We grow and we evolve and sometimes we don’t take everyone who started with or joined us on the journey, along for the rest of the ride.


One of the challenges that friendship can sometimes pose is this desire, whether its on our part or on the part of our friend(s), that nothing changes or that the friendship is maintained in orderly fashion. There are often roles within friendships, particularly imbalanced ones where one party may be more of a Florence Nightingale type or the one who never has his/her stuff together and juggles various dramas, or the one who is super responsible and never appears to put a foot wrong. There can be recurring ‘go-to’ topics – the ex that got away or family dramas or reminiscing about the good ‘ole days or whatever. There can be underlying predictions about who will settle down first or whose life will be plain sailing and when the running order is messed about with by real life, the person who always thought that they would be doing what we’re doing (or vice versa), can feel very confused, wounded, and yes, even envious and resentful.

When we ask why it bothers us that things have changed or why things had to go in a certain order, what’s revealed underneath these concerns is where we personalise things to too high a degree.

We often don’t want things to change because we are resisting change or are still affected by the past enough that it’s distorting our present and our perception of our future. If things stay the same, if the routine of the friendship doesn’t change, then we can remain in our comfort zone. We feel as if it’s a level playing field. If we accept the change but we judge us unfairly, we see that change as a reflection of our ‘failure’ and/or as rejection. We feel as if we have time to play with. When our friends appear to be changing and evolving, we may put pressure on ourselves. It can trigger an unease that subtly plays its way out in the dynamic. It’s one thing if we don’t want things to change from being healthy to unhealthy but it’s another when we don’t want our friendships to evolve because we don’t want to evolve.

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Own your own and let others own theirs

Have you ever had that disconcerting experience of being accused of something you haven’t done and it turns out that the person is in essence, working up a case against you because they have done something to you (that you don’t know about yet) or they feel guilty about something that they’ve kept hidden (possibly including from themselves)? It’s as if they need to create a situation so that they can feel justified in having done what they’ve done.

Ah! The joy of projection!

A friend was at a group dinner with her husband and several couples and spent time talking to her friend’s husband. One of the women spread a rumour afterwards that my friend was having an affair. I laughed at the time and said, “I’d lay bets she’s having her own affair”, and lo and behold, it all came out a few months later that she was.

I experienced projection when a relative claimed that I had an issue with her even though I didn’t. Her ‘evidence’ was to take situations and re-cast them as a personal attack. As an example, my 5-year old was a bit moody after school one day and rather than it being that it’s because she’s five and worn out from a busy day at school and possibly a bit ‘hangry’ (hungry + angry), it became, “Natalie must have told her to be funny with me because she has a problem with me”. Quite a leap, and she apologised for the “misunderstanding”. OK, I thought, but I wondered what was really behind this. Then it all came out about how weeks before, she’d said some inappropriate stuff behind my back to my mother of all people (HE-LLO!) and all while smiling to my face and making out that she was cool with me. The ‘secret’ and those feelings she was masking found a way to show themselves and so they were ‘relieved’ by creating these situations and projecting. This also happens when celebrities, politicians etc., try to change the story by inserting themselves into it, only they’re re-cast as a victim, or by smearing someone else, or throwing in another story to distract from the real issue.

Many of us have projected at some point in our lives. It’s something that we do unconsciously and when we’re out of touch with how we feel and are not as self-aware as we could be, or we’re going out of our way to suppress and repress our emotions, we relocate our feelings in others. We carry on as if they share our feelings, so, “I feel this way so you feel this way too”, or we attempt to distance ourselves from what we deem to be uncomfortable feelings and thoughts, so, “I don’t want to admit that I feel this way so now I’m going to say that you do”.

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Trying to control uncertainty is like trying to cup the ocean in your hands

One of the things that many of us grownups struggle with is uncertainty. We can find it difficult to not know exactly what’s going to happen next. We want to be able to move through life with the confidence that comes with knowing that something is definite. If we had our way, we’d be happy 100% of the time and not experience loss, disappointment, conflict, criticism, or rejection. We forget that life ebbs and flows and that we learn what ‘up’ is because we also learn what ‘down’ is. We have to learn how to navigate these so that we can enjoy and maximise those ups and gradually recover from those downs.

What many of us are looking for though, are ironclad guarantees or at the very least, a crystal ball to let us know whether or not we should bother. These would remove the uncertainty that comes with being vulnerable. We wouldn’t have to think or respond.

We can find decision-making scary and some of us are allergic to commitment, simply because it requires us to decide to be or do something without knowing exactly what’s going to happen next.

So we might, for instance, have to commit to following through with our desire to start a business and while we’ll have our idea and plan, we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen from end to end and we don’t have a play by play list of what we’re going to be and do. Instead, we have to make the decision, commit, and then invest our energy towards that commitment instead of looking for reasons to back out or question it.

Same goes for relationships. Before the point where we’re going to commit to something longer term and start talking ‘forever’, we have to give getting to know a person through the discovery phase of dating and then a relationship, a shot. We don’t know how it’s going to pan out hence why it’s a wise idea to do some due diligence, not so that we can avoid anything we find remotely unfavourable but more so that if and when we decide to give a relationship a go and commit, we’re making the commitment with the best of the knowledge that we have at the time rather than doing it without self-knowledge, self-awareness, and a healthy dose of reality about the person in question.

When I hear people talking about ‘casual dating’ – Seriously, what else can we water down? – I realise that what people who are afraid of commitment and vulnerability are looking for, are guarantees.

“I need to know that they’re ‘the one’ before I dare to invest myself emotionally.”

“I need to know that they’re perfect and will basically be exactly as I imagine forever and ever, before I’ll commit.”

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Each relationship presents us with an oppportunity to know and grow ourselves better

It can be incredibly frustrating to desire healthier relationships and to have done some self work, only to get into a relationship and experience a near assault of confusing emotions that leave us struggling to distinguish between our own issues and the existence of concerns. We can become almost paralysed by the task of needing to work out our next move because we’re afraid of ‘getting it wrong’ due to being unable to tell whether it’s our issues plus a concern, or whether we are manufacturing the concern due to our issues. Is it my issues or am I in the wrong relationship?

In reality, the relationship is highlighting where we need to be more vigilant and ground ourselves in the present so that we can grow and transcend a pattern, but it’s also pointing to an area of work in the relationship. Relationships take two and are 100:100, not 50:50. Once we start trying to cut the relationship in half, that’s where things get messy. We must know where we end and they begin. One person’s idea of doing ‘their share’ may be hogging up the whole relationship or doing very little.

We must honour the fact that we are both responsible for the relationship. Once we are willing to own ourselves, it’s that much easier to know our own feelings, opinions, needs, expectations and desires so we can have a far greater sense of whether we’re in a relationship that’s befitting of us. We can look at how we want to feel and behave and also respond from a place of love, care, trust and respect to our partner. In acknowledging the separateness instead of trying to work out what’s in their head or trying to influence and control their feelings and behaviour so that we can get validation or give ourselves permission to feel and act better, we can see what’s ours and what’s theirs. We can have more honest communication.

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Just tell me the truth so that I can move on

I talk to so many people who feel frustrated by the fact that they see the truth but others don’t or choose not to, because it feels as if the truth isn’t the truth unless everybody agrees to it. It’s as if they’re not allowed to have their own perspective. In reality, our perspective is our own perspective based on our own experiences, outlook, beliefs, values, assumptions, education, fears, experienced etc., and theirs is theirs.

It’s critical to have an authentic relationship with ourselves and to be able to distinguish between ‘image’ versus reality. We don’t need to be BS vigilantes leaving no BS stone unturned. It’s most important for us to know what we know.

A couple of years ago, I attended a funeral. After the service, despite staying in the background, people kept coming over and asking who I was. I told them that he was my mother’s father and then they were falling over themselves to talk about me being his granddaughter and basically rewriting history on the spot. I didn’t feel away about it but I also didn’t need to feed it either so when the many people who expressed surprise at my existence expressed their condolences, I thanked them but also said that I didn’t really know him. Actually, I didn’t know him at all.

The funny thing is that this experience helped me to realise that a lot of the reason why we cosign on to untruths is because 1) we think the truth is “not very nice” and feel guilty or bad about it, and/or 2) to make others more comfortable. What this has the unfortunate side effect of, is shaming us about the truth.

Within families in particular, there can be codes of silence and lies, where a family will clan together and refuse to admit the existence of the truth of certain events. After a while, they believe the lies and in fact, the lies are no longer lies to them because they’re all singing from the same hymn sheet. What happens if we deviate from it? We’re frozen out, ostracised, or even called a liar and shamed, and this in itself can be incentive enough to tow the line.

We can feel as if we’re being penalised for being honest or we struggle to fathom why everyone would want to go along with the lie.

‘But it’s a lie! They know it is! They should want to tell the truth!’

We can’t handle the lie so why can they?

Unless we’re going to play along, we are a threat. If we know that we would not be able to remain silent, we have no choice but to leave them to their devices or step back, because the alternative – riding their arses like Zorro to see things our way – is a painful vocation that’s better left alone.

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When we’re confronted with the realisation that our partner has done a  U-turn on previously expressed feelings and plans, it’s understandable  to feel horribly confused, disappointed, and more than a tad wounded. We may decide that it’s our fault and that something about us is unpalatable and rejectionable. We often jump to the conclusion that people don’t talk about their feelings or make plans with you unless they mean it, and then convince ourselves that we’ve provoked their current attitude and behaviour.

As an initial reaction, making it about us is to be expected. It’s our egos doing the talking and we subconsciously run through our mental Roladex of other unsavoury associations that we have with feeling less than, or being rejected, hurt, or disappointed, and end up reliving that pain. As an ongoing response or a typical habit, it’s dangerous.

If we don’t get conscious, aware, and present, and discern what’s going on, we make dodgy decisions and adjust our thinking and behaviour to accommodate the self-judgement. We try to influence and control their feelings and behaviour with people pleasing so that we get a rejection retraction and the preferred ending.

We are not going to solve a damn thing by taking ownership of their feelings and behaviour. It will muddy the waters even further – we won’t know where we end and they begin. It also sets a precedence that’s difficult to recover from if it’s not nipped in the bud. How is a remotely healthy relationship going to blossom, if each time we encounter problems and disappointment, we disappear into the past and lose ourselves? They also don’t end up having to account for the fact that they haven’t come up with the actions to go with the words; they’re sheltered from reality.

A U-turn in our relationship is an alarm bell symptom telling us to have an honest conversation with this person and to also check in with us and get grounded.

A relationship that’s going to go somewhere requires vulnerability and that at times means owning up when we’re scared and owning up when we’ve erred.

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Be responsible with your declarations and promises because you can often end up reaping the benefit of a person's positive reaction to them without actually having had to back those words up with the deeds.

When we’re not boundaried with our time and we tell people what we think that they want to hear, we can end up overcommitted, over-scheduled, and overwhelmed. It’s a time management issue stemming from people pleasing – a mix of relieving tension (even if it’s due to our overactive imagination or being triggered), along with wanting to make others feel good, plus attempting to control their opinion of us. Flip that habit over to dating and relationships and there are some clues about why somebody may do a U-turn on declared feelings and intentions.

Sometimes a person overestimates their level of interest or capacity to commit.

When we’re on the receiving end of this and the big claims and promises don’t prove to be true, we feel damn bloody upset (and rightly so), but it’s important as we traverse the complicated mix of emotions that these situations bring up, along with what can seem like a mental travelator of unpleasant thoughts mixed with bittersweet memories that make us ponder, What was real? What was fake? Am I fool?, that we don’t clobber ourselves for it not working out.

An expression of feelings (or plans) isn’t a contract. What we express and the level of understanding about that expression, represents our understanding at that time. A self-aware person has enough self-knowledge to express those feelings with intention, integrity, and awareness for follow-through. They don’t say things lightly or off the cuff. They know if they have those feelings because they’re for instance, falling for us, or whether part of what they’re feeling is about escaping something else or looking for us to be the solution to something internal.

Even though feelings and plans aren’t a contract – it’s not as if a person says that they like us and they’re contracted to do so forever – that doesn’t absolve each of us from being conscientious and responsible. This doesn’t mean taking ownership of other people’s feelings and behaviour and micro-managing ourselves, but it does mean not being reactive or running purely on feeling. It means considering the consequences and expectations that come with what we communicate to others.

Some people take a considered approach because while they’re not making any grand claims that this is exactly how they’re going to feel in 2050, they know themselves enough to know that what they feel is real, true, and sustainable, not just a momentary or short-term thing that will wane as soon as real life kicks in.

They’re also not hyping and selling.

When a person is, for example, cheating on their partner or spouse and making declarations to us and putting forward plans, they’re fantasising. They’re also selling the dysfunction. It’s better to say that they’re crazy about us (hence why they’re engaged in lying and deception) than it is to say that we’re a form of escape or an ‘upper’, or even somebody that anaesthetises them.


If someone lacks self-awareness and is looking to prompt feelings in others in order to gain validation or to even bask in the way that they’re being seen by that person, they’ll say things in the moment that don’t really reflect what they feel in the main or their ability to commit. As I said to someone the other day, “If you don’t want a relationship with him and are unable to commit, why are you telling him that you love him?” This is where a person can fall into the trap of using their feelings (and ego) to act as if they have a proprietary right to a person… even when they have nothing of substance to give.

They don’t realise that there needs to be the deeds to go along with the sentiments.

Some people overestimate their interest or capacity for commitment because they like how they look on us.  They might feel that saying all of this stuff is how you woo somebody and compete in this ‘market’ (read: dating). They don’t want to miss out. It’s similar to people who list a property as a three-bedroom when it’s a two-bedroom with a dining room.

Sometimes a person overestimates because they really want to believe, either because they’re very attracted to us and want to possess us and/or because they’ve been through tough times.

When it’s about possession, they mistake being out of control for love, and may also believe that in possessing us, that they will feel a certain way or that certain problems will disappear. When they don’t, rather than recognise the flawed thinking and deal with that, they say, that they haven’t found their perfect person yet.

When it’s about their past, we can inadvertently become a form of escape where they convince themselves that they’re ready, that they’re finally going to forget about the past, and as a result, they big themselves up or they go all out on the big ticket commitment items such as engagement or moving you in. Sometimes they’re pressured about their recovery time and sometimes they feel what may be pressure from their loved ones or are comparing themselves to others.

They move in haste so that they don’t have time to think or even fully feel what’s going on.

Then real life kicks in, possibly along with feelings of inadequacy and the realisation that they’re still afraid and affected by those things from the past that have held them back before. They worry about getting things wrong or things going wrong. It seems safer to sabotage and bring things to an underlying foregone conclusion (the self-fulfilling prophecy) or just straight up make a fast exit.

There’s often this unrealistic expectation that things have to be perfect just like at the beginning (when it’s new and both parties haven’t unfolded or had to truly follow through on commitment), and when reality bites, they panic.

I hear from so many people who are living with or engaged to somebody, or who were introduced to family or friends, or who went on holiday or whatever it was, only to suddenly find themselves left with the shell of the person they met or an empty hole where they their Road Runner-style exit, often hitting The Reset Button on the way.

It’s as if this person woke up one day, and maybe it was seeing their partner move things around in the house so that they could fit their stuff in and make it ‘theirs’ or maybe it was the first quarrel, but whatever it was, they’ve woken up and done the equivalent of thinking, Sh*t’s got real! What the hell have I done?

What do we do when we’re scared? We seize up. We start behaving unusually. It manifests itself in various ways even though we often think it’s hidden.

We love and we want to be loved and sometimes, our desire to feel connected, or to not feel pain that we haven’t quite dealt with and healed from yet, gets in the way of that. We say and do things that in retrospect, didn’t need to be said. We do things, not really to show and give our love to others but because we want to make some sort of point to ourselves or generate something from them, and when we do this, we end up hurting not loving. We are reckless with our choices and our words.

If you’ve been hurt by someone’s overestimating, it’s understandable to feel shaken and wary. This is why it’s vital not to go too fast or to be swept up because if they slam on the brakes, it’s a rather painful awakening. In these situations, you have to slow right down and gauge the situation – and that’s what I’m going to talk about in my next post.

Your thoughts?

There's nothing wrong with desiring a romantic relationship. It's needing one for salvation and as the source of your self-esteem that causes problems.

I listen to people express their desire for a relationship and romantic love and there are a significant portion of these who come across embarrassed and almost apologetic. They feel as if they have to defend how they feel and what they believe, and some of these people, when confronted with romantic partners who are presenting them with something less than mutually fulfilling, will back away from their desires for the sake of keeping the peace and not wanting to appear “uptight”. Next thing, they’ve been on a permanent date for numerous years with one particular person who keeps flip-flapping in and out of their life or who keeps putting the brakes on any movement. They believe that what they want is wrong or that if they hang in there and keep trying to be as pleasing as possible, that the other party will finally cave and meet their needs, expectations, and wishes.

It’s OK to desire love and a relationship. If we get involved with somebody whose preference is for something else, that doesn’t invalidate our desire. Their preferences are a matter of taste for their life. Imposing theirs upon us, whether it’s them or us doing it, is to carry on as if their preferences are objectively ‘right’.

Sometimes our attitude to relationships reminds me of our attitude to enjoying life and retirement; we work ourselves to the bone and by the time we retire, we might be too frickin worn out with ill health or shrinking energy levels to actually enjoy our lives.

Similarly, we could spend a significant chunk of our life pursuing that one person that we’ve decided will be ‘it’ and that they’re eventually going to make us the exception to the rule or, maybe we’ll chase variations of the same person. If we finally get them to succumb to a relationship, we’ll probably be emotionally exhausted and bankrupt of energy, esteem, and even the the other things that used to matter to us, that it will all be a bit of anti-climax. Is this it?, we’ll wonder.

It’s important to be honest about what we want, not just so that we can be more authentic by being and doing the things that are in alignment with our values including our needs, expectations, and desires, but also so that we can consider how we’re going to go about fulfilling our desires.

We must consider the consequences of the option that we pursue.

Sometimes we get so focused on what we want and the basic premise that, yes, we’re only human and it’s only natural for us to want to love, be loved, and desire companionship, that we forget to consider the fact that there are various options for arriving into a relationship, all with consequences.

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Why snooping never leads to anything good. Wolfie checking through their phone saying that he just needs confirmation that they cannot be trusted

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, longtime readers may recall that I got into the hidden camera show ‘Cheaters’ where people who suspect their partners of cheating have them investigated and followed… and then confront them.. I know, I know, but I was signed off with a bad back at 34 weeks. Call it BR research. It fascinated me that people either wouldn’t trust the information they already had or that they would go on TV before they would communicate with their partners or make a decision.

There are clues as to why you suspect your partner of cheating (or whatever it is), and unless you’re projecting – that’s when you’re up to something, feeling bad about it on some level and then looking to dispel that feeling by finding a similar fault in them, or when you’ve already got the story in your head and just want to bring the self-fulfilling prophecy to its conclusion so you can be right and remove uncertainty, those clues, if you pay attention, provide you with a hell of a lot of the information that you need.

The first thing that you have to admit if you’re tempted to snoop or already have, is that you have trust issues and a relationship without trust is like washing your front but not your back; mucky.

If you won’t use your senses, your gut, your brain, your self-awareness etc., to take a reading on a situation, to open up a dialogue, to help you figure out whether an experience is in alignment with the values you profess to have and the feelings and life you want to experience, snooping, hiring detectives or even dragging your partner on reality shows becomes the substitute for these.

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we have so much in common

It’s not the biggest leap in the universe to think that because you’ve met somebody who shares similar interests to you that you also share similar values, but in practice, it’s an enormous leap that ignores the fact that a person could have a fundamentally different character and set of desires to you while still working in the same field, or enjoying the same shows, or enjoying the same hobbies and interests.

The leap in thinking comes from an underlying belief that you having these particular interests is linked to your values but let’s think about this for a moment:

Let’s imagine that your interests are being a wine buff and travelling to as many vineyards as possible to fine-tune your palette, as well as growing your own food, 90s hip-hop, skiing in the winter, windsurfing in the summer, salsa at night, and reading about globalisation, and then you meet somebody who enjoys all or most of these things. Eureka!, you think, especially because on some level, in these situations we tend to imagine that the combination of things that interest us is obscure enough that if we were to meet someone who ticks all or most of those boxes, they must surely be our soulmate? They must surely be similar to us, shouldn’t they?

Going deeper now, you might be loyal, conscientious, caring, honest, loving, hardworking, ambitious and more. You at some point want to settle down and enjoy a long-term committed relationship. You’ve tried casual but you value monogamy and are ready for more intimate relationships. Here’s the thing though: The fact that you have the above interests bears no correlation to your values and aspirations. You’re not, for instance, a wine buff who loves 90s hip-hop because you’re loyal, conscientious etc; you’re a wine buff who loves 90s hip-hop and is loyal, conscientious etc.


Those interests don’t speak for your character; they tell you what your interests are. Don’t conflate common interests with character or shared core values.

The way some of us cling to our interests and even personality traits and quirks, you’d swear that they were badges of honour, social proof and personal validation. We think that it means something about us that we’re interested in something. It’s as if we think that ‘certain types of people’ have ‘certain types of interest’ (or personality trait) covered.

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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!
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