hand holding snapshot: is there any chance you could become the picture I had of you in my mind? Typic

Every day people share stories with me that basically boil down to disappointment about people being who they are instead of who they expected or wanted them to be. We form pictures of who people are in our mind that sometimes don’t really bear any relation to their true selves. Yes sometimes it’s because we want to see the best in people, but often it’s a backhanded way of seeing the best in us. What we hope people are fits into the context of our own aspirations, possibly with them.

When they don’t live up to our expectations for them and for us, we feel incredibly disappointed and possibly hurt and rejected too, as if the existence of our expectations and them not being met is down to whether we ‘deserved’ it.

People unfold.

All of this bullshit that we love to fluff people up with is entirely unnecessary and the most amount of pain in all of this is caused for ourselves. We get mad because they haven’t lived up to our expectations. The best time to be mad about someone not being who they’re ‘supposed’ to be is when they don’t live up to who they’ve claimed to be and the things that they’ve promised – that’s entirely different from us making assumptions, putting 2 + 2 together and making 200 and then feeling defrauded… by our own expectations.

People unfold.

If you’re feeling bruised by your expectations not being met, there’s something to be learned by slowing your roll and spending more time in the present. It’s best not to Future Fake and Fast Forward you because the ‘honeymoon’ will only last for a little while and then you’ll feel disappointed when your feelings have grown and you’ve possibly said all manner of things to your friends and family or even started shuffling your life around, and then this person isn’t who you thought they were. So many people struggle with disappointment, not necessarily because they’re experiencing The Biggest Disappointment Ever TM but they battle with this sense of feeling like a fool.

You never have to go through these feelings if you don’t jump to conclusions and you recognise when you need to rein yourself in and calm it down. You never have to experience this disappointment if you accept that you meet someone on day zero and it’s going to take some time to get to know them. It doesn’t matter whether they’re beautiful, or they complimented you, or they’re rich, intelligent, interesting, made it feel like a firework went off in your pants or whatever – you’ve still got to get to know them.

Those assumptions you make, those expectations you have, those feelings you feel on meeting them don’t give you a fast track pass to the future, so yes, you still have to go through the discovery phase.

You can still like them but you have to stay grounded. If you project, you’re just screwing yourself over and that’s before they even have the opportunity to disappoint you based by not matching their own actions with their words.
I had this very long discussion with my mother yesterday about this topic and she couldn’t help but point out that my now husband and I knew we were serious about each other within a few months. I laughed and said, “Yeah mum, but you don’t see me sitting here calling him an asshole nor was I doing this in the weeks, months, and years after we met…”

I hear stories all the time where people say stuff like, “I thought that they would do this”, “I was so sure that ________ would happen”, “I wouldn’t have expected that from her because she’s _____________ {insert assumption}” and “If it were me I would have ____________ so I just don’t understand why they did _____________”

Not all of our expectations are realistic. It’s realistic and necessary to have expectations but it’s critical for them to have a basis. An expectation is a strong belief that something is going to happen or be the case in the future.

We set ourselves up for disappointment when we see X at the outset of meeting somebody and assume that they are Y and that Z is going to happen.

The litmus test of whether you need to address your expectations is whether you have unhealthy beliefs about relationships, love, life and you. You act in line with what you believe otherwise you’d have to believe differently, which is all the more reason to address your expectations so that you don’t set you up to fall and fail. Don’t and you’ll be engaging in insanity – doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

It is realistic to expect to be treated with love, care, trust, and respect within a relationship but it’s unrealistic to expect that someone who isn’t actually consistently behaving this way ‘should’ behave this way or that they will and ‘should’ give you the relationship that you expect because of your feelings and your hopes and your expectations. I think it’s realistic to hope that you will see somebody again after sleeping with them but it’s unrealistic to think that it’s going to become a relationship or that they’re The One because you had a great date followed by even better sex on the first few dates. It is realistic to expect that a relationship that you’re putting your effort, emotion and time into ‘should’ go somewhere but it’s unrealistic to expect that relationship to go somewhere if when you remove what you’re doing, there isn’t much left, or you’re engaging in unhealthy behaviour within an unhealthy relationship.

People unfold. Whatever you expect should be based on the unfolded and unfolding person, not on a ‘snapshot’ that you took that bears no resemblance to who they are.

Your thoughts?

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134 Responses to People Unfold: Let Go Of the Assumptions & Expectations ‘Snapshot’ & Get To Know Someone

  1. Valley Forge Lady says:

    This is so easy to do with on line dating especially if you are doing lots of eamails and phone calls before you even meet. By the time you meet both parties are way ahead of themselves. The guy wants to get a room and the lady wants to go shopping for a ring.
    The go slow sign is really important.

    On line dating is so hard that when you finally connect with someone who appears to be decent…your imagination can go speeding ahead. Perfect message for me!

    • Kit-Kat says:

      VFL… I did online dating years ago after my divorce. In fact I met Mr. Unavail on there. After the break up I thought OK its been years but I am going to take a look & see whats out there .. EWWWEEE. Deleted my profile after 2 days. Being somewhat BR educated at the time I saw so many red flags a waving I knew that was not where I needed or wanted to be.
      I am sure there are some honest, descent,truthfully looking for a relationship men on there but I truly believe they are few and far between. It is such easy hunting grounds for the not so great guys. They dont have to leave their house, they can hide behind a compute, I have lost trust that anyone on there is really being honest. Yes woman can do the same but being over 50 and single I still expect the man to be the one to make the first move,show interest and take it from there.
      Nat, great post.. I think one of the hardest things to get over was when he unfolded completly. I was guilty of seeing him unfold a tiny bit and letting it go. Then he would do something else a little bit and I would let it go. Then came the grand finale that knocked me off my feet.
      SO I ended up disappointed in him but also disappointed in myself because I knew the end of the story before it was ever written. That 6th sense I have knew how it would all go down.
      And it did …

      • Jule says:

        hugs Kit Kat…I also met my AC online and I knew the end of the story before it was written. Duh! Now I’ve been toying with the idea of going online again only because I am not meeting eligible men in person. Where are they? :(

        • Kit-Kat says:

          Jule.. After posting yesterday I was thinking wouldnt it be awesome if they had a a way to post a review of anyone you may have met. U know like you review item you purchased .You could rate them 5 stars being awesome & 1 star not so great. Some suggestions might be:
          Hygiene ???
          Was the picture he posted recent??
          Is there a mark on his finger where the wedding ring usally sits ????
          Did he pick up the tab ??
          DId he seem evasive on some question you may have asked ??
          Would you recommend him to your best friend ???
          Could he hold an intelligent conversation ???
          How awesome would that be :)
          My ex AC is on a dating site with the title. Looking for an attractive,intelligent ,women for friendship & more…. Wish I could review him…ughhhhh

    • Amy says:

      Absolutely true!! I was in an “online friendship” with someone via a blog site that lasted 11 years before we finally met in person.
      I thought I knew everything about him because I’d been reading his writing (and him reading mine) over the course of those years.
      What never came through in that writing was the level of conflict avoidance, a pretty heavy “dope” habit (he smoked pot from the moment he woke up in the morning), and that he was fairly awful at being able to manage taking care of himself.
      Of course I was completely ignoring ALL of these red flags because I had wound myself up so tight in the ILLUSION of what I thought this man was.
      When he pulled the superior flake-out on Christmas Eve, only to officially dump me via email a few weeks later, I cut contact and crawled off to lick my wounds.
      This very “relationship” (or lack thereof) was my inspiration to really curtail my social media, start reading BR every single day, and completely reshape and rethink my behavior in the dating world.
      I realized how often I’d fallen for “illusion” over reality.
      When most of the communication is online (especially in long-distance relationships – oy what a MESS those have been for me too!) it is VERY difficult to get to know someone because you never see the whole person.

    • amanda says:

      I believe you 100% about the pitfalls of too much e-mailing / calling before a first date. Thanks for underscoring this.

  2. McKenzieM says:

    Well said, NML. I was totally guilty of this with the EU AC. When he unfolded, it was hard to deal with, but it made me that much wiser and underscored why the “discovery phase” is so important. When I finally started asking questions, it was too late. I delayed doing so because I didn’t want to push him away/come off as jealous/etc., and as a result, I learned that he was okay with keeping things ambiguous and going with the status quo. Never again will that happen to me. A guy who is actually interested and emotionally available will not mind if I ask those questions. Thank you so much for this blog, NML. It has been life changing and is helping me grow as a person. Five weeks NC! 😀

    • amanda says:

      True. I jumped in feet first and threw log after log on the Fast Forward and Future Fake fire in the beginning. I didn’t learn that EUM was already in a relationship with someone until halfway through the first date (purportedly in an “open relationship” – you know, the kind where he sleeps around, but she doesn’t). I didn’t know that he was married until the second date. I was already so lost in my fantasy world that I just let things happen. It didn’t take long for us to have a “dont ask, don’t tell” arrangement. He was more than happy to tell me how amazing I was, to shower me with love, as long as I didn’t ask hard questions or get upset when he would go dark for weeks at a time. I was only ever drip-fed the truth, and I did nothing to change that because I was afraid of driving him away. Even when we were “just friends”, everything was smoke and mirrors. If I asked anything too probing, he would disappear. Two months ago, he separated from his wife and moved right in with another OW. He no longer needed me to be his Chief Sympathizer, so he stopped throwing me crumbs of a fantasy relationship. For the last three years, he used his marriage as his excuse for why he could never be fully present for me. That excuse is gone, and he is still absent. Unavailable. No more excuses, and the real-McCoy unfolds. I finally have to admit to myself that it was all a fantasy. This rejection has felt like a slow-burn, but I know, in the end of the day, that its good that I no longer hide under the veil of excuses.

      • amanda says:

        On the other hand, here is a hopeful story. While I was lost in the thicket of the MM, I also tried dating other guys. I was a mess, to say the least. There was one man whom I met, and things started out on the wrong foot. I was crazy for him after the first date, we slept together on the second date, and had a few more dates after that. It all felt disconnected because we would have a great date, but then would have sex, and he would shut down, and then wouldn’t call me for a few weeks. He was showing EU signs, but I had been Fast Forwarding. After the fifth date, I decided to break it off with him. No need to even “break up”. We just stopped being in touch. A few months later, he asks me out again, and I accept, but I make it clear that I just want to be friends. Since then, we have had a dozen wonderful get-togethers, all platonic. I count him as a close friend. We help each other the way friends do. He asked me, “Why did we stop hanging out?” I made up some excuse about being busy, but the real answer was… I showed disrespect for myself by how I acted in the beginning, and that led you to disrespect me. I pull back, establish boundaries, communicate that you can’t use my body… and see, you now respect me! What a wonderful lesson to learn. It _can_ work. I lost a lousy lover and gained a wonderful friend.

  3. misty says:

    I think my days of being a fantasy technician are finally over. I realized it was the illusion of the AC that I missed not him! I am grateful to this site! I had a 2.5 yr fantasy online relationship combust in my face. He was my teacher and I have learned the lesson!
    You cannot search for true colors,
    because they will inevitably show.
    And when they do,
    you will know which way to go.
    After one year and breaking NC three times I finally know where to go…I am FREE….

  4. Tired says:

    What unfolded on he r very nice . Please tell me now he’s moved on that he’ll unfold exactly the same way with anyone .

  5. umi says:

    People do reveal who they are and very quickly too. On line dating is interesting firstly in what people do reveal and also in what they don’t. I chatted to someone online, we swopped numbers and about eleven in the evening he starts texting, mainly wanting to text about sex..wait up, do I know you. This happens two evenings…I had to laugh when I questioned what he was looking for (I am not that woman!!) he revealed he was very busy with ‘projects’, work etc but funnily had time to text (not call me late at night)!! Now my little expectation was if we swopped numbers it would be to chat and arrange a date and to get to know each other a little. Clearly his expectation was so much less!!! I am not sure I would let go of the expectation that if you ask for someone’s number it is to forward the relationship, but I know I certainly did not assume that I could change this hopeless case of a man, or that he should act in any specific sort of way. he was surprised when I said all this text chat chat is an utter waste of time. What a looser! Sometimes its positive to have some expectations and assumptions of what you want in a relationship, so you don’t waste time and effort on people who really have a vastly different agenda.

  6. missmilkie says:

    yes this is so definetly true! but not just with playing the dating game…also in friendships. yes people do unfold. and when they turn out to not be what they appeared to be… or what they said they would be…the snapshot fades. the beauty this person once possesed vanishes. you see them in a totally different light. the picture you had in your mind is forever destroyed. the once beautiful and wonderful person you thought you knew.. is gone. and you’re left to think ..what a waste.

  7. Anna says:

    Great post… Yes absolutely… and also expect them to let you “unfold”… Too many times a man on the first date is saying “I want a relationship… I want this I want that..” without even really taking the trouble to get to know me… As far as he is concerned, if you look the part and have a few appealing characteristics, next thing you’re cast as his dream woman… and that carries a lot of obligations for you! I’ve said… “You’ve spent the whole evening telling me about you, your dreams and what you want… you haven’t once asked me ..or even taken the trouble to get to know me… actually i don’t think you’re interested in me at all… Just what you think I could do for you!” … (Mind you I guess by then hopefully, he’s unfolded enough not to get a second date:)

    • Sm says:

      Anna yes, I’ve always thought I was the only one doing this but I’ve had guys do this to me too. I’ve had some characteristics that were appealing to them and they fast forwarded me into ‘the one’. When I behaved contrary to their ideal, which was usually protesting their EU/AC behavior, their illusion was busted. You’ve given me a lot to think about. Fast forwarders don’t let you unfold, they push you into their ideal of a partner…I must be hyper vigilant about this in the future.

  8. paolo says:

    This is very easy to do online indeed..I spoke to someone for 8 months every night, fell in love and then finaly met, twice, to be intimate, then it all fell apart. Mostly because i chose to ignore the massive red flags and let myself get hooked into pretty and intelligent and personality and ignoring too long that she liked to keep contact with ex’s..Something my values could never sit well with and caused too many arguments..Oh and the fact that she wanted to live and work overseas when she got her degree..You’d think that was a wake up call, but no,,too blinded…This is a good post on keeping grounded.

    • twistinmysobriety says:

      what is wrong with wanting to live and work overseas? I know a lot of couples who have moved abroad together. Speaking online with someone for 8 months before meeting up is a red flag though! I have learnt that you cannot really get to know someone through emails and chatting. It just leaves too much room for misunderstandings and imagination.

      • paolo says:

        twistinmysobriety..There’s nothing wrong with someone wanting to live and work overseas, but when that person doesn’t see you as part of that overseas work, or the work is in the arctic doing research, then thats different. :)

      • paolo says:

        I do agree with you that chatting online makes it far too easy to let the imagination run riot though…In the end it’s what ruined it for me. I just couldn’t handle relating to someone i loved using online communication..Was truely painfull. Would never want to repeat it again.

        • twistinmysobriety says:

          Haha…Yeah, when you are clearly not included in the plans for moving abroad that hurts and is definitely a red flag (probably a bit of a pre-warning from her side i.e. “don’t count on me long-term” – I think very typical of someone who is EU).

          I was also involved with someone who loved online communication (although it wasn’t only that). He had no problems sharing everything under the sun virtually (from his childhood memories to his innermost fears and insecurities and need for therapy and so on…) – just forgot to mention that he was dating another girl, and also lied about it when I asked.

          It is so easy to misunderstand and give a lot more meaning to things that are said via text, online chat etc. I completely projected a lot, and built up his character based on the few good things I observed about him in the beginning (riding on the potential of what he could have been) and based on the online communication. The internet is definitely not the place to share any deep secrets.Very painful indeed, and I will also never repeat this again!

      • intuitive says:

        re: being overseas, the thing is those couples have usually met in their home country and already were on a similar track well before deciding to leave. I’ve been in the situation of working overseas, meeting someone on vacation, and feeling a lot of pain and heartache upon having to say goodbye once it’s time to return to work. I have forged a relationship with someone I met in such a situation while on vacation back in my home country, and I returned repeatedly to see them during my breaks. It is still very hard. It’s also been hard for the married couples I know where one works overseas.

        It’s largely for my own happiness that I am returning to my home country permanently. I will live in the same city as the person I am dating and we will *really* get to see where the relationship is headed. I am hopeful, but also know that if the relationship ends, I won’t be in a situation where I am stuck only being able to have LTRs. The pain and uncertainty is just too great.

  9. Still stub says:

    How long is the unfolding supposed to take? What if you knew someone for many months on a daily basis who steps over the line — barely — while having a girlfriend? You think you know him until you yourself take a step back after realizing he wasn’t making any grand decision to be with you? This happened to me. By the time a line was barely crossed, I was attached and he pulled away. Many months of suck and see til it gets almost as if i am some kind of bad guy, getting treated with almost disregard. Now I am no contact. I think I was a blip on his radar screen but for me he was so much more. I feel like I lost him somehow and he is moving merrily along. I can’t seem to make a mental break even though I’ve removed myself from being anywhere’s near. Does anyone have any suggestions? I’ve turned this around totally on myself.

    • grace says:

      I would count day one as the first date, not the first time you saw each other, or were friends, or started hanging out. You let it unfold from there. As a guideline, I didn’t feel as though I knew my boyfriend very well until the three month mark, and it was nearly six months until I felt confident of my judgement. The relationship is still unfolding. And this is seven months of seeing each other regularly,with monogamy on both sides.
      I knew my boyfriend for several months before we started dating. He was pre-approved as everyone at church liked and respected him. But someone can be respectable and likeable and a crap boyfriend. Someone can like you as a fellow christian, or friend and not want to be your boyfriend. It does take mental discipline to keep your expectations in check and to stamp out the fantasies. But it is do-able, we shouldn’t tell ourselves we can’t help it. “Your” guy has a character default if he was leading you on when he had a girlfriend. It’s wrong. You will do yourself a big favour by not getting involved with attached men. Any attached man. Even if his wife is a bitch, or his girlfriend is in a coma. You are not a sticking plaster for someone else’s unsatisfactory relationship.
      You didn’t lose him, as it sounds like you didn’t have him. And you can’t lose someone (barring kidnap) if they don’t want to be lost.

    • Sm says:

      You know about him from the beginning, key words, he had a girlfriend. That was your top line data. The rest is on you. Unfolding is for people who show up seemingly available.

      • natashya says:

        i agree. there’s no need to let somebody unfold when there’s a big red ‘i’m attached’ flag waving in your face. that’s all you need to know.

        • Still stub says:

          Thanks, Grace, Sm and Natashya. I’ve posted under a different name before and have received good advice from posters here. So, I won’t ask again for the same advice as what i received was very good advice. I finally took the advice and went no contact. My problem now is in how to really and truly be no contact in my mind. He did lead me on but I was ready for the ride. I don’t know why I can’t stop thinking of him. How did he become the end-all, be-all person whose attention would make be feel worthwhile? I don’t think I was ever like this before. He is so far removed from me and I am so stuck.

          • Sm says:

            NC is a conscious action, just keep doing it until your mind wraps itself around the idea. It’s normal to want to break Nc in the beginning but resist it with all your efforts until it becomes habit.

          • natashya says:

            still, good to hear you’re NC. that’s the most important part of the entire healing process. no new pain. yay!

            how to get him out of your mind? oh, i so wish there were memory erasing pills available. or a procedure like ‘eternal sunshine of the spotless mind’.

            i’ve been wrestling with the same issue, so i know it’s really hard and often quite crazy making. i do know though that it’s a gradual process. you don’t just wake up one morning and you’re cured from the assclown flu.

            there are things though that you can do. for a while, when the EUM would invade my thoughts (which was all day), i would pull out my list of reasons why he was a clown. or whenever i felt like bursting out into tears, i’d snap a hair tie on my wrist and visualised a ‘stop’ sign and actively diverted my attention to something else.

            thinking about these people becomes a habit as well, so just like any habit, there’s ways of breaking them.

            on another board, someone posted an amazing link to how this works. this really helped me a lot to understand why we can’t stop obsessing about them and how creating new neural pathways is our ‘get out of jail card’.

            i hope this helps:


            • Tabitha says:

              Thanks for the link Natashya it was interesting. I am nearly 5 months NC and have struggled the past few days which surprised me as I had been doing really well. Then I realized, it was two things combined, one was the fact I was at risk of seeing him at work today. The second fact was that I am really very unwell with some horrid virus which has left me feeling very sorry for myself and with no energy. So, i wasn’t at work and didn’t have to see him anyway. I am sure that once I am feeling better my urges to break NC will go away. It was so bad at first. I really thought about him 24/7. Nothing was safe from thoughts of him. Even things like supermarket shopping, which we never even did together!! It feels like a kind of madness but it does weaken and of course it will eventually go and I will think of him as often as I think of other exes (I hope!) In the meantime I just keep telling myself that contact with him will only bring me pain.

            • Still Stub says:

              Sm and Natashya – Thank you for your additional replies (and for the link, Natashya).

              This is my second go-round with NC. And please know that my situation is so very minor compared to others on here. Nothing much happened, even physically. It’s more that he meant so much to me, and I had to change my schedule in a big way, and the whole thing made me feel rejected.

              Even in the conversations I had with him (and there was a final one), I think he thought he was having a good “discussion” with me, but I just felt dinged each time. He actually was insulting and I don’t think he even realized it!

              I desperately wanted to undo NC the first time and ultimately did. Not so much this time. I know this time that we are NOT friends, that he watched out only for himself and that it’s not such a big deal for him that I’m not around anymore.

              I did not weigh as much in this equation as he did.

            • amanda says:

              Wow, this is a wonderful link. I’m in the same boat. I’m plagued by obsessive thoughts, even though I know the relationship is over. He moved onto someone else. At first, I would have terrifying obsessive thoughts about the new woman. She loomed large in my mind; perfect, amazing, etc. I even internet stalked her and learned what she looked like, her age, etc. I’ve never met her in RL, nor will I. I realized… aha! She doesn’t actually EXIST in my world. I mean, she exists, but not in MY WORLD. When she came up I would think of her as a 2-dimensional image, and then I would will her to vanish, pixel by pixel. It was a powerful trick. I was the one torturing myself. Not her. I am hoping to be able to use this Jedi Mind Trick on my obsessive thoughts about the exMM. Harder since I knew him in real life, although possible, because I can realistically expect never to interact in RL with him again.

              • Confused123 says:

                Oh Amanda: I could have written this word for word.
                I, too was obsessed with the woman that my Ex cheated and dumped me for.
                I love the 2-dimensional image trick. I’m going to try it.

          • Lilly says:

            Still stub,

            It’s hard to stop thinking about someone who you have/had genuine feelings for. My therapist suggested I allow myself a certain amount of time and then get on with other things. During that time she said I should focus on what feelings and thoughts come up when I think of him. For me the words “I miss him (!)” might spring up, but if I really examine them what am I actually missing? Am I really missing someone who treated me so cruelly or am I missing the fantasy of what I thought he was going to be? This helps me because it makes me focus on the here and now and no, I don’t miss being treated that way. He’s also done a good job making me believe “I need him” workwise. I’ve lost count how many times he’d remind me that he is the expert, he has the contacts and I need his help to forward my career. As a result I’m having a difficult time believing in myself and my abilities. It’s an effort, but I keep reminding myself that my grades/work prior to him speak for themselves. That’s my work and my ability and he has nothing to do with it. I DON’T need him. This technique might not work for everyone, but it is helping me and it might help you too. I’ve been NC for 3 weeks today and this morning he wasn’t the first thing on my mind! The first thing I thought of was putting the kettle on for tea. He immediately sprung to mind after, but the big thing is he wasn’t my first thought! I really am moving on and Still, you will too. You deserve so much more.

            • Still Stub says:


              I’ve had to take my skill set elsewhere, and I was fine for a couple months. For whatever reason, I started to think that I did not have to totally make this break; however, it was a big deal for me to do so and I know I did it for a reason. The reason WAS there.

              I’ve just never been on the “outs” like this before. So, even tho it was me who stepped, I feel like I was left to do so.

              I feel demoralized.

              I am so well received elsewhere, but it’s all I can do not to focus on how all this was my fault and it’s because someone got close enough to see something unworthy in me.

              I have followed your story and am glad to read about you bravely moving forward.

              Thank you again for replying.

              • jewells says:

                Hey Still, my two cents – you nailed a lot of what your obession is about – what you said about “how all this was my fault and it’s because someone got close enought to see something unworthy in me”. It’s the same as my inner dialogue. Over the years I have had trouble letting others close as I thought of myself as inherently flawed and if other saw it I would surely be rejected. This is where my hook was with the epiphany relationship. I let him close with his FF/FF, and when he ‘disappeared’ I was devastated. BUT it wasn’t about him, it was about the ‘closeness’ the ‘relationshit’ seemed to offer, the fact that I didn’t have this closeness in any other ways in my life. It pointed out where I was lacking in other ways – but not me as a person, just what I was allowing myself out of life. Had I been living a full life, with good relationships already, he wouldn’t have found a foothold in the first place.
                The time now is to quell those horrible inner voices and learn to believe in ourselves, to foster close relationships in other areas so that crumbs are never attractive again…

                • Still stub says:

                  Jewells – I got emotional reading your response because I think you identified my root problem.

                  My life had become very small. I was slowly starting to branch out from a very, very long hibernation that followed an abusive marriage. And, when I say long hibernation, I mean loooooong.

                  It’s like I did not even recognize I was in deep until it (whatever “it” was) was over.

                  And then it felt like I was alone again. Something that was never a problem but seems to be now.

                  YOu say, “BUT it wasn’t about him, it was about the ‘closeness’ the ‘relationshit’ seemed to offer, the fact that I didn’t have this closeness in any other ways in my life.”

                  You are right, it’s the closeness that I miss. The connection I thought we had. Even the brief times he would put his arms around me and hold me.

                  That’s what I miss.

                  • jewells says:

                    Still, thanks. This is why I read all the posts here everyday. I see myself in a lot of them. I saw in yours what corresponded to mine and now even more. I too have been ‘hibernating’, not connecting with friends or even family for one reason or another. I am trying to fix this tendancy, but I’ve also been doing it so long that it’s going to be a hard habit to break. But I know it’s the only way so I have to do it. Good luck with your efforts, I know we can do this :)

    • Lilly says:


      I feel for you. It’s true we can’t really lose someone we never really had, but it still hurts. I wished I’d paid attention to the top line data “he is married” because he’d already unfolded; he was a cheat and a liar. I was foolishly under the impression that his marriage was all but over and then promptly buried myself in a fantasy that we would run off into the sunset together (total idiot). It’s hard coming to terms with it all and I can be really hard on myself at times. All I can suggest is that you continue NC because the further away from it you are the clearer it all becomes. He may well have gone on his merry way and I suspect “my” exAC has too, but I don’t think I’ve “lost” anything worth keeping. I have however (thanks to BR), gained some much needed wisdom and I won’t as Grace says ever again be “….a sticking plaster for someone else’s unsatisfactory relationship”.

      • Hopesprings says:

        Grace, you give good advice. Still, I feel for you as well. I’m in the same boat. I could have saved myself a world of hurt and avoided a 2.5 year affair had I paid attention to the top line data (HE HAS A GIRLFRIEND). It would take pages to recount all the mistakes I made but the biggest was foolishly believing we could be lovers and friends without any consequences or that I could keep my emotions and feelings for him out of it. Foolish, foolish, woman am I! Sure, he had qualities I liked and enjoyed (even admired), but nothing I can’t find in a truly available man. I’ve been NC 3.5 months and I know I haven’t lost anything. As Natasha wisely points out, NC equals “no new pain.” I keep reminding myself of what I’ve gained (or regained) during this time: self-respect; easy sleep; being proud of the woman I see in the mirror every morning; and a life that lacks duplicity.

        If your pain is really fresh it will be difficult to erase him completely from your thoughts. For me, I’m really examining all aspects of my life and areas that I’ve neglected because I put so much into this fantasy, dead-end relationship. It takes time and you have to want to do it. When I met him I thought I was an amazing woman. That thought has never left me. I’m now discovering how truly amazing I can be and I absolutely will not allow him to rob me of these new discoveries. Remember that, every moment and thought you devote to him is time you steal from yourself.

        • Still Stub says:

          Thank you Lilly and HopeSprings. I will definitely continue with NC. I can’t believe I got hooked like this. But there is no denying that I cannot be in touch again. For my sanity and for my pride.

          I have to remind myself that I am someone special and kind, a loyal and good person. If I am devalued, I should stay far, far away.

          I have to lower my threshold for poor treatment.

      • Still Stub says:

        Lilly – Thank you for your comments. I can’t believe I was in the situation or that it unraveled or that the aftermath is a situation in itself for me!

        I read BR often and it helps.

  10. Maggie says:

    It is realistic to expect that a relationship that you’re putting your effort, emotion and time into ‘should’ go somewhere but it’s unrealistic to expect that relationship to go somewhere if when you remove what you’re doing, there isn’t much left, or you’re engaging in unhealthy behaviour within an unhealthy relationship.

    This short passage pretty much smacked me in the face, it’s that accurate. I find every article that i read on here contains at least one part like this, that hits the nail on the head and puts into words the uneasy feelings that I’ve had difficulty articulating. So thank you for that. It’s true, when I look at my efforts with a recent man I’ve had an on/off thing with, I see that it’s been all me. Strip away my efforts and there’s nothing there, because it’s been completely one-sided. Ignoring the rest of his red flag behaviour (and there’s been a boatload, trust me), this one fact alone should be enough for me to see that our dalliance is one that is never going to work out or turn into anything more than it is.

  11. Lucky_Charms says:

    I totally see that I set myself up for disappointment with an assclown. The reason it happened was because he future faked me for a year. That was when I had expectations, basically because he lied about wanting to progress the relationship. Throughout this debacle, I always maintained my own home and career. I always took care of me and my kids first. Thank God I did, since I am financially independent of him.
    Realizing that actions were not matching words was the first step for me. When I first met him I had no expectations other than an evening out. I never thought past that. We didn’t have sex for months. I get the snapshot visual, that you can make a big ole’ world out of nothing. I only had expectations after a bunch of promises that never came true. This has been the hardest thing to get over. I never would have stayed in that relationship, if I had known about future faking. Thank God for BR, or I still would be waiting around for an assclown. Today, is 4 months NC. Like I said, the most devastating thing I have to get over is the future faking. I have trust issues now, I never had before. It will be a long time before I am ready to date. If any of you ladies were future faked, how did you move on after it?

    • Tabitha says:

      Lucky, I was soooo Future Faked. When I look back it is just embarrassing. I shall try to excuse my piss poor behaviour by explaining that when I met him, on a week long residential training course, I had been divorced for 2 years and had not actually dated anyone new for 17 years. Rusty doesn’t begin to cover it.
      So, our eyes meet across a crowded training room and yes, you could literally see the sparks arcing between us. Within 3 hours of us meeting he was telling me he wanted to move to my city, which is 2 to 3 hours drive from his. FF? Much? As the relationship developed he told me how important I was to him, how it was the best relationship he had ever had, I was so special, we were going to buy a lovely house in the country, we were going to have all these animals. We looked together at house boats he was going to buy and he talked about all the fantastic holidays we were going to have on it. We were going to Italy. Oh it was all so wonderful and fantastic. I believed all of it. Because I would never lie like that, and nobody had ever FF’d me before. I was CLUELESS. The one holiday we did have, he couldn’t get through without a newly revealed coke habit. And he struggled to have sex with me even once. After that it all just seemed to fall apart. It was like, once he knew I had begun to see the rancid side of him, he was just waiting for it all to come tumbking down so he didn;t put up such a pretence any more. Still wanted to see me and called all the time, but couldn’t manage sex, and all the lovey dovey talk disappeared. When I finally ditched him, and yes, as someone else posted, thank God for pain, he seemed resigned to it. said he knew he no longer made me happy. Didn’t stop him hoovering though.
      Anyway, just wanted to illustrate that I have experienced this. The way I am trying to recover is mainly via this site. Also by working on myself. At first I thought it was all about him and what was wrong with him (plenty) but as time has gone on I have conentrated on myself and my own happiness.
      I can make all those lovely things happen for myself. I have realised they were mostly my dreams, not his, and he was just projecting this to keep me interested. First thing was to develop boundaries, which I varely had before. I now treat myself much better and my self esteem is vastly improved. One of the FF promises was a trip to Italy. Well I have bookedmyself a trip to Italy. I don’t need his sorry ass trailing along, complaining about everything and dragging me down. The validation he promised me I can give myself, the love care and respect also comes from within and from my wonderful friends. I also have trust issues, but is that such a bad thing? I was so trusting I was a sitting duck for the heartless narc. I try to see the whole experience as a positive now, and I really hope you can do the same. Maybe yours meant it when he said it and then realised he just coudn’t deliver. Pitiful, I know. Maybe it is just a game to them? The thing is you will never know the truth and either way, he was not the man you thought he was. Maybe the person you thought he was is inside you?

      • Wiser says:

        The main word that struck me in your post was “rusty.” That was me too!! In spades. Didn’t see it coming, was totally stunned to be treated so poorly. Felt like the biggest fool who ever lived. I ignored all the red flags, did all the wrong things.

        But I learned so much through this experience too. I’ve learned to see it in a positive light, as you have. I applaud you for the steps you’re taking to make lemonade out of some very sour lemons!

        • Marianna says:

          The phrase that jumped out for me was “Maybe the person you thought he was is inside you?”
          I think for me, I projected everything on to my exAC, and am still guilty of covering him in glory and stardust in my mind… even though he is clearly a liar, cheat, coward and a fraud. The snapshot I refused to let go of was that he was this charismatic, sparkling person who everyone loved, funny and charming. But I never absorb it when people tell me I am charismatic, funny and charming and (occasionally) they do! So I project it all out onto him when really its inside of me. Well put Tabitha.

  12. Sandra says:

    Great post. Any suggestions on how to deal with eu ac after they’ve unfolded and I have to see his face every week at church? It’s been close to two years and I cannot seem to get past the hurt.

    • Sm says:

      Nope, nothing except time and therapy. I had to stare at mine sing in the choir every Sunday. It took about a year for it to stop hurting. And of course we would run into each other but he was only eu not an ac. I am still very cordial to him and wish him all the best.

    • recoveringloveaddict says:

      Sandra, a 12-step recovery group I belong to suggest praying for those we have resentments toward. I prayed every night for good things for the AC that I allowed to dupe me. I prayed for the good things I wanted for myself for him to have also. I knew it was ok to stop praying when I started forgetting to pray for him. This took many months. Gradually I went from hating him to pitying the sick man he is.

  13. miskwa says:

    Yep, this has been my undoing in the past. Seeing good in someone where good really doesnt exist. Ive also learned that some unfold quickly such as the nitwit I posted in the last topic that bummed a ride from me; he was unfolding right and left within an hour vs. the at work AC who was able to hide his duplicity for two damned years. As much as one wants to trust, I think our spidey senses need to stay on high alert for a looong time. Again, the new Miskwa is not so trusting, not so optimistic, and is a much harsher judge of character, and should she get around to going on line (no chance of meeting anyone remotely relationship material here, I learned my lesson in that regard big time) she is prepared to do a whole lot of flushing if needed.

  14. recoveringloveaddict says:

    “the snapshot fades”

    I tried to keep the snapshot from fading, to keep the AC from unfolding. I wanted him to keep flirting with me and making sexual remarks to me. I wanted the compliments to keep coming and the double takes as i walked by. I wanted him to keep making me feel so wanted and desirable and alive. I didn’t want to sit around and have a conversation with him because when I did I would see glimpses of who he really was. A selfish, self-centered loser. An assclown. But what it also did was show me a glimpse of my own behavior, I unfolded. What I was. A married woman desperate for attention who was also being selfish and self-centered. I thank God that he unfolded, that he couldn’t keep up the charade, because it saved me from a full blown affair. I am also grateful for this website that helped me to see through him when I was finally ready (thank God for pain)and showed me the way out. Thank you, Natalie.

  15. natashya says:

    if i could pick one post i could have read when getting involved with the EUM, i think this might be the one.

    when i was told i was everything he’d been looking for followed by asking me if i wanted to move in with him, i believed him. solely based on the fact that everything i had told him, i actually meant.

    i really do feel stupid and naive about it. i was 40 years old. not some spring chicken.

    i think especially when meeting online you have to be extra careful. all the lovely emailing and skyping can very quickly lead to false intimacy. before i had even met the EUM in person, i just knew he was ‘the one’ for me. and when we did meet, it just sealed the deal. i told all my friends and family about him and our plans. strangely enough, none of them warned me about him ‘unfolding’. or perhaps they though i was so delusional that it would not have mattered at all.

    i am not dating, but i’ve since met a few guys that all seemed ‘nice’ and even without dating them, they all pretty quickly unfolded. mostly into assclowns and EUMs.

    my AC and EUM alert system are on high, i put up my future faking and fast forwarding shields. this coupled with installing my values and putting up boundaries, i will surely be much better prepared in the future.

  16. Little Star says:

    Thanks Nat, another great post.

    When I met my ex AC in the Bar for the first time, I never noticed his height (5’6 as I usually go for taller guys) as he was funny, intelligent and I was concentrated only on his personality, he was so irresistible and charming that I could not care less if he wanted to have a future with me or not. I thought that my ex AC was ideal man for me, I did not build any “sand castles” in my head, I was REAL, but it started to change after we became intimate and future faking began…. IT was all about physical attraction, I never really got to know him! His words did not match his actions and it was the main disappointment, I wish I was more open with him from the beginning, I never talked about my “needs and wants”, I was happy to receive “crumbs” till I’ve had ENOUGH moment:)

  17. Tired says:

    As i aproach 3 months nc , and keep heading on , its all i can take with me somedays that hell unfold on her eventually . Somtimes it is done and its to late youre hooked by the time it strikes you that the pic is fading . His life is set up how he wants free of debt and a buisness bought for him . I hope it cuts both ways and she unfolds on him lol

  18. AA says:

    I love this website, it really is a different approach and changes the dynamics. Most people (women) keep saying I am so unlucky or why am I always meeting such AC or Narcissists or whatever, but then they/us (Women) have to take responsibility on why we are letting such people come into our lives and why we end up persuing them like glue stick, and why they end up turning table saying we are crazy.As you say we like to live in La La Land :-)
    We so avoid to wake up and smell the coffee and see red flags for what they are. Great blog Natalie – congrats.

  19. Louise says:

    Thanks for a great article. I seem to meet middle age men (I am 48) who fall madly in love with me within weeks of emailing, phoning, texting and skyping. Once we seem to spend time together they suddenly become distant and before I know it I have either been dumped by text or just never hear from them again. By then I have got quite attached to them and suddenly feel that it’s all my fault and there must be something wrong with me – after all, things were going well until they had to spend large amounts of time with me. I am always upfront with how I describe myself and while they are falling madly in love with me and planning a life together I keep reminding them I am just a pretty ordinary normal girl. It’s like they meet me and suddenly go “well you are pretty ordinary after all”. I am left devastated and feel as though it’s all my fault.

    • natashya says:

      louise, it’s got very little to do with you. and the part that has to do with you, is not what you might think it is.

      within weeks of meeting you, these clowns are falling madly in love with you and are planning a life together? seriously? they are high on the thrill of the chase, they are fast forwarding and future faking. it’s fantasy, not real. of course, after a bit the ‘relationship’ must go somewhere… after all, they’ve now created expectations. they realise they must either step up to the plate or end it.

      here’s the trick, i believe that a lot of these fast forwarders and future fakers are highly EU. an emotionally healthy person wouldn’t do such a thing.

      so they can’t step up and the only way left is out. a semi decent EUM might actually tell you the truth to your face. however, what seems to be more often the case is that they unfold into assclowns, by simply managing down your expectations, treating you horribly, fading out of your life or the most cowardly of all, disappearing.

      your part in this? that you ignore the red flags that do pop up when someone fast forwards and future fakes. it’s got nothing to do with you being not special enough. their shady behaviour is absolutely no reflection on you. i was in your shoes before, but i now see things so much clearer. it’s THEM, not you.

      • Lilia says:

        Louise, I´m wondering if for some men it is just about practicing their seduction skills? And that is why they go online to find available women?
        I´ve had similar experiences as you, the guys who spend a lot of time pursuing online or by text or phone. They use a lot of lovely words and really seem to put quite some effort in making me trust them and open up. Then, nothing much – or very little – happens in real life.
        So maybe that is all they are looking for, polishing their techniques?
        I think this is the same thing that happens with sexting, which I think is the most ridiculous pastime there is.

        • Mymble says:

          That is exactly what I suspect. That he was consciouly using me as target practice, for when his marriage broke up for real. He said a few things that were suggestive of that. I do try not to dwell on it though, as it makes me so angry and upset that I feel like breaking NC and having a go.
          He would just deny it anyway.

      • Kit-Kat says:

        Natashya…You are dead on with everything you wrote. I think they get a high of adrenaline during the chase and once they have you in their pocket, well, its just not giving them those same highs. Its game over. Then they move on or as u said manage down your expectations. They dont want a relationship, they want the high of the chase but keep you around just in case ,you know, they need an ego stroke,shag or whatever you have on offer… YUKKY…

        • Tracy says:

          I understand this completely as this is where all my post-divorce relationships have ended up…me dumped, out of the blue, after I have been told how amazing/brilliant/wonderful I am. But my part in this drama has been seeing and ignoring red flags. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if it was a red flag or if I should just ‘give the benefit of the doubt’…after all, we all have baggage. But the out-of-the-blue dumping at New Years really threw me for a loop, I couldn’t understand what happened…

          …until I had some time…then the red flags started popping up as I reflected on my time with this man. And where do I even begin??? He SEEMED so with it, ticked lots of boxes, very responsive, responsible…But in hindsite the red flags were: first communicated mostly in multiple times a day emails, then I was managed down to texts, texts that were often initiated by him, responded to by me pretty quickly, then NO response from him…for hours. The “couldn’t respond to your text because I fell asleep on the couch” BS line when he didn’t respond on a Saturday night. Breaking dates on our only date night per week.

          Biggest red flag I ignored: Telling me that in his four years post-divorce his longest relationship was 7 months, and he really wanted out after 4, and the relationship before me was only 3 months because he “got bored”. Well, ours lasted about 3.5 months. I guess I overstayed my welcome about two weeks.

        • natashya says:

          it may sound like an evil ploy, but i actually do think that a lot of these EUMs don’t even consciously think about it. that it’s not a case of ‘well, let’s see how we can mess up louise/kit-kat/natashya’. i think in many cases they believe they are interested and then when they get us, the adrenaline goes back to normal levels and reality sets in. it doesn’t make it right, and still leaves us bewildered, but i really do think a lot of this nonsense isn’t necessarily premeditated assclownery.

          • Louise says:

            Thanks for your comments Natashya. I do agree that these men aren’t evil they just don’t know what they want. In my case they are all highly professional, successful, decent men. The last was a high profile media celeb. They push you to get as involved as them and then suddenly pull the rug from under you. Not what you expect from 55 year olds who should know better. But maybe this 48 year old should know better too!!! This is my third encounter with a man like this in 2 years. Same OTT behaviour after online contact and texts all day, phone calls etc. Surely there must be a good one out there.

  20. Lessons Learned says:

    I have been guilty of this in my last two relationships. 6 years of my life spent in the justifying zone. Trying to get them to live up to how amazing they were at the start. At least I am sortof learning – took me 5 years to work out the first time, one year the second.

    I totally understand Nats point about letting people unfold – but I’m now in a new relationship and finding it hard to trust myself.

    It’s been over a year since I started reading BR and about 4 months with the new man, and I really like this guy. I do think we are compatible, and I think we share values. And he really does make me happy. And I want to jump for joy, but then I remind myself it’s only 4 months, he may yet unfold. So I pull back. I haven’t said I love him, even though I do.

    There aren’t any red flags I can think of, but I’m finding it so hard to just go along, and fear I may ruin this by being too cautious. He knows my last relationships didn’t end well, and I have told him that I thought my last bfs were great but then they turned. So I hope he understands why I’m holding back.
    But I’m so scared of moving too fast and so scared of moving too slow!!

  21. EC says:

    This post rings especially true for me. I’m really grateful to have found this website. It’s as if I’m starting to see the light, more and more each day. I know now that the relationship that has caused and is currently causing me so much grief wasn’t a waste of time as I’ve learned so much from it already and it’s only been four months since the break-up… The residual sadness just takes time. I’m impatient for it to be ‘over’ at times but mostly I’m just looking forward to the future. So thank you, Natalie.

  22. nancyw says:

    What hit me with this article is that I so call my AC an AC. I spend all my time complaining about him, which should tell me something. Then I find myself making excuses for him. I have HUGE expectations, and spend all my time and financial resources trying to make him be what I want him to be. It will never happen…he’s not emotionally capable and never will be. But I continue thinking I’m the special one and then get disappointed and humiliated over and over again. It’s just crazy. He recently ignored me after we went to an event together (which I set up and paid for), and during the ignore another woman posted on his fb a statement about something they did together. Like clockwork…I could have predicted then exact time, I received a text yesterday from him that said “miss your face.” I’ve received a million of those text from him. I haven’t responded and am trying to be strong and keep ignoring them. I leave for a 10 day trip out of the country. I am hoping I get clarification while away and return stronger and renewed. But I do have to say it’s difficult. I fell hard for this man because I did (do) have expectations. He will never ever meet my expectations, so I need to let him go. Ugh!

  23. nancyw says:

    BTW…he told me after the third time we slept together that he wasn’t a nice person, and I remember laughing and thinking “but I am the one that you’ll be nice to.” That was over two years ago, and he has shown me over and over that he isn’t nice. But I plug along still thinking I’m the one that can change him, when the reality is that I am the one that needs to change and love myself.

    • natashya says:

      nancyw, when they tell you they are assclowns, not worthy, that you can do better, that they don’t deserve you bla bla, believe them.

      when they tell you that they don’t want to hurt you, you can be assured that they will.

      at the age of 41 i think i can finally say that i’ve cracked the assclown code. they aren’t that unique and they certainly aren’t that special.

      he was right. he isn’t a nice person. please, block this oxygen thief for your own sanity.

      • selkie says:

        The whole ‘I don’t want to hurt you’ statement is so revealing. It means they’ve already done something that you don’t know about or they PLAN to. It’s a warning, not a heart to heart or opening up about you or caring about your feelings. It’s also a disclaimer. They are saying it’s inevitable, they ARE going to hurt you, otherwise why even say something like that? They already know. It’s also like saying they re not responsible for what’s to come. They FEAR they are going to hurt you, almost like they have no say over their own actions. When I hear this I know they have one foot out the door.

    • Kit-Kat says:

      nancyw…Stay strong , ignore him like the plague. He is a disgusting scumbag. From your previous post it is so obvious this guy is no good for you.No good for anyone really. I know its hard but you can do this !!!

  24. Tenneil says:

    I met a guy while travelling in Europe on Contiki last year. We both lived in different cities in Australia and somehow, I got caught up in all his bullshit saying a long distance relationship could work. He stayed on in Europe for another two months when I got back home and when he got home, he started to unfold.

    During Contiki, I had been so confused as to whether I should go into a LDR or not. It was my first everything with him. I was scared of hurting him not knowing whether I could do this, but from the love that he seemed to have had for me, he convinced me that it could work. All the fast forwarding and future faking, I can’t believe I was so blind to it all.

    During those two months while he was in Europe, he constantly wanted to talk to me. When we weren’t texting, he wanted me to write long Facebook messages to him and when I couldn’t reply straight away (I was at work!), he’d get upset. The moment he got back home, he told me he wasn’t an emotional person and that he was very logical and rational, yet this came as a total shock to me. When he went back to work, I told him I missed talking to him a lot, but he said it was my fault and he always puts in the effort. Even though I spent every spare moment I had talking to him while he was away, I tried making the effort after what he said, but it was never returned.

    By the last month of our measly four months together, he told me I needed to rely on him less – even for something as so damn simple as asking him to text me before he boarded the plane home. We would later have a phone call about us texting less and he’d call me every night before bed. He told me not to think of us as together in the future and when I move to be with him, I should find my own place, even though he originally said he wanted to live with me. During the phone calls on his time, he was tired, he’d had his fun with his friends and we couldn’t have a decent conversation together. He didn’t seem interested in me anymore and he always distracted himself on his computer while on the phone to me.

    Looking back, there were so many red flags I ignored. He told me he’d slept with 30 girls only after he’d slept with me and knew I was a virgin. He hadn’t been in a relationship in four years and he was telling me he wanted to be in a relationship after a mere week!

    He told me his best friend was too needy and doesn’t like being around him much, as he prefers hanging out with another friend who is much easier. He has a couple of other friends he doesn’t like to see often because they’re weird sometimes. He’s incredibly shallow and judgemental – he’d call his 15 year old sister fat saying, “Are you sure you want to eat that?” and even his mum said he was mean to her (although she kind of said it in a joking way). He’d call me fat sometimes too, even though I’m stick thin!

    How foolish I was to get involved with a EUAC. I’m mostly over the hurt he caused me and I caused myself, but I still cry sometimes – I even am now. :( It just hurts knowing he was my first and at 24, I still have never experienced real love. Worst of all, he was the one who broke up with me saying, “I can’t imagine doing this for a year and sometimes you don’t know until you try… maybe when you move, we can see how things go”.

    I should be grateful I’ve learnt a lot in such a short amount of time and I’m glad I haven’t wasted anymore time with him. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder how people can be so cruel. I wonder whether he just wanted me for sex or if he genuinely wanted to be with me and was so delusional and egotistical to think he could make it work with me.

    • Tenneil says:

      Oh, and about the moving, I had been thinking about moving to his city even before I met him for better career opportunities. I still want to and don’t worry, I’ve been in NC with him for three months. Deleted his number and blocked him on Facebook. I want to do this for me.

  25. Wiser says:

    This was my downfall, as I projected every positive attribute onto my EUM because of his professional persona. He was my boss (first big mistake) and since we worked for a very honorable and well-respected and trusted organization, I thought he was honorable and respectable and trustworthy too (second big mistake). I couldn’t separate him from the uniform and his title. Every other leader I’ve known in this organization has been just wonderful, as our profession attracts really good and honest people. I really thought he would be the same. I was attracted to the man he “appeared” to be: a calm, mature professional with character and integrity. Devoted 30 years to the profession. Must care deeply. Surely a rock-solid, stand-up kinda guy, right? Oh, so WRONG!

    I remember my first “date” with him – we went sailing, and when I first saw him on the boat, I was shocked. He was wearing nothing but shorts, and to see him mostly naked (it wasn’t that warm – he was mostly naked for effect) was disturbing. This was my first queasy gut feeling that I didn’t pay attention to. But I remember that it seemed slightly ‘off’. It was too casual. This wasn’t “him” at all! Turns out the mostly naked, casual, sort of sleazy guy was him all right.

    It’s amazing how stubborn these false impressions and projections can be, even in the face of numerous screaming red flags. But I feel confident in saying, never again, never again…

  26. Poppy says:

    Like most people I came across this site by searching for ‘hot and cold’ behaviours in a relationship just over a couple of years ago. I have been an avid reader since then but not really replied as, even though I learned a lot from Natalie I still thought I could be the exception. Don’t we all at some point until we’re ready to admit have made a massive misjudgement in our own trust in ourselves.

    My ex unfolded the first day I met him and my only justification and reasoning is ‘I just didn’t understand..’

    After we first met, we had a massive text marathon and I told him all about my wishes for the future as well as my vulnerabilities which at the time I had no idea these would be bate for him in the future. We had our first date and the lies started to appear, basically I was a rebound and didn’t realise the implications of this. I do now as she was part of our relationship for the whole time and when I expressed my feelings towards this they were disregarded. I did the usual and forgave and justified and reasoned and believed and drove myself crazy and acted needy and lived in a total state of anxiety and stress and it’s goes on and in and on. Hideous that I should have put myself through this. I was gaslighted, disrespected, abused physically, emotionally and verbally, criticised, pushed away, lured back in, pushed away, lured back in, pushed away, promises, promises, promises etc etc. I know my story isn’t any different and as a previous post has stated it is not unique but I just have to write this down to help me.

    We broke up and got back together at least 30 to 40 times in two years. We never made a full month and I still stayed for more of this shit. The question of ‘why’? is still a bit of a mystery. I am embarrassed at my behaviour and I didn’t realise what a massive part this exquisite pain played in my life because I actually got a buzz from this. I say it’s a bit of a mystery but really it boils down to childhood with his behaviour mirroring my parents, mostly my mum, in every way. This is, in my mind. Normal. Wtf.

    I have been nc for a while and I can now see the light so to speak. I am understanding myself and my actions and how they played a big part in this roller coaster ride I put myself through. It really isn’t and hasn’t been easy at all but I’m liking what I see in myself a bit more. I still give myself a hard time of course as you do but I’m getting there so thank you Natalie and to all the regulars who, without you knowing have helped me immensely.

  27. desuhana says:

    Oh, Tenneil, I feel your pain, it reminded me of an experience I had in Europe 13 years ago. First time for me really opening my heart, body and soul to someone. He wanted me to come live with him (I was from the US/He was in Europe). Wanted me to meet his parents. I was very cautious but yet open because I fell in love. Blah blah he became an AC and I cut him off. Believe it or not we have been in and out of contact since then. I don’t think AC’s intend to hurt us, it’s not really about us, they are cowards that are just trying to find love the way they know how albeit sucky! But I would say honor your pain because it is sad that these things happen to our hearts. That doesn’t make it feel any better but you sound like a smart, loving & great person, my heart goes out to you! Take time to heal! Be glad that you are gaining wisdom young. Congrats on the NC but really congrats on loving yourself!

    • Tenneil says:

      Thank you so much for your heartwarming comment, desuhana. It really means a lot to me knowing I’m not the only one. Oh, I was very cautious in the beginning too. People tried to warn me about him and be careful. Deep down, I knew what kind of guy he was, but I think we both thought that I was going to change him. I only realise now that people don’t change for other people, hence the unfolding. I am now changing myself to be a better version of me, so I can only welcome good people into my life now. I know it only lasted four months, but I can’t even describe the pain and how shattered my heart feels. I just can’t believe I waited this long to find love and this is what I got.

      I don’t think he intended to hurt me either, although he did say that he’d hurt girls in the past – another stupid red flag I ignored! I thought I’d be the girl he wouldn’t hurt, but I wasn’t the exception and yes, he unfolded into his EUAC self he has been all his life! I’m trying to fill up my heart with other things now such as getting a job and I still am looking to move cities, but no where near where he lives! I’ve been avoiding growing up and it’s time to stop doing that!

      What he couldn’t could give me, I have learnt I have to give to myself first. That is love, care, trust and respect. I just hope day our ex-AC get their just desserts and have someone unfold on them. What a horrible life they must have breaking hearts.

      • jewells says:

        Tenneil, if it’s any consolation, I unfolded all over the exMM EU AC when I realized I had been played for a sticky plaster for his unsatisfactory relationship with his wife. It does happen. Meanwhile, it doesn’t really matter ultimately, as what we need for us is to move on and make our lives better than ever. Remember, the best revenge is living a successful life. :)

        • Tenneil says:

          Thanks, jewells! You’re definitely right, it doesn’t matter. I used to think about him getting karma/changing a lot, but I don’t anymore. It doesn’t concern me. I have no desire to ever speak to this guy or know about his life ever again. I don’t ever want to return to that past pain, so I’m taking small, but positive steps towards my future with no EUACs! In what way did you unfold?

          • jewells says:

            Probably not in the way you envision, but in a fallback girl flash of lightning way. It was pre BR – he was my epiphany relationship, in that he did EVERYTHING Nat has talked about on this site. I had a moment of clarity during a conversation where he was ‘managing my expectations’, I realised that I was being played. So, I lost it. I told him that if he wanted any chance to save his marriage, it better be him that tells his wife cause if I did with HIS text messages in hand how did he think it would go then?
            It didn’t make the end less painful for me, I still had to go through the grieving process of what I thought I was involved in, process all the information read here daily for the past 5 months. What my ‘blow out’ did was make him have to go NC due to his wife and counsellor’s demands, thank goodness for ME as I still found myself getting sucked into his lies even after my ‘epiphany moment’. It was like the clouds could so easily come back in, I needed that space made to find BR and figure out what the hell just happened…

    • amanda says:

      I definitely agree with your observation: “I don’t think AC’s intend to hurt us, it’s not really about us, they are cowards that are just trying to find love the way they know how albeit sucky! ”

      This doesn’t mean that we can give them a pass. Not at all. The means do not justify the end. If they crap on us, we are allowed to be angry, to feel hurt, to push them away.

      It just means that we have to have more compassion for ourselves. The EU/MM I was entangled with was hurting pretty badly. It was clear that his wife was hurting badly. No one knew their way out of the forest through the trees. I spent so much time feeling sorry for him, feeling sorry for her, seeing that, at times, he was trying to do the right thing, and at times, he wasn’t. It took me much longer to extricate myself out of it all than it “should” have because he wasn’t clearly “mean”. I can sit here beating myself up about it, or I can just be compassionate. It makes moving on much easier (as long as the compassion isn’t just another excuse to stay tuned into their insanity).

  28. Lacy says:

    As of Mar 14, 2013 I will be Nc for a mth,He has called but not much like used to do when I went Nc, and haven’t showed up at my door.He stayed on my mind all yesterday but I prayed for God to release him from my mind.Nat This is the truth.I am so disappointed to see the real him and feeling stupid cause I kept investing everything thinking it would change and going off his words , false plans and , I love you’s

  29. NoMo Drama says:

    This snapshot thing is why I get creeped out by people who “pursue” me — they’re chasing some idea of who they think I am, with a romantic script already written out. Setting themselves up to be disillusioned by reality, in fact.

    It also makes it impossible for me to get to know them in any real way.

    • Lucy says:

      I don’t mind people pursuing me but I agree that there has to be some balance. I get a bit on edge when I think a man has made his mind up to make me his girlfriend too early. I went on a date with a lovely man last year. I was not turned off by his character but by the fact that my intuition was telling me that he’d take me as a girlfriend whatever I said or did around him.

      It took me back to my last boyfriend. There were times I was not a good girlfriend for him and there were times I was great, but mainly I couldn’t relax around him because I felt like he wasn’t really in love with me as a person, but in love with the image he had of me. Sometimes I fear that happening with another guy.

      • Tenneil says:

        I wish I had been this wise! I thought my ex’s sudden outpour of love for me and wanting to be in relationship with me after drunkenly hooking up after a mere week was deep love! Oh, boy, did I learn my lesson. I definitely felt towards the end that he did not love me anymore. He broke up with me because he said it was the distance, not his feelings for me, but it was obviously more than that whether he realised himself or not.

  30. Amy says:

    “New Relationship Euphoria” is like being tripped out on some crazy psychedelic drug that removes all common sense, sense of self, and for those who are sensitive to it – can send you pretty far down a metaphorical rabbit hole.
    Holy crap have I been guilty of this! (it was a toxic pattern in my life for many years)
    I’m a recovering serial monogamist. 😉
    From the first few conversations with a guy, if he even slightly set those butterflies dancing, tripped that “common interest” fuse, seemed remotely interested in me AND was pleasing to the eye I was hooked.
    Immediately I would ASSume that if I gave him EVERYTHING he could ever possibly want (even if he didn’t know he wanted it), was smothering, mothering, interfering, and more or less clinging to his pantleg he would LOVE ME.
    Yeah, right. Sometimes they sponged off me for a while and other times they literally bolted in the other direction.
    I never really put the whole sad behavior pattern together until after I started reading BR.
    I remembered when a few men behaved this way toward me far too soon in the relationship (like, after the second date).
    It felt uncomfortable because it was obvious the “feelings” were one-sided.
    I was flaky for not being more honest with the man, and the man was using the “L” word before he even knew what my temper was like.
    I looked at my own behavior and recognized my role in this dynamic – about being consistent in words and action. Don’t say one thing, but behave in a completely opposite way. That’s just bullshit.

    I put my new mindset to the test recently when I met a nice man at a “meetup” event. We talked for hours, he gave me his phone number, and we met up for a yoga class and then dinner.
    The experience was 100% platonic.
    He’s an interesting person, and definitely sets off the “common interests” chimes but I took a big HEALTHY magic step back and asked myself whether or not it was valid to expect that this man would ever call me and/or be “relationship” material – based on meeting him twice.
    After doing some serious data analysis in my head the answer was a resounding “NO!”
    At no time did he say the words “relationship” “dating” nor did we set a specific future “date”. Just the “it would be nice to hang out again sometime” stuff.
    In fact, when I thought even more about what we discussed, I realized that he’s probably just looking for a “Friend” to hang out with from time to time, but that he’s not in a place in his life to have a serious relationship.
    So I filed this lovely experience away and carried on with my life. If the situation changes, great! Otherwise I’m not going to be clinging to my cellphone or checking my email 20 times a day in hopes he gets in touch.

    This site has been a real sanity-saver for me!! The “old me” would be filling his inbox with my mindless babbling about this and that, or “texting” him, etc. and waiting for crumbs to drop. Aieee I cannot believe I used to behave that way. It all seems so pointless now that I look at it with a different perspective.

    • Lucy says:

      Isn’t it a great feeling when you can see how much progress you’ve made? I know exactly what you’re talking about:

      ” The “old me” would be filling his inbox with my mindless babbling about this and that, or “texting” him, etc. and waiting for crumbs to drop.”

      ^That used to be me as well. Now, like you, I’m much better at taking a step back from any encounter. And it’s confidence-building too because it means I take less risks with my dignity. In the past, I’d embarrass myself going after a man who was never going to be interested. Now, I think over any infatuation I have, step back (as you said) and the guy probably has no idea that I entertained any interest to begin with!

  31. Nic says:

    It is realistic to expect that a relationship that you’re putting your effort, emotion and time into ‘should’ go somewhere but it’s unrealistic to expect that relationship to go somewhere if when you remove what you’re doing, there isn’t much left, or you’re engaging in unhealthy behaviour within an unhealthy relationship.

    Oh boy, do I need this tattooed on my forearm! Another wonderful and insightful post. I am almost amazed at how much I am a ‘type’ in my relationships and what I do. But awareness is the first step right ?

  32. paolo says:

    I really like your post Amy..It kinda reminds me of me in some ways…My imagination causes me to assume all kinds of things if im attracted in someone…BR has been a big sanity saver for me aswell…I didn’t know how much i need to to chill the hell out until i started reading BR…I feel completely foolish for the some of the things ive said and behaved like in some relationships ive had. Especialy at the end of them..Talk about no dignity…Iv’e printed out so many of these posts so i never ever forget the wisdom in them…If/when i meet someone again, I sincerely aim to keep both feet on the ground.

  33. Tired says:

    Sandrai i think we would all like them to have a dose of their own medicine but if we all hung around watching waiting for them to get it , our own lives would be slipping by when we could be doing things that make us feel good and happy .icould regret and somtimes i do wasting 5 yrs but i was doing other stuff in that time . But im glad i woke up before i wasted another 5 . Yep i got played but im dammed if that be my end story . :)

  34. Recovering EUM, Davide says:

    It’s sad reading so much hurt and heartbreak here, and remembering one’s own, though my life has sometimes been more difficult for other people. When I look back on the relational wreckage, though, I realise that God has always been there for me however broken I have felt.

    “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

  35. Lau_ra says:

    This post struck me to the bottom of my heart, and I’m sitting at the office with thousands of thoughts in my head, wondering if I created the man I liked so much, instead of seing him for what he was. I guess, I did.
    Snapshot: good-looking, great career, funny, intelligent.
    After unfolding: insecure, prone to passive-agressive behaviour, avoidant of straight talks.
    I wonder if I’m more hurt by the fact he is not what I thought him to be, or about the fact I was so stupid to fall over the heels for him instead of figuring things out right at the time I started seeing the red flags and having questions.

    • McKenzieM says:

      I wonder the same thing, and during NC, as the illusion has been fading, I’ve realized it was more of the latter (at least for me).

      In fact, earlier today, I saw a post on a mutual friend’s Facebook page where the EU AC had commented (I deleted him from my Facebook before starting NC) and his comment honestly made me wonder what I ever saw in him.

    • Lucy says:

      Recently I’ve been making an effort to be clear about my NEEDS VS WANTS. That way I’m less stuck in the mire. For example, maybe I don’t need to date a successful man, but I want to. I NEED to date a man who respects me and treats me with love. I want him to have similar interests to me but he doesn’t NEED to. Hopefully that means I’ll shoot for the important characteristics and not get tied up because of one quality. Then our needs have to be compatible. If not, then we are just different people. If I focus on wants rather than needs, I’ll overlook important points of compatibility.

      That is exactly what happened with my last boyfriend – we had so many common interests but we couldn’t give each other what we needed and something didn’t feel quite right about it.

      Focusing on the needs as opposed to wants, means that I’ve dropped some things which used to be requirements for me in a match. For example, I still thrive on dating an intelligent man but he doesn’t have to be some kind of genius to rock my socks. I used to think that compatible political views were a must, but with obvious exceptions, I can’t see that being important anymore because it isn’t a NEED.

      • Amy says:

        Good point, Lucy. I think that’s an important thing I’ve learned as well, but also knowing myself enough to know what I can relax my “rules” for and what I can’t.
        I NEED a man to be honest, treat me with kindness and respect, and to be reliable. This is also MY responsibility to any potential partner. This is non-negotiable.

        We don’t NEED to share every single common interest, but what I’ve discovered is that my political / social views are very much part of my CORE values. It took a while to sort this out, but I would rather be alone than be in a relationship with someone who (for example) was racist, etc.

        What it all boils down to (for me) is really truly knowing myself and my needs, and when I’m “settling” just to avoid feeling lonely.

        Today, I would rather be alone than jump into some short term thing with someone who does not ultimately share in my core views.

        I think we’re saying the same thing here tho :) Knowing ourselves well enough, our needs, and then being able to really assess potential partners based on our more healthy criteria.

        • Lucy says:

          I completely agree. :)

          When I went back into dating a few months ago, I learnt that someone should fulfill my basic needs but I shouldn’t let that get in the way of other key breaking points. I was going for men who did meet important criteria but something was off in terms of attraction or practicality.

          Then I realised that what I was looking for were the qualities of a decent human being. I had to rethink my needs in a more personally-applicable way. Now I’ve come to accept that you can meet someone who’s generally a good catch, but if there’s nothing there, you can’t force it.

          I’m pretty proud of this because I was beginning to re-enter old patterns after being treated poorly. I was ready to accept, out of fear, the very basics of what was offered to me rather than shooting for what I really want/need or what really makes me feel in love.

          Currently I’m on another dating break simply to make sure that I can properly resist my old tendencies.

          I don’t know if you’ve experienced anything similar but I was left with no identity of my own after a bad break-up ’cause I’d wrapped myself up far too much in who I was dating. So now I’m thinking, “what is that I want?” and I still don’t truly know.

    • twistinmysobriety says:

      It is like you took the words out of my mouth. I did the very same thing. He was very good looking, sweet and charming, boyish (I’m not sure why I though this was endearing :) In hindsight probably just a sign of his immaturity), smart and deep…He really seemed to have manners, honesty and (what I though was) genuine consideration for others. In fact I just saw glimpses of some good qualities, some of them probably not very genuine even.
      Unfolding and the red flags should have been clear to anyone with a good self-esteem, but not me. I chose to ignore so many of the bad signs. Immature and disrespectful behaviour, fear of conflict, insecurities, unhappiness… What a charming, deep, wounded soldier indeed. Heck, at some point I even thought that maybe our emotional unavailability could bring us together.

      Even after noticing some good qualities in another person (even if some of these are not just superficial qualities, but actually core values), we have got to remember to keep our eyes and ears open. For “every jerk has a silver lining” alright.

  36. Tom says:

    Hey Natalie,

    I’d like to look at this from a positive perspective — sometimes people turn out to be more than you had hoped for.

    For instance, I met my current girlfriend through online dating. The first three dates were okay but nothing world-changing. I had built up a picture of her in my mind but that picture was in fact completely wrong.

    The fourth date was completely different. She started to come out of her shell and things quickly changed. Six months later and we’re very happy. While I expect her to “unfold” even more (it has only been six months after all), I think the moral of the story here is to not judge people from first appearances. As much as people can “unfold” into something you don’t like, the opposite can happen too.



    • Tenneil says:

      I agree, Tom! From my past experiences with new friendships, people think I’m quiet, reserved and standoffish at first, but once I unfold, I can actually be a talkative, friendly and fun person. It’s up to us to decide whether we like that person and if we want to continue being with them because unfortunately, people don’t always unfold for the better.

  37. Wiser says:

    Is it just me, or does it seem to anyone else that it’s basically women who are doing this – that we are the ones who try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, that we end up imagining that these guys are more than they are, that we place our bets on all this “potential” that doesn’t really exist – and finally, that we place more emphasis on the imagined happiness of our “fantasy” relationship of what could be and would be (if only we can figure out how to bend ourselves into the proper pretzel) than the reality that we are miserable most of the time in the actual one.

    Forgive me for generalizing, but it doesn’t seem like men do this at all! Their criteria for choosing a partner is pretty simple – how do I ‘feel’ when I’m with this woman? I feel really good with Woman A, and I feel less good with Woman B. As far as I can tell, that’s about it! I don’t see a lot of agonizing over her “potential.” Or a willingness to stay in something that feels miserable while hoping she’ll change. They seem pretty much focused on “what is” in the here and now, with very little analyzing at all. A good male friend just got serious with someone after playing the field for a bit and I asked him, out of curiosity, why he picked her and not another and he said “I dunno, I just feel really good when I’m with her.” There it is! No other criteria necessary. I thought this was very interesting, because his reason was all about HIM and how he FELT – nothing about her and the kind of person she was.

    If I’m wrong about this, please set me straight. In fact, I’m hoping I’m wrong because I don’t like what this implies about either women or men.

    • twistinmysobriety says:

      I think you might be right (as a generalization). This at least seems to be what a lot of dating experts say about men.
      Unfortunately, I seem to lack this skill of “how to make a man FEEL good about himself around you”.

      • NoMo Drama says:

        I wouldn’t feel too bad about that. It all too often seems to involve techniques such as “tone yourself down, minimize your accomplishments so as not to ‘intimidate’ him.”

    • jewells says:

      Hi Wiser, I do think that you are generalizing too much. There have been men here who have floundered in fantasy. I have at least one ex who built fantasy around me. I have also had a male friend say that women ‘hide that they are crazy’ – I guess this means that they ‘unfolded’ on him and made him ‘not feel good’. I dunno, it’s all so subjective, and depends on perspective. If your male friend is EU, then one day, when she doesn’t make him feel good because she’s confronting some aspect he doesn’t want to face, he may bail, claiming ‘mistake’. Sounds like he’s ‘chasing a feeling’.
      I’d like to not dwell on stereotyping, but keep my eyes open to both genders as who they are actually being and not what I preconceive them to be. The traits are unisex, otherwise we may as well throw in the towel now…
      Meanwhile, I’m using my BR education to discern what’s actually going on, and if I’m not sure, I’ll give them more time to ‘unfold’.

    • Little Star says:

      You made a good point Wiser! But somehow I remember when I was with my ex AC, he was so relaxed and happy with me, that’s what he told me…SO why he was not committed to me then? I think, because I was NOT right for him, that why he never really made an effort:(

    • Amy says:

      I’ve had a couple experiences like this where the man had decided “right away” that I was The One before he got to really know me.
      There’s obvious healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with this kind of thing, just as there are emotionally healthy vs. unhealthy individuals.
      I know that I’ve heard the “I really feel comfortable around you” thing very early in the relationship, and because of this (and my own unhealthy behavior) I went down the rabbit hole.
      I was mirroring his feelings back instead of looking at Him and whether or not he as a good fit for me (if that makes sense)
      I’ll explain – I met a man 20 years ago while I was in a relationship with someone else that was in it’s dying stage. This “new” man waited until I was out of that other relationship and then pursued me vigorously. Because there was no “internet” at the time, we burned up the long distance charges (he lived 250 miles away) gas money and eventually I moved to be with him.
      The problem was that HE was convinced that I was his “perfect mate” but once we were living together WE could not accept each other’s specific emotional habits, etc. and tried to change one another. It lasted less than a year.
      Now obviously this could have worked out differently if we had both practiced a bit more emotional maturity.
      I just wanted to point out that no matter how much the man might honestly feel that he’s met the perfect woman, it’s the same as when we (women) get involved with EUMs, etc.
      As NME has pointed out, it’s about taking the time to really get to know someone, being open to change and/or being flexible, keeping our hearts open, etc. When one or both parties are not able or ready to do that then the relationship just isn’t going to work.

    • yoghurt says:

      I dunno wiser.

      Under the right circumstances (not too busy, not too loud, I’m not nervous and I have a cup of tea) I’m KILLER at making men (/anyone) feel better about themselves.

      By that criteria I should’ve had about twelve husbands but the bother was that I seemed to attract a lot of people who needed to feel better about themselves.

      Thing is, though, that I could only ever do this for people who didn’t feel good about themselves anyway. I don’t think that they choose a woman when she makes them feel good about themselves, I think that they choose a woman when they feel good about themselves anyway. AKA when they’re EA, I guess.

      So maybe the secret is spotting the ones that are ripe for swooping on?

    • Dean says:

      This behavior is definitely not limited to just women. Men do it too!
      My last serious girlfriend (of over 6+ years) had a million red flags that I ignored because I was too fixated on the illusion of who I wanted her to be. I put her on a pedestal and refused to accept reality. I saw her as this innocent angel and was shopping for engagement rings. Meanwhile she was sleeping around with 3 other guys behind my back (including a married man and a man almost twice her age), sexting, nude photos, getting arrested (which she also hid from me) and other things that I’m too embarassed to post.

  38. At Peace says:

    I have been reading through many of the comments and realized that guys who engage in fast forwarding and future faking pretty much say and do the same things when trying to “lure” us in.

    People do unfold.

    I have learned to see people for who they truly are, not for who I think or want them to be. I have also learned to take responsibility for my own happiness and well being.

    I have faced my fear of being alone (not lonely) and in doing so, have found that it isn’t as bad as I made it out to be. I have various social activities and groups that I participate in, and have found that my focus on finding someone has taken a backseat to my focus on finding and discovering me. There are different stages of grief that one has to go through in order to get to this point, and there will be setbacks along the way, but once one gets to this stage, it is an amazing feeling. Sure, I am open to meeting that special someone; but before I seal the deal, that person must bring something positive and uplifting to an already happy and fulfilled life. Otherwise, what’s the point?

  39. BetterOff says:

    Although my EUM ex douchebag was future faking me from the second we met, he ironically was warning me openly about himself at the same time. ON one of our first dates, he named off about ten reasons I should take off running, the biggest red flag being he was in his mid 40’s and still lived at home with mom. He knew what he was made of, yet I sadly chose to ignore it. He continued the unfolding, the future faking, the pushy pully, the lying, the emotional and physical abuse, all while I desperately hung on to all of the promises he would make and his “was gonnas”. He was the master of “I was gonna” do so and so, yet never produced any of it. Finally, after 4 years of this nonsense,I received a text one night from him, very sexual in nature, that was very obviously not meant for me. This was one year ago and that was the final blow. I was done. It got worse though. He became desperate. Flowers on my doorstep (first time in 4 years), my phone being barraged day and night with desperation and, yep, more promises. This went on for more than eight months. Come to find out he was professing his love for me, telling me I was the only one, begging for me to come back, yet he was already dating and shagging someone else. Thank God for the strength during that time to not fall for his lies and future faking again!!
    Moral of the story ladies, when they are bold enough to warn you up front who they are, this is the one time they are telling the truth!! Believe them!! Don’t waste one second of your life seeking validation from anyone who will treat you with disrespect, ever!!

  40. At Peace says:


    Your comment below is 100% spot on. It is about THEM and how THEY FEEL. My ex FF pretty much said this as well. The problem with men (and women) who chase a “feeling” is that it causes them overlook red flags. Once the drug of romantic love wears off, they often find themselves in a relationship with someone whom they don’t even like anymore.


    “Their criteria for choosing a partner is pretty simple – how do I ‘feel’ when I’m with this woman? I feel really good with Woman A, and I feel less good with Woman B. As far as I can tell, that’s about it! I don’t see a lot of agonizing over her “potential.” Or a willingness to stay in something that feels miserable while hoping she’ll change. They seem pretty much focused on “what is” in the here and now, with very little analyzing at all. A good male friend just got serious with someone after playing the field for a bit and I asked him, out of curiosity, why he picked her and not another and he said “I dunno, I just feel really good when I’m with her.” There it is! No other criteria necessary. I thought this was very interesting, because his reason was all about HIM and how he FELT – nothing about her and the kind of person she was.”

  41. Tired says:

    Im still doing nc after a odd email sent to me . But what im struggling with this week is the bitterness , i dont want to be bitter or view all men the same .after seeing pic of him and new mobile buisness girlfriends bought for him on fb via a mutual friend , its bought back up the anger and me wishing revenge or not going quietly etc . Im getting along okay but that triggered it off . And i hacked myself to pieces in the past , me my house my job what money i had not good enough . I can deal and come to terms with it im working on it but its the bitterness, i dont want to feel it .

    • McKenzieM says:

      Tired, I’m still working on that, too. I just have to keep reminding myself of that one quote: “Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” He will not care if you’re bitter, if you hate him, etc. So it’s best to just keep moving on. Let yourself feel the anger/bitterness/whatever, then move on to something else. Don’t dwell in it.

      That’s what I do, and it seems to be working.

    • Amy says:

      Tired – This is specifically WHY after my last experience with an AC who LIVED on FB was to just stop logging in. The Ex and I are still in the same “groups” on FB but he no longer appears in my “feed”. I also blocked seeing any “updates” from him. If your ex is tied in somehow to mutual friends, then you might need to take the same sort of break from FB until you can really heal and not get that sick feeling when you see his name, his face, show up on FB.
      It really has helped me tremendously.
      I started going out to meetup groups, playing online games, doing anything except hanging around on FB.
      The bitterness is a trap – it keeps you hooked, sick sad, and in perpetual state of mourning. Were you bitter before this situation?
      Remember a time in your life when you did NOT feel bitter – allowing this feeling to take hold is giving your ex-AC too much power.
      Take some time to do things that you enjoy, get out and make new friends (or at least get out and be social in some way) and just put some additional space between you and anything that brings up those bitter feelings.
      Be strong!

  42. Brighterside says:

    I have to say when I started my “relationship” with the ex EUM I had no assumptions or expectations in terms of what the relationship would be – truly. I entered into the relationship with him coming out of an 8 year marriage in which I was starving for attention & physical connection I lacked in my marriage. I took the ex EUM’s cues to decide it should be more than sex & an actual relationship & that is where all the “fun” (ahem) started. I actually felt sort for sorry him in the beginning. He was not even my type at all. After our first time having sex he was the one who pushed for me to see him exclusively. I headed down that road with him because I thought it was the “right” thing to do. What a mess! Nevertheless two years out of that relationship now I wanted to share a couple things I learned from the experience – 1.) Do not date while you are in a vulnerable position (fresh out of another relationship you were hurt in) I feel assclowns/EUM’s smell you from miles away. I also feel that you do not have a clear view of what you are looking for/needing in such a state. 2.) Listen to your gut & follow your instincts. Stop trying to figure these people out. It is a lost cause & will only cause you more pain. Watch what is going on around you & always choose your own happiness & peace over trying to get validation & love from unlikely sources (them) We are the source of our own happiness. Know thyself & don’t ever try to be someone you know you are not just to make someone else want you. It is never worth it.

  43. Wiser says:

    Oh, I wanted to include this funny joke (or maybe it’s not so funny) I heard recently that sort of makes my point:

    A guy is talking to a buddy about the guy’s new girlfriend. The buddy asks “So what is it that Mary likes about you?” The guy says, “What Mary likes about me is that I’m a) handsome, b) intelligent and c) great company.” The buddy asks, “And what is it that you like about Mary?” The guy says “What I like about Mary is that she finds me a) handsome, b)intelligent and c) great company.”

  44. jennibean says:

    Love this site…but first time commenting. My situation is confusing in that I knew my EUM (he had a girlfriend he was ‘unhappy’ with, so stupid me on that part, but referred to her occasionally as a housemate and kept hinting that she would be leaving the country soon and I stupidly thought I would ‘save’ him from her and we’d run off in the sunset..etc. etc.) for several years before the online communication began, which makes it all the more confusing, and we were physical, too, so it wasn’t like I totally imagined things.

    Last summer I moved three hours away from him….and after monthly e-mails/chats and tons of mixed messages on his part (I’m going through a separation leading to divorce which I guess makes me a little bit EU, too and at one point he even asked what state I’m a resident of…not sure what that was about…to see if my divorce was pending? who knows) it took me nearly a year of him NOT coming to visit…to realize he never was coming to visit. I’ve been reading a lot on passive aggressive behavior, and this guy is crazy PA…still never got closure, when I called him out on every broken promise he swore he was coming to visit and I haven’t heard from him in two months! So NC for me….but I’ve NEVER had a guy not break up with me in a straightforward manner so it confused the hell out of me. And there’s still no closure…the last word he ever said to me after i told him to go to hell was fine, see you in march.’ wtf. I’ve never in my life had a guy not be able to say hey, you’re great, but this isn’t working. Very aggravating indeed, but I also take some of the blame for not telling him to stop breaking his promises months ago.

    • runnergirl says:

      Hi Jennibean,
      I’m a former other woman (OW). When a guy is attached or married, it’s pretty standard that they portray their g/f or wife as a housemate or business partner and profess unhappiness. Thus, he needs saving. It is about assumptions. The OW assumes he is hopelessly trapped battling obstacles beyond his control. There is the snapshot of this handsome guy entrenched with a witch. Then there is the sex. Of course, it feels like you weren’t imagining things. It’s hard to imagine sex when you are mopping up. However,there is a difference between having sex and being in a committed, respectful, healthy relationship. The actions may not be commensurate.
      Unfortunately, your attached guy unfolded similarly to how other attached guys unfold. There is no closure because there was no opening. It was a fantasy that evaporated. An attached guy can’t keep his promises. Topline data: He is attached to someone else no matter how much he protests and no matter how great the sex was. I felt fireworks. I listened to two plus years as to how miserable he was with his wife while making the assumption that somebody who claims to be so miserable would do something to end his misery. (Including listening to how miserable he was on his ten-day 25th anniversary cruise with his wife.) Nope. Two years later, he’s still married. If I called him tonight to see if he is still miserable, want to bet on the answer? Attached guys and married men who solicit attention (and sex) outside their relationship very rarely give the OW closure.
      My topline data: Never, ever, ever, ever get to know an attached guy or married man. IT.IS.A.TRAINWRECK. That’s my snapshot.

      • amanda says:

        Amen. Been there. Done that. Ouch.

        And, Jennibean, not to be too blunt, but if you are going through a separation, then while you are technically single, I am betting that your relationship baggage is still pretty messy and that your own emotional house is not in order. You understandably might want to find joy and happiness in a relationship that was missing in your marriage, but you might also be really vulnerable to fantasy right now. This was a rebound relationship for you. I hope that you are able to give yourself lots of love and care (which you found neither in your marriage, nor in this relationship with the EUM), get some clarity on your needs, and can procede onto your next relationship quest with a stronger sense of self.

  45. No One says:

    First time commenting.

    Yeah. I really don’t know where to start. I lost a great friendship over the course of a month. She was like the big sister I never had. I looked up to her, and I didn’t care if she was older than me. Hell, I don’t even know what I did. And now… it’s like I’m dead to her.

    In a twist of irony, she is the one who gave me this website

    I just thought that I could trust her… and believe her when she said that we would be friends for life. I just thought that I could try my hardest to make her happy and that we would go back to being friends again. But it was all a lie. People lie. The end.

    • Revolution says:

      Hi No One,

      Your name choice breaks my heart, as does your comment. My heart goes out to you because I KNOW the pain of your situation all too well. About a year ago, a close female friend (a “big sister” too) essentially stopped contacting me. I was shocked and didn’t know what I had done, as there were no prior signs of any real stresses in our friendship.

      I spent this last year of my life torturing myself, wondering what inside of me–what horrible trait–caused my friend to become so distant with me so suddenly. I tossed and turned and drank a bit too much and worked out too much and blamed, blamed, blamed myself. I even started to pull back from other friends because I thought if SHE, a person who knew me so intimately for almost 5 years, could ditch me so quickly, then there must be something HORRIBLE about me that even I wasn’t conscious of. Or maybe she was just a raging bitch or a con artist, and even THAT would STILL be about MY bad judgement, even though I always thought I was an intelligent, grown woman (35) with a killer instinct about people.

      Okay, so now you have a bit of the backstory. Now I can tell you the ending to this little drama:

      Last week, out of nowhere, my friend calls me up and tells me that she’s separating from her husband. She said that in this past year, her marriage has been horrible, and that her husband has been verbally and physically abusive and that’s why she’s hardly been in contact. It broke my heart to hear that.

      But back to the point of my story. After WASTING almost a full YEAR beating myself up, it turns out…

      It really DIDN’T have ANYTHING to do with me.

      It WASN’T because my friend was getting some horrible “Bad Egg” Veruca Salt warning from me when I got on the Friend scale. She was going through her OWN stuff, and handling it without me because she was probably feeling a) too scared, b) too prideful, c) too depressed, or d)too something else to want to get into it. And though I am proceeding with a bit of caution while reconnecting and attempting to help her, I can now finally see the TRUTH of how and why the situation unfolded. Sometimes these things take time to unravel.

      But even after getting perspective on my own situation, I can still understand your feelings of hurt and betrayal. And I can see how that could sour you on trusting people in general.

      However, I’m just going to say this:

      You’re right that people DO lie. But there are also people who tell the TRUTH.

      Like every imperfect person, I have lied. BUT I KNOW I’m not a LIAR. Many people close to me who’ve known me for years love and trust me. I have a reputation as a straightshooter. And hey, that’s all well and good. But what matters most is that I MYSELF KNOW that I try hard every day to do what’s right by myself and by others. I fail often, but it remains my MAIN priority in life.

      You may think I’m giving myself a dislocated shoulder slapping myself on the back, but here’s the REAL point of my ramblings: As special as I am, I KNOW that I’m not special enough to be the only person out there that thinks and lives with this personal credo.

      So yes, I can understand being upset and shell-shocked and ready not to trust after what seems to be (or what may actually be) a betrayal by a trusted companion. But you still have the choice whether you allow this to sour you on loving and trusting people, moving forward. I’ve been there (distrusting), and we all instinctively know that it’s neither reasonable nor upbuilding to carry such a large, heavy burden in our hearts.

      I sincerely hope my overzealous comment :) made some sort of impact on you, even if just to remind you that we’re all in the same boat, that someone out there is listening, and that there is always hope. Please take a beat before judging yourself or others so harshly (geez, coming from me and my big mouth, everyone…).

      No matter what, these things hurt. So here’s a big, messy bear hug from me.((((((HUGS)))))))

      And you’re not no one.


      • No One says:

        Thank you for taking the time to write to me. I feel so horrible and abandoned… and what gets me is she knows how I feel! She doesn’t care.

        To be fair to her, I won’t divulge too much… but she’s a very busy person who has her own relationship issues. Being in my mid 20s still, I think she saw me as naive and decided to use me. In fact, during one of our last conversations, she was like… “You remind me so much of myself when I was 25.” I thought of it as a compliment at first, but then she started treating me worse. Which makes me think she must really hate herself.

        Actually, it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m so hurt… and stunned… and every time I make an attempt to talk to her… man, the last time I tried, she gave me this look and it was as if we were strangers.

        I shouldn’t have made myself vulnerable. I know I shouldn’t think that there’s anything wrong with me… but I feel like I’m not meant for that long term friendship. People see that certain weakness and it’s like they know what to do and when to do it.

        Thanks again for replying… it means a lot.

  46. Wise ol owl says:

    Great article Natalie! Im giggling to myself thinking of the famous Chris Rock bit; “When you meet someone for the first time, you’re not meeting them, you’re meeting their representative.” This is that “snapshot”–just a glimpse, not the real them and this goes for both parties. As we get comfortable with each other, one would hope the facade comes down and the real self emerges. BR has helped me identify those who never let the real self come thru and the “representative” is the only one they let you meet. I realize quickly that this “fantasy” of them Ive built up in my mind is total bullshit. I’m getting so good at identifying this, (and not jumping the gun either–seeing them more than once only to meet the rep again and the future faking crap,etc.) that I may never actually find “the one.” ButIm okay with that and Im moving on. I know one truth, there is no lonliness like the lonely you feel when you are with someone and it’s just not feeling easy, natural, or “right.” At least when Im alone, Im learning, growing, free, strong and hopeful…and hope is a powerful thing. I had a mad crush that went no where after several dates– his rep kept showing up and it was friggin’ EXHAUSTING!! NC got me free from the fantasy and back to reality. BR you have helped me change, grow and get SO much smarter–thank you so much Nat and everyone who shares here!

  47. Peanut says:

    Whatever we idolize in others can give us insight to what we need to develop in ourselves.

    I’ve wanted to be a musician since I was two.

    I’ve fought it ever since. I thought I could just casually ‘date’ a musician, essentially being a groupie, and fulfill this passion vicariously through him so that I wouldn’t have to commit to the discipline, inherent disappointment and vulnerability, and hard work of pursuing music.

    I had to break it off with the musician ex (he was dangerously careless). He near cheerily said, “Okay,” left me high and dry, and scurried off to his ex and another city.

    So, here I am with my nagging desires and passions that terrify me.

    Oh, and I did pursue an opportunity with music after the breakup taking lessons from a local musician, who is very good.

    I sabotaged it and it was very painful, and much more sorrowful than losing the ex.

    In a way I faced one of my biggest fears: Being given an opportunity at something I truly desire, and it not working out.

    Yes, it was painful and I made it through.

    This is not the end of the journey for me as music is concerned and I did learn I was barking up the wrong tree as for the direction I wanted to pursue.

  48. runnergirl says:

    So now this just got me thinking…what if the attached guy with a g/f and/or the married man portrayed this snapshot: I’m pretty okay with being attached/married but…but…I need a little fun on the side. Mind you, I’m not ever going to combust into a monogamous guy for you but let’s have some fun. When I unfold, I’ll string you along so you think one day you’ll think you’ve struck pay dirt. I’m so handsome, brilliant, and downright sexy how can you go wrong? How about we get to “know” one another?
    Can you picture that guy?
    Signed: Bruised By My Expectations Not Being Met!
    PS. I have much more realistic expectations now.

  49. Tired says:

    I was going to say , but somtimes they do leave . Very rare and usually bdcause they are caught . The ex mm got caught but did he leave for the great love story , no the bank balance snd a better life style for him . I dodged a bullet because id be always wondering if it was me or the money he loved . Deffinatly feel better . Just a blip . But nearly 4 months nc and this sunday im getting upand singing at a jam night . Yes no more any feelings on the subject of any kind . Ps thankyou girls for youre stories and advice . Its a comfort some days , you give me strength x

    • amanda says:

      I hear you. The MM left his wife and moved in with the OW who lived (alone) in a large house she fully owns. She let him bring his kids for half the week. She’s even helping him with childcare. I couldn’t offer those things. I was enmeshed enough to feel rejected, but now, I am glad that I am not being used like this.

  50. AmericanGirl says:

    I am going through this right now and it is kinda painful. I met someone great who did not live in my city. I went and visited him and things were great. After sleeping together he told me that he did not want a relationship and a week later that he would not enjoy a long-distance relationship. Like the entry said, I felt like a fool and that I was taken advantage of.

    I thought that things would be different as he made a lot of effort for me to come see him and treated me to meals and such. I expected him to be this wonderful romantic person in my life. I realized after talking to my counselor that I am too idealistic and that I expect people to be a certain way. Seeing people for who they are really does help! Even though I am still upset about the situation I have been able to separate what happened from who this guy really is and that because he rejected me does not make me any less of a person. It still hurts and I will cry, but I learned that being more anticipatory and being more open to the chance of failure is more common. I do find it hard to not have expectations without compromising your values.

  51. Diamond1211 says:

    My Disappointment comes from a 30 year old relationship. He was my first love when i was 13 and he was 15. We both kept in touch over the years and both been through 4 kids each and other relationships.

    these past 3 yrs i recontacted my ex when me and my husband separated. I kept him at arms length and only contacted him through phone and media. about a year and half we started coming in contact. this was only platonic and we never crossed the line with each other.

    This man has always been a womanizer and I knew this. This past April, we both took real interest with each other out of the blue…like a light switch turned on. What turned out to be an accident, turned into something more. We did cross the line with each other and were intimate.

    All the reason and logic i had behind why I know We could not be together went away. I knew I would be dealing with a player. I knew he was a jerk. I knew i would have to be tough and not have conventional expectations. However, for some insane reason, I thought because of our long history, he would at least respect me.

    When i say respect I mean basic stuff like showing up when he says he would. not standing me up, not showing up 3 hours past our date time. Well I said something right away and boy he did not like it. He went away for 1 month then he came back and i told him how i felt. Well he did it again and I told him about himself and this time he went away for 2 months. He said he didnt like the way I talked to him and how I was too independent.

    I told him if he wanted me to handle him being a jerk. He was going to learn how to deal with Me and my ways of being just as strong and being demanding of him follwowing through on his word to me.

    well you talk about unmet expectations. I know the inside and out of this man yet it bothers me to the core how he cant understand where im coming from.

    we both feel like the other is selfish. I want him to change and be consistent and he wants me to change and be understanding to his bull*&^%. Aint gonna happen.

    I hurt because deep down, im so sad that after caring for him all my life and holding him up on such a high pedastal for over 30 years. It’s never going to replace what’s real. I expected him to change for me. I thought the love he had for me and me for him would change him.

    Maybe my approach was just as hard as he is. now im sitting here blaming myself and hating him because the outcome is not what i wanted.

  52. […] of who each of you are, what to expect and of course, what the nature of your relationship is (people unfold and who someone is and what they will and won’t do is self-evident) and a sense of its […]

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.