanted). His EU behaviour worked similarly to a sophisticated thermostat, he was in total control of the level of ‘heat’, maintaining it at just the right temperature at all times – for him. For me, I found it very cold all of the time!

        • Tracy says:

          Soooo true! I’m the exact same way…if you don’t want to date me anymore, just f’ing say it! None of this stringing me along, making promises that the promiser has no intention of keeping, keeping up texting and emails. With the last guy I finally kicked to the curb, I kept OPENLY saying, “If you aren’t sure you’re ready to be in a relationship, IT’S OK…if you need more time to recover from your divorce, get your kids in order, etc., IT’S OK”. But he kept insisting he wanted a relationship, yet couldn’t give me more than a couple of dates a MONTH, if that. He only wanted to text, never called, yet was angry that I referred to our “relationship” as CASUAL dating. I finally cut off contact and haven’t heard a word since. THAT says NO to me! But I could never figure out why he wouldn’t just SAY “I can’t do this right now.”
          I tend to push the issue myself. I’ve gotten so tired of being with flip-floppers, future fakers, commitmentphobes, that I get to a point after about three or four months when I start to say “What are we here?” All I want is a YES or NO, and yet it tends to lead to several more weeks/months of ambiguity with me pretending not to read the writing on the wall.
          So with this last time, I did read the writing, I had to actually read it to the writer himself because he couldn’t see it, and it’s really OK. I feel in charge for once.

          • P. (former doormat) says:

            Tracy,

            it does make the relationships way shorter, though, right? :)))

          • sm says:

            Tracy that is exactly what happened to me. Within a day I felt the future faker lose his interest, I mean ones days time. I am so tired of being strung along, so I had a conversation with him the next morning about the loss of interest to which he replied my feeling was not correct then called me later that night to break up with me. He stated the loss happened because 3 days before I had ‘the nerve’ to state my boundaries with him over a couple of things. He didnt like it, so I said ‘what, I’m not allowed to state my feelings?’ to which he replied, ‘I’m not good at relationships’. Phew, I did the writing for that one as well. I am still grieving over it somewhat, we never got to the phase where I was strung along or treated like crap because I called him on it. So I guess what I’m grieving is the good part of the future faking. Anyway, next time hopefully I’ll be ‘the writer’ even earlier in the dating phase so it wont hurt as much. Through BR, I now realize I’m going to have to ‘call it’ with these people who cant ‘call it’ for themselves. Oh well, its just part of dating, sad but true.

            • Fearless says:

              sm
              “…so I said ‘what, I’m not allowed to state my feelings?’ to which he replied, ‘I’m not good at relationships’.”

              Good for you in getting shot of him fairly quickly.

              My now ex EUM said exactly those words to me within weeks of meeting him: ‘I’m not good at relationships’. It rings in my ears now like a fire alarm that I ignored and so let my house burn down. It took me ten years to really hear what he had said from the outset. On the flip side, he also told me he wanted to settle down and have children (he didn’t) and later that he wanted to have a baby with me and get married (he didn’t). When confronted at various points he swore blind that he would get his shit together and that he wanted to be with me (he didn’t). He eventually stopped spouting that crap. Funnily enough, it was when he stopped spouting it that I started to see that it had been a lot of crap.

              • sm says:

                Fearless, I know exactly what you mean. And this is where NML is right on the money about everything. This last guy billed himself as a relationship kind of guy, he’d been married 6 yrs lived with her for 6 yrs, then before they were barely even divorced (or maybe not) he took up with another woman and lived with her for 3 years. Like Nat says, just because you had a long term relationship doesnt mean you are good at them. He swore that he didnt really want to get married or live with the other chick, so why did he do it? One of the only reasons I really liked him (and this is weird on my part) is that when he told his wife he wanted a divorce she willingly gave it, never spoke to him again and went on got married again and had the baby he would never give her. This girl turned around shook his dust off her feet and went on and built the life she wanted that he was unwilling or unable to give her. Now everytime I think I want to break NC, I think about her and how her actions are the admirable way to conduct a breakup.

  7. Lilia says:

    Thank you, I really needed to read this! I´ve actually been avoiding saying no to one completely insane request of this EUM – he wants us to go to a strippers club together so he can watch other girls while making out with me. I´m maintaining NC with him but he contacts me about every week orso to remind me of this plan – and I´m just so afraid of not being “nice” that I change the subject. When inside I´m dying to scream NO! No, no, you crazy disrespectful EUM!!

    • Tea Cozy says:

      It sounds like you’re not actually in No Contact? How about cutting all contact with him? Say no to icky exes!

      • Lilia says:

        Yes, of course you´re right, I´m working on that now. I find that the No in No Contact probably scares me a bit as well, so that is why I answer his calls… aargh wouldn´t it be nice not to feel guilty about taking care of me!

        • Tea Cozy says:

          Try it for 30 days and see. If, after 30 days, you decide you are better off taking this guy’s calls, then you can always go back to doing so.

          Have you seen Nat’s free email support for No Contact? It’s wonderful. You get an email in your inbox, and it always has the Nat magic of being just the right thought at the right time.

          (Also, not that I’m encouraging any chitchat with this creepy ex, but I wonder what he would say if you asked him to go to a male strip club with you, so you could make out with him and ogle the hot guys in g-strings? Sheesh!)

      • MaryC says:

        Lilia, Tea Cozy is right if you’re in anyway in contact with him you’re not No Contact. As Nat always says no contact means no contact in ANY form.

        Asking you to go to a strip club to make out with him while he watches the other woman CREEPY CREEPY CREEPY. It would be ok if you were a couple and you both wanted to do that but you deserve so much better than as Tea Cozy so rightly put it “Icky Exes”.

        • Lilia says:

          Thanks, I did subscribe to the NC support! Will probably buy Natalie´s books as well.

          I realize it sounds extremely silly not to be able to go NC with a man who clearly not only deserves that, but also a slap in the face. The thing is, before we became “romantic” (haha, how sarcastic) we used to be very good platonic friends for over a decade. I completely trusted his intentions with me, as did he with me. So now it´s like a lifelong friend has turned into a character out of a nightmare when my feelings for him evolved and I was most vulnerable to his manipulations.

          It´s really hard to accept that my perception of him has changed so much… I will need some time to get over this.

          • Brenda Renkema says:

            It’s NOT silly sounding, you had once a friendship – it’s a real LOSS for YOU – even if for him the reasons for having you around were not the same, ( You lost what was real for YOU – even if it was NOT for him. )

            Don’t beat yourself up, it’s going to take time.. I do not think we should be doing that.

            I had to first make so he could NOT contact me, but I could him to blow off a LOT of steam, it was my way, it was what worked for me and made it so I could get it out, and NOT read any apology, excuse or NON apology etc he had for me.

            After all he was the one guy friend I had more than once really told him off, I must have called that guy every name in the book over the course of our friendship, so with him NO I NEVER was some total doormat, like I was in the past anyhow.

            But my weakness came MOST when he wrote back and used “passive aggressive games” .. NOW I am doing 100% NO contact, But for me and that situation I had to do it that way, it worked for me.

  8. Jen says:

    I have this really weird notion that every time I reject someone– especially the longer we continue on– I am actually accumulating serious negative karma that will come back to bite me in the short term, and sometimes long term depending on the situation. It’s weird, I know.

    In my most recent example, I went on a few dates with a guy that, for some valid and some superficial reasons, I was just not into. Instead of telling him the moment I realized this, I put it off for a week. Granted, I was seriously busy that week, but still. During the weekend, he contacted me to hang out/chat/mostly sweet little texts. I either blew him off or replied very briefly, and so eventually he sent me a “I know you are not interested anymore” email… And then I grew some balls and said “Sorry– I’m just too busy for this.” (Was that really growing balls? Whatever, at least I broke it off.)

    Anyway, the point is, my crazy belief manifested itself THAT NIGHT: I ended up spending an evening with friends, among which were 3 men that had at various times expressed interest in me but were too annoying to make it to even one date or were just plain annoying. And I thought to myself “AHA! Insta-karma! At least I am cleared from this recent little snafu”…

    So, my problem is that weird little karma belief. I was too chicken to call it quits when I knew it was over, so I accumulated a week of bad karma in my very weird brain. Anyway, the truth is I DON’T WANT TO DATE NOW! I have some serious anxiety issues with regards to my career that I need to work out… But I think in the future I really need to work on saying NO the second I feel it, and maybe get over my weird belief system.

  9. P. says:

    What if I say yes and later don’t want to do that thing? What if I believe I could make the event / help out / go to the movie and then something comes up and I am tired or need to work and I feel like I am not “entitled” to change my mind since I did not say no right away (did not know the situation or my feelings changed, or just did not have enough info)?

    • “I’m really sorry. I know I said I could do X but I’m unable to make it. I hope you guys have a really good time and talk to you soon.” If you find yourself in this position on a regular basis, get a diary/calendar and don’t agree to plans immediately. Get a sense of how your week is – if you’re likely to be tired or working late, don’t make plans on those particular days or offer an alternative date.

      • grace says:

        Nat, P
        I’d also say that if you change your mind a lot, you need to examine your own commitment issues. Is it really THAT difficult to say yes to the movies (assuming you want to go) and then go, even if you feel tired? Sometimes, commitment means doing something just because – you said you would.
        Depends on the event as well. I’d consider it very rude to blow off a dinner party but not group drinks down the pub.
        Also, be careful that if you say no/change your mind a lot people stop asking you and you end up sitting home alone wondering why you’ve got no friends.

      • P. says:

        Natalie,

        I think not agreeing to plans immediately is the key. I think either people pressure you to decide on the spot, or I get excited and say yes, and do not realize that some grading is due on the next day. I have been sitting at home a lot, working on my dissertation, so learned to say no, but when I say yes and cannot make it, that feels different and I guess I do not want to seem like a flake. Thank you, Natalie, for the suggestion what to say – I often have trouble finding the appropriate phrases (have not grown up in this country.)

  10. sm says:

    I do not trust people who will say ‘yes’ to something when I can tell what they really mean is ‘no’. I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with stating your wishes to someone. But I’ve dated a few guys who were offended by the fact that I stated my wishes, like I didnt have a right to do it. As a matter of fact, they didnt think they had a right to do it so they projected that onto me. I love to hear what people really want, but I dislike it when they changed their answer to something they think I want to hear or do something out of a feeling of obligation. It does not feel good when someone is with you (friend or bf) out of obligation. I am getting better at the word ‘no’ since I took 2, 13 week sessions of boundaries. I am going to remember this post and my own words here, and really try hard to be honest about my wishes. Also, the next time I detect a flip flapping man, I am not going to continue to date him. Because I firmly believe this is what happened with the last guy, he couldnt say ‘no’ or state his wishes when I was more than willing to hear them and he took that out on me.

    Thank you NML, I just got the perspective you talked about in the last post. You are awesome!

    • Teddie says:

      I think learning to say “no” starts with learning to be OK with hearing it. The more gracefully I learn to accept a “no”, the better I become at ascertaining my own veto rights.

      • sm says:

        You’re right Teddie. One thing I learned in the boundaries class was that we who let people run over our boundaries, often run over others too. It was an eye opener to say the least. I know my mom would run over my boundaries as a kid, even though my dad continuously ran over hers and ours both. But not one of us better violate his.

  11. Sally says:

    A wise person once told me that “By saying No, you are saying Yes to yourself”. I thought that was brilliant, and this advice has helped me tremendously. I’ve learned to embrace the word “No” and couldn’t be happier about it, great things have happened in my life as a result. I’m on MY path, and all the choices I’ve made come from me. Trust me, saying “No” is very empowering!

  12. FinallyDidIt says:

    So true. The ones I had difficulty saying no to had no problem shoving no right down my throat. Can’t count the number of times I said yes and really meant no. Pathetic, I know but workIng on it. With my recent AC I said yes so many times when I know I should have said no because I was so afraid that he would morph into this wonderful man some other woman would get. Just kept trying. Finally realized he is going to morph all right – into some other woman’s nightmare! Hope she has her seatbelt on – it’s going to be one bumpy ride! Glad it’s not mine.

  13. I dont agree with all of your no is not a dirty word...usually i feel bullied to say yes by people who pretend like they care i would have to cut out all but maybe one friend if i didnt give in sometimes i say no and they push and push until i break down says:

    Friends who bully are my problem

  14. Thank God for That says:

    This is a massive problem for me. The “No” feels like it should be followed by “but it’s only because “, “but maybe yes in the future” etc. There’s a great How I Met Your Mother episode on this…Lily has to reject her ex who is stalking her, but she just doesn’t have the heart to tell him, so she keeps saying she can’t be with him….*right now*, the last part of which gives him hope to keep hanging on.

    I think, having just written that, this applies to the EUMs – I’ve had several of them glossing over the truth “No, I don’t want to be with you” or “I don’t care about you” with half truths and lies which are easier for them to say, and easier for us to stomach, though we both learn the truth through actions.
    One of the most painful conversations I’ve had was with the last EUM (NC 3.5 months whoopeee), but is also the one I’m most grateful to him for. He told me he didn’t care about me, and that he didn’t want to spend that night with me. I saw the honesty amongst all the bullshit that surrounded it, and it was the trigger for me to get him out of my life, thank god!

    Back to the subject – yes I feel like a meanie for saying “no”. Not only that, but boring. I know it’s illogical. I’m not a big drinker, I never have been – but when I do drink, I lose control of my behaviour about 60% of the time. Every time I drink, I wake up the next morning, analyse every detail and worry about how ridiculous I was. I am perfectly capable of enjoying myself stone-cold sober, and am utterly confident in that fact (partly because I grew up with an alcoholic dad and my mother has done a good job of teaching me that the “social lubricant” it provides is a complete myth). However, every time I go out, I find everyone forcing me to drink – I guess it’s a boundary most people don’t have – but it’s one that with practice, I have found more and more easy to enforce.

    On the other hand, when it comes to many other things, I’m just too curious or too worried about someone else’s feelings (not my own, of course) to say no. It’s got me into lots of bad situations. I basically trust other people’s persuasive words over my own intuition. Bad bad bad. This is a lesson I’m still learning, and I’ve just this weekend experienced a big set-back, thankfully not on the relationship front, but I can see that it was boundary-busting. Learning slowly…

  15. Mff says:

    Whenever I read your posts about boundaries something clicks in my mind and I KNOW I need to work on mine. I have about one or two circumstances with professional and/or friendship type relationships where I can identify boundaries being crossed but other than that I am at a loss (which clearly shows how effed up my boundary radar is). I guess could you or anyone else be willing to share some examples, both romantic or not, of boundary crossing so I can start to identify when my own boundaries are being crossed and say NO.

    Thanks!

  16. Kissie says:

    Saying no used to be the hardest thing for me. It felt like I didn’t have he right to say no I was afraid people would be mad at me and not like me anymore. Yet conversely if someone told me no I would just accept it like I was the most normal thing in the world. I respected their boundaries but did nit demand that they respect mine. Now I’ve learned to say no and mean it. Before I answer any question I pause and think giving myself some time to really figure out what I really want to do. I’ve learned the first no is the easiest. Saying yes all the time is you not being authentic, honest or genuine and I want to be those things in my life and in how I relate to people. So if I think no is the most appropriate answer and it’s what I’m feeling then that’s what I’m going to say. Also, thanks for listing some very legitimate reasons for saying no I intend to memorize all of them.

  17. GL says:

    Hah hah, now… c’mon! Is that a topic? ‘no’ isn’t a dirty word? :-)

  18. Oh, Natalie, sometimes I feel you read my mind! “when you’re faced with the prospect of having to decline something, it builds into Dynasty levels of drama in your mind.” That used to be me! I am a recovering yes person and it still causes me great anxiety to say ‘no’ but not nearly as much anxiety as when I said yes and sold myself out as I did time and time again. I realize I feel the same way about asking for something. A simple request causes me the same level of anxiety as I used to feel about saying ‘no’. I realize now that it’s not a big deal. The person will say yes or no and I know it’s nothing to do with me. I’m finding 100% of the time they say yes and are happy I asked.

  19. A says:

    I don’t know whether this applies to me generally, but it did with the EU. He was a user, and would just keep pushing and pushing and make a huge deal if I didn’t do what he wanted, so I often gave in. It’s the worst thing to do, like teaching a toddler that throwing a tantrum will get them what they want. I didn’t want an awkward situation or conflict, even though he was the one that would be causing it by 1) not accepting the fact that I was saying no and 2) continuing to harass me and then over reacting if he didn’t get his way. It often wasn’t something that was a big deal for me to do (part of the justification for giving in and avoiding listening to him go on and on nagging me to just do it) but as you say, it’s one’s right to say no just because we feel like it–no reason necessary. Once the cheap so-and-so tried to ‘jokingly’ push me ahead in line at a store to pay for some items for him. They weren’t very expensive, but he would already try to pawn expenses off on me (e.g. “you should buy me lunch”) and I wasn’t having it. He kept ‘joking’ about it for a bit, then it turned and the entire way home he was nasty and calling *me* cheap. Seriously?

    A friend gave basic advice (when I was stupidly still dealing with this ‘man’) that makes sense: just say no and stick to it, no matter how much he pushes, nags, complains, or starts a big fight over it, because you need to establish that when you say no, that’s the end of it, and next time he won’t throw the tantrum. (Mind you with these guys, it will probably mean a disappearance once they no longer get their way/we actually erect some boundaries).

    • A says:

      For the record, I have no problem paying for meals and other things, but I do have a problem when I’m the only one ever paying, and when the only time something is suggested is when it’s prefaced with “you should buy me….”

      • grace says:

        A
        This is really oldfashioned and, yes, sexist but most men will happily pay for you, or at least their share and the only man who gave me a hard time with nickling and diming was the – you guessed, it – abuser. I ended up in a women’s shelter for Christmas because he spent more on my present than I did on his.
        I’ve had taxi drivers say turn down tips saying “No offence, love, I don’t take tips from women”.
        I’m not saying he should pay for everything and buy you lots of gifts but when a man is spongeing of a woman there is something wrong with that picture.
        Sure, in this day and age a woman can earn more and will conrtibute more to the household expenses, or your longterm partner can fall on hard times, but this guy is taking the p!ss.

        • A says:

          The guy is past tense, and was a user. He paid for things initially (so obviously he knows his behaviour is shady since he doesn’t act like a cheap b****** right off the bat), then claimed that work was sparse, he had money issues, etc.. I’ve since discovered that he is like this and has the ‘work issue’ as his excuse permanently. I added the second post b/c I didn’t want to sound as though a man MUST pay for everything. I don’t mind paying sometimes, but there’s obviously a difference between that and what I described above.

      • Tea Cozy says:

        Who the heck tells another person they should buy them something? What cheek! It’s bad enough that some women have that unstated expectation from men, but to have someone (male or female) insist upon it out loud? Such unearned entitlement.

        I think that would get not only a “no,” but an “Oh HELL no!” :-)

  20. Betty says:

    Can anyone teach me how to say no? My problem is the:

    You worry that you’re being rude even though the other option is being a doormat. This indicates a fundamental problem with having boundaries – you believe that it’s rude to decline something or have limits.

    It’s true, I hate being rude. How do I get over this?

    • grace says:

      Betty
      Just say no. I got invited last minute to a dinner. I replied “sorry, I’ve been out all day, I’ve only just got your text.” Next day, the person apologised TO ME for not giving me more notice. We still talk, it’s fine. No one has been rude to anyone.
      Another time, I was asked to join someone for coffee when all I wanted to do was go home so I said “Aw, thanks for asking but I really need to get home”.
      Another time, I was asked to go on a day trip and said “Thank you for thinking of me, but I have quite low energy levels and that’s a long day for me.”
      But what specifically are you referring to? Is some AC beating down your door cos – you can just ignore them? It’s all they understand and they expect it. They’ve been jerking women around long enough to know that silence = the gig is up. And if they think you’re rude, so what?
      Not everyone is going to like you however nice you play. Mahatma Gandhi got assassinated.

    • FX says:

      Betty, The point is it is not rude to say “No.” You can even say “No, thank you.” if it feels more natural. ;) If someone offered you a piece of crap and called it ice cream, I think you could summon that up! All you need to do really is ask yourself what works for you in your best interest. If you do want something, you say so, if not, you decline. Yes or No. End of. They are both words that have their place. Saying “No” is not in any way inherently rude. And, also, the word really is a complete sentence. You do not need to justify yourself once you commit to declining something to suit your needs/time/values/whatever.

      I think what others have said about not saying “no” out of fear is a common problem that we may twist around in our minds. If saying “no” appropriately for ourselves costs us a relationship or anything else, it is a clear sign that we are better off without it.

      It’s funny, one of my favorite expressions is “Asking creates a possibility that would not otherwise exist.” After reading this post, I’m thinking that saying “no” may also create great possibilities!

  21. XFBwoman says:

    Argh, Nat–have you been reading my texts/tapping my phone/reading my mind? Your posts seem to be following my life pretty closely of late and I can’t seem to get away with anything!
    And thanks.
    (This reminds me of a great book I read many years ago called When I Say No I Feel Guilty, which helped me so much in my dealings with everyone except the men in my life. . .)

  22. Lumos says:

    Oh dear, this is a really good post for me. I have recently ended a casual long distance relationship with a man after 3 1/2 years. I have ended it about 5-6 times before but each time I would suddenly doubt my own decision, get lonely and panic (after a day!), or he would say just the right thing so I would think “oh my god I am wrong he is a nice guy afterall!” This time I said to my friend I was going to truely wreck it so that he would end it this time – becuase I couldn’t stick to ‘no’ but I was really feeling tortured by how different his values were to mine – and also that I really didnt know what a lot of his values were because he didn’t seem to want me to get to know him any better. Well I did…And yes he rejected me after 3 weeks of angry texts and a lot of pressure from me… And you guessed 2 weeks later I am mentally trying to justify contacting him again. I really struggle with leaving people, or rejecting them once in a relationship. Even when I am hating how they behave and don’t respect them much anymore its so hard for me to walk away from their good points… I find it hard to believe that I will find someone better. And the feeling of loss makes me feel panicky, fearful and anxious. And this time I am nervous of getting involved with anyone else because I am worried I won’t walk away when there values are different from mine. I struggle to resist when I like them and am attracted to them but I don’t like their values – and this is the scenario I always end up in it seems. And also you would think I liked power games on some level – because I sure play along when they get going! And I start wanting to win and prove that they are wrong… And for what? NO ONE wins those kind of games, they are unpleasant and they hurt both you and them. Revenge doesn’t feel very sweet – in this case it just feels boring and sad and I miss him.

  23. Heather says:

    Natalie, Hello from Arizona! I ran into your website this past October 2011, when my 7 year “relationship”ended when he stopped talking to me out of the blue. As I’m sure everyone else who has found your blog can attest, we were surfing the net looking for answers on how to get him back! HA! Your blog has been enlightening (and hurtfully truthful sometimes). Thank you! I learned exactly how Emotionally Unavailable this guy really is and how I was contributing to his constant boomerang in and out of my life. I wish I could say that October was the final time, but it wasn’t. Lo and behold, he called right before Christmas, feeling sorry for himself and giving me a flimsy apology. Feeling sorry for him, I gave him a gazillionth chance. What a moron I was. Not even a month later, he pulled the same stunt again. And tried to contact me after another month of deciding I had been “punished” enough. I have been NC completely for 60 days. Even when he has texted me, I have ignored all of his attempts. I read your blog daily (sometimes spending an hour or two) re-reading blogs I’ve already read. Just to keep it real and fresh. I’m eradicating this EUM Assclown from my life. I’ve never felt better. I ordered Mr Unavailable and The Fallback Girl….I can’t wait to read it. Thank you for your help, Natalie. You’re amazing. God bless you.

    • Little Star says:

      Heather, well done! You should be proud of yourself. I was missing AC yesterday, but I had to stop these “missing” thoughts. I know that NC is better for me in the long run…I am like you, reading Natalie’s posts every single day and it helps me to stay in the right direction.

  24. Tea Cozy says:

    “Try to say NO without justification, especially for stuff that would leave you being treated without love, care, trust, and respect.”

    Yes yes yes!

    And if the other person presses you for an explanation for your “no”, cue up Miss Manners’ patented response: “It simply isn’t possible.”

    And no need to apologize for saying no. If a selfish twit hears “I’m sorry, but no,” they’ll jump right on the “sorry” part and try to twist you into guilt.

    A couple of times I’ve had people really press me on a “no” I’d given, and I came up with this script to get me through it: “You don’t need to understand it, or even like it, but you do need to respect my decision.” Most people, though, are reasonable and don’t push things to that point.

    Say yes to no!

  25. Teddie says:

    Women have a mililion-year long history of evolution where saying “no” was a risky venture. It was usually girls that were married off into another village, in order to avoid incest, the boys stayed among their own kin. A girl alone in a foreign family or tribe quickly established that defending her own values and failure to comply and fit it might have equalled ostracism and perishment. All I’m saying is, even if our instincts hold us back sometimes, it is all the more reason to be conscious of our values and boundaries in order to unlearn those no longer productive lessons.

    • Rose says:

      I don’t think that it is this instinct that prevails. I’m pretty sure the way we educate girls to be “nice”, not to get into trouble etc. has a bigger impact.

    • P. (former doormat) says:

      Evolutionary psychology? That makes sense – so men do not have so many issues with saying no… Women can learn it, then, but it will be more difficult for them than for men for the next ten thousand years or so, or was it a hundred thousand? Quite plausible.

    • Mymble says:

      Sorry to be an anthropology bore but in fact matrilineal societies – where land ownership follows the female line, albeit women do not own the land per se, and where men, when they marry, go and live with the wifes family are more common than you might think and I lived in one for three years. There is a theory that it is an older form of societal organisation and would have been prevalent in the older hunter gatherer societies. There is a tendency to imagine that the way our society is organised is natural and inevitable, but IMO in many ways it is not. I am always suspicious of arguments that are based on “anthropology” they are usually a lazy way of justifying patriarchy and the exploitation of women.

      • Mymble says:

        And I would add that in such societies, as land goes through the female line, paternity of children is not particularly an issue, so controlling womens sexuality is not high on the agenda. Consequently women are more likely to be able to say “yes” and “no”‘to whoever they like, without the sky falling on their heads.

  26. Magnolia says:

    Sometimes I practice saying no just because I say “okay” to so many propositions simply out of habit. “Would you like to meet at x time?” I might be free all day, and open to a number of times, but if y time is better for me, I’ll say, “No, how about y time?” Often it’s fine.

    I have had such a habit of not knowing what I want, or being lukewarm in my plans, that I am often willing to say ‘yes’ to the first thing that someone suggests. So much of my relationship with the ex-AC went ahead because, I reasoned, as a student I had no firm schedule and he was proposing things I “couldn’t” say no to, for something as flexible as school work. Of course, it was entirely up to me how firm I wanted my work schedule to be. Same with my plans with other friends.

    If then I had loved myself as much as I do now, I would have kept more commitments to myself (I would have had more commitments to myself in the first place), and said no to more things that didn’t fit my needs.

    “There can be this reluctance to deny yourself or others, even if doing so is actually for the greater good, because you associate limits with being denied things that you want and think you should have.”

    I’m working with this now. I still experience things like eating healthily (i.e. not getting the sweets I want) and making a budget (i.e. having to feel poor) as restrictions that remind me of the emotionally unstable, low-income chaos I grew up in. I’m not yet firm in my NO to the poor diet, or to the overspending. I’m working on saying NO from a place that is a bigger YES to my overall happiness.

    • Ethelreda the Unready (formerly PJM) says:

      Magnolia, I hardly ever respond to your posts, but this one really resonated with me. You and I have a lot in common, and it’s very reassuring to read your posts and know that I’m not alone. It also helps give me the courage to get up and keep going!

    • P. (former doormat) says:

      Magnolia,

      I was even told that I had to conform to “his” schedule because my schedule was flexible. Guess what? It is flexible but I have to have the work done, too, and there are deadlines. Working at a school or from home does not mean “available on call”. When I was writing my dissertation I had to learn to say no even if I was staying at home all day.

    • Fearless says:

      Magnolia:

      this really resonated with me too:

      “I reasoned, as a student I had no firm schedule and he was proposing things I “couldn’t” say no to, for something as flexible as school work. Of course, it was entirely up to me how firm I wanted my work schedule to be. Same with my plans with other friends.”

      I have a lot of work to take home often in the evenings and weekends. Yet I would fall into the ex EUM’s schedule because I considered my work commitments to be more flexible than his – mine were not in fact any more flexible than his – less so, in actual fact! Anything pressing that I had to attend to I put on the back burner to fit in with when was good for him to see me. I did not, as you have said, keep more commitments to myself as I didn’t love myself enough. He did love himself enough. He did keep commitments to himself and I made myself available to accommodate his commitments – to himself! As a result of not keeping up any commitment to myself, I found myself in tacit agreement with him that his time was way more valuable than mine. Ugh.

      Saying no has a lot to do with asserting that your time is as valuable as anyone else’s and a lot to do with committing to me and my own needs which, also, are as valid as anyone else’s needs. Thanks for re-affirming that for me, Mags.

      • P. (former doormat) says:

        A woman told me: I will pay you such and such to do this for me, but I could probably hire a high school student, so that’s why the pay is so low (I was pretty much helping her as a friend for a while, but when it got to the point of hours and hours each week, I asked for compensation). I asked, why, when I am educated and doing a good job? She said my time was about seven times less valuable than hers. Really? I did not think so and said no. She does not understand to this day how to get customers, even as she is trying to expand her business. She is an asker, but, I believe, trying to use people since she has this idea of being so much more valuable than others (at least that was she says, I am hoping that maybe she is unaware – ha ha, I am making excuses as if for an EUM…)

  27. Ethelreda the Unready (formerly PJM) says:

    And I have just made the exciting discovery that ‘no’ is actually a very good word.

    The ex and long-time EUM with whom I wanted to be friends – and thought it was proper friendship (see earlier posts on being friends with your ex) – has NOT been playing with a straight bat, and I have been very tempted to do likewise. My old, old enemies of his money, his high-status job, etc. There is only one place to go from here, and that is No Contact, which has just been initiated.

    And all I had to do, was do it. I realised last night that I didn’t actually LOVE him at all; I loved his money and his high-status job, and that if he’d been just a middle-income-earner, I wouldn’t have pursued him for so long. It’s amazing. I am a bit upset, but I also take full responsibility for the fact that I put myself out there, and that there was always a risk of this happening.

    And what helped me the most was realising that I’d met a man recently who had a whole lot of qualities I really did like – warmth, enthusiasm, courage, energy. The EUM was cold, unresponsive and passive. The new bloke is off-limits, and I’m not hankering, but it’s like someone held up a picture of what I might really need – and I recognised it.

    I have broken NC with this man in the past during our attempts at being a couple, so I need to be really tough about this one. All scoldings, cries of ‘I told you so’, and criticism gratefully received. Well, not gratefully, but received, anyway.

  28. Tulipa says:

    I have trouble with word no.

    When saying no to the AC I went out with it was because I was afraid of the conflict that would my no would cause. I would be labelled selfish and mean and manipulated into situations I just didn’t want to be in. I see now it was because of a lack of boundaries and caring way too much about what he thought about me. A counsellor worked hard with me to make me understand it was okay to say no and not justify it and that how he reacts is his business not mine.

    I have felt ridiculously guilty about the word no. I used it a lot on my step dad when I was a teenager when he was pressuring me for sex. BUT I felt like I was saying the wrong word (how stupid)
    I thought he would think very badly of me. This was mixed with fear that my no would bring about rape I think this is the key as to why I went on to having a hard time saying no because I thought the consequences to it would bring about horrible situations and in some ways with the ex AC it did.

    I still always have a guilt session after I have said no to someone, but am learning to stand by it and their response to my no NOT my responsibility. They can accept it or act like a baby.

    • Ethelreda the Unready (formerly PJM) says:

      Tulipa, sexual abuse within a family is the ultimate boundary-buster. No wonder you’ve had problems saying no in relationships, and it’s not your fault at all – abuse damages a person’s ability to stand up for themselves.

      But you should take courage from the fact that even as a teenager, you were able to say NO to your stepfather. Even when you were really scared, you still knew that you had boundaries and were able to make that stand.

      Keep standing by it, and keep growing. I admire your courage and your determination to get beyond the bad stuff from your childhood.

      • P. (former doormat) says:

        E,

        you are right. When I told my mother what her cousin (or was he married to her cousin?) did to me and/or tried to, she shrugged it off, because ” he helped her get a job”. I have not remembered this till after my recent divorce, but I can see now how that could have influenced me – as in standing up for oneself is bad, you have to let powerful men do anything they want to to you, so they can help you. She later told me those were different times, and I acknowledge that (painful), but she could have validated my feelings and stood up for me. To this day she brings up that guy in conversations even though I told her repeatedly NO, I do not want to hear anything about him. Boundaries, anyone?

  29. happy beginning says:

    There were comments on the last post that it’s hard work to reason with yourself when living through the low self-esteem lens. It struck me that I actually do this all the time these days and it is tiring, I don’t even realise it! I have a colleague who I’ve only known as long as I’ve been working on BR stuff, and we arrange something and I think, ‘should we meet at his office or does that mean I’m giving in? at my office or is that a petty way to seek power? what would someone with self esteem do (I think the answer is, not think about it!)? And similarly, when making any arrangement now, I think ‘is that *really* a good time for me?’ I used to bend over backwards to meet anyone’s need, feeling so privileged that they should want my company at all. I think I’ve improved on this but hope one day, it won’t take me 15 mins to cook up a response to a bleedin’ simple text message!

    • Happy Beginning, you home in on something here that I’ve been planning to write about – this is not a mutually respectful interaction; it’s a power struggle. In fact, a lot of unhealthy relationships, romantic or not are about power. “Well if I do this, I can get back in control of things” or “If I do that, does it mean that they have the power?” or “I keep going back to this unhealthy relationship because I don’t want them to think that they have the last word or that they’ve rejected me”…only to give them another opportunity to reject you.

      When you have to consider whether or not to do something from a power perspective, it tells you a lot about how you see the other person, and more importantly, where you’re at emotionally and what you need to address. Fact is, you can meet in either office but if you show up lacking in self-esteem, you will automatically put the other party on a pedestal and adjust your behaviour to reflect this. While some people are aggressive and assume power over others until shown otherwise, most people create Dynasty levels of drama in their mind and hand over their dignity and assume helplessness.

      • happy beginning says:

        Natalie, you’ve given me food for thought. I must say my first response was ‘ouch!’ because I thought the working relationship I’m talking about was really healthy and it was just me being anxious. Yet I have plenty of friends and colleagues who I don’t create such drama with at all, when I come to think of it. I only go through these calculations with the power-assuming, how interesting! And would you believe it, I fight feelings of ‘chemistry’ in this situation and even believe that’s the difficulty, not power struggles. I feel you’ve hit a raw nerve and raised questions, which is a good thing for progress.

        So what you’ve nailed is that I am trying to change my thinking processes in a negative way. Rather than my default of submitting to everyone as I’m used to doing, I’m wondering how I can keep the power and this doesn’t necessarily bring a better result. Who cares who goes to whose office, it’s what happens in conversations, plans etc that really matters.

        Maybe instead of thinking ‘does this mean I have less power’, I should think ‘do I feel comfortable with this’? It brings back a counsellor who sat opposite me and then between us, put his hand up vertically against mine. He started to push my hand towards me, told me not to resist, and asked how it felt. I answered it was weird and uncomfortable. So he was literally invading my boundary, and now, if someone asks me to do something I’m not comfortable with, I think of that hand and what I can do to push it back to the middle. Sometimes it means I suggest meeting in a cafe instead of going to someone’s house, that kind of thing. But I need to use it in everyday interactions, not just when I’m really stuck for what to do.

        Thank you Natalie, there’s a really important lesson in this response, can’t wait to see that post you were thinking of!

  30. grace says:

    I read something very helpful in “boundaries in dating”. The other party should love your “no” as much as your “yes”. And vice versa. That really chimed with me. A relationship should not be a people-pleasing fest on one or both sides. How can you get to know someone or be genuine if you only have one setting?
    Here’s a horrible true story – when a returning (first mistake) ex asked me to marry him, the one word that ran through my head with the force of a freight train was NOOOOOOOOOOO!
    But I couldn’t say it! How stoopid is that? He knew something was up and the day before the marriage asked if I was sure. I still couldn’t say NOOOOOO so we ended up married and then I initiated the divorce less than a year later.
    Because I didn’t say no, I hurt him and myself, and now I’m divorced instead of just single.
    Save yourselves the trouble and say what you mean. Isn’t that just the respectful thing to do?
    There’s a Thomas Sabo charm which is simply the word NO. Of course I have bought it!

    • It’s like we’ve been living parallel lives Grace. The first time I accepted that I had a serious issue with saying NO and people pleasing was when I accepted a proposal from my ex even though moments before I was wondering if I could nip to the bathroom and climb out the window. It took 14 months to extricate myself out of that one and I was a wreck. I believed that when someone asks you to marry them, it’s the polite thing to say YES…even if you really mean NO. I think we seem to be forgetting that we have choices. While I’m no great fan of my ex, I have to agree Grace that my lack of maturity and fear of saying NO, aside from hurting me, caused a lot of pain for him.

    • sm says:

      Grace I am a big fan of Cloud and Townsend too. Their books changed my life. I always tell people that I became a grownup at age 38 because of a course I took with their Boundaries book at church. The last guy I dated told me that he was ‘forced’ into getting married to his exwife even though they were married for 7 years and there were no children so I dont know where the forcing came from. It really bothered me the whole time we dated. Especially since he lived with a woman after her for 3 years and said he didnt really want to do it. Both these statements from him were big red flags, we didnt date long but had I heeded them, I would have gotten out earlier and there wouldnt have been as much grieving to do. I think it’s sad that your exhusband asked you about your hesitation the day before and you still couldnt tell him. Sad for you and him. Maybe the lesson for me is when I sense someone is not honest in their yes, then maybe I should back off or slow down.

  31. Rose says:

    Reading this entry made me pretty sad. I remember being a kid and my mother asking me if I wanted more food. No matter what I said, even if I said no vehemently, I’d get more. When I refused to eat it she’d feel attacked, or hurt, and it ended in fights and me eating anyways… I don’t know why I had forgotten about this.
    I got a long way and I can rather easily say no if I don’t care what the person in question thinks of me. I’m not there yet with people I like. I find it really hard to say no to people I appreciate, because I fear that they will retract their appreciation if I don’t comply.

    • Hi Rose, you highlight something here that anyone who is struggling to say NO can learn from:

      You have to recognise that if you believe that a person would retract their appreciation because you say NO, it’s a pretty damning indictment of their character. Now they may well be lovely people, but it’s actually an insult to someone to feel that they are so contrary, controlling and bullyish that NO isn’t an option, because really, that is the implication of being unable to say NO. I’m afraid of you. I’m afraid of the consequences if I don’t do as you ask. If I don’t say YES you won’t wanna be my friend anymore. I could not be friends with or involved with someone who didn’t feel that they could say NO to me. I’ve tried and it’s very uncomfortable – I don’t need that kind of responsibility and it doesn’t feel like friendship or whatever. True mutual respect of each other involves YES’s and NO’s.

      • P. (former doormat) says:

        Yes, exactly. I am afraid of that person. Once I realized this (and I have had hints about this for years, but was told “why would you be afraid of me?” and yelled at (sic!) for being afraid) I now have physical trouble talking to this person again. I suppose those are boundaries? I say no or I am quiet, and even if I would like to explain, I simply cannot. Weird.

    • A says:

      This post triggered a food memory for me too. I think I was a teenager at the time. I had had enough or wasn’t hungry, but my father kept insisting I try something….he eventually came into the living room, put his fingers on my jaw and painfully forced it open to put the food in, all the while acting as though what he was doing was perfectly fine. Talk about not respecting basic boundaries. I think the lesson was that even if I say no, whatever I’m saying no to is just going to happen anyways.

    • Lia says:

      Wow, this sounds familiar to me. In my case, I would eat whatever was presented to me because I thought that I would be hurting someone’s feelings if I didn’t. No matter how nasty the food was, I would always find some way to get it down. I guess people pleasing starts early…

      That’s funny that you would say that it’s harder for you to say no to the people that you appreciate, I’m that same way. If it’s someone who doesn’t really mean all that much to me, it’s almost as if I don’t care what the outcome is if I tell them no. It’s the ones that I cherish that I have a tendency to just suck it up for.

    • yoghurt says:

      This also triggered a similar sort of a memory, Rose, only in my case the scenario was only a year ago when me and Son were living with Elderly Relative. You could specify the exact amount of food that you wanted, and he’d give you more. If he offered you seconds and you said no, he’d put it on your plate anyway. If you said that you didn’t want pudding he’d put some in front of you anyway.

      I was actually reading BR at the time and remember thinking “Bog off busting my boundaries!” – I ended up getting very very firm about it and then feeling bad about being snarky. I love Elderly Relative dearly but it made me deeply uncomfortable and although we visit a lot, I try to avoid eating there when possible now, it has unpleasant associations.

      It did, though, flag up a lot of my immediate and extended family’s less healthy emotional behaviour, which includes playing ‘I’m kinder than you’ and being firmly instructed to accept people’s gifts/offers of help/gestures (even when you don’t want them) in the interests of being kind to THEM.

      Too confusing, makes life in the real world a bit strange.

  32. cc says:

    great post, NML.

    to split the hair even further – i think a lot sometimes we say yes because it keeps us from having to face reality. reality the fact that the guy in question isn’t right for us, and saying no to him means we have to acknowledge that we’re paving the road toward a breakup, because he isn’t going to become what we need and treat us with even basic levels of love and care and respect. and we don’t want to break up because we want love from him and love is so hard to find, and we don’t want to be alone. or to face the fact that we have to change ourselves in order to be happy, to give ourselves happiness rather than expect it from someone else. someone who is *already* disappointing us.

    that’s what happened with my EUM. i knew, the last time he asked me to do something i wasn’t comfortable with, something that wasn’t even so terrible but was reflective of that fact that he just didn’t treat me right (with care, respect, love), that if i said no he’d take it as my having complained once too many times, and we’d break up. and i wasn’t ready for that, i knew it would jettison me into the reality of being alone and having to face myself. and i really cared about him, care that he so clearly either couldn’t or didn’t want to return. i cried all day, knowing it was either say no and have to be strong in this reality, strength i didn’t think i had, or say yes and bust my last boundary and give up my last shred of self-respect. but, finally, knowing i had to, i said no, in the nicest way, giving him every chance to make that thing right, knowing he wasn’t going to. and he didn’t. and we broke up.

    i’m still struggling with this, with the reality of …ugh…me. but i stood up for myself with him, and have lived through the rejection, the pain, feeling like it was all my fault, the invalidation, and then taking back the rejection, and validating myself, and trying to get comfortable with the idea that love needs to first come to me *from* ME. that i need to build those boundaries and stick to them. and not be bitter or angry or broken or desperate, but be joyous and full, on my own.

    its really, really hard. but that’s the path. i’m so, so, so, so very grateful that i found BR, and all the other sources of strength and wisdom in my life, because it lets me know i’m not teetering down this path alone. i’m getting stronger and straighter.

    anyway… thanks.

  33. cc says:

    p.s. to my own post

    notice, like NML says above, that in not coming through for me in the last chance i gave him, my EUM said NO to me. something he had NO problem doing. he said NO all the time. to which i was in the habit of saying ‘OK’. but i shouldn’t have said ‘OK’, every one of my OKs was a busting of my own boundaries. i should have said NO much, much, much earlier. …just like he did.

  34. Allie says:

    Very good read and in time.

    I have always struggle with saying no. Like you said, it was equivalent to being rude. Also I was raised to say fine when asked how are you doing?, like if saying I am mad or upset or no good was rude. I found myself constantly over committed. I am learning to say no.

    I remember when I was a teenager and went to a dance club and a guy came and asked me to dance with him and I said no, all my friends bullied me into saying yes to him and he kept begging me to say yes, so I agreed to dance a couple of songs with him but he never left me side,it was misserable I couldn’t get rid of him and all because I didn’t want to let my friends down and they went along with the night had fun and danced with different guys.

  35. cc says:

    p.p.s. to my own post

    so, following the logic thread through, probably the reason why guys say NO to us when we’re always saying YES is that they’re prepared to walk away and we’re not. we need to change that. when we’re really fine with taking our dolls and dishes and going home because we have made our home a place of true love and caring and value, and a much, much better place than the space that we share with HIM is turning out to be, we’ll be able to say NO and mean it. and not worry about it.

    ok, thanks, i’m really done now. jeeezus….

    • Thank God for That says:

      Very true. I have always enjoyed being single so much more than being with someone (even if I do treat myself badly)…yet I always forget this when I’m involved with someone else – I stop focusing on how I can improve for myself and start thinking about how I can morph for them. I forget how independent and self-aware I am as a single person. What I crave, though, is love, in any form, which I seem to be unwilling (at the moment) to give myself…that’s what gets me scared of losing the EUMs every time – having to go back to facing the void :/

      At the moment I’m trying to heal that void…there’s just always so many excuses to delay…”once I’ve done this, then I’ll focus on myself” etc., much like what goes through the head of an EUM I would imagine: “once I’ve done this for myself, then I’ll attend to their needs”….but it never happens. Need to do it in the now!!

      P.S. Sorry, off topic, but I thought what you said, cc, was really interesting and it sparked some thoughts!

      • cc says:

        thanks, TGFT.

        ….not to be too damning about it, but i don’t think EUMs ever really plan to attend to our needs at all, much less put us last – i don’t think we’re even on the list. i think they make a faint attempt at most but then spend most of their energy telling us how our needs are invalid or excusing themselves for why they can’t meet them.

        which, i’m guessing, is why we must ensure that we are on our *own* lists, by saying yes to ourselves and no to them.

        ….but very easy for me to say….and very hard for me to do, but getting better at it. ;)

        • Fearless says:

          cc,
          seems we’re very much on the same page:

          “i don’t think EUMs ever really plan to attend to our needs at all, much less put us last – i don’t think we’re even on the list. i think they make a faint attempt at most but then spend most of their energy telling us how our needs are invalid or excusing themselves for why they can’t meet them.”

          I concur. Again. I used to complain that it seemed (pah) as if I was somewhere near the bottom of his list of priorities. I wasn’t on any list. My role was simply to appear and disappear – at his convenience. Yes, he’d make a faint attempt at most, like he would take me for a meal – he’d ask me where I’d like to go, what I’d like to eat, then suggest places he liked to eat and what type of food he’d like to eat, so that my choices were actually his choices then he’d let me know with a pat on the back and half-a-second-cuddle how pleased he knew I should be that I had been given a treat. What was I? A puppy? woof-woof.

    • Fearless says:

      cc
      “following the logic thread through, probably the reason why guys say NO to us when we’re always saying YES is that they’re prepared to walk away and we’re not.”

      I concur. In any negotiation, the power lies with the party who is most prepared to walk away (to say ‘no thanks’). As Natalie has said somewhere above, there is a power thing going on in these imbalanced/unbalanced relationships. If we were more prepared to walk away (to say ‘no thanks’) regardless of consequences (or perceived consequences) these men would not be able to wield such power over us. It is our inability to assert boundaries of our own, to say ‘no thanks’ to the crumbs and the flip-flapping (and worse) that attracts them in the first place. I am reminded of something a friend said to me once re our respective now ex EUM/AC “boyfriends”: Why does a dog lick its balls? Because it can.

      • cc says:

        LOL! exactly, fearless. because it (they) can.

        • happy beginning says:

          cc, what you said about the guy being prepared to walk away while we’re not, I feel like that has my years of thrall to an AC down to a tee. So strange to me now that I knew I could never win because he invested nothing while I invested an awful lot, yet I carried on as if he’d suddenly magically have a heart and find meaning in all that we shared.
          He didn’t bother saying NO to me, that would take respect and consideration, but most of his interactions with me were some kind of no.
          I will keep in mind what you say about home being a place of true love. I am now much happier on my own than when I was living the crumb life, why should I ever be so afraid of coming back here that i let someone humiliate me? It looks easy now but it’s a struggle and I take a warning from an earlier comment that my sense of self is not fully restored.

  36. I loved this post . Thank you, Natalie for the firm , but loving posts. You get your point across strongly without putting anyone down or being scathing. As far as building up negative karma, I used to think this too. ” Treat people right at all costs” was my co – dependent motto. However, I am realizing I am a person, too. It will build up negative karma to discount myself , and the lessons will keep coming back around until I learn them .
    I am trying to learn that” no” is a complete sentence. It doesn’t need a 3 mile long explanation. ” Those that know and value you won’t need it, and those that need it don’t know or value you. “

  37. Pauline says:

    Cant believe you have had the same problem with saying NO- I remarried !!!!! him- couldnt say no- my senses were screaming- I still went through with it-I was crying in the ceremony but carried on cause I felt sorry for him…….what about me??? 4 years to a breakdown it took me to get out. How pathetic am I??
    I dont feel pathetic now, with all your help I can see that Im not a bad person and I am growing up all the time. But taking responsibility for my decisions is scary and causes me enormous anxiety- with your help Natalie I can see why this is happening to me. It is a learning curve.
    love to you all xxxx

  38. Elana Winfrey, LPC says:

    Wow! This is awesome. The fear and reluctance to say “No” has so much to do with how we, ourselves, handle being told no. Gonna email/inbox you about restating this post. This can help a lot of people…especially WOMEN; as we tend to be afraid to set boundaries for fear of rejection and/or fear of being alone. Powerful!

    -Elana

  39. jennynic says:

    I have a family member who tramples my boundaries if I give him an inch. I said no finally after years of it, ulitmately by going NC, and I get so badmouthed by him now to the rest of my family. They all know how he is, and have been victim to him too, but everyone is afraid of him. He is very intense and you have to be extremely careful what you say to him, walking on eggshells is an understatement. After standing up to him once, very calmly and without freaking out, I said no to his boundary bust. He went off the deep end and I got to hear for hours how selfish I was, up in my face, spitting at me. I recently responded to an email from him after 2 years, and soon enough he was dragging me into his drama. I felt that familiar feeling of being afraid to say what I really meant for fear of ‘setting him off’. He was raging about another family member who disagreed with him. No is the best approach with him for my own well being, but no also means retaliation, verbal attacks and aggression from him. This makes it hard. Tough when it’s your own brother who has no problem saying no to everyone, but can’t handle a no directed at him. It’s like an emotional carjacking. We live 3000 miles apart, which is what saves me. I realize how sad this whole thing makes me after writing it. I do feel bad for him, he feels like a victim so much of the time, but it’s his behavior that pushes us all away, but he just won’t see it.

    • jennynic says:

      I want to add to my own post, because feel guilt already for what said about my brother. I feel guilt because he was a victim of a sexual predator as a child, and he no doubt has lingering trauma, and might see the world completely different than me. At what point is no being too hard on someone who truly has been a victim and has emotional issues because of it. I had to say no for my own sanity but it bothers me.

      • Fearless says:

        jennynic,

        I have two siblings that I have to say no to – or stand right back from at times – for my own sanity and it bothers me too. I’d help them, if it was within my power to do so (if and when it is, I do help them), but when it is not within my power to help or to influence them then my self-preservation kicks in. It makes me feel bad, but you’ve got to know when people (even those you care about), their problems and the problems they cause are beyond your control and to step away, for your own sake (and perhaps too, as in my case, for the sake of your own child/children/family).

      • Lia says:

        Jennynic,
        If what you said was the truth, then you have no need to feel bad about it. No one is judging him, or you for that matter, but it is definitely difficult to deal with someone who is emotionally high maintenance. I have a sister who was diagnosed with a personality disorder as a child, and she totally milks it! Everyone walks on eggshells around her because they know that at any given moment she will take something completely out of context, and World War III begins. I imagine that if your brother is anything like my sister, he probably takes advantage of your excessive care where he’s concerned. In fact, the first few sentences you wrote sound like something I would say about my own sister. The best thing to do in these situations is to evaluate it. Don’t give him a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ directly on the spot, tell him that you need time to think whatever it is over. If he respects you enough then he will give you that. This will give you a chance to release some of the anxiety that comes with dealing with him and allow for you to make a decision with a clear head. If he is unreasonable then you really should limit or eliminate contact with him, at least until he can get his act together.

        More often than not, these “temper tantrums” are nothing more than a means by which they get us to comply to their demands. It’s like he’s telling you: “How dare you not give me what I want! Oh you still won’t do it? Okay. Now you will pay!” I’m pretty sure you’re a grown woman, so punishments should have stopped a long time ago. And if you think about it, he has never had the authority to enforce an upon you anyway. All that yelling, screaming and badmouthing that he’s doing will subside in time as long as you stand your ground because he really can’t make you do anything that you don’t want to do, and that’s what ultimately pisses him off the most.

        This whole “blood is thicker than water” thing is really getting old for me, and probably a whole bunch of other people too, wish I could strangle the person who put it out there. The truth of the matter is that some family members will capitalize on that and take advantage of time, energy, resources and money if we allow them to all in the name of “brotherly love”. I know that you love your brother, and you have the best intentions for him, but he can’t take your love and everybody else’s…

        • Jennynic, Lia et al, the difficulty with these situations is that there is this expectation that you’re siblings and ‘supposed’ to be there for each other. It’s great when it happens but if it doesn’t, it’s not a reflection of you as a person. You haven’t failed in some moral duty because your brothers issues are not specific to you or about you. While it’s a great idea in theory to be able to help our family, it has its limits, just like any other Florence situation. It is hard to watch someone struggle and feel helpless especially when you love them. It’s also sad that he has had the experiences that he’s had. You can be compassionate and empathise with his position without throwing yourself under a bus. You cannot force your brother to change and you can’t nicey nice him into being and doing what you want. Playing doormat or even allowing yourself to be victimised isn’t helping him or you.

          This is an issue bigger than you especially because he is surrounded by people who enable his behaviour so he is never really experiencing consequences because he generates results, albeit a short-term result plus he alienates those that love him.

          I have a brother, who when he’s great and on form, it’s wonderful and when he’s not, we all pay. Sadly, it’s mostly the latter. I’ve done a lot of things out of feeling duty bound and been reminded how we’re siblings all of our lives as a dynamic has been created to accommodate what we sometimes call ‘The Messiah’. That stopped a couple of years ago – I’ve set my boundaries just as my other brothers have and it is up to our parents to sort themselves out. I won’t be guilted. Relationships are a two way street – to continue florencing and pouring in effort that gets thrown back is unhealthy. Are we there for him? Of course. But are we there for him to be verbally abused, mocked, taunted, manipulated, guilted, called up for money at weird hours and guilt tripped for not enabling, no. I know many people in the same position as us and you. You are not alone. Most people do not have Brady Bunch families. It is sad when family members are abusive or have addictions or any other problems that impact on the ability to have an even moderately healthy relationship – but it is the pretending that the problems don’t exist, pandering to some very inappropriate stuff, treating them like naughty children when they’re adults, blaming things and people that are not the issue or all of it, having vows of silence and ostracising the ones that won’t be dumb and all this other shite that I just refuse to carry forward into another generation.

          You would be better off investing your time and energy with a professional looking for constructive tools for managing your family than you would trying to change them. The former option empowers you and the latter will leave you helpless and feeling like a victim.

          Also Jennynic, I would tread very carefully. I see some stark similarities between your ex and your brother. You’ve got to stop trying to right the wrongs of your past. You’ve also got to stop carrying on like the burden of other peoples problems rests on you – it rests on them.

          • P. (former doormat) says:

            I was thinking about this overnight. I told the person (don’t want to bore you with the whole story, but similar patterns as you all describe in this thread) that she needed professional help. Since she is not a child, if she cared about my opinion, she should have probably at least considered it. She knows she has issues. Mentioning a mental health professional, however, brings up another tirade of: ” I don’t want them to put bad thoughts in my mind as they did in yours.” Even though it met with a negative reaction as I expected, making this recommendation did bring me some relief.

  40. Brenda Renkema says:

    This was the BIG one for me: “You worry that you’re being rude even though the other option is being a doormat. This indicates a fundamental problem with having boundaries – you believe that it’s rude to decline something or have limits.”

    Yep- your worried that you won’t be showing how much you can CARE then get walked on, then get P*ssed because you didn’t do or say something else.

    All of this is VALIDATING my own self when as of late I said: “NO I am not going to be something for you to go to just because it don’t work out with her, If I was NOT being true I would be begging you to come here.

    Well ( Pat myself on the back ) that really was hard, and other latest things I had to do were HARD.. knowing I would not have something to cling onto anymore, But having been there so many times, I kept thinking: ” I know how this works” your going to loose anyhow! YOURSELF if you are not true to yourself, and hadn’t I lost enough? enough times LOST myself then having to start all over again to re- build myself?

    It just seemed to me it’s time to BUILD and stop the cycle of rinse and repeat, I want nothing more than to never have to start all over again like that, because I had always just got 1/2 way, then caved in, then felt like I CHEATED myself from “Getting There First”.

    I really DO want to know who I can be without being anyone’s option or doormat this time around. = : )

  41. Lia says:

    “You worry that if you say NO, that no one else is going to say YES. There can be this assumption that you’re being asked because otherwise no one else can do it. ”

    -Indeed this is correct. Somewhere along the lines I learned that I didn’t like being told ‘no’, somewhere in my early childhood, so I stopped asking people for things until I felt that I had absolutely no other option. I used that as my standard. So when people ask me for favors, I usually assume that they must be doing the same thing. But somehow I think by saying ‘yes’ more often than not, I’ve become the first stop on the list…

    “You worry that saying NO means that you’re not being helpful or compassionate, or even empathetic”

    -True again. I can remember back to when I was about 5, and I remember hating being called selfish. I was always praised for being such a helpful and kind-hearted child, and that is the word I never wanted to be associated with, and I think members of my family in particular took advantage of that. I would initially say no to something, and then I would be told that I was being selfish, or that I was being inconsiderate, or some other negative. It would make me feel incredibly bad about myself, and I would cave in. Fast forward to now, it’s still one of my trigger words, but now it just makes me angry to hear it. Even more, I still have a hard time telling people no, but I’ve found ways around it…

    • Thank God for That says:

      That’s a really interesting point – “trigger” words.

      Yes, selfish is one for me too – I have twisted my behaviour successfully to avoid that one recently…so much so that I haven’t left much at all for myself.

      Another one is being too”sensitive” i.e. – your feelings are not valid. That’s what those people really mean when they say that – justifying their own behaviour by invalidating your reaction.

      And one today that I got from my friend – “boring”. Because, get this, she’s flaked out on me the last few times I tried to meet up with her, then she learns I have a useful contact for her career, texts me persistently into introducing her – then I explain I can’t go out for the next two months – then she “jokingly” calls me boring. Right. How convenient.

      As soon as someone says something negative in reaction to something you’ve just said, I think it should be pretty obvious it’s them rubber-stamping you in an attempt to manipulate your behaviour, and yet, I so easily fall for it!

      • Fearless says:

        Thank God for That:
        “Another one is being too”sensitive” i.e. – your feelings are not valid.”

        Yep! This was said to me a few weeks ago at work by male friend and colleague when I was grumbling to him about the outright rudeness of another female “friend” and colleague (I asserted myself by confronting this female colleague about her quite hurtful remarks, telling her I did not appreciate what she had said, that I found it hurtful and humiliating, which is, pre BR, quite unlike me!). This caused a bit of a row with this female colleague who I have worked with and enjoyed the friendship of for ten years – and never before has a bad word passed between us. Anyway, the male colleague and friend said to me later, ‘Yes, what she said was a bit insensitive but I think you have been a bit sensitive recently. WTF does that mean? So, she was insensitive and I was sensitive to her insensitivity? Yet the fault was mine for being “sensitive”. His take on it pissed me off even more but I kept my mouth shut and silently seethed as I knew that to take exception now to his remark would only be “confirming” how sensitive I am!

        I wish I had had your comment to hand then Thank God for That and I may have known how to respond.

        • Molly says:

          I’ve had ‘drama queen’ and needy’ in the past…and not even for good reasons. Those would be my trigger words.

      • Lia says:

        Yeah, calling me “sensitive” is one sure fire way to light a short fuse with me. I’ve gotten that one my whole life. It’s like the person is telling you that what you are thinking or feeling isn’t normal or valid, but the way they’re thinking or feeling is. If you’ve heard that one too many times, you might find yourself not taking yourself, your thoughts, or your feelings seriously. At least that’s my struggle…

  42. Acceptance says:

    Wow, I was a people pleaser extra-ordinaire until I was in my thirties. I had seen a therapist in my mid-twenties who told me, rightly, that I had to work on my boundaries but insisted that I would not be able to until I had moved out of my (very controlling) parent’s house. So I new I needed boundaries, but I had no idea what they were.

    Years later, living happily on my own I actually did learn how to set boundaries from a book called Stand Up For Your Life… I highly recommend it, it changed my life. Written by a life coach, it explains that every time you say yes when you really should have said no you lose a little piece of your soul – and since people pleasing is fun and easy too! I really needed to hear it said that way to motivate myself to have the conversations that I had been dreading. And guess what? The world didn’t end… in fact, they just called someone else. o_o

    • Lia says:

      Interesting, my therapist told me the very same thing just last week, that I am somewhat aware of what my boundaries are but that I was so used to having them violated by my own family that I have a hard time enforcing them elsewhere. Very interesting to know that someone else suffered with the same issue. Good to know that there’s something better waiting for me once I leave. I think therapy is that first step…

      I’m gonna check out that book. Thanks for writing your story, it gives me hope.

  43. teachable says:

    Thankyou Nat! I’m finding this site a wonderful daily support atm :)
    P. No applies to family also. Romantic partners are not the only ones who attempt to lay guilt trips on us for saying no (think friends, work colleagues attempting to palm work off to others, or heaven forbid, telemarketers!).

    My first really big *no* to family was re x-mas day. My immediate family are very dysfunctional & as a consequence my x-mases were time & again, miserable. Twenty years ago I realised there was no law saying I *had* to spend x- mas day with them – so one year – (& many times although not always since) I decided not to spend x-mas day with them. Very empowering & now they’re used to it. Sometimes I spend xmas with them & sometimes I don’t. Last year an Aunt tried to guilt trip me about this. I responded by called her on out on it. She got over it & learned manipulative behaviour isn’t something I wont tolerate. Funnily enough this was around the same time I told xAC also that *no* he could not visit from interstate also as I had by then realised that he was not committing to me in a healthy, respectful, loving r.ship (although I was yet to learn why ie unbeknownst to me, he was seeing multiple OW at the same time!) End of. :)

    • Tulipa says:

      I can relate to what you wrote Teachable, it is very liberating that no is an option when it comes to family events. I ended up spending one Christmas day mostly by myself, but I was happy and it was what I chose to do and I was glad I had opted out a day of pretending.

    • P. (former doormat) says:

      Thank you, teachable. Possibly it is harder saying no to family because we know their history and we might be feeling sorry for them…

  44. FX says:

    “You worry that you’re burning a bridge that’s actually already burnt. This is why so many people are collecting exes and shady friends like dusty medals and junk cluttering up their home – you’re keeping them as a just-in-case-you-might-need them (or they you), or just-in-case-they-decide-to-spontaneously-combust-into-a-better-person-in-a-better-relationship.”

    Ouch! This hits close to home. I got rid of most of the junk a while ago but only got rid of the biggest piece a little over a month ago. I think I mentioned in another comment that my wise daughter suggested I think of it as “spring cleaning!”

  45. Sophia says:

    I said no today to an old crush, who really did not need my support but had not seen or spoken to me for a while and needed his ego stroking. I was polite, listened to the request and then said no. I then watched him hover uncomfortably for a while. This was the first time I had not rescued him from that discomfort.

    Thank you Natalie for the insights. They help to remind me of who and where I was, of the choices I made and now make. This support assists me in being the woman I now enjoy being with.

  46. Usaidit says:

    Brilliant post. I not only justify when I say no but if I want to ask someone for something I then give all sorts of reason why, instead of just asking and waiting for an answer. It’s like I am not special enough for anyone to just allow me my choices. I believe in the phrase, “Never apologise, never explain”, but i find living that policy really hard when it comes to myself. If I don’t explain to the person involved I invariably justify myself to someone who may then tell that person. Why can I not just have enough self belief to go with my own opinions instead of looking for external validation?

  47. NikNaks says:

    This blog is brilliant. I started reading this blog a few months ago, at a time when I noticed that a guy I had met up was emotionally unavailable. I searched for ‘emotionally unavailable’ and found this blog. This guy started sending me random text messages, complimenting me on my looks and asking to see me again. He wondered if I was in a relationship and I told him no. Last time I saw him a couple of years prior, he was involved in a relationship that he openly admitted he was unhappy in. He and his ex were completely mismatched, she had no motivations in life while he was the total opposite. So now that he and his ex were broken up for 6 months, he starts contacting me. I was bored of my life and was unemployed at the time, so I did the first stupid thing and offer to drive out to see him. Next stupid thing, I drank some beer with him at his home. Third stupid thing, I shagged him because it had “been a while”. What ended up happening? Of course I wanted to start a relationship and he wasn’t interested because he “just had a break up 6 months ago”. He asked if we could be friends and hang out again as friends the next weekend. After this blog, I told him no. I also was able to stand up for myself and not be a doormat, thanks to this blog. If he just wanted to be friends, why all the compliments on my looks? Why did he tell me straight up, that he liked me? I am done with the games, and done with guys like him. I also won’t be stupid anymore, thinking with my lady parts instead of my brain.

    • NikNaks says:

      Additional comments…
      The last time I saw this guy, we were not romantically involved, I just went out for drinks with him and his friend and my friend. It was all very friendly. So for him to be suddenly texting me all these compliments instead of talking like we were as just friends was beyond weird.

      The old me, without all this self awareness and love for myself, would have thought “What’s wrong with me? We had great chemistry, why doesn’t he want me?”. I would have driven myself crazy with wondering “WHY AM I NOT GOOD ENOUGH?”… I would have driven over to see him every weekend, give him the best shag sessions as possible, and still drive home in tears wondering why we weren’t together. I’ve done all this rubbish in the past. This time I looked at what it was for what it was. It was just a booty call. Its not going anywhere. If he texts me again, I will not reply (I already told him to never contact me again). I’m not only telling him NO, I’m telling myself NO. Don’t go back down this road of self destruction. He was hoping we would just hook up, then wants to make me feel guilty for having a sex drive too. Hes disrespectful and the things he said to me screamed narcissism. I asked him why he has no room for a relationship in his life, he said he has “no time for it”, I said that’s because you don’t WANT to make time for it. But if he met somebody he really liked, he would make the time. I don’t feel bad about saying no to him and his “friendship” offer. With “friends” like that, who needs enemies? I just learned a lot from this, I have started talking to a new guy now who has taken me out on a proper date and there will be no shagging for a long time, if it it does happen. Its good to start over with somebody right for me, rather than not saying NO to somebody completely wrong for me and my self esteem.

      • Little Star says:

        NikNaks…wow, you story remind me of mine, unbelievable. At least your guy did not promise you anything and offered friendship, but mine was talking about moving together, marriage and children:-( ONLY talk but no actions. Good for your that you said “NO”! Good luck with a new guy:-)

        • NikNaks says:

          Yes its even worse when they future fake with you and pretend you’re having a real relationship, all the while not committing… I am sorry that you went through that Little Star. :(

          However, being offered “friendship” after being treated like what it seemed a potential relationship mate for a couple of weeks through texts and meeting up (up until the shag happened) was nothing more than an insult. It was a low blow and total game playing on his part, also a form of control/manipulation. He also tried to make me feel guilty for being upset about him not wanting to be more than friends, even saying “Oh I bought you an egg mcmuffin in the morning, you should feel grateful, I never do things like that for anybody.”… WOW the Mcdonalds is right beside his house and cost next to nothing. I’ve had guys take me out on real dates and take me out for steak, seafood and I should be grateful for an egg mcmuffin even though I drove 40 min to see him after a blizzard? Unreal. He also tried to give me “advice” about not sleeping with guys right away to keep them more interested, as if I am some sort of idiot.. He chose to sleep with me too. Does that make him a slut with bad judgement too, or is there a double standard? Overall, these wack job guys are not worth the time. Whether they fake wanting a relationship in the beginning, or fake a whole relationship to keep somebody, there’s something NOT right in the head with these guys, period…

          • Little Star says:

            What a loser!!! Good riddance… I can understand your feelings, especially when these ACs start to change after having sex…when we are the most vulnerable:-( I will be offended too if my AC said “lets be friends”, but at least your AC showed his true colours NikNaks! Please try to keep yourself busy and think less about this loser, well done that you said “NO”, you kept your pride and dignity!!! Hugs from me and best wishes.

  48. teachable says:

    Tulipa. I did exactly that this last xmas! Usually if not with family, I’d visit friends instead. I did on Xmas eve but was too ill to go anywhere Xmas day. Despite knowing howing very ill I’ve been NO-ONE from my entire family family offered to visit, so I thought bugger it, Im staying home. I hadn’t been invited to spend it with anyone either (my Son is not talking to me @ the mo – fallout from his Father – a disgusting speciman, my mother is very abusive hence NC most of the time & my Father is unknown). At the last minute my Aunt realised no- one (including her! lol) had invited me anywhere for Xmas day & tried to say she’d invited me the year prior & that should have been sufficient for me to know I was invited to her place!! Err wrong!! Surely, she didn’t think I was dumb enough to believe such rubbish acceptable to assauge HER guilt? (She did but soon realised, that’s NOT how I roll!) Good on you for braving a Xmas alone. Mine was going wonderfully in my own company until my Aunt did her best to spoil it for me!!

    P. That feeling sorry for family members because you know their history IS the manipulation. When others attempt to induce us into feeling sorry for them just because we choose to prioritise our own healthy needs, that is what is known as laying on a guilt trip. It’s up to us whether we accept that offering or not though. I personally, (mostly but not always) choose not to! Peace. x

    • P. (former doormat) says:

      Teachable,

      you are right and it is so useful to put it in words and see someone actually validate what I thought it was but was afraid to verbalize.

      I spent last holiday period alone, NC with anyone for several days, yes, I cried, but I was glad I could express my feelings freely.

  49. Molly says:

    Finally learning to say no, although I’ve still a lot to learn. Last week slept with the first guy since the AC..however he’s EUM. He has since dropped the bombshell that he’s ‘not looking for anything serious’ because he’s not long out of a relationship..but he still wants to see me! Old me would have gone out with him anyway in an attempt to coax him into the kind relationship i’d like. New me though..i said no i’m not into casual relationships. He text back a cold ‘Ok take care’..and had a bit of a cry. The rejection does sting today and am feeling unattractive but really trying to see things from a new perspective with the realisation that i said no to a situation that does not work for me. I’m hurt but will move on with my head held high.

    • Lilia says:

      Molly, be proud of yourself!
      You did the right thing. And as for feeling unattractive, just imagine that saying no to this EUM´s crumbs is what makes you extra attractive. Try to look at this situation from outside, if it was happening to someone else: would an attractive woman say no to this guy or “Oh yes please, whatever you want to give me, you wonderful man-god!”?
      I wish I was where you´re at now, don´t trust myself yet in that sort of situations.

    • Thank God for That says:

      Wait a minute!

      He didn’t reject you, you rejected his shady offer of NSA (no-strings-attached).

      In fact, don’t even think about it in terms of rejection – luckily he was fairly up front and told you what he was prepared to give – and just because it was essentially a “no” to what you wanted, you were just as able to say “no” to what he wanted, in return.

      I know it can be painful, literally, to enforce boundaries, but I for one am cheering you on :)

      • Molly says:

        Thanks guys,

        It is actually scary sitting here by myself this afternoon thinking of how heavily invested I had already become with him. Damn love horomones!!! I am really disappointed, I was looking forward to our next date, I’ve missed dating…even things like picking out the an outfit and stuff. Plus because he’s the first since the AC.

        I can’t say I handled the situation impeccably but I am still learning. And to say no was not without effort…there is still someone inside me tempted to text him now and accept his offering. I am upset but I have to do these things for myself.

        And yes at least he was honest. A lot of men don’t have the balls to be upfornt so I can respect him for it. I just wish I’d stop coming into contact with EUM men!!!

        • Fearless says:

          It would also be good if they had the decency to be up front about it before getting us into bed!

          • Molly says:

            That’s very true Fearless,

            I said it to him, that I wish he had’ve told me he wasn’t over his ex before the sex. But what guy is really going to walk away when there’s sex on the agenda…

            Not many and this is the sad reality I’m finally coming to accept.

    • Fearless says:

      Molly, you are not the unattractive proposition here – he is! What he is offering is *very* unattractive to any woman who know her worth and knows she deserves better than a FWB or booty-call offer. What puzzles me is that when we say no to these guys why do we feel like we are being unreasonably needy/high maintenance/demanding. I know my ex EUM had me feeling embarrassed, fearful even, of saying ‘no’ or to trying to assert my own needs and wants; something about the dynamic made me very reluctant to speak up for myself as I felt like an irritant, or a petulant and petty child whenever I tried to. I felt as if the problem had to be me because he carried out his boundary busting behaviour as if it was the most natural thing in the world, so the most common question I asked myself in that relationshit was, ‘Is it me?’ I know the answer now: NO, it was not (other than not telling him to piss off, that is!)

  50. Thalia says:

    I have a real problem saying no to requests for babysitting from a family member and a close friend. Babysitting doesn’t work for me at all for a number of reasons: I hate sitting in someone else’s house after midnight waiting for them to come home. I like to be in bed by 11pm so it disrupts my schedule when I don’t get to bed until, say 1am. Whenever I do it I feel physically sick for days afterwards.

    I find it difficult to say no because a) they don’t ask often, maybe three times a year each. b) I feel slightly ashamed at my lack of robustness (for want of a better way to describe it). c) I love them and want to help out.

    But there’s no getting away from it, it doesn’t work for me. Any advice? Should I just continue to suck it up and do it? I wish they’d stop asking but why would they when I continue to say yes. I can’t imagine asking an adult friend to do this for me if I had children – I would just pay a teenager. Clearly I’m a guesser and they’re askers.

    • grace says:

      Thalia
      “I’m sorry, I can’t babysit for you anymore. These days, if I stay up late I feel rotten afterwards, I guess it’s my age *light laugh*. I’m happy to help out during the day time though [assuming you are]”
      I suggest this because you say you love them and want to help out.
      Otherwise, I’d just say ” I have to say no. I can’t babysit for you anymore.”
      And, Thalia, I have to break it to you. There’s no way to do this without pissing them off a bit/a lot. I’d be pissed if I lost my free babysitter! You just have to accept that it as part of life. Sometimes you’ll be disappointed by someone’s no, sometimes you’ll disappoint other people but we can’t all go around saying yes to everything. We get over it, they get over it. If it all becomes a dramalamadingdong, there’s something wrong.

      • Thalia says:

        Thanks Grace, sounds do-able when you put it like that!

        • Lilia says:

          Oooh, this reminds me of my cousins who always assume anyone who is family has to lend them their car. And many times they have scratched/wrecked those cars or caused other types of inconveniences to those who feel bad about saying no. Of course, when I had my first car they quickly called to ask for it – to move some things from one place to another. I told them no, and explained I didn´t have insurance yet. I thought that was reasonable enough but they were extremely pissed off and didn´t hide it.
          I was upset about it, here they were trying to bust my boundaries and getting mad when I stood up for myself! So I guess sometimes you just have to let others get mad – and defend your own car, lol.

  51. ixnay says:

    There were big negative consequences for saying no in my previous relationship. He would withdraw, or imply I was stingy or unsocial or unspontaneous. I got confused about whether I was saying no authentically or as some kind of rebellion.

    In the aftermath of this very long dance, I fall into believing that I passed up all the love and togetherness that was on offer. I go over and over the times I didn’t stay over or say yes to some event or didn’t give him some object of mine he asked for. Why couldn’t I have been more fluid? I think about these times and I’m not sure if I was authentically protecting a boundary or if it was a power struggle.

    But I really do castigate myself for specific instances when, if I had said yes, I wouldn’t now have to wonder if by saying no I destroyed the relationship.

    Late in the game I realized he was disinvesting, and I consciously decided to say yes to everything. This didn’t work, and the distinct message (subtext) I got was “too little, too late.”

    I go over and over the years — when was it not too late to say yes?

    • Fearless says:

      Ixnay
      All I can tell you is that I said yes to everything and it made no difference at all, other than to perpetuate my misery and pump up his ego to the size of a planet.

      As a general comment on this topic: It has been my experience that saying yes to everything with the ex EUM had him eventually behave with the most astonishing shamelessness and gobsmacking self-assured arrogance as he went about pissing all over my life (metaphorically speaking) with the most astounding assumption of entitlement. He was very assuming when I met him (I noticed this and did nothing about it), and it only got worse.

      Of course the moment his boundary busting behaviour was pointed out to him, even by the smallest hint, he ran away, went NC on me (!!) and didn’t come back until I intimated that it would be safe for him to start pissing me about again from where he left off. Aaarrrggh. It still makes me mad.

      • ixnay says:

        thanks for replying, Fearless.

        I really torture myself with this stuff. Get to a point of being distraught. I have lots of emails from him warning me that I’m choosing to be alone instead of having a nice relationship, and I think, o god, what have I done. Was I unavailable and got it all backwards? Was I saying no out of good boundaries or out of petulance and spite?

        Of course then the tables were turned and I had your same experience. Saying yes and it was never enough; learning to never ever object lest he punish me with coldness.

        I feel like I will never figure out what happened and how much of it is down to me and how much is just who he is, with anyone.

        • Fearless says:

          Ixnay

          I feel for you. Don’t worry. This too will pass. You don’t say what kind of things you were saying ‘no’ to, so it’s difficult to guage from this end of your posts. However, from what you do say about him its clear he is EU – the silent treatment the blowing snow in your face if you so much as motioned, in thought, in word, or in deed, an objection to his behaviour/selfish agenda. All very familiar to me. I can tell you that this kind of poor relationship behaviour is down to him. You tolerating his poor relationship behaviour is down to you. That at least, after many months of painful searching for answers, is my conclusion about my relationship with the ex EUM. I blame him for his behaviour. I blame me for putting up with it, inviting it in and then encouraging it.

          His EU-ness is not about you. I think we actually figure in their behaviours hardly at all. We certainly have no influence over them, so there was nothing you could have done, or not done make good of him. Yes, they are like this with everyone, not just us. As Nat says, they have danced this dance many times before, and will again after we’re gone. I can also see that I have danced this dance before (though not in such an entrenched situation – the ex EUM really took the biscuit), so that my own (hitherto unbeknown to me) EU tendencies were my own downfall. It was all so inevitable, given that we were two EU people when we met. Me the typical female EU, him the typical male. We were a catastrophe waiting to happen. If the dynamic of your relationship was anything like mine – I guess it’s a similar picture. I too would have had serious problems if my ex kept emailing me telling me how wonderful we could have been. That kinda stumps me cos mine would never do that – not in a cold day in hell. That would be more my (pathetic) style.
          Apologies, am rambling now off topic.

  52. FX says:

    The “No” in No Contact is a very clear “Hell, no!” to whomever you have cut off. I’m thinking about that today… Last night, the one I’m NC with for a month called several times and sent several text messages saying things including “Please listen to what I have to say” and “Remember when I said us is what I want” and “Don’t do this. You and I should be together” “Just you and me. Fuck everything else” “I’m calling this one in for real”

    Channeling my inner NML, I know all he’s really saying is that he’s trying to alleviate his anxiety and get his fallback fix and then he can blow hot for a hot minute before reverting to his AC behavior. I’ve known him over 6 years – first as his gf before we broke up and I became his fb last year – and it’s just so completely unlike him to beg in any way, shape or form that it gave me pause and made me feel a little cruel. Not enough pause to take back my “Hell, no” or forget his cruelty, though… Also, he did not do this last time I went NC for 2 months but maybe he realizes this time I mean “No.” Or, maybe, he just had some other action last time to distract him. Blech. Whatever. Sticking to my “Hell, no!”
    Thank you so much NML and the rest of you here. :)

    • Fearless says:

      FX
      you don’t say if you spoke to him on the phone but I’m thinking pah to his text messages (and his calls too, actually). It’s like telling a woman ‘I am so serious about regaining your trust and convincing you of my sincerity that I am going to send you some texts messages tonight which I expect will persuade you that I am now putting in sufficient effort to make me worthy of your love, your care, your time and your trouble. Meh.

      • FX says:

        Exactly! No, I did not answer his many calls or texts. I haven’t spoken to him in about 5 weeks. I have no doubt he does miss me and does think he can get me back without much effort… I let him get away with outrageous crap and kept going back again and again for more. I’m sure I haven’t heard the last from him.

        In reference to some earlier comments about power struggles in relationships, I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but it is nice to have some power and control for a change!

        • Fearless says:

          FX,
          It should feel nice because when you give all your power away it’s a great feeling snatch it back again! Good for you. Stay firm.

          • FX says:

            Thanks Fearless. Yes, it is great to be in control of access to me and not under his thumb.

            I think I’m concerned it’s wrong to be thinking about and enjoying his tone of desperation. I never expected him to react this way since he never did before. Unfortunately, now, part of me is wondering if this suggests he could change in time when he realizes I am truly saying “Hell, no,” when I know I should be thinking “too bad, so sad, you had your chance to play nice and just because you want your fallback girl back or even see the light, you aren’t entitled to a reset button or do over.” In any case, I know I should be focussing on me, and his pursuit is a distraction. (Just FYI, I can’t change my number because it’s my work phone, too, but we’ve rarely emailed and he’s not on Facebook or anywhere else online so he can’t keep tabs on me. He may just show up at my gate, though, and give me another “No” opportunity!)

            • grace says:

              FX
              I was going to let it go, but since you mention it …
              He doesn’t miss you in the way you want him to miss you. It’s not like I missed the dog and was booking my flight halfway round the world to see him (yes to see a dog) when he died. I was actually going to get off my lazy arse to DO something about missing him. Granted, I couldn’t have sent him texts but he was a good dog who respected boundaries. I think he wouldn’t have been impressed by a text even if he could read it.
              I don’t know what handbook these clowns are using – my returning ex/MM sent me very similar texts as well, hundreds in a month. But in the end, they are just texts.
              I very strongly advise not trying to get inside their heads (having spent three fruitless, depressive years trying to get inside one of my ex’s heads) but I know we can’t resist: The texts are likely triggered by (with thank to Mr U and the FBG): He’s suddenly realised you’re not pursuing him and this causes self-doubt. Instead of saying to himself WHY AM I AN ASS? or WOW, I’m an ass I really should leave FX alone now – he’s poking you for an ego stroke. You stroke, he disappears again; or he wants sex – ex used to text me while he was watching porn (who said romance was dead); he’s fallen out with his current squeeze; or he’s had a problem at work; or he’s feeling a bit bored or lonely; or he’s a bit drunk; or for that five minutes/half-an-hour/maybe even a day he’s feeling sentimental. If he genuinely wanted to get back together would he not do what has served people well for generations – see you in person? Mind you, even though I’ve got back together with exes who bothered to see me in person, the relationships still didn’t work out. it takes more than feeling bad/rejected/horny/lonely/sentimental to make a relationship work 2nd time round (or 3rd or whatever crazy no. we manage to get to).
              The purpose of NC is not to prompt them to change. The fact that he’s texting you this flowery nonsense only proves he hasn’t. Change is a hard long fight, even for those who want to change. I kept in touch with an EUM for over 20 years and he didn’t change one bit (though the women switched in and out) despite endless therapy.
              He doesn’t miss you, he doesn’t want you back (other than for an ego stroke and/or sex) and he hasn’t changed. Yes, he might change, but that’s a longshot…

              • grace says:

                agh, sorry
                .. and when they change they want something new, not to go back. I’ve changed,and I know I’ve changed because I don’t want to go back. Going back is the HALLMARK of EU. It’s how you know you’re in an EU situation – it just won’t fekkin end.
                Nuke him.

                • FX says:

                  Grace, Thanks for the great thoughtful response! Yes, I did know what he said didn’t mean or change anything which is why I didn’t answer his calls or reply to his messages – and won’t in the future. I was just voicing thoughts here where it’s safe. And, yes, the one time I attempted NC before, he did show up in person after several weeks. I knew it was a bad plan to start seeing him again under the circumstances because nothing had changed but I wasn’t really ready to go cold turkey yet. He was on very good behavior for a hot minute and then it and I was a hot mess most of the time and I was constantly hurt/angry until I went NC again. This time I know this is just the way it has to be for me and it’s not paralyzing me the way it did last time I was NC. Of course, after 6 and 1/2 years, I still think about him and what he did/I allowed that bother me way too often but I am focussing my energy elsewhere as much as possible – work, getting out to Meetups and such – and cutting myself some slack, too. But, I’m not going to be treated without care and respect by anyone again and he doesn’t get to have access to me no matter what he tries.

              • tired_of_assanova says:

                I don’t know what handbook these clowns are using – my returning ex/MM sent me very similar texts as well, hundreds in a month. But in the end, they are just texts.

                They are using clownbook, clownmessenger, and clownmail.

                • tired_of_assanova says:

                  Oh, and don’t get me started on walking and talking facebook and twitter feeds. blergh.

  53. Natasha says:

    “Try to say NO without justification, especially for stuff that would leave you being treated without love, care, trust, and respect.”

    Oh hell YES Nat! When I broke things off with My Final Assclown, I found myself saying, “Well, errrr, no I can’t be your friend now that we’re no longer seeing each other because you’ve done a, b, c [insert example of straight-up, non-ambiguous jackassery].” What the heck would have been wrong with saying, “No, I will not be your friend.”? In my experience, in 99.99% of open and shut assholery cases (one of my favorite terms ever used on this blog – for serious) they KNOW they’ve behaved badly, so don’t waste your breath and your time explaining why you don’t want someone who is a jerkoff in your space.

    In the US, we had a long running anti-drug campaign that had the earth shattering slogan “Just say no.” While whoever wrote the slogan was talking about actual crack, but it applies just as much to drama/relationship crack, am I right?!

    • Fearless says:

      So true Natasha. I also love the ‘open and shut case of assholery’; it’s a cracker, though I like your ‘jackassery’ now too. I’ll be pinching that!

      I agree with all you said in your usual entertaining fashion (I always look out for your posts!). See when my ex open and shut case of assholery wanted to say ‘no’ to me, he did, with the sound of silence. He didn’t attempt to justify it or explain it; he made no apologies for it; he simply dished it up like it was a form of communication. And he was right. It is a form of communication. I heard and understood the sound of his silence, loud and clear. And I think that’s all these open and shut cases need to hear to get the same message. Ignore all requests for ‘friendship’ from an assh*ole. They will get it and they will get it very fast because you’ll be speaking their language.

      • Fearless says:

        I was looking at some of Natailie’s videos on youtube (I seem to be having a BR-fest this week!) when I came across this lady in the link below talking about the ‘silent treatment’. It caught my attention because, as I said, my ex would literally cut me off as if I no longer existed whenever I asked him any question that made him uncomfortable or when I tried to discuss the ‘relationship’. I remember saying to him – (emailing him, more like, because it was the only way I got to “speak” about what I wanted to speak about) that I felt voiceless in the “relationship”. I complained about that a number of times. He ignored that as well!

        I hope I am not straying too far off this topic of ‘no is not a dirty word’, but what astonishes me now is that I did not say ‘no’ to this treatment; I often did exactly what this lady in this video says we are not to do: I’d get very upset, react very badly and emotionally and text/email him back again and again, furious with anger, complaining that he was ignoring me, thinking that I could appeal to his conscience (!). He’d ignored me. And then I would feel he was probably justified in ignoring me because I was acting like a crazy woman… and once I’d calmed down in a few days or weeks, I would feel embarrassed by my ‘crazy’ pleading behaviour and so apologise to him. WTF!

        Every time I revisit my experience of that relationshit (it’s never far from my mind) I am astonished, yet again, to find it was even worse than I thought since the last time I looked! I so wish I’d been reading Natalie and all this other material I now read when I was actually IN the fuc*ing mess. Jesus.

        • ixnay says:

          (((Fearless))))

          I hear you. I feel like we’re going through the same thing, the same stage, about a similar experience of similar duration.

          My own experience is, how can you say no to the silent treatment? When I discovered that reasoning, appealing, yelling, and cajoling had no effect, I tried the silent treatment back. I discovered I could not beat him at his own game. I was filled with panic because *nothing* was going on. I would cave and press the reset button myself, sweeping the original issue that had elicited the silent treatment under the rug.

          The thing that amazed me was — *he was not afraid to do things that would alienate me* — he was not panicking and concerned about my feelings and “us.” He had full assurance that I would be there if and when he chose to show up. Meanwhile, he focused on his life, work and social.

          Pattern: Bad behavior from him, confrontation from me, total withdrawal from him. Standoff. I wait for an apology, something. I panic, I call, He says, breezily, “Oh, there you are! You never call me.” I say, “But I have called you! It was you not calling me!” Him: “I’m tired of your games.”

          If I held out too long, that was when I got emails rebuking me for being a bad and neglectful girlfriend. I never knew if he believed that himself or if it was a displacement/manipulation tactic. The emails often told me of something fun he had just done without me, sadly saying, “You would have loved it but of course you have chosen not to be part of my life.” And I would say, I have not chosen that! I would have loved to come! You didn’t tell me about it *in advance.*! And he would say something ominous like, at this stage of my life I want a relationship that doesn’t require all this complex maneuvering; it either works or it doesn’t. Other people have no problems making plans with me.

          And I would be SO CONFUSED. Wasn’t it him who was shutting me out and then taunting me? Or was it me, churlishly refusing all the fun and love on offer? But where was the sweet spot to access that love? I constantly seemed to miss it.

          The overriding sense was that I was being punished. For something really really bad and deliberate. But what had I done? Under his reproaches and glibness, i sense he was very very angry with me. But wasn’t it me who had cause to be angry with him and not the other way round?

          I feel like…

          • ixnay says:

            I feel like I will never understand what happened and never forgive myself if there *was* a lovely relationship on offer I was somehow pissing on.

            • ixnay says:

              Oh, I wanted to say, that in the reading I’ve done on boundaries and deflecting manipulation, you’re supposed to do something like this:

              Me: It’s important to me to be able to talk openly and honestly when we have a conflict. I feel hurt and abandoned when you completely withdraw. If you continue to give me the silent treatment when I want to resolve our conflicts, i will reevaluate my desire to stay in this relationship.

              I can’t imagine that working at all with these men. Mine might have said, “You think that’s some kind of threat? Knock yourself out!”

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      I have a query, perhaps BR readers could answer. Just for reference –

      WHAT IS THE NORMAL ROUTE for a break up? You know, the non-NC method?

      If the latest guy I am seeing doesn’t work out (hmm, the one linked to the AC) I’m wondering what I should do. I guess I am just a bit dazed – should I cut off ex dates that haven’t worked out but aren’t assclowns and EUMs? hmmm…

      • Sunshine says:

        It just depends on the situation. Some people just don’t call back and you don’t call them and they disappear.
        Yesterday I told a guy his situation is incompatible with my relationship goals (oh, HAI, your wife of 13 years just moved out a week ago???) and he said, “well, where do we go from here?”
        I simply looked at him, and stayed silent. He said, “How about we just let this dissolve into the ethers?”
        “Sounds good…Let’s do that.”
        He was super nice and I had a hard time saying outright, “No, I don’t want to see you again,” but it worked itself out.
        Fortunately, it was only date 3 and I started asking questions when he mentioned ‘the ex’, and I had kept my boundaries firmly in place (which he noticed and remarked how good I am with boundaries, lol), was quite aware of a few yellow flags and how quickly they came up, so no big investment. My intuition had pretty much told me it was going nowhere and I really only even gave him the chance for dates 2 and 3 based on advice from friends, against my own better judgment. Gentle lesson learned, moving on.
        If you are already worried about it not working out and how to prepare for it, you may want to check in with yourself whether you are being honest about this guy as a prospect. Yes, he is independent of the ex, *and*, there are at LEAST 6 *billion* other people on the planet who have NOTHING to do with him, is there really any reason to even go NEAR the cesspool? In my opinion, the further removed, the better.

      • P. (former doormat) says:

        TOA,

        Here you go: “We are not working as a couple, baby.” (Told to me by a text)
        “This is not working out, sorry.”

        Anyway, although I think in person is the most polite, I did have an ex-bf tell me that he prefers over the phone bc the last ex-gf chased him around town with a gun. I tried to meet with him to “do at least the break up right” (the situation was that I told him he was unavailable and he admitted that, told me I was not asking for anything unreasonable, but he was not able to deliver, and we agreed to split), which, I think, was my attempt at reconciliation, hoping that he would finally see how awesome I was (ehm, no comment on that one), but it was just awkward and I only cried harder when he stopped the car and just basically did not even stop the engine and let me get out.

  54. malaise says:

    So last night I met with the guy I’ve been having an NSA relationship with for 4 months, and basically asked him how he felt about this whole arrangement. What the long term consequences might be (feelings getting involved, things getting messy, etc) and how long he thinks this would last. I told him I was starting to develop feelings. I asked him how he felt, where was his head at? He said that he hasn’t thought about it at all, but now that I’ve brought it up he will. The entire conversation was so INCREDIBLY painfully awkward, and I could tell he was totally uncomfortable. I felt really awkward trying to express myself and bringing it up, and after leaving kind of regretted it!!! I know I’m crazy.

    I guess the status quo becomes so comfortable you don’t want to do anything to disrupt it, even if it’s for your own good. However, I knew my self-esteem was taking a huge dive, I was starting to feel really empty after our meet-ups. Reading this site made me realize I needed to save myself and the remnants of my self-esteem while I still could and bring it up. But should I have even had the conversation to begin with? I feel like maybe I should have just sent him a text and ended it cut and dry, without an explanation and go NC forevermore. BUT I also felt like I wanted to have a conversation face-to-face, that it would be more respectful than just sending a text saying, “I don’t think I can see you anymore” and that’s it.

    Oh God! Why is ending even the most unhealthy of relationships still so hard!!!!! I’ve flipped back and forth from feeling really good today about having finally brought it up to see where we stand, to feeling really sick to my stomach. I wonder if I’m just dragging out the break up. What is the best way to end an EU relationship?????

    • A says:

      Malaise,

      It’s done now, you should feel good about yourself for taking action, whatever form it took. On the plus side, now that you had the conversation you won’t have to wonder whether it could have been something more “if only” you had told him your feelings. You put it out there and got confirmation from his “I haven’t thought about it” answer that you’re right to be rid of him.

    • Fearless says:

      Malaise
      “He said that he hasn’t thought about it at all, but now that I’ve brought it up he will.”

      Firstly, no he won’t think about it. A least not in the way you might be hoping. More to the point, if he hasn’t given all of this a moment’s thought, why are you fretting about how to end it ‘respectfully’. If he’s not bothered his arse, why are you? (these are rhetorical questions) End it any way you like. Ending it isn’t about him.

      I am curious: What is an NSA relationship? Sorry for being dim!

      • Catherine says:

        Hi, Fearless . . .

        NSA relationship means “No Strings Attached”.

        I had to “Google” it because it was kind of making me nuts, too. Initially, I thought it might mean “No Sex Allowed” but then realized that – nah – THAT didn’t make sense !

        Kind of a sad indictment on our times, too, because it was the very FIRST item that Google returned from the “Urban Dictionary”.

        • Catherine says:

          Or . . .

          No Straight Answers

          Or . . .

          Nothing Special Actually

          Somebody STOP me , please ! ! !

          • FX says:

            malaise, I think the question you need to answer for yourself (and inquiring minds!) is, if you are actually interested in and available for a relationship, why are you having an NSA non-relationship with someone to whom the thought wouldn’t even occur to have a real relationship with you? I had all kinds of arrangements with men when I was younger that I wouldn’t consider now but they were mutual as I was EA/just in it for fun or whatever, too. What did you really expect or want from this?

          • tired_of_assanova says:

            NSA = No Sex with Assclowns :)

    • Allison says:

      Malaise,

      Sorry, but there really wasn’t a relationship, as it was NSA.

      Can I ask why you got into a FWB situation?

    • Little Star says:

      I tried like you to end my “booty-call-relationship” for several years, and I went to NC couple of times, but AC always dragged me back with his promises etc. I tried to date other guys in order to forget him, but he was always in the background. It’s never worked out with other guys, as my AC was always in my mind: “more sexy, intelligent, successful etc” This time I decided to change my pattern – just disappear and change my phone number as he did in the past! I met him two weeks ago and spent night together, he said that he wants to spend Easter with me, I said that I could not make it. He send a message: “OK” That it. It’s made me realised that he does not give a shit if I come or not, that all his promises about “future” is fake and this time I should do his way and just go NC. I have to say, I miss him, but I have to let him go, I already wasted four years of my life:-( This is my way to end EU relationship Malaise!

      • Ladies, ladies, ladies! I’m gonna have to revisit this booty call thing because these tales are out-ra-geous! A booty call for several years? No booty call situ should last for more than 1-3 months and that’s pushing it. Do anything over a period of time and it becomes a habit which affects the mind – you will grow attached. Next thing you know, you’ve got relationship ideals when really, you’re getting attached to someone who treats you like an unpaid hooker. I don’t care if he’s Idris Elba – there is no penis or sex in the world that is worthy of reducing yourself to being dialalay. Sex is not a currency that you can negotiate a relationship out of. You start out booty or you reduce down to booty, you stay booty. Any man, any person in fact, that would put you in the position of shagging you and having you basically attempt to convince them into a relationship, is *not* the one for you.

        • Little Star says:

          Thank you Natalie for your comment, yes, I felt like unpaid hooker when I was with AC. I thought I had a “relationship”, but after reading your posts I realised that I was in “booty-call-relationship”!!!

          • P. (former doormat) says:

            I went to a psych to ask about my relationship once and those are the exact words he used: “he is treating you like a whore”. But, but, but… uhm, yes – twice a week for three hours (yep, a curfew was involved).

        • tired_of_assanova says:

          He said that he hasn’t thought about it at all, but now that I’ve brought it up he will. The entire conversation was so INCREDIBLY painfully awkward, and I could tell he was totally uncomfortable. I felt really awkward trying to express myself and bringing it up, and after leaving kind of regretted it!!! I know I’m crazy.

          ONE SHOT and then FLUSH! Works like a charm and also builds your boundaries and self esteem. I saw someone random ONCE. Next thing I know, they are offering me breakfast. Then when I get home the texting begins – ‘I had a good night, can I hope I can see you again’ to which I replied, ‘yeah, only was meant to be a one nighter as I get attached and look for commitment’ so this guy started to BLOW HOT (so predictable!) ‘oh, yeah, I’m happy to help out anytime’ (whatever the hell that means!) and then after that ‘oh I’m in a meeting today, soooo bored, falling asleep’ and after I had made it clear that there would be no more – more texts came in (hilarious) ‘Hey I know you said you weren’t interested but I’m taking my mother to the airport tomorrow and blah blah blah …. I was thinking we could have a movie and chill and sleepover’ I know what you said but just thought I’d ask anyway.

          I mean SERIOUSLY, this came up on Assclown radar as boundary busting bigtime and I activated TOA’s ‘Customs and Border Control department’ (thank you BR, installed it earlier this year works be-au-tifully) which meant *ZAP* *FLUSH*. It was hi-la-rious, silly bugger a week later texted AGAIN total border crosser – oh, I see I’m blocked apparently, oh well… as if this was like ‘well, I KNOW you’ve blocked me but here is your last chance to sign up to my great assclown deal’. Ha! I didn’t even bother to reply! FLUSH!!

          When you have one nighters you are seeing Mr Unavailable. It’s DANGEROUS. Keep it one night and then OUT. I don’t care how amazing they work or how big their c*ck was. FLUSH!

          • Little Star says:

            My AC was waiting for two months before we got intimate, so it was never one night…We went for the drive, restaurants, cinema, but after all that it’s became only sex, his or my place:-( He was saying: “Why waste time, when we can enjoy each other”. I loved him and I could not resist!!!

  55. Tulipa says:

    Oh God! Why is ending even the most unhealthy of relationships still so hard!!!!

    What is the best way to end an EU relationship????

    I think it is hard to end even unhealthy relationships because we aren’t healthy ourselves and ending it means looking and addressing our own issues as to why we were involved in the first place, and if our self esteem is low we don’t think we are capable of healthy relationships.

    It is so true the best way to end the relationship is to be direct that it is ending and stick to no contact, and ignore all contact from their end, any contact afterwards only says my words and actions don’t match and I still want you in my life.
    Good luck

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      The best way to end it is to notify that you want out, it’s not right for you or not working for you and then say AND WE HAVE TO STOP SEEING AND CONTACTING EACH OTHER. Don’t say ‘Let’s be friends’.

      Then FLUSH.
      And then move house and change details if you have to.

  56. malaise says:

    I thought I could handle a no-strings-attached or friends with benefits arrangement, because at first all I wanted was some good sex, and am not at a point where I’m ready for a long term relationship. But over time the sex starts becoming empty if you feel like the other person could give a rats a$$ about you. And eventually it starts messing with your mind. And I guess I felt like sh*t that he didn’t want anything more from me after certain period, and stayed longer than I should have hoping he’d all of a sudden care about me legitimately, instead of as just a good lay.

    Right now I’m just full of ALOT of regret. It’s truly awful. I should have ended this months ago, or better yet not gotten involved in the first place. A warning to anyone out there who thinks they can handle a no-strings-attached relationship. You’re better off having a one-night-stand to get your kicks than deal with the mindf*ckery. I don’t know how these men can be so detached, like seriously not care one iota. It’s kind of depressing.

    • Polly says:

      Have you ended it now Malaise? The best way to deal with the regret is to stop it getting worse and start to move into a better place from today. I had alot of regret about not ending it sooner but never had any regret about walking away when I did. Alot of pain from the loss but never any regret.

    • A says:

      It’s true, if you stick around any longer you will only have more to regret. We all make mistakes, but you’ve recognized that you’re not happy in this situation, did something about it, and now you can walk away and move on. Try to be happy that you stood up for yourself, rather than regretting that you didn’t do it sooner.

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      Malaise,
      I made a similar mistake (no sex though). Friends with benefits -ANY benefits, not just sex, is DANGER territory. It’s like ‘operate as a relationship in every way except name’. You are like a store throwing open it’s doors and giving everything away for free – you invite vandals to come and ‘take what they want and leave’.

      If you want to have sex and not have a relationship, this is a valid thing. Not everybody wants to be or can be in a relationship, but might still want to have needs. One night stands or sex venues may be options – don’t use your friends for sex, it’s messy. But remember, there are A LOT of unavailables that are pushy and will try push the envelope and turn a random one nighter into a regular with coffee/breakfast/dinners/parties – STOP. There are posts elsewhere on BR that describe on how to do one nighters etc – have a read of those.

      In fact, when you do one nighters, you are seeing Mr Unavailable, so you must have boundaries of extreme strength to make sure that you DON’T call afterwards and DON’T hang out and DON’T do anything. One shot, then OUT.

      Dating is the route to a relationship. Any other approach – CUT!

  57. teachable says:

    Good work P! Glad you can see what’s going on & acknowledge & validate yourself. We, as the ones in these situations, know deep down inside when something is not right. Our families though (sometimes or often even) cannot be relied upon for an objective reality check. That’s the beauty od BR. Everyone here is struggling with the same issues (even though the details may differ). Wishing you well. x

  58. lo j says:

    Fearless… your feelings ARE valid. But you are the only one who can validate them. Just because someone doesn’t agree, it doesn’t change a thing. I’ve learned to quit asking others to approve of my feelings. Its none of their business and just makes a mess.

    • Fearless says:

      loj

      Yes, I know my feelings are valid and I don’t think I need or ask people to approve of them or validate them for me; but it does piss me off when people attempt to invalidate / dismiss them as unjustified. I do know what you’re getting at though. Thanks for your comment.

  59. malaise says:

    It is over. But I feel like I’m having a melt down!! All day I’ve been overcome with sudden panic attacks and been sick to my stomach, I wish I’d NEVER told him I had feelings for him. I feel like such a FOOL, and worse that I brought all of this on myself. I can’t believe this….

    • FX says:

      malaise, Please don’t beat yourself up. The bottom line is the status quo of your non-relationship was not working for you and was not making you feel good about yourself so you took a risk to make yourself feel better. He wasn’t on the same page. Now you can choose how to live your life honestly with that knowledge. The alternative was to stay silent and continue engaging in behavior that met his needs at your expense. Trust me, if you ignore your needs and accept less than, you end up feeling worse and more devalued.

      Making yourself vulnerable and being rejected sucks. It can cause serious anxiety for anyone no matter what the situation. Why should you feel like a fool for being honest with yourself – and him – and taking a chance at being authentic and not feeling empty? And, who cares what he thinks of you at this point? Something is not better than nothing if it means you have to sell your self and your feelings out. Reading NML – and time, of course – will help you work through the pain and anxiety and see that, however this ended, it is in your best interest that it’s over.

    • Fearless says:

      Malaise,
      Oh dear. I feel for you. You know, the problem here isn’t that you brought this up with him, the problem is that he does not share your feelings, that he does not want the same relationship as you. – he doesn’t want a relationship! He wants easy sex and all the extras that come along with it.

      You feel as if you’ve just shot yourself in the foot and have gone into panic stations? I used to feel that when I “brought things up” with the ex EUM and he punished me by effing off and not contacting me until I agreed, tacitly, to stop making trouble and have the non-relationshit that he wanted to have, on his terms.

      Malaise, if you back track, retract, contact him and continue to see him be completely assured that what you will be doing is signing up to his terms (NSA/FWB/easy shag… and all the rest), and you will be forever fearful of raising the subject ever again. You’ll feel powerless. Read Nat’s current article on controlling the uncontrollable, read as much of Natalie as you can – the books if possible (also open Nat’s wee video on the page here – it’s very insightful!). Calm down, get your head in reality. It’s only been a few months of a non-relationship. Now is a good time to pull the plug. You deserve better and you have done nothing wrong – he wants a relationshit with you that is disrespectful and demeaning to you. Say NO thanks. You are not a free of charge prostitute. Let him know that you are worth more than this – more importantly, let yourself know you are worth more than this before you really do have something to regret. Good luck.

      • malaise says:

        I know I shouldn’t feel like this, but it’s overwhelming! I can’t stop rewinding our last conversation in my head, how sick and shattered I felt, the worst blow I have ever felt in my life. Then the regret, and the sick feeling overcomes me again.

        “You feel as if you’ve just shot yourself in the foot and have gone into panic stations?”

        YES!!

        Reading your posts though is helping me calm down, I needed to hear those words. THANK YOU. Thank you FX, Fearless, tired of assanova, everyone, and Natalie especially. I don’t really have anyone to turn to for advice.

  60. lo j says:

    Fearless … doesn’t it though? I am amazed at the number of people who don’t know how to validate others or the importance. When I remember this it takes the sting out.

  61. tired_of_assanova says:

    It scares me how so many people can’t let go and say no. SO MANY of my friends remain ‘friends’ with their exes. It’s like they’ve turned their lives into the museum of dead relationships or dead ex society.

    SERIOUSLY. Why can’t people just say no? I was having a conversation with a mate over coffee, and said that I’m not friends with any exes and that I let them go, and they were actually shocked. SHOCKED. What has the world come to? Am I going crazy?

  62. teachable says:

    Yr welcome P. Kudos goes to yourself though for doing the work & being honest with yourself ;) Treat yourself. You deserve it! x

    PS Peeing myself laffing @ NML’s last post in this thread!!! The unpaid hooker thing is EXACTLY what I said to the xAC!!! He’d fly in from interstate, play nice to get a free place to stay/egostroke/armchair counselling/sex & then fly back interstate where he would treat me like ABSOLUTE SH*T until the pattern (much to my own embarressment) would repeat (until I recognised his form & put an abrubpt stop to it). I actually said to him, ‘what do you think I am? A holiday resort with a free hooker service??!!’ Seriously! He *had* to be effin kidding right? (he wasn’t – groan) Thanks NML – your insight is GENIUS!

  63. teachable says:

    I personally think a period of NC after ending thi gs respectfully is good form TOA.

    PS I actually LOL’d at clownbook & it’s merchandised spin offs. That was just too darned funny!!! :D

  64. teachable says:

    Ixnay – WE DATED THE SAME GUY!!! Well, prolly not, but they displayed the EXACT SAME BEHAVIOUR & we experienced the exact same responses to it. I reacted as you did & could never beat him at the silent treatment back (after texts & emails explaining what a jerk he was!) I don’t do the silent treatment to ANYONE, romantic or not, which is prolly why I could never maintain it (read: I am not an abusive).
    It was EXCRUCIATINGLY painful though & my xAC was WELL AWARE of this (as in a previous post – he tried to entice me to SUICIDE using this as well as more overt tactics ie once told me to actually go & kill myself knowing I was suffering major clinical depression due to serious physical health issues at the time & indeed having suicidal thoughts) THIS, was my first big WAKE UP CALL with my xAC. I then started researching ‘silent treatment’ & discovered it is considered to be THE WORST FORM of EMOTIONAL ABUSE. The academic literature re violence against women describes silent treatment as a form of torture & ‘psychological murder’. No wonder I was suicidal!!! My health issues caused the depression but HIS EMOTIONAL ABUSE was pushing me over the edge (almost – literally)!! I never did attempt to take my life (being the responsible type, I instead sought immediate counselling & crisis support). I also have ZERO history of any sort of mental illness or psychiatric problems. I share this with you all as a warning. The silent treatment is not just a tool of manipulation but a serious & deadly form of abuse. If someone is doing this to you, please GET OUT – FAST. These idiots are not worth your life!!! Indeed in the moment, when all this was happening I realised that killing myself was EXACTLY what he wanted. What better way to silence the ONLY woman who knew the WHOLE truth about his disgusting AC ways & by this, represented a threat to his multiple OW because he knew I was about blow his cover sky high?! Ughh. Talk about TOXIC.

  65. teachable says:

    ie the above is the ultimate conclusion of the ‘lovely relationshit on offer’ you possibly were pissing on / missing out on. Imagine if it had been YOU who developed depression due to unrelated physical health probs (which can & do happen to anyone) & getting the silent treatment in response to it? Consider yourself to have made a LUCKY ESCAPE I say!!!

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!