Perspective - Isn't it time to get a fresh one?

Certainly for your romantic relationships, you can ease some, if not a lot of the sting of rejection by evaluating the ‘perspective’ that you’re using to judge yourself on. Having your own aspirations, desires, and goals is fine, but they’re actually separate to your dating and relationship experiences. When you take rejection hard, you’re making some dangerous assumptions that tie your worth and what you think you’re capable of to unrelated external factors. That and you look at life through a low self-esteem lens.

You have your own agenda as does everyone else and ultimately will find a greater level of happiness with someone who has a similar agenda. In over six and a half years of writing Baggage Reclaim, I am yet to come across one relationship where two people with different agendas worked out and are living harmoniously together.

I know you might want someone to have the same intentions, motives, beliefs and values as you … even if they don’t, but the truth is, it’s a lot easier to form the foundation of a relationship, to get on with enjoying yourself without waiting for ‘the catch’, and to be able to trust and be trusted, with someone who wants similar things out of life as you. It’s not that opposites don’t attract (they certainly do if this blog is anything to go by), but the opposites that attract and progress into mutually fulfilling relationships have different secondary ‘surface’ values, but fundamentally share similar values where it counts. Basically, they’re not that opposite when you get down to the nuts and bolts.

Everything else is like trying to turn a pigs ear into a silk purse, or squeezing a square peg into a round hole, or trying to drag a horse to water to force it to drink. You catch my drift…

When dates or relationships haven’t worked out, it’s not like they’ve been evaluating whether you should meet your aspirations, desires and goals – they have their own.

To assume otherwise, is to treat it like “This date didn’t work out. I’m obviously not good enough to have a relationship or get married or have children one day or even have a life.” That’s quite a leap – a big one. Of all of the people you’ve ever been involved with, who is really that special that you being involved with them and it not working out means “You are not relationship worthy, end of. This is because I’m not interested / or don’t want the same things as you / or would even like to muck up your life while extracting maximum benefit”?

If you take everything that doesn’t work out in the way that you would like as rejection, not only are you handing over your power by running with an immediate negative reaction and clinging hard to it, but you’re missing out on the opportunity to engage in that level of self-care that only comes with self-esteem where you speak with and listen with love to yourself.

If when things piss you off and disappoint you, or you make a mistake, you switch on the background music of “Why Can’t You Just Get Your Sh*t Together?” or “Shouldn’t You Know Better By Now?” or “I Can’t Believe You’re So Effin Stupid” or “I Knew You’d Eff This Up” or “You’re no good / good for nothing” and other such tracks from your Greatest (S)hits Collection, how the hell can you have any self-esteem left to have some perspective? Now imagine if you keep playing these tracks over and over? That’s torture.

It’s a change of habit, but it literally comes down to mentally pulling over and turning off the track and speaking mentally and verbally with yourself in more compassionate manner. And don’t pretend that you’re not capable – if you’ve ever done this with anyone else (you have), the ability exists; you just like to throw it at other people.

There’s a more balanced point of view in existence and I can assure you that it’s not the one that’s centred in this idea that ‘everything’ is about you and your fault. When you lack self-trust, you end up ruminating about the judgement’s that you think ‘everyone’ is making about you, which aside from distorting your perspective further, is really about you making judgements about you. It’s like unless you have a show of hands from everyone that something that you for instance, think about your ex is true, you won’t sleep easy at night. Isn’t your own proof good enough?

You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors – it’s best to concern yourself with what’s going on behind your own door. If you don’t like it, it’s best to show them the door and fix your broken windows. It doesn’t matter what everyone else does or might think about the same person.

Now while you have a pattern to your relationship experiences, don’t just throw them all into the relationship pot like a big fat rejection – they are all different, unique experiences, which, while they may share commonalities, have different feedback and lessons to take on board. Some are not even rejection; they’re just things not working out and for a very good reason that has nothing to do with your worth as a person anyway. You’re just not that powerful.

You don’t equal the relationship, so it ending or not coming to be, cannot correlate directly to your worth as a person.

Unless you’re going out with yourself, to persist in absorbing all of the blame and being “Oh I’m so rejectionable” is to neglect the existence of of the other party. If it’s all about you, where do they fit in? Why are they being left intact by you while you’ll bust yourself up? It (the relationship) is broken, you’re not.

Your ‘rejections’ may all look the same because you tell yourself the same message afterwards – that you’re not good enough, you’ve been rejected, you’ve failed, you’re not up to standard, etc. – but they are not the same and it will serve you well to distinguish between them as it will help you to not only deal with each experience, but to cut to the heart of the original rejection and overcome it.

Were there code amber or red issues? Did you have different core values? With just one of these issues alone, if you let go of the idea that it’s all about you for more than a few minutes or hours, and use the insights you gain by acknowledging the presence of the issue(s) and what they mean about the relationship, or your hopes for one, or the person, not only do you stand to gain perspective, but you only stand to gain from the lessons learned.

Hearing or experiencing NO doesn’t mean you’re not good enough or that you’re not supposed to have a relationship (or a job etc) ever, ever again; it means that you can and will have a healthy relationship (if it’s what you want) but just not this way or with this person. Take some time out, gain positive lessons and then try again with your new insight applied.

Your thoughts?

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

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155 Responses to Perspective Takes The Sting Out Of Rejection: It’s Broken, You’re Not

  1. yoghurt says:

    “Your ‘rejections’ may all look the same because you tell yourself the same message afterwards – that you’re not good enough, you’ve been rejected, you’ve failed, you’re not up to standard, etc. – but they are not the same and it will serve you well to distinguish between them as it will help you to not only deal with each experience, but to cut to the heart of the original rejection and overcome it.”

    Woah. Profound.

    I’ve always felt that I’m the Queen of Nothing – none of the relationships that I wanted ever got off the ground. You know what? That isn’t true. Some of them did get off the ground but I found out (unsurprisingly, given that my relationship-chooser really isn’t any good and I think I’ve sent out ’emotionally healthy man, get thee back’ vibes) that they weren’t what I wanted.

    Some of them didn’t and they were the ones that I spent a disproportionate amount of time woodling over and hankering after once they’d ended.

    Given that I’m so comfortable living in the past and feasting on the bones of long-dead relationships, I guess it figures that I eventually ended up in a situation where the entire ‘relationship’ was in the past from the get-go. I got rejected after about three ‘dates’ and after that I had a year and a half of trying to get back to where I’d been originally. And then I spent nigh-on a year wishing for the days when I had sporadic half-arsed interest and insultingly lazy communication.

    I can only assume that it’s easier dealing with situations and blokes that have been and gone than dealing with the future and the unknown. I don’t want to live my life like that anymore, though – the unknown can’t possibly be less satisfying or more soul-destroying than living in the past.

    • Polly says:

      Great point about your ‘relationship chooser’ – funny this realisation hit me at the weekend. When I look at all the relationships and non-relationships I’ve had that didn’t work out they have involved chasing people obsessively who showed some interested but were unavailable. People who I told myself were out of my league or other such nonsense. It’s like if someone is interested and wants to get intimate with me they can’t be that great can they? With these sorts of beliefs it is no wonder things don’t work out! I really need to address what it is I am attracted to…

    • Sirius says:

      Wow, Yoghurt. feels like Ive written this. ‘feasting on the bones of dead relationships’. Thats me. I have had two lovely blokes who care for and respect me and I spurn them for little bits of contact from a guy who ended a short term relationship, 4 months ago and wont/cant commit but continues to offer little morsels that I gobble up. I have read Nat’s No Contact and every other blog/book on the subject, but cant apply it because I know deep down I dont want to. Keep thinking that something will change. So here I am, stuck in relationship limbo land.

      • Polly says:

        I was in this position 6 months ago. I was getting very little in return for my investment and it was getting worse – the more I put in the less he gave. I lived in constant fear of him finding someone else (in addition to his wife!) and he knew this and of course that is what happened. Maybe think about where this is likely to lead based on the evidence and whether you still want to be around to endure it? It took my worst fear being realised to cut contact and I can’t change what happened but I really wish I had taken control earlier rather than hanging around giving him all the power and ammunition and waiting to be shot. Run away!

    • tired_of_assanova says:

      I’ve always felt that I’m the Queen of Nothing – none of the relationships that I wanted ever got off the ground.

      Sigh. Story of my life!!

      • Snowboard says:

        Like yoghurt, Sirius, and Polly, I’ve had a past of dwelling on “what could have been” with short romantic encounters that never developed. One thing that helped me change is to realize that I was making myself look *less* attractive in the eyes of the other person when I opted to pursue him in spite of his rejection. When I began to realize that the most attractive thing I could do was make every effort to accept his decision and move on, I realized I could have it both ways: (1) act in the most attractive way possible, increasing the likelihood he will someday want me back, and (2) move on in the mean time. And – voila! – before I knew it, I was ‘over’ him. I also deactivated facebook, which means I can’t ‘watch’ the guy, set limits on how frequently I can mention him to my friends, and instituted a rule of no talking TO the guy for 3 months after a rejection.

        I think what has changed is that, now, for the first time, *I* have opted to reject someone, and I don’t know how to do it, because I have no practice, after a lifetime of being the Rejectee. I’m having to practice being FIRM and even MEAN, and seeing that as the KIND thing in the long run, even when it hurts him and me. So far, I have been strong for six hours…

        • tired_of_assanova says:

          That’s right snowboard, your self esteem will grow markedly when you draw a line in the sand, and then if any EUM or AC crosses it you whack them over the head with the rejection stick.

  2. Sabrina says:

    It’s the “all or nothing” mentality that so many women carry. The extremes – if a relationship doesn’t work, it is a complete and utter failure! Never mind if he was an Assclown, or that you learned a lot about yourself in the process – it’s just failure and it’s our own fault! It’s hard to ditch that mentality; I know I’m trying my best. Great post.

  3. lily says:

    If you’ve ever had a ” what was I thinking?” moment, you can know for a fact that its not you. Your can never see much of anything for what it is when you’re in the thick of it. So I say, wait until that moment, then you can decide if you really suck at relationships. Usually its more like, you dodged a bullet.

    • Hate Being Stalked says:

      This is so true. I had this moment about a month before I grew enough backbone to walk out. I honestly looked at him as though he was a complete stranger and thought “what was I thinking?”. I still think this a lot, as he lives right next door. Now, I’m grateful I made the decision I made. I don’t think I suck at relationships. I think I got too involved with someone who wasn’t worth my time or effort and got blinded for too long.

      And you’re right – I dodged a bullet by getting out the moment I realized that staying any longer was ruining me. Now it’s time for ME! :)

    • Starlight says:

      My “what was I thinking?” moment came to me more like, “was I drunk that whole 4 years?” (and I don’t get drunk).

      • Hate Being Stalked says:

        LOL – I actually have a graphic of that exact line on my Facebook profile “What I drunk the entire relationship?” with a little stick figure looking very dazed and confused. And I don’t drink either!

    • Natasha says:

      Amen Lily! Loved your whole comment. I think a lot of us look back on our old relationships and think “What the F*CK was I thinking? For serious. Was someone possibly sneaking crack into my cornflakes? Because that would make perfect sense.” Speaking personally, I’m incredibly grateful that one particular jackass I dated didn’t stick around and I found the sense to not take him back (yet again). If I was still with him, I’d have even worse self esteem than I started with and he would still be an assclown. Bullet dodged indeed!

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        I had a bit of trouble dealing with the passive aggression/blowing hot and cold. He said he’d drive me to the airport and then couldn’t. Then when I made discussion that I was coming back, he didn’t offer and then said ‘oh, I thought you could make it under your own steam’. Crap. Funnily enough that weekend there are photos with him and his mates out on the town. What in the what now?

        He said ‘I will have more time when I’m back from camping/get my car fixed/spend more time in your city’. This did my head in and this line just reverberated in my head for months.

        With relationships I guess opting out would cut the passive aggression, but I find this is true for a lot of other people that I don’t get along with well at all. They always come about with very terse, rigid, ultra-factual statements and it gets on my nerves and I feel powerless. Help!!

  4. Intothelight says:

    After just being dumped by my married Mr Unavailable and at 45 I felt like 6 years of my life had just ‘gone down the drain’ and if I’m honest that sense of ‘time running out’ came into my thoughts too. I’m in the very early stages of NC – he doesn’t want a relationship anymore but he still wants to stay in touch ‘just to see how I am’ . BR has been a God send but I have to say that part of me just didn’t want to admit the negative feelings I’ve been having about myself – I always considered myself to have high self esteem and have been in denial when I read on other posts about how low self esteem was linked to what I have been a part of. Reading this post has made me think again about myself … I have been allowing someone to treat me as their go to person, their armchair psychologist, their lean on person for an ego-stroke … and somewhere along the way I lost sight of who I was, what my values were and what I wanted from life. Never in a million years did I ever think I would allow myself to be involved with a married man, but after my previous partner died I sought comfort from my married AC rather than deal with the grief I was going through. It’s time to get real with myself and deal with some issues of my own … reading this post has inspired me to now take a good look at the mistakes I’ve made along the way, the illusions I’ve allowed to cloud my judgement and focus on being honest about how happy (or not!) I have really been in these last 6 years. By getting real with myself and being honest about my future faker I can hopefully maintain NC and get my some of my self esteem that I didn’t even realise or want to finally admit was missing. Thank you Natalie.

    • Brenda R says:

      Don’t let age have you thinking your running out of any TIME.. you know I felt that way MORE in my 30’s than I do right now at 44.

      I mean really if I truly felt time was running out I would be out there dating so hard and heavy, But I need to be secure with myself before dating, be able to take rejection – and give it a whole LOT sooner.

      My thinking in my 30’s was so terrible that my chances were very slim to meeting anyone right.. the older I get the more my thinking is getting to where it should be so- my chances will get better.

      There could be a MORE men around younger maybe.. But what does it matter if your heads not right anyhow?

      I have for the past years been getting these married or attached men telling me they are single, cooking up long lies and all that cr@p as well, Luckily it has been mostly online where we were not really going to meet anyhow living in other countries etc.

      Sometimes they really might not be with the right one and are just as screwed up as we are – just in different ways.

      Mainly I noticed a LOT and I mean a LOT of insecurity, why they chose a wife/girlfriend that was probably vulnerable and all that sh*t, very manipulating types you don’t want anyhow – They have security issues, and are usually “passive aggressive” types most times, Can’t decide they want someone until she is leaving the door types always, then suddenly she was the true love!

      Oh god seen it before, none of that cr@p is love either, just games, games games, with the self and with others, it really did get OLD for me that picture.

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        I have for the past years been getting these married or attached men telling me they are single, cooking up long lies and all that cr@p as well, Luckily it has been mostly online where we were not really going to meet anyhow living in other countries etc.

        Oh Brenda! Be careful! I used to laugh and snigger at people who would fly across continents to meet someone they have only been chatting to online… until I got sucked into the clown tent with a fantasy relationship! It’s one of the most *PAINFUL* things!

        I’ve banned online dating.

        • amanda says:

          Here’s the “great” one the MM told me about why he posed as single on the dating website. “I would have never found my way here, but a female friend at work asked me to join the site because she wanted my male-perspective on the men who were ‘buzzing around her hive.’ I joined, as a favor, and thus didn’t really bother to change the default settings on my profile, nor did I expect to meet anyone here.” (COUGH COUGH *b.s.* COUGH COUGH).
          I can’t believe I let him get away with that, in the moment. He did ‘fess up later on that he was worried that if he changed his status to “available”, he would get less interest from the ladies. Um, yes. Your theory is correct. Most women do not want to get involved with a MM, even if they are purportedly in an open marriage. (I learned that this was essentially a lie, as well)
          It’s embarrassing to look back on all of the red flags I blithely avoided, simply because I was having the best sex of my life. Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me time after time, shame on me.

          • tired_of_assanova says:

            Well if you were in an open marriage, you’d be on a hookup or swingers site. Same goes for people looking “JUST for friends”. I’ve come across people advertising rental rooms on dating sites! Never ceases to amaze me what dating sites are misued for!

        • Brenda R says:

          Oh yes I steer clear of F*REE places – most too wounded or looking to see how many will take, Some places might be okay where they have to pay a good fee, and you really have to meet “early” on.. there are things you “can” do to avoid the fantasy trip stuff, some guys are genuinely looking too, but I think willing to pay and willing to meet you early on.

          The last was someone I worked with online, he had a roommate alright, but was not a male, for oh 4 years hidden that fact, until she was going to leave him.. Then I got a nice earful of his poor breaking heart.

          I never got a FULL fledged explanation of WHY she was hidden so many “opportunities” to say something, NO he was content to have me thinking he was so alone there.

          And then never a FULL fledged apology either, NOT even wanting to see the seriousness of just wasting someones TIME with a LIE.. had I known would not have wasted my time with any thoughts to maybe meet in person, he was a good co-worker very supportive about that, But God so selfish to have kept that a secret from me, was never any reason to other that to TOY with me.

      • Allison says:


        Might I ask why you’re communicating with men in other countries? Why not on your home turf, where you can have regular interaction?

        • Brenda R says:

          Work related, NOT planned .. Too much time online, having been unemployed.

          Also- afraid to go out there again and meet anyone in person, before this I had some nasty things happen that turned me into some hermit like: Getting fired for trying to protect myself form sexual harassment – having too many married men out there approach me – thus scaring the hell out me of what these guys are capable of doing, games, lies, too much FAKENESS before that, FAKE engaments, FAKE wanting a baby – so now I am a single parent ( My worst fear ) having gained 80 pounds and now lost much of that, and yet still struggling with should I even loose the rest ? Do I want to be attractive to men?

          NO – I want to be attractive to ONE that is not full of himself, that is mature, that has something to offer, that is availiabel and actually going to walk the walk.

          But until I stop being afraid to SEE some cr@p again that is not going to happen .. So, my only option left is to never take cr@p in the first place, and that is the hardest part.. the fear is I wont SEE the cr@p and get it anyhow.

      • Intothelight says:

        Brenda – thanks for the reply – Ive always jumped from one bad relationship to another …. I read Natalie’s MrU&FBG and as recommended really thought about my relationship patterns … I worked out that in 29 years from my first boyfriend to my last married AC I had only had 20 months with no partner, I had 5 very long relationships, but just jumped from one to another with no thought other than … well with no thought at all! What you have said definitely makes more sense to me and confirms what I have now come to realise, I need to be clear about my boundaries so that when the next man comes along (if any as for the first time I don’t want one in the near future!) I will be clear about who I am, what I want or don’t want and at least I know that my head will be in good place. Thanks again.

        • Brenda Renkema says:

          Yes will get that book to – I just got the No-Contact because that is where I am right now.

          I mean my best or so what I thought was a best man friend, lied to me, And I thought I could forgive him.. after all I kind of drew him in, but I only did so because he pranced around as a single guy.

          He wanted so he said a better income to be ready blah blah blah, and usually those things are valid reasons – so I wanted to believe that even though ( BOING ) he never wanted to talk on the phone – yet proclaimed I was such a GOOD friend.

          I really need the other book for the “red-flags” too, and memorize them the way some people do the bible.

    • amanda says:

      Intothelight, My circumstances are eeriely (is that a word) like yours, so you are not alone; I’m looking back the last two years that I was with the MM, where I availaled myself in everywhich way (as a lover, as a friend, as a shelter), and now face a pit of nothingness. He broke up with me as a lover 6 months ago, and we went down the ill-fated path of “just friends”; me, because it was my way to hang on – he, because it made him feel like less of a jerk for breaking things off with me, and because he still wanted my attention and help, on some level. I would have never imagined getting involved in a MM, but two-plus years ago, my partner (whom I struggled with for years) died in an accident, and I jumped blindly into dating as a way to push aside the grief and experience “freedom.” I’m Day 13 into NC (a record for me, in this relationship… and this time, it feels final, although it still hurts like hell), and I see that I finally have to address all of my own crap from the last 2 years with MM, from the prior 7 with the other partner. My self esteem isn’t great, but more critically, I don’t have all that strongly developed a sense of self, and that is what I want to work on. I hope that you can, too. Congratulations on taking the hard steps to carve this space for yourself. You aren’t rejecting him, or punishing him, or judging him – you are creating a safe place for yourself to discover who you are. Good luck…

      • runnergirlno1 says:

        Ladies and Natalie,
        Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and your thoughts. It really helped me see that even though I’m making slight progress, I’m really still playing, listening, and believing some real negative self-talk, particularly with regard”time is running out”. This post regarding a new perspective, a clean slate, and your comments triggered memories of what I was thinking when married at 2o. Swear to god, I thought time was running out at 20. From the perspective of 52, almost 53 next month, what was I thinking at 20? All of your comments turned up the volume on my my favorite (s) hit. Summarizing the next two decades and two more marriages (there were divorces of course in between), swear to god, it was the same (s)hit, time’s running out. Better grab this one and make the best of it.
        On that note, I’d never been with someone who was so different from me than the exMM. Talk about opposites. On the surface, it looked like opposite secondary surface values. And on the surface, it seemed like we connected with regards with core values. We always disagreed and then always found we actually agreed. It seemed like we weren’t that different when it got down to nuts and bolts. It seemed like we had the same agenda. With my new BR perspective and sitting down and writing out my core values (that was a really helpful prompt Natalie), number one for me is honesty. A cheating MM isn’t honest by definition. So, well, shoot. I guess I don’t have the power to turn a cheating MM into an honest person? From this new perspective, the only liar I can change would be me. And a lying, cheating MM still isn’t my last chance saloon even though I’m going on 53! I can just imagine posting on BR when I’m 73 (may you still be with us Nat) wondering what the hell I was thinking when I was a youthful 53! Okay, the age tape gets ditched. The time is running out tape gets ditched. And cheating MM’s are an automatic flush. The slate is clean.

        • Mymble says:

          Yes I have had that soundtrack playing since my 20s too and it lead me to make poor relationship choices. The thing is, though, there is no time to waste – no time to waste being miserable in inappropriate unhappy relationships. The thing is to take the instinctive lizard brain fear out of that thought, and instead make conscious rational choices uncontaminated by panic and fear.

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        He broke up with me as a lover 6 months ago, and we went down the ill-fated path of “just friends”; me, because it was my way to hang on – he, because it made him feel like less of a jerk for breaking things off with me, and because he still wanted my attention and help, on some level.

        I did the whole ‘let’s just be friends’ crap, IT WAS HORRIBLE. Every time I saw them it was like a chunk of my self esteem went with them. What do you say after a break up – you say, ‘We have to stop seeing each other’. NOT ‘let’s just be friends.’

        If they wanted to just be friends in the first place, there would be no need to have a relationship, date or have sex!! FLUSH!!

        • amanda says:

          Thanks for the empathy, t_o_a. NML’s post a few weeks ago on the pitfalls of these post-breakup friendships really hit it home for me, and gave me the courage to really step away, for once and for all, although I’ve only been maintaining this mindset (and NC ) for 2 weeks. I’m not sure I have the will to keep it up if he contacts me first.

          I’m sorry that you’ve been there, too.

          • tired_of_assanova says:

            Yeah. It took 9 months of intensive psycology, BR every day, NC, went through all of NMLs books, NC Rule Mail, sex ban, dating ban (this was recently lifted but I’ve not actually gone on a date with anyone yet), forcing myself to go out, ripping down all electronic profiles and communications due to my penchant for fantasy.

            Can’t wait until NMLs’ fantasy relationships book is out.

            • Hehe – if not this evening, it’ll be out tomorrow!

            • amanda says:

              Wait, is this true? As hard as it is for me to admit, I had largely fantasy relationships with the last two men I “fell in love” with (including the one that I am finally distancing myself from, with the MM). This is after getting out of a 6.5 year relationship where I felt completely smothered. Both of these men got sex from me of course, but gave me nothing in return. I’m so scared that this has become my pattern. Maintaining NC (for two piddling weeks), no longer begging him to stay in contact with m, really not interested in dating right now, but also seeing that I have been systematically disinterested in every real, decent man who has crossed my path in these last 3 years. Why do they all seem dull to me? I’ve read NML’s posts on fantasy relationships (there was a great one, April 2009), and would certainly benefit from longer personal study on the topic. Thanks for everything you give, NML.

              • tired_of_assanova says:

                Thank you NML. Recovery from fantasy ones is a nightmare! The suspense for the new book is killing me!

      • Intothelight says:

        Thanks for your reply, I read it and can totally relate …. I’m on day 8 of NC after a couple of ‘false starts’. I was fortunate to discover this site 2 months ago when he suddenly and out of the blue decided he didn’t want a relationship with me anymore, no reason other than saying ‘I can’t have a relationship with anybody at the moment’ all high drama and attention seeking. I read Natalie’s posts on not needing validation from him to end things (as he wouldn’t come round to discuss this rejection face to face), but when the opportunity arose 5 weeks later (can you believe I allowed myself to put up with his flip-flopping for that long?!) I agreed to ‘the talk’ with a voice in my head telling me that this was justified because he “had to return my key anyway”. I know now I was just seeking validation and at the end of a 3 hour arm chair psychology session – which was mainly about him and his problems – we had said all we had to say – he couldn’t understand at all why I said I wanted no contact, he even said do you still want your key back !he was just so used to me bending everything to suit his needs and timetable. The day after and for the next week I got a phone call every single day! I managed to stay NC for 5 days, but made the BIG mistake of picking up to explain that I wanted him to leave me alone…an argument followed and the previous calm and friendly conversation was all but forgotten, I was SO angry with myself for being manipulated into a situation where I had lost my temper and turned into this screaming harpy, but also I had given him what he wanted and needed, a quick fix to know I was still thinking about him and hurting about our breakup. Never again….like you this is the longest I have ever gone without contact and thanks to the posts on here I am much more equipped to deal with any more attempts to seek an ego stroke. Your’e coming up for 2 weeks and you should be proud. Keep strong, this man will suddenly realise he has lost his best friend, his confident and the person who generally made him feel special, but remember as much as it feels great to be thought of as the person who makes him feel like Mr Wonderful, he made you his fall back girl, his shoulder to cry on and if he was anything like my married AC he made you feel like you had a future together when you didn’t…. Like me keep seeing things the way…

        • Intothelight says:

          I forgot to say that reply was for Amanda – thanks

          • amanda says:

            Thank you, once again, Intothelight. You’ve helped me stay focused and courageous for yet another day; if you can be this strong and direct for others, you can be so for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up too much for falling off the wagon. It seems like you quickly integrated the lesson of how bad it feels to do so… which means that you have actually gained something (at the expense of lost nerves, sleep, etc, in the moment). I also wanted to empathize with your regret over having wasted time on this relationship (6 years “down the drain”). I think that one reason why we cling so hard to the dregs of these so-called-relationships is that we don’t want to confront how “wrong” we were to have given any energy to these connections in the first place. I convinced myself that the MM and I had all the makings of the greatest of friends, and that a wonderful, above-board, ethically-sound platonic connection could emerge from the ethically-murky, unbalanced, dishonest relationship we had as lovers. I so wanted to be “right!” I’ll admit it, its really hard to see how wrong I’ve been. Its incredibly humbling. But, I’ve gone through harder travails, and it feels good to know that I may finally be processing this breakup in the right way. Good luck to you… good courage. Thank god for BR and all of the wonderful, strong women (and men!) who come here, open and availing to each other.

        • tired_of_assanova says:

          things (as he wouldn’t come round to discuss this rejection face to face), but when the opportunity arose 5 weeks later (can you believe I allowed myself to put up with his flip-flopping for that long?!)

          Ha ha ha! I went for 10 weeks with no sex and was seriously contemplating whether a relationship with no sex could work. 10 WEEKS people!! No sex with ANYONE, because I was waiting for him. Well, he was shagging around that entire time.

          • tired_of_assanova says:

            Oh yes, and for those 10 weeks, I was being managed by text and IM! No wonder I had an emotional illness and sick after all that time.

            • Intothelight says:

              Reply – tired_of-assanova…. Love the name! When you suddenly realise what an idiot you’ve been it can be so freaking annoying, I couldn’t believe despite all the wonderful advice on BR that I still picked up that phone! I think that what really got me was exactly what I wouldn’t admit would happen (I got manipulated, he got an ego massage) did happen! Thankfully I now feel (and it sounds like you do too) that I am on definitely on the road to AC recovery. Many thanks for your post :-)

  5. Tess says:

    Older women, do you think this applies as much to us as to the younger woman? For those of us older gals with one long-relationship histories, and now finding themselves on the dating scene again, it’s easier to take rejection to heart; we’ve been around the block, know ourselves well, and while we may have a lot of things, still, in common with younger never married women, rejection is depressing and it seems to have so much more weight because there are so fewer available (as in not married) men. And, let’s face it- we have a lot less time to dawdle! lol

    I’ve been divorced for a couple of years after a quarter century- long marriage. I fell in love with an unavailable- and it’s been devastating, and while I don’t feel my self esteem is lacking, I thought he felt the same., I’m still trying to get over it. I do date on occasion, and have tried the horrid online thing only to email back and forth incessantly with several guys with nary a one willing to even make a phone call. But I am not about to invest years into someone that’s not right for me. Being rejected in whatever form it taken, is like a kick in the gut. I don’t see myself as being unworthy, but maybe I haven’t moved on because of exactly that…Being married for so long perhaps has made my expectations too high.

    • CG says:

      Reply to Tess.
      As an older woman (55) who had a long term marriage (23 years together, married 21) I can tell you that we do face a different set of challenges setting out on our own as a single person than a younger woman would.
      Natalies post today really resonated with me. I have ruminated over the failed marriage for 5 years now with all the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s, why did he throw it all away? how could he have? why did he reject me?…and on and on and on. In short, not connecting why it happened at all…until today.
      It wasn’t about me, it was about the condition of the marriage that deteriorated into an endless black hole because of one simple truth…
      Our core values were always different.
      In my case, he presented himself to me and others as having a certain set of values that he embraced but in truth, it was a front to get what he needed for himself. I married a true narcissist. As the years went by, I adapted and changed and future faked to hold the marriage together; ie: I chose to overlook his flaws and changed me, just to hold the family and marriage together and I tolerated having the carrot (emotional connection) dangled in front of my face but as soon as I thought I was getting close to grabbing it, he would put the carrot back. and raise the bar again..hence, 5 years post-divorce I have struggled to find myself again and reconnect with my values. In the meantime, I am fully aware of my aging body, aware that the pickin’s are slim in our age group and aware of the fact that I may not meet someone who truely shares my same values. But guess what??? Who cares? I know I am a vital person with much to offer any man I choose to have in my life. Any man who can get past my filters now is going to be, indeed, a very lucky man. Keep your expectations high….do not compromise your core values…plan for the future as if you will be alone on the last leg of the journey but EXPECT that if you hold true to yourself you will meet the right person to share your golden years with. If a relationship doesn’t work, remember, it’s not rejection, it’s that you and your paramour HAVE DIFFERENT VALUES.

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        Our core values were always different.
        In my case, he presented himself to me and others as having a certain set of values that he embraced but in truth, it was a front to get what he needed for himself. I married a true narcissist.

        You can’t change people. Really. Trust me, tried to change myself or others – total failure then cue ‘I’m not good enough/ruminating on why they won’t change’.

        If someone likes chocolate and banana ice cream, how the hell are you going to make them like strawberry ice cream or even brussel sprouts?

        Extend this line of argument further – if some likes being an asshole, because that’s their M.O. or just want’s to have casual friends with benefits, how on Earth is someone going to make them change to suddenly like commitment and intimacy with ONE person?

    • Tanzanite says:


      I agree with everything you have written.

      Unlike you ,I had low self esteem and it was made worse after a dalliance with EU/AC male but after reading Natalie’s posts my esteem is back and that is why I have let it go.I have the odd lapse but I realise I was always good enough.

      I have a job.I own my home.I love myself ( at last ) and my children and family.I count my blessings.

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        I have compulsive feelings sometimes – a relapse – from time to time. I’m out and the AC is behind me. Sometimes I do feel out of control though / mega panic when I’m with someone that displays EUM behaviour in my friend circle.

    • Brenda R says:

      I can’t feel that way I haven’t been married in over 20 years and have been without a man for years and years ta time.. I don’t feel less hopeful because of age, NOT one bit you can go to marriage minded people meet – serious places for serious people and you can meet someone if you want to really you can, I see more chances not less for things to happen than I did younger, so baffles me this age thing.

      If I said that I think I would be making excuses for myself really, oh my luck is bad because of my age.. My luck is bad because of my weight etc etc.. I can’t say that, I can honestly only say my has been bad because I was so stupid at putting my foot down, because “I” was a doormat, and because “I” was looking at the wrong things!

      And that is the truth of the matter, anything else and I am making some excuse to keep doing the same old dumb routine.

    • Tea Cozy says:

      I may be the odd one out here, but I’m finding rejection at age 49 less of a gut-kick than when I was a young woman. It still stings, but the sting passes more quickly. I suspect this is simply because any of us who’ve been lucky to live to this age have experienced all sorts of losses — deaths of loved ones; major illnesses; injury — the types of losses life naturally dishes out. There’s more perspective to be had than when I was young and utterly self-absorbed.

      I also am not yet convinced that there’s a shortage of available men in my age bracket. The divorce rate keeps the dating pool stocked, does it not? I’m out there dating, using an online site, and there are indeed men who are looking for what I want. I’ve accepted that the process of finding a good match will probably involve meeting many men who ultimately aren’t a good fit, so I’m OK so far with not having a successful pairing. (I’ve mentally set my expectation that it could take a year or more, and meeting 100 men or more…just to take the pressure off the gotta-have-it-NOW thinking.)

      I hope this comes across as encouragement. We don’t have to feel discouraged as we seek love. Try to be of good cheer if you can. There are possibilities out there.

      • cc says:

        here’s one thing i will say about dating past 40 – you just have to learn to date all over again, or perhaps for the first time. i spent 20+ years of adulthood in 2 very LTRs – and where i grew up, nobody really “dated”, we were either seeing someone/in a relationship, or we weren’t. so, when i felt i was ready after my last LTR, i practiced my bright-but-not-too-eager smile and my hair flip and started dating really for the first time in my life….and it was quite the learning experience…

        more like a crash course. i thought i knew what men were like and what they wanted – i was wrong, wrong, wrong. but all i needed (well, in addition to everything else we’re learning on BR and in our own private healing efforts) was some dating skill and experience. like how to weed out the jerks from the potentials; how to not get too excited over every single date; how to flirt appropriately without seeming either closed off or way too open; how to keep the conversation at an appropriate just-met-you dating depth when you’re used to speaking with someone you’ve known 1/2 your life.

        don’t feel you’re too old or too *anything*. yes, you must put your best foot forward, but wrangle your wants/needs/boundaries and go see who’s out there. NML’s advice applies to us as much as to women in their 20s and 30s. the pool of desirable men who are really ready and available for a real relationship may not be so great, in fact its downright pitiful. but don’t let that stop you, let it make you more discerning.

        and…if i may, to help you calibrate your expectations….particularly if you date online… you will weed through a LOT of guys, most don’t deserve your attention; this is normal. don’t feel you need to waste too much time emailing back and forth – if they don’t move to a phone call in a space of time you consider appropriate (and then from phone call to date), they’re not motivated (most aren’t, they’re too content sitting in their own little bachelor existences); blow those off. and CG is right, stick to your core values – in other words, if you don’t like something they do or how they speak to you, just. opt. out.

        finally – expect it to go in fits and starts, and make yourself happy in your life.

        its not easy, not easy at all, for anyone. keep your expectations for YOURSELF and your LIFE high – but keep your expectations of dating and men low – that way you won’t be disappointed. and work on the dating skills – they’ll help you.

      • Brenda Renkema says:

        Another thing I remember about being “younger” is having the looks but getting rejected anyhow – making it seem even WORSE to me than it seems now – Yes -I think there are many ways to look at that.

  6. TabbyOlimber says:

    I’m really struggling with this right now. I know that I can’t make my breakup with the EUM that I ended things with in February about me, but I’m having a really hard time changing my pattern of thinking. Deep down, my thoughts of not being good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, etc. keep popping back into my head…and I also care too much about what he thinks of me. I battle these thoughts every day, but they are still there. Any tips on how to rid them from my brain altogether?

    • Sunshine says:

      For me it’s easier to question them. Fighting them makes them worse. Now that I’m stronger, I can say “eff off” to some thoughts and laugh at them, but questioning has worked best. I learned this from Byron Katie’s “The Work”.
      I ask myself, “Is that true? Can I absolutely know it’s true? How do I feel when I believe the thought? Who would I be without the thought?” and then turn it around and write out 3 true examples of how the opposite is true. It helps show my brain that the thoughts are just thoughts, they aren’t me, I don’t have to believe them, and how if I couldn’t even think the thought, I’d just be rolling along, enjoying my day.
      Really this pretty much ENDED a near-lifetime of distressing suicidal thinking. Every once in a while a suicidal thought pops up and I just laugh because I now realize thoughts are only thoughts. I have literally gone from the depths of gut-wrenching, sobbing despair to cracking up laughing in an instant when I remember, “these are just thoughts and I don’t have to believe them.”

      • Tea Cozy says:

        Great post, and great practical suggestion, Sunshine.

        That type of questioning my own irrational beliefs and thoughts helped pull me out of a lifelong depressive state. As long as I can remember to catch myself and do that rational line of questioning, I feel a lot better. As Nat says, pull the car over and stop the negative self-talk.

      • TabbyOlimber says:

        Thank you so much for the response and great advice, Sunshine. I guess I just need to address each thought as they come to my mind and nip them in the bud. Sounds exhausting, but it probably gets easier the more you do it?

        • Sunshine says:

          It does, it does! It’s pretty much automatic now. It did take some investment, but it was a lot easier than torturing myself the way I was doing it.
          Sometimes I realized I was questioning the wrong thoughts…”Boyfriend should not be dating other women, is that true?”, lol, when I should have been questioning, “Is this a good relationship for ME?” 😀
          It’s like driving, though, at first it seems to take a lot of effort and concentration but now it’s just natural.

      • ixnay says:

        That’s inspirational, Sunshine!

        One thing I’d add is … I got on a kick of watching “Obsessed,” the show about people with OCD. Kind of like Intervention, but with weird compulsions instead of drugs. You can watch it online.

        Anyhow, I would always be struck at how random and arbitrary these fixations were. One woman is afraid the objects in her house are too heavy and will crash through the floor. One guy lives in fear of El Caminos. Lots of people think certain foods are contaminated or they are contaminated. One woman can’t tolerate her mother and brother’s hand gestures, and freaks out if they move their hands certain ways. One woman needs to spend 10 hours a day on a treadmill. Anorexia or bulemia is similar, obsessing about weight and caloric intake and body. One woman has an hour-long teeth-brushing ritual and goes to the the dentist constantly.

        It made me realize I have these tendencies. I’m a compulsive list-maker, and the lists stand in for the life I mean to have and hold the anxiety of not living it. Then I have to cull and rewrite the lists. I also got into a good habit of tracking my spending, but it became obsessive and I would freak out if I couldn’t account for a dollar. I had to quit that cold turkey and be more fluid with money coming in and out and basically trust my bank instead of spending hours matching receipts and ATM slips with my checking account. It was a waste of time.

        Anyhow, what strikes me about these OCD people is that they are entirely convinced that the thing they are obsessed about is THE KEY to life. But when you look at them, you realize, it could have been anything else. It’s anxiety and/or grief and control issues that have found a focus. Like the contaminated woman is also overweight, but she’s not obsessed about that. The teeth woman could just as easily be a face-picking or hair-pulling-out woman.

        From the outside, you can see that these people are missing the big picture, any sense of proportion or balance or integration. Watching the show, I thought, I do that with repetitive thoughts and behaviors. it gave me some perspective to watch people who are entirely missing their lives because of a fixation. The fixation is random; the anxiety and grief is not. You’ve got to get to the feelings and their origin, and then the thoughts and behaviors fall away. It is hard.

        • Anon says:

          Ixnay- You do make some terrific points about OCD and obsessions, basically that the perpetuators have underlying anxiety and control issues (for out of control feelings) that they are both interchange-able (counting and cleaning things) and a waste of time. However, many of the readers here are obsessed with getting a good relationship- just one- to be a part of a happy couple, or even a family some day. Unfortunately, this obsession isn’t a waste of time, it is not random or arbitrary- it is necessary to their emotional and psychological well being. This makes the stakes higher, and the obsession harder to let go of, because loving and being loved is a primal need, not going away & because perennial years on end singleness is not good for any one, neither is not having a support system. Society in general has us convinced that being a part of a family is THE KEY to life, you get bombarded with these images every where, and you feel it (palpably) every day. The fixation is real, along with the anxiety and grief.

          • yoghurt says:

            I dunno, Anon, I think that you’re right in a sense but I don’t think that it’s the desire to meet someone and have a family that’s at issue. Lots of people want that desperately and would be unhappy if they didn’t have it – that attitude hasn’t prevented them from going out and getting it.

            I think that the irrationality comes from fixating on one person at the expense of anyone else, or fixating on a certain type of relating at the expense of a healthy one, or fixating on having to ‘mend’ someone in order to have a halfway satisfying relationship or similar. Those impulses, as strong as they may be, are actually counter-productive to finding true love and having a family.

            Me, I ALWAYS wanted to get married and have a big family, from being very small. But I spent most of my twenties trying to persuade a borderline-alcoholic that even though he had said from the beginning that he didn’t want to get married or have children, he did really, with me.

            Yeah, wanting to have a family was valid, but fixating on someone who was in no way able or prepared to give me one was just daft.

            With the OCD people, it’s necessary and appropriate to wash your hands sometimes, it’s stops being either if you’re spending an hour a day doing it and giving yourself a skin complaint by using too much soap. Seeking a relationship is likewise a necessary and appropriate things for many people to do, but not if it consumes and hurts you. And if it does, it’s worth remembering that the impulse to consume and hurt yourself in pursuit of a relationship really just amounts to thoughts and little else. It wouldn’t make much difference whether you do or you don’t.

            Don’t know if that makes any sense, I was thinking it out as I went.

        • Snowboard says:

          As someone who suffered from severe OCD for seven years but now has it more or less under control, I thought I should chime in here. My compulsions shifted over the years, but they always functioned as a way to protect myself from danger. Actually, currently, one of my compulsions is reading BR. (My counselor has told me many times that I should spend at most 15 minutes every other day on this site, but I tend to spend much more than that, in my need to stay vigilant against the threat of EUMs and ACs.) I am right to try to protect myself from unhealthy men, but at least in my counselor’s view, combing this site, reading and re-reading old posts I now know by heart, frequently for hours per day, is destructive “reassurance seeking,” which means I am looking to other people/sources for an artificial sense of security, actually reducing my own ability to create that sense of security on my own, internally.

          Someday, I would like to write a longer post about my amazing experience in treatment for OCD, as I have often wondered how many other readers of this blog, who obsess over jerks, are actually suffering from OCD, without knowing it. For years, therapists just assumed my problems were depression. Thus, they gave me “talk therapy,” which – for the OCD sufferer – is just another opportunity to “seek reassurance” and makes the problem WORSE, not better. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the ONLY route out of OCD.

          P.S. Just to be 100% clear, I am in no way suggesting that this site is to blame for my or anyone’s problems. Quite the opposite – I am forever indebted to Natalie for her brilliance, kindness, originality, diligence, and commitment. But because I *do* have OCD, I nonetheless have to put some limits on myself with BR.

    • makara says:

      Tabbyolimber I know exactly what you mean! The thoughts are maddening sometimes. Something that I have done to help me cope is to say one positive thing about myself every time I think something negative. Its hard to stop those thoughts cold turkey, but I found it helpful to point out some good things about myself too. It brings a bit more balance. As for what he thinks…he isn’t that special or that powerful. Take a few moments to think about all the things that are wrong with him. Stay strong and remember your self worth!

      • TabbyOlimber says:

        Thank you, Makara. You’re absolutely right…he isn’t that special or that powerful and I need to start thinking about the things that are wrong with him. I like your idea of saying one positive thing about myself every time I think something negative. In time, maybe I’ll get rid of these horrible, gut-wrenching, negative thoughts.

    • Anne says:

      Hi TabbyO.

      I blog about yoga, and my most recent p0st is about the hurt that can be deep down inside and of how others can see your beauty inside and out but how hard it can be to see that for yourself.

      You ask how you can rid your brain of such thoughts altogether. I know the strategy on which I am working is being kinder and more compassionate towards myself, just as I would towards a friend.

      I got some good advice recently to give myself some space. When I asked what that meant, I was told it only meant to not be so critical of myself, to be gentler with myself. Easier said than done, but I think it is starting to work for me.

      If you want to read: The post I am refering to is called “Pruning”.

      Hope this helps.

  7. jennynic says:

    I have to say that complete NC and time helped me gain the perspective that I couldn’t see when I was in the thick of a failing relationship or fresh out of one. It even helps you see things that were wrong that you didn’t even notice when they were happening, or that your low self esteem absorbed as normal, when it clearly wasn’t. Once the rose colored glasses come off, a whole new view comes to light. I’ve also noticed that when things don’t work out with a guy who wasn’t an AC or completely terrible (but still not that great), the feeling of rejection can be harder to shake off because its harder to hate them. My perspective had to shift as a whole to recognize red flags that in the past were not so bad in comparison to the outrageous red flags, flaming red flags I was used to. It was like pulling myself out of a deep mud puddle that someone pushed me into, then being okay with someone new throwing mud balls at me, because at least they weren’t pushing me in. Gaining perspective on this has helped me lessen the feeling of rejection from my last break up. Mud balls still weren’t fun, and I was still selling myself short by thinking I’d upgraded this time.

    • AMM says:

      Very well put. This is so true. When you’ve let yourself put up with totally inappropriate behavior from someone in the past, it can be really difficult to spot lesser forms of bad behavior for what they are. After a while, it seems like anyone you date is going to do *something* at some point that could be interpreted as some kind of red flag, especially if you’ve gotten supersensitive to looking for bad behavior. It’s a tricky process trying to figure out what deserves a pass or benefit of the doubt and what is 100% red flag behavior.

  8. Reality says:

    “I can only assume that it’s easier dealing with situations and blokes that have been and gone than dealing with the future and the unknown. I don’t want to live my life like that anymore, though – the unknown can’t possibly be less satisfying or more soul-destroying than living in the past.”

    Yoghurt! I am with ya on this one. I live in the past. I am obsessed with it, and it’s not even that great it’s just unfinished in my mind. And in some way I feel like obsessing about it is going to bring the pieces together. Almost like a time machine where if I travel back there and fix everything broken my present moment will magically change.

    You are right, I don’t want to live there anymore either. The unknown future can’t be as scary as I have made it. I guess it’s time to move forward.

    Such a great and timely post!!

    • ixnay says:


      I have a wonderful, wise friend. I have the same exact tendency, mulling the past over and over to understand and change the present.

      My friend says, when you truly inhabit the present moment, which is infinite and amazing, when you really really do, *it changes the past.*

      He doesn’t mean that you just get perspective or distance, he means that *the past is not what you thought it was, and you were not who you thought you were,* but you can ONLY feel that by living in the present, NOt (counterintuitively), by mining the past for meaning.

      He also says, and i find this comforting, that there does not have to be some big process or effort to be a better person. That we already are these amazing people, and always were, even when we were making mistakes and living small and humiliating ourselves and crying. Even in those moments we were much more than we thought we were, we were already whole.

      • XFBwoman says:

        ixnay, I agree with this. You can change your past, in that you can change the meaning of the past events that you hold within you, about you. The poor choice you made was not because you are a self-destructive dumbass; you made the choice that made sense to you based on what you knew and you were looking for love, comfort, community, or whatever it was that was driving you. These are not gross sins; these are normal human needs. Change the beliefs you hold about your past and you change the past–and your present.
        The hard part for me is making myself look at my past and what I believe about it. But that’s my job to do. There are tools out there that help. This site is one of them.

  9. Heartache Amy says:

    My “ex” husband and I signed divorce papers last week (but not in the same room or at the same time). He didn’t even show up at court the following day. Then, he came this weekend to pick up most of his things. I luckily had a friend with me when he came to help buffer things, and he still said some snarky things to me. But when he left and I looked around my house, I felt sad, empty and lonely, and horror of horrors, I felt myself missing him. I don’t know that I was missing him as much feeling the pain of a broken marriage, a failed relationship and hopes and dreams that have died. My ex has treated me badly and been emotionally and verbally abusive, so to miss him at this point is crazy, but I do. And I caught myself ruminating over why things failed and why I wasn’t good enough, even for a jerk like him. I haven’t totally hit rock bottom and I know I’m better off alone than with an AC, but yeah, it still hurts quite a bit.

    • AngelFace says:

      I’m sorry you are going through such a sad and difficult time. It gets easier and time will heal you. I am hoping the best for you, and remember that you have all of us here on BR to cheer you through this! Please remember to do positive things that will help you feel good.

    • Fearless says:

      Heartache Amy

      Am sorry too that you are going through this pain. You know, I have read many ladies on BR lamenting what they perceive as ‘not having been good enough even for a jerk like him’. It always strikes me that this is really muddled thinking (which is not surprising when your self-esteem has taken a battering at the hands of an abusive jerk man for years) but it’s important to reach an appreciation of the fact that the problem is not that you were not good enough for him, the problem is that he is a jerk. You cannot win with these men for that reason. The words ‘good enough’ do not even have any meaning in these relationshits; ‘good enough’ does not even enter into the equation. Your worth/value is not tied up to what some jerk thinks of you (he has the thoughts and mindset of a jerk!), or what anyone else thinks of you for that matter – including you, at this point in time. You are worth the same and deserve the same love, care and respect from your relationships as any other human being, whether your ex jerk of a husband knows it or not, whether the ex churchy cheater man knows it or not and, more importantly, whether *you* know it or not – it is still true. Now’s your chance to learn to believe it. Good luck.

      • Heartache Amy says:

        Hi Fearless,
        Thanks so much. Your words of wisdom have been very helpful for me. I have to keep reminding myself that I AM worthy of love and respect, and I truly hope I do learn it, at last. Thanks again!

    • Lon says:

      Hi Amy
      I can so relate to how you feel. I too am living in our family home and my partner has moved out, following a difficult 10 yr relationship and in feb I found out he was cheating on me.
      My home feels empty and I hate living in it, it’s currently up or sale. This site has helped think positively I still swing between wanting him back and hoping there something/one better out there for me.
      Your not alone, it’s really hard but you will through this x

      • Heartache Amy says:

        Hi Lon,
        I’m sorry to hear that. It really stinks, doesn’t it? I’m going to stay in my home and finally fix it up the way I have always wanted to, and truly make it mine. But right now, it’s still sad for me. I guess it’s normal to go back and forth, missing him one minute, glad he’s gone the next. We need to keep the faith and believe that neither of our relationships were meant to be, and that things really will get better. You’ll get through this, too!

  10. NICOLE93 says:

    Been there, done that. I wasn’t worthy of the Official Girlfriend title because I was too this or too that. I was too much of this and not enough that. Perhaps if I looked like less of a “bad girl”, I’d be take-home-to-the-parents-kind material. Maybe if I got my tattoos removed or died my hair lighter. Maybe if I was nicer or more understanding of his rinky dink, sketchy behavior. The reason I feel rejected is because I’m just not worthy of a real relationship and something is very wrong with me. It went on and on and on….


  11. Laurie says:

    Absolutely LOVE this. Exactly what I needed to hear today. Just wish BR was a podcast so I could download and listen when I’m struggling. I would pay good money for that…*hint* : )

    Being emotionally healthy is a lot of hard work–I guess just like being physically fit. You have to exercise, fill your body with *good* stuff, and all that takes a tremendous amount of discipline. But I suppose the more you practice, the easier it becomes. I feel like I’ve been going through one massive detox over the past month, but I am starting to feel better; in large part because my perspective is beginning to change.

    It hasn’t been easy though. I still struggle with those nagging thoughts: it’s all your fault; you ruin everything; you are unlovable; rejectionable, etc. It takes all my emotional strength to combat these thoughts. But at least I’m fighting them. It just leaves me absolutely exhausted.

    I am so, so very thankful for BR. This was such a great pick-me-up!

    • Sunshine says:

      I mentioned in a reply earlier, I have found that questioning thoughts like little children has been much much easier, more loving and more effective for me. I found Byron Katie’s “The Work” in 2008 and I use it often. I question the truth of my stressful thoughts (sometimes they seem true, sometimes not, it’s not about being right or wrong about them it’s just about stopping to question and being curious instead of combative) and imagine who I would be without the thoughts. It’s pretty much what Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is, for the lay person.

      • happy beginning says:

        Laurie, I think I’m in a similar place to you. I am getting many wonderful moments, like I haven’t felt for years, where I feel 100% me and have this strong identity, but the negative thoughts are nagging at me a lot.

        Now that I’m out of a shady relationship, I’m making less shady choices in other areas of life – not eating junk food on the sly, funds out of that toxic bank, running. I think this makes me more ‘at one with myself’, rather than in battle. I’m so pleased to be able to share this process with others here. I had an awful slump last week that ended in a headache, I still cry sometimes, but there is hope. It’s helpful to see from you and Sunshine that your psyche needs exercise too, I really need to work more on this and put the time in.

        Though I’ve known the saying for years, it now means something to me that ‘there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way’. My life is actually a shambles, but I can’t keep punishing myself and have to work on the daily pleasures and rewards because the bigger goals take time and patience.

  12. BGirl says:

    This post seriously hit home. I was feeling down the other day and found myself wondering why does *insert name of person in relationship* have what it takes to make a man want to be with her and I don’t. And I stay constantly living in the past wondering where it all went wrong and what I could have done to make the AC/EUM’s stay. And I keep failing to realize that while I do have faults, I can not control what other people do and their decisions have absolutely nothing to do with me. I just internalize every bed experience and take it personally. It’s just this fear inside of me that ai don’t hurry up and find someone soon, that my chance will be lost forever. Crazy….huh?

    • makara says:

      Bgirl I feel your pain! I was involved with an EUM and decided to stop things because he didn’t want to turn his lazy communication and lazy behavior into an actual relationship. However, not too long ago I saw him very much involved with another women and I felt like I was kicked in the face. Immediately thought “why her and not me?” it was torture. I’ve taken him off the pedestal now and I am realizing that he really isn’t that special. I have the same fear that I will keep meeting AC and lose my chances…but that fear is starting to diminish now. There is a beautiful world out there to explore and things will happen at their right time. :)

  13. Jennister says:

    Perspective…oh how I love the.. why do you make me wait sooooo long for your appearance to make all my suffering so silly when I should have been cheering with joy at my liberation or sighing with relief that i avoided a close call with disaster. Its ok I love you anyways :)

  14. Story says:

    Thank you! This post was my life a year or more ago…when I look at how things have changed, I’m amazed. Not playing the “soundtrack” anymore!

  15. Broadsided says:

    This is an important article and an empowering one. And came at a good time, as I’m getting over my last relationship SNAFU. I’ve behaved myself and – in addition to the NC – have quit peeking at his damn Facebook page, quit speaking about him to people, quit writing about him and bemoaning him in E mails – letting go of all of these things is really important to extinguish the person from one’s reality. Once I did these things the healing accelerated and though not ready to date again yet I’m nearly over him. Once past the hurt of the situation, I realize it certainly was not me – it was him crashing into the wall of his inability to sustain a relationship and being thoughtless and critical those last two weeks to justify the behavior and create distance before bailing. The closing words of the article – that these failures don’t mean so much you suck at a relationship as you dodged a bullet – indeed! This last guy – the last two, in particular – man, they would have been heartache for me to hitch myself to. For if you aren’t on the same page with the same agenda – and you don’t know this right away, it simply isn’t going anywhere. As you get older as I am, the pickin’s are slimmer and the wounded warriors (or EUMs) seem the norm – but I’m not giving up. I will be good for someone who’s worth it, who is also good for and to me. Good riddance to the petty bullshit mind games.

    @yoghurt: “feasting on the bones of long-dead relationships” – ha, that is ALSO profound – what a good image for what many of us do. I’m still enjoying the bonfire image from a previous article.

    • yoghurt says:

      Ha – thanks Broadsided 😀

      I had a bit of a wobble recently and am currently in the now-tiresome process of trying to heave myself back onto the wagon and remembering that I don’t have to feel like this and I’d rather not live this way.

      All day today, though, every time thoughts of him have crossed my mind I’ve said to myself, firmly: “Ugh, stop poking it! It’s DEAD!” And it’s worked really well!

  16. Molly says:

    I used to be the “last chance” girl. Every guy was my “last chance” – to have a relationship, to be “happy,” to not be alone in a solitary life. That belief informed my decisions, obviously to my detriment because I would attempt to make relationships work with completely inappropriate men.

    Now I’m the “no chance” broad: If the guy doesn’t have his shit together and we don’t share basic values and goals, there’s “no chance” I’m getting involved!

  17. Confusedd says:

    I’m doing well with the No contact, but I have something knawing away at me… That the ‘ex’ will get together with a single mutual friend that I introduced to him, that they’ll be perfect together and end up getting married while I stand by and watch and pretend not to care. I have literally just woken up from a nightmare about this. The nightmare went from me talking to the mutual friend and her telling me about them dating, to me driving a truck uphill and I couldn’t work the brakes so it kept sliding back down… This is ridiculous! Does anyone else deal with this?

    • Sunshine says:

      I have, and those are the times I have to sit down, write, and get real with myself.
      What am I feeling? Let’s take a look at these pictures in my head…what is so frightening about an ex with a mutual friend? WHY on EARTH would that be scary? What about that makes me feel like I might actually DIE, that my physical safety and life are actually threatened?
      So then he marries her and then what happens? And then? And then? And then? And then? Take it all the way through to the worst scenario I can imagine.
      I used to have a very difficult time spending money on nice things for myself, like expensive gourmet food and high-quality nutrition supplements. My heart and mind would race and all kinds of guilt would come up, until I sat down and looked at the whole scenario my mind was creating and questioned it.
      The story I would tell myself is something along the lines of, “If I buy this, I won’t have enough money for rent. If I can’t pay rent, I will end up in a homeless shelter. If I end up in a homeless shelter, I will eventually get kicked out. When I get kicked out, I will end up dying alone in a ditch.” Hahaha! So I sat and got really present with the story, the pictures, the honest about “is this really out of my budget, will this really affect whether I can pay rent?”
      The last time I noticed those thoughts niggling at me when I put something in my cart, I checked in, and had the attitude of, “Oh, yeah, I’m telling myself if I by this I’ll end up alone and dead in a ditch…yawn….”
      Same with the ex…I would freak out at the image of him in the arms of another woman, them loving each other more and better than what we had. Finally I got a lock in the recurring picture/scenario, and was asking, “what the heck about this seems actually threatening to my LIFE? to my SURVIVAL? Is this even happening right now?” It’s only a picture.

      I love to lucid dream, and one of my favorite things to do in dreams besides fly, is look for doors to open. This symbolizes opening my mind to me. In one dream, I looked for a door to open, and found an old wooden one. I said, “by opening this door, I am expanding my consciousness!” and pulled it open.
      Almost immediately, a scary creature seemed to jump out and reflexively I moved to shut the door, then caught myself and opened it up further. The bogeyman disappeared and…

      • Sunshine says:

        a picture appeared on the wall.

        I got it. The horrible, terrible, scary things in our minds that torture us are only pictures.

        • Teddie says:

          Ive read a piece of similar advice on how to get rid or unwanted thoughts: consciously evoke them rather than fight them off, this makes you see that you’ve got power over them. And then, exactly as you say, Sunshine, develop the thoughts further, make yourself think them, sooner or later you’ll get bored or find them kitchy, yeah, the ex and the best friend, visualise them in the throws of passion, sweaty and panting, how kitschy is this, how boring!? There are much more interesting things to entertain thoughts about!

    • imfree says:

      I suffer from something similar – I dont so much as consciously tell myself I’m crap/useless/unlucky/unworthy etc etc, (which is why in the past if you had asked me – do i have low self esteem, I probably wouldn’t have agreed) but I tend to focus on other people, beit the ex, the AC, their current partners (or even future ones that dont exist yet) and think their life is perfect and idolise them and their experiences. I can easily imagine my ex finding someone lovely, falling in love having a happy content fulfilled life – I’d bet my overdraft on it. But I cannot think that about me. I know that there is no evidence at all to support this black and white thinking.

      It’s like I can view others with rose coloured glasses and myself with the total opposite. I am sure this is just another form of low self esteem. But more than that, for me I think my tendancy to focus on others, detracts from myself and I have been asking myself quite a lot recently why I do this. What function is this serving?

      And trust me, I do this alot, for example, I have to find somewhere else to live soon and share a flat. I automatically assume that at best it will be bareable, at worst terrible. However my ex who is in a similar position, I assume that for hiim it will be an opportunity, to meet new people, even a future partner blah blah blah. I notice these types of thoughts a lot more and try and tell myself how ridiculous I am being….maybe if i keep doing it, I will start to believe it!

      Anyway, back to what I was saying about why do I do this, the focus on others. I think it is not wanting to look after myself, take responsibility for myself. Partly because I dont like myself, dont think i’m worthy and partly because I was bought up knowing that what I want wasn’t important, so I stopped having wants (and became passive and detached from everything) and by doing so perhaps didn’t grow to understand who I am, what I like, what I dont like. Even as a fully grown adult I find the idea that I can shape my own life and have self efficacy as a bit alien. Much easiser to focus on others….

      • ixnay says:

        imfree, I do that exact same thing. I’ll even go to some interesting event and then imagine how much more fun and sociable my ex would be than me if he were there, and get to a point of almost despair at being “only” me.

        Not sure if it’s the same for you, but this is a long-standing pattern with me. Before this person occupied that pedestal, there was another person, and so on back in time. Each person I choose for that projection is indeed remarkable in some way, and yet it seems to be a form of externalizing and disowning my own qualities. Like, X is so good at making a cozy home and lovely meals, so I give up that entire sphere.

        Anyhow, for me, this is so deeply entrenched that I have to realize it predates romantic relationships. It started with my relationship with my mother. She is together, funny, happy, competent, self-sufficient, social, self-directed, and widely admired (to the point where strangers would come up to me and gush about her, and my friends would come over to my house to talk to her and say i wish my mom was like yours).

        At the same time, she was emotionally unavailable to me, in the ways that I could receive. Her mothering style worked great for my brother, as they are similar in emotional makeup, but somehow I felt anxious and unheard. My response to this (all unconscious) was to admire her, refuse (even in therapy) to think anything critical about her, and to adopt a sort of “learned helplessness” in which anything I did by definition fell short of what she did. To get mothering or nurturing sorts of attention I would have to be in crisis, and so i downplayed my happiness and competencies and presented her (to this day, in my late 40’s) a trainwreck-self. Anything else would be, I must believe on a deep level, transgressive.

        I find partners how evoke this same longing/admiration pattern, who are super-busy, admired, outgoing, and a little emotionally oblivious and impatient with my vulnerability. Rather than seeing myself as an equal, I prioritize their way of being and join them with their impatience and sometimes contempt of mine. The more they disappoint me in their inability to empathize and be intimate, the more I admire them and feel ashamed of my needs. Of course, I fall short of trying to adopt their way of dealing with the world, and feel that familiar despair of being only myself.

        The kicker is — I am not myself, because I have put so much time and energy into trying to forge emotional intimacy with people who don’t like to “go there” by quasi-morphing and modulating my behavior, while at the same time not *really* accepting their limitations. I think if I do the right combination of things they will open up like a safe. The treasure is just about within grasp.

        What I haven’t been able to do is say, this person can’t give me what I need, and what i need is actually valid. It’s more, they can’t give me what I need and that makes what I need wrong.

        • imfree says:

          Yup, i’m with you on that one – everyone I’ve ever fancied/dated I’ve put on a peddlestool. I’ve found certain qualities about them that make them special and wonderful. And it is my job to make them want to be with me, at any cost, and my job to put in all the effort to make the relationship work.

          And like you said, I end up prioritising their way of being – oh you want to go on a yoga vegetarian holiday sleeping rough – how fantastic, where can I sign up (when i love hotels, meat, and being lazy on my holidays!).

          I totally understand how, from your experiences of growing up how you got to the place of learned helplessness. I seem to naturally veer towards that myself and struggle so much to resist it. My background was the opposite to yours in that my mother was the personification of learned helplessness – her mantra was ‘don’t make a fuss’ ‘dont question’ ‘you can’t do this life on your own’. I hate those aspects in myself. I guess I hate them in her to (and others – it’s like a mirror to your own failings) so I am attracted to people who appear the opposite – strong personalities, demanding, know what they want….

          Hopefully I am moving forward. I have gone from twisiting myself into what ever someone wants me to be in a relationship while they trample all over me – to a couple of shorter term relationships where I have been treated well when in them. However when they finished, I then turn into the i’d do anything to get you back, it’s my fault, what could I have or should I have done to make this different.

          It’s hard isn’t it – once you realise your patterns that is helpful, but it is so difficult to actually change your actions. We’ll get there in the end 😉 !!

  18. ArtGirl says:

    Thank you for this article, Natalie! Eventhough I should know better and stop thinking that I’m not worthy of a relationship, I have somehow lost or maybe never really developed enough self-trust in me or my judgements. So, I should start there – learning how to trust myself. Have a good day.

  19. Lyz says:

    Like this. You can only control what’s in your Circle of Influence anything else is trying to flog a horse. (from seven habits of highly effective people) put your energies where they matter most like fixing your ‘own’ broken windows .!

  20. teachable says:

    Damned straight the problem was HIM & our (non)relationshit & NOT me! I’m actually too embarressed to list my x AC’s ‘issues’. Suffice to say there were multiple red flags none of which I was at first aware of (aside from one for which he was supposed in remission & seeking ongoing treatment). It was ALL B.S of course. Nothing was ‘in remission’ at all & in fact as each month passed more & more of his fugly dysfunctional crap was revealed by drip feeding. Once I had the full picture I was horrified to think this AC had gotten passed ‘hello’ with a ‘quality’ girl like me. To THEN discover he was with someone at the same time as me (& cheating with multiple OW as well) was just too friggin much. I booted his behind to timbucktoo for once & for all! To my fellow B.R posters who struggle with still pining for an AC what worked in putting a complete halt to this for me was finding out the TRUTH about that puss sucking gutterslug. I’m sure if some of you were aware of things you probably have NO IDEA the xAC was up to behind your backs, any notion of missing him or having even a nano feeling for him would immediately dissipate. Worked for me (although admittedlt I’m one of the lucky one’s who WAS able to get to the truth eventually).

    • sg says:

      ” I’m sure if some of you were aware of things you probably have NO IDEA the xAC was up to behind your backs, any notion of missing him or having even a nano feeling for him would immediately dissipate. Worked for me (although admittedly I’m one of the lucky one’s who WAS able to get to the truth eventually).”

      I as well was informed of my some not all of ex’s extra curricular behavior after we broke up and it did help me a lot. Some women need to her the truth as hard as it may be to cement the doors shut. I’m one of them. The truth does set you free.

  21. cc says:

    my problem is that i cleave. glom. mate. completely. to the core. and letting go when a relationship ends is so difficult, like scooping out my own marrow, that i think i’ll never accomplish it. this all gets so much more complicated when i’ve chosen someone inappropriate (EUM) to cleave to … which i historically have done 100% of the time.

    through years of working on healing old (abused child) wounds, which is still ongoing, i understand much more clearly now that my choice of an inappropriate partner followed by complete emotional mating is just a cycle of unhealthiness. not choosing well enough for myself (because i though i’m wasn’t worth it / didn’t have boundaries / couldn’t stand the wait for someone decent / couldn’t stand my own self while i was waiting / then expected the EUM to change into what i just KNEW he could be) + obsessive “love” = unhappy relationshiTs and wrenching breakups. the vicious, ripping self blame is just the toxic icing on the poison cake. ugh.

    thanks, natalie. this is one of the first posts that i’ve read that i felt i was already in sync with, had already sort of arrived at on my own, than was struggling to reach for. it is a great reminder and made me feel better that i’m hopefully now at least close to the right path, wanting an appropriate mate for the right reasons and being more rather than less happy with me and my life while i’m finding him. …i just hope i do find him. someday.

  22. I love this article! ” Some are not even rejection; they’re just things not working out and for a very good reason that has nothing to do with your worth as a person anyway” I had an affair with a married man and inevitably he ended it saying he couldn’t leave his kids.. I was heartbroken and I still am. For a long time I thought what is so wrong with me that he thought staying in an unhappy marriage was the better option?! I felt rejection big time! But now, I look back and realise it was not about me, he just simply did not want to leave his kids and his comfort zone which to be honest, if I was in the same position I don’t think I would have done it either, no matter how perfect the other person was… And that was a risk I took getting involved in the first place! Lesson learnt! I am loving the Greatest s(hits) Collection haha! I could fill this collection rightly with many ex’s!! Thanks Nat for keeping me positive :-)

  23. Michele says:

    Well said!

  24. Brenda R says:

    Oh boy, I have done that every time I got rejected it seems, that negative talk.. and other stupid thinking.

    The real B*tch of it is ” I knew” always knew that it did not make LOGICAL SENSE!’ it’s also stupid thoughts that go like this:
    These things are happening to me because men like to be treated like Sh*t, maybe if I had been a total B*tch and ran around or been a total whore I would had better luck!

    Now I know that is NOT logical and correct: But I swear I had those thoughts so many times from what I was seeing internally – YET I saw people happily married NOT doing that cr@p, so BINGO it has the men I was somehow letting in.. and my past? I can’t see ONE not even ONE I can say was any true love or I had even much in common with, all those tears for what?

    God if I am going to cry anymore I want it to be for better reasons seriously.

    Oh yes…

    “I have been allowing someone to treat me as their go to person, their armchair psychologist, their lean on person for an ego-stroke … ”

    I just got done with one of those things as well, it seemed like genuine sharing of the minds – but the longer I talked to him, the more I started to see he could have made other choices and chooses to be a poor baby, and I was stupid and adopted him for a while, but he needs to grow up and so do I.

    44 years old and I really need to just grow the hell up already Nat.. and make rebuilding my life and my self-esteem now something FUN to do,But I do suffer with times of wanting to cry and I don’t know why?

    Could you help me understand what is going on with wanting to CRY when you know your doing the right thing a good things for yourself?


  25. Arlena says:

    “…speaking mentally and verbally with yourself in more compassionate manner. (….) the ability exists; you just like to throw it at other people.”

    Yes, I’ve done that excessively with my Mum and deeply learned to engage in other people’s problems instead of solving mine which is a huge deviation and self-abandonment.

    From the insight of last post I understand one last acquaintance with whom I struggle as a chance to do right by myself: not deviating from me, leaving her to her own devices as she constantly shows me through (in)action that all she wants is to complain, vent and maintain status quo, which works for her. Just like my Mum. I don’t need to repeat that pattern.

    I won’t listen to her Greatest (S)hits Collection (that was hilarious, love it!) as I don’t listen to my own any more. Record broken.

    I had a light bulb moment when angry about having to deal with Second Best Syndrome: I suddenly recognized that it’s ME who still doesn’t put herself FIRST PLACE.

  26. AngelFace says:

    Solid Information! Solid Advice. I’m going to print and save this one.
    Thanks Natalie!

  27. Chrysalis Gurl says:

    I have a boyfriend at the moment, but one thing bears repeating for all the single women who are still looking.

    You have to enjoy the process of meeting lots of different men. Even if none of them are right for you yet.

    It only takes ONE man who loves you, treats you right, who wants something long-term and exclusive to give you a happy relationship.

    The vast majority of men that you meet will be completely wrong for you. That much is a given. So don’t fall into the negative mindset where “all men are pigs”. They are NOT pigs. They are just not right for YOU in a relationship.

    Try to see the world through their eyes and learn something from them even if you don’t want to make a life with them or jump into bed with them.

    Keep looking. Stay picky. But don’t hate random men – or all men – just because you haven’t met your soulmate yet.

    • FLUSHMr.EUM/AC says:

      “The vast majority of men that you meet will be completely wrong for you. That much is a given. So don’t fall into the negative mindset where “all men are pigs” They are NOT pigs. They are just not right for YOU in a relationship.” -Chrysalis Gurl.

      I agree with the all will not be right for you part, but some men truly are pigs. And when I say pigs, I mean those just looking to “score,” who think they are God’s gift to women, play women, lie, never apologize, show no remorse, etc. Can they change over time if they want to? Yes. But in the meantime I would not categorize them as “men.” Do I hate them? No. Do I act respectful towards them? Yes. Do I run when they hit on me? Yes. Do I like them? Hell no.

      • Stephanie says:

        Flush Mr EUM/AC

        Your comment made me chuckle. But your right there are some men that just want to score, they lie, never apologise, they play women and generally think they are gods gift! I fell for this type of guy. Of course he was wrapped up in nice packaging and by the time I realized this he disappeared and I was left broken. Now that I have gained some perspective I’ve realised what a pig he really was although an extremely attractive one. Do I hate men because of him, no! There are good men out there, I know a few.

        • Snowboard says:

          I just broke things off with my Mr. Wrong of 2 months for literally the fifth time. Why am I having such a hard time with this?!!! It’s not because I genuinely love him or think he is the right guy for me. It’s because I hate being mean. And you have to be mean to break up with someone, esp. when they live next door to you and keep insisting you come back to them. He has explanation after explanation as to why we should be together, how he is the best boyfriend I’ve ever had (HIS conviction, not mine!!!!), how I’m irrational, how I’m EU, etc. etc. And the more I keep taking him back just to dump him a few days later, the more I feel confused as to who the real problem in our relationship is – him or me. This time I have to make the break-up last. I just have to be very mean and refuse to hang out with him as friends because we both know that leads nowhere good.

          What prompted me this time to break up with him is last night he told me very clearly he wants to marry me at least by the end of the summer both because he loves me and so he can become a citizen of my country. Is this a red flag or not? I don’t know; I know couples who have gotten married for papers and made it work (including my brother), and I also know couples who have gotten engaged very early in the relationship and made it work (including my best friend). But I do know that deep down inside me this isn’t the relationship I want, and I’m scared I’ll let him bulldoze me into marriage, just like he bulldozed me into this relationship four times, as well as into sex way too early, etc.

          He has only taken me on ONE date (didn’t even take me out for my birthday). He didn’t accept that I wanted to wait a while for sex and kept pressuring me until I gave in. He has been really pushing marriage even though I have expressed great reluctance. He has definite narcissistic tendencies. And he has given me some of the worst insults of my life (e.g., “You’re terrible at making love”; “Can I cut off that hair around your nipple?”; “My friends say I could have a much better looking girlfriend than you.”).

          Sigh. I just can’t believe I’m dealing with this NOW, two years after I left the AC in another country, two years after finding BR. I’m feeling very very very disheartened about dating.

          • Mymble says:

            He sounds horrible horrible horrible. Abusive cruel bully. And this is the honeymoon phase. I dread to think what he will be like once he’s sure he’s got you.
            And yes his main motive is to get papers. There is a difference – (I know this because I did it) – in getting married because you are in a relationship and won’t be able to stay together if you don’t marry (ie you marry in order to be together) and looking for someone to marry in order to get papers. He’s doing the latter.

          • grace says:

            How can it be that you didn’t listen to a word I said *mock horror*?
            You say you’re being mean – he’s the one who’s pressured you into sex, he’s taken you out once, he’s insulted you and called you names, he wants to use you to get citizenship, he didn’t take you on your birthday.
            He doesn’t care about you. Yes, he is getting an enormous amount of fun from kicking you about, he’s enjoying it, he likes the power, he thinks it’s his right and he’d be miffed if you disappeared but those things aren’t care or respect. I wouldn’t treat a dog the way he’s treated you.
            Don’t get it twisted and imagine that your frienship is so valuable to him. You’re not God. He can live very happily without you. Let him do just that.
            You’re disheartened about dating? *newsflash* YOU’RE NOT DATING. And that’s good news. Dating does not look anything like this.
            You’ve broken up with him five times and keep going back, you said you don’t want sex with him, yet you’ve had sex with him. Now you’re saying you won’t marry him – if I was him I’d ignore you too and keep pushing because you’ve already given in half a dozen times. Nuke him.
            And stop calling it a relationship. It’s not a relationship.You are in an abusive situation and you need to cut yourself loose.
            Get counselling. I believe you can get free counselling from most employers and schools. Or call your local women’s shelter. All of this shite they’ve seen before.
            My God, do I have to spell it out: He. is. not. that. special.
            Run, don’t walk. This is the kind of man who will put his hands on you (and not in a good way). I know firsthand how they operate, sadly. Don’t let it go on any longer.
            But you know what, for all the physical violence I have endured in my life, the mental torture was worse. Don’t let him do it to you. Save yourself.
            This is not one of those “communicate better, stand up for yourself, support each other, try to see his point of view” situations and anyone (including professional counsellors) who gives you that crap hasn’t been there. Just get out.

          • Snowboard, I’m appalled that this is still continuing. You and only you are responsible for what you do and don’t do. Adopting a victim position is removing your options which is rendering you helpless. He can’t marry you without your consent. He can’t get back together with you (and I use this term loosely) without your consent. Unless you are suggesting that on top of everything else that he has raped you as well, it is time to start owning your part in things.

            It is a criminal offence to marry someone to provide them with papers so you would be breaking the law. You’d also be legally chaining yourself to an asshole who if the average cockroach is anything to go by, will be extremely tricky to get rid of.

            Pity is never a good reason for a relationship and the problem here isn’t so much that you pity him; it’s that you are too caught up in thinking about past hurts and how you feel about them that you think that you don’t want to do to him what others may have done to you.

            You have a very poor association with the word NO, which is a healthy, underused word in the English language that forms a key component of choice.

            In a world where cultures exist where women do not have the rights or the opportunities to choose, it is appalling that you would neglect this basic right that is in your hands. Use it. NO is not a dirty word. Lose the association between all uses of no equating to punishment and denial of things that you want (even if it’s in your best interests not to) and exercise your right to tell this man to fuck off. Why you would want to marry or get back together with a man who you’ve had one date with, slept with sooner than you wanted, and who has said those disgusting things while also demanding that you marry him is beyond me.

            No means no but it loses its meaning if you don’t stick to the decision. It also looks like juvenile game playing. You are not a bad person for not being interested in him etc. You’re not. If you want this situation to stop, you must end it. Please use local professional support to enforce the decision and move if necessary. And let this be a lesson in why you should never pee on your own doorstep – you then have to face the mess each day until you clear it up.

            I want to add as well – I appreciate that you have had poor experiences in the past and are trying to build your self-esteem and put your life back together. You have to recognise that have poor experiences in the past is not a reason to try and dummy run new skills on an abusive, manipulative man. You also cannot build self-esteem if you won’t take the steps to act and act like you have no power. To be in a power struggle with a man you’ve known for two months who you haven’t been on more than one date with and who is a twat, is testament to the lightening speed that this non-relationship has moved at. Once you don’t say NO to one thing, it’s like running red lights at a level crossing – the more you run through, the more danger you’re in. Say NO and keep saying NO. Stop feeling guilty about it – if you look closely at what this man is saying and doing, you’ll notice that he has no problem asserting his right to say NO. If you stop participating, he’ll find a new target especially if it is urgent for him to get married.

            • cc says:

              and…not to dog pile on the rabbit…

              it isn’t about BEING mean. its about MEANing no when you say it. THAT’s what you have to work on.

              ….but really….this guy is *such* a bastard….his attention only means bad things about both of you…..*why* would you ever regret being mean to him? if anyone were a prime candidate for Mean Behavior Recipient, its him.

          • A says:


            You don’t have to deal with this man, and you are not being ‘mean’ to cut contact with him. You’ve already outlined that he’s an a**hole and that there are red flags all over the place here. Just because he wants something from you does not mean that you have to give it to him. If it makes you feel better to tell him that you can’t have any contact with him because you need to make a firm break and you need him to know that you’re serious, then go ahead….but this man is going to keep on pestering you until he sees that you are serious (which means no caving in or giving him an inch). Don’t waste any more time with this bs. You don’t love or like this man, get rid of him and work really hard on getting over this sense that you’re being mean by not wanting to date or be friends with someone–especially someone who has said the horrible things to you that this man has.

          • amanda says:

            Dear Snowboard,

            I don’t know if this is at all practical for you to do, but I would strongly recommend that you move, if Mr. Wrong lives next door. Can you do this? And, if you do, can you leave Mr. Wrong in the dark as to your new coordinates?

            Do you have a friend who would let you stay over at their place for a week or so, just to give you a break from this insanity?

            Deeply concerned about you… I wish you all the strength and courage and love possible to exit this trap.

          • FLUSHMr.EUM/AC says:

            He’s an asshole who’s using you. Hit the Flush button immediately or the pain will continue and deepen. He’s made it clear that his focus is on his own comfort and gain w/no concern for yours. Don’t stay with someone who treats you like shit and preys on your insecurities. You deserve better. You will find better.

            Flush in the name of self preservation!!! You’ve given him more than once chance to change his ways and he’s failed EVERY time. Bottom line:It’s an abusive relationship. What would you say if your friend, mother, sister, cousin (either one of those) came to you and told you what you have told us? Would you tell her to stay in abusive relationship or to run? You have power. The power of NO. Tell him it’s not working for you, it’s over and go NC. Do it for you. If you need to move to distance yourself from him b/c he’s a pest, do it. You will get through this. Choose YOU. Sending good thoughts your way. *HUGS*

          • Snowboard says:

            Hi Mymble, Grace, Natalie, cc, A, Amanda, & FlushEUM,

            Thank you all so much for your long thoughtful responses. I read them all very carefully, and took them all to heart. (I also want thank and apologize to Grace and Natalie in particular, as I know it’s beyond frustrating to have to lecture to one person multiple times on getting rid of the same guy!!!) I can honestly say he managed to convince me pretty quickly that those kinds of ugly comments were justifiable as constructive criticism. And that the fact that he only took me on one date was somehow justifiable because he has no experience with girlfriends and thus doesn’t know how to treat them. What makes these relationships difficult is that these ugly aspects of the person are intermixed with lots of hugs, kisses, sex, “I love yous,” etc.

            I also want to say to Natalie that I was very taken aback by your insight about me being reluctant to end this because its replaying old memories for me of what happened to me in another country with my second AC. How did you know that? I worry about this guy because he is all alone in this country and has fallen in love for the first time. I also worry about him because he is from a very repressive country which he desperately never wants to return to.

            I will be strong though. My sister told me she would kill me if I marry him, and call the cops, so I took that seriously. I will update on my progress in a few days. Thank you all so much. xo

            • Polly says:

              Snowboard – THIS IS WHAT ABUSIVE PEOPLE DO! It is part of their MO – say horrendous things and persuade you it is just constructive criticism. Abuse you then be nice to you. Mess with your head and destroy your self esteem. This situation is quite frankly horrible to watch played out here. Please please please end this.

              ps How is he all alone? I thought he had friends?

            • FLUSHMr.EUM/AC says:

              I know it’s hard to leave bad relationships b/c the person isn’t “all bad.” But that still doesn’t make the relationship good, and I can tell you with confidence based on what you’ve written that his character is mostly bad. I wouldn’t believe the love you junk he says, love wants the best for the other person, he clearly does not have your best interests in mind.

              He’s an adult. He has options. He can call our govt and request that they give him another green card or whatever it is he wants to allow him to stay or he can be a big boy and begin filling out the citizenship application and start that process. Or he can go find someone else to attach himself to and suck dry. Don’t let it be you. Run don’t walk. Don’t listen to the sob stories. He’s a grown up, he can figure it out and it’s not your responsibility.

              • tired_of_assanova says:

                I know it’s hard to leave bad relationships b/c the person isn’t “all bad.”

                Amen to that! Don’t wait for the person to become Hitler or something like 100% bad or even 200% bad before you opt out. That’s DANGEROUS.

                Snowboard, you have put ALL the focus on him and are literally laying yourself into position on the sacrificial altar waiting to be slaughtered here. RUN!!

                My AC contributed so little and I had to spend so much time repairing myself. Listen to NML and others OPT OUT. People were telling me to opt out and I was so stubborn I proceeded anyway and I got mega burned.

        • Broadsided says:

          May I quote a Bible verse here which is apropos? “Matthew 7:6 “Do not give the holy thing to the dogs, and do not throw y o ur pearls before swine lest they trample them with their feet…”

          Ain’t that the truth, though! Couldn’t this apply to men? Yes, some men ARE pigs. I’ve thrown my pearls before them, too. My goal is to not do it again. I definitely know there ARE men out there worth “throwing my pearls” to. Hopefully I’ll be discriminating enough to find them.

  28. SilverBridge says:

    Very insightful….being compatible (I call it ‘equally yoked’), is so critical. A couple must have similar belief systems and senses of direction in life. This helps to cut down on frustration. Reduces the possibility of an ever escalating tug-of-war.


  29. simple pleasures says:

    This is my first post. I found NML’s BR and your supportive posts at the
    holidays. I have been grieving my lost relationship and now think I have enough perspective to share my story a little at a time.
    Many years ago I rejected (not him) but the non progressing relationship of 6 years duration. Went cold turkey NC. It was agony.
    Ran into him again at an organization I joined, started friendly chat, how’s your life been all these years?? (him, never married, no children, unattached, oh yeah EUM all his life). And poof, just like that I was Florence Nightingale to the rescue again, loving every second of it. All
    along thinking, what am I getting into again?
    Then he rejected (not me) but the non progressing relationship because I wanted to progress after 6 months. (better 6 months than 6 years).
    I would say when we are young we may not have low self esteem that
    effects our relationships, but developing self esteems. Back then I was a
    student, insecure, finding my way, my career, working out childhood conflicts. He was Mr. Math Professor, handsome, brilliant, older, wiser,
    confident, secure, and oh, so rational and unemotional. I guess I was
    emotionally unavailable at the time with studies and work and stuff. Put
    him up on that pedestal and adored him.
    Now, many years later, I’ve had a wonderful career, family, interests,
    good life in general without complaints. I have strong self esteem which I
    did not have in my 20’s.
    People don’t change too much. Still turns out I wanted emotional support he was incapable of giving. Come to find out he has Aspberger’s
    which I knew nothing about back then, but talk about being emotionally unavailable…
    All the things Natalie has addressed in the posts from the past have applied to me. And for a few months there he rekindled my weak self esteem from the past, but with BR I realize it’s not me, never was, it’s all his issues. So when I see him at our organization meetings now (I’ll talk
    about my second round of NC later), I hold my head up high, and even though, there is the pang of lost love, I am grateful I pulled myself through again. It’s his loss, sorry for him he can’t connect to this lovely, loving woman in his life. But as he said himself in regards to a relationship, “I just can’t handle it”.

    • Happy Soul says:

      Simple Pleasures, I met a guy with Aspberger’s syndrome in 2010 and it did not work out after two months:-( He was very successful guy – doctor, lecturer at University and has written few books, but his social skills were non – existent. It was very difficult for him to be with someone, and I blamed him and myself, but it was not my fault or his, he HAS Asperberger’s and he was just DIFFERENT from us, and he was not EUM…IF I only knew that he had this condition, I would behave differently. I still miss him, but no way back unfortunately…

      • simple pleasures says:

        Yes, if I’d known about it I too would have behaved differently, because his good points are so good, and I miss him terribly. And I know he loves me the as best he can. Which leaves me needing more than he can give and sends him into a tailspin. I wish I could be supportive/friend because he needs this as he’s aging. Or maybe he’s
        just fine being alone, unbothered. But I think so many of my needs would go unmet if I tried to reconcile, that I’d just be a frustrated
        Florence Nightingale. Seeing him once a week is the real challenge right now. How can you do NC with someone you have to have some contact with? We are both acutely aware of each other’s presence. He is polite, courteous, cordial, and I’m trying to avoid eye contact and won’t ask any questions. I keep a physical distance.
        This is my NC. I wish I didn’t care, could say he’s hopeless, like
        someone who is schizophrenic or has mental health issues. I care
        about someone who can’t help himself or change. He told me recently I was one of the few people in his life he could stand spending any time with, that I was meaningful to him, he loved me etc. But fled when I wanted to see him more often, so it was just a
        little or nothing. Now I have nothing from him. Sigh.

        • Polly says:

          The way I see it – it doesn’t really matter whether someone has Aspergers or they are jerk. You can spend ages analysing and looking at the reasons that someone isn’t giving to the relationship but the outcome for you and the relationship is the same.

          You might be able to settle for getting less than you want and shift your expectations but if you are constantly frustrated and disappointed you are better moving on. I think it can be easy to feel like you owe them a relationship on their terms because of their condition but in the end you still have to look after yourself first.

  30. happy beginning says:

    “You have your own agenda as does everyone else and ultimately will find a greater level of happiness with someone who has a similar agenda. In over six and a half years of writing Baggage Reclaim, I am yet to come across one relationship where two people with different agendas worked out and are living harmoniously together.”

    This is so interesting to me. I don’t think I’ve ever got involved with men who have a similar agenda to me, not since a lovely guy a long time ago who rejected me because the circumstances were wrong. Since then, I’ve been ‘chosen’ by men who are pretty shady, and then the failure of those ‘relationships’ have reinforced that No. 1 s(hit) of mine “If I can’t even make it with that lowlife, I can forget about attracting someone decent and real”.

    How do I change that mindset? I can’t imagine decent men being interested in me or ‘choosing’ me, it never seems to happen and I just can’t believe it will. It runs deep but this blog is so empowering.

    • A says:

      It may help to flip that belief on it’s head. If the guy is a lowlife, then it stands to reason that he is the reason that things didn’t work out, no? And moreover, you shouldn’t want a relationship to work once you’ve determined that the other person in it is crap.

      • happy beginning says:

        A, I will remember what you’ve said. For the major AC, I thought at the time that he was very special and I ignored all the evidence, excused his behaviour. Maybe I thought he was my only option and that’s why he was on a pedestal. I still believe it deep down, that someone ‘normal’ wouldn’t look twice at me, but your comment and others are helping me to question it and think I won’t believe that forever.I know it’s not rational to think like i do. I look at the other women who’ve escaped the AC and they are all more than fine so why would I be any different? But I seem to get chosen by dodgy men, and I can’t imagine approaching anyone, and dread the thought of online dating (people-shopping?!), so there is a lot to work out.

  31. makara says:

    Another amazing post! Thanks Natalie! On the journey to recovering my self esteem, it’s post like this that keep me moving forward especially on days where I have set backs. BR is such a blessing!

  32. titi says:

    I actually fear of NOT being rejected (in friendships, relationships, at work etc). I cannot say I have ever really been rejected, because I reject myself in their name like all the time. I ALWAYS find an excuse to reject and isolate myself before we even start anything.

    Whenever some guy I met asked for my phone, and then called the day after (not texted), I didn’t want to answer, because I was thinking he was making fun of me. And if the guy was really cute, I would be like “you gotta be kidding me, you really think I’m gonna believe you like me, I’m soooo not gonna answer the phone”. Gee. Double facepalm. If he just won’t give up, I would try to convince HIM he didn’t like me, and that he should try with another girl. Yes, really. It’s like I LOVE being rejected, and believing he’s not into me, so that I don’t need to bother with him anyway. Thanks to Natalie, I now understand it’s me who is being EU. It’s actually that crappy voice in my head that keeps convincing me I don’t deserve attention. So I just try to prove it right by rejecting myself even when the other people accept me. Like a self fullfilling prophecy.

    I still get these thoughts, but now I just say to that ugly little voice “cut the crap” or start singing right away:).

  33. teachable says:

    Sg ‘the truth sets us free’.
    My thoughts also. For those who dated or had (non)relationshits with true AC’s, & by this I mean those with fully blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or worse, Psychopaths or Sociopaths, I truely believe that people who are still caught up in pining for them once it’s over, experience difficulty letting go because they are not fully aware of all of his ‘issues’ & the full extent (or indications of this) as to the enormity of what the xAC was up to behind their backs whilst involved. Once this is FULLY out on the table (to the extent this is possible), it becomes impossible to hold onto anything resembling loving feelings toward someone who has willfully inflicted such devestating damage upon us. That is my experience at least. Everyone & each situation is different but this coupled with a measure of self insight, is I believe, the stumbling block to fully letting go for those on the receiving end of such profound abuse (of whatever kind). I kept ‘going back’ for more ill treatment because I was deliberately deceived as to what the actual issues & cause of his poor behaviour was. It is possible to initiate NC the moment we realise the red flags are there of course, without knowing the full story, but the lack of closure some people experience & holding onto residual feelings for an xAC was overcome for me at least, in that healing balm of full restoral to sanity, known as the TRUTH. x

    • imfree says:

      I don’t know about the truth of someones actions and knowing it can always help you coming to terms with letting them go. I’m sure this has to do with self esteem, for me I found out the *truth* with a couple of people and it was shady shady (and I had hard proof, emails, texts etc). With one, I confronted him and the relationship ended yet I was still heartbroken (and not because I was madly madly in love, but more I felt his behaviour was a reflection on me and my worth) with the other, ignored the evidence and carried on as I convinced myself that it wasn’t that bad, that there were reasons for his trying to date other people, and that eventually it would be okay. This was down to me having such low expectations.

      For me I had to force myself away from these men and keep myself away while I built up some self esteem, got perspective and in a way closure actually came much longer afterwards – the realisation that I would not want to be with anyone like that, that I would rather never have sex again and die alone than go back came much much later. But when it does come – it is soooo good!!!

  34. teachable says:

    PS I would not recommend searching for the truth for everyone as there is a price to pay, & I paid it heavily, but for me at least, this was the only thing which enabled me to fully let go to the point of no return – no matter what. As such, I would caution that people with NPD, Sociopaths & Psychopaths tend to become DANGEROUS when their facade is exposed. For me though, I was willing to take the risk, because I was NOT the one who had done anything wrong or untoward.

  35. Little Star says:

    Thank you Natalie, yet another useful post. What really pisses me off about ACs, that I was” good enough” for shag, but not good enough for going to holidays, introducing to their parents, moving in together…I heard so many promises, but no actions. Actually, my angry state of mind is helping me now to move on, I know I am going in the right direction, I do not blame myself anymore! This time I REJECTED THEM, and they can go and find another fool, who can put up with their shit, but definitely NOT ME!!!

  36. T says:

    Perspective is amazing, isn’t it? And why the hell are we so hard on ourselves?

    Thank you for this reminder that it’s now always about us but a whole manner of other things.

  37. Confusedd says:

    Thanks guys, I guess what gets me about the ex and my friend is that IF they got together i’d have to pretend to be happy for them because for me to cut Both of them out of my life I’d have to stay at home all the time. Anyway maybe I shouldn’t even worry about it until it happens, LIKE A NORMAL PERSON lol

  38. sm says:

    I just cannot get perspective on my last relationship/breakup. There were yellow flags, but overall it was a very nice experience. In my head I know there were some things that would eventually have to be dealt with but I just wasnt ready to end it. I really enjoyed all the relationshippy stuff, even though at the time I thought it was fast forwarded on his part. I guess that’s the part I miss the most, being really wanted by somebody and them basically holding up their part of the bargain. I’m not beating myself up nor is my self esteem sunk, I know because I’ve been there before, but I am really grieving. When this happens I tend to reach out more to my closest friends, luckily there’s three of them. Hopefully they dont think that I’m needy.

  39. rosenfire says:

    Sigh. I’m sorry, ladies, I know you all gained wonderful insights from this latest post on BR, but Natalie wrote this one JUST. FOR. ME. Hahaha. Just kidding. (But, gosh, it sure felt like it.) Thank you, NML!!!

  40. hELEN says:

    ok I love all this but…these articles all talk about rejection like it is a one time thing and onto the next . Get over it and on to the good. What if ..all you get is rejection? Never successes, no one even wants to date you not even an assclown. What if you have been rejected so much the assclowns are starting to look good. What if you can only find assclowns and Mr. available’s. What if you 48 yrs. old and you are still looking for a decent guy, but there isn’t anything left but these twits? Your articles talk like if we’d just smarten up, we’d allow room for the guy of our dreams. Well, most of the single ladies i know are having the same luck. Being used for a boink, hot and cold, on and off, no fidelity. …We can’t ALL have the same problem and just need to steer away from the bad guys. Sure we can steer away, but to what? There are no decent fellas in their 40s and 50s. They are all jaded and angry from what life and relationships did to THEM too. They don’t want a relationship anymore. They want good times. Or they are looking for little ms. perfect with the barbie body, perma-grin cheerfulness, no fuss, no muss, take them as they come and never speak their mind. So where does that leave a woman who wants her needs met, and is willing to commit and love? It leaves her alone.

    • grace says:

      If you believe those are your two choices – jackass or alone, pick alone.
      WARNING: I know a lot of women who picked alone and are now married.

    • Thank God for That says:

      Trust me Helen, I’m 25 and I have thought exactly the same thing. It doesn’t matter how old someone is, a level of self-awareness that is necessary for a healthy, mutually trusting relationship, seems to be difficult to a) achieve and b) find in another, regardless of age.

      Many relationships I know of are long-lasting ones and not healthy. One person has sacrificed their voice and needs for the sake of the relationship.

      Other relationships I know of seem to be doing well, and serving either partner more or less equally. But you never really know what goes on behind closed doors. People used to think me and my incredibly narcissistic ex were “the perfect couple” and so did I!! But we weren’t – I changed myself completely, very gradually, over time, and even that was not enough to keep him or me happy.

      A couple of thoughts:
      Personally, I think society is very sick and there aren’t many good examples of healthy relationships – it’s not that we’re the minority in being unhealthy, it’s that we are the minority in being *aware* of the unhealthiness. Many a time, I have tried to discuss these kinds of issues with friends, and they seem to think many nasty behaviours are just “normal” and what you have to put up with in order to be in a relationship, when in reality, they are compromising on things that constitute basic levels of respect.

      Also, I think if you are at a certain level of self-love, you attract and *notice* people at a similar level. I am sure of that from my experience. The people who are more emotionally developed/healthy than me, I tend to find either boring/patronising/very hard to relate to, because they have never suffered from low self-esteem and cannot understand what the problem is!!

      Then there’s people like Nat – people who have experienced first-hand low self-esteem, and have come through it and started to love themselves – and have known that whatever happens, being alone is actually okay. And ironically, once that has been completely accepted (and I for one, still have a lot of work to do before I can completely accept this, as I do not love myself as much as I should), only then will we start noticing people who would be good relationship material.

      • Thank God for That says:

        Just as an afterthought to this – I am actually repelled by warm compliments and people who notice very positive things about me. I feel very uncomfortable with it.

        Sometimes this is because the person is just kissing my a*se and I recognise this as them trying to control me with praise.

        BUT other times, it is genuine but I cannot accept it. This person seems to have an agenda even though they don’t, because my state of mind and perception just *cannot accept* that someone sees something in me that I don’t.

        Also, people who love themselves are likely to avoid (compassionately) people who have low-self-esteem when it comes to relationships, because if we are all honest, LSE in relationships seems to come with lots of complicated behaviours such as: controlling behaviour, emotional manipulation, need for validation, etc., many of which are covert and unconscious. A self-lover would find it difficult to constantly empathise and support a LSE partner – no matter how compassionate they were – they would realise that the LSE person has the responsibility and the *duty* to pick *themselves* up before they can be a good partner.

        I hope this all made sense – since being introduced to this website a few weeks ago, I’ve been joining the dots, and what I’ve just said is a culmination of that :)

        • yoghurt says:

          I think that this whole statement is very wise and says it all really well, especially the part about lse being a bar to relationships.

          I didn’t realise that either, for years and years and years – tbh I thought that the only alternative to feeling bad about yourself was to be ‘up yourself’ and believed that everyone felt the same way about themselves, it was just that *I* was upfront about it.

          In retrospect, though, I may as well have gone around with a sign on my head saying “I’m Hard Work! Run Away! Fast!” and been done with it.

          When I think about the possibility of meeting someone now, I’m actually pretty excited about the prospect of getting to know someone and having them know me without the big black curtain of my poor self-image blocking everything else out. It’s going to be strange.

          • Thank God for That says:

            Thank you! :)

            “I thought that the only alternative to feeling bad about yourself was to be ‘up yourself’ and believed that everyone felt the same way about themselves”

            Me too. And I’m still struggling with that balance! I recognise arrogance instantly in other people (and myself) as a sign of low self esteem, but this, for some reason, is a trait that is valued in society…it’s all very confusing if you’re trying to look for a good example of how to conduct yourself.

            “I’m actually pretty excited about the prospect of getting to know someone and having them know me without the big black curtain of my poor self-image blocking everything else out.”

            Haha I know exactly what you mean. I’m a long way from that at the moment, but very prepared for the long road ahead, and prepared to put in the work. I think that’s important, because there’s so much strength in the voices of dissent within me, at the moment. Anybody who shows any genuine interest in me, there are so many voices that question them for showing interest at all (and a lot of the time, for a good reason – that person is interested in my vulnerability and how they can take advantage of it). It’s a bit of a Catch-22, self-fulfilling situation I think. It’s only with gradual perception shifts that reality will start to alter. With my current perception, I’ve got so much to hide, so much to be ashamed of, so much to be rejected for…I’m trying step-by-step to eliminate those judgements with compassion – it’s very difficult though!

        • rosenfire says:

          Thank God for your comments!!! :o)

    • Tea Cozy says:

      “There are no decent fellas in their 40s and 50s.”

      Let’s do some reality testing here.

      What is the basis of your claim? Have you met every single last male in that age demographic? If not, then, your theory is just that — a theory, not a truth.

      I know good men in that age group, and have even dated some. So, yes, they exist.

    • yoghurt says:


      I read a review of this book recently (although I should add that I haven’t read the book) and in it there’s an account by a girl at the end of World War One, whose headmistress called an assembly and basically said “as a result of the war, most of you aren’t going to be able to get married or have families. Find other ways to lead fulfilling lives”.

      I believe that there are some points in history where it has been more problematic for women to find happiness in relationships and I suspect we’re in one of them from the point of view of media and cultural conditioning (which is a rant for another day). On my bad days, I’m fairly convinced that all the good men went and got married in their mid-twenties, and the only ones of my age left (I’m 30) are the emotionally stunted ones and the ones that are looking for an eternity of nubile and replaceable 20-year-olds.

      It was sad for the post-WWI women and it may well be sad for us BUT even if the situations are comparable (and I’m not sure that they are, really, I think we’ve got loads more chance) then we’re still MUCH better off than they were… in that we have more options, more career choices, more lifestyle choices, more money, more social freedom and central heating. If it doesn’t happen for any of us we’ve got two choices; grieve but go out, find fulfilment in other ways and from other sources and keep looking, or just sit there and grieve.

      I’m going for the first one. And I’m going to make damn sure that, if I DO ‘get lucky’ and meet a man, he’s going to be a half-decent man who’ll treat me with respect and wants to build an authentic relationship. Users, degraders and people who’ll only settle for Little Ms Perfect need not apply.

      I’d rather be alone and have self-esteem – which makes every other aspect of life much more enjoyable – than be coupled-up and hate myself.

  41. Fedup says:

    Absolutely I second that! I also see people who are married and stay in bad relationships. And are just a stay at home mum and full time cleaner. On the other hand I want to do something with my life aswell. And I dont want to end up like one of these women never having a career and just being a full time cleaner to an AC.

  42. hELEN says:

    “LSE in relationships seems to come with lots of complicated behaviours such as: controlling behaviour, emotional manipulation, need for validation, etc., many of which are covert and unconscious. ”

    I like that statement. I do seem to have this need for validation from men. However, this boggles my mind because I don’t think I have lse. I know I am accomplished, fairly attractive, fit woman who raised two children without financial or emotional help from anyone not even the father….etc etc. good job (make as much as most men in the area), good financial decisions,educated, humour…but why do I need this validation from a man? I hear about building self esteem and I wonder how someone does that. I have read that it helps to take risks and set your self up for success. Well, I am a success…so now what? I am very open to suggestions.
    On the note about giving off the self love vibe and attracting healthy men, where on earth does one meet these healthy men? I live in an area of inbalance between male and female population. Many more women to men. Jobs are scarce here also, so a man with a job is a king! He can have his pick of the harem and the women here will play the friends with benefits game. Why would a man give up a great gig like that, to work on a relationship? I fear this will only get worse as we age because women outlive men statistically. I can’t help feel I will be alone for ever and it has little to do with self esteem.

  43. tired_of_assanova says:

    Okay, it has been about a year since I have asked someone on a date, so recently I did just that and they said yes! The AC has taught me so much and I have built myself up over the past year to realise that I’m not 100% in control of the outcome – LTRs are the sum of two people and I can be responsible for my part.

    So this first date will be a code amber I guess so I go in with my eyes and ears and look and listen and take things slowly and ask questions. With assclown-free slate I’m going in. I’ve been reading up on what questions to ask during the dating phase – any comments by readers on the site would be welcome as it has been a long time since I’ve been in this saddle, and it will also be the first time I have boundaries and a position of what I will and won’t accept with me as well.

    This particular guy is a mate of the AC though, and although the AC lives an hour away in another city they do correspond. So at some point I will have to broach the subject and set boundaries there I think to make sure that if the AC is over, I’m nowhere to be seen. The AC had gone NC with me almost 12 months ago, no communication since, I’ve gone NC with the AC as well and that has worked.

    I feel confident in opting out if things go wrong.


    • FLUSHMr.Eum/AC says:

      Glad you’re feeling confident. Do def go in code amber as planned though, esp since this new guy is a friend of your ex AC. People are friends for reasons, don’t be surprised if his friend acts similar to him & shares the same values. Observe how your new bf treats others and acts around them, how his friends act; what they say about & to him. That will help you find out early on who he really is & if you want to be around him. I say this b/c in my experience most guys put on an act, are on best behavior for the first month or so and then are themselves.

      And if there is the slightest chance you’re dating him to try and make your Ex AC jealous or get back at him, drop it now. Don’t put yourself through grief. From what I hear it doesn’t work & just makes the girl look unladylike. I say this b/c if it were me at this point, being in my sore heart stage, I would be tempted as I’m not quite over my ex AC though my brain says I should be. Still in NC, proud of that. Be aware Ex AC might try to contact you again if/when he finds out you’re seeing his friend. Be truthful, are you hoping he will? If so go find other guy to date.

      That being said, u know ur own heart, just felt the need to put some cautionary words out there, feel protective of my BR buddy. You’ve been through a lot, overcome things & helped us & I want truckloads of good things to come ur way. I hope things go well & u have a healthy relationship filled w/love, trust & respect. Sending good thoughts ur way.

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        Thank you.

        Yes, the fantasy of pissing them off did cross my mind, but that said, I will have a frank discussion with this new guy. The fact is you can’t tarr an associate – they are a separate person and need to be assessed independently. There does need to be a boundary in place I think.

        Even if he does turn out to be an AC, I’ve gained immunity to all this assclownary, and I’ll flush them if necessary.

      • tired_of_assanova says:

        Be truthful, are you hoping he will? If so go find other guy to date.

        I think this is unlikely since I’m technically NC with the AC and the AC is also NC with me. Remember I came face to face with the AC and their new partner/victim at the nightclub earlier in the year and we didn’t say a word to each other / he totally ignored me.

  44. Kitty says:

    I cannot believe how badly the “rejection thing” has affected me. I’ve not seen my EUM/AC (otherwise known by my elderly neighbour as “the Comet ” – comes round once very 8 years) since early October last year (nearly 7 months) and have had NC for over a month after the 8 years on – off scenario. Even then when I dumped him due to his EU and during the post continued contact he said he’s never find anyone like me and would love me forever and had always loved me (oh yeah). I work with some nice (married) men so my faith in men was starting to come back – there are some lovely ones out there really. My male colleagues were dismayed that I had decided to opt out of relationships – I am not afraid to be alone – and suggested that I needed to dip my toe back in again. Very kindly they said that there were some men out there missing out (that was a lovely boost). So, I thought I was ready to go online and start dating again. I have registered but find myself having mild panic attacks and crying, assuming that all the men on there are players and shallow and feeling that they will never be interested in “picking” me over anyone else where they are must feel they are a massive sweetie shop. Some of this may be associated with the fact that I haven’t really moved on and it feels very final (ie it will draw that final line under the past and I’ll have to accept it’s over with the Comet). I have come to the conclusion that the way internet dating is set up and how impersonal it is just exacerbates the rejection feelings; you need to have really robust self esteem to participate in this. I am working hard at this and to move on but cannot yet see the end of the tunnel. I feel that I am ready and then seem to take twenty steps back. This BR site and all your shared stories are helping but I am hoping it is it just a matter of time before I am emotionally healthy enough to start dating again…

    • yoghurt says:

      It is just a matter of time, but if the thought of it makes you upset and reels you back to your ex then don’t. There’s no shame in not being ready – eight years is a terrificly long time and there’s a lot to process and get over. All respect to your lovely colleagues but if you’re not ready then you’re not.

      Focus on doing other nice fun things that make you feel good – hobbies, creativity, exercise, cooking yourself nice foods – and get out and about and spend time with people who are nice until you can get your head around the fact that some people ARE nice and you ARE capable of weeding out the bad apples.

      I think that there’s a bit of a wait involved after an experience like yours (and it’s super-irritating when you can see the destination but it STILL takes a long time to get there), and I think that there is the impulse, after being rejected, to go and ‘prove’ to yourself that you’re not undesirable. But don’t – it won’t make you feel better or deal with the problem at this point.

      See it as an opportunity to expand your life in other directions. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy the wait. Good luck x

  45. Kitty says:

    Thank you Yoghurt. It’s good to have your encouragement and especially not to feel that there is something wrong with me for all of this taking so much time! I am very lucky to have loads of wonderful friends and family so I’ll focus on this for now. It’s extraordinary that so many women are sharing these same experiences and I just wonder what is going on out there! :-) x

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.