It's too much to expect to say yes aL the time and not end up losing respect for yourself in the process

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we’re grown-ups who are allowed to make decisions and know what we do and don’t like. We’re allowed to say no, we’re allowed to have boundaries and standards, and we’re allowed to be ourselves and live our own lives. This is often forgotten because we get caught up in serving others and question the validity of our own opinions, feelings, needs, expectations and desires. We’d rather sideline ourselves completely than run the risk of offending somebody by saying no or just being ourselves.

There’s often an underlying belief that it’s ‘bad’ and ‘selfish’ not to jump to other people’s beats, forgetting of course that we can hardly be ourselves never mind be remotely happy if we’re devoted to the unnecessary task of being all things to all people.

Especially when we’re a People Pleaser who habitually feels compelled to comply with the needs, expectations, wants (or even demands), perceived feelings and opinions of others in order not to fall out of favour, we’re inclined to live as if life is imposed upon us. We’re regularly plagued with guilt and a misguided sense of obligation and we get swept up in other people’s tides and then washed back up into our existence feeling disillusioned, disconnected from ourselves, and taken advantage of or even abused.

The thing is, when we’re a child, we have to live by the rules of the house where we’re raised or the family unit – I’m sure I’m not the only person who was habitually reminded that as long as I’m living under their roof that I had to abide by the rules and do as I’m told and yada yada yada – and while we hopefully gain more autonomy in our teens (unless like me you were habitually reminded that until you had your own place and were paying your own bills that you did as you were told or else), until we get to adulthood, life is imposed upon us to a great degree until we take over the business of ‘raising’ ourselves (an ongoing process) and proceeding with our journey.

As a grown-up, it’s critical to recognise that we are in fact a grown-up and that we’re allowed to make choices and live our lives in a way that honours our values, not the egos or values of somebody else who we’re trying to appease and who has their own life to lead.

Some of us are operating on a default setting of ‘They asked so I must find a way to comply otherwise I’ll be rejected or experience conflict/criticism/disappointment’. When we operate with this thought process, we end up feeling that life is imposed upon us because we act and think like it is.

I feel obligated hence there must be an obligation.
I feel afraid so there must be a threat hence I’m required to be compliant.

It’s a slippery slope because when we feel, think, and act this way, we end up pumping people up as a natural extension and stressing ourselves out even when a person is a veritable stranger and/or we know what we do or don’t want to be/do but are too afraid to honour it. The more we comply, is the more disappointed and sidelined we feel, is the more we feel like we’re not getting a say in our own lives, even though we won’t give us a say.

When we feel perplexed, stressed and are contemplating (or already are) complying with what somebody is doing or asking of us even though it may violate our own boundaries and values, it’s round about that time that we need to stop acting as if what they want or expect and our compliance is a foregone conclusion. It’s not. We are grown-ups!

The funny thing is that once we acknowledge when and where we feel imposed upon, this is feedback telling us where we need to step up for ourselves and be an active participant in whatever choice we’re making instead of being passive and running the risk of having people make choices for us in our absence, silence, or compliance.

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89 Responses to On Being A Pleaser: You don’t have to keep acting as if life is imposed on you

  1. Kathy says:

    This article is so liberating! Thank you for sharing it and helping me to breathe a little easier as I unload endless expectations.

  2. Firefly says:

    This topic has been on my mind. I recently dated a man for about a month. He fast forwarded me to sex even though I knew better. I got sweep up in his whirlwind and excitement. Then he ran cold and faded. I read Mr. Unavailable and really understood (for the first time) what was happening and told him adios (first time I’ve been able to do this). But I continued to yearn for him. I couldn’t understand why. I knew in my mind he was bad news but I keep reliving the FEELING I had when I was with him (which was AMAZING). I feeling feels like some kind of addiction. I remember Natalie talking about seeking a feeling and it struck a chord. I’m starting to see that I’m seeking some kind of validation feeling that I didn’t get from my father. It runs so deep. It is triggered with men who are “strong,” aggressive, controlling, decisive, and dismissive. My father is like that. I now see that I am seeking a feeling of validation from Unavailable men. I had some inkling of this before but, thanks to Natalie, I’m seeing it sooo much more clearly now. Possibly I’m attracted to these men because I desire these qualities within myself (other than the terrified people pleaser that I am deep inside… though I come across as confident and always saw myself that way. It was a shock to realize my denial and see myself as I really am! Ha!). I’m going to go to counseling for the first time next week to work on my daddy issues. I’ve always been afraid of going deep in this area of my life. Not saying I haven’t tried, I have. But this time, I see how it is affecting me and making me unavailable for relationship. I learned to be a pretender and people pleaser as to not rock the boat with my father and the pattern has transferred to all my romantic relationships with men. I’ve always held back a part of myself with men. It’s scary but I’m also excited because I’m hopeful I can heal this part of me and finally be open and available for a real, healthy relationship rather than the fantasy relationships I’ve been involved in. Thanks again Natalie. Looking forward to your eCourses starting next month! CAN’T WAIT!

  3. Crazybaby says:

    This is a key lesson I’ve been learning with men, and it all stems from my mother. I’ve spent my life trying to manage a tricky balance between pleasing her and being true to myself, and discovered that whenever I do things to please her I get zero response. No appreciation. No warmth. Just cold silence.

    So I stopped trying to please her. I withdrew. She stubbornly refused to contact me, not even on my birthday. Months went by. When I eventually called she played the emotionally manipulative game of “you don’t care about me, blah”. I went deaf to every complaint and criticism, and only responded to non-blaming conversation.

    I don’t know how it will pan out long term, but I made a mental decision to stop trying to please her, and only give to her a fraction above what she gives to me – enough that I don’t feel guilty, but not going out of my way like before.

    I’ve been trying the same tack with men. I’ve also been bolder about pulling them up when they say or do something that upsets / disappoints me. I discovered that if the guy fears losing you he responds positively and goes out of his way to make it up to me. If he’s pulling away anyway he just pulls away further. It’s like a litmus test.

    It’s all down to your sense of self worth. For decades I’ve had my mother and my partners playing the emotionally manipulative game to make me do what they want, and it worked because I allowed them to make me feel bad about myself. Now I know it’s not me – it’s them. And if they don’t like my change in attitude – tough.

  4. dancingqueen says:

    I really have exercised my “no thank you” and “please don’t do that” muscles this year
    …it really feels good! My favorite point this year was when this guy that I had been pairing with in dance class said something prissy to me because his ego was a bit hurt, via text. I just replied. “I’m sorry that makes me uncomfortable. Don’t make comments like that please” and they responded with a sorry and….have yet to talk that way again to me. It feels good to know that the sky does not fall down if I don’t roll over and bare my throat to the e olves out there:)

  5. Magnolia says:

    Right now I’m struggling with some pretty severe I-can’t-believe-they-don’t-want-me-syndrome.

    I find myself going to work having to remind myself that these people (who haven’t given me the official no yet, yet who may well know that I know that they’ve offered the job to someone else) don’t want me and that being nice to them and continuing to be good at what I do, putting real energy into it, isn’t going to suddenly make them reconsider.

    It feels like I have to keep putting energy into a relationship with a guy when the guy has basically said, “I want to keep f*cking you for the next eight months, and have you be smiling while I do it, and then you will leave pleasantly and thank me for all I’ve done for you.” Not the best way to look at it, I know, but that’s how I feel. That the next eight months of working at my job is just them using me.

    I suppose when the day comes that I finally can talk to people (after the decision is officially announced) then I can start to get feedback and see what areas of my performance or presentation I can improve. My ego is taking a huge beating over this. I feel like these past couple of years I have put on a lot of big show and in fact don’t have a lot of substance behind it, and me not getting the job confirms this. I must work, I suppose, on being confident within myself that I deserve a continuing position in this competitive marketplace. That means more writing, more publishing, and having to do it without the support of being affiliated with an institution.

    In academia it’s pretty commonplace to act as if there is no choice about things, because so many people give up kids, give up good places to live, give up years of their life in order to stay in the job; it does feel like seeking validation from a system that only values working til you drop and complete loyalty. But isn’t that capitalism? Don’t we want to feel like we are marketable, valuable workers, worth hiring and worth paying? Hard to feel like I’m valuable when the people I’ve worked with for the past year and a half chose someone else to pay more to come and take the job I’ve been doing.

    I had an application in at a university in the city I want to live in: I found out today I won’t be interviewed. Life feels like a huge struggle, and like I deserve the struggle because I chose to try to write instead of work a regular job.

    It’s hard to describe this feeling. “Bummed” isn’t quite it. Like being slapped down for expecting too much and overvaluing myself is more like it. Earth to Magnolia: you knew you weren’t the hotshot you hoped people thought you were, and guess what, people know it.

    • noquay says:

      I am really sorry you have to be in this situation, it sucks. The having to act as though “everything is fine”. Generally, at least in the US, the academic job ads peak between january and March, hopefully something else comes up in someplace you actually want to be.

    • Suki says:

      As an academic and fellow writer, I’ll say – these feelings are all normal. The job market sucks out your soul and its also a lot of work. What can you do? Keep applying, seek help from your peeps, keep writing. Just hang in there, dont rail against the system too much, or look for someone to blame. A lot of hiring decisions are random, there is internal conflict and they dont know who they want to hire etc. You have to work and write and teach not to please them but to please yourself. Its also okay to own your feelings but in the spirit of professionalism you can’t actually let your deepest feelings show. I think your idea of asking people after a while about went wrong is good – at the same time, based on my and others experience I’ve realized that post-rejection briefings are the w.o.r.s.t and people spin all sorts of b.s. [I have no idea why but I've seen it enough to think that perhaps people dont know how to do this well].
      Good luck. Read inspiring writing books like Bird by Bird or Writing down the Bones. Just to keep you feeling energized on that front.

      • oregongirl says:

        I am also an academic/professor, and I will tell you this: the whole institution is one big pyramid scheme. They give out all kinds of PhDs to support their jobs, while not intending to turn around and hire the PhDs they create. We were born a generation too late to participate in the rat race. I work at a community college and I LOVE it. None of the BS you find at universities. Good luck with your search!!

    • Revolution says:

      Just a lowly writer here, Mags, but I totally get what you are talking about. Man, do I get it. I’ve been applying for things way big for me, and that voice comes out that says, “Hold on there, darlin’. Aren’t you getting a wee bit big for them britches?” But you know what? Fuck it. Most of the visionaries in every field were the ones who reached high and wide with little more than a fire in their belly, and they found their place. You will too. I’ve seen in my own life and in the lives of at least two friends recently who were very depressed about not getting positions that they felt passionate about and thought were perfect for them, only to find something that fit them SO much better come down the pike shortly thereafter. And they were grateful that they were available for those opportunities when they arose.

      Hey, you want a good laugh? I just applied online for a copy editor job and in my cover letter (written in a dialog box such as I’m writing in here for this comment) I made two punctual errors (period instead of comma, etc.). These damn dialog boxes are so hard to read and edit sometimes, so I hope they don’t hold that against me. But, ah the irony of fucking up a cover letter for a copy editor position. We’ll see if they call me. You can’t win ‘em all, I guess. ;)

      • NK says:

        THIS THIS THIS >>>> I’ve seen in my own life and in the lives of at least two friends recently who were very depressed about not getting positions that they felt passionate about and thought were perfect for them, only to find something that fit them SO much better come down the pike shortly thereafter. And they were grateful that they were available for those opportunities when they arose. << and prior to the therapy or self assessment that you routinely do which has helped to keep in in mental check, you would of either accepted the situation with no questions asked or you would of been crushed. Now you are saying to yourself ‘OK I know I’m good enough and I have flaws, so what didn’t I do to get this job? how can I improve? Did I piss off a key decision maker?’And as much as you wanna fight and ask these questions > your actually giving the recruiters too much credit. If they were able to give you a true response, then great! but rarely happens. So what I’m getting to is sometimes being self aware an cause you more punishment and over analysis when all that is happening, is suppose to happen for your own benefit. The comment I pasted above confirms that. I have recently experienced this, having gained a job that I much prefer to my last one that didn’t work out and was a blow to my fragile self esteem. Wishing you the best.

  6. espresso says:

    QThe sentence about being afraid being translated into there must be a threat and so we think we must be compliant really hit me. I often feel anxious or fearful when I deal with my ex and I feel threatened and then I feel I can’t handle it as if I can’t. This will help me understand that fear and not give him that power. Part of it for me is that he (and me too) have trained me to feel responsible for solving all problems. He feels entitled to it. So he keeps rAising objections to the terms of separation in different ways. It is not up to me to do all the compromising. He tAlks about being collaborative but as usual it is words only.

  7. Stephanie says:

    I have always suffered with the people pleasing syndrome. Like firefly I dated someone for 2 months who fast forwarded me into bed in a whirlwind of excitement and fun. I fell hook line and sinker then he faded me out went cold and disappeared. I was kicking myself for not saying the right things or having boundaries and just going along without questioning him or pulling him up when the red flags started appearing.

    After a few sessions with a counsellor I realised that I had some daddy issues. I grew up with my my mum and stepdad but he is the biological father of my two younger sisters. I wasn’t treated any different however I never knew my real dad and he died when I was 9 years old. I think I’ve always looked for men that where controlling, decisive, older (although AC was younger) and confident. I see myself as generally confident apart from when I’m in a relationship I become submissive and almost mute! I don’t always say how I really feel so as not to offend or upset anyone. However, this is something that at 39 years old I have come to realise and I am now very aware of it. I now stop and think about how I feel and let my feelings known. It takes practice but after doing it a few times I wonder why I had never done it before! It certainly makes life easier.

  8. dancingqueen says:


    Think of it this way: there are some pluses to your situation. You don’t like the location, you don’t like some of your colleagues…if they had asked you to stay you would have been perceived as ungrateful if you turned them down…now you can look for a better fit, leave after being very professional about it, and you get a good reference.

    Also as for how to get through this time think of your students. You did not just become a writer to express your thoughts but, also, to share your enthusiasm and love of poetry and literature with others. I teach at the secondary level which is absurd with pressure to get my non English speaking and impoverished students to pass standardized tests every three weeks. Some of my parents can be really nasty and some of the kids can give major attitude but my solution for that is to while then out of my mind and go enjoy sharing the Spanish and English version of a Pablo Nerdy poem with my kids. I just pour myself into really getting excited about it to them, to show them why his language is so amazing and I swear it feels like then I have the best job in the world. Right now there is definately at least one student in your classroom who could benefit from your enthusiasm and passion for what you are teaching. They are your higher reason to be there, not your lame collegues. Hang in there!:)

  9. dancingqueen says:

    Whipe, Neruda not nerdy….could auto correct be less cultured!?

    • noquay says:

      No, it could not; the point of it being to make all of us read like inarticulate twits. Your reply to Mags is excellent; yep, our students are the whole point of being in the academic world. We can inspire or we can turn them off. Also yep, hopefully your colleagues Mags will be a tad guilt stricken and give you a really good reference. This is actually what happened as I left my last institution.

      • Magnolia says:

        I am trying to focus on the students; my own survival is what’s on my mind now. I had a meeting with the new Head of our department, and he is very supportive, he seems frustrated, even angry, that I wasn’t chosen; the committee wouldn’t let him weigh in and won’t tell him about their decision. I said that I was told by one of the committee members (the bitchy one I’ve never gotten along with) that I had not been their first choice for the job that I have now, and that my profile was “modest,” this new Head, who has seen my application, disagrees and thinks I was as strong as any candidate they chose. I’m trying to get over it but I feel quite strongly that I got devalued by these two men who never wanted to know anything about me since I’ve come to work here, and who don’t like even a hint of my politics being informed by my not being Caucasian. When you’re as strong as (and I thought stronger than) any other candidate, when everyone not involved in the committee thought I had the job, it’s hard not to feel it’s because I didn’t play nice with the bullies, but it’s also hard not to feel that race doesn’t factor into it, when one guy, the old Head, is clueless/in denial about his own privilege and the other guy used to like to remind me and others publicly how I once said I found this town difficult, as if to suggest I am weak because I don’t fit easily into a redneck town.

        “Minority women faculty constantly battle racial and gender bias to become key players in the informal networks where real decisions are made. Some hesitate to voice their concerns for fear of being labeled by white males as domineering, or as “loose cannons.” In many cases, the single African-American woman faculty member in a department is subjected to magnified expectations and extreme evaluations. African-American women often feel pressure to outperform other white colleagues just to maintain perceived equal performance status, only to have their outstanding performance discredited due to racism or sexism.”

        I just don’t know where to turn; I can’t talk about this with my colleagues, obviously. But it’s exactly those “informal circles” that I didn’t get into (didn’t want to with bigots disguised as sensitive-new-age-guys), and look what it costs me!

        Then I do a cycle of Magnolia, don’t make it about race, you just didn’t get along with the people who had the power to axe you. But to whom do I turn, to confirm that? My mother, who herself keeps quiet about how she feels she has experienced discrimination? My sister, who never fully accepted that most shows didn’t want to cast her as a lead with a white guy? To the three women-of-colour friends I have in academia, who are all East Asian? Or to any of my other colleagues, who all enjoy the situation of not having to consider how their skin colour made them odd-one-out whenever they don’t get hired? (I’ve had NO other female peers of my own ethnicity in my program since I started my PhD, or workplace since I began teaching, and I would count Indian or Black as my own, and that is not at all because we do not exist in Canada).

        This whole thing has really thrown me and support is thin on the ground. That the new head wasn’t allowed to weigh in, the way he said to me that I deserve a continuing position, that my application was very strong – I tell you, ladies, I know I didn’t like the town, but this is still wrong. I feel sick now when I think of who did this, when I think of what they must see when they look at me, to be able to ignore all the good work I have done.

        Talk about feeling like life is imposed on me, huh. F*cking hell.

        • Teddie says:

          Magnolia, first, I commiserate over this disappointment you are going through. Second, I would like to point out that this is what it is, a disappointment. It is not your whole life. I understand that you’ve had a full plate of disappointments lately. Some suck even more because you’ve been very close to the prize. The sheer accumulative effect can appear staggering. Some things though can be attributed to pure randomness (I’m talking about things like diagnoses and health conditions). In the grand scheme of things, a job you didn’t get in a town you don’t like is just a job you didn’t get in a town you don’t like. Considering that the folks in the current constellation are folks you don’t like either, I already see some silver linings to the situation. Also, with some jobs, academic ones in particular, it is no secret, that often the choice has been made before the the contest has even taken place. The committee still has to go through the motions of staging a contest just for the sake of the protocol. By the way, do you know the chosen person?

        • Rosie says:

          Magnolia- I’m so sorry. :(

        • Revolution says:

          Hi Mags,

          I just scrolled down to read this comment. Sounds like you’re dealing with some real assholes. You can vent to us here on BR. I know it’s not real life, but at least it’s something. We’ll listen.

  10. Jamie says:

    Ah yes, my personal “dog & pony show” of pleasing others just so they will like me. I’ve done this for as long as I can remember. My folks were very dis-connected after having been raised in alcoholic households themselves. They simply never learned how to nurture, tenderness OR how to build others up.

    I have self-loathed since childhood. I often found myself doing things for others so they would like me. I never felt that “just me” was good enough. So I have spent 47 years pleasing others.

    Until now.

    My therapist and I have un-earthed a buffet of muck over the past few weeks. What started as me needing help to get over my AC has turned into a discovery process so dark, yet so enlightening.

    I have regularly chosen who I perceived as “train wreck” individuals to befriend… I could feel superior. And so I could “fix” them. I played judge and jury to some very lovely people without even knowing them that well!! Although I could spot a “needy, fixer-upper” type 10 miles away. It made me feel better about myself.

    I am a pretty woman on the outside but am a rotting mess of insecurity on the inside. I get plenty of attention from men, but always chose the ones who aren’t that good looking or they needed me more than I needed them……just so I would have them by the balls and could control the relationship. Then, when I had them molded into what I wanted them to be, I dumped them because I saw them as weak OR no longer the project I took on. I have said countless times that I don’t like “pretty boys” because I don’t want to be with someone who spends more time in front of the mirror than I do. Complete bullshit!! I just didn’t want to do the work required…..I wanted it easy. I wanted a man who would put me on the pedestal and thank his lucky stars every day that he was able to land me.

    This all came crashing down around me with my recent ex. He isn’t good looking and is even overweight. But you know what? He didn’t “need” me. He actually toyed with me which took away all of my control. This kicked my “people pleasing” into high gear, but even that changed nothing. My bag of tricks simply didn’t work on this guy. I hated him at first, but in the end hated myself even more.

    The frustrating part was not being able to see all of this during the 2 years I was with him. All I knew was that I wanted him in the worst way. I needed him to relent control back to me. It had to be on my terms!!

    So as I continue with therapy I will most importantly learn to love myself… whole self. A day at a time. Now that I’m aware, it’s interesting to see how many times a day I catch myself trying to please others or fix them. I know it’s going to take time.


    • rewind says:


      I love your honesty. I could have written the your story myself. I had someone tell me once that I spend so much time trying to get someone to like me, that I never stop to ask if I really like them.

    • JustHer says:


      haha – I laugh because I was you only a little while ago. I was popular with men (mostly jerks), but I always chose the weedy, ‘nice’, quiet guy who would have trouble every getting a girl.

      I thought that this would mean that they would care for me so much more because I was ‘way out of their league’ (I have been told this).

      But that is not true.

      We should choose our equals, otherwise how can we ever hope to connect on a emotional level? I don’t mean to suggest that weedy, not-goodlooking guys cannot be our equal, but that we must choose them based on their emotional attractiveness and have better reasons for choosing them than that ‘no other women will want them’.

      I was also with AC for 2 years and it was 2 years too many.

      Good luck, honey. It will take some time, but it sounds like you’re on the right path already.

      • noquay says:

        Just Her
        You are sooo right; we need to choose equals. Men/women may be”grateful” at first for being chosen by you but eventually resentment sets in because at some level they know they cannot measure up. Folks know when they’re being rescued. Then they try to bring you down to their level through constant criticism. The few times in my life that I gave in to pressure to “settle”, the relationship began with a suspicious level of adulation and ended in hatred. My best friend is going through this right now with his wife; painful to witness. I don’t know what your age group is, but in mine, if the guy isn’t able to “get and keep a girl”, there’s generally a good reason.

        • JustHer says:


          You’ve hit it on the head.

          I did not, then, consider the possibility that there was something wrong with him for not getting a girl – I thought he was just waiting for the right one, like me. But there was a good reason: he was an arsehole.

          The resentment built up so much and he would force me to stop talking to any males except my father! And his anger and criticism brought me down to his low level. He never felt good enough and there was nothing I could say to change his mind.

          We are worth too much to ‘settle’ in life. I know that now. I’m sorry to hear your best friend is going through it. I would not wish what I went through on anyone else.

      • Jamie says:

        Hi JustHer!!

        Thanks for your reply. I have known this for years but NEVER admitted it to myself or anyone else. I have been an absolute brat/control freak over the years. One of my worst ever was 15 years ago…..I walked in on my bf with another woman in bed. Didn’t talk to him for months after that BUT ended up taking him back, then proceeded to spend the next three years toying with him and manipulating him into an emotional mess. I didn’t love him at all, I was simply trying to hurt him back. I came back from a weekend trip to find him and all of his stuff gone from my house. Who can blame him?!

        Anyhow, just another small peek into just how screwed up I’ve been. Time to get better!!


        • JustHer says:


          Your story is VERY similar to mine in so many ways! I tried to make him hurt for what he had done to me, but he had to heart, so it had no effect.

          I hadn’t talked to him for a very long time and although we saw each other, I would never let him kiss me. But then I did, and I took him back too. If I am ever in such a situation (I hope not!) I will turn around and walk away the second it happened and never talk to him again.

          You sound insightful and that definitely helps along the road!

          Hugs x

    • Goldie says:

      Aw Jamie, you just described my recent ex. It started out with him putting me on the pedestal, which I stupidly assumed meant that he was in love with me, treating me well, and cared about me… next I knew, our roles had switched and I was jumping through hoops trying to have his needs met. *Next* I knew, nothing I had done was enough, he walked away, and continued to cut down on contact until I finally came to my senses and went NC. I hope he enjoyed the ego boost. Next time I will be looking for a man who likes himself and is confident with the way he is, first and foremost. I found that insecure guys need constant ego stroking, and will get it at their partner, or even ex-partner’s expense, whether that person likes it or not – unless, of course, the partner or ex-partner says “NO. STOP”. which I finally did. But best not to get involved with those guys in the first place.

      A man can be not amazing-looking and overweight and still confident and in our league – look at Louis CK. It is all in their head. My ex was actually quite cute in my opinion, but he’d gotten it into his head that his looks were terrible. And that really messed up both him, and me when I was with him.

      • Jamie says:

        Hi Goldie,

        My most recent ex/ac is incredibly insecure and needed the ego stroking…..more than anyone I’ve ever known. Pair his insecurity with mine, whew what a mess we were.

        I’m glad you found the strength to say “NO”.


    • Rosie says:

      Jamie- Wow! Your humility and honesty are inspiring! Thank you!

  11. rewind says:

    This is helpful. I am such a people pleaser that I could retire in a mansion in Maui if I had all the money I’ve spent, not to mention the time, pleasing, pleasing, pleasing. I like that you state that we are adults now and can make our own decisions on saying “no.” I need to remember that I CAN decide how I wish to live my life. Wow…now if I could just make myself say NO MORE to my crazy making relationship.

    • Jamie says:

      You can do it!! Awareness was the first step for me. Just being aware of what I do AND why I do it has opened a whole new reality for me.
      You CAN do it!!

    • LovefromNel says:

      Haha, rewind, this is so me! I could retire on an island too for all the pleasing I do. I even try to please my dog (me to my dog – “more food, Nel? I know you’re chubby already, but have more food so you’ll like me more!”). Ridiculousssssss! Honestly, once I find this immense desire to be liked and adored and needed, I am going to quash it, never to be seen again.

      • Rosie says:

        LovefromNel- A little bit of wanting to be liked is healthy. As primates, we’re community-oriented and, in order to build community, we have to build relationships. This includes trying to build relationships with people we like and the hope that they like us back. To hope that we “squash” (why the violent language? We’re not bugs!) this desire totally is to hope to lose the ability to be vulnerable and well…this hope is what got many of us into trouble in the first place. Lose the people-pleasing; keep the desire to be liked! :)

        • LovefromNel says:

          Rosie you are so spot on! How did I manage to conflate the two? I guess I see them as linked – I people-please to be liked whereas ‘me’ (as I am) should be enough, shouldn’t it? And if people don’t like me (and I know I can’t expect everyone to!), then that is their problem/loss isn’t it.

          So yes, I will keep my desire to be liked but drop the pleasing aspect! They can be separated because I am enough!

          Thank you so much!

  12. There says:

    I wanted to ask for some advice here, if you don´t mind:
    Some of my friends decided to take a boat this Summer and enjoy a week trip to the islands. They told me and of course I was excited. We even deciced our roles in the ship.

    The thing is: there is space for one more person.

    We are all coworkers, also my exEUM (I´ve been NC for 2-3 months). One of my friends of the boat is a close friend of him.
    So they were talking about the trip in the cafeteria and they told everything to my exEUM, who has been trying to contact me many, many times. He even came to my home several times.

    I have my mind clear that I´m not going to a trip in a boat for a week with him but should I wait till the last day or talk to my friends? They are too nice, they´ll dont understand.

    • Mephista says:

      Under no condition go to that trip!!! I can’t imagine worst thing than being stuck with somebody you’re trying to avoid in such a confined space for a whole week (been there, done that but only for a few hours – a few hours too many). If your friends won’t understand then wait until the last day. You don’t want them trying to persuade you to join them and your ex coming up with some new tricks. Added bonus – imagine his face face when he realises you won’t be there after all.

    • Sandy says:

      Hi There,

      Lol I just realised what I said..”hi there” ah sorry it is just my sense of humour!! Anyhoo I am not to sure what you should do in this instance…do they know how he has been trying to contact you and that you don’t wish to have anything to do with him? If only one of the people going on the trip is a close friend of his, couldn’t they be out voted? Is there no one else that would be more suitable to go along on a wees trip with you all? Hopefully they are all aware that a week in a boat with your ex is not going to be an enjoyable prospect for you!
      I would talk to them as soon as possible, if you leave it to the last minute you won’t have any chance of changing the possible outcome.

      • Sandy says:

        Weeks!! not wees ooops.

        • Tinkerbell says:

          Hi There,

          Ask yourself just how important this trip to you. Is it worth the possibility/probability of being in close proximity this person for a week? Some people can do that sort of thing. Can you? be honest with yourself. If you don’t want to put yourself in such a delicate situation don’t go. BUT, explain to your friends why. That’s just being courteous.

          • There says:

            Thanks a lot for your replies.

            I´m super excited about this trip, I´ve been dreaming about this a long time.

            I wonder if maybe six months ahead things will be different and I could be with him without feeling bad. Right now, 2-3 months of NC and he hasn´t catch it, it´s really “disturbing” to be near him, I avoid it at all costs because he does everything he can from “joking” with other coworkers about me out load to blinking an eye to me to writing asking me to be friends (yeah, we all know what is friendship with an EUM, don´t we?).

            I mean, right now, it would be a disaster but maybe 6 months ahead, if he is interested in other things (another poor fool :( ) it could work out.
            Natalie writes a lot in her books about “mindfuckery” and this is him all day when he is “chasing”. It´s unbearable.

  13. Lacy says:

    Hey Nat I haven’t read the post yet but I know its very informative. I was just on the site about to purchase the nc second edition. I am on my journey once again, well this is the second time of me going nc yes I broke nc once before. I am nc now almost a mth I feel good about it this time and I’m taking si much time for myself I have loss the desire to even imagine having contact with him anyway.

    I really feel strongly about nc permanently, I have to move on and take care of me, it huffed to go thru the games the lies and I won’t put myself in a position like that with any man, I will look after me from now on.

  14. Phoenix says:

    I’ve been reading your posts for well over a year Natalie and I thank you for your sharing not only your journey but your incredible insight into peoples behaviors. Your are such an inspiration to us all. I’ve been wanting to post for a long time but felt so incredibly stupid for the life I’ve been living. Five years ago I walked away from an emotionally abusive marriage only to end up in a worse relationship. A high school “sweetheart” tracked me down shortly after my marriage ended with all sorts of “false promises” that I unfortunately believed. He is an abusive manipulative alcoholic & has been for 35 years. Despite his running back & forth between me & his ex wife and then a few others that he NEVER would have slept with if he hadn’t been drunk – I stayed. I kept telling myself that I didn’t have the right to ask him to be faithful to me since I wasn’t ready to make a commitment to him due to healing from my divorce. After the 3 month “honeymoon” where he manipulated me into thinking we were meant to be together after all these years – his true self came out. But by then I was hooked. He constantly tried to get me to let him move in with me & when I refused he ran back to his ex for the weekend. And if she wasn’t available he got drunk and slept with someone else. He has been physically abusive to me. He has been verbally abusive to me. He has an explosive temper. He is a raging alcoholic. He has no decent friends just “drinking acquaintances”. He has no drivers licence. He lost a good paying job due to his alcoholism. His family rarely speaks with him. He abandoned his children (paid support but emotionally/physically left them). He is mean. Thoughtless. Insensitive. Negative. Ungrateful & a Liar.Having grown up with an abusive mother and a distant father and going to new schools every other year as my father was in the Army – I pretty much had zero self esteem. My husband had an affair 14 years ago and after seeking much counselling I was able to finally see my value and started to have boundaries and self respect – which is what finally ended my marriage as my husband didn’t like the “new” me. I am so ashamed that I have allowed this ex-boyfriend into my life and to treat me so disgusting. I know why I did – I was vulnerable and still taking baby steps in rebuilding myself and therefore was an easy target for him as well as he was a distraction for me so I didn’t have to face the fact that my 30 year marriage was over. I am writing this today because I finally feel ready to acknowledge what this person has done to me and that I allowed it to happen. I have not told anyone about what he has done to me – especially the physical abuse – as I was afraid of what people would think of me. And that is exactly what abusive people hope for because then you are isolated and more dependent on them. I have not been intimate with him for 2 1/2 years & have cut contact with him several times but always end up going back as he has “no-one” that cares about him in his life and he plays on my Christianity. The past five years hiding this abusive relationship from my children – family & friends as been exhausting. I’ve gone through a painful separation – supported my children through it all & health problems etc…Today I have decided that if I want change in my life then I need to be the change. Although I am ashamed for letting myself down by accepting this behavior – I am proud of myself for finally acknowledging it and stopping it. I made a list this morning about myself as a person & on my accomplishments and I am very proud of who I am. I am a kind, compassionate,independent, fun & loving woman who deserves to be happy. I don’t wish either of these men any ill will but nor do I wish to be their doormat or punching bag any longer. I am looking forward NOT backwards and I am so grateful to you Natalie & for your readers who post their stories. Thank You.

    • JustHer says:


      As the saying goes, better late than never. It is more about finally waking up to the fact that something was wrong and realising that you deserve better and want to change your life.

      There is nothing to be ashamed about. I was with an AC for 2 years (on-and-off) and also allowed him to physically and verbally abuse me. I consider myself to be a strong and independent woman, and cannot believe that I allowed that to happen sometimes.

      I knew he cheated (repeatedly) and I took him back, telling him it was ‘the last chance’ every time.

      There is no shame in being brave. There is no shame in realising that you are worth so much more than this jerk ever let you see.

      I have been NC (strict) since October and I still have bad days, but it is getting better.

      You’ve come so far already. You are going to find so much more out there than you imagined.



    • Grizelda says:

      Phoenix, never be ashamed of your past mistakes. When you genuinely identified how much self-harm you were doing, and how much your situation was hurting your soul, and coming to decide what you’re going to do to help yourself, you evolved. There’s no point in feeling shame for now awakening sooner — for pretty much all of us here, the same process took years to come about too. We got lost, that’s just what happened. People don’t set out in life to get lost deliberately, it only happens when harmful people or harmful things disorient us — often without us even noticing, or when we’re coerced into believing their toxic ways are the best we can do. It’s painful, it’s confusing, it’s disappointing, it’s like being trapped in a hall of mirrors from hell. But having found our way out of it, we not only have the power to chart our own course from now on, and the strength to leave ‘em all behind, but it’s like we now possess the plans from the hall of mirrors they built — we can see how they constructed it, the dead ends, the corners where we got stuck, the windows we bumped into, the mirror illusions, the tricky paths they had us tread, and we recall how real it all seemed at the time but what a flippin farce the whole thing was all along. So we’re leaving the dirty circus fair and its assclowns behind, along with their halls of mirrors and their white-knuckle rides and their crooked con-artist games. There’s a whole world, a real one, for you to discover.

      • LovefromNel says:

        Griz, you are the queen of analogies. As I wrote to Finally Free on Nat’s previous post, what a golden nugget of truth you’ve captured in this comment. Neatly tucked away in my pouch (read – MS Word document!) of wisdom. We are certainly off the white-knuckled ride, thank goodness. My heart races too much on those damn things. Hugs to you dear girl.

      • Bethd says:

        Excellent Griselda! Perfect description. Lov the way you write btw. Peace of mind is golden. Getting out of the web of chaos will get you there.

  15. simple pleasures says:

    Phoenix,a lot of us come here smacking our foreheads saying, “how could I have been so stupid,
    I’m so ashamed, I can’t/haven’t shared this with anyone”. Then go onto ‘why is he/she that way?’ But make the ultimate realization, “Why am I this way?”
    And you learn a lot of psychology here. I didn’t post for a long time too. I thought, if I’m ever healed from this guy, I hope my thoughts can someday help others. It was over a year before I put my toe into the internet sharing.
    It’s a great website. You have the people in their 20′s finding their way, dating, sleeping around hoping to find a mate. Then there are the 30′s to 50′s who have had an experience or two and are
    saying now it’s time for me to be honest with myself and needs, and goals for my future, I’m not just going to be a people pleaser (casual relationship, easy sex, crumb attention).
    And a few older folks with serious relationship histories, maybe even grandchildren by the time they get to BR are saying “what happened in my life? I want to start the rest of my life, all for the better.” Phoenix, was once in the ashes, but now she’s rising.

    • Lynn says:

      Re: Simplepleasures.

      “crumb attention” Loving this one.

      Two days ago I was about to settle for “crumb attention” then I thought Hell NO.

      “We start to value ourselves less when we value other’s more”

      Stop doing that!!!

    • LovefromNel says:

      Dear simple pleasures,

      You’ve really captured it all in your paragraphs above! There are such intelligent people on here. I feel really lucky to have discovered it. It took me a little while to gather the courage to comment too. Now, every morning and every evening, the thing I look most forward to is checking BR, reading Nat’s posts and the comments, and being able to share and help in a comment of my own, if I can.

      I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I fall into the category of “the people in their 20s finding their way, sleeping around hoping to find a mate.” (And yes, I’m smacking my forehead as I write that).

      But I hope, too, after discovering Nat, BR, and reading all the wise words of the comments, I hope I’m gathering some nous, self-respect, boundaries and wisdom of my own for me to fall in the older category – as you say ‘to be honest with myself and needs, and goals for my future, and not being a people pleaser (casual relationship, easy sex, crumb attention). I think it’s possible to reach that ‘wiser’ level, through learning about myself, and learning from others’ experience.

      Best wishes to you, and thanks.

    • Phoenix says:

      Thank you Simple Pleasures for responding! You are so very right in saying Alot of us come here smacking our foreheads wondering how we let this happen to us. I am so grateful to Natalie and this site for helping not only myself realize I’m not alone in this but also so many others. Although its taken me five years of abuse and another year reading this website to finally get where I need to be I am happy to say I finally get it. No more people pleasing / door mat / Florence nightingale syndrome for me ! I am a happy positive person and I will never let another person steal my joy ! I am rising from the ashes :). Take care xoxo

  16. LovefromNel says:

    PS – I loved your analogy to Phoenix – rising from the ashes. Flap your wings, and fly high above, Phoenix. Best wishes to you also.

  17. HappyAgain says:


    You are not alone. We all struggle(d) w a variety of things. Its a process. Simple Pleasures said it all so well. Be encouraged and self compassionate. It will get better. :-) All the best to you.

  18. Rewind says:

    My guy has recently been trying to weasel his way back in…writing that he is thinking of me and wishing me well. Then saying I deserve better and that I’ll only get hurt again and to spare myself. In other words, “I don’t care about you so will continue to do hurtful things so I’ll be galant and suggest you spare yourself from me.” How thoughtful! Ha. Then a text saying that he is so horny and it sucks trying to be good. Then asking if he can come over and watch TV. I said no, which is a huge step for me, but I felt guilty the rest of the night because, yes, I am such a people pleaser and know that it hurt his ego and he’ll ignore me for a while to punish me. And the cycle continues. It is exhausting and humiliating. But no matter how well I know his games, I am the one that feels bad for turning him down. It’s mind boggling and crazy. My behavior is changing but it’s a slow, painful process.

    • Jamie says:

      What an ass-hat!! It sucks being good? He’s horny? And, he warns you about himself.
      Total douchesicle………

      I get your guilt, we are so used to immediately going there instead of focusing on the fact that these guys are playing a game with us. I’m celebrating the “no’s”…..seemed silly at first but it does help. :)


    • Rosie says:

      Rewind- He’s horny, not ill. Telling him no isn’t putting him in the hospital. Nobody’s died from not having sex. You feel bad for him but why is it ok to treat yourself as a blowup doll just to save some guy’s penis from…what?

      Congratulations on saying no! :)

  19. on the other side says:

    Love from Nel, I look forward to your posts and others as you never fail to inspire me when I feel low. All the stories here are mirrors to mine, its comforting but sad to know that it wasn’t you, that these types of men continue creating damage. But it also inspires me to carry on NC and continue growing despite the odd fleeting thoughts for the past and remember that these men do not change! And that by staying NC and living and progressing you continue to dodge that bullet!! xxx

    • LovefromNel says:

      Dear on the other side,

      Your comment meant the world to me! (I hope this isn’t my people pleasing coming out haha!).

      But really, I did get a bit teary reading it, knowing that I have helped / inspired someone somewhere. Wow! I’m gobsmacked.

      The past, it’s memories, and the nostalgia, always haunts us in some ways. Because it’s so much easier to recall good times rather than the shitty ones. I don’t know why I do that to myself though, because even when I was in the present and living it, I wasn’t even particularly enjoying myself.

      But when they treat us so horribly, what is it that makes us think of them as angels? I would love to know. Every time I think of him, I should mentally process him as a bit of a monster. He was!

      Having said that, I think I have made some progress though, because when I last checked Instagram, I saw some pics and just thought “it’s just him. There actually isn’t much that is speci about him.” (because I have constructed his specialness – it was nothing he illustrated). But there was no yearning, no racing heart. Yay!

      I am so happy to hear you’re going well with NC! How long has it been? Each day gets easier and with it, a strong desire not to be hurt (because they are the hurt). It is better to be alone than touching the flames of an arseclown whose bum is on fire!

      It is my AC’s birthday tomorrow and I know I won’t contact him. Progress!

      Hugs to you, on the other side, and thank you. You’ve really made my morning!

      Love Nel

  20. Goldie says:

    This post resonated with me. I am a card carrying people-pleaser. I was brought up that way. This fall, I actually went online dating before I was ready, because my ex had emailed me saying that he was dating already, and I thought I had to do the same, otherwise I’d look like I was sitting around waiting for him. I dated for two months, hated every minute of it… I stayed in contact with my ex at the time still, and each time I’d tell him I wasn’t enjoying it and wanted to quit, he’d tell me to keep the faith, keep going, enjoy it… that I would meet a great guy someday… so I kept at it for two miserable months. Then one day, I realized I’d just spent two months dating for no reason other than my ex had been telling me to do so. WTH? none of that made any sense. So I finally quit. But this is one example how I am terrified of saying no, and will bend over backwards to please, oh just about everyone. The one time I was in therapy, before my divorce, the therapist commented on how he thinks I am not able to say no.

    What I don’t understand is, how do you NOT be a people-pleaser, when it’s ingrained in you since your childhood? Any coping techniques out there?

  21. Care_78 says:

    I’ve been so much of a people pleaser (especially when I was with the ex) that no has become a pretty foreign word to me. I’m trying to make it part of my vocabulary again! I remember if there were times I did say no, he’d hang up on me or walk away and completely ignore me, so I almost felt like I was somehow programmed to always say yes. Crazy enough, after bending myself every which way to acommodate his requests, the minute I’d ask for his help with something his answer was always no! Funnyn how that works. For example, I was moving in with him and did most of the move on my own. It happened over a 2-week timeframe so I’d bring little by little to his place. He was in charge of the big move (the furniture and heavier items). Well in trying to make that move for him a little easier I was getting out as much as I could. I ended up using all my strength to get a rubbermaid container in my truck, but realized when I got to his house that there was no way I could carry it inside. I lived in the condo so getting it to my car wasn’t a problem, it was lifting it. Anyway, I went inside when I got there and asked him for his help b/c it was too heavy. He said “I guess you’re going to have to make a couple trips then and said if I was able to get it in my car I was able to bring it in.” This response after going non-stop for a week straight. I was exhausted!!!! He woke up in the morning to walk the dogs so I texted asking him to please bring in the box b/c I needed stuff out of it. He ended up bringing it in BUT he tossed it in the kitchen and yelled “here’s your f*cking box!” I cannot tell you how hurt I was. This was coming from someone I have done so much for, who I leased out my condo for to move in with him, all from me having one simple request. This was just one example. The way he treated me has left me completely broken.I just don’t understand how people can treat other people like this.

  22. Able says:

    I dunno if this will help anyone, but I just realized this the other day/night right before I fell asleep. I don’t ask anyone for anything. Most of the time people are asking me to do things for them: work, relationships (when I’m in one), family, etching. I only ask someone for something for me when I’m at a restaurant or bar. That’s it.
    So, I just started asking other people to change their ways if interacting with me– starting with the most demanding person (professionally) in my life. I put an end to the 24/7 accessibility when I’m freelancing for them only one or two days a week.
    I reflect on the recent rekatinship and I realize I didn’t ask for much only to not gonthru the same kind iv break up I had had before (telling) cheated on and lied to… Interesting.

    So, try stop complaining and start asking for what you want and see what happens.

  23. Able says:

    Ps I’m three pints closer to booty txting the ex, but I won’t so it. It’s been 33 days since I walked out on her. But I just emailed last week. Nc reset #2.

  24. Mary says:

    Thanks so much for this article, it is so helpful. Too often I feel like a child with no right to my own values, so this was a nice reminder to respect my own judgment more.

  25. Nat says:

    Today I had a couple of thoughts after reading this post: 1) people pleasing is a form of dishonesty, dishonesty to others and to myself. If I want a man to be honest with me, then I must cut the crap and speak my mind, and 2) holding onto the pain of a break-up is a way of holding onto the relationship. Of course, it is natural to suffer and grieve the loss of a partner, even if he was a bad partner. But I have to keep reminding myself that it is okay to let go and be happy. Because I am. As soon as I stopped speaking to my EUM, my life improved drastically, and I have no regrets. This entire experience has been a valuable lesson, a lesson that I could not have learned any other way. It is better to live with the uncertainty of the present and future, than cling to painful memories because they are comfortable.

  26. Crystal c says:

    Oh for so long I was stuck in the cycle. I was so unhappy depressed miserable really for 7 years with my EUM. Everyday I did battle against myself. Should I stay or should I go. I had every excuse to stay and a million reasons to go. Honestly I felt I was dying a slow death. I grappled with the decision forever. Then I read the book Mr unavailable and the fall back girl. I went to Hawaii for 2 weeks and didn’t even call home once. I journaled like crazy all my truest feelings and my soul pain. I realized I had duplicated my childhood with my unavailable parents. I was wallowing in the rejection. That relationship had become a mirror to me and reflected my own feelings of being unlovable unworthy rejected abandoned. It was then I woke up. When I returned from Hawaii I found out that he cheated and more lies and yet more disrespect. I finally once and for all stood up for myself and confronted my greatest fears. I gave him a month to move out which he did. 1 week before he moved out he bought a new car …..told me for years he had no money or savings ….although he did work and pay his half every month, but no extra to buy me any gifts if devotion. A week after he moved out he added a gf of mine on FB and proceeded to try to hit on her. It back fired. She blocked and deleted him and told me and said he wasn’t her type. I laughed. He still thought he had 1 knife left for my back. I am now almost 3 months post break up moved out. I have maintained the NC rule. Oh he did put a Christmas card in my mailbox on Christmas Eve. I bet he was missing all the goodness and loaves that I had provided him for 7 years. The last thing he said to me the day he moved out was goodbye take care if yourself. That was it. The song say something with Christina Aguilara resonates with me. Well yes I am taking care if myself. I have confronted the fear of being alone. I am 47 and not sure I will ever be in love with someone again. But I am in love with myself. I am coming back to myself again. The vail has lifted and I am free. I am no longer depressed and I am feeling happier and more secure than I have in a long time. I now see it for what it was a valuable lesson never to be repeated. I am working through my issues and grief one day at a time. If I can do it so can you. I will forever be indebted to Nat and her book. Because of it I got free!

    • dancingqueen says:


      My dad met his 4th wife, with whom he is happy in comparison to the others, at the proctologist office when he was 80 and she was 70. He had gone in for a checkup after a cancer bout, and she was subbing for the receptionist who had taken the week off. She used to be a nurse. He called her back after he left the appointment and serenaded her by telephone with some big band music. Now they are married and he is senile and she is taking the best care of him that she can. I am glad that they both met each other when they did. He and she are a bit codependent, but at this stage in life, that works for them. Takeaway: you can find love, at any age, in the most innocuous places. IMO 47 ( my age btw) is not time to hang in the towel regarding love! My god it is actually young when you think of it. Get some exercise on a daily basis to get those endorphins moving and thank god that you got that loser out of your life, in order to vacate the spot for a better person in the future.:)

  27. On the other side says:

    Care 78 hugs xx. Your story is similar to mine staying with a man for 5 years on and off, I met him during my divorce from my abusive ex, not the best time to start a relationship I know! He asked me to marry him I moved in and then the hot cold began the nasty comments the jealousy the flirting and arranging trips with his other exs and finally the physical pushing me across the room so hard I smacked my head on a radiator, he was a big man and I remember the scared feeling in the pit of my stomach and the disbelief that this charming had changed so drastically ! Of course I blamed me and shamefully although I moved out I continued on and off for a further 2 yrs, untill one day I said no more, I’ve had enough, I deserve more and I don’t want you, don’t want us, and I left and despite his pleading which turned into hateful messages, I have been NC now for a year. Thanks to all the ladies on here and thanks to BR I have an exciting new calm life ahead and amazing family and friends, each day I grow stronger and more determined to never go back and to never accept a man like that again !

  28. Magnolia says:

    Thanks supportive BR friends. I’m just going through the whole cycle of emotions. Funny how I forgot the process of dealing with things not working out: my first attempt is to think, oh, it’s okay, it’s the universe’s way of telling me my path; but then there’s just the raw anger of feeling devalued; then all the feelings of betrayal and wanting revenge; and underneath all that just disappointment and not wanting to deal with reality.

    I went through all this when I ditched an AC, and was in the anger/betrayal/vengefulness phase for more than a year, until I learned that karma had finally gotten him – then my anger disappeared in an instant, I drove home that day with the music turned way up, and was light-at-heart about that situation ever after.

    I hope I don’t have to wait for peace until I find out some karmic retribution has been visited on the hiring committee – that could be years! In any case the rumours are still circulating, and more speculation has been repeated to me – what if the first person they offer it to ends up not working out? For now I’m still processing processing processing. Thanks again – noquay, rev, suki, dancingqueen, rosie, oregongirl – for responding to my thoughts as I write them out.

    • Poppy says:

      Magnolia, What was your karma story on the AC? I’ve read that it may not happen in this lifetime so we may not be around to see it. I’m glad you did.

      Oh and I do believe there is better out there for you. By what I know from your posts you seem like a remarkable, intelligent woman who deserves the best. F*** em.

      • jewells says:

        I have a karma story! A year after the shite hit the fan and ended the fantasy relationship with the fast forwarding future faking MM, he wound up getting three days on the same gig I was permanently on last fall. Anyhoo, I sucked it to see and talked with him on the first day…only to have him try and B.S. me and play the same pity party play that a year before worked to get him into my life, to attempt to gain my forgiveness. He also proceeded to tell me how he and his wife were concerned how I would react to his presence – apparently he has been afraid of me physically attacking him. Now, considering I’ve done nothing to warrant this fear, I see it as another tool he uses to devalue me. Lucky for me, I figured out what he was trying to do and laid it straight back on him. So, come the second day, I ignored him completely, and the few times our paths crossed, I got ‘mr so so sad face’. And then later in the day, I found out that he’d slipped, fallen, and dislocated a finger and banged his head good. I feel mean in a way, but that just made me laugh. The bozo tries to paint me as a psycho and then winds up doing to himself what he expected and yet did not recieve from me. Things that make you go hmmmmmm……

        • Poppy says:

          It appears in the most mysterious ways but when it does it can be a turning point. What a brilliant post this would be?

          • jewells says:

            I just have to add that I am so grateful for my baggage reclaim education for being able to figure out what he was doing and not play ball in his park again. He tried the pity play – hell it worked before, why not? He also tried to play the ‘friend’ card as if the notion of us being friends ‘sometime’ in the future was promise enough for letting him off the hook for his behaviour. I just remember somewhere in an old post that someone made an astute oberservation ‘you know you’ve had a run in with a psychopath when you get screwed over but end up feeling sorry for them’. That hit the nail on the head for me so his ‘so so sad face’ had no effect on me, (except a level of disgust that I had difficulty keeping from MY face), that I think he may have been thrown by my reaction which led to his carelessness and fall.
            Bottom Line: I did not respond to his emotional manipulations the way he wanted/expected me to. He cracked.

      • Magnolia says:


        He was deceitful and arrogant with me, but had a high-profile job where it seemed he could do no wrong and was celebrated for being one of the good guys in the harsh investment capital world.

        I always felt confused that others seemed to think so highly of him and that he was a leader in “social entrepreneurship.” There was little one-on-one empathy in the guy for me.

        I ran into him 18 months after we’d split and he wanted to tell me how his job had recently done him wrong – he’d been escorted out of the VP’s office I’d once helped him move into. He insisted they were mistaken/out to get him.

        I was glad to hear it, and just made hmm hmm noises as he told his story in a self-focused monologue. Good to see you, I said when he left, and meant it, because he’d closed the story for me. It just took the company a bit longer than a woman to come to their senses and break up with him.

        • Poppy says:

          Thank you for sharing that Magnolia. It does take time and I hope you will get your karma in this situation too. It was a pleasure to read your story to know that these jerks unfold to others and the bubble of pretence they exist in is, quite frankly, popped right in their face.

  29. Phoenix says:

    Thank you for your kind comments – so nice to hear some positive feedback! Congratulations on N/C since October! I started N/C in November but caved in over the holidays as he played the pity card. So as of my post I am starting again – this time with a smile on my face and in my heart as I know without a doubt that this is what’s best for ME ! Take care xoxo

  30. Peanut says:

    I realized my last sticking point with the ex: I feel a healthy man will never be able to accept my past.

    My mother was sick then shot and killed herself when I was young, so I got stuck with my addict father. I followed in his footsteps: Drinking, lots of drugs, promiscuity, fights, etc.

    After an std, an abortion, and overdosing several times by the age of seventeen, I was near a goner. Then my father begrudgingly went to rehab.

    I moved in with my grandparents to finish high school. After I graduated, I moved away for college and finished my Bachelor of Arts degree before moving back to my hometown to be with my grandparents and dog.

    I am twenty-nine and am in school again for art (my love) and soon to be music (my other love/I’ve been signing most of my life).

    I have a clean bill of sexual health, have abstained from sex for near a decade, and only had one bf (the one that brought me here) in the last seven years.

    I’m pretty, talented, and sometimes funny. I don’t go for the men I am really attracted to (sweet and smart) because I am afraid I will be rejected on account of my past.

    From life, I really just want a nice, safe home, a respectable career in the arts, a baby and marriage with a nice, warm man I can stay in and cuddle with, watch movies, eat, cook, do nerdy stuff with, etc. I avoid any chance with a man like this because I’m afraid if I go for someone I’m really interested in and it doesn’t work I won’t recover. This last go was hard enough.

    • dancingqueen says:


      You don’t need to have anyone “accept” your past; you need to accept it. It is nobody’s business to play judge and jury for your “sins” that were not even sins but just natural reactions from growing up the way you did. That is a textbook case of social conditioning which you, yourself, broke the cycle on.

      Look I did some of the same things. Was promiscuous in my 20′s due to some sexual abuse ( not from my family but from a foster family), felt ashamed because I was in foster care for a few years ( like that was my fault? Plus I ended up with a decent foster family eventually that I am still in touch with). I felt such shame; it took me until 28 to go back to college, years to figure out that most of the men that I had slept with in my 20′s were because I just was afraid to say no…now where am I? Happy home owner of cute little Tudor cottage, happy foreign language and English literature teacher, decent credit ( except for high debt ratio for school)…hobbies, nice friends; tell me, what would be the point of telling some dude about the fact that I slept with too many people in my 20′s and did some recreational drug use? Is that really important when there is no medical concern brought about by this? It is about as important as saying “You know, in my twenties, I once at a lot of chocolate and bagels. I was addicted to bagels and just ate them every day, not realizing how unhealthy they were.” ( true btw;) ). As women, we “prioritize” our “sins” based on a misogynistic agenda that we have mostly learned, from our religions and society. No man would feel the need to “admit” that he slept around, if anything, that would be a point of pride. Furthermore, if a few years or months down the road you feel the need to share that, there are great people who will accept that. They also have their own skeletons. It is not the big deal that you think it is. Stop being ashamed about the things that you did, that helped you, in some way, even if they were ill-chosen. They were incorrectly chosen coping mechanisms, that is all.

    • simple pleasures says:

      Peanut, ok, you have some baggage to reclaim, glad you’re here with your passion for art and music which touch humanity beyond words. Your story is traumatic, but all of us at age 29 would be saying, “in my youth, here’s all the crap I did, the mistakes I made, the sorrow I’ve felt”. You don’t have to reveal all the details, but I’m sure Mr. person you meet will say, “well, I did a thing or too in my day…” And because you are witty, and funny, and talented, and now thoughtful
      about your life, someone will love you.
      Teenage years are history. What I read in you post is a fear that someone will not forgive your past. Mr.Someone will. But you have to forgive yourself first. That’s the next big step to reclaim your baggage.

    • Pauline says:


      You’re not that little girl anymore and never will be again. None of what happened to you was your fault when you were growing up, you had absolutely no control over anything that any significant adults in your life were doing at that time.

      I’ve read a lot of your posts over the last couple of years and you are one brave, bright, intelligent woman who has made something rather wonderful for yourself and your future.
      The past is gone and can’t be changed so let it lie, it has nothing to do with YOU anymore. On a practical note, why do you have to tell a new man all the dark doings from when you were so young, what’s that going to prove? Many of us have walked down some pretty murky paths on the way to growing up and becoming an adult, myself included. I don’t think it’s necessary to burden someone with a whole lot of horrible stuff and they won’t thank you for it. If you must tell give whoever a very brief and laundered version of something you prefer to forget.
      You’re not that girl anymore.

    • LovefromNel says:

      Dear Peanut,

      You do not need to explain or justify anything, to anyone, about your past.

      We are roughly the same age; and I have done most of the things you’ve done, but I’ve had none of the ‘explaining factors’, like you have had, to push me there – so to speak.

      Does that make me any more silly or ashamed of my past? No. Of course I regret many of the things I’ve done, but I also have to remember that life is one big learning curve, isn’t it? We’re young, we’re growing, we’re remembering, we’re learning. We’re here.

      If someone rejects you because of your past, they need to be rejected in the first place. A good man won’t do that, though – he will see you for the beautiful person that you are.

      And you sound like you’ve come a very long way. Don’t forget that. Be proud of who you are, and what you’ve accomplished already, and what you’re achieving now – despite the setbacks of the past. Try to think from that angle. A bit of a ‘wow’ – this is a true success story, Peanut, go you good thing.

      I understand about the unwillingness to take the risk because if it doesn’t work, it is hard to recover. But remember your strength. You have oodles of it. But don’t be unwilling to fall in love because of the risk of being rejected on account of your past. Because that’s part of you, and it’s made you into the wonderful, aware, strong person that you are.

      Best wishes to you.

      Love Nel

      • Rosie says:

        Peanut- I want to repeat what LovefromNel writes here:

        “I understand about the unwillingness to take the risk because if it doesn’t work, it is hard to recover. But remember your strength. You have oodles of it. But don’t be unwilling to fall in love because of the risk of being rejected on account of your past. Because that’s part of you, and it’s made you into the wonderful, aware, strong person that you are.”

        Please, please, please don’t betray your heart again by refusing its desire to be vulnerable to somebody. I didn’t know it at the time but my emotional unavailability (at least, much of it) came from the fear of rejection, the fear of being vulnerable, of having my heart and body squashed like a bug for the “crime” of liking some guy or for being lonely and wanting friends.

        Do you know what’s kinda funny, Peanut? You’re afraid of being judged by your past promiscuity and drug use and some other decisions you made at that time but I get judged for the opposite. I’m no virgin, but, including my weak moment in July, I’ve only had sex with three men and I’m 45. Prior to last July, I hadn’t had sex since 1999 (when I found religion, though there was much spiritualized dysfunction in that, but that’s another story). Talk about feeling like a weirdo!

        Anyway, Peanut, I guess my point is that ignorant, condescending people will always find a reason to look down on you. Here I am with a past that is totally opposite of yours and I find you an incredibly intelligent, insightful, honest, capable of vulnerability, and very, very strong. You broke the familial pattern, Peanut!!! Do you have any idea of the significance of what you’ve done??? Do you know how rare that is??? You deserve respect, Peanut, especially from yourself.

  31. noquay says:

    Your story to Poppy sounds an awful lot like what happened to the at work AC. The golden boy who could do no wrong nearly got fired. Unfortunately senior faculty are hard to get rid of here. Karma did come but good to the institution I was at before; they’d changed the job description to get a rising star type which eliminated Noquay entirely then would talk about the search at our department meetings as though Noquay wasn’t there. Rising star with serious grant funding showed up, accepted the job, then bailed just before the school year started. They wanted me to stay another semester; nope, sorry, I just accepted another job offer. I owed them nothing and was still angry at having to hide my breast cancer to avoid being fired. A week later, there was a front page story about how two tenure heads were quitting because of the huge difference between the cost of living there and their salaries and how it was impossible to keep staff around due to the same issue and how some of our staff and students were living in their cars because that’s all they could afford. I had lived in a two room cabin sans plumbing there and considered myself fortunate though my colleagues looked upon me as though I was dirt. When the recession hit a year later, the city and the institution really took it in the shorts. Karma. Was thinking about what you’d written about minority faculty; there are two of us minority folk on our faculty, it’s true; we are held to a much higher standard, we are the ones asked to do more, we are both heading departments,serving on many ccommittees, and hold our students to the highest academic standards.

  32. Stacey says:

    my ex eum contacted me last weekend (we had been NC for 3 months) asking me if I was ready to try to be friends and that his relationship had ended. He said since that is why we stopped be friends, I thought I would touch base with you. I was pissed off. That wasn’t the only reason… In the past I would have said maybe or even yes because I didn’t want to let him down, but I told him no. They are already back together … so…I am glad I said no…and I know that its not the last text I will get from him but for now, at least he knows my answer is no. I just want the feelings to be gone. I am done dealing with this. I am in a much better place then I was 3 months ago when we started NC. But I don’t want to think about him anymore, I don’t want to have something happen in my life and think oh I need to tell him, oh wait I can’t. etc etc….we were such big parts of each others lives for 2.5 years….and I still have some habits…seeing something at a store and wanting to tell him its on sale, or something about a car, or…I know this is normal but I am ready for it to all go away.

  33. Peanut says:

    Dancingqueen, Simple Pleasures, Pauline,

    I read your responses with tears streaming down my face. When I dated in the past, I’d present myself as damaged initially as to not be “found out.” All that did was set me up for men that used that to their advantage by justifying their bad behavior toward me.

    I now see it doesn’t make sense to take up with a man who has a shady past, present, and future because I’m ashamed of my past. It’s like I’d go, “He’s so far gone, he can’t possibly care about my past.” But still these men would give me a hard time about it no matter the current vileness in their lives.

    I see I’ve got to get over the shame myself and not wait around for somebody to make me feel better about it.

    • Elgie R. says:

      The right man won’t hold you to task for mistakes you made before “him”. He will have already inculcated via living his life that “Nobody’s perfect” – not you, not him. Besides, relationships should unfold slowly, giving you a chance to learn about him and his imperfect past, and him a chance to learn about you and your imperfect past. And why are you “confessing” anyway…..?…..especially early on, when you do not have enough time and evidence to be sure you are in an emotionally safe place.

      If you find yourself with a mate who judges you harshly for your past, it’s the wrong mate for you.

      People who seek “perfection” in their mates scare me. They’re one step away from a starring role in a forensic television show!

  34. teachable says:


    If I was a drinking woman, I would pour you a short shot of scotch on the rocks, straight up. We would then sit on the balcony of said racist institution (after hours), & watch the sun go down, a la LA Law I think it was, with William Shatner.

    You would say, ‘why oh why Teach, I really gave it my all & I know I was the stronger candidate.’ I would stare whistfully into the horizon & then turn & meaningfully say, ‘bastards Mags, some ppl are just bastards.’

    ~down shots & fade to black~

    (Only one shot though. We are career gals, not alcoholics! lol)

    Big hugs xx

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!

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!