There doesn't have to be an acA few days ago, I got a mini telling off from my mother over something I hadn’t done. I instinctively felt defensive when she raised the subject because I momentarily switched to being teenage Nat that felt as if her mother was riding her arse like Zorro with criticism and judgements, morning, noon, and night. That was until I remembered that I’m thirty-six years old… and that she had totally gotten the wrong end of the stick.

Now in olden times, not only would I have felt defensive but I would have responded defensively which in turn would have set her off even more and then it would have spiraled into something far bigger than it needed to be. On one hand, I would have recognised that I hadn’t done what I was being accused of but then on the other, I would have felt wrong and that would have paved the way to all sorts of internal criticism, anger, shame, etc.

Instead, I smiled, tried my best to restrain laughter (the whole thing was ridiculous and she was doing the whole annoying mammy thing of ‘What will the neighbours / family / every Tom, Dick, and Harry and the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker say/think?’ thing (this could be me in years to come…), and I calmly explained with no justifications the correct version of events.

But here’s the funny thing: She was actually aware of the correct version of events but was telling me off for what she had imagined was going on! What the what now?

That’s when I started laughing and thankfully this diffused the situation because admittedly, if I’d had to keep defending myself for the fact that her imagination had conjured up something, I would have become annoyed because the truth shall set you free. Once you know that you’re off base, let you know this instead of reliving the pain or the perception of the threat. You have to take ownership of your feelings and imagination.

I see this all of the time and have done it myself – I’ve been abandoned, under attack, powerless, and hurt more times in my imagination than I ever have in real life.

When we feel angry and afraid, we can end up imagining all sorts of scenarios that may feel more torturous than the reality of what’s going on. We can be surprisingly adept at creating our own pain. We forget that there doesn’t have to be an actual threat in order to feel angry or afraid.

I remember one reader telling me that she was having a great time with a guy that she was dating but had already imagined the entire relationship and put herself through the torture of an imagined breakup numerous times. Sometimes, when the girls or Em aren’t back home in time, I wind myself up by imagining that something bad has happened. Just like the person who is imagining all sorts of drama (threats) but is afraid of clarifying what’s going on, I veer between fearing that I’ll sound like a lunatic if I voice my concerns, that I won’t be able to get through, or fearing that the worst has already happened.

I’ve learned to recognise when I’m doing this and have dialed it down, waaaay down. It’s not worth the anxiety. 

I only have to start reliving the whole wedding debacle with my father and his family to start feeling hurt all over again and it was recognising this last year that prompted me to consciously choose to step away from it because like many people, sometimes I dwell on stuff just to fill in time or even just to have a drama moment. We chase the thoughts and the feelings.  If things didn’t ‘close’ as we would have liked, pursuing our imagined scenerios keeps the case open and our hurt feelings too. There was no actual threat taking place at that moment in time. If I can feel myself getting worked up, that’s my cue to come back to earth.

What these experiences have taught me is that there doesn’t have to be an actual threat in order for fear and anger feelings to be created. If we can create them, we can also make them go away. We don’t have to rely on others to do this.

Our imaginations can do a very good job of scaring the beejaysus out of us and creating Dynasty levels of drama. In our heads, we’re imagining that a person is ignoring us or out to destroy us when in reality, they may be caught up in their own thoughts or not doing what we think that they’re doing. Or the situation may be done already so we may be revisiting it to give ourselves a hard time. Ironically, while we can be prone to overactive imaginations, we can be reluctant to respond to real threats.

For our own peace of mind, it’s critical to distinguish between real and imagined threats and to know when to pull the plug on the drama playing out in our head and come back to earth. We can’t stop our feelings but we can be in control of how much they rule us and how much reality they’re fed.

It’s annoying and frustrating to burn up time, energy and emotions imagining all sorts of injustices, only to discover that you’re way off base. If you find it difficult to admit that you’ve misjudged someone’s actions / intentions or a situation, you’ll find it difficult to back away from your feelings and all of that ‘expenditure’ and instead may persist in trying to validate the rightness of your feelings because you operate on a I Felt As If There Was A Threat and I’m In Pain So It Must Be So mentality. You’ll want a return on investment. Even if, like my mother, you recognise that you’ve got it wrong, you may still feel wounded by your imagination and may want to keep referencing it and saying about how worried / upset / angry you were or just retelling the story of what you’d imagined, and all of this gives more airtime to your imagination and BS than it does to reality.

Your thoughts?


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.

FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites

167 Responses to Our imaginations can do a very good job of scaring us and creating Dynasty levels of drama in our heads

  1. Spinster says:

    Oh man… if this isn’t me, don’t know what is. :-| Getting better with this, but still working on it. Great post; thanks for sharing your personal experiences to make a great point.

  2. McKenzieM says:

    Wonderful post! After dealing with numerous ACs and EUMs (including the worst one who was my epiphany “relationshit”) and going through a ton of inner healing, therapy, etc., I am FINALLY dating an amazing guy. I am super happy, but at times find myself doing what this post discusses. Thankfully, I have reached the point where I can recognize and contain it when I’m having what I like I refer to as an “attack of the crazies”. I am so thankful for this blog. It has helped me tremendously. It has prevented me from sabotaging mu new relationship by engaging in the self-fulfilling prophecy based on poor choice made in the past.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      When you’ve had a series of bad relationships or even just one that was particularly devastating, it’s difficult to imagine a happy one. Oftentimes, when we meet someone new and have a very positive response to them. Right away, we begin imagining that he’s a the wolf in sheep’s clothing. This is normal, but we have to find our own ways of controlling this. It’s difficult because we are the sum total of our experiences. Learning to THINK before voicing or acting in reponse to what we imagine, and using MODERATION is a step toward resolving this tendency.

  3. Ann H. says:

    Gosh, I wish I’d read this about an hour ago – just had a horrible night with my boyfriend because I’d done exactly this. He’s been having a nasty bout of depression, and I’ve been taking it to mean he’s losing interest in me. Well, sure! He’s losing interest in everything, just like it goes with depression.. sigh.

    I think my biggest challenge with this, though, is managing my anxiety while still acknowledging that the things I’m afraid of might actually still come to pass – e.g. I might worry that my bf is losing interest. Maybe he really is, or will. That still doesn’t mean I should let my anxiety get out of line, and it doesn’t mean that therefore every anxious moment should be taken as possible or real!

  4. LovefromNel says:

    Thank you so much for this enlightening post, Natalie. It is me to a tee! After my latest EUM disaster, I was chatting to a friend (a crumbs friendship, but that’s another story!) who said to me – “there is so much going on in your head!” – to which I responded with “don’t you imagine things also? Don’t you imagine the way things might turn out?” She told me that she doesn’t even read novels because she can’t imagine anything in her head. Now, I don’t want to EVER be at that extreme end of the spectrum, but I certainly don’t want to be living in my over-imaginative imagination, either, to the point I’m out of reality, and creating so much drama that doesn’t even exist. Thanks again all. I am getting better and stronger and wiser each day. xo

  5. Beth Venus says:

    This article was really timely for me, thank you <3 It brought me back to Earth!

  6. stephanie says:

    I remember feeling this way when I stop dating my AC. I would get this feeling whenever I suspected that a guy I was dating exhibited the same behavior patterns. But this was all in my mind and I had to snap out of it. This is when I took a break from dating to collect my thoughts. Thank god I work thru it and I am much better.

  7. Peanut says:

    I did it again. I picked a less than great choice of a man to fawn over. I added him as a friend via Facebook at a mutual friend’s urging, just as a friendly interest of course. Then he messaged me. He is bitingly sarcastic and dry which is my kryptonite. I bit back (took the bait) and we’ve been messaging via Facebook for about over a week. It’s mostly about art stuff. I’m usually the one that takes it to a more personal level. He reminds me of my ex. I am so lonely in this town (I did try meetup and won’t go into why it was a really sad experience.)

    I have next to no friends in this town and I’m constantly being rejected in social situations. Over and over and over again. It’s not me or in my head. I live in one of the most socially hopeless cities (I’ve lived elsewhere and it was nothing like this.) I’m not going to leave, as I have a school commitment for the next few years.

    I’m projecting all my friend needs into this faceless Facebook persona. And it is very one sided. He can be inappropriatelty sarcastic, but if I take it there, he disappears. And I feel like shit and so embarrassed for the things I have said. I feel I’ve made such a fool of myself, that it doesn’t matter if I stop now. I liked the attention. I feel I get none. Yes, I give it to myself, but I’m breaking under all this solitude.

    I will say, I get so much more noticeably angry at this guy’s shiftiness. Which is good I think. I want to flush, but I feel so guilty. Just. Like. With. My. Ex. The most predominant emotion on my end was guilt at taking action and doing what was best for me — leaving.

    • Allison says:


      You’ve only known this guy a week. Remember he is not a friend, nor do you owe him anything.


      • Allison says:


        Why don’t you reach out to your friends out of state? Try other Meetups or clubs in your school.

    • Wiser says:

      Peanut, I too am a sucker for the witty banter, the sarcastic humor and the quick mind. Interacting with people like that is so fun and amusing, even exciting for cerebral types like me. It’s a huge attraction. But it took me a long time to realize that being glib and verbally fascinating has NOTHING to do with whether a person can be loving, kind or even make a decent friend. Those dry people are often dry for a reason – they’re a dry well and it’s hopeless to go to them looking for water. Biting sarcasm can turn on you in a flash. Sounds like it already has in your case. As lonely as you are, you DON’T NEED THIS. And you owe him nothing.

      • Peanut says:

        Wiser, thank you and thank you ladies.

        Ya’ll are right. It’s funny because I am often the one initiating and trying to get this person to engage in conversation. Like I’m pursing him, even if it is on a platonic level.

        We have messaged over movies since. I watched two that he recommended and did not like them and was respectfully frank about it in a message (nothing on his end). I think he might flush me! All the better. I’m so self centered in the best possible sense and have so many individual projects coming up on my free time, it wouldn’t surprise me if I just forgot about him. We’ve never met.

        It’s so weird, normally or used to, this kind of stuff would send me to such an anxiety ridden state. I’m a little uncomfortable in my gut (alarm bells much?), but all else, I’m fine.

        I also had to be very upfront with a friend out of the states who I’ve been trying to help see the light with her EUM. Not happening and she’s taken up being disrespectful with me. I can’t give anymore.

        That said, I’m alone in this weird city and I’m kind of okay with that, as it’s helping me develop more spiritually and individually. There are some things going on socially tomorrow that I plan to go to by myself, which is just fine by me, because I like myself and my own company.

  8. Lisa says:

    Wow! This could not have been
    More timely for me. I have been spinning crazy scenarios through my head about my boyfriend and I. Because of my past dealings I tend to expect the worst. When something is of the norm I imagine the worst. Thank God I don’t act on it like I have in my past he would run screaming !!

  9. noquay says:

    I am often guilty of this, perhaps because I had been under attack a lot by hypercritical advisors, parents, ACs, so I become really defensive although I hide it well. Now I focus on avoiding persons who make me feel defensive such as when the AC publicly disses me or situations that I have learned make me sad, upset, remind me I am involuntarily alone such as the holidays.

  10. Sandy D says:

    Painfully true. But it feels good to be more aware of it.

  11. LadyL says:

    I’ve done this.

  12. ShepN7 says:

    I have the job I have wanted since 2004 yet am now unhappy out of fear that I will lose the job. Part of me is in overdrive finding ‘evidence’ for my fears. Very timely article!

  13. micheyl says:

    Ugh, I am so guilty of this… I just started dating someone new. Seems like a nice guy. But he went out of town and said he’d call. He did but I didn’t get it. Then when I called back, I left a message. He didn’t try to call back for 2 days. My mind started imagining all sorts of horrible things. Turns out his phone died and he didn’t have a charger (in back country – snow boarding). I kept thinking – am I feeling anxiety because of the ex EUM? Is this a carry over? Of course it was. I felt such relief when I found out new guy’s story. But then it left me wondering – Ack! Am I not ready to date like this? I am forming feelings for this guy. But instead of trusting that he is a nice guy, I go straight to the shitty things the EUM did. Fuck. I just want to feel normal.

    I also do this with my kids. I am much better now. I keep reminding myself – worrying is like praying for what you DON”T want to happen. But I used to imagine horrible scenarios involving my daughters and then I’d cry like it really happened! Yes, I am in therapy, thank you. It is helping. Haha. I don’t do this quite as often

    • Little Star says:


      You are right, I think we so used to shitty behaviour that now we expect every guy to behave like our previous ACs! So hard to trust again! Lucky you, at least you met someone decent, all the best to you ;)

      • micheyl says:

        Thanks Little Star – here’s hoping! Time will tell. I am trying to live in the moment, not rush to dramas in my head – fantasies, good or bad. Why is it so hard to let things “unfold” naturally? I thought that’s what I did last time with EUM, but of course his future faking didn’t help. I just don’t want to jump on this guy unfairly. He mentioned going to the mountains over my Christmas break to ski and I thought later – was he future faking??? Then remembered my winter break is only a couple weeks away! Haha. I guess that’s not too far into the future.

        Digs, I think you and I need to take some meditation classes together if we are going to continue dating people. ;)

  14. Digs says:

    ……. getting up, walking over to the window, and closing the blinds, because obviously there’s a spy outside of my window……..

    Yes, this is me. I have an incredible imagination. It serves me well in so many ways, but always kills off relationships. When there are blanks in the story, I don’t investigate, I make up my own version of the story and watch it play out in my mind, and then react as if it’s happened. I create an entire crime scene, trial, and sentencing, all in my head.

    I met someone a couple of months ago on an online dating site. He seems very nice, and he’s everything that I am looking for (so it seems so far). I have come a LONG way in the past two years since finding this site, and I have made a lot of positive changes, but right now I am still struggling with a couple of things – fast forwarding myself, and letting my imagination run wild / feeding the drama dragon.

    The guy that I met is going at a snail’s pace. The first date went really well, and then I went a little text-crazy (after all, we were destined to be together hahahahaha), so I reeled myself in, and we had another date a week later, after which he said that it takes time to know if there is anything more than friendship. I think I scared him a bit lol. So I went about dating others, and we exchanged a text or email every few weeks, but I didn’t put any thought or effort into seeing him again (I was able to keep my imagination at bay yay!), and he asked me out again several weeks later. That went well and I didn’t go text crazy this time (did really well with that imagination thing…was so proud) and he asked me out for a fourth date for the following week. The fourth date was great, but we ended up having sex (I was comfortable with it, and felt no pressure from him, but when you have my imagination, it comes with a cost). I fast forwarded myself and got over keen with the texts the next day (not in a crazy way, just too much too soon…over enthusiastic). He pulled back, so I went about creating the crime scene:

    - he isn’t into me and he just won’t come out and tell me
    - he’s using me to pass time until he finds someone that he really likes
    - I totally messed up that date. I shouldn’t have dropped the F-bomb. My muffin top turned him off. Why did I wear that shirt? I am not enough of a challenge. I should have acted more cool. Why did I text him? I shouldn’t have texted him, I should have let him text me. Should I text him and apologize for texting him? Why am I such a WHOOOOORE??!?!?

    I spent 3 days googling the situation, and having imaginary conversations with him, which ranged from a nasty parting of ways, to laughing about it with our grandchildren.

    Cray Cray!!!! I recognize it and can laugh at it. But it’s exhausting having this nutbar live in my head.

    Last night I sent him a message that said that I may be misreading things, but that I got the feeling that he wasn’t keen on hearing from me, so I was going to leave the ball in his court, if he wanted to get together again sometime, to give me a call. He replied that it wasn’t that he wasn’t keen on hearing from me, but that he felt that having sex may have sent the message that he was ready to commit and be exclusive, and that he wasn’t ready for that at this point. He wanted to get together sometimes, as long as we were on the same page (and more than happy to without having sex). I replied that I was fine to get together, but that I wasn’t looking for FWB, or hanging out to pass time because there’s nothing better to do, so as long as we were both dating with the possibility of a relationship, I was good with that.

    So now either he thinks I need to be evaluated by a professional, or else we will continue to date. But how simple was that…to just address the issue, instead of making up all kinds of storylines in my head. I could have saved myself a ton of heartache, and googling.

    So…if this guy asks me out again…. I am going to need help. I need to know how to “slow my roll”. I am also unsure how long it’s supposed to take him to know that he wants to date me exclusively? I don’t want to rush, but I don’t want to be a “passing time candidate”. I am clueless about this, because in the past, I have been drawn to relationships that took off like a rocket (and crashed and burned with a huge cloud of toxic dust). This guy wants to take it slow. Is it because he’s not that into me? I have never, ever, felt that he was using me for sex, so I am not worried about that. But am I a “Mrs. Right Now until I find a really hot chick”? At what point do I decide that? Dating isn’t for sissies. And fear mixed with imagination can be dangerous.

    • AmandathePanda says:

      Hi Digs…. I recently pursued a relationship with a guy that told me he wasn’t in a position to commit for the first few dates until he realised that I didn’t give a toss and would hang on in there anyway. This gave giving him all the benefits with none of the effort, allowing him to sleep with me, and give the outward appearance of a relationship whilst all the time he knew that he had put me on notice. I think Natalie calls it betting on potential.

      I think it’s pretty simple. Unless I have misunderstood, you want a relationship. He doesn’t. That means that you want different things and for me (only since finding BR mind you!!) that would be a Red Flag as opposed to a challenge. If I were you I would invite him to stay in touch if he wants to, but carry on dating…

      • Digs says:

        I have been in this position before too and it’s brutal, that’s why I am so afraid of it happening again. I am unsure of how to proceed, so that I’m not putting myself in the path of certain heartache. He didn’t say that he isn’t looking for a relationship, just that he’s not ready to commit to exclusivity, which for all I know might be perfectly normal for four dates. I am torn…on one hand I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but on the other I don’t want to be made a fool of again.

        I put my profile back up (I had taken it down a month ago….having nothing to do with him, it’s just that I had made contact with a couple of people and didn’t have time/headspace for any more). I definitely won’t be sitting around waiting on him. But do I go out with him again if he asks…that’s where I’m sort of lost. I don’t want to be “good enough for now girl”.

        • Tinkerbell says:


          Don’t take this so seriously. Just relax and have fun. Of curse, if he’s worth your time and you like him enough, why say “No”? But, DO NOT go to bed with him because then you’ll be agreeing to FWB relationship by your actions. He’s not ready to be committed so don’t behave as if YOU are. I suggest an activity, i.e, bowling, skating, etc. Less tension and pressure on you both. I think you can learn more about a person that way than sitting across from him at the dinner table.

          • Tinkerbell says:


            You’re overthinking. This guy has not given you enough substance for you to be getting in so deep so fast. I really mean it when I say you need to go on an active date, or even double date. You need to start getting to know him better and see him in a variety of situations that are not “staged”, like going out to dinner. Right now, you haven’t experienced different sides of him so you don’t really know if you like him or not in a romantic way. He may just qualify as a friend (without benefits). Don’t assume it will be a passionate love affair just because you want that. It’s okay to want a serious, long and loving relationship, but give yourself time to find out if he is right for YOU. You’re too worried about whether you are right for him. Okay, Ms. Queen? Ponder on that.

      • Digs says:

        I should also mention that I dated another guy who, on the second date, told me that he could see himself spending the rest of his life with me. Yikes. I’m not sure what’s scarier – someone committing on date two, or someone not committing on date four. One of them feels more comfortable….but that’s an illusion and I am trying to break this pattern. I am trying to balance being realistic, with snuffing out someone who is going to waste my time and break my heart.

    • Tinkerbell says:


      Did he push you for sex the first time? Or did you sort of engineer the situation that would inevitably lead to sex? It sounds like he thought it was kinda soon to be getting that involved. I believe there are some men (not many) who feel sex should be reserved for a committed relationship and not to just flop into to bed with someone because you’ve been enjoying their company. Please step back. Stop texting. Continue dating other men so that what happens with his will not be the beginning or the end of your world. Just because he is taking it slow doesn’t mean he’s not interested. I don’t think he would have asked you out 4 times if there was not some interest. However, that interest can wane if you appear too eager. Try to follow his example and slow down. This may have a chance of being a very good relationship for you. But, you will never know if you don’t wise up and play your cards right. It may help to imagine yourself as a queen and he is simply one of your subjects. But, of course, that’s just for YOU. Don’t start treating him that way.

      • SearchingForSatori says:

        I took a break from dating back in June because I had all the same EXACT thoughts going on in my head that Digs does. So, I figured I wasn’t in a good frame of mind to date and needed to do more work. When I AM ready, though, I will try the queen visualization. LOVE that!

      • Digs says:

        He definitely didn’t push for sex. We had a lot to drink and it just happened. I agree that not all men are all for NSA sex, and I truly believe that he’s one of them. We had talked about our sexual values on an earlier date and he said that he’s not a casual sex sort of guy, and prefers to wait until there’s a commitment. He said in his message about not being ready to commit, that it wasn’t his intent to have sex, and that it normally means commitment to him, which he’s not ready for right now. I genuinely believe that it was not his intent to have sex without any consideration for the consequence. We were both intoxicated, the chemistry was strong….and well…

        OK I’m going to be a queen now ;) I am honestly so over being with men who make me feel like less-than. So it’s time for me to see myself as the catch that I am :)

        • Tinkerbell says:

          Amen, amen! Be the queen. And please remember queens don’t drink too much and lower respect for themselves and from their subjects. Rise above such mundane activities. You can drink, but just know when you’ve had enough so you don’t make compromises that you would not have planned on. A man cannot make you feel “less than”, honey, one does that to him/herself. Good luck!

      • micheyl says:

        LOL Tink, I think I want to treat men like they are my subjects! Dang, much less anxiety that way ;)

  15. C says:

    Somehow, this blog always knows exactly what I’m going through, and provides the most helpful advice.

    thanks, Natalie!

  16. grace says:

    It’s a lot of overthinking for 4 dates.
    You cannot possibly know he’s everything you’re looking for after, what is it, a month? I would say that takes a year of seeing each other frequently, and the right person won’be be everything you’re looking for but 70% of what you’re looking for and some compromises (on both sides).
    It’s a bit late now, but slowing your roll would mean not having sex until you’re exclusive, not waiting until after. I don’t know how to go back to a “before sex” situation after you’ve had sex.
    I would leave the ball in his court and continue to date other people if that suits you.
    Try to stop analysing what he does, doesn’t do, might be thinking, what you should to, and stop explaining yourself to him. You haven’t done anything wrong but you’ve done everythng you can, and any more is going to look like chasing and make you feel desperate even if you’re not.
    It’s clear that AT THIS POINT you two are not in a relationship and he is seeing other women, so you should give it the commitment and attention it deserves (not much).

    • Digs says:

      100% agree – this is waaay too much thinking for four dates. I was burnt so badly by two men, back to back, that I don’t trust anything or anyone, or even myself right now, so I am analying the heck out of every move, so that I don’t get caught off guard this time.

      It will not be hard to go back to before sex…he expressed regret in having had sex, and made it clear that it’s not something that would happen again outside of a committment, even though he’d like to get together again. I really do think that he’s actually a decent guy.

      I won’t be contacting him again. I feel like an idiot for one, and I really don’t feel like being this anxious anymore. The old me would have tried everything to get him to notice me, and taken this even more personally. Now, it’s not that I take his rejection as a measure of my worth, I just don’t want to waste my time….I’ve gotten a bit trigger happy unfortunately. I’m ready to bolt at the first sign (real or imagined) of anything shady.

      • Tinkerbell says:


        For goodness sakes he hasn’t rejected you? Where are you getting that message from. Slow your roll, girl. He’s a different person. It’s normal to feel anxious but you gotta work to control it. Are you seeing a therapist? Not saying you should, just wondering.

        • Digs says:

          lol…no I really *should* see a therapist ;) I have been. I have made great strides (hard to believe huh lol) My self esteem was so bad a couple of years ago that it scares me to think about it. I am a long way from that, but I do have a long way to go yet (clearly). I am still much too afraid of rejection, and I have the attitude that I will bolt if I get the slightest whiff of rejection. Much like when I was a young girl, and my father would take me for rides in the canoe on the river. When I saw rapids up ahead, I figured that the boat was going to flip over, so I would jump out of the boat.

          To me, if he was *really* interested, he wouldn’t have waited 6 weeks between date 2 and 3. He’s be in touch more. He’d want to see me weekly at least. But…every time I get over eager, as you say, he backs WAAAY off. So we’ll see if he approaches again. I am backing off now….

          • Tinkerbell says:

            Good, Digs. Back off. I agree that he seems pretty lukewarm about dating you, but have no fear, time will tell as it always does. He’ll either fade out or get more intense. If you keep active and busy doing what you enjoy and being with other people, that’ll cut down on your feeling like a “passing time candidate”? Don’t you think?

          • A says:


            I agree about the gap between dates – unless he was out of town or something, I would expect a man who is interested to suggest meeting up again sooner.

            Also, the phrasing of how he wants to move ahead sounds a bit off to me. If he felt that you guys slept together too soon but still wanted to get to know you better, he could suggest continuing dating but taking it slow. From what I read this sounded like more of a blanket “I’m not ready for a relationship but we could hang out”. I’m getting a casual vibe.

            • Allison says:

              Agree with A.

              I would think you guys would see one another at least once a week, especially after being intimate. His actions are a bit too casual, I think I might write this one off, and move on.

              • Digs says:

                Once a week is enough for me right now – between my job, being a single mom, my friends and hobbies, and renovating a house, it’s all I have to give, or want to give, at this point. I have a date with him tonight (date #5). I’m going to try to pay more attention to my gut tonight. I am not 100% ready to bail yet, but I will try to be more present now and get out of my head.

                • Digs says:

                  Well…he had to “reschedule” on account of being busy getting ready for his parents to arrive this weekend, and getting a shift at work, blah blah blah. I am as busy as he is, and I was willing to carve out a couple of hours tonight. If he can’t do the same, that says all I need to know. I am disappointed, I really liked him. But this isn’t worth my time. I’m out :)

          • grace says:

            you’re right, six weeks between dates is not a sign of strong interest. If he backs off everytime you show interest he’s holding you at arm’s length.
            Don’t get into the loop of thinking that if you were more attractive or whatever that he would suddenly want a relationship. Also, someone who is genuinely interested isn’t put off by the other person being interested.
            Like I said, wait it out. Except I wouldn’t even “wait”. Get on with your life as if he wasn’t in the picture at all, as he isn’t.
            There is no infallible guideline but I guess if they aren’t your exclusive boyfriend within 3 months of your first date, it’s not happening!

  17. noquay says:

    There are no absolutes in on line; a total crap shoot. You are too emotionally invested in what is still something pretty short term. You need to detach, not have any investment in possible outcomes at this stage. Pay attention to what he says and does. Sit back and let it unfold eh? No damned texting unless he texts first. He may not be that into you, he may have some other issues such as a lack of trust, he may just be slow. How do YOU feel about him?

    • Digs says:

      Yeah…see it’s that crap shoot part that freaks me out lol. So it’s not even that I want things to move quickly, but rather that I don’t want to be caught off guard. Again. I am more than happy to move slowly….if I knew how the story ended. In fact I would prefer for it to move slowly…what a refreshing change. I am operating from a place of fear. I want some kind of guarantee, even though I know that there are no guarantees in life, ever.

      How do I feel about him? I feel great about him. For the first time …maybe ever?…I am less worried about “winning” him than I am about whether or not he fits me and my life. The problem is that he *does* fit so far. So I want to nail him down quick. Problem is, he doesn’t want to be nailed down. So now I have to figure out how to sit back and let things happen organically, but find the balance between that, and being someone’s passing time candidate. I don’t trust that I will be able to tell the difference.

  18. Tinkerbell says:

    Oh, yes. I definitely have an overactive imagination. And, it’s ALWAYS for the worst scenario instead of a positive one. I’m working on it. I’m trying to catch myself doing it and “dial it down”, but it is very hard. Also having a penchant for drama exaggerates my imagination. Countless times I’ve worked myself up into a ball of anxiety and fear over something that either did not occur or turned out to be something far less critical than I imagined. It is really awful to be this kind of person because I’m rarely relaxed. I’m constantly looking for impending doom. Would love to know where this comes from.

    • Pauline says:


      I suspect it’s having to deal with narc assclowns & EU’s for too long. It doesn’t matter what happens there is always a bad outcome with these guys and after a while we get used to being let down, abused, used, lied to and contrary to all reason we still stuck around until the bitter end.
      I have found myself creating drama and letting my imagination run riot over nothing much at all except waiting for the other boot to drop as it always did with the assclown.
      A male friend has asked me to stay with him for a few hours next week after he has a small operation in hospital and until his son can get home from work. I said yes as it’s only for a few hours and then I started creating drama and imagining all sorts of scenarios in my head until I told myself to calm down, what am I thinking! I can’t remember being like this before the assclown came into my life. It’s nothing sinister, this friend is not abusing/using me or lying to me, there’s no hidden agenda but I was creating one in my head.
      I’m finding it hard to trust men and looking for any tiny thing that smells assclown.

      • Tinkerbell says:

        Yes, Pauline. It’s so easy to transfer our bad experiences with an AC to the next one who we don’t know anything about. I think after being hurt we have to retrain our brains all over again to be open and accepting, but remembering to add in the WISDOM recently acquired.

        In my case, since I was married so many years and my husband who adored me passed away, I haven’t had a few Eums or ACs. It has been only the one ACMM which led me to BR. That was such an ugly experience. I can definitely understand women being afraid to let go and feeling that every man who shows interest must be an AC. It’s very important to control our thoughts and tendency to imagine the worst. We do ourselves no favors because we unconsciously reveal our anxieties to the men. Then, their response is to run.
        I’ve been lucky with Petie. Because he is older and a wonderful person, he has been very understanding and patient with my anxieties. It amazes me that there are still such men around. I could have sworn that after my husband I would never have another relationship.

  19. Lisa S says:

    This article is very appropriate timing for me too. I posted on the facebook page about this whole “test” I have to do for school which is a 3 day pass/fail thing, I imagine failing, getting fired, drama, drama, drama, my friend said to me, did you ever imagine passing, getting a raise? etc. It is so easy to tell ourselves this….I am so glad and thankful for all of you and Natalie this Holiday Season… is nice to know I am not alone….I mean I have family……but that is a whole different post. ;-)

  20. Elgie R. says:

    What Grace said.

    Digs, this is so familiar. I did this so many times in the past with men. Built relationships in my head, hit them full force with all my love and affection and pain, leaving them puzzled by all that intensity with so little provocation. Hurting myself, really. In the dating book, he is on chapter 2 and I was on chapter 22.

    I had a hairdresser who once observed that “Sometimes the girl is ‘going with’ the guy but he’s not ‘going with’ her!”

    There are no red flags here.……….how do we want a man to tell us that he is interested in staying casual without us calling him an AC or EU? I think they do it with actions, but we misinterpret to meet our own not so hidden agendas.

    We so desperately want to be “in love”.

    • Tinkerbell says:


      So true. We so desperately want to be “in love”. But we have to remember it’s not all hearts and flowers and not panic when the road gets bumpy. It’s part of a normal progression in any relationship.

    • LovefromNel says:

      Digs, Elgie R. – I can absolutely relate. With the history of a few bad EUM clowns, and a super creative imagination, it is hard to see things positively and, continuing with the the chapter 2/22 metaphor, my mind becomes one of those ‘choose your own adventure’ novels! One thing I have learnt this year, though, is just because you think something, it doesn’t mean it’s true. And it certainly doesn’t make it a fact! I don’t know why it’s taken me 27 years to learn this, but it has. But I am incredibly grateful for it. I still somehow feel that I caused the ending of things with my EUM because of my over-active imagination (and Nat’s past post about the overactive guilt thyroid rang true here) . But I also have to remember that it’s not all about me, and he was just not emotionally available (and possibly never will be). But it has also taught me – and this blog post has also reinforced – that I do really need to keep my imagination in check too! xo

  21. Magnolia says:

    Yep: the committee meets today to decide who gets the tenure-track job and a hundred times this week I have visualized getting turned down and then telling everyone off for their lame choices. I used to think I was preparing for the worst-case-scenario in an emotionally proactive way, but no, my mind is just spinning with fears. I’ve learned to normalize that. I even dreamed this week about all my colleagues arranging a party right in front of me then explaining that they couldn’t invite me! Stress much?

    Of course if they do turn me down I’ll survive and won’t burn any bridges. If they don’t then I’ll still have some thinking to do as there’s a job in a real city close to my family that I may still have a shot at. Either way, the reality is going to be much more manageable than the drama I’ve gone through this week in my head!

    • Tulipa says:

      I wish you all the best, Magnolia.
      It is great to see the changes you have made in how you think about situations a good example to follow.

    • micheyl says:

      Good luck Magnolia! I hope you get it. I think life is as exciting as a movie in our minds, but yes, it always seems to be manageable in real life. :)

    • Magnolia says:

      Thanks Tulipa and micheyl -
      Wouldn’t you know – they’ve postponed the meeting until next week. Thank God someone thought to mention it to me or I’d be tearing my hair out all weekend. I’ll keep you posted.

  22. Paris says:

    OMG, this is so ME! OK, I haven’t been here in a while because I thought I was an exception to the rule. My EUM/AC saw me and put the moves on me and I thought for some dumb reason he was ready to be right with me. I got back involved (lasted a whole 2 weeks), he didn’t do anything differently. Five whole months NC wasted. It all backedfire from a Halloween party, where he grilled me & cornered me begging to set the record straight. (Mind you, the last time before this & I was with him, we had a vistor at 2AM. I vowed to never go back!

    He set this straight with his usually lies, “he dialed the person by accident and they were coming over to check on him”…I’m not blaming him, it’s all me.

    Why would you give the time of day to someone who comes up with the dumbest lies. He’s still the same person and I’m still the same person to him…OPTION girl on his time.

    It hurts so bad and my imagination keeps telling me all these things like… He wanted to pay me back for the NC. He’s torturing me, He’s laughing at me. He’s etc. it goes on and on. When in reality, he’s not even thinking about me. He’s too narcissistic for that. I read this and said “Get it together PARIS!” Thanks NAT

  23. Tulipa says:

    I think fantasies can be attributed to your imagination.

    Lately I can see my disconnect between reality and fantasy.
    I can also see that ever since I was young I have escaped reality and developed fantasies especially the rescue fantasy.
    Someone was always going to come along and take me away from all my circumstances.
    Lately though the fantasy is more that the ex AC will gain insight and understanding about how much hurt his actions have caused me. I have been having dreams about this and yet even in my dreams I know that it is all fake and it is the same merry go round.
    Not being able to stay in reality and allowing fantasy to take over has caused me to break no contact twice.(Both times were a short sharp slap back to reality)
    I don’t know why I can’t fully let go. I really do know that he will never fully understand what he has done and he will never be the person in my fantasy who makes the situation better.
    I picture myself putting concrete boots on each day to stay grounded in reality so far this has stopped me contacting him but not the fantasies.
    My latest fantasy is about escaping the reality of Christmas my family has fallen apart and I really don’t want to know about Christmas now the ex AC doesn’t celebrate Christmas so I fantasize about turning up unannounced at his place and spending the day with him. I know it is crazy and the harsh reality would be for him to reject me.
    Maybe it just the time of the year and with other stuff going on I am resorting to old habits of fantasy instead of staying in reality and dealing with each situation properly as it comes along.

    • Digs says:

      I too used fantasy as a child to escape my reality, and had fantasies of someone who really wanted me to come and take me away. My therapist asked me one time if I felt like I was living my life, or watching it as if I was watching a TV program, and I said it’s like watching a show. Stuff is happening, and I am not in control of it. Quite an eye opener.

      • Tulipa says:

        Hi Digs,
        Yes that is where the habit began to use fantasy as an escape in early childhood. I came from an abusive and dysfunctional home when you are a child you really do have no control and even when you try to take some control ie: telling about sexual abuse that is happening and then being ignored doesn’t bode well for living in reality. (someone has to rescue you right?)
        I have without realizing it until recently kept up with this method of coping.
        It is time for a change using fantasy as a means of escape has bitten me in the backside big time.
        Interesting what your therapist said.

  24. bekah says:

    So glad I read this. I had started doing the same thing. After years of being involved with ACs, I am finally dating a great guy. But every little thing, I started thinking the worst. Had to reel my thoughts in to not sabotage my relationship.

  25. Julie says:

    We imagine these worst-cases scenarios to be prepared if and when something bad happens. But it is actually counter-productive:

    We sometimes sabotage good things by engaging in self-fulfilling prophecies and scare good people away by acting a little loony.

    It doesn’t even protect us from getting hurt. On the contrary, it just confuses us, we second-guess ourselves, and we excuse objectively shitty behaviour because we are afraid we “might be overreacting…”

    We think somehow anticipating the worst possible outcome prepare us for all eventuality, but all it does is silence our ‘gut feeling’. We cannot tell the difference when something is really wrong if we are used to having our stomach in a knot all of the time.

    • Tinkerbell says:


      Agreed. Our anxieties can cause us to behave oddly and men don’t understand so they bolt. It’s tricky to be calm, relaxed and controlling of our over-active imaginations but at the same time aware of the REAL amber and red flags.

  26. araja says:

    I totally understand where Digs is coming from. After dealing with AC I don’t even know what dating looks like anymore. :-(
    So many have moved from 0-60 in 3 seconds only to crash and burn me. what does normal dating look like? Anyone?

  27. LostInNYC says:

    Again, this is me!

    I do this over the EUM that I’m still attached to (I’m trying so hard to forget about him, but it’s not working…of course, it doesn’t help that we work together). If he doesn’t text me or if I don’t see him for a couple days at work or if he doesn’t come over (booty call) then my imagination runs wild and I give myself terrible anxiety. It doesn’t help that my sense of self-worth and happiness depends on whether he gives me attention. =(

    Like Nat wrote, it’s a downward spiral and I cannot pull myself out regardless of how hard I try. All of my thoughts revolve around what I did/say wrong and worrying if he met someone else, is he with someone else, why doesn’t he like me anymore? My brain knows that he’s not a good catch and I should kick him to the curb. Unfortunately, my heart and libido have different plans.

    These thoughts have caused so much anxiety and tears that I recently got a prescription for Xanax and am looking for a psychologist/psychiatrist for therapy. This happens with ALL my relationships, not just this EUM, so there’s something definitely wrong with my thinking process.

    • Tinkerbell says:


      Give yourself credit. That’s terrific that you have come to those realizations, especially the fact that you seem to have a pattern. I really hope you get the help you’re seeking. You’ll be calmer and able to gain the maximum from your therapy visits. Good luck.

  28. ReadyForChange says:

    I woke up this morning with the urge to write my EUM/Narc a letter. I’m using BR to give me the strength not to send it. He’s flying to Berlin today, the drama seeker in me even wants to go to the airport to ask for the answers I will never receive. I’m choosing to stick to no contact instead and try to lower the drama. So I’ve decided to write the letter here, I hope you don’t mind.

    ‘People looking at my pictures will always fixate on my eyes. They can’t quite pin down what’s behind them. Some find them beautiful, penetrating. For the ones who say nothing and probably know what I am, I am sure they see only the emptiness inside them.’ – Puppet Master.

    I know what you are, I’ve seen through you. Quite early on, really. Yet I still find your eyes beautiful. I was attracted to you like a moth to a flame. That is my own issue, my own self-destructive streak. I think you know. You even warned me several times, in your own way. I think between us it was a case of ‘I know that you know that I know…’ It does not let you off the hook though.

    For now, I can only feel the pain, as raw as it can be, and ask, ‘What was it all about?’ Then, one morning, I’ll wake up with my strength renewed, and I’ll forgive you. Even if you don’t know what to do with my forgiveness or do not care.

  29. Bethd says:

    Good letter and glad you posted here instead of sending. It would just boost his ego and make him feel powerful. And letting him know you forgive him just enables him to continue being an asshole. Keep the focus on you. Take your energy back from this vampire.

    • Sanntay says:

      Ready for Change: I agree with Bethd, the letter is written beautifully, but it would certainly convey the wrong message to him.

      Peanut: Love your letter too. . .it’s short and to the point. I have found writing a letter to the AC to be very therapeutic. I’ve written at least 3 of them, which are stored on my computer. I would never send them or communicate in any way the damage that resulted from my involvement with him, because I know he simply doesn’t care, so it wouldn’t change a damn thing. I also found it helpful to write a letter of apology FROM HIM TO ME. Made me think about what I would want him to acknowledge and express regret for.

      • Bethd says:

        Sanntay It wouldn’t matter if you got the apology saying everything you ever hoped to hear. It would just suck u back into a relationship with a disordered person. I did send my letter at one point. Mistake. My narc used it to manipulate and make his case for how he was willing to change. Just dragged me back in for another roller coaster ride but this time as a supposed friend. It is a no win situation with toxic Men. The only way to win is to flush and be happy without them.

  30. Julie says:

    Don’t you think that maybe it was all about finding a better definition of what love is… A definition that would includes intact self-respect and a sense of security and worth.

    We shouldn’t expect men who don’t know the difference between right and wrong to give meaning to our experiences (closure). Often they are more confused than we are !! Find your own meaning.

  31. Jamie says:

    I am seriously ready to slit my wrists with a dull spoon this morning…, not really, but you all get what I mean.
    I’ve been back with the Ex since September and he has been trying very hard to make up for the things he has done in the past. Communication has been top notch and I’ve felt “safe” for the most part. That is, until I get up into my own head and create drama, then act out. Each time I have done this he tells me “it’s ok, I’m going to stand beside you through this”. Which is incredibly great to hear, but then I get back into my head and wonder why he’s being so nice.

    We’ve been together on & off for almost 2 years. After we discussed exclusivity I caught him several times making dates with other women online. Last November (2012) he began pulling away & told me he was busy with work. Turned out he was seeing another woman…..which he came clean about. He told me that he was lonely and that we didn’t get enough time together. So from November thru January of this year I didn’t see him or talk to him. Then he contacted me with the ususal “I miss you” routine, which I fell for. Fast forward to this summer (June 2013) when I caught him with another woman at his house getting ready to take his boat out for the day. His excuse…..there was too much drama going on with he and I and he wanted to spend time with someone who was “drama free”.

    Then in September we talked and decided to try it again. Everything has been great!! Everything that is except for my imagination and the need to create drama…..I literally re-play past issues (such as when I caught him with the other woman AND the conversation I had with her) in my head to the point that I’m convinced that he is doing the very same thing currently. I get so darn worked up and upset. Sometimes I share it with him, most times I don’t. I’m reading books about forgiveness and moving on. I’m praying for a forgiving heart. Unfortunately, I find myself “on alert” all of the time. Which makes me analyze every little thing he does or says and it’s making me stressed out and crazy. I’ve told him this AND told him that now may not be a good time to pursue a relationship as it’s clear I’m still working out some issues. To that he says “it’s ok, I understand and will stand by you through this”.

    Now the problem that has lead to me feeling the way I do this morning. Approx 2 weeks ago he started a new job which required longer hours than he was already working. Things were ok for the first week, communication wise. Then for the past week there has been hardly any communication…..he is no longer sharing much with me. I found out Monday that he left his new job to go back to the old job……he hadn’t shared anything with me leading up to it. I hadn’t a clue that he was unhappy OR that his prior employer was trying to get him back. He went from sharing everything to sharing nothing in a weeks time. Then when I pointed it out that I felt he was pulling away he gave me the same line he did a year ago when he was actually dating another woman. “I’m just busy with work”. I told him that this was bringing up bad memories to which he responded, “everything is fine, I will see you tonite”.

    So all day yesterday I created drama in my head and stressed myself out. He came over last night and spent the night. It was fairly late so we went right to bed… talking. This morning over breakfast he told me that he’s working late tonight AND spending some time with his step-son (from his prior marriage) so wont be over tonight. He had to have known of these plans for days but was just sharing them this morning!! This upset me greatly because we had gotten to the point where we were coordinating schedules a week in advance!! Although, I didn’t say anything or act upset. Then as he was getting his jacket on he saw a book I’m reading “Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay” on my coffee table. He asked if I was reading it. I told him “yes”. Then he began laughing and said it was “funny”. My jaw hit the floor!! I said to him “you think it’s funny that I’m reading this book?” He said “yes”

    Oh my goodness, what in the heck am I doing?? Please someone help me!!

    • Elgie R. says:

      “Then in September we talked and decided to try it again”.

      Try *what* again, Jamie..? You certainly don’t have a one-on-one relationship here.

      He dates other women and you pretend it is a monogamous relationship. He does not have to pull the wool over your eyes because you are so willingly pulling the wool over your own eyes.

      As I read your post I was thinking “This is a fake post, right. We’re supposed to count the red flags and the person who comes closest to the right number wins a car, right?”

      Sorry, babe…your man just does what he wants to do. You have got a lather-rinse-repeat relationship, which I think you know but do not want to accept. But apparently there is a strong Jaime inside trying to get your attention – hence the book you are reading and this BR question.

      If you want monogamous, he is not the man for you.

      • Jamie says:

        Hi Elgie,
        No, this wasn’t a fake post. Just a day in my life.
        You are so right in that he just does what he wants to do and to hell with what I’m going to feel about it.
        Thanks so very much for your input….I needed to read it.

    • Allison says:

      You’re creating drama for yourself by being involved with this guy. Do you have a history with shady men?

      This man has repeatedly lied, cheated and not communicated significant info, why do you believe you should forgive and think he will change. This is who he is.

      If you want a relationship, this is the wrong guy! Dump this creep! Do better for yourself and not settle for a cheat!

      • Jamie says:

        Hi Allison,
        Actually no, I don’t have a history with shady men. In the past, if any man I was seeing began acting shady, I immediately cut off contact and never spoke to them again. It’s always been very easy for me to do this. This current guy has his hooks in me and I’m clueless as to how he did it.
        Thank you for replying….your words really did speak to me.

    • Peanut says:


      Guuuurrrlll, YOU ARE NOT CREATING DRAMA IN YOUR HEAD. This guy is twat.

      He has a habit of cheating on you and trying to make you think it’s your fault.

      The person you need to work on forgiving is you for going back to that man.

      Be alone. It’s better than being with these cheatin’ types. I can vouch for that. I’d take alone any day over that =. Shudder.

      And he was such a prick to you about that book.

      FLUSH. NO CONTACT. Imagine your relationship as a piece of poo swirling down a toilet never to return. That’s how he treats it as awhole. Ew. This guy. Oh and he’s emotionally abusive (blaming you for his bad behavior). Get away fast.

      Life ain’t always about forgiveness, honey, sometimes it’s about being strong.

      I don’t think it’s funny you’re reading that book. I think it’s sad that you are so unsatisfied and sad in this situation.

      • Jamie says:

        Hi Peanut,
        It had never occurred to me that he is emotionally abusive. That’s probably because he comes across as so very sensitive and caring. That being said, he is a career salesman…..actually a sales manager so he’s good with words and manipulation. Yikes, as I’m typing this a lightbulb is coming on over my thick head!
        Gaads, what the heck am I doing?
        And your right, I am sad and unsatisfied in this relationship. I’m the one reading books and trying to learn how to forgive a man who clearly doesn’t deserve it.
        Thanks to you for writing to me….it surely means more than you can imagine.

    • Tinkerbell says:


      How can you trust him or believe anything he says? He’s a liar and a cheat. He’s making you the reason why he can’t be exclusive with you. It’s not you it’s him–who he is. Throw out that “forgiving heart” crap. He’s not the one. Don’t beat yourself up and blame yourself because he treating you “less than”. You need to flush. PERMANENTLY.

      • Tinkerbell says:


        Don’t you see he’s messing with your mind? Of course you’re suspicious and on “high alert”. He’s created that kind of relationship with his cheating. There are so many variables to work out in order to have a healthy comfortable relationship with a good man. Why continue with a lieing AC who keeps you worried about his cheating? That should not even be an issue that you’re tolerating. You’re losing time, and not getting any younger, trying again and again with this jerk when you could possibly meet someone else who will treat you right.

        • Jamie says:

          Thank you Tinkerbell!
          He is making me the reason why he’s behaving so badly. “I’m not spending enough time with him” OR “There is too much drama going on”.
          I’ve told him my feelings of being on high alert to which he has said that he understands why I feel that way and that he will stand by me while I work through these feelings. He also uses the line “so many people are fair weather only in a relationship….and are unwilling to really work through the issues”. Hearing these words made me want to work through the issues. It’s like he challenged me and I rose up to the challenge…..even though he’s not worth a hill of beans.
          Thank you for your input… really helped open my eyes.

          • sushi says:


            those issues he is telling you to work on are not your issues. You are having a justified reaction and alert from your gut to HIS issues. He is not standing by you, he is watching you suffer and lose your confidence while shagging around and cheating on you. What a manipulative, cruel excuse for a human being he is.I think the answer is to go NC immediately, with no explanation to him, he doesn`t deserve that. Oh, this post brought me back to my bad memories. Hugs to you.

    • Magnolia says:


      Gosh, your post took me back to how it was with the AC that brought me to BR.

      These guys have a radar for ‘worriers’ and women with overactive imaginations, because it’s when we’re in that place that we a) are looking for a man to calm our anxiety, b) know we oughtn’t look to a man to calm our anxiety, and so blame ourselves; c) will tell ourselves “I’m overanxious and maybe he’s a nice guy and it’s me reading too much into things.”

      Just because we’re still in a place where read too much into things – good or bad things – doesn’t mean we aren’t with an AC who is taking advantage of that.

      The fact that you’re in this situation means you don’t have a good relationship yet with your own judgment. Get out, learn to trust yourself, learn to manage your own anxiety so that when your instincts give you a fear signal, you can attend to it and take it seriously without losing your mind to self-doubt.

      Laughing at your distress is a sure sign of disrespect. Sounds like he is indifferent to/amused by your anxiety. That was the gift of BR to me: realizing that there are many guys out there who get off on seeing a woman distressed over them. It helped me understand the sadism I didn’t want to acknowledge was happening at my expense.

      • Jamie says:

        Hi Magnolia,
        Ouch!! Reading that I don’t have a good relationship with my own judgement stung. Thank you for pointing out the obvious to me as I needed to see it. I’ve always trusted my judgement with men…..this particular one has me so twisted up inside that I just don’t know who I am anymore OR what I should do for my own good instead of what’s for his good.
        YES!! Laughing at my distress and being amused by my anxiety is absolutely horrid.
        You are awesome and thanks for taking the time to write me back.

        • Allison says:


          Go back and reread your replies, over and over!

          It doesn’t sound like you have been happy and this relationship is keeping you in crazy land.

          You really need to understand why you are comfortable in a drama-induced state, when you do, you will dump this asshole.

          This situation sounds miserable!

          • Jamie says:

            Hi Allison,
            I’m hitting my head against a wall trying to understand why. Maybe it’s just not for me to understand but to instead just move on??

            • Allison says:


              If you don’t try to understand, you will repeat.

              Time to do some work!

              • Jamie says:

                When you say work, what do you mean?

                • Allison says:


                  If you don’t understand what has brought you to this place (past relationships, family issues)that has allowed your self-esteem to be depleted, you will repeat with the next guy. To understand why we allow ourselves to be mistreated, is key to breaking the pattern and enjoying healthy relationships.

                  You need to understand why you ignored the red flags, and allowed this man to disrespect you.

              • Tanya Z. says:

                Jamie, it depends on what you are trying to understand. Trying to understand why he acts as he does is useless. You may never know. He may not know.

                On the other hand, trying to understand yourself will help you avoid men like this in the future. Ask yourself why you were attracted to him, why you tolerated his behavior when you deserve so much better.

                • Jamie says:

                  Hi Tanya,
                  Great points, thanks so much!!
                  I will keep asking myself this until I get it figured out.

    • grace says:

      this isn’t just drama in your head. He’s been deceiving you. Again.

      • Tinkerbell says:


        What makes me very angry is that he’s treating you like you’re some mental case. The statements he has made about standing by you while you work through your feelings. Who the eff does he think he is? He’s having the thrill of a lifetime watching you twist into a pretzel trying to save this crap of a relationshit. He’s a turd. Why can’t you see him for who he really is? You need to get away from him asap. Who’s place is it, yours or his? If you’re reading stuff to help you maintain your equilibrium or the r/l with him, don’t let him see what you are reading. This is why it’s great to be living alone. You don’t have to worry about your privacy nearly as much. His response is to laugh! What’s so damned funny? He’s laughing because you’re foolishly caught up in this fantasy of trying to work things out and he couldn’t care less. You deserve MUCH BETTER.

        • Jamie says:

          We don’t live together. He was actually snooping when he saw the book.
          Is it possible that he is truly that cruel? Do people honestly get off on watching others suffer?
          I’m having such a difficult time tonite.

    • Digs says:

      It was painful to read this. Two years ago I finally broke free from the man who is the reason I found this blog. He cheated on me numerous times, I took him back, and we tried to rebuild trust. We were on and off for two years. I ended up finding out that he had numerous other women. When we tried to build trust, I would feel that things were off, but would question myself. I should have trusted my gut. I am not so sure that you are creating drama. Maybe your intuition is screaming, and you won’t listen.

      Here’s a question…..let’s say that he’s not cheating. Do you feel good in this relationship? Do you feel safe, secure and happy in life? Sometimes it’s irrelevant whether the person is cheating or not, because the bottom line is that the relationship doesn’t add to the quality of your life, but rather takes from it. It takes energy that you could be putting into things that bring you joy. Sometimes it’s just not worth it. It took me a long time to realize that with my ex (before I found out that there were even more women) – that the bottom line is that the relationship didn’t make me feel good. And in fact, my physical health started to suffer. It’s not worth it. I thought that I would **never** find someone to love me like my ex did. I thought that I would **never** find someone that I would love as much. Two years later, I am amazed that I had those thoughts going through my head. It’s sad. It was so untrue, and so sad.

      Even if he’s not cheating, he sure isn’t very sensitive to you, or concerned with your feelings. Is that the kind of guy you want? Are you happy?

      In my experience, trust never comes back fully. Is this how you want to live out the rest of your days?

      His behaviour has nothing to do with you. You deserve a whole lot better. Believe that!! And you can find it. But first you have to be ready to let go of something that’s not good for you. It is hard, it hurts, but it does get better.

      My ex just sent me a Facebook message last night. TWO YEARS later. In it he said that he hoped that my life is amazing. I mentally answered “IT IS!!!” and hit delete. I never thought I’d see this day. Life IS amazing when I am not ignoring my gut. My life is calm, and secure, and peaceful. It’s a huge improvement.

      Are you happy?

      • Jamie says:

        No, I’m not happy. I feel as though there is this other shoe that will drop….all of the time!!
        No, I’m not happy.

  32. Paris says:

    Thank you Peanut….Once again my imagination getting the best of me. I have to focus on the positive. I read a great article yesterday, titled, “Stressful Things to Start Ignoring”…
    and in the article it stated. “When life is good, enjoy it. Don’t go looking for something better. Happiness never comes to those who don’t appreciate what they have.” So I really need to be proud of what I have done and what I have. Thanks again Peanut.

  33. Sanntay says:

    Actual threat or not, based on my experience with ACs in the past, I was quick to 86 this guy I met recently while my car was being repaired. We talked (well he talked and I listened) for about 90 minutes about his family, his job, blah, blah, blah. I found him a bit interesting and funny, so we exchanged phone numbers. During our first phone conversation later that evening, he started out nice enough, but then he made a negative remark that reminded me of something the ex-boyfriend (we dated on and off for four years) had said, and I was immediately turned off (AMBER FLAG). Not only that, but he revealed some strange “philosophy” he has now that he’s approaching the age of 49, saying he was tired of dating and wanted to be married by the time he was 50 (RED FLAG). I was out. I told him that I don’t want to waste his time, and that I prefer to get to know a person, and that I was not interested in jumping into anything right now. He said “Well I hope we can at least be friends. You can always call me if you want to talk or hang out .” Ah, not a chance. Maybe I judged too quickly, but I’m pretty sure he revealed who he really is, and it’s unfortunate that he thinks that behavior is attractive. I am done giving fools the benefit of the doubt, and I have no time to waste on people who are offensive and overly aggressive, that are either too dumb to realize it, or too selfish to care.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Hahaha! Interesting little story Sanntay. So glad you can quickly see he doesn’t rate with you one iota.

  34. MovingOnNow says:

    Very timely post. I find the only time my “imagination” gets the best of me is when my intuition is trying to tell me something. I generally stop, listen, and pay closer attention. Almost every time “BAM”, I realize I’m in a “grey area”! You know, like “I told you I needed space right now”, or “I think we have something special, I just need to deal with some stuff right now”. The stuff that would have lead me to hanging on in the past. But no more!

    Thanks to your blog and trial and error, I’m finally realizing that every time I’m uneasy or imagining it is because I’m in a grey area. I’ve learned to turn and walk away at this point.

    Mainly because trying to find out why, or get more feedback from the other person has almost always led to them making assumptions that I’m mad about something, or they just quit responding. All I’m trying to do is get more information to decide on whether or not to continue, and they can’t even be bothered to communicate, or they try to deflect by feigning “surprise”.

    Really, the best thing I’ve learned from your blog is that the “grey area” just isn’t worth the effort.

  35. NaiveGirl says:

    I’m about halfway through MU and TFBG. I’m in shock, although I shouldn’t be I guess after reading posts here, about how on target this book is about my recent relationship.

    I wish I could post a video flipping the pages…I’ve been highlighting in pink and yellow and making handwritten notations as to ways it describes the relationship.

    It has become a reference manual for the relationship that I can refer back to. If I ever find myself in another similar relationship, I’ll buy another copy and do the same thing. Every EUM I come across will have their own volume. Seriously, I’m finding that doing this is extremely helpful to me.

    I’m curious. I have no intention of doing this and the EUM and I are NC, but has anyone ever shown this book to one of their EUMs? If so, what was their response? Were they able to recognize themself as easily as I think we are all able to recognize ourselves and our EUMs in these pages?

    • Mymble says:

      Naive Girl
      Your mistake is thinking that a)they don’t realise what they do and b) if they did know they would try to change.
      They are perfectly well aware of what’s going on, it’s the FB girls who delude themselves making up excuses for poor behaviour. The EUMs are laughing up their sleeves. They don’t want to change.
      So there’s no point at all in showing them any book. Besides which, its patronising.

  36. Peanut says:


    So here is something many of you might find kind of funny if not horrifying:

    My friend who moved out of the states to marry a man she met online (They are no longer marrying, though she’s still trying I think. He went as cold as the arctic ocean on her.) thinks, get this, that she has been ordained by God to fix and heal this man.

    She says I wouldn’t understand, it’s all too deep, too unique for me to fathom. I know, I know. After some more words of how it really probably is from me, I need a break from supporting this woman through what is clearly just another hum drum EUM and Fallback girl case.

    This guy is no doubt eating this up. His ego is no doubt the size of Texas. And she’s dishing out Texas size portions of over empathizing.

    She maintains that everyone else (ladies who leave) are selfish and don’t get the true meaning of unconditional love. I want to call her the C word and be done with it, but I am just disengaging. I know when I had those lofty ideas like, “Wow, I’ve really tamed him; I’ve tamed the Bad Boy Beast with my love and charms,” I had the rug pulled beneath me, I was cheated on, lied to, and even put in physical danger.

    Her bubble will no doubt pop. Will I be there? Who knows? Who knows what I will be doing. Do I care about being a good friend? No. I have been and it’s not what she wants. She wants someone to lie to her or support her serial-killer-wife-passive style of relating to men.

    I think it’s time she learned to stand on her own.

    On another note, I did message with that bitingly sarcastic guy some more and showed him some of my drawings. He went cold.

    I knew this would happen. Why did I do it? That is what I’ll be more focusing on now.

    Am I hurt or even angry? Not really. I don’t know that I care that much because it’s in perspective: He’s a man I do not know with whom has some neat art ideas and sometimes stories.

    He lives in another town and last night he kind of did a fast forwarding thing. I nipped it in the bud and do not let myself dwell on it. I don’t want him beyond idle chit chat. I don’t know what he wants because I don’t know him.

    I also find, if he doesn’t message me I start to forget about him really fast–like within hours. He’s a Facebook friend. The sharing of art was nice, but it’s over.

    You know his going cold actually feels good. It is so weird how I’m not internalizing this. He went cold because he went cold, NOT because of anything I did. I haven’t done anything except for probably waste some time. I don’t know why people do what they do, except for it’s what THEY choose. Who cares?

    As for tonight, I’m going to drink beer, eat pizza and peanut m&m’s. And not forget to NOT CARE.

  37. Tinkerbell says:


    For what reason would a woman show Nat’s book to an EUM? There are some things you keep to yourself. Furthermore, it would go right over his head.

  38. NaiveGirl says:


    I have no idea for what reason. I highly suspect there’s a woman out there that has done it before (especially one that may be married to or living with her EUM).

    I figured it was possible that one here might have.

    Curiosity struck me though while reading, wondering if an EUM would recognize himself in the pages of the book. I know my EUM has said many things I’m reading about himself just maybe in different words so he must have a clue about how he is.

    Do you really think it would go right over every EUMs head yet every Fallback Girl can see herself clearly? LOL. Aren’t we all unavailable? We’re not THAT different.

    I’m sure someone will read into my question that I’m considering it and thinking he’ll come to his senses. Like I said, I’m asking out of curiosity and have no intention of doing it myself.

  39. NaiveGirl says:

    Actually, I can think of a reason a woman might show this book to a EUM.

    Perhaps they have children together and this man is going to be a part of her and her children’s lives regardless. Even if not for herself, she may hope to avoid the revolving door of women that will be coming through her children’s lives.

    Not all would say this is a legit reason and it may not resonate with every (or maybe even most) EUMs…but as someone told me here we each chose our own path through this.

    I’d be willing to put my next paycheck on the the bet that it’s been done. I think it would be interesting to hear how it went down.

    • Elgie R. says:

      You want to heal ACs and EUMs. That will never happen. If you are hoping it can, then…. your pen name is explained.

      You’re doing a little “Florence Nightengaling”: if he really understood himself he’d change for me. He’d see I love him and he’d stop running away from me. I can show him the way!”

      BR writings resonate with those who seek out BR, because at the point of seeking, some *thing* has happened in their lives or in their brain, something clicked and made them question the status quo.

      ACs are not questioning the status quo. They like the status quo. They don’t want anything to change. They will continue to dangle you and do you.

      I think ACs will use the lingo to justify their deeds. I read an old BR post by a woman who was dumped and then avoided by an AC, she chased him down by phone until he finally talked to her and he said “I can’t validate you”. I felt like he was using BR words as a tool to deflect his responsibility for future-faking and leading that writer on.

      • noquay says:

        you are soooo right. The status quo works for them, why change? Folks only change when the manure really hits the fan and sometimes not even then. I think any womens book about awareness or self improvement is almost dangerous in the hands of such folk, they can use such works to behave exactly the way necessary to hook someone, get by their defenses. At work AC has some psych background which is one of many reasons why he hooks in so many otherwise wise women.

  40. Allison says:


    If someone is unwilling to accept responsibility, I can guarantee that they will not be open to any books. One has to want to change to be open , and it is not our responsibility to show them the path.

    Also, if they do eventually change, they are not going to be attracted to someone that allowed themselves to be disrespected.

  41. Tinkerbell says:


    If the guy is an EUM and YOU know it, what’s to be gained? If he cannot be more available on his own, a book is not going to do it. Ideally the differences between you should have been worked out BEFORE children are brought into the mix. Probably family counseling would be more effective than showing him a book. That’s assuming he would even attend. Men are not like women. If they were we wouldn’t have so many problems with them. They don’t spend time being intuitive and introspective, for the most part. Their brains just don’t work like ours. Not saying they’re less, just very different.

    And, no. Everyone is not unavailable. Where are you getting your ideas from?

  42. AfroK says:


    I’ll echo what other have said regarding your situation.

    First, sorry for what you are going through, which is, that AC successfully turning the tables and make you believe there is something wrong with you, while he passsive aggressively carries on with his assclowny ways and enjoys your misery.

    He is a cruel man. Also, communication can not be “topnotch” as you put it, if he is hiding important information from you.

    Interesting that he would say you two don’t have enough time together, as an excuse for cheating. Which means he actually got lots of time in his hands, but instead of investing in your relationship, he spends it with other women.

    And like Tink, I hate that “I’ll stand by you through this” shit. How manipulative and avoidance of responsibility on his part! He is crazy making, and in the long run, that will be detrimental to your mental health and self esteem.

    Laughing at you reading that self help book is tantamount to him saying “As if I give a shit.” That is not how a loving, caring and respectful man carries on. Not to mention the cheating pattern.

    Just copy and paste Peanut’s letter above and put it on your front door, with his belongings, for him to find from his night out to see the imaginery step son.

    • Jamie says:

      Hi AfroK,
      Thank you for responding. Communication was (what I thought) top-notch up until a week ago when he began the pulling away pattern I’ve seen before. When I attempted to hold him accountable and question his actions all I got back was “everything is fine, I’m just busy with work”. I’ve heard this one before so I knew all was not right.
      When he came over Thursday night and rushed into bed (saying he was tired and just wanted to snuggle) the little hairs on the back of my neck were standing up…..but I said nothing.
      It took him laughing at the book as the proverbial “face slap heard around the world” to jar my reality.
      I know that I currently have self esteem issues and huge trust issues (not only with others but with my own judgement as well) that will take time to work through.
      I have had no contact with him since Friday afternoon. My final communication was to tell him that I was done with the nonsense and that I had blocked him from contacting me on my cell phone. His final text after that was to say “Wtf…..everyone has attitude today…..everyone can go fuck off.”
      His text right before that one said “I was fine when I left you this morning… started all of this.”
      Ah, 99% of the time it was me “starting it”. The only thing he has ever said in the way of accepting any sort of responsibility was that he hasn’t always been his best with me.
      What does that mean?

      • Allison says:


        “His final text after that was to say “Wtf…..everyone has attitude today…..everyone can go fuck off.”
        Once again, he doesn’t care. No responsibility! This is who he is. You need to see it for what it is, not try to analyze it. If this were a friend, would you be asking the same questions? Would you also tolerate it?

        ” he hasn’t always been his best with me.
        What does that mean?”
        This means that he knows that he disrespects you, and doesn’t care. Shouldn’t you!

        • Allison says:


          This guy told you to “fuck off!” Isn’t this enough for you!

          He sounds like a real asshole!

  43. AfroK says:


    I so agree with the “I’ll stand by you through this.” How twisted is that! He is a cold, heartless monster, clearly enjoying that she is taking responsibility for his actions, so he doesn’t even have to try working on his behavior. I imagine him like that scene in “Thriller” where MJ gives a monstrous laugh after scaring the shit out of the girl, then calm her down and telling her everything is ok.

    • Tinkerbell says:


      Yes. His behavior is the highest form of condescending action. I would just have to kill him. Not really, but I’d want to.

      Jamie, you asked are some people really that mean? I hate to break it to you, Hon, but yes. Believe what you see.
      And please don’t announce to him that you are going NC. Just do it. He’ll find out. But be thorough and cut off ALL his possible accesses to you at the same time. If you cut him off in a half-assed manner or go back on it, he’s going to laugh at you AGAIN with that same air of superiority. Don’t give him the chance.

      Lastly, don’t do it until you’ve really made up your mind and can be committed to NC. It’s not a game and you don’t do it to change his behavior. You do it FOR YOU, because you’ve finally realized you can do far better than him. Being alone for awhile is BETTER.

      • Jamie says:

        Afro K,
        He has actually left me alone all weekend…..which is surprising. Any other time I’ve broken if off with him he has continued to blow up my phone and break me down. Which has worked in the past.
        He and I are still FB friends. I know that I need to un-friend him. Why is it just so hard to do it? And why do I want to contact him to ask him if he would like to have a “closure” talk? I almost sent him a text last night asking that very question…..but thought of all the wise words I’ve read here at BR and refrained.
        Oh please send thoughts of strength my way!!

        • AfroK says:

          Why would you break your NC so “he”can have closure? Ask yourself closure from what, whilst what he has done all along is hurting you?

          I agree with Allison,that the guy has just told you and others to fuck off! Also that he knows he disrespects you and doesn’t care.Unless you are expecting him to apologize and explain to you how it is your fault that he is an AC, so you can keep on blaming yourself for his behavior.

          Tink, you’ll get your hands dirty killing him. He needs to be taken to that AC Island that someone in here suggested.

          Allison, I do agree. .the guy is an ass.

  44. AfroK says:


    Your letter exudes awesomeness!

    That guy friend sounds like those ones with overblown egos and wound use any situation to practice assholeness. You seem to know that already. He needs to get over himself. Really,you are not in a relationship, it’s not like you want one with him anyway, he is just a friend, and he is behaving like you are chasing him (in his head) and he is doing the dissapearing and appearing game. If he doesn’t feel guilty pulling off that assholeness act on you, , don’t feel guilty flushing him.

    Your friend with the magical power to save ACs, I would say introduce her to BR. Has she always believed like that (God’s messenger bit). She sounds to be in trouble and it doesn’t help that she is claiming to be in touch with extra ordinary powers out of this world. I had a friend like that,she believed she is reincarnated, claiming she got powers to read right through what you are thinking (couldn’t explain why she could not read that her ex husband was EUM and AC), and would not eat any food that she perceived that someone didn’t have “clean mind” when making it. Deep stuff that I could not understand like the world was ending in 26th 2013, all good people (her and others) will move to India, a chosen heaven,while the rest of the world sank under water. I got exhausted reasoning with her. Poor thing is diagonised with bipolar and she is doing counseling and on medication.


  45. Sachi says:

    This post reminded me what a beast my own imagination has been. I have tormented myself with very vivid imaginings of how blissful and happy the ex is with his new live-in partner. I can imagine whole conversations and the way the room looks and how they are laughing together and the quality of what they’re sharing, and… I don’t picture them having sex, that doesn’t really bother me much for some strange reason. It’s more the way they are talking and bonding, the private jokes, the warm and loving atmosphere, the “flavor” of the whole thing. You know, gazing into each other’s eyes and being transported into the deepest love anyone has ever felt, blah, blah.

    All rubbish I know. Major rubbish! There’s a great book that describes this happening to a character, in fact it’s one of my favorite books so you’d think I’d know better. It’s the classic gothic mystery “Rebecca” by Daphne Du Maurier. The main character is a shy, unsophisticated young woman who imagines what all those around her are thinking and feeling, and she’s always wrong. She thinks her husband is pining for his first dead wife, Rebecca, and is imagining that everyone is comparing her with this Rebecca who apparently was a near-perfect Goddess type of creature that everyone loved and adored. Boy is she wrong! Reading this book always comforts me and reminds me that we never know what’s going on with others.

    • LovefromNel says:

      Sachi, I love the book ‘Rebecca’! I have never related it to my own circumstances of my over-active imagination, though. Time to grab it off my bookshelf and have another read I think! While I don’t imagine my EUM with another partner (I don’t know if he has one, but anyway), I vividly imagine bumping into him where we used to walk together (I met him while walking my dog) and having the courage to say what a weak, cowardly, spineless prick he is! Haha. Do you imagine that side of things too? Anyway, hugs to you. And I am sure your EUM and his new GF are not so super happy. In fact, I’m sure he is engaging in typical EUM behaviour because leopards never change their spots. Let her have him and let her deal with that. Big hugs! xo

      • Sachi says:

        Thanks Nel and yes I have TONS of scenarios in my head of me telling him off in person. We attend a lot of the same functions but so far he’s avoided me and I’ve done the same. Haven’t seen him in many months – but there is a colleague’s retirement party tonight and he may be there. I recently won a writing award so I have this picture in my head of him coming up to congratulate me. And I will look him straight in the eye and say “If you have even a shred of awareness you should know that I don’t want to talk to you, I don’t want any contact with you, I don’t want to know you, I don’t want anything to do with you.” And the parting shot as I’m walking away: “You are not a good man.”

        I’m sure this is much more satisfying in my head than it would be in person, but oh what a delicious fantasy!

        • LovefromNel says:

          Sachi, I can see why you won a writing award! It is so eloquently put yet so cutting – I absolutely love it! Can I ask if you actually saw him at the colleague’s retirement party? My imagination has me bumping into my EUM-clown and saying ‘you really don’t want to know what I think of you, you Clown’ and then walking off and doing some kind of ‘you’re just dust and ashes to me now’ kind of line from Tess of the D’Urbervilles! It’s not as good as yours! So while I berate my overactive imagination, I’m sure I’m grateful for it in some ways too. Otherwise we wouldn’t be who we are! xo

          • Sachi says:

            Just got back from the dinner. Yep, he was there with the girlfriend, who never left his side all evening. In all the occasions where I’ve seen them the past couple of years, they are always joined at the hip. There were about 60 people attending and it was a large room, so I never was around him, never really looked at him, and was able to avoid him the whole night. This was a good thing – so no opportunity to flatten him with some withering remark. And that is actually a good thing as well. There would be no point to it at all.

            • LovefromNel says:

              Sending you a cyber hug, Sachi! It sounds like you handled it with class and dignity and integrity. And there is definitely a point to that (rather than a withering remark). Merry christmas to you xo

  46. Heartbroken says:

    My heart is broken. I have been dating a man for 4 months, long distance. We have met 3 times and have been talking on the phone 6-12 hours per week since we started dating. Things were getting serious, we were talking about moving, children and he had just added “love yous” at the end of calls.

    We have not seen each other in a month, and knew it would be two months in between visits this time. We knew it would be hard. We were supposed to get together at Christmas. I went on a two week holiday in Asia, and when I left things were great. While away, we were on opposite time zones, so we skyped 2-3 times. Nice conversations.

    Then, I came home. And I asked about Christmas. He said he wanted to talk about it. I knew he was stressed because of exams and long work hours, but he said he had thought about it, and he needed more. More, being proximity. He said he had spoken to his friends. That for a relationship for him to fall in love, he needed to know the “details” and did not think he could learn the details about me by long distance. He said I was so great verbally, but that the calls were not growing the relations for him (FYI – he initiated almost all of the calls, and kept them going). I explained I knew it was hard, that I thought it would be a mistake to not explore further and that I had thought we both were falling in love, and needed to reconnect. I said I could see him as my future husband, but that I had the same concerns. I said I felt bad he talked to his friends about it, instead of me because no one is going to say long distance is easy. He said it would take too long to get to know me.

    He then drops in that on top of work and school, his mom is most likely near the end. He does not have a good relationship with her, but she has been doing chemo. He seemed very upset about it, and I believe he was crying. He said there was a Christmas family holiday he was not planning on going to, and he felt jealous. I said he should definitely spend the holiday with his mother if he needed to? He said he had to talk to his sister, because she had done long distance. He also said he has NO problem cutting people out of his life.

    He called me back later and said that once a month would not be enough. He had spoken to his sister and his friend. The sister had said if hers had been once a month, it was not enough. I tried to figure out of there were ways around that, more often, or longer visits. He said no. I did push at one point because he was using some less than firm language and then he said I was not listening. I said I heard him, want him to have what he wants and wish him the best. We ended the call and the relationship.

    I am heartbroken and confused. What happened?

    • Heartbroken says:

      This all happened last week. Nc since then…

      Oh, his mom is at the end of chemo, but the outcome not determined. I meant he thought she is not going to be around much longer.

      Btw, he treated me very well when we were dating…

      Also,he sent me a nice letter saying how great I am, but that he just did not think he could get enough access to get to know me, and that he was sorry – he did what he thought was fair for both of us.

      I just feel he made this rushed and stressed decision and is making a mistake. I have not responded to the letter as there is nothing more to say and it is no longer my responsibility to make him feel good about his decisions.

      Please help – will he change his mind?

      • Elgie R. says:

        I like your moves, HB. If you don’t contact him, I guarantee he will be contacting you.

        However, I feel you have made a rushed and distressed *relationship*! You’ve known each other four a little more than 4 months…did I get that right?

        This guy is a pretender, HB. He likes the push-me/pull-me dance. IMO.

        I gotta say, HB, you do sound pretty level-headed, until it comes to judging this man’s actions. My feeling is that you *want* to be “in love”…so you are framing every obstacle as something ‘true love will surmount’.

        Seems to me, in your conversation with him, every time you zigged, he zagged. When you seemed to agree that things were moving too fast for you too, he thru in the sick mother. He doesn’t want a mutual breakup, he wants you to be heartbroken and have no defense for his reasons. He wants to leave you wanting *him*.

        • heartbroken says:

          Not sure how you are seeing how zig zagging DURING THE RELATIONSHIP. Could you explain? We were completely on board, and growing the relationship until the day he ended it with me. He was calling, we were planning to see each other, and discussing what a potential move could look like. The zig zag was at the end when he just changed his mind…

      • Wiser says:

        Heartbroken, my sister met her now-husband on-line and it was a long-distance relationship, six hours travel apart. Like Noquay, both she and I live in remote places where local dating opportunities are nil.

        They bucked all the negative predictions and made it work. For a year they took turns driving to see each other on weekends, each making the SIX HOUR trip every two weeks, no matter how terrible the weather was (and we all live up in the frozen north).

        After that my sister’s old car became too unreliable to make the trip and so my now brother-in-law made this trip EVERY SINGLE weekend for the next six months to see her. That’s what real love and interest looks like.

        The point is, when you want something you don’t let anything stand in the way. If it’s important enough, you make the effort. Sad to say, your guy’s reasons are all excuses. You can’t convince him to somehow manufacture the deep interest that’s needed to make a LDR work. If he doesn’t have it, he doesn’t have it. If he really wanted to see you, nothing could stop him. And you shouldn’t settle for anything less than that.

    • grace says:

      You broke up, that’s what happened.
      Yes, it is confusing because your feelings don’t just stop.
      But people break up all the time. It doesn’t make him an AC and it doesn’t mean anything wrong with you.
      Long distance is very hard and, also, despite the phone calls and skybe he’s right that you two don’t know each other having only met three times. He is unwilling to take the risk that you two would make it in real life. You may think that he SHOULD be willing, but you don’t get to make that call. It’s his choice and you need to respect it.
      It’s fine to talk about it but at some point you have to draw the line under it and not be waiting for someone who broke up with you to change their mind. You could be waiting a long time and I find that, even if you do get back together, it’s the original problem will only return.
      I don’t think he behaved particularly well in allowing you to think the relationship had a future. I expect he had concerns that he brushed aside and can no longer ignore. He wasn’t 100% straight with you but does not obligate him to be with you to “make up” for his error/mistake/poor behaviour.

      • heartbroken says:

        I do not expect him to do anything he does not want to do. And while I am hurting, I have not been contacting him nor have I done anything to convince him otherwise. In fact, I did not respond to the letter, as it was over and there was nothing else to say.

    • Mymble says:

      I am afraid Tinkerbell is right, though I know you won’t want to hear it. You really cannot get to know someone through a computer screen. You need to interact personally to build a real relationship.

  47. Tinkerbell says:


    Would I be right to assume you met him online. Well, first of all, you cannot readily believe everything he is telling you. There’s no way for you to know one way or the other. He lives long distance, you don’t know anyone who could vouch for his reputation. All you have is what he SAYS. He could tell you ANYTHING. How do you know what is true and what is a lie. He’s absolutely right about one thing. It would take too long to get to know you. Anybody, more than an hour away is not someone you can have a close relationship with. Just talking on the phone really is limiting. You cannot get a clear idea of who they really are.

    The circumstances are not favorable for the two of you, and he has told you as much. So I think you should move on. Try to find someone logistically closer. That is, assuming you are really ready for it. He’s not the one.

  48. AfroK says:

    That must be hurtful, I hope you find the strength to move on and forget about this fastforwarder AC.
    To me, the guy doesn’t sound credible. By the way, Is he under 18? Sister and friend make decisions for him, he is incapable of deciding for himself. Flag!..not sure if red or yellow, veterans here will know.
    He has told you he has no issues cutting anyone out of his life and it looks like he has just done that. He doesn’t sound like he is interested in a relationship as he is oppossing all your suggestions to make things work. You are making excuses for him re:study, work stress, It is not his reasons for not wanting to be with you. His reasons are what sister and friend said.
    I feel like he randomly threw his mum in for sympathy from you, whilst not actually stating how that has to do with you two being together. I’m not saying going through chemo is not hard, It is just that he doesn’t sound bothered enough to want to see her, even after you advised him to.
    You seem to be waiting for him to change his mind as you think he has made a wrong decision. Read Natalie’s “you deserve better” because, you deserve better than waiting for him to make a decision on you. He is not that special.He fastforwarded you and built future fantasy of kids and moving in together. He must have done that to get what he wanted in the three times you met? Now he is backtracking.
    If he comes back to hook you up again, use that as an opportunity to stand by you and kick him oit of your life. Good luck and hang in here for support.

    • heartbroken says:

      Not every man is a liar. I knew about his mother and he had good reasons to not get along with her. She was ending Chemo, but I do believe her mortality is something he was just facing. Anyhow, it does not change anything. I am still in NC, and plan to stay that way forever.

  49. AfroK says:


    “What does that mean?
    Well he says he always hasn’t been his best with you, which is saying that you make him do what he is doing (the cheating, the lying and the treating you with no respect). He is avoiding looking into himself and wants you to believe there is something wrong with you that make him do all that. Which is more attempts from him to make you feel insecure and continue eroding your self esteem. Do not believe him. He is a manipulative creep who enjoys playing mind games and enjoys the resulting pain you go through . His last texts about “wtf..everyone has attitude. .everyone can fuck off” and the one that he is blaming you that “…you started this..” sound like he still doesn’t assume any responsibility, and also wants a reaction from you even after you have told him not to contact you because you have blocked him (doesn’t respect your wishes, all about him). Though how comes you are still getting his texts if you have blocked him? I would say though, you seem to realize that he is an asshole, just get him out of your precious life, and stay in BR for support, you won’t regret it. Hugs.

    • Jamie says:

      Afro K,
      I did block him….unfortunately with the blocker app I use I still receive a notification that a text came in from someone I have blocked AND I can go to the app and read the text. The last two text messages I received I had read from the app. I didn’t respond to either of them. Now I just have to un-friend him on facebook.
      Thank you so much for your replies!!! I will be sticking very closely to BR.

  50. noquay says:

    Tinkerbell is right. You do not know anything really about this dude. I do not know where you live, but IRL is always the best bet. On line gives too many opportunities for dishonesty. Having said that though, I understand that some regions require one to date solely long distance to find someone even remotely suitable. I dont know how far away this dude is but differing time zones are a problem. I understand how hard it could be to find someone in some areas but beyond a few hours drive, you have to give up. I think this dude liked the attention and now that things are at a point where he needs to man up, he is backpedaling. He may have something going on back home. All that he says about his mom, etc, you have to take at face value, he could be lying about all of it. I gave up on a future faker across the continent about a year ago who claimed to want to marry me from the get go and another east coast guy who looked very dignified and sophisticated in his photo, had a beautifully written profile. When we corresponded, his phone was always unavailable and it became painfully clear that he was a functionally illiterate oil worker who had his profile written for him. If you yourself cannot travel routinely to where the person is, to see who he is, no go.

    • heartbroken says:

      He was one time zone away, and he was always available. When I was with him, he gave me his phone to find music etc. I do believe he was honest and not dating others. I do not believe he was an AC at all.

      He was not majorly future faking, he never made promises, and the conversation light, as we were growing the relationship. It was not too fast…

      I believe he did not have it in him. And somehow, I am now feeling like it was my fault, like I could not keep him interested enough.

      • Wiser says:

        HB, the worst thing you can do now is turn this against yourself. Not everyone you meet in this world is going to be interested in you – and it has nothing to do with you!! That’s life. The heartbreaking thing is that a lot of men have no problem getting involved with, sleeping with, and even moving in with women they only have half-hearted feelings for. That’s really unconscionable. And why do they do it? Any number of reasons. I personally think it’s because these kind of men simply can’t stand to be alone. Also it could be a macho thing, an ego thing, something they think they are “supposed” to do. Gotta be in some kind of relationship no matter what. God forbid they don’t have a woman!

        Not all men are as mercenary as this – I think a lot of them honestly want to have those feelings and want it to work out. But they just don’t. They’re not able to be honest with themselves – and therefore not able to be honest with you either. This has nothing to do with your ability to keep them interested. Please believe that. Those with some degree of scruples (and it sounds like your guy might be one of those) recognize what’s happening early on, they get uncomfortable and they want to ease out as painlessly as possible. Mostly this means painlessly for him – but at the same time he’s actually doing you a favor. Imagine how much more devastating this would be if he strung you along for two years and then pulled this on you!

        So the bottom line is three-fold.
        1) It’s not about you! (You’re terrific.)
        2) His reasons don’t matter! (He probably doesn’t know himself.)
        3) You deserve better than this! (Damn straight.)

  51. Tinkerbell says:


    Wiser has hit the nail on the head, as usual. Don’t blame yourself. He may sincerely not be able to judge how he feels about being in a serious relationship, right now. And if his mother is dying he has good reason. It’s best to let it go. You say you are going to stay NC? He knows how to reach you if things change for him down the road.
    Question. Did he mention his mother BEFORE or not until he broke it off? And, also, is he not able to think for himself. Why is he consulting other family member about his relationship with you? That seems quite immature to me.

    • Heartbroken says:

      I knew about the mother being in chemo, but he struggled in his relationship with her. He had not gone to see her as far as I know and did not engage with her often. She is ending her chemo, outcome unknown, but had been significantly ill much of her life. He seemed to only just now realize her mortality is imminent(father died several years ago). He believes in the next year.

      I read the consultations as being torn about the decision. He seemed to be struggling and then when I got home and was asking about the visit, he solidified it. I really believe he was hoping someone, anyone would say it was a good idea to do long distance.

      We had not seen each other in 6 weeks, and the connection for him was not strong enough to wait. I believe he just started to see a year of challenges and longing. He called being together a tease.

      Anyhow, he is not an ac, but my heart hurts deeply.

  52. noquay says:

    BR Ladies
    Am soooo glad for this site, my in overdrive senses of hurt/defensiveness/hypersensitivity to criticism/hopelessness almost got me in deep doo doo yesterday. Was coming in a td late to get final grades in, walking across campus and here is AC deep in intimate conversation with latest conquest. I turned my head away and took a different entrance into MY building. She was there for quite some time. ACs phone number is still in my phone (cannot figure out how to delete it), I sooo felt like sending him a text respectfully saying her presence (and his), is really painful to me, especially in my own place of work, a place I cannot avoid, and could he at least have some respect for my feelings and leave her at home? Thought of all I read in BR about texting and the futility of it and that as much as I feel that my multimillion dollar project (the one that would get me away from campus and HIM) may be doomed, that she sits on the committee that makes that decision. So I went to my office, graded papers, and cried, then made up some half assed excuse to other colleagues for my swollen face, runny nose and red eyes. I feel so f!@#$%^ trapped. Still cannot get enough for my house, cannot retire yet, no jobs at present that would allow me to pay off house and get another loan for a farm elsewhere, in some magical town where the older men are fit, healthy and educated, there is access to wilderness, and the community loves the natural environment and hates drugs and guns. This is getting crazy: colleagues know something is very wrong, administration knows that something is very wrong,and I have this feeling of being severely punished for something I do not deserve to be punished for. I am glad I turned away from them in dignity, and kept my dignity by keeping NC. I dunno. When my ex husband and I started dating, the partner he had broken up with months before was upset about us being together, even stalking him a few times. Since we all moved in the same circles, we gave her the option of being able to attend leftie events without her having to encounter us, same with concerts, picnics, protests. We respected her feelings, understood what it felt like to try and restart ones life after a break up. I guess it is unreasonable for me to expect that level of consideration.

    • simple pleasures says:

      this is hard I can relate. So here goes.
      No he doesn’t respect your feelings. But, you have told us, and it sure seems the case, that he is a true narcissist, which you must know means, he doesn’t respect “Latest Conquests”‘s feelings either. He only cares about the
      life and needs of “At-work Assclown”. So eventually he will callously discard her
      too and find the “Next and Newer Conquest” (rinse, lather repeat). And you and LC (Latest Conquest) who is a decider of important career agendas involving you will be in the support group together and compare notes, commiserate and scratch your heads together on how AtWAC deceived you both.
      So treat her now as if she is your long lost best friend. You and exhusband had compassion and empathy for someone hurt by a break up. LC will eventually be hurt too.
      I used to be very threatened, jealous, hurt, in turmoil about my deficiencies when mathprofessor paid attention to other women while we were involved. I now realize he was no different with them and all his relationships ended. He is alone. And old. He too is a narc.
      No longer am I hurt that he paid attention to others, I pity them and think, wow I wish I knew where they were so I could comfort them and say, it wasn’t you, it was him. So look at LC as a future suffering comrade in arms and look Back to the Future. Focus on her as your long lost best friend on the decider committee, and have sympathy for her as her future
      will suffer too. But you’ll be over him by the time she starts the process. You’ll have to recommend BR to her, saying, this is how I started coping with the AtWAC.

      • dancingqueen says:

        Hey simple pleasures! Yes I still exist: I just occasionally lurk and never post anymore due to being crazed with work..I saw your comment though on the other thread and I felt excited that something that little ole me had said helped! Yay:) It is beautiful when one can have the peace of total nc huh?

        Speaking of…@noquay…big (((((hugs))))) look I totally get it. I once was in a tiny mountain town in France for two years and all the positives were blackened by being trapped in proximaty to a lame ex…okay this sounds naive but have you tried some meditation? That helped me. Hang in there!

    • LovefromNel says:

      Noquay, what a horrible situation! All I can do is echo what the other lovely ladies here have said, as well as sending a big squeezy cyber-hug all the way from Australia! I also particularly liked what Simple Pleasures said about treating the Latest Conquest as a fellow future comrade-in-arms? It’s a unique angle to take on the whole situation, and I think it is brilliant advice. Anyway, I hope you manage to have a merry Christmas, and happy holidays. Love and hugs from across the globe! xo Nel

    • Elgie R. says:

      Hi, Noquay. I know your struggles…it is very hard having to see and hear the AC when you desperately need to be totally NC to heal. Especially when he seems to be so happy in a relationship.

      You did the right thing by not trying to reason with AC. It would harm you and make him swell with pride.

      Remember that he is an AC and will be an AC with LC too. These men do not change. What makes us “ache” is our certainty the he changed for “her”…that was the same certainty that had us hanging in there for crumbs, trying our best to nuture that “good seed”.

      ACs do not change. AC and LC are in the honeymoon phase right now, but her pain will come.

      I like Simple Pleasures coping mechanism of feeling pity for LC…she knows not what she’s in for.

      Also, can you change your routines just a bit…? that possible? Take your breaks at slightly different times, enter buildings by different doors…things like that? I do the avoidance thing too with a NPD coworker….at times I’ve felt she saves her annoying behavior for when she thinks I’m around…so I take breaks at different times..I do have that freedom. I swear she walks past my office to get things from a printer just to see if I am around to annoy with gum-popping, loud talk or loud radios. It’s a bit comical…I enjoy throwing her off.

      Sometimes I fantasize…what if all of a sudden there was a large supply of handsome available men at my disposal…would I still ache over AC? The answer is always NO. I don’t really miss AC. I ache to be happily involved with someone of my own. AC is inconsequential.

    • Selkie says:


      Rent your house out and get a job in Yosemite, Glacier, or Yellowstone being creative with your degree. Or maybe with a conservation association or non profit group. Or go private and teach sustainable living workshops. Think OUTSIDE the box. Crap shoot, I know, but nature loving, conservation, liberal minded men who aren’t afraid of bears abound in these settings and you’re still in a beautiful place doing what you love. I’m thinking about it myself.
      Your Ex AC is a small person. Rise above, and keep rising up again each time you stumble. Inside he is struggling with who he is, because he knows he is small. Walk by with your head high and let him feel his smallness compared to you.

  53. Tinkerbell says:

    Noquay. I sent you a post yesterday about wishing something would happen to him so you wouldn’t have to endure his presence every day. Did you see it? I hope it didn’t spark increased sadness in you.
    You’re spot on when you say thank goodness for BR. We can come here and let out the pent up feelings without anyone knowing who we are. We can get feedback from those who have been in similar situations, and there is always a different point of view you may not have thought about. But, your situation is not complicated. It’s a daily torture in which there seems no end in sight. It seems like he is deliberately in a subtle, sleazy way trying to ruffle your feathers. You have to walk around the school with this mask of indifference. It’s a wonder you don’t lose your cool. Really. You have been through sooo much. I started to say, “since you left your husband”, but it was before that. The reason you left was because of persecution of your ideas, values, etc. which you could not compromise for anyone. You are so strong. But I know that “being strong” doesn’t mean that you don’t experience hurt and pain. Hopefully, this month of December has got you unnerved and stressed. I’ll pray for you. I know you’re not Christian, but there’s a saying that I know you can understand and relate to whether you agree or not is another story. “God doesn’t give us more than we can bear”. You are too spiritual to wish for his comeuppance, but rest assured we BR ladies do because we don’t like your being hurt so much. Please have contented, stress free holidays. Take care of yourself, and your animals and be grateful for our life, in spite of.(((Hugs))) Tink.

  54. Allison says:


    My ex did that too- with his kids. Took responsibly off himself .

  55. noquay says:

    You ladies are awesome. Selkie, ironically, instead of finishing grading like I ought, I was once again looking for jobs. The problem is that I support a chronically ill parent, this house, am putting in as much into retirement so I can get out entirely. I support multiple households. I have a high end place in a very impoverished town hit very hard by the recession and would need nearly 2k in rent to pay the bills on this now underwater home. No one here can pay that kind of rent. Cramming a bunch of dudes that work at the mine will insure the place getting thoroughly trashed. Because the only potential housemates are again, the mining folk, housemates are not a real option either. What I am doing is fixing the place up solo as much as possible so that eventually it will be sold as a vacation home. I have done a lot in restoring and revegetating the acres it sits on, old raped mining land, but my neighborhood has really degraded due to others renting to druggies and a mentally Ill hoarder next door that the county has promised to deal with and hasn’t. Yep, you may wonder why a single chick chose sucha large place: the smaller, older homes here are generally structurally unsound and because many of these places are now rentals, you can wind up with a pot growing operation next door, complete with pit bulls in the next tiny lot over. There are zero quality rentals of homes in the country and zero quality apartments. Rentals of these falling apart places are very high due to demand from visiting racers, students, and the mining crowd. This is a unique passive solar home that is very solidly built. I bought when the housing market was at its peak, not knowing the market would crash soon thereafter and I never intended to be alone this long; figured I’d meet a retired academic, one of the racers, who would like what he saw and we’d be here farming together. Ah well. The project to which I refer to is out of the box big time and would get me off of campus, mingling with sustainability folk elsewhere most of the time.
    Yep, if there was any supply of older, good looking, functional men, I’d be over him in a heartbeat. That’s part of the problem, the old maid celebrate life is not acceptable yet putting oneself out there, wasting hundreds on dating sites yields no one even close to an equal. The old mining/ranching/laborer dudes that constitute most of the older male population in this state are into guns, drugs, and are in horrible shape. This is why AC has gotten away with it for so long; a very good looking, highly educated dude in a sea of highly educated, healthy, lonely sexually frustrated women. Yep, I try and avoid him as much as possible and am aloof when do have to interact. We have some of the same students but I am slowly taking over, easing him out. I have removed him from one committee I chair and will give up the chairing another next year so I do not have to see him. Some of his classes are in my building but I know his schedule and where they are. It one point, we worked together on this project, now it’s just me and another woman. I avoid him and he makes snarky comments about how I hate men to our colleagues.
    Simple pleasures
    When the time comes, I will be there for LC, just as I was recently there for the woman before her. Ironically, I had dinner with yet another conquest of his, the one that’s financially ruined because she just had to escape regardless of consequences to her. I paid. What’s sad is that LC, who was a friend before he occurred, went from once actually calling me”her hero” to someone that glares at me every time I see her. Sad. In these mountain towns, we kickass chix need every like minded friend we can get. I suspect she may have actually posted on BR, there was a post in her name that certainly could be about AC. That’s why I changed my name a while back. However, BR is a forum, a safe place for all of us to speak our truths, often the only place we can and I will continue to speak that truth.
    Happy Solstice to all of you wonderful folks here.

    • Selkie says:

      I know it’s not as simple as I suggested. It’s good to creative dream a little to keep from giving up. Can you live in your house and create your own job niche? That’s not simple either but sounds like this project you are hoping for will create some positive change for you while letting you stay in your house and near your father. Good luck with it. :-)
      Where I live the men are cavemen and women out number them so they have no problem finding easy pickings. I live in a seemingly progressive area but the men seem like teenagers who just want to have fun and have little respect for women. It seemed like a liberal town when I moved here but the activity that this town is know for is male dominated and and as one of the few women who participate in it, I am frequently asked why I’m not home doing dishes and told to go ‘get a family’. I am like a complete freak of nature to many of them. I’ve accomplished more than 90% of them but it doesn’t matter. My independence is a turn off, and recently I’ve discovered so is my age. One of these unfolding cavemen asked me out and disappeared when he found out I was 45. He went on about how young I looked (doth protest too much) and then said “I’ll call you for lunch this weekend”. No call. He reappeared two weeks later like he didn’t just flake out, I ignored. Sorry, snooze or lose. I don’t sit well in the back pocket. So, stay true Noquay. I do have hope that men exist that find our strengths attractive instead of threatening or as a means to a free ride.

      • noquay says:

        My dad actually lives 1200 miles away near “real home” in a house I bought for him. Part of my income issues is that it costs me big time to fly home, stay there, rent a car, and tend to papa san. Theres really no work I can do from here that will totally pay the bills but I am still checking out options. I really need this project to go to get me away from having to deal with AC. I too am dissed for my independance, my “snobbishness” which means I have life skills and dont do drugs or hang out in crap bars. It sounds like you are in one of those recreation-based places such as Boulder, Colorado where all the dudes want to do is play but not lead any sort of a life that requires presence and responsibility. I am still looking for that magical small town with cool, structurally sound houses near the woods populated by sexy silver haired tall, emotionally functional 50-75 year old ex professors and retired physicians, Deans like my former husband, who take are of themselves, read books, hate guns, and love the environment. Yeah, right.

  56. Tinkerbell says:

    There still are good unattached men around. The problem is where are they?

  57. dancingqueen says:

    Check out airbnb. I use it all the time. You might be able to list your place as a rental and make out: my friend made his guest house into a rental and almost covered his main house mortgage.

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!