Close up of the 'ready' message from a printer.

How ready are you to date? A lot of people think being ‘ready’ means ready to get attention, have companionship, get sex, an ego stroke – ready to jump back in the saddle. However being ready to date, which prepares you for being ready for a relationship is actually about being mentally and emotionally ready. In this weeks quiz, find out your dating readiness. The more you agree with, the more ready you are.

1. I’m over my ex and am no longer emotionally invested in them.

2. No seriously Natalie, I’m not holding out a secret hope that we’ll get back together. Oh and I don’t have any other exes lurking around.

3. I believe that a loving, healthy relationship with mutual love, care, trust and respect is out there for me.

4. There are still a lot of good people to date.

5. I trust myself and I’m OK with acting in my own best interests even if it may hurt a little.

6. I am aware of my boundaries and red flag behaviour and if I were to encounter someone that overstepped my boundaries and/or exhibited red flag behaviour, I would know what to do.

7. I know that sex and love are not the same thing.

8. I have a reasonable level of trust and am not controlled by my fears. In fact, I am actively working on addressing any issues that have previously affected me in relationships.

9. I can mentally and emotionally cope with someone not reciprocating my interest or dates not working out.

If there’s stuff that you disagreed with, take it as a signal to dig deep within and be aware that if you proceed to date anyway without addressing them, you need to own your part in what results. While agreeing with the above doesn’t mean ‘Shazam!’, your perfect partner is going to fall out of the sky, you will be far less likely to fall into any old habits and you’ll ultimately be taking care of you. Read on for the ‘answers’

1. I’m over my ex and am no longer emotionally invested in them.

This is a major part of dating readiness. If you are not over your ex you are unavailable and will end up passing time with people, messing them around, flip flapping in indecision, and expecting them to do the emotional work of getting you over your ex.

It’s a bit like – If you’re that great a person, you’ll get me over my ex.

Don’t go there.

If you date to feel better, you’ll probably feel worse after the initial high of attention. You’ll also spend too much time comparing and contrasting and in reality, you just can’t be emotionally present.

Don’t use dating to avoid working your way through the loss of the relationship. Deal with your feelings – good, bad, and indifferent. Also live by the same values you’d expect from others – this isn’t an experience you’d want to be on the receiving end of.

2. No seriously Natalie, I’m not holding out a secret hope that we’ll get back together. Oh and I don’t have any other exes lurking around.

A lot of people, especially Unavailables, are afraid of finality and this can also be a part of a general commitment resistance. When you break up, it’s best to take it that it’s ‘done’ so that you don’t languish in limbo putting your life on hold and delaying processing your feelings.

Without committing to your relationship being over, you are trying to keep your options open, which is unfair to others you may become involved with.

The world doesn’t need Yet Another Person flip flapping around in the dating pool trying to get the fringe benefits of a relationship without the relationship and without the intimacy.

Unavailable people often have a lot of ‘loose ends’ in their lives and some of these exes boomerang in and out like bad pennies. Shed the dead weight, put boundaries in place so that you can be genuinely available for a new relationship.

Also never give someone license to dip in and out of your life.

3. I believe that a loving, healthy relationship with mutual love, care, trust and respect is out there for me.

Positive beliefs are fundamental to your mentality, attitude, and breaking any previous negative relationship patterns. This is because what you believe is what you predict will happen, is how you will act accordingly, is how you’ll end up catering to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Believing you can love again shows a great deal of faith but will also have you less interested in people who fit a negative belief. Believing you can’t and that it’s not out there for you, means that you’ll be distrusting and/or likely to resign yourself to shady relationships. You’ll go about your merry way getting on with your life instead of feeling down and desperate to prove yourself wrong in a wrong relationship.

4. There are still a lot of good people to date.

Again, it’s about having faith in the fact that there are plenty of living, breathing, decent people out there to date.

I’m going to hazard a guess that you’re a relatively decent person – you’re not alone, other people have loved, lost, made mistakes, and not found a loving relationship…yet.

If you believe the decent ones are gone, you’re saying ‘Sod it. I must resign myself to dating assclowns’. It’s a cop out that you’re using to legitimise the fact that you’re not prepared to get uncomfortable.

5. I trust myself and I’m OK with acting in my own best interests even if it may hurt a little.

Trusting yourself is a sign of a reasonable level of self-esteem. In fact, if you can’t date with your self-esteem in tow, don’t bother until you can.

When we don’t trust others it’s because we don’t trust ourselves.

If you like and love yourself, you’ll trust you instead of treating you like an enemy and putting others on pedestals with blind love and trust. If you’re going to do this dating thing, you need to be prepared to take action and sometimes make decisions and opt out of situations even though your libido, your imagination, and your ego may say otherwise.

6. I’m aware of my boundaries and red flag behaviour and if I were to encounter someone that busts and flags these, I would know what to do.

Before you go on another date and get yourself invested up to the hilt, be aware of what you are prepared to accept in your relationships (boundaries) and the no-go areas (red flags) that signal that you must opt out and step away from the light.

People who don’t know or use their boundaries and red flags analyse the crapola out of things. They rationalise and project all sorts of excuses on it or they deny the existence or extent of the issue – this is dangerous. They don’t know when to fold and instead of registering what the information means about the person and possibilities for a relationship, they turn it into ‘What did I do to make them this way?’ or ‘What can I do to fix this?’

7. I know that sex and love are not the same thing.

Say it with me – Sex without the intimacy, care, trust, respect and love, is just sex.

Sex doesn’t communicate anything emotionally but combined with a genuine emotional connection that exists, can enhance intimacy.

Don’t get it twisted and if you can’t have sex without thinking they love you or that it must mean you’re committed, I’d put yourself on lock down or re-evaluate your sexual values and boundaries.

8. I have a reasonable level of trust and am not controlled by my fears. In fact, I am actively working on addressing any issues that have previously affected me in relationships.

Dating is a discovery phase where you get the opportunity to find out more about them and determine whether you want to move forward. You need to go in with a reasonable level of trust and increase it as you get signals of trustworthiness or roll it back when you don’t.

If you’re ruled by fear, it will be a dramatic, insecure interaction and you may end up sabotaging a potential relationship or being with someone that reflects your fears. Know the difference between internal and external factors that are triggering your fears.

Make sure you have been addressing your fears and any other issues for a while before you start dating again, because if you do it too soon and you get your fingers burned, it may set you back.

9. I can mentally and emotionally cope with someone not reciprocating my interest or dates not working out.

Dates don’t work out for all sorts of reasons and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with you. Sometimes two people just don’t vibe or it becomes clear that they want different things.

To be able to date with your self-esteem, you need to have awareness and have cleared the smoke so you can smell the BS. If you don’t, you will take it personal when even the most minor of interactions don’t work out.

Slow your roll – Especially when you either didn’t make it to a date or you only went on a few dates, you don’t know them enough to have so many hopes and dreams that it will take you a disproportionate amount of time to get over them.

If you don’t know someone very well and have been on no more than a few dates, more of your energy needs to be in reality than in your imagination.

Dating can be fun, but there is a level of ‘rejecting’ and ‘rejection’ to be experienced and the reality is that you won’t be going anywhere fast if you have to go through a big recovery process after every interaction. It’s pivotal to have a good sense of self that remains intact instead of taking knocks with every interaction.

You’re not made of stone and it’s OK to feel disappointed but don’t get hijacked by the disappointment and end up in mourning over every person that enters your life, no matter how briefly. Keep putting yourself out there – you live to love again. Your future doesn’t rest on any one of these people.

Your thoughts?

Check out my ebooks the No Contact Rule and Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl and more in my bookshop.

Image source: SXC

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69 Responses to Quiz: Are You Ready To Start Dating Again?

  1. Lynn says:

    Thanks Natalie. I so want to be ready. I’ve put my profile back up on a dating site but already find myself engaging in conversations without any real intention to get serious. It feels like that old routine of so, tell me about yourself, etc etc that feels like a slog when I’m in a pessimistic mood, and nice and fun when my mood is up. Some of these fellow daters have “looking for friends” and “looking for short term dating” on their profiles. I do too; I’ve avoided saying I want something long-term because as much as I don’t want the ex back, I still feel bruised. But it seems that after four months I ought to be putting myself back out there again, going out and having light conversation and getting used to meeting new people. I’m not sure how I feel about online “looking for friends,” but it seems harmless to find a few guys to maybe go to a movie with or hiking with or whatever. I wonder if you consider that irresponsible as in No. 2.

    • NML says:

      Well Lynn, you don’t *have* to date again now but yes it is good to get back out there because rebuilding your life after a breakup helps you to move forward. If you’re looking for genuine friendship, I’m going to assume you’re open to meeting new female friends? If you’re only looking to meet men for friendship, I’d find that a little questionable as the ‘friendship’ tag may be a smokescreen for ‘Too scared to put myself out there so I’ll pretend it’s for friendship’. The trouble is that if you’re not honest with you about where you’re at, you may still end up becoming emotionally invested in a ‘romantic’ way. Just be clear with yourself about what you’re doing. However on the flipside, making genuine friendships can also lead to love. Basically don’t make friends with a secret agenda. Enjoy your life. Love could happen en route.

      • Lynn says:

        Yes, I’m open to genuine friendship. I meet so many women in my field and few men, that I feel like my lack of exposure to good male friends is part of the work I want to do on me. I figure as long as I’m up front, (not that I’d lead with “I need friends for my personal development” ! :) ) I won’t lead someone to believe I’m looking for anything more than that. I’ve reached out to a number of women to bring good new relationships into my life. It’s all pretty fun, and my confidence is at a new level knowing that I would likely not want any of the people who display romantic relationship flags as friends, anyway. In the past, I’ve been so up front about disappointments that I’ve attracted a bunch of folks who like being the more ‘together’ one in the relationship, whether that be friends or lovers. Now, as I stay positive going in, I really notice when someone latches on to anything negative or vulnerable that I have shared. It happens with new friend prospects … I’m just looking forward to practicing my new skills on friend-picking first, before opening up to potential mate-picking.

        • runnergirlno1 says:

          Good luck Lynn. Natalie’s response sounds as though there may still be a few issues which may be easy for me to see because I’m way behind you in dealing with my issues. You have so helped me through some rough spots. Be healthy out there.

          • Lynn says:

            Lots to think about. I’m going VERY slow. I’m newly in a coed group that exists to build an emotionally sober lifestyle. I practically have crushes on every man in the group. Or have whatever this terrified feeling is that feels like a crush. Onward. Thanks runnergirl, Natalie and community!

  2. sunshine says:

    I lol’d. Not only am I not even close to ready to date again – thanks to this blog, I finally realized how much help I really need after 30 years of ongoing abuse and am taking time off from my life to enter an intensive outpatient therapy program. I am totally holding out a secret hope that I will get back together with my playa ex who has FBI and domestic violence records with his own unresolved childhood abuse issues and various addictions. Because when we were together, it was totally magic!

    • NML says:

      Sunshine, best of luck with the program and well done for doing what you need to, to get healthy.

      It feels magical because it’s dysfunctional, familiar in its pain, and you may be mislabeling things as efficient when it’s fear, danger, anxiety etc

      • sunshine says:

        Yes, it was fear and it was dysfunctional. I was re-enacting sexual trauma with him (freezing, going passive and not communicating I was in pain – he was not TRYING to hurt me, I was ashamed that even light touch was painful and couldn’t admit my sensitivity) and telling myself in my mind, “this is exactly what I need, this is good for me.”
        So yes, some of us are really masochists, only I didn’t realize that was what was happening because that was just normal for me because of my history. It happens when our caretakers and love source as children are also our tormentors.
        I was Not Thinking Clearly and was quite confused. That’s over now, though. I will become a reclusive spinster (not likely that will be necessary) before I put myself in harm’s way like that again!

  3. allie says:

    Hi Natalie, very good. I am basically failing on number 9. I have a lot of fear to rejection, but I am dealing with it, at least I am recognizing it, and that is a start. And also need to slow my roll. Thanks for all.

    • MH says:


      My fear of rejection is my biggest hindrence in life too. This is usually the culprit behind my issues. Why I fear relationships that need to end, ending. Why I am afraid to get out and just date. Why I don’t let go of guys from my past completely. Why I think single is a stigma even though I get resentful when there is too many social things and it will take away my time alone. I use to be the opposite only a year ago. Now, I look forward to weekends I am going to spend by myself. I tell people I need to spend the weekend alone.

      • allie says:

        Hi MH,

        I feel sometimes that I am “love-shy” . I can easily make friends either sex, but if for some reason I feel atracted to someone then it is really hard to start a frienship with this person because I care too much for them.
        I do have a lot of friends, some are really close, and from all age groups, and I thank God for them, they have been my best support group and constantly I get invited to their houses and get togethers so that helps me coping with loneliness.
        I still would like to be married again, but with the right man and hopefully I will succedd working with my issues and my main problem is that I need to stop my roll, I need not to get so invested when dating someone. It is not to late, so I am not giving up. And I am learning also to enjoy the benefits of being single, so I am fullfilling my bucked list in the mean time, traveling and doing stuff.

  4. Movedup says:

    “Know the difference between internal and external factors that are triggering your fears.” Thanx for the reminder Nat. Sparkey and I are looking at buying the house we adore, picked out together and have been living happily in for over a year. We were married there last summer. My gut started to turn and I couldn’t understand why – an old familar feeling crept over me. I have been here before – it turned out badly. Lost marriage – lost dream house – don’t want to do that again. There is the trigger – its an internal factor – an old tape that is no longer valid – an old fear. No external factors present. Just me getting in my way again for no good reason. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Need to read that article again. I have no reason to fear – its an adventure and OUR dream. LEAP! Here’s to a house warming this summer!!!

    • carmen weeks says:

      Great to hear your news about the house Movedup. Agree that it is important for use to be mindful of the internal factors which impact on us from past experiences. I too have recently been seeing how some of my reactions and then behaviour can be out of sinc with the current situation and expecting more of the same when really I am in a very different relationship now.

  5. jennynic says:

    It took me 7 months to be ready to date again. I feel good about it. I am not into online dating as it seems to much of a shopping expedition. I met a guy casually and we have been dating about a month or so. So far we have had good conversations about what we each are doing in this and what we are both looking for. At first I was afraid to ask questions like “are you unattached and how long have you been out of a relationship?” and it was hard to say, “I am not looking for a casual sex thing and want a real partner in my life.” It was nice to hear, “me too.” I am on alert still, maybe just paying close attention to the things he says and does. A couple of things need a little further looking into but so far it has been good and I am learning to be assertive with what I want. I am over my ex and have let go of the anger. His birthday was yesterday, and yes, I remembered it but more in passing. It didn’t bother me at all. # 8 might be a factor
    I need to work on. I do have some fears but am trying to keep them in check. I got cheated on and jerked around so bad by the ex, I do have some trust issues but am working on being realistic about it and not mistrust for no reason. But my eyes are wide open. I agree with Natalie that dating before you are ready is just looking for more heartache or trying to cover up the one you are trying to relieve. Work on you first. Why hurry? Learn to enjoy your own company first, feel good about you and all the hard work you just put into yourself so you have something positive to bring to the table. Positive is more likely to attract positive.

    • Allison says:


      ” I agree with Natalie that dating before you are ready is just looking for more heartache or trying to cover up the one you are trying to relieve. Work on you first. Why hurry? Learn to enjoy your own company first, feel good about you and all the hard work you just put into yourself so you have something positive to bring to the table. Positive is more likely to attract positive.”

      So well said!!!!!!

    • Jennynic,

      itd okay to ask questions as to what a new partner may want from a relationship. I know it is hard to be upfrount about your values, but if you really want long term and you don’t do casual sex you are making it clear to your new partners about your beliefs and that’s a good thing. There are many things guys are good at but mind reading is not one of them! Know your values Jennynic and if some guys vanishes because that’s not what he wants you then saved yourself a whole heap of potential heartache.

      You also said
      “Work on you first. Why hurry? Learn to enjoy your own company first, feel good about you and all the hard work you just put into yourself so you have something positive to bring to the table”
      I couldn’t agree more. Work on the ones person who will be with you all your life YOURSELF and when you are ready then date, when the time is right for you then go for it!

  6. ph2072 says:

    I consider myself a mixed bag. On one hand, I’m open to being in a good relationship & (who knows?) getting married one day. I know I’ve made a LOT of progress in that regard, as well as with understanding what my baggage is so that I can nip it in the bud faster & keep said baggage from negatively affecting any future relationships. But on the other hand, a secret part of me wants to have no-strings-attached “friendships” to get out of my dry spell (I don’t believe in hopping from man to man just for the sake off not being alone, so dry spell it is) because I see so many handsome men here & back home AND because there have been offers back home. To be honest, I don’t know how feasible it is for me to try either….. and maybe that’s my answer for this quiz, I don’t know.

    I’m still dealing with jetlag so maybe that’s affecting my response right about now….. but knowing me, maybe not. 😐 I’ll have to re-read this in a few days and see if my answer (or lack thereof) remains the same.

  7. David says:

    Perfect timing. I just started dating again, three months after my partner left me. It was a nice date. He was a decent man. I was anxious. Afterwards, we agreed to get together again. I called and emailed. He did not respond. I assumed he changed his mind. It did not bother me. So that is a good sign. I can take rejection. I can let go. But I still feel that I am not really ready yet. So I will just wait another month or two and try again then. My therapist told me to just be honest with how I am feeling. And I feel like I am not ready to deal with real emotions with another person yet.

    • David,

      good for you that you identified that although you had a good date with this guy, that maybe you are not quite ready for a relationship. Its posituve to know yourself well enough to be able to be true to your own feelings and your own values

  8. runnergirlno1 says:

    Good job Natalie. The back to back posts about revisiting your original pain source and this post about dating again brought it home for me. I have, repeatedly done the “If you’re that great a person, you’ll get me over my ex”. I really did think that jumping into the next relationship ended the previous one. How silly. The next relationship was simply a repeat of the previous one…same guy…different package. In my long conversations with myself in my journal and in my head, I’ve been focusing on the timing of my marraiges and relationships. In almost perfect timing, I was on to the next within weeks or maybe a month after a divorce or break-up. It’s a little difficult to remember some of the exact timing but I’m sure I never had 3 to 6 months between relationships from the time I was 16 to 51. Good grief, no wonder I’m tired. I can honestly answer every question above, with the exception of # 3 and # 4, with a resounding NOPE! I’ll use this post as a guide in my long conversations with myself. For me, it goes beyond simply dating. The questions and answers speak to me about emotional availability, self-love, and what a healthy person may be and what a healthy relationship could be. Based on my past experiences and relationships, at this point, I don’t have a clue what a healthy relationship would feel like, look like or be. I’m identifying with my students who walk in the door cold and don’t have a clue what I could be talking about in class. I’m reading, taking notes,and listening to you all. But I’m not “dating”. Presently, I don’t have a clue what that is. Thank you…RG

  9. Darkness says:

    Many times we chose the same type of people that have hurt us before because we recognize something that we think is good, but it is really bad. I will take my time to really heal and love before getting into a relationship with another unavaliable assclown!

  10. JJ2 says:

    1. I’m over my ex and am no longer emotionally invested in them.

    95% over, still have 5% residual, and it’s been an entire year.

    2. No seriously Natalie, I’m not holding out a secret hope that we’ll get back together. Oh and I don’t have any other exes lurking around.

    Have to say disagree and agree. The “disagree” is, see #1, the 5%….. But I really really DON’T have any other exes lurking around.

    3. I believe that a loving, healthy relationship with mutual love, care, trust and respect is out there for me.

    Yes and no. I’m not looking for it, but if it shows up, I’ll watch for the signs.

    4. There are still a lot of good people to date.

    Non issue to me.

    5. I trust myself and I’m OK with acting in my own best interests even if it may hurt a little.

    I do trust my instincts, but I HATE the hurt!

    6. I am aware of my boundaries and red flag behaviour and if I were to encounter someone that overstepped my boundaries and/or exhibited red flag behaviour, I would know what to do.

    I do now!

    7. I know that sex and love are not the same thing.


    8. I have a reasonable level of trust and am not controlled by my fears. In fact, I am actively working on addressing any issues that have previously affected me in relationships.

    The fears are still there….. in fact, some go way back to my high school boyfriend, and I’m in my 50’s!

    9. I can mentally and emotionally cope with someone not reciprocating my interest or dates not working out.

    I tend to be an “all or nothing” person. Guys either have one date, and I never see them again (which I’m ok with, always have been), or one date and next thing you know I’m “involved.” If it’s a “one date” thing, I’m ok if it doesn’t work out.

  11. Gingerbell says:

    Me again..I went out this evening to meet a guy friend (just a buddy) of mine at the local pub and I swear I have an invisible “Do Not Enter” sign on my forehead when it comes to any flirting vibes coming my way..but it’s okay… I’m not feeling the vibe to flirt with anyone. I’m a very scrubbed down healing version of myself and that’s exactly where I want to be. I mean,.. I’m not wearing my pajamas in public or anything but I have definitely retired the “sexy wear” for awhile.
    It always feels like misguided advice when someone tells me to get out there and just “have some fun” with a new man to speed up my recovery. There is a perverse expression used in the Lonely Hearts Club over here.. It goes, ” The best way to get over one man is to get under another” Seriously?!! WHY I wonder? I don’t need the ego boost and I am so emotionally attached to sex I would jump to major conclusions.. I need to fix my heart. K, someone thinks I’m cute or smart or whatever.. then what? I’m not hurting because I can’t meet some random dude who thinks I’m attractive.. I’m hurting because I have been investing a lot of energy in a man who beyond the attraction, proved himself to be fundamentally different in core values… I keep telling myself this..
    Yeah, thanks for this Natalie.. Your blog is mainlining medicine to my heart right now. : ) I know I am so not ready to join that plenty o’ fish in the sea lot. I met Epic Assclown #3 a month after breaking up with Assclown #2. I let history painfully repeat itself.
    I want to get there… I really do.. I want to be open but I realize there is a lot of work to do before I can with an honest and available heart. I know it always comes back to self love. I have to admit, I’m trying to date myself first. And once I figure that out, I hope I’m ready. I really want to be aware of #6 in the future.. Setting those boundaries, I think, would save me so much grief.

    • Bek says:

      “I am so emotionally attached to sex I would jump to major conclusions”
      I completely agree Gingerbell.
      I would love to save myself the grief and pain but I feel frozen.

    • Minky says:

      Hey Gingerbell –
      I don’t know why not dating is seen as a failure or shortcoming. You don’t want to date yet? Don’t. I always tell people i’m ‘on the bench’ if they mention dating when i am having a self enforced ‘single’ period. What’s it to them anyway? How does it affect their lives if we’re ‘getting out there’ or not? Sorry to rant, but it really annoys me. Along with the ‘your’re nothing if you don’t have a man in your life’ attitude – grrr! I have the best times when i’m single! Do what you want, when you want, answer to no one. Brilliant. Uncomplicated. Totally self-indugent. Exactly what you need when you’re ‘healing’, not getting out there and expending more energy dealing with potential idiots.

      • Audrey says:

        @Minky: I agree wholeheartedly with you. Being single is nothing to be ashamed about. Too many women fall into the trap of wanting to feel validated by having “a man” in their lives in whatever package he comes wrapped up in. I’ve seen it time and time again.
        As far as i’m concerned, if a guys comes a long with bows and whistles attached to him, i’m not going there unless he’s worth spending time with.

      • Gingerbell says:

        Hey Bek, I know that “frozen feeling but I’m tired of the games and pretending I have a carefree “whatever will be will be” attitude when it comes to intimacy. Some people can just accept it as a physical need and that’s fine. But not this gal. I have a direct and immediate correlation between sex and emotions. There’s no shame either way. I think it’s just knowing who you are and what you are capable of and being honest and forthright with your partner.
        Thanks for your reply Minky and you’re right.I definitely don’t want to be an idiot magnet which I could be prone to in this state!
        I think when people advise the quick fix of getting alternative male attention to facilitate with a broken heart, they’re missing the point. For me the void is love not the attention which is why jumping into bed with another man is a terrible solution. My true friends are very empowered to self love and not trying to guide me toward a meaningless shag. So yes, “on the bench”, love that. And I will sit on that bench until the time is right. And I wouldn’t want to do the very same thing I regret being on the receiving end of, and that is being unavailable to someone who is available…which Natalie has explained in previous posts. It’s so true. I want to share my life with somebody but I don’t want to spend all my energy on the wrong person.

    • Ging erbell you said:

      “I don’t need the ego boost and I am so emotionally attached to sex I would jump to major conclusions.. I need to fix my heart”

      you seem to be really in touch with yourself and it was good to read your post. I especially liked this comment:
      “Setting those boundaries, I think, would save me so much grief”
      It’s knowing who you are, not bullshitting yourself and doing the work on yourself that puts you in a positive position to date and make healthy relationship choices. I think wortking on your values is a great idea!

    • GTash says:


      We have that expression over here as well – the best way to get over one man is to get under another. LOL, I have to say to some extent it does work for me at least. I genuinely like being single, but sometimes just want a man around for a cuddle and such but without any expectations or attachment. The trick is to recognise when your own needs aren’t being fulfilled and know when to get out.
      The most valuable lesson my ex married EUM taught me was that I can get through the pain and come out on the other side a stronger, better person. So now I no longer have the fear of rejection or of the pain and hurt of a “relationship” ending because I know I can survive it and move on to meet new people.

  12. debra says:

    Amen, Natalie. I was asking myself recently whether I thought I was ready to consider a relationship again and knew that the answer was no. Not because I wasn’t over someone (I am, all of them), or because I couldn’t separate love and sex but because I don’t feel I yet have enough to give. I have to be solid in the love and respect and care I have for myself before I can expect to give it and receive it from someone else. I remain a work in progress. What was so comforting and great about this post was that I was able to see the progess I have made. I can answer yes to all of it.

    What I liked best was that you emphasized that we do not want to become that which we dislike – another emotionally unavailable person out there hurting others, disappointing or misleading those who have the misfortune of dating us. I am so much better than I was, but am still focused on me and the work I need to do on myself. Dragging someone else into it right now might be a fun distraction but there is little chance of anything meaningful happening and I would never want to do to someone else what the AC did to me. Dating solely for selfish reasons is not cool or casual or fun – its hurtful and destructive to others. That’s not who I want to be.

  13. AME says:

    This is a good article, and I am glad that Nat is advising others to be ready before embarking on new relationships. There is nothing worse than being the rebound girl. Inevitably, when he feels better, you get dumped, only to see him a few months later start a serious and committed relationship with another woman.

    You may well ask why I let myself get into that scenario in the first place…simply because I didn’t know and didn’t ask him at the beginning what his relationship status was. Though he omitted information, I now see it was partially my fault for not asking until I had fallen in love with him.

    I learned the hard way you get no good return on this type of emotional investment. You just end up getting used and picking up the pieces. So, next time, I asked at the start about the now husband’s relationship status before I would go out with him. And it turned out ever so much better!

  14. Workshy Joe says:

    I think the most corrosive and poisonous thing for singles is a sense of entitlement.

    Few people imagine that the world owes them material success or advancement, but a surprising number of people actually feel entitled to hotties of the opposite sex.

    When their expectations collide with reality, they cling to their fantasies and get angry with the opposite sex for not living up to them.

    On the male side, this creates the hopeless romantics of “The True Forced Loneliness Movement” or “The Omega Virgin Revolt”.

    Don’t be fooled by the surface misogynist bluster. Dig a little deeper.

    On the female side, there is more pragmatism. More women who choose to pass on the remaining sausage rolls at the Singles Buffet and take up a hobby instead.

    The ones who don’t modify their expectations in the light of experience gradually take on the mannerisms of UFO cultists rationalizing the non-appearance of the mothership.

    • MH says:

      hi Joe,

      Yeah your right but look at the way the world is cultivated about the outer beauty it is like the feminist movement, this is not just about opinions and debates. A movement had to take place for things to change. This entitlment attitude is going to take more than simple comments and debates. People are constantly trying to raise awareness on the matter but many are stuck in those ways, including Natalie.

      This is another issue Natalie has tried to bring up on previous dating readiness posts. This is definately a huge issue with readiness to date. If we are going to be focussed on looks verses values she warns us we are going to be in the danger zone.

  15. Audrey says:

    Hi Nat, well it looks like i’m ready…. however, I’m not in a serious rush to meet someone but it would be nice to all the same.
    My life is very good, i’m healthy, happy, i’ve good close friends, a good social life and hobbies I enjoy (and a ginger tabby that give me undiluted devotion) Gee, where will a guy fit in??? Lol….
    It will be so much easier for me with the next guy i get involved with as I won’t be with an eum/ac and I will know when to abort mission when the alarm bells ring. The last time, they rang but not loud enough because I didn’t know/understand what I know/understand now about eums/acs. Next time, I will hear them loud and clear!!!! Thanks to you, Natalie:-)

  16. Liberty says:

    I am another lurker who has finally decided to post. I’m a “#9” type – and I’ve been following the articles and comments about non-reciprocated interest. I too has my share of AC’s and EUMs. The 1st BF turned out to be a possessive, alcoholic stalker. I stayed because I figured he would be the only one to ever love me. The 2nd was a major AC- newly divorced, using me for money, putting me down. The 3rd was classic EUM- and actually the only one i was really in love with and had the longest relationship with; things were good for a few months, then he started saying things like “I’m not a good boyfriend” , “I prefer to sleep alone” and “stop telling me you love me” (that one really hurt. who SAYS that to someone?). I saw the red flags before I even dated these guys, but thought I deserved no better. I had a childhood of emotional, mental and physical abuse and no good relationship examples. I was diagnosed with major depression a few times, and finally after a stint in a psych ward 7 yrs ago i started the repair work. I dated sporadically and I’m one of those ppl who can only date one at a time and i invest too much in that one guy/one date. So I stopped dating 3.5 yrs ago and took time to get to know myself better and deal with my past. For about 6 months i’ve been flirting with a co-worker. He’s sweet, affectionate, optimistic, energetic (and my 6th sense is picking up no red flags)…and I realized that his personality reflects how differently I feel about myself v. 7 yrs ago. But my problem is I have NEVER had a healthy relationship- I really don’t know what one is, how to start it, and as much as I want one I know I will still have some fears if I find it- like the other shoe will drop. My crush really seems to like me. He was divorced about 1.5 yrs ago; he has only lately been starting to open up to me, but very very slowly and it makes me wonder if he views me as a friend and just “isn’t that into” me. I suppose i’m hyper vigilant, looking for the EUM red flags and I perceive his slowness as being EUM- at least in regard to me. But the flirting is blatant, and his affection is obvious. My old self would have prob already confessed my liking for him and maybe even been clingy; now I’ve been pacing myself and trying to be patient. I’ve been clear that I’d like to spend time with him outside work but he has not responded (No yes, but no no). I have not repeated my offers or chased him for an answer. I know he respects me, admires me for the myriad of things I do (i.e. I have an active life) and I think he really likes me. I realize he may still be coping with divorce emotions and I will not engage with him unless and until he is over them- which is a measure of my emotional progress. And yet…is this how a “normal” relationship begins/progresses? sometimes I feel like i’ve done so much work, come so far, and yet still nothing happens for me. I feel like this guy would be so good for/to me yet I don’t want to invest too much. I’m 40 yrs old and this is all “new” to me. Maybe this “investing” and going after an EUM type is still ingrained in me, although I’m fighting it this time. I will be at the NYC workshop on Feb 1. I’m looking forward to it.

    • MH says:


      Liberty, the way I am reading things based on what you wrote is that he is an EUM because you were clear and he isn’t showing true interest by not responding to something as simple as spending time outside of work.

      I applied this to a coworker that I was once interested in briefly who agreed to spending time outside of work but never made an effort on his part to do so. Therefore I lost interest based on Natalie’s comment “If someone is interest in you, you will know, they will act interested.” For me, no response is too passive. You know your situation more than I do and I am just basing it on what I read. I could also be misinterpreting things too.

      I move on quicker than I ever have in the past with new people since I found this blog. I feel that my time is too precious to waste on people that are indecisive. I know too many girls lately that say to me I don’t want to be that girl untrusting, acting too needy etc but they end up painting themselves in a corner. They don’t go on this blog or have the knowledge I have learned so it is too hard to explain to them that their behaviour is a red flag. They all learn the hard way and come to me later with what I thought was going to happen. It turns out he was screwing around, oh my gut was right, so I guess they have to learn on their own. Anyways, that popped up for me when you were explaining about lack of healthy relationship knowledge and questioning if he is an EUM.

      I think a snap shot of a healthy relationship would be based on looking at the healthy values you posses and expect that of the other person.
      So an ideal one just to use as an example would be:
      You gave clear communication and really who doesn’t want clear communication, I think if someone is of healthy mind that would be standard in all healthy relationships.
      Someone who demonstrates clear actions they say what they mean, and mean what they say. They do what they say they are going to do. Someone you can talk to and asked “what do you mean by this” and they don’t get all jumpy or angry at you for asking.

      Look at your healthy values, see if they match with him. If you discover some unhealthy values in yourself address them and do something about them.

      Self growth doesn’t end just because we are dating, in a relationship or married it is ongoing journey.

      The questions I would be asking yourself or what came up for me about your post or what I would be asking myself if I was in your shoes are:

      If you don’t have an idea what a healthy relationship looks like why are you considering dating you should get an idea first?

      Since he doesn’t respond to a simple question why don’t you see that as a red flag, I would?

      Flirting and affection don’t add anything to a relationship or mean anything. You have only mentioned in your post your subjective view on his interest for you and no examples so I don’t know what you are basing on his interest for you? The lact of response is the huge red flag that sticks out and doesn’t point in that direction. Unless like I say I am missing something here.

      I don’t mean any of these as insults I am simply pointing them out to help you see some signs and hopefully address them. I would be seeing them as signs for me and either be walking away or getting answers.

      Good for you for going to Nat’s workshop, I wish I could go.

      Good luck on your journey, and keep posting it helps to get those other opinions sometimes its too harsh to digest at first but later it comes in handy.

      If I have anything mixed up please feel free to clarify.

    • GTash says:


      I agree with what MH said – if a guy is interested in you he will let you know. Yes, he may be shy, or may still be working through his post-divorce issues or whatever, but seriously you need to let him make the move.
      I used to be just like you have written in your post – I would get a crush on a work colleague or on someone in my circle of friends and we would be flirting and I would push to take things further which would either crash and burn leaving me embarrassed or develop into a short term fling.
      Now I’m older and wiser I just enjoy the flirting for what it is and if THEY want to take it further they will. Sure has saved me a lot of angst and heartache I can tell you.

      • Liberty says:

        Thanks for the responses
        “If you don’t have an idea what a healthy relationship looks like why are you considering dating you should get an idea first?” But how am I to find out what one is if I don’t date? I do know what one is; I guess what I mean is that I don’t know how one begins or progresses.
        I don’t think my crush is EU generally- just EU to me. Which is understandable given he may still be working thru post divorce issues. Surprisingly, I don’t take it personally, which is another marker of progress for me. What does bother me is that I’m still gravitating toward EUM, despite all the progress I’ve made. I’ve made my interest clear (but not blatant or oppressive). Yes- not responding is rude and maybe even dishonest. I guess I’ve viewed that as a yellow flag as opposed to red because in comparison to my exs’ it’s so minor!
        I agree that if he is interested, and he’s read my signals clearly, he should let me know. I’ve pulled back a bit lately, mostly to protect myself. But I don’t want to be so hyper vigilant that I push men away. It’s like walking an emotional tight rope.

        • MH says:


          You can learn what a healthy relationship is by reading about it and from the information here, along with other sources. Also, Natalie has books on values and boundaries. Her book on Mr unavailable teaches you inadvertently by telling you what unhealthy looks like.

          I don’t understand what you mean about EU to you but you don’t take it personally. They are usually EU to everyone not just you and how would you know each person’s experience with them, it is usually subjective.

          Something I wanted to mention about taking things personal, it is sort of a catch 22. NO we don’t want to take things personal as far as getting stuck and being blame absorbers but sometimes we need to take things personal so we get out of a dangerous situation.

          If you don’t know how a healthy relationship starts or progresses that is along the same lines as not knowing what a healthy relationship is about. This post is about ready to date. I have knowledge on what a healthy relationship is because I am surrounded by family members that are in them and I learned a lot here and I have common sense. Also I have learned inadvertently what one isn’t and that is why I left my last situation.

          I would rather get more familiar, than to jump into something especially with a guy at work because later life could be a real mess when you go to work each day if he is a EU. Just read some of the previous posts from people here on how much fun that isn’t when things don’t work out .

          The whole point here is Natalie is trying to teach us awareness so we live with less heartache.

          When we gravitate towards EUM”s still, it is because we are not learning all of our lessons yet. You said you were a lurker, did you see the posts or topics about if he is an EU to you that is enough of a flag. Gettng involved with guys that are dealing with past baggage is a flag too.

          Another thing I want to caution you about is don’t compare one guy to the next. My ex boyfriend is not a nice man at all if I was going to compare the last guy I got involved with to my ex, he would look like he has no problems at all and actually come out looking like boyfriend material, but he isn’t. We have to look at them individually verses healthy, that is part of the reason I stayed with the last guy, was because he looked good in comparison to my ex, this was a mistake. You say you have made progress and you are the one that knows you did but be careful because comparing a real jerk to a semi jerk can keep you stuck that is what happened to me.

          I am just letting you know the traps because you say you are still attracting EUM’s, I am not so far after spending a lot of time on this blog, so that has got to be a good sign. If I do meet one, I have such adversion to them now I feel sorry for him, he won’t be able to get anywhere with me. If I get fooled by one I have this blog to help me out.

          We have to be aware that there is more than just unavailability or we will get trapped by another mess of a guy.

          You don’t sound ready, you sound like you need to do some soul searching first. Don’t worry I am not either, I need more soul searching too, that’s what this post made me realize and I am closing down my profiles.

          You sound like you are missing the whole point of what healthy looks like. VALUES are the mainstay of a healthy relationship. If your crush already demonstrated disrespect than what value does he hold for a healthy relationship. If Natalie stresses over and over that a man has to treat you with love, care, trust and respect, one is already missing from the recipe of the Values pie you want to make. I get it when we first date there isn’t going to be love but the guy has to show a sign or something that he is capable of it.

          Yes, you don’t want to be cynical understandable, however I see you missing flags no matter what color you think they are.

          Just wanted to look out for another poster, like so many on here have looked out for me.

  17. MH says:

    1. I’m over my ex and am no longer emotionally invested in them.

    Me: No I am not over my ex and I am still somewhat emotionally invested in him because I want validation that he was attracted to me. I am learning lately from Natalie and I can see it but I can tell that it is not fully applied however I am working towards achieving it. I am referring to the aspect that the more positive beliefs I have towards myself, love and relationships the less I will be invested emotionally in him.

    2. No seriously Natalie, I’m not holding out a secret hope that we’ll get back together. Oh and I don’t have any other exes lurking around.

    Me: I am holding out a secret hope that since it has been 7 months and I haven’t found anyone, maybe in the summer time, or future as I get more healthy him and I can go back to how things were but better only if he becomes completely single again. I won’t see him at all if he remains attached or in a relationship especially. This time things might be different because I understand things better and I will state exactly what I want this time instead of thinking well we were only FWB so I technically had no rights because I agreed to that set up to begin with. I didn’t set up ground rules now this time I can. Maybe I am stuck in this dysfunctional way of thinking because I am suffering from I wish I knew then what I know now and I want to see if different results would happen instead of just realize I need to cut my losses period.

    This is dangerous thinking because the more healthy I become will work in the opposite direction I will not be thinking I can go back , this is a sign that I am not healthy yet. I have to keep thinking stop giving up MH, stop giving up. Luckily, this is the voice that kicks in with lots of other healthy advice I have received from the posters on here, Natalie and my own common sense. Whenever, I have these thoughts I know that I am giving up on myself and giving into my fears that I am simply destined to be alone because really single life isn’t that bad, it isn’t really.

    3. I believe that a loving, healthy relationship with mutual love, care, trust and respect is out there for me.

    Me: This is my huge problem, I have mostly given up. A part of me thinks it could still happen that it is up to the universe and I will go about my business for the most part, keep working on myself and see what life brings me in the next while. I know I deserve all of this because I am a decent person and I believe there is decent men out there but a voice inside my head keeps saying some people just are maybe meant to be single and maybe I am just one of them. Single might be better because all I have attracted is guys that want variety. I have heard that from practically every guy that I have gotten involved with. I have been spending years working on myself trying to figure out why I end up with guys who have “sex addictions” like how some of my friends keep attracting alcoholics. I have tried to work on why I am a co-sex addict. During my journeys of trying to figure this out I have met some effed up people so I don’t know what the answer is and I am a bit tired and want to be done with guys that have to have variety in women. S o no I don’t believe that a loving, healthy relationship with mutual love, care, trust and respect is out there for me. I haven’t met any decent guys, and all my interactions with men have been dysfunctional, the last guy still wants variety and my only victory and yes I hope it is sign that I am changing my ways, is I walked away from him for this underlying reason several months ago, I have refused to see him because I had a feeling he would want something on the side, now I have proof he does and I have no interest in seeing him. So I hope that these are all signs that I am heading in the right direction away from sex addicts, however I am still somewhat emotionally invested in him which has me concerned that I am going to continue to meet sex addicts until I learn what life wants me know about that lesson. If I could I would cancel all the classes on the subject and pass myself.

    4. There are still a lot of good people to date.

    Me: Since I know for a fact I am not emotionally healthy yet in that department I know I am not going to attract the decent, good people to date. I was signed up for online dating and I saw that I was attracting guys that say “hey gorgeous” and so on and that pissed me off, it just says sex to me. I don’t want to be hit on, I want to meet people that are constructive to speak with not talking in sexual terms. That kind of talk has always ended me in casual situations not serious relationships. I am in the process of deleting my profiles.

    5. I trust myself and I’m OK with acting in my own best interests even if it may hurt a little.

    Me: I don’t trust myself enough because when I get attached or emotionally involved I become vulnerable. I am physically staying away from my last guy because I don’t trust myself to resist him and I don’t want to hurt myself or his girlfriend. A part of me thinks I can trust myself and I would refuse him because I am against being with guys that have girlfriends or a married. I left him before he got involved with her because I cared about myself too much to allow myself to keep being used. Also, I don’t want to see him because he isn’t healthy for me and maybe I am using it as an excuse to stay away. Either way I need to keep my distance but I am worried that because this reason has popped into my head as a reason to stay away I am far from being healthy. I keep having dreams of him and I starting an affair and I wake up feeling yucky in the morning, I am guessing my head is working things out. I don’t have desires to see him and make it a reality thank goodness. Maybe I am learning to at least trust myself in acting in my own best interest because I am staying away from the guy that wants me on the side and I know that is a demotion, a kick while I am down, a lack of validation because I am not enough on my own.

    A friend asked don’t you feel good that he still wants you? Her question did remind me of how far I have come and how behind the rest of society is, especially my friends. I hear too much of this attitude so I know it is a societal issue. I think she was in shock when I answered no considering she had a four year affair with a married man and is now in a FWB, so I am not suprised by her question.

    6. I am aware of my boundaries and red flag behaviour and if I were to encounter someone that overstepped my boundaries and/or exhibited red flag behaviour, I would know what to do.

    Me: At present, my boundaries are to stay away from getting intimate with EUM’S and AC’s. I am aware of my tendencies of becoming vulnerable because I haven’t been intimate with anyone since my last guy 7 months ago. I am very comfortable and close with the last guy and when I build rapports with guys like that I trust somewhat blindly and get more involved than I should. I walked away because my last situation was too painful but I seem to have a high pain threshold at times and ask a lot of questions however I get unsure of what to do with the information. Maybe all I have learned from this blog will help but I haven’t had any experiences yet to see if I can trust myself to know what to do. It took me almost two years with the last guy to know what to do. Now I have this blog maybe there is hope.

    7. I know that sex and love are not the same thing.

    Me: This I know for sure and it is not an issue for me. I lecture this to everyone. I also think too many people throw the love and in love word around and only very few people who think they are, actually are. My belief. My biggest pet peeve is people that put up crap from others and say “because I love him.”

    8. I have a reasonable level of trust and am not controlled by my fears. In fact, I am actively working on addressing any issues that have previously affected me in relationships.

    Me: I am actively working on addressing my issues and that is why all these negative answers are coming from me in this post because I am answering honestly to these questions. I am ruled by my fears and I always have been, I didn’t know any other way until I found this blog. My friends are either in dysfunctional relationships or friends with benefits, so I only have myself and this blog for reality checks. I have a fear that since my parents are still happily married that I have to give one for the team and be the token single person. Most of my family are in happy, long term, strong marriages they would think EUM’s are aliens from another planet. My mom can’t relate to today’s men she has a devoted loving husband that is still in love with her since the day they met at 13 years of age.

    9. I can mentally and emotionally cope with someone not reciprocating my interest or dates not working out.

    Me: I can and I can’t. I started corresponding with a guy I met online. It was fun and he did seem to have good characteristics. It felt like a friendship not dating. I learned in a short time I wasn’t interested before I met him. Probably because I learned on here how important values have to match. It didn’t hurt to stop corresponding with him because I didn’t meet him in person I found out the cr information on the email. I think he was an honest nice guy though, had he been one of typical guys I usually meet, he could have hid it better and I may have gotten more involed and things could have gone longer. I did say to myself “see MH you could let this guy go without internalizing rejection because it didn’t take off the ground yet, you have to learn to be able to do this or you will end up in another painful situation like the last one where I emotionally hold on because I want validation. So before Natalie even wrote today’s post, I already recognized that I internalize things too much and my grieving periods could be like she mentioned in this post contant recovery programs after each experience. This stood out for me while reading this post.

    • Liberty says:

      “This is my huge problem, I have mostly given up. A part of me thinks it could still happen that it is up to the universe and I will go about my business for the most part, keep working on myself and see what life brings me in the next while. I know I deserve all of this because I am a decent person and I believe there is decent men out there but a voice inside my head keeps saying some people just are maybe meant to be single and maybe I am just one of them. ”

      MH: I’m in complete agreement with you on this.

      • MH says:


        I just wrote to you above another segment and I said I don’t think either of us are ready to date. This statement above I made that you related to, is a negative belief that is a helping me live my self-fullfiling Prophecy.

        Now that you are starting to respond to posts that for some reason helps us learn what healthy is too. You are getting on the right track, this is what has also helped me.

        I learned this in one of the recent posts by Natalie that my underlying demon is the fact that I lean towards “giving up on myself”. This is how I can end up in future traps.

        See her posts bring out the hidden agendas and information we have stored in a our subconcious. I will read a post and realize my action matches what theory she wrote about it in the post. I will then address that current issue. Sometimes the issue will linger other times one post can solve a complete issue.

        I write in a journal, I read other books, I talk with friends, and I read books, posts here and respond here in order to work through my issues.

        I remember 4 months ago when I use to feel emotional pain over the last guy. I don’t feel that way anymore. I wake up with no more gut aches. I am not in turmoil anymore about facing my day. I look forward to my time by myself, with my friends, and life in general. This could simply be the acceptance stage and I could go back into one of the other stages, of course I am hoping not and that I am finally done grieving. I do recognize though that if I am finally done grieving that still there are some issues that need to be address and worked through.

      • allie says:

        MH and Liberty,
        Yes I have hear that before, someone said I couln’t find my “other half” maybe because I was already whole. But I know I have this desire in my heart of having a family, it might be late for me now that I will be 40, but still me and a spouse would be a familly anyway. I am a believer and believe with all my heart that God give us the desires of our hearts, most if this desires are according to his word. So I am not giving up. But I am bettering myself to not make the same mistakes. I don’t want this desire to consume all my thoughts or make me feel miserable in the mean time, so I am trying to enjoy the benefits of singlehood and hopefully one day the right person will come along.

  18. runnergirlno1 says:

    Still in day thirty-something of NC and not even near ready to date or break NC but I’ve noticed something interesting I thought I’d share. Of course, nobody knows about the “break-up” because nobody knew about the situation because he was married and I was the other woman, another downside to being the OW. You can’t cry because the situation never really existed. Here, however, is what I’ve noticed: I have lots of friends that want to get together. I probably had these friends all along but I was “too busy” putting my life on hold in the event the MM was available. I’m grateful they hung in there with me when I was missing in action. They are so excited to hear back from me and I’m arranging lunches, happy hour, and dinner with friends. I’m trying to have some consciousness around where I was and what I was doing that I was too busy to hang out with friends. Mostly, I was talking on the phone with MM, replying to his texts, texting him, or waiting for a call or text. I cannot believe how much I put my life on hold in order to be there for him. I’m so grateful that my friends hung in there, accepted my lame excuses and non responses. Maybe Number 10 on the dating quiz may include something about being able to maintain a balance between dating and a life. In my honest conversation with myself another pattern has emerged, I usually give up my life to accomodate his. Just thought I’d share as the dating quiz has resonated with me as what would be a healthy way to interact with males?

    • Audrey says:

      @runninggirlno1: I believe myself in having a balance in all areas of life and especially when a guy comes on the scene, i think its even more important to keep that balance. It can be so easy to get carried away… and I always think “men come and go but true friends stay”.
      And its rare that you see a guy give up their friends, social life and hobbies when they meet a woman. But girls can too easily give things up in order to be with a guy and it’s really not necessary to do that. We should never “put all our eggs in one basket” .

    • MH says:

      Running girl,

      I hope that you still allowed yourself to cry because grieving is for us not them.

      I was in a FWB and of course nobody would view my situation as a break up either. He told me once that I can’t dump him because we are not together. I responded with, than you pick the vocabulary that you like and either way do not contact me again and I hung up. He called constantly, and text me saying please don’t dump me. Which made me laugh because he said I couldn’t dump him. What I am getting at is I treated it as break up on my end and did the necessary grieving and luckily my friends helped me through and said it is a break up. Even if you don’t want to tell them at least do the necessary healing you need to and keep posting here to get through it all.

      Also I don’t think Natalie needs to add a number 10 as you used your common sense to recognized it and I think all the rest of the intelligent people on this site know that balance equals healthy. She has posted balance before so it is already a given.

      However, this does not discount you mentioning it because sometimes the simple things do go out the window in our time of grief, or messy relationships, so sharing it with us still helps to reinforce those that forget balance is healthy. Luckily I have made sure that my friends are always a part of my life no matter who I am with.

      It is hard you do get caught up with things so it sounds like you have good friends. Everyone sometimes goes into a shell for different reasons friends need to understand that we go away at times and come back. I went away after while I was grieving, I was still there but I needed space, I didn’t want others to be brought down by my mood, I explained to them. That is what good friends are for right?

      • runnergirlno1 says:

        Oh yes indeed, I cried. I cried for two solid years! Oddly however, when the end came, I didn’t. It was a strangely peaceful and awful moment. You are right. It is a break up, even though we didn’t exist. I have two very good girlfriends that supported me through being the OW and are with me now. It is surprising how these guys tell us we can’t dump them because we are not together. Your comment reminded me of a work x-mas party where I left upset because he was flirting with another woman. His response: “We weren’t at the party together”. Wow! I’m grateful for good friends and this site. Balance is implicit within Natalie’s 9. I figured that out as I was writing but I’m re-learning to walk!

        • Lynn says:

          Weird: when I got upset that my partner was flirting with young women at a party, he said, “Everybody knows you and I are together.”

          Is everything about being with a woman in fact about How It Looks To The Outside World to these guys?

          Or, do they think they’ve given us the ultimate concession (or haven’t) because they “allow” us (or don’t) to openly state that they are “affliliated”?

  19. Gina says:

    One of my biggest fears was trusting myself… and when I finally felt the fear and did it anyway and seen the outcome… I realized that it is okay to trust me, because I am not the enemy – the enemy taught me learned helplessness… which kept me in the state of disillusion. I started to come into my own when I made choices, based solely on my opinion and trust in my gut.
    Very good state statement about how we have to stop putting peeps on pedestals and treating ourselves as the enemy… I can definitely relate to that.

  20. MaryC says:

    Thought for awhile I wanted and was ready to date again but the more I think about it the more I know I’m not. I’m quite happy to spend my time with family, friends and by myself. I especially like being by myself its really helped me discover who I am and more importantly what I want in a man if I ever get to that point.

  21. GTash says:

    My quiz answers – I’m doing much better than I thought I would, and certainly much better than I was only a few months ago.

    1.I’m over my ex and am no longer emotionally invested in them.

    – Yes and Yes for both exes – the long term partner I broke it off with after 7 years even though he was a textbook perfect boyfriend and also the ex married rebound man who I became totally addicted to. I’m still in contact with the ex bf and still work with the ex MM but have absolutely NO desire to get back with either of them although I am strill friends with the ex bf.

    2. No seriously Natalie, I’m not holding out a secret hope that we’ll get back together. Oh and I don’t have any other exes lurking around.

    Definate yes for this one.

    3. I believe that a loving, healthy relationship with mutual love, care, trust and respect is out there for me.

    I know it is and I know I’ll meet that guy once I relocate to the city in March. I’m currently living in a small town and the pickings are slim to say the least.

    4. There are still a lot of good people to date.

    I know there are and I’m looking forward to meeting some of them. I’ve already had a few internet dates and although I met two slightly creepy guys the other two I met were genuinely nice – one I now count as a good mate and we catch up for lunch/dinner/beers whenever I visit the city.

    5. I trust myself and I’m OK with acting in my own best interests even if it may hurt a little.

    I think I can do this – if I meet a guy I know is not right for me I’ll have no qualms about cutting him loose or not dating him again.

    6. I am aware of my boundaries and red flag behaviour and if I were to encounter someone that overstepped my boundaries and/or exhibited red flag behaviour, I would know what to do.

    – Uh this is where I think I’ll have some trouble. Still have to get those boundaries up and be strong if people overstep them. Need further improvement and practise in this area.

    7. I know that sex and love are not the same thing.

    – yes to this one! I am quite capable of having sex with a man I don’t love and who doesn’t love me. Guess I need to work on that.

    8. I have a reasonable level of trust and am not controlled by my fears. In fact, I am actively working on addressing any issues that have previously affected me in relationships.

    – yep good with this one.

    9. I can mentally and emotionally cope with someone not reciprocating my interest or dates not working out.

    – definately. If someone rejects me I know it’s not because I’m somehow not good enough. I don’t need everyone to like me or want me just as I don’t like or want everyone else. God knows I’ve rejected enough men in my dating history to know it’s not personal.

    • MH says:


      Well I enjoyed seeing your confidence in your post.

      How long ago was any of your relationships?

      What did you do to get to where you are besides this site?

      How did you reprogram yourself?

      For me setting boundaries is not an issue I just hate that it has to get to that point. I for once want to experience a healthy situation so the final boudary doesn’t have to be walking away. I know I can take care of myself if a boundary has to be put in place. I don’t mind putting in boundaries in healthy situations too because that is what keeps things healthy. I have to do this now in order to maintain healthy friendships, I hate it at times but that is what helps me live a drama free life. Now for a drama free relationship wouldn’t that be great.

      • GTash says:

        Thanks MH,

        I have to say confident is the last attribute I would apply to myself lol. Most of the time I feel quite unsure and as though my life is out of my control. I’ll try to answer your questions as best as I can.

        How long ago was any of your relationships?
        – My most recent relationship history was a fling with a married man I work with who I was involved with from May 2010 to November 2010 albeit quite sporadically in the last 2 months or so. At first it was very intense when we were together and didn’t exist when we were apart (we live in different towns and he works in my town 9 days out of every 14).
        Prior to that I was with my ex partner for 7 years until I ended the relationship in April 2010 but we are still in contact and he lives on the other side of the country in our hometown.
        And currently I am again in a casual fling with another guy I work with (who is close friends with the ex MM). Yeah I know – what a tangled web we weave huh? LOL.

        What did you do to get to where you are besides this site?

        – I found this site quite helpful in regards to learning about boundaries, assclown behaviour etc etc and how to deal with loss and moving on. When the fling with MM ended I was at a loss for quite a while because we spent so much time together and it took a couple of months before I regained my confidence and got my mojo back. It did help that I had many guys say how gorgeous I am and how the hell was I still single etc etc so that was an ego boost. What also helped was that he ended it not because he didn’t find me attractive or desireable any more but because he didn’t want to hurt his family if we were found out. I also have two wonderful friends who gave me great advice and didn’t let me spend too much time alone to brood.
        I also read heaps of books about relationships and how men think (The Manual, Think like a Lady, Act like a Man, Women who Love too Much, etc etc) but it was only when I stopped reading these books and started reading good old crime fiction novels again that I started to move on. A good book, glass of wine and hot summer sun on my patio really helped as did getting out there and excersising and focussing on getting fit. Going to the pub with friends and flirting with guys with absolutely no intention of getting involved also helped boost my ego. Plus the guy I’m semi involved with now and I have been good friends for a while and flirting with him was also a great ego boost.
        (As you can see it’s all about my ego – gotta work on not needing validation from men in order to feel good about myself).

        How did you reprogram yourself?

        – I don’t know that I have reprogrammed myself. I just filled the time I used to spend with ex MM with other things – friends, socialising, spending time with people I care about and time on my own to reflect.

        I’m still the same person I was before the affair but I have learnt a lot from the experience which I am very grateful for. I learnt that short term pain does go away and that whatever guy I’m with is not the be-all and end-all at sex in the whole world and that I will meet other guys that I’m attracted to and who are attracted to me and who will treat me as I wish to be treated.

        Other things that helped me get over the affair were also lots of holidays and trips away and always having something to look forward to. I’m planning on an overseas holiday at the end of February and can’t wait then I’m relocating to a new city so men are the last thing on my mind right now (apart from all the gorgeous guys I’ll meet in my new city)! I now look back on that whole period after the break-up and it’s as though it is bathed in a lovely golden glow of happy memories – the holiday and trips away I took, the lovely new friend I made who was my life-saver etc etc. Yesterday I even thought fondly of the times I spent reading on my patio and thinking about him and the “relationship”. Plus, I look on that episode as a learning experience and certainly have no regrets – I would never go near a married man again no matter how tempting. I do have a tendency to think of men I’ve known as notches on the bedpost instead of failed relationships though so maybe that helped also.
        Nat’s saying “It is what it is” really rang a bell with me and I keep it in the forefront of my brain all the time now. Definately having supportive friends and a fatalistic attitude to life was the best remedy – I truly believe that if something is meant to be, it will be.

        BUT…I still don’t have any decent boundaries in place because I’m not looking for a relationship at this point in time. I am more aware of what I need to do when I am in that space thanks to Nat and this site though and when I do start meeting men and dating with the view of meeting someone special I will be on the lookout for red flags and behaviours that don’t sit well with me and dealing with them accordingly.

        Hope this all helps, feel free to ask me anything you like. I’ve been through it all at one time or other – been cheated on, cheated with, booty call, fiance, long term girlfriend, broken hearts and had mine broken in return.

        • MH says:


          Thanks for sharing.

          I have been doing many of the same things you listed and it has been a life saviour too.

          I went on many trips with other friends this last summer so that I would have new memories with them instead of him because that is what him and I always did, trips together.

          I broke it off with him right before summer on purpose so that I wouldn’t have summer memories with him. This last summer he was always trying to track me down and wanted to join me on my trips. He knew about my trips because they were planned when he was still in my life. The best part is this year has been that time where I use to spend with him but now I have done the year without him so next year will be no big deal. With Valentines coming up it is no big deal because I didn’t spend it with him last year. The next hurtle will be my birthday because I did spend it with him last year.

          I want to look into schooling and I want to work on certain skills first as one of my goals. I want to stick to my exercise program and concentrate on getting fit so I can enjoy more athletic activities. I need to read something besides psychology books. That is all I read is self help but I too need my own hobby.

          I know what you mean because now I look back at memories without him and enjoy them. I am enjoying my new friends and my old friends. New activities.

          Thanks again

  22. Amizade says:

    I am currently going through ‘men-on-pause’! My symptoms include: hot flushes…when I think of my exEUM
    memory loss…..forgetting reality by remembering only the ‘good times’ and not all the crappy things that happened in between
    mood swings….from sad to self blame to angry to resigned to hopeful
    anxiety…when I think of going through this again

    Yep, definitely a diagnosis of men-on-pause but I am embracing it as I know that when, and only when, these symptoms are ‘cured’ with a healthy dose of self love and a BS diet I will be ready to start dating again. : )

    • NML says:

      Genius comment Amizade! Thanks for the giggle too!

    • Nicole says:


      Love it!!!! Thanks for that very witty and very insightful way of putting it.

    • Miriam says:

      Love it! Me too!
      When I think of those bad times, I think “no thanks!!”

      • MH says:


        That was awesome, so true.

        Like Natalie says single isn’t that pain in the butt time between EUM”S and AC’s, it is the time to enjoy ourselves and put ourselves back together to later enjoy that healthy relationship.

  23. jennynic says:

    Here’s a good one. It’s good to question ourselves about whether we are ready to date, but sometimes, even when we are ready ,we get asked out by someone who isn’t ready. Example: A guy I know casually came up and talked to me the other day. He said he was going through a divorce and said he would never get married again in a million years. At the end of our conversation he asked me if I was seeing anyone and if I wanted to hang out. Amazing! It was like saying, I have nothing to offer you at all but baggage and bitterness, ….you up for it? Even if you are ready to date, watch out for those that aren’t and don’t even have a clue.

    • allie says:

      Yes whats up with that term “hang out” this EUM guys are using it instead of saying lets just shag. For me that hang out is even worst than FWB because you can’t count on nothing.

  24. Allison says:

    ” Amazing! It was like saying, I have nothing to offer you at all but baggage and bitterness, ….you up for it?”

    Love this! Guess he sees himself as a real catch :( Yikes!

  25. Nicole says:


    I know what you mean! I have chosen not to date for now to focus on my health, and because I am still not over the lingering issues with the ex-AC.

    But, not so long ago, I met a man divorced a few months (of course, he felt the need to clarify that he was separated before that, as if it adds time to it!). I told him the fact that he felt the need to pad that timeframe said something in itself. I also told him I have been there and know the difference. Separation is a state of limbo, because nothing is final yet.

    He also came on really strong, kinda like a game show host or used car salesman. Coming up to me, telling me he had two questions for me, and was I ready for the two questions. I felt like a contestant on Jeopardy, and a part of me felt like the massive red flag disguised a person, standing in front of me, quizzing me, would be a jeopardy to my mental well-being, if I were to go out with such a character.

    He basically asked his questions to figure out if I was single. Once he got that info, he pumped his fist in the air and yelled YES! I was like, “Hello, you didn’t even bother to find out if I was even interested or not!”

    I was working on a project for a few weeks, and this man and I were sometimes on the same schedule, so I had a nice, very blunt, talk with him.
    I say blunt because ignoring him didn’t work, and reprimands about his inappropriate comments didn’t help either.

    I was pleased with the way I handled it. Some family and friends advised me to try to get those in charge to change the schedule. I didn’t want to make it their problem, without trying to handle it first. Plus, it was only a few weeks, and I would not have to see him again. While the red flags were blatant, and there was absolutely no attraction on my part, it felt good to practice standing up for myself and my values.

  26. Sandra81 says:

    Excellent article, Natalie! I wish I could have read it about 5-6 years ago, when I was mourning the loss of a relationship that lasted for 3 months, but it took me 2 years to get over him. :-( Well, I was also younger and less wise… :-) Some people (myself included) believe that it would have been easier for me to get over him if during those 2 years I had met someone really worthy. And now, after all those years, as I can judge things objectively, I have to admit that in that interval of time I didn’t meet anyone really suitable… So, it wasn’t even a case of myself suffering so much that I couldn’t notice other good opportunities. Oh well, I guess everyone going through heartbreak should read this article! 😉

  27. Niki says:

    I doubt my judgment because I know that, in my interactions I either believe the guy won’t be interested or he’ll just waste my time. The other day I met a guy, we had a really good conversation, he asked me out, I waited for him to take my number and he eventually did. The next contact was a text he sent saying that he may call at a bad time so it’s best if I call him. Really? I thought the next, natural step after a woman accepts your invitation is you call a day or two later, ask if she’s up for dinner at such and such a place and get the ball rolling. Needless to say it’s been months, I’ve seen him a couple times and yet am doubting if I am the one to blame by not showing interest. Funny, but now I’m writing this, he hasn’t shown interest either :S

    I’m clearly not ready to date, based on this quiz. I have alot of negative thoughts about the possibility of having a ‘real’ relationship. Actually, I’ve convinced myself that it’s not going to happen and I’m trying to be okay with that fact, but I’m not. And interaction like the one I mentioned above just further seems to prove my point that, the people I meet can’t even make it step 2, further more a meaningful relationship. I’m tired trying and hoping, really. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  28. Harriet Bond says:

    Brilliant article, and one that has made me think a lot. As my own blog at says, I feel that in some ways embarking on internet dating is preparing me to be ready for a relationship. Reading your list has made me feel that I am working on all the right things, so am heading in the right direction, and I feel that my focus is shifting slowly, from (what it has been in the past two or three years) ‘Oh my God! Everyone I know is in a relationship… I need to find someone… NOW!’ to ‘What can I do to build a relationship with myself, to love and respect myself?’ Brilliant stuff, your blogs are so enriching and positive. Such a great voice for women out there who struggle with relationship and self-esteem issues.

  29. Lynn says:

    I went on my first real date / non-date yesterday since breaking up with my ex. I must not have it totally figured out as far as how to indicate I am just looking for friends without it sounding like code for something else. Maybe I am not looking for friends, but not actually trying to date, either? What do you call meeting people to learn more about meeting people and about myself? Anyway, both this person and myself had “looking for friends” on our profiles, so I thought, fine.

    Just before I headed out the door, I went back to his profile to make sure I remembered relevant details and brought up a page I’d missed, that indicated he was non-monogamous. Fine, I thought. This is just friends, so who cares if he’s monogamous or not?

    The meeting went fine, but he must have brought “alternative” sexual values into the conversation four or five times during a two-hour talk. He took it upon himself to tell me I looked better than the picture I have posted, as if to say, do yourself a favor, get a better picture. When he started talking about Cuba as “the second best place in the world for sex tourism” and “every woman there is a prostitute if you want her to be, you just have to bring make up, because they don’t have a lot of make up down there,” and this easy, available sexuality is “just their culture”, I gave him a the one-minute 411 that one of my main pet peeves is dudes from wealthy countries giving themselves a moral daypass to use disadvantaged women in other countries just because everyone in their own country does it, and began putting on my coat.

    Out on the street, he nonetheless asked me if I wanted to hang out the next night. And you know what I said??? Okay …. because I didn’t have the nerve to say no thanks to his face. I excused myself over email later.


    I’ve got to go back and figure out how I managed to connect, yet again, on the first try, with another dude who gives off the other-culture-girls-are-for-using vibe. Another guy who immediately wants to know “where I’m from” and won’t take Toronto for an answer, wants the ethnic breakdown, then proceeds to ignore what I tell him (I mention Caribbean culture, he makes references all night to Cuba and Venezuela and Bhangra music. Ugh). I think all the clues are there. I must just keep ignoring them.

    I’m starting to think this whole online dating thing is indeed bogus. But onward!!

  30. LMA says:

    I so wish I was ready to date again! Sadly I am not. It’s been a year since I dumped my last AC (4 years of misery) and 7 months since complete NC. I have a past riddled with abusive relationships and am terrified of repeating the same pattern (goes to #8 in the quiz). I decided to give myself some time to heal and work on my issues, and instead focus on my children and my career. Kids are thriving from the extra attention and things are going well at work. I’m still frustrated with my inability to put myself out there again; I keep telling myself I will ‘know’ when it is time. Um, right??? :(

  31. Lynn says:

    I met another new person today. I’m starting to feel like there is not much distinction to be made between the kind of person that makes sense as a friend and the kind it makes sense to date. This person was nice, open, and honest, physically attractive; his values around work and finances and around socializing are so different from mine, though, that in the end I decided not to pursue another meeting. I thought, well, I don’t care about the lack of *spark* — I’m comfortable speaking with this person, and *spark* usually means I feel nervous. But I have such different values than his, that I can’t see wanting to hang out and listen to and give fake nods to his enthuasiasms for things that actually I don’t see as fundamentally sound, so I didn’t even bother to offer the “let’s go out as friends.” Again, I found myself thanking him for the date and gathering my things to go. It’s a whole new me, making these kinds of decisions based on what feels right and on what feels like enough information.

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.