On Valentine’s Day, I channeled ‘old me’ to share Reflections: Knowing Your Own Love. This time I’m exploring wanting to be liked….


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I want you to like me because I want to like me too. If you like me, then I can see me through your eyes. You could show me who I am. With you I’d get to see my best bits and this void I walk around with would fill with happiness.

I want you to like me but I do wonder why I need this so much because it wasn’t so long ago that you didn’t exist in my life. Does it matter who you are?

I put a lot of effort into getting you to like me but if I’m honest, I’m not sure that I like you. Of course I’m not going to tell you this although I suspect that on some level you must know, otherwise you wouldn’t have pursued so relentlessly until I finally began to cave.

I feel as if I ‘should’ like you though because you like and want me. I need to ‘give back’. I feel guilty and so even though I’m not really that into you, I’ve become afraid of acting upon it because then, you wouldn’t be around to like me and then the hunger and ache would kick in and I’d have to find somebody else.

It’s not that I don’t have friends – quite the opposite – but I need the type of approval that I only get from someone who would truly have to love me in order to potentially be around me all of the time. That used to be family… it’s now people like you.

Now that you like me, I’m almost dependent on it. I like the feeling but sort of hate it too. What do you want with me? It’s so much pressure.

It doesn’t last long but your intensity is a huge confidence boost. It feels as if I could pretty much say anything and you’d think I was the bees knees. I end up convincing myself that I fancy you because you fancy me, so for a while, I fancy myself.

I take how you seem to feel about me and feed it to my starving self.

I just want to be liked. No I don’t; I want to be loved. I need to be loved. Is that going to be you? Is it? I really want it to be because then I could stop feeling this way – unlovable.

I know how this story ends though. I want you to like me because I want to like me too but in the end, neither of us will like me. It might be because you get tired of reassuring someone who seemed so self-assured at the outset, or it might just be because the novelty has worn off and my secret, the ‘real me’ has been exposed.

How wonderful it would be if things were different, but they won’t be so I do this dance because for a little while I enjoy the fantasy until the anxiety about you suddenly seeing who I am begins to creep in over the music and gets increasingly louder.

I know that I can ‘pull’… I just have a poor retention rate. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering, What’s wrong with me?

Now that I feel like this, I really do fancy you. I think I love you or at least it feels like this now that everything is so uncertain and I suspect or even know that you don’t really want me anymore. I felt the change. You’re not so enamored anymore. Now I want you. Now you’re inflated into The Best Person On Earth TM and my happiness supply. I convince myself that I can only be happy with you. I want it to be just like beginning.

I’ll be found out. I never really allow myself to relax or for anyone to get too close to me because like everyone, you’ll either leave or find something wrong with me and then treat me differently. I’ll be tarnished by the misstep of being me. I know this story; it’s been my life.

The secret will be out. To be fair, as the sands of time start trickling down, I become increasingly erratic anyway, and I go from being confident and optimistic (read: fantasising), to insecure with notes of desperation. When it’s all over, I cringe at how un-me I was and this behaviour, which is ironic because, well, I don’t like me anyway.

But I’m not sure that’s true. I don’t dislike me – I just hate the thoughts in my head.

The worst part is that I wanted you to like me but as usual, I didn’t really like you, yet I’m devastated that it’s over and that I failed again. What have I failed at though? Not getting the fake me liked because let’s be real, I spend so much time people pleasing that much as I may feel slighted by it not working out, they never got to know me anyway.

As the dust settles and if I’m truthful, a temporary calm kicks in from not having to perform or deal with the anxiety of being ‘found out’. I know that I did want you to like me but that whatever I ended up liking about you was really about my own potential. It was about how I saw myself with you… even if I was tempted to take a Sharpie to you… Really, this is about my own ego and it feels like a loss because the ‘better me’, the fantasy, is gone. I miss you because I miss who I hoped that I’d be.

Sometimes instead of being swept up by somebody that I don’t like, I admire somebody who gives me butterflies and activates this deep need for their love and approval. It has the familiarity of home, like little me wanting my father.

I do this dance many times.

The harder I try to be liked is the more that I hate me and I hit the bottom of bottom. I can’t do this anymore. I wonder, Am I really that bad?

What if I’m not who I think I am?

What if I’m different from my thoughts?

What if my interpretation is wrong? Oh how much time I will have wasted if I’ve judged me wrongly. I’d almost rather be right.

A lot of how I feel about me is my judgment or my interpretation of the judgments that I think others are making about me.

The thing is, whether people like me or love me, dislike me or hate me, whether I’m around family, friends, or lovers, the one thing that never changes is how I feel about me. I don’t like me anyway. That’s a problem and as I look back at my experiences, I realise that I’m the solution to my own problematic thoughts and attitude, and that’s actually a relief.

As long as I didn’t like me, any ‘ole person could come along and give me attention and it would look like a loaf because it was still appeared to be more than what I was giving me. When I started to feed me, crumbs looked like crumbs.

I want you to like me but I don’t need you to like me – I will survive and thrive anyway. Everything I ever wanted other people to be and do for me, I’m doing for me now because I realise that it’s this or be miserable.

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173 Responses to Reflections: Knowing Your Own Approval

  1. No One says:

    Second time commenting. Yeah. Ok… um… what if we try to be liked… and we’re GREAT people to be with on paper… yet, people always leave you in the end? You try, and you try to get things back to the way they were… and your efforts make things worse.

    What if all I will ever be is just a great friend on paper? A Trophy? Someone to use then lose when there is nothing left I can give?

    Like I said in a previous post, I lost what I thought was a great friendship in the course of a month. I’m still not sure what I did. I just thought that I could trust her… I just thought that I could try my hardest to make her happy and that we would go back to being friends again. But it was all a lie. The friendship never existed.

    • Butterfly says:

      How did you lose your friend? What exactly happened during this month. Does she know how you feel? It sounds to me like you need to talk to her. Maybe she’s feeling the same way. It could very likely be a misunderstanding. You won’t know unless you ask. What have you got to lose? Don’t torture yourself with “what ifs”.

      • No One says:

        I don’t think it would be fair to the person if I divulged any identifying details, but she knows how I feel. In fact, every time I try to talk to her, it’s like I drive her further away.

        I lost my friend because I acted badly in class, I think… it’s a silly reason, regardless. We’re both in grad school and she’s supposed to be the more mature one.

        I’m torturing myself with what ifs as in… what would have happened if I never cared about her as a friend? What would have happened if I never said “who honestly gives a f***?” in class… those things.

    • Revolution says:

      Hi No One,

      I replied to your comment from the last post before I saw you commented here also. Anyhow, grab a drink or possibly a sandwich before settling in and reading my other comment. Hope it helps in some way.

      Much love,

    • grace says:

      No One
      The power balance is out of whack if you were trying your hardest to make her happy. No one should be doing that for anyone.
      That in itself says this is an uhealthy relationship you would be better of without.
      If it’s a pattern, maybe you are getting too involved with people who are only after what they can get and have no interest in a genuine friendship. It doesn’t make you a bad person but it possibly makes you not very good at picking friends. Or maybe you try too hard, and it makes the other person feel awkward. Or, as Rev has said, she’s going through her own stuff that has nothing to do with you.
      That’s from this comment alone, there’s not a lot of background detail.

      • No One says:

        Yeah, I know. I’m good at everything else except picking friends. I’m wonderful at being an acquaintance, but… once I become too attached or say something out of turn, I become a people pleaser… doing anything and everything to get back on that person’s good side.

        • Wiser says:

          No One, I was once the person who did the disappearing act on a friend, and I’m sure she was bewildered about what happened. I handled the whole thing very badly, not because I’m a mean and vicious person who decided she wasn’t worth the effort, but I didn’t know better at the time how to interpret my own feelings. All I remember is that I was very uncomfortable around her, not because there was something “wrong” with her but just the opposite – she was so terrific, so accomplished, so successful that she pushed all my insecurity buttons. I didn’t process any of this consciously, I just remember feeling uncomfortable around her, decided that I really didn’t like her (read: I envied her) and that I wanted out of the friendship. Again, this was not about HER at all – this was my inability to face my own sense of inadequacy, and I just projected it onto her. I cringe now when I remember what I thought then, that she was annoying because she thought she was too good for everybody. This was how I justified leaving her in the lurch with no explanation. The truth was I envied her, and wasn’t mature enough to see that.

          Rev’s comment to you on the other thread was terrific. Sounds like there are two possibilities here – one is that it’s about what’s going on with HER, not you, and you have to let yourself off that hook. Two, something you did or said really pissed her off and she’s not mature enough to come to you and talk about it. Only you know what happened – did you do something so awful that it was a real friendship deal breaker? This seems unlikely. Or was it her inability to accept your normal human imperfections and understand that maybe you had a bad moment? A good friend tolerates and forgives those moments. I’ve had times when my best friend was so bitchy and unbearable I had to say “Look, I love you but I’m not going to let you dump your crap on me so I’m outta here. Call me when your tantrum is over.” And she knows I love her and wouldn’t break up our friendship over that. There might be things that WOULD break up our friendship, like outright cruelty, betrayal, lying, manipulation, any number of things.

          The bottom line is that friends come and go, people can leave you in a heartbeat -humans are fragile, unpredictable and wounded creatures who are dealing with stuff you have no clue about. Most of the time they don’t even grasp it themselves. So don’t give their actions so much power and importance. If you ground yourself in your own self-love and validation, their actions won’t have the power to devastate you. Yes, their rejection or loss of interest or going cold on you will still hurt and disappoint. But there is a big difference between being disappointed and being devastated.

          • No One says:

            I feel like that’s what’s going on right now. All my friend wants to talk to me about is my final project (that’s really doing well) and school… and how much time I have left until graduation.

            It’s like she’s counting down to the moment she doesn’t want to see me again. And it’s like… I have done so many great things. I’m not trying to brag… but it’s like, I’ve never had someone who can see past my accomplishments and just… be my friend. See me for who I am… instead of wanting to talk about the things I have done on paper.

            This doesn’t happen often… but when it does, I do the same things over and over. Different people, same situation. They leave, I jump hoops and try to repair any perceived damage.

            And you know what I got out of my “friend”? “I appreciate that.” She said it over and over, like she was a damn robot.

            I shouldn’t have even tried. I mean, I’m 15 years younger and not even in the same peer group. To be fair, I think it’s a combination of both things going on. I feel like I’m back in High School, honestly.

  2. Lisa D says:

    How did you start to feed you? What did you use as food?

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Lisa, I began to realise that having a relationship was nice, but that it wasn’t a magic bullet. In many ways I felt just the same (this time round, worse) than if I was on my own. I realised that I still after many years had not allowed myself to love and appreciate myself first. Natalie has great posts on ‘self-love first, then a relationship’. People had told me many times, but for some reason it just didn’t go in. I do have a faith in God, so I pray every day, which I find really helpful. I have also begun to do exercises from Positive Psychology which are really helpful, like write down three things at the end of every day that have been good in that day and why they were good. Hope that helps.

  3. Jenny says:

    Totally brilliant . . . I’ve just realised this again recently, at the end of another relationship, and at long, long last have started to love my own life and to think, yeah, Incredible Me!! Why wait for happiness until someone promises you a reflection of it? Why keep thinking, ‘If only . . .’? Savour every moment. Why cheat yourself? I’m happier than I’ve ever been in all my life. Reading BR over the last two years has set me on an amazing journey. There are certain things I repeat to myself from it every day!

  4. aquagirl45 says:

    This is EXACTLY what ALL of my dating relationships are like. FINALLY the words to express these feelings! This is powerful!

  5. Texas says:

    Wow…beautifully written. This column is too familiar, and dead-on accurate.

  6. Amy Bliss says:

    I really needed to read this today. They say the universe will present to you what you need to learn in its own time. Today was my time. I read this with tears streaming down my face. Your writing has been a great contributor to my healing. Thank you

    • amanda says:

      Its true. You read what you are ready to read. I started reading BR when I was still deep in denial about the unhealthiness of my friendship to the exMM, and when I was still in a place of blaming him for all of my unhappiness (for the person-sized hole within me). I read NML’s postings as affirmations of the AC-ness of these men, and skipped over the parts about taking responsibility for yourself. I’ve let the pendulum swing the other way, and have gone through periods of intense depression and self-hatred for being as damaged as I am, and for being the architect of patterns of bad relationships. Not that I felt lectured by BR, but it could sound like an externalization of my harsh inner critic. As I continue to (try to) grow and heal, I feel empowered with what I find here and with the messages I receive from the rest of my world. It takes time. Patience. Commitment. It will happen.

  7. Mercy says:

    I LOVE today’s blog. You described the “Me” I’m trying to change to a T. I swear reading your Fallback Girl book and reading your blogs have been a godsend. Thank you so much for all the time you dedicate to helping us Natalie

  8. Lacy says:

    I have it in my mind to learn to love myself but,I don’t know how to start.But I do know I don’t want to live in misery and anger. I’ve been more prayerful,practicing treating myself well,exercising,drinking more water,trying to be more close with my family and friends is also on the list.But I still have days when I feel empty and lost.I don’t know if I’m taking the right steps or maybe its just gone take time.

    • Lochy says:

      Hi Lacy, if you haven’t already done so, read Bonnie’s post below…it’s really helpful and seems to answer your question beautifully.

      I just wanted to add that I am more where you are then where Bonnie is so I understand your difficulty. I’m working on acting as if I care about myself, (a fake it til you make it strategy), with faith that moments of genuine contentment will happen incidentally. In the meantime, the empty and lost days are going to happen…so accept that but don’t dwell on it. If you need to, give yourself 5 minutes or just a fleeting moment to acknowledge the feeling…then, as best you can, you carry on with your ‘self-care’ programme of events.
      Good luck to you, and to me and to everyone else who has the courage to take the stabilisers off! :)

      • amanda says:

        “fake it til you make it” is a good strategy to at least try. At some point, after seeing how isolated I had become in my fantasy relationship, I had to make a conscious effort to reach back out to my friends. I felt like a huge faker. I made dates with them, did things with and for them, but the entire time, I was thinking about the exMM. I knew that if he asked me to do anything, I would ditch my friends in a heartbeat. But, by reaching out, even if it felt insincere, I was investing in real connections. Shortly after the beginning of the New Year, I awoke, realizing that I really did care for and value these real friendships over the fantasy. I can’t tell you how great it feels to experience the INTEGRITY of having my thoughts, words, and actions all line up. I am beginning to feel… available… once again. First as a friend, hopefully, down the line, as a romantic-partner. Yes. You have to start with behavior, even if it feels like you are on the stage of the lousiest Dinner Theater spectacle ever. (Just make sure that you are in a place where you aren’t going to be a flake).

    • Kit-Kat says:

      Lacy… We all have days when we wonder if what we are doing is really working. You have to have faith in the process. You will have great days and make great strides & then you will have days when you feel like your backsliding. Its OK..Just keep doing what your doing. To have the knowledge that we get from this blog gives us a great starting point. I read prev post Nat has written on any given subject when something is bothering me. I feel so much better after reading them. Stay the course.

  9. c says:

    Natalie, I have been reading your blog for quite some time, I have read your book, and I love it. You have been such a huge help to me in some of my darkest times, and really helped me claw my way out of some scary emotional holes.

    But this is the first time I’ve ever posted any type of response on your blog. It really hit home with me. THIS hits it on the head. With relationships with guys, with relationships with family, friends, and career. This post, very precisely, outlines what has been going on in my head for many, many years, since childhood. I’m not sure why, but it’s such a relief to have someone else, very succinctly, pinpoint and verbalize it.

    You know, the funny thing is, that people don’t see me this way? They have no idea that all of this is going on in my head. They see- hard worker, great mom, doing it all by herself, so strong and inspirational(!) (my son’s father died in a car accident when my son was 4 months old, he’s almost 12 now). I’m the one people come to for relationship advice, for help, for “GIRL you got this” support, makeovers and wine and silly music when they’re down, just goofy good fun. I am always smiling and a huge goofball, but I am scared and doubting myself all of the time, I know I make the right decisions in terms of getting rid of guys that are bad news, but I doubt myself and analyze. For months. Years. And I really, really miss some of them.

    And then so much is tied up in- our home is so happy! Just the two of us. I don’t want some fuckhead coming in here and making it complicated. I want a nice, happy, safe home for my son, and anybody I invite to join our family has to be nice, happy, and safe. And then there’s- holy crap, I really want another baby and I only have a couple of years left! Maybe I should just have a baby with a jerk and hope for the best? I’ve done it by myself for this long? My son wants a sibling so badly.

    Sorry for rambling. I guess it’s been building up for a couple of years. :o)

  10. Maria says:

    This is such wisdom… it’s so true in every respect, I experience this every day, and I try as hard as I can to move forward and out of this warped thinking, but obviously the depth of my self hatred, the depth of me needing to be loved so that I can love and approve of myself, because I need others to see the potential in me, before I can see the potential in myself… thanks again Nat for a timely post ….

  11. yoshizzle says:

    this is one of the best ones i’ve read in all these years.
    the inner dialogue seemed to flip …first two paragraphs would be me, second two would be him…and it seemingly flipped through out the article. Since a recent fling and I gravitated toward each other for the reasons listed in this post. lol. Interesting and bang on.

    • Tabitha says:

      Yoshizzle it was just the same for me reading this, some of it was my dialogue and some his. He is the empty one and I am the fantasist. What really hit for me today was where Nat points out that it isn’t really HIM that I miss, but the version of myself I allowed to come to the fore. I became more confident, cos I had this “great/sexy” man lusting after me. I felt like a Goddess and I started walking with a spring in my step. I have tried hard to cling on to that version of myself but it is hard without him.
      What I didn’t like so much was the version of me that turned into a doormat trying to make him like me again like he did at the beginning, you know, when I wasn’t all that bothered really *big sigh*.
      I was going to be this fantastic woman with him, and I just have to believe that I can still be that fantastic woman without him. If this relationshit leaves me with a better sense of myself and the person I can be then maybe, just maybe, all the pain and anguish was worth it. I do hate him some days though. I like to think of him with his hair falling out in clumps and his varicose vein throbbing and his arthritis playing up, and him being rejected by the girls he asks out. When I am tempted to break NC I remind myself that one of the beautys of NC is that I can imagine all this shitty life for him without fear of contradiction :)

    • dahlia says:

      i felt the same way! i;m glad i wasn’t the only one thinking this..

  12. Amy says:

    Oh life becomes SO MUCH BETTER when we stop feeding that craving to be liked by others and just start accepting and LIKING ourselves – warts and all!
    Another brilliant post!! I sat here nodding my head the whole time.
    I remember a very specific “push me / pull me” relationship I had many many years ago. He was a dear friend, treated me with respect and affection, he was a good guy. We were platonic friends for months before we started dating. I could never wrap my head around WHY he liked me so much. After dating for a few months, there came time for me to move back to my home town (because I missed my family). We tried long-distance dating, and then he asked me if I wanted him to move to live near me so we could be together.
    I told him no. Why? Because I was afraid that it would end, and then I would somehow be “responsible” for ruining his life, etc. etc. All sorts of excuses that didn’t make any sense other than it all pointed to my fear.
    That decision still haunts me to this day because he really was a nice guy – I was just wasn’t emotionally healthy.

    It took another 20 years of swimming around in the dating shark pool (including several long-term relationships) before I realized that the thing that had to change was ME.

    Now, at 47 I realize that finding a partner is not like walking down to the market when I’m starving, and grabbing the first thing my eyes see on the shelf.

    Oh look! it’s canned pickled pigs feet and it’s on CLEARANCE!
    (um… you’re a vegetarian, remember? and you never liked pigs feet)
    Right! BAD IDEA!

    Seriously though, it’s amazing what better decisions you make when you like yourself outside of being in a “relationship”. Even if you can “like” your personality, your sense of humor, your intelligence, start small.

    I can’t even begin to explain how much stress and drama it saves because you’re able to spot all sorts of unhealthy behavior warning signs (from others, and within yourself) right from the start.

  13. BriA says:

    This post describes me & my situation(s) perfectly. It almost brought me to tears. I know that I have extremely low self esteem and it has led me to make the same, stupid decisions over & over (insanity, I know).

    “I know that I can ‘pull’… I just have a poor retention rate. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering, What’s wrong with me?”—This is exactly how I feel. I have even begun to describe myself as the “gas station” that people stop at midway through their journey. They fill up, then off they go to their real destination.

  14. McKenzieM says:

    I love this post. I was totally that girl, but now that I’ve gone NC, I’ve been working on myself. Now, over five weeks into NC(!) I can see the changes in myself; I’m becoming a better, happier, more fulfilled person. I’m really liking the person I’m becoming. :)

    • Poppy says:

      I’m just over 4 weeks NC. I have reasonably good and very bad days after an on off relationship for too long. I have no idea who I am and at the same time I’m not sure I did before I met him. How are you doing this MM? How are you going about loving yourself more?

      Sometimes, I have a conversation with someone and we can talk for hours and they only have to say one thing inspirational that can change my whole outlook on something.

      I had a terrible time being emotionally attached to things, silly things like an item of clothing, food, jewellery etc that reminded me of someone or something that has hurt me. I then, couldn’t eat it, wear it and it wound me up. The point I’m making is I have stopped this now after reading a post by Natalie about her wedding dress. The one liner that has changed my thoughts on this was ‘I’m not going to let a dress have that much power over me! It’s just a dress’.

      Does this make sense? You seem to be doing so well and that is so brilliant when you go through stuff like we, as readers have.


  15. stacey allam says:

    this is when you think when you ask yourself why do i love him and cant think of an answer but because he loves me something that i realized many years ago

  16. Louise says:

    Great article and I see myself so clearly in there. In fact, I could have written that. I have a happy life and really love my single life, although I would dearly love to meet the right person. When someone comes along I do behave just like that, thinking well at least someone likes me. Gives me a lot to think about. Thank you so very much.

  17. Mary says:

    For the first time after reading article after article for hours and hours on this website, I can’t relate. For the first time, I can’t relate which I’m assuming I love me and dont have any daddy issues.
    If I love me, why am I with an EU Assclown and finding 3 weeks of NC so so unbelievably painful.
    Thank you for all being here. I feel safe here.

  18. Ellensue says:

    All I can say is oh…my…god. So profound.

  19. Peanut says:

    It really does come down to learn to like and love yourself or be miserable. It’s this way for everyone. We’re not so different.

  20. Fifi says:

    At first I thought this post applied to me, but then realized after reflecton it didn’t, but there is something there in that I am using ‘being liked’ for something other than enjoying people’s company, so that part does resonate:

    I don’t at all need to be liked to like me, BUT, I need not to be actively disliked i.e. I want to remain on just good enough terms with people to be able to slip-slide through my days without really engaging. I don’t actually care if they like me. I think there’s a wee problem there too.

    Maybe today will go out and court dislike as a test…not by being obnoxious, but by saying the things I really feel and think about

  21. Jenny K says:

    This is my all-time, favorite post. Amazing and oh, so very honest. Thank you.

  22. Samantha says:

    Natalie, your posts are so helpful to me. You put into words all the feelings that are swimming around in me and you make it clear. It is also such a comfort to read everyone’s comments after each post and know i’m not the only one who feels this way. Thank you everyone for sharing. Sam x

  23. wizzy says:

    Sad, but true. This is my mind in a nutshell, this is how I think, how I behave, how my relationships with the world go. I am trying to change it, but I have this profound sense of inferiority and inadequacy that I am not overcoming so far. Its like my poor beliefs in myself are unquestionable, true, and real, even though I read and learn that they are not. It’s like an insurmountable wall. How to stop believing what I believe is somewhat of a conundrum…

    • paolo says:

      wizzy I know how you feel..I have read and re read many positive things about self esteem, but the bad things somehow seem ‘more real’ than the good when it comes to me.. BR helps alot but it’s something i have to read every single day or i’ll relapse back into negative self bashing again..I think its probably an active life time activity to remind ourselves to be kind and nurturing to ourselves…I grew up being told i was stupid and hit alot by my father. Sometimes things get deeply intrenched.

  24. Tami says:

    Amen, I felt like you were writing my life out loud

  25. Starbelly says:

    ” I enjoy the fantasy until the anxiety about you suddenly seeing who I am begins to creep in over the music and gets increasingly louder”- in fact, that was the worry that my ex Mr Unavailable expressed. “I will never consider myself as good as you think I am” – this is what he told me in the moment of weakness. I am not going to excuse him- that’s an old stroy btw. Anyway, I guess that the wall he built around hmself , the wall which made it impossible for us to establish a decent relationship, was a side effect of his insecurities and his worry to get “uncovered”… seems we have so much in common with Mr Unavailables..

  26. Jaycee says:

    This is spot on.. And so timely because I broke NC last night and am trying desperately not to get back into a spiral where I end up acting and looking desperate. 

    I know I can ‘pull’ because I have had lots of men from my past contact me in the last few weeks. One is married, one is in Afghanistan, one has just split with his fiancé, one is several hundred miles away, one I dated 2 years ago it went nowhere and I now discover he was with someone. I need to go NC on them too because i am worth more than dishing out an ego boost but how do you do that without appearing rude? And seriously where do I meet (not necessarily attract) emotionally available men? I seem to take one step forward with regard loving myself and 10 steps back when I get involved with the wrong person. But I’m 29 and have spent most of my life single so I don’t like the idea of ruling out dating altogether until my esteem is fully in tow.

  27. Jaycee says:

    And I just want to say what an excellent article Natalie. Unfortunately so accurate it hurts. But the point about the version of myself I like coming to the core – this is so true and what I need to focus on most.

  28. RachelC says:

    I’m all about instant results. Ive been having a “casual fling” with a guy I work with and see every day for over a year. He says he likes me but doesn’t want a girlfriend. I think it’s because of my weight ( I’m a very big lady) and he has also said in the past he would deny to his friends that he was sleeping with me but looks at other girls and said he would date them.
    Slowly very slowly I am seeing the light. If this was any one but a man I would have kicked them to the curb by now. I want him to be in love with me so much but yet I can’t love myself to tell him to do one.
    BR is helping more than I can tell you slowly but surley I’m beginning to realise that I won’t just wake up the next morning and be over him. It will take time.

    Thank you Natalie :)

    • Allison says:


      This man is using you, and is embarrassed to be associated with you. Even more cruel, is that he tells you about other girls, and that he would never date you. This is terrible, but you’re allowing it!

      Please leave this situation, and find someone who will appreciate you and your size. This situation is masochistic!

      • paolo says:

        Rachel….What Alison said, plus, this guy is a major league asshole and sounds extremely immature.

    • Natasha says:

      Rachel, my dear, this dude is really awful. I don’t usually judge people I’ve never met so harshly, but HOT DAMN…he sucks. Not another word about your weight, because:


      I mean, she’s the hottest thing going, am I right?! (I totally am.) So glad you’ve vowed to ditch this guy!

  29. Munchkins says:

    This is scary. I read this thinking “I never knew other people felt this way too”. I’ve always had this idea in my head that I’m unlovable, that once someone gets to know the real me they’ll run. So either I run first or I hold on too tight to someone that (upon serious reflection) I don’t really like. I just seek approval. It’s so messed up, I wish I knew how to fix it.

  30. Heather Lou says:

    THANK YOU NATHALIE. You have no idea how timely and relevant and validating and affirming this is for me right now. You really are amazing at making me realize that the shit I am going through and hating myself for is pretty universal….

  31. Poppy says:

    Me too Munchkins. Me too. I wish the pain would go away. Not just from relationship breakdowns but the general pain of feeling.

    I did something this morning which was a silly mistake. In my head I said to myself ‘ugh I’m so thick’. As soon as I thought it I stopped myself and thought I’m a hypocrite. I used to get so offended and hurt when my ex called me similar if not the same name and here I am telling me I’m thick. Destructive thoughts can be changed its just so darn hard.

  32. clarathea says:

    Soooo me! Soooo wish it weren’t.

  33. Discarded says:

    Does anyone know why my ex bpd/narc keeps sending weird messages every 2 to 3 weeks? There either nasty/nice or both, be nice and put a dig in. Latest one is ‘I’m so stubborn not speaking and need to grow up’
    Haha, how funny. Broke my heart, discarded me, future faked me etc etc etc
    I’ve blocked him now (cos didn’t realize he could send a message) But what’s the ‘game’
    It’s all so confusing

    • Little Star says:

      Discarded, your AC probably checking you out and he cant believe you are strong and ignoring him, he will be even more furious – you blocked him!
      My ex AC sent me email yesterday, just link to something I might be interested. Why cant he just delete my email from his contacts?! His emails go straight to junk section, he can see that his emails delivered and I am in control and totally ignoring them:) LET THEM SUFFER AS WE DID!

      • Discarded says:

        Ah yes, when he see’s I’ve blocked him. I’m either expecting him to go CRAZY or finally leave me alone.
        Was sent to FB. He been deleted for 8 weeks, and didn’t realize he could send a message (FB changed that)

        • Tabitha says:

          Discarded, if you have properly blocked him then you will not know if he goes crazy (other than doorstepping you or snail mail)
          You can just imagine his make believe anguish instead. Much more satisfactory than the truth, which is probably that he will shrug, and roll through his phone/email contacts for someone else to get supply from.

      • Allison says:

        Little Star,

        Why haven’t you blocked this guy?

        • Little Star says:

          Allison, I blocked him everywhere, but not email…Maybe it is childish, but I want him to see that I received his emails, but INTENTIONALLY do not answer them! I want him to learn a “lesson”:)

          • Allison says:


            He isn’t suffering, but you’re making an active decision to stay attached. Be honest.

            Do you really think he’s suffering? If he were suffering, he’d be on your doorstep, not sending links.

            Girl, time to let go!

      • sushi says:

        Little Star,
        they are actually not suffering at all, is the harsh truth. They are just somewhat annoyed that we are not arranged as a doormat under their pedestal making them feel really special, and then they get busy going about their AC business.
        Another harsh truth is that until we cut ourselves off( save kids together, work ect) from being able to know if they tried contacting us or not, we are IN contact, except they don`t know it. Essentially we are making it (even) easier for them to move on while we are still stuck.
        I did this for a looong time, I ended up EXPECTING some stupid text after alloted amount of time ( he was regular- every 10 to 12 weeks), then got wound up and proceeded to re-hash the relationship, brake up, the wrongs, the rights. I wouldn`t change my phone number as I would be cutting off work contacts of 15 years which would be silly of me but I was secretly glad,that last bearly there thread connecting me to him was still there and I was holding on for dear life.
        I did eventually try to get his number blocked and even changed my phone provider, who would not block specific numbers either and I just, as a symbolic act, for me, deleted his number from my phone ( I was telling myself I need to keep it so I know not to answer if he calls, yeah..) That felt like I was pulling my arm off, goodbye arm :) but it did the job. NC is mostly in our heads.He still texted but I wasn`t waiting for it anymore and didn`t dwell.It was a true ” frankly my dear I don`t give a shit”.

        • Little Star says:

          Thank you Allison and Sushi, you are both right, I should blocked ex AC:( Yes, I still involved even if I am not answering his messages, what is wrong with me?!

          • Lilly says:

            Little Star,

            You are not alone. I’ve cut off all possible avenues of contact with the exAC, (accept address), but sometimes I still secretly hope that he will try to contact me via snail mail; the only avenue left. I’m trying hard not to want this, but it’s difficult.

            • Lilly says:

              I have now officially gone mad! I’ve had some time to think about what I wrote earlier today and now I’ve completely changed my mind. I’m glad,in fact,ecstatic that the AC hasn’t contacted me. I just reread his last email and it enraged me. When is this roller coaster of emotions going to end!

              • jewells says:

                Good step Lilly, anger means that you are seeing the reality of him and the situation for what it is – offensive, demoralizing and soul sucking. What’s not to be angry about? I’m nearing 6 months and at the point of a pretty even keele about my whole shenangles. I’m hoping one day to reach compassion for him, but that’s a goal for future, no pressure to land there yet 😉

              • Little Star says:

                Lilly honey, you are not mad! You are lovely, faithful and caring person, you were just unlucky to meet this married AC who was bad to you:( Lets keep strong and distance with our ACs, we deserve so much better!!!

                • Lilly says:

                  Jewells & Little Star,

                  Thank you for your reassurance. Reality is not a pretty picture is it – I not only allowed him to treat me that way, but also went back for more (maniacal laughing now!). jewells – I often find myself feeling compassion for him and have to literally stop myself. That is a dangerous word in my vocabulary right now I think I’ll stick with anger for a while. Perhaps later, much later! Congrats on nearly six months; you give me hope that I won’t always be on shaky ground. Little Star thank you so much for your kindness. One day soon we really won’t care anymore. Indifference here we come!

              • selkie says:

                Ha, Lilly. I went through those stages during NC with an AC. When we have those moments of ‘what was I thinking missing him?’ it makes the NC worth it. The longer your NC, the less you flip flop in your mind and it gradually levels out to being not something you don’t even think about very much. NC is the fastest way, at least for me, to get back on with my own life and move on. It doesn’t happen overnight but it does happen. Your doing good girl!

                • Lilly says:

                  Thank you selkie. It took me a while to trust the process, but I know that this is the best thing I have ever done for myself. It’s painful, but if I’m honest no more painful than actual contact with him. I will be celebrating 4 weeks NC on Wednesday and I’ve set myself a task not to think about him for the whole day. It’s difficult because I think about my baby every day, but I’m learning to separate the two. I really bless the day that I found BR and you wonderful ladies (and gents).

    • jewells says:

      He’s fishing. I had an exEUM occasionally send me a tragically poetic piece of prose of some description every once in a while. Most likely while he was drunk and maudling (he was the tragic misunderstood artist who drank too much and couldn’t get his sh*t together type). Ignore it.

      • Discarded says:

        Have been ignoring it, just starting to annoy me quite a bit. Think I’m rid of him and then there he is. Giving me abuse/or being nice. Twice because of drunk messages. And one sober ‘accident text’

    • FX says:

      Discarded, If he’s a narc, he’s hoovering… There are posts here about what he’s doing and you may also want to educate yourself about NPD behaviors at lisaescott.com. Are you NC with the twit? If not, you should be! There’s plenty on this and the other site about how to do that properly, too.

      Now, back to NML’s scheduled programming…!

      • Discarded says:

        I’m VERY NC with the twit. Have been since he made it clear it was over and I had to ‘let go’ But only only who hasn’t let go is him. Quite ironic really. Ah I have read that site and many others, just was wondering if others been getting it to? As I don’t think he regrets it or want’s me back? Think he’s trying to make himself be the victim. Which is laughable really.
        Just not sure what the hell he is doing?

    • Tabitha says:

      Discarded, if he is a narc then he wants to come back to finish you off. He is low on other supply and thinks he can go another round with you. Your feelings and needs don’t enter into it. It is all about him and what he can get from you. Could be anything. Attention/ego stroking/sex/money/just someone to make him feel normal.
      It will all end exactly as it did last time though. Actually, sorry, no, it will be even worse if you let him back, even as “a friend.” Cos this time he will know he can treat you any way he likes and you will take it. Sound attractive?

      • Discarded says:

        Not attractive at all. This was his second chance from years ago (long history) It’s been 8 weeks now. Just sick of the ‘games’
        So waiting on either a nice load of abuse (when see’s I’ve blocked him) or it will finally go quiet and I wont hear another peep. And I can heal and get over him properly
        I will soon find out…..

        • paolo says:

          Tabitha is right Discarded..I know this because as difficult and as painfull as it might be for me to type this…The guy sending you e mails sounds alot like how i was when i split with my ex..One nice e mail, then a nasty one, all an attemt to manipulate contact from her…Pains me to read Tabithas description of a ‘narc’ because im starting to suspect that i might have been in the past…Although i hope its not just another way to crap on my own self esteeem again.

          • Tabitha says:

            Paulo having narcissistic personality disorder is permanent and affects every part of your life. It means, amongst other things, that you have no empathy for other people and see others as a means of benefiting yourself and your own ends. Narcs need huge amounts of attention (supply) and react really badly to any kind of criticism. The mere fact you are questioning yourself thinking you may have this disorder means you probably don’t. If you are worried though just google it and see if all the symptoms fit.
            More likely you have just spent time in your life, as I have, when you were emotionally unavailable.

            • paolo says:

              Tabitha, Yes, i can’t say i have those characteristics in my personality but i do think i haven’t given myself enough time to get over EU ex’s in the past which have caused me to have pleanty in common with more EU women…I’m giving myself a good time out and pleanty of Baggage Reclaim this time round though…I feel lately like i’m waking up from a massive slumber.

      • FX says:

        Yep, you nailed that one Tabitha!

      • sushi says:

        Oh, that is so fitting to some of my break ups.Wonder now if asslowns follow the same pattern, if not really it`s a bit scary to think that I was involved mostly with narcs. Dear Lord.

  34. oc says:

    I’ve found that the only real motivator for positive change in my life in the absence of a relationship is pride and the anger I feel after being abandoned.

    In every relationship I’ve had, both partners have had self-worth issues. I have always been the co-dependent one.

    I hope that someday I will be able to function without my anger, because when I angry my boundaries are like barbed wire lining a land mine field, nobody’s getting through to me. Typically, when I “fall in love” I relax, let myself go, and I am happy for the first time. I’m starting to understand that is WHY it falls apart.

    In your late 30’s, most single people are coming to the dating table heavily armed, with thier finger on the button. I never wanted to be one of them. Now I feel there’s no alternative so I’m just going to go to work, go to the gym, and be alone. Not very fun but the alternative to me is worse.

    At least my anger will push me forward. In its absence I am vunerable and taken advantage of.

  35. NCC says:

    I am not even done reading this post yet and I am crying. This IS ME. Natalie I’ve recommended this blog to my mom and sister because I pretty much think EVERY person should read here. This post I will especially ask them to read as they often don’t get where I’m coming from. Even though they are quite similar to me in my relationship patterns, both my sister and I having seen and learned what “love” looked like from our parent’s unhealthy example, we are especially similar. Our relationships issues are quite similar, but because they look very different on the surface, my sister often protests that we are anything alike. I was hit harder I feel with the low self esteem than she, and I think that has a lot to do with it to. Or, we both have low self esteem but it manifests in very different ways.

  36. EUM Roberto says:

    The first few paragraphs describes me pretty good.

    What would you all tell a woman about still having sex with her narc ex husband because she wants to believe that he’s changed after the divorce, that he no longer is abusive.

    This is my problem, i still have sex with exwife, because i still hope that she has/will change and now that we don’t live together i can just walk when she behaves abusive. It’s already happened couple times where she acts up and just me getting up to leave will get her to snap out of it and she stops. Her fear of abandment will overwrite her raging.

    Did any of you have sex with ex husbands?

    • selkie says:


      In one of your last posts you said your new gf and you were slowly learning to trust each other as you both have had a history of being mistreated. You describe yourself as the white night kind of guy. You then describe your ex wife as abusive and how you’ve managed to ‘manage her’ using her fear of abandonment. You are sleeping with her and the gf on the same day. These dynamics and this triangle of interactions sounds unhealthy to all three of you and probably very harmful to the new gf who is ironically ‘learning to trust’. You sound like you struggle with some of the issues we all do here but you are being reckless with other people right now, not just yourself. It’s not fair to them and you won’t learn healthy love and respect for yourself until you start living it. On one hand I feel for you because you admit you have problems but on the other hand, you kind of piss me off because many of us here are victims of exactly the way you are behaving right now. I am sorry for that and I do mean it in the most constructive way. Please stop hurting people, stop dating and having sex until you can respect them and you.

    • simple pleasures says:

      eumroberto, from my take, your interaction with exwife, and possibly girlfriend is about power, control, and your egos. I read nothing about caring for another person, trusting another person, thinking about another person’s needs and welfare. Of all the posts I have read here for over a year, I find yours the most disturbing. You have labelled yourself a narcissicist. If so, emotional intimacy with another will elude you without serious therapy and change.

      • Mymble says:

        Simple pleasures
        I also found these posts disturbing and weird but refrained from commenting. I think you have expressed it perfectly.

        • Mymble says:

          I also feel that they are all about EUM Roberto announcing who he is having sex with, nothing more. That doesn’t seem to me much of an achievement.

      • paolo says:

        I agree with Simple Pleasures post on this..EUMRoberto I think you should seek one on one therapy…I see nothing nurturing in your posts either, but alot of ego.

    • Tanzanite says:

      @ EUM Roberto.

      I don’t.We are in contact because of our youngest son and are getting along better and he probably would if he could get away with it.

    • runnergirl says:

      EUM Roberto, I am sorry for your ex-wife, your current g/f and for you. The fact that you are stringing two women along, having sex with both is a giant red flag FOR YOU. Your description of where you “just walk when she behaves abusive” made me cringe. Then she snaps out of it when you threaten to abandon her? This is a scary dynamic. CONTROL jumps immediately to my mind. Then you ask if we had sex with exH’s. CONTROL immediately jumps to my mind. As though it is about sex? I really do appreciate your comments. They so reinforce everything Natalie says. I feel very sorry for your exwife, your current g/f and for you.
      It’s NOT.ABOUT.SEX.

  37. Phy says:

    Good lord… I’m a guy, but this mostly describes me too. Not liking myself and scrambling to please the woman, make her like me so I’m likeable. I’m almost 4 months out of an 11 year on-and-off relationship with a woman I desperately tried to please. I could for periods of time but I’d break up with her. She’d always take me back (she could benefit from reading this too) and we’d start again. Now I’m empty and trying to take care of myself. Wow.

  38. Munchkins says:

    It’s tough. I guess all you can do I try figure out where these beliefs about yourself come from. I know mine come from my dad and the demoralizing things he says to me on a daily basis. It took me a while to realize that what he says isn’t true. Logically I know it’s not true, but for some reason it takes a while to actually believe that. And I guess in terms of the inner critic it’s best just to tell it to stfu and stop stealing your shine.

    • Tabitha says:

      Munchkins you can go NC with family too you know!

      • paolo says:

        I go NC with my dad for months and months and when i see him its maybe for an hour..It’s all i can handle.

        • jewells says:

          I NC’d my whole immediate family for years to get a grip on myself. I’ve only just recently contacted my mother, working up to father and brother. I’m pretty sure my father is a narc, has zero empathy and understanding of others perspectives, also depressive and feels sorry for himself and the state of his life – which is fine by the way, he’s got a new wife and tons of money, but nothing is ever good enough. I had to detach, mourn the loss of the father I wished I had, so I am workking towards contact to establish ‘something’ of a relationship that may be possible. But I will NC again if it is hurting me.

          • paolo says:

            Jewells I suspect my dad is a narc too. For as long as i can remember, nothing is ever good enough.

            • jewells says:

              I suppose this is the source of our people pleasing – feeling never good enough so trying to secure love and acceptance through any means even if it crosses our own boundaries. Ugh. Then when we do ‘secure’ it we feel that there is no way it is true or will stay so we fear the ‘abandonment’ that confirms that indeed we will never be good enough…

  39. Bonnie says:

    This is one of your most brilliant posts, writing in the first person really makes your message relatable and I am sure this resonates with women from all cultures and ages. Someone asked, “when you started feeding yourself, what did you use as food?”, if I may answer, as I have travelled down this path and healed old wounds and come through the other side to recognize and participate in a healthy, joyful, loving, relationship that I never thought possible, and never could have sustained until I learned how to “feed myself”. The nourishment is Self-Care, self-compassion, to begin genuinely taking care of yourself like you would a beloved friend. I would ask myself in difficult situations, “if I were my best friend, how would I treat her, how would I handle this for her? How would I support her, or speak up for her?”, then I started testing myself like my own best friend, with care, love, empathy and trust: self-trust, requires a willingness to pay attention to your true desires, needs, preferences, and to honor them, defend them, as the most important priority in your life. Then you will begin creating a world that honors you, and reflects what is meaningful in your life, not a world that only serves to gain approval from others at the expense of your joy. This requires the courage to set boundaries, remembering that saying “no” to someone else usually means saying “yes” to yourself, and the harder it is to say no, the more important that “no” probably is.

  40. Brighterside says:

    Spot on Natalie. Everything becomes so much clearer when we accept who we are (the good & bad) and stop people pleasing. It started for me younger than I can even remember & only started to change for me in the last year through reading your posts & really desiring to change! At the outset I thought the journey was only about my romantic relationships with men and realized (finally) it was about all my relationships! My life has been changing in such a positive way – You just have no idea. Putting boundaries in place with family & friends is finally something I have been doing & even though it has been so hard it has been so worth it because I am a better me than I ever thought I could possibly be. I have needs too & I am no longer afraid to voice them. Thank you could never cover it.

  41. espresso says:

    IN answer to the question about having sex with exes. I think it is pretty common but very very unhealthy and is a huge boundary issue.

    Case in point – After I ended my relationship with my husband of many years about 14 months ago we have stayed in contact. We have a business together, adult kids and lots of arrangements we are sorting out. Anyway, my ex has poor boundaries, very little self-respect and not a clue about me even though I was expressing myself very emotionally all through the marriage and in therapy. He never listened and always “forgot” things. His memory problems were remarkable. After really really hurting me in a stunning way last summer with another women met quickly on an airplane (after he said he was just going to work on himself and cared deeply about having a fine and respectful relationship with me)he was all keen to have sex with me after I expressed my absolute disbelief that he would put me in this position. He thought it would make everything “all right” even though it was a total and stunning misreading of me and what had happened. And basically ignoring the fact that sex had been one of our biggest problems – not from my side but from his ignorance and fear. It actually makes me sick to think he could be so far off base and always had been. Sick about me too.
    Anyway, just to say that having sex after a breakup speaks to me of having no boundaries and no self-respect. In my case, I knew it was so wrong and inappropriate and he didn’t have a clue. What does that say? To me it says that he didn’t understand me as a person, what affected me, what my beliefs were and that I could never trust him -ever. Oh and that he had no boundaries.

  42. Catesha says:

    This made me cry..because it is so the truth about me. I never would have found this post if an AC hadn’t dumped me. I am blessed to see i am not alone thinking the these crazy things about myself

  43. dahlia says:

    while i definitely found this post as a poignant example of myself… some parts made me think of my exEUM. i couldn’t help but to think that he, too, was just hanging on to someone that he wasn’t really that into but was afraid of abandonment. i wonder sometimes if i’m the EUW and he’s just the sorry victim. :/

    anyone else feel the same?

    • paolo says:

      Yes dahlia..I have wondered that too about myself and my EU ex…There must have been some underlying synergy to bring us closer to EU people..Even if it’s fear of abandonment..That in and of itself could make someone EU if you do what me and my ex tried to do..Not have a relationship but not have something casual either..What’s left is something ill defined, shady, confusing, whilst all the while falling deeper into a painfull illusion of something healthy…Low and behold, I’m left needing BR therapy after being devastated while she in her own words, via a text after we broke..’Felt odd’ that we broke up…I don’t think you can get more EU assclown than that in someone…Truth is, i must have been an assclown myself to have had anything to do with her.

      • grace says:

        Not necessarily an assclown, but likely EU. Which most of us are, or have been. Either we were before we got into the bad relationship, or we are as a reaction to it.
        Being EU doesn’t make you a bad person, but it does make it likely that you hurt yourself and possibly/probably others. I know I did. Assclowns are on a different level, they are the users and abusers, and serial cheaters. I did tip my toe in those waters but it wasn’t me. Some are in permanent residence there.
        It seems the wrong way round, but giving yourself a hard time won’t help you do better, you have to forgive yourself. Of course, you have to know what you are forgiving yourself FOR, and that takes time and work and more self-awareness than most people are comfortable with. But it’s worth it.
        After seven months with my boyfriend, I felt comfortable finding out his sexual history. I didn’t want to ask before because I felt “unclean” compared to him. He is, as I deduced, a virgin. He was brought up in a christian home, became a christian at a young age and kept on the straight and narrow. He always knew I had history and he doesn’t judge me for it, but a part of me judged myself. Not for having had sex but for being so clueless about it, and letting the need for male validation lead me around by the nose. But I know where that comes from, and I overcame it.
        A part of me wanted to keep my whole past a secret but I realised I can’t do that – it’s EU! I am not going into details, dates and numbers with him but he should have an idea of who I am and was. And if you try to keep something secret, you have to watch what you say all the time, which is exhausting.
        I have to say that religion has helped. If God accepts me, it hardly matters what anyone else thinks!
        If you can get clarity on who you are as a person, your worth, and what you want out of a relationship, there is no need for you to be in anything murky or shady. It just won’t feel right. Your heart and your instinct will be looking for clarity and truth. That’s how my boyfriend and I are becoming closer because we want that genuine connection. So we do talk about difficult and awkward stuff, and seek to know each other rather than fantasise and dream.
        It IS hard work, it’s not always romantic, it’s not always fun, it is scary, but it’s the only way.
        We do have a lot of fun though, we’re not forever discussing deep and meaningful and difficult things, but we CAN if we want or have to.

        • paolo says:

          grace..I have to forgive myself with trying to hedge my bets with love..My ex and I didn’t want a commited relationship but didn’t want anything casual either…In other words, we were both EU.. The result was it didn’t work alot of pain from regret because when it comes to love, it can only be all or nothing..Half measures never work…Lesson learned though.

  44. colororange says:

    I read this at work today and was nearly in tears. I waited until I made it home before I said anything. I feel like I could have written this nearly word for word. There’s never been any other place I’ve ever seen that said something so straight on to my life experience. I find I have no bottom. When I Think I’ve hit it, I fall farther later on. At this moment, I’m very numb. Tired. Paranoid. And really you said it best: I hate the thoughts in my head. My head drives me freaking crazy!!! It spirals out of control on every possible worst case scenario. Always thinking there is an ill motive behind most anything anyone does. My mind makes me crazy. Or at least my attachment to what is going on in my mind. My wish would be to have more days where I feel good instead of a few moments here and there. I wish I was in my head and out of other people’s. I wish.

  45. kitka says:

    Oooh…I read this post once and it didn’t resonate with me. That almost never happens, so I read it a second time, and a third. And I found my light I needed. I have been in a pseudo fantasy relationship for the last year and a half. Torchbearer crap. I have tried 3 times to go NC. And quite honestly I have consciously broken it to ease the pain. I compartmentalize and ignore my intuition to feel good in the here and now. Topline- he has a live in girlfriend. He’s maddening because he is VERY ambiguous and indecisive, always the victim of his circumstance (financially). He also is super passive aggressive and a big fan of the silent treatment. Silly me thinking our “relationship” had progressed to the point that he wouldn’t go back the the one thing that was the breaking point for me…silence. Well, he pulled it again, and it was so obvious he was trying to punish me because I said some things that hit too close to home. I am on day 6 of NC. this time I didn’t do the massive sendoff with the reasons why I was doing it, sharing all of my feelings, thoughts, heartache, blah blah- I just went dark. It has been SO hard. But this time I really want to follow through. I was thinking about the whole thing and I realized: He never knew the real me. He saw what I wanted to see, just as I saw what he wanted me to see. I took a sharpie and wrote on my bathroom mirror “I am out of his league”, “he never knew the real me” and “I am beautiful”. When I realized that I was just as much a faker, that I wanted to love the person I saw reflected in his eyes, it was my AHA! moment. It’s still so hard, and then the most unbelievably hard thing happened tonight…but that’s another post. :)
    The bottom line is even though I know our relationship was a farce, one we both constructed to escape reality….it still hurts, bitterly. Because that’s all I have ever done…looked to see the reflection of myself in another person’s eyes to feel like I was seeing myself.

  46. Searcher says:

    Natalie, it’s as if you have written this solely for me. I swear, everything you have said is EXACTLY how I feel and have felt about myself. My sister, brother and I were taken away from our mother when I was 4 years old and put into custody of our family members. My mother had physically abused us and it’s weird that I still remember memories of being abused when I was 2 and 3 years old. My father, I never met. I remember throughout my whole adolescence I would cry myself to sleep every night because I wanted so desperately to feel wanted and even slightly loved by my mom and dad. I just couldn’t understand that although they weren’t together, why they didn’t want me in their lives. I was so jealous and learned to contain my emotions when I would see my friends with their parents, interacting with them the way I wished that I could with mine. Then when my mother committed suicide when I was a sophomore in high school (2004) because of her depression and drug addictions and many other things, it really seemed to cut an extremely deep hole within me that I still can not seem to overcome.

    It’s a lot to deal with when you feel as if your parents didn’t deem you worthy enough for their love and affection, but it’s a whole different story in my situation. Your post includes the EXACT thoughts that I have had/have about myself, and although it is extremely relieving that someone else understands my torment, it is also very tormenting to feel this way about myself when I know that I haven’t done anything wrong. It has affected every single relationship that I have ever had, causing me to lose a lot of friends and boyfriends because of it. I feel so broken that I don’t even try to form new relationships anymore because I know they will follow the same path that the rest have followed, until I have learned to fix myself, which I have no idea how to even start. How am I supposed to get over this to be able to have actual HEALTHY relationships with others (and not suffer from social phobia and depression)??

    Your words are greatly appreciated!

    • Allison says:


      Are you in counseling?

    • Lilly says:


      Your experience sounds unbelievably sad and it’s no wonder you feel broken right now. One good thing is that you recognise that you haven’t done anything wrong.Parents who leave their children can cause lots of damage and it can deeply affect our sense of self that it becomes a driving force in our adult lives. The good thing is that it is reversible and you can overcome it. If you are not already seeing a therapist I would highly recommend it. It’s really helping me right now. Take care and hugs to you.

  47. babyangel says:

    Me to a T!

  48. paolo says:

    The more i read your posts Natalie..The more i realise how little i knew before split with my EU ex, and to an extent, how EU I was and still am…The dissapointment in the illusion was strong but i’m slowly coming out of it and moving forward with my own life.

  49. Catherine says:

    I came across this OLD poem that made me laugh. The lady that wrote it (Mary Howitt)died in 1888. I would just bet she had run into a ac or two! Just in case you have never read it, I want to post it here. When I read it I very easily imagined myself as “the fly” with low self esteem..

    The Spider and the Fly
    Mary Howitt

    Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly, ‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy; The way into my parlour is up a winding stair, And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.”

    Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain, For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”

    “I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high; Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the Spider to the Fly. “There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin, And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in!”

    Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “for I’ve often heard it said, They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!”

    Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, ” Dear friend what can I do, To prove the warm affection I‘ve always felt for you?
    I have within my pantry, good store of all that’s nice; I’m sure you’re very welcome — will you please to take a slice?”

    “Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “kind Sir, that cannot be, I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!”

    “Sweet creature!” said the Spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise, How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
    I’ve a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf, If you’ll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”

    “I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you ‘re pleased to say, And bidding you good morning now, I’ll call another day.”

    The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den, For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again: So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly, And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly. Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
    “Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;Your robes are green and purple — there’s a crest upon your head; Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!”

    Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
    Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by; With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue — Thinking only of her crested head — poor foolish thing! At last,Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast. He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den, Within his little parlour — but she ne’er came out again!

    And now dear little children, who may this story read, To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed: Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye, And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.

  50. Magnolia says:

    I feel like I have some of this around work. I made a mistake the other day with a prominent guest and felt like an coworker then went out of her way to let the chair know I’d screwed up. It was a little screw up but I had such fear that I’d lose my job, my credibility, etc over it – I feel like my coworkers liking me is a matter of life or death, like my survival hangs on every interaction with them.

    My contract is coming to an end, and their approval does mean the difference between having a job and not, so I guess my feeling of high stakes makes some sense. But the degree of internal panic, that makes me fly off into internal rants when I’m alone (or out loud in the car!) is that normal?

    I just hate the feeling of “depending” so much on others’ approval. I have been working on managing the feelings of risk and vulnerability.

    I spoke to my father about the office politics today and he made a face and said, “That would make me angry. That’s why I don’t bother with any of that.” That was an interesting way of putting that because he can’t handle conflict, he has not worked a normal job or supported himself in 20 years. Out in the ‘real world’ when people made him “angry” he felt bullied. At home when dad was angry it meant his withdrawal, abandonment, silent treatment, or tantrum.

    I’ve wondered why I’m so afraid to make a mistake at work or with people in relationships and I’ve started to get it: we were taught that any conflict was taken as criticism, and that dad would either sulk as though bullied or would bully in return. Mom taught us how to please a person like that, how to be ‘nice,’ how to keep the peace by never having her own opinion.

    I thought I had avoided becoming my mom, but I must have still absorbed the message that there is no such thing as healthy disagreement. I still react, on a base level, like my coworkers disapproval is the same as them shaming me and when I forget to mail a cheque at work I feel like they are all just waiting to witness it and put down a black mark on their ledger.

    But then I spoke my colleagues to make sure all was good around this mistake and they were all SO good about it. They were all like, “it’s really nothing, these things happen,” etc, and I almost wanted to cry.

  51. teachable says:

    Wiser it helped me a lot reading yr response to no-one. I’m suspecting something similar might have happened with the troublesome ‘friend’ I’ve posted abt here previously, & that it is reason she blew cold after her hot, hey, I’m yr new best friend ever phase.

    I’ve stayed away of late & wouldnt you know who has been in touch wanting favours, supposed to be mutually beneficial. One I really didn’t want to do & she changed her mind about it so I got out of that one easily. The other remains up in the air. She thinks I’m going to do it for her. It’s selling off a bunch of musical gear for her adult son who is now located o.seas,which she can’t be bothered doing herself as she’s abt to head o.seas herself on a holiday & knows nothing abt musical equipt. She offered me a small % of the sale price if I took this task on but really it’s possibly not worth my time for all the effort I will have to put it, photographing the items, researching their specifications properly, advertising them, not to mention strangers coming to my home to view them (I esp don’t like the latter element). I’m also stopping smoking sometime within the next week. If I haven’t heard from her by the time I stop smoking (she mentioned this 2 wks ago & hasnt bothered to f.up since even though I’ve indicated limited availability as time goes on) I’m going to tell her, sorry but you took too long to follow up & in the interim it’s become no longer convenient for me to do.

    The issue with this woman in hindsight was that I felt used in a hot phase tht lasted 12 mths then dumped for reasons I just had no clue about as to why. It left me reeling as she really came on strong & living nearby, with me having few friends in my area I felt happy that this seemed to be changing (2 other.friends nearby previously moved away).

    This woman leaves to go o.seas in a week & I feel as though I’m abt to be used again otherwise ie I can see herdumping the music gear on my doorstep just b4 she leaves & leaving me to handle it all even I’ve never even met her son & communicating with him on the other side of the world as to what prices he wants, & then having to check if someone makes a lower offer, will be quite a headache. Different story if it was my stuff & I was making those decisions myself but tht wouldn’t be the case. I have already told her all this & impressed upon her if tht if she wants me to do this task for her it needs to be while she’s here so things can be arranged properly.

    I’m half hoping she just changes her mind abt asking me to do it at all. We will see. It will be somewhat satisfying if she approaches me at the last minute though & I can then say, look sorry, but I’m too busy with other things now (like concentrating on quitting smoking from which I dont want any interruptions!)

    I don’t care if she doesn’t like me if I end up changing my mind. I’d much rather be not liked than used again!!

    • Anon says:

      Teachable, set a boundary, then go low/no contact. Bo bold. This sounds bad. Am I reading too much into it? I would never ask some one for that big a favor and offer a small percentage, not a fair trade. She sounds borderline- uses people, values and then abruptly discards them, manipulates into doing her work, (all textbook) just tell her that you are busy yourself and this is tedious. Too much work and inconvenience for a young man you’ve never met. Not your job. At all. You’ve already spent too much time on this- what’s she doing for you? Tell her you will write the ad copy and post, but she will need to sell the stuff out of her home or find some one else to do that. Enough. You are doing more than most people would that’s for sure. If she is personality disordered, expect a rage-a-holic tantrum or passive aggressive smear campaign. If you stay friends, it will be more of the same, her trying to use you. Go NC, then you can be free of her. Relief. Sounds like you know the score- but are surrounded by these types (your family?). Sorry if I sound preachy? Saturate yourself with knowledge on those blog sites so you can recognize them within hours (not slowly dawning on you weeks or months into friendship) as this will give you a peaceful BPD-free future. Disengage, quietly walk away, from all of them, because any communication is eventually perilous, for you, not them. That’s how they work. You know this.

    • Allison says:


      Why not just tell her no? Then stop all contact? I’m sorry, but you’re really making this difficult for yourself.

  52. teachable says:

    ps I havent flat out told this woman I’m not actively seeking her friendship anymore as it could very messy as she mixes in my social circles & iv already said everything I need to say to her abt why our friendship was no longer working for me from my end. thus, instead im doing a bit of damage control & just not actually contacting her. she did this to me for long enough tht im sure in time she will realise the jig is up. she contacted me though asking these favours & I kind of got sucked in as I just wasnt expecting it. thts at least a learning thing for me. I will know from now if she’s contacting me its only b.c she wants something so I will be able to be much more on guard to just straight out say no next time. oh well. we live & we learn! kinda kicking myself a bit not to have foreseen something like this might arise! duh me! grr!

  53. noquay says:

    I learned early on that most folks will not like me. My own parents were hoping, I assume, that I would be lighter like my brothers, would be a sweet little doll rather than the tomboy that I was, and would be conventionally pretty like my mother. In high school, I was literally spat upon by the cute jocks because I was not blonde and Norwegian like them. Instead of going to the prom, I was forcing myself to walk by these douches with head held high, with dignity, no matter how much it hurt. The at work AC reminds me of those guys sometimes. Today, still there are folk that positively hate strong, successful women, especially brown ones with high standards in men. Nothing I can do about them, except NOT morph myself into what they want. I just wish such folk were up front and honest about their hatred/dislike and not make nice, use me for attention until a June Cleaver comes into their life.
    RachelC; tough love time: dump his sorry ass!
    Roberto: exes are EXES for a reason. I love my ex husband, we are still friends, often he stays at my home every year but NO sleeping together. That is reserved ONLY for someone who is in a mutual, committed relationship, period. No relationship right now = no sex, period.
    Mags: I am putting down tobacco for you, praying that you find a better position. I realize good academic jobs are hard to find, been there. A lot of folk think its not any different than finding a job as a waitperson, or cashier, not true at all.
    Yep, folks I changed by BR name, I too was getting a tad paranoid that my real identity would be found out.

  54. teachable says:

    Mary I understand yr reaction to this topic as I don’t really relate to this sort of internal dialogue either. of course, like everyone, I hope that people will like me but growing up as an ostracised child, who retreated to the WONDERFUL world of books, where I was actually quite happy in my own company, I’ve never cared about being liked anyway. Through reading I realised at a very early age that there was a whole world far removed from small minded people who didn’t even know me not liking me. I decided instead to seek out that world in real life & to hell with what anyone thought of me!

    This can go against ppl like me sometimes though as in work settings for example, we might not really socialise much with work ppl outside of work hours, so wrongly be viewed as aloof. I actually was told I came across this way for this reason once in this context. the truth was I had 2 jobs & was studying also so was too busy pursuing goals tht were really important to me, to have time for socialising w work colleagues on weekends. It may sound selfish but not being a drinker, fri night after wrk drinks also were unappealing so I just never went. was I less liked for these choices? well actually it turned out yes! (I went on to exp bullying in tht workplace & in trying to work out why one colleague said maybe the dynamic I describe above was part of the reason. not so sure abt tht. sounds like just an excuse for unacceptable & unlawful behaviour to me, however, I digress…)

    I think though tht deep down most ppl relate to wanting some to love them. not at any cost though. if we have put up with crap in a past r.ship though we have trangressed our boundaries in some way. perhaps it would help to think of this post in tht light instead ie what was our self talk when we were allowing our boundaries to be transgressed? therein will lies our ‘personal versions’ of internal dialogue as it relates to this post. I hope tht helps a bit from a fellow ‘couldn’t care less if ppl like me not’ type person. T :)

  55. Naz says:

    I am sat here, crying so hard that I am coughing and spluttering in between. I had to read the words out loud and that made me howl in a pain I can’t even understand but that is so big it needs to scream from every cell in my body.
    How and where did it all get this bad. The words are so true. I had never questioned throughout all my relationships, even when I was being emotionally abused.

    It made me cry as I felt a mixture as I did the stupid thing of wishing my AC a happy birthday after 4 months of NC. We have birthdays 3 weeks apart he never remembered.
    Funnily he said he was ready to talk to me and tell me what did work and what didn’t but his excuse was he was so busy, manically busy with work and he could not possibly email me.
    When I emailed today he had the day off and was having lunch with an old girlfriend who was over for a bit!
    What an idiot I am, the thing is we as women are stupid this guy is telling me he is off this weekend, is going out to lunch with whoever. Yet had no time in all of that to acknowledge me.
    I was not a priority I was a nothing. I wasn’t special enough to warrant anything.

    I have since blocked his emails, I had deleted his number and have no other means of contacting him.

    I am hurting, it’s more like a sick, nauseas feeling that I can’t really put the right words to. It is also the words ringing through…”you stupid girl what were you thinking??”

    • Tabitha says:

      Poor you Naz. Thanks for sharing this as I am sure it helps others who are tempted to break NC. I have been tempted recently and it has been hard. One of the things that stops me, as I have posted before, is that by remaining NC, if I do have the misfortune of thinking about him, I can make his life any old pile of shit I care to make it. Really, my imagination knows no bounds on this subject.
      He may have been lying about the lunch with the ex, but either way, Contact = Pain. NC leads to relief and freedom and concentrating on the person you can change (not him) the person who matters (not him) the person you should be loving, caring for and respecting (no, it’s not him) Dust yourself off girl and get back on the NC wagon.

    • paolo says:

      Naz..Never believe anyone when they say that they are ‘too busy’…What that means is they are too busy ‘for you’ and that they don’t care enough to keep in touch..No one is THAT busy…I’m sorry you feel the way you do. I can totaly relate and it’s not a feeling unique to women. I hope you heal soon to the point of total indifference.

  56. teachable says:

    Ohh Magnolia I have a similar thing in work settings. If ever I’m called into a surprise meeting with my boss my heart skips a beat terrified I’m in some sort of trouble, even when I can’t think of anything I’ve done that might be wrong! If they give me notice of the meeting & then wait a while but don’t tell me what it’s about, it’s even worse, I fret terribly, convinced I’m about to get into some sort of abominable trouble & issued with a formal warning for something! For me this comes from the fact that this has actually happened (ie dailure to follow due process in wrk disciplinary proceedings tht surprise turned out to be be falsely trumped up complaints) as well as my childhood when I did get into trouble, often, even when I had done nothing wrong (this was common in one particular childrens home esp)! I’m such a wreck after these combined experiences tht I can no longer deal with this sort of thing at all. It’s totally destroyed my mental health. ugh.

  57. teachable says:

    eum roberto. who gives shit abt why yr ex wife is having sex with you! why are YOU having sex with HER?

  58. RachelC says:

    Thanks guys for your responses. They make it more real that he is a complete user even though my friends told me I just wasn’t listening.

    Natasha I would love to look like Christina Hendricks. I’m more Dawn French but I’m slowly starting to love my body and try and treat it well at 38 it’s a long time coming.

    I’m a really confident person except with men and I have used sex as a way to try and make myself attractive. It doesn’t work

    Unfortunatley I work really closely with my AC so going NC is impossible but I wrote a list of boundaries out yesterday and if I can stick to the if you have to keep me a secret then it ain’t happening one at least for the moment then I’m slowly getting there.

    Thank you again :)

  59. Chloe says:

    I literally cannot describe just how much it unnerves me that everytime I come on this site, you have explicitly outlined the exact scenario that is playing out in my life. Obviously that suggests I am one of many who experiences these feelings etc. but still it spins me out and none more so than this post. It made me think and it made me cry. It felt like someone had punched me in the stomach with an unforgiving dose of reality. And it’s exactly what I needed. Thank you so much.

  60. DiggingDeeper says:


    … “Self-compassion is a willingness to look at your own mistakes and shortcomings with kindness and understanding — it’s embracing the fact that to err is indeed human. When you are self-compassionate in the face of difficulty, you neither judge yourself harshly, nor feel the need to defensively focus on all your awesome qualities to protect your ego. It’s not surprising that self-compassion leads, as many studies show, to higher levels of personal well-being, optimism and happiness, and to less anxiety and depression.

    But what about performance? Self-compassion may feel good, but aren’t the people who are harder on themselves, who are driven to always be the best, the ones who are ultimately more likely to succeed?
    To answer that, it’s important to understand what self-compassion is not. While the spirit of self-compassion is to some degree captured in expressions like give yourself a break and cut yourself some slack, it is decidedly not the same thing as taking yourself off the hook or lowering the bar. You can be self-compassionate while still accepting responsibility for your performance. And you can be self-compassionate while striving for the most challenging goals — the difference lies not in where you want to end up, but in how you think about the ups and downs of your journey. As a matter of fact, if you are self-compassionate, new research suggests you are more likely to actually arrive at your destination.

    In their studies, Brienes and Chen asked participants to take either a self-compassionate or self-esteem enhancing view of a setback or failure. For example, when asked to reflect on a personal weakness, some were asked to “imagine that you are talking to yourself about this weakness from a compassionate and understanding perspective. What would you say?”

    Others were asked to instead focus on boosting their self-esteem: “Imagine that you are talking to yourself about this weakness from a perspective of validating your positive qualities. What would you say?”
    People who experienced self-compassion were more likely to see their weaknesses as changeable. Self-compassion — far from taking them off the hook — actually increased their motivation to improve and avoid the same mistake again in the future.

    This increased motivation lead to demonstrably superior performance. For instance, in one study, participants who failed an initial test were given a second chance to improve their scores. Those who took a self-compassionate view of their earlier failure studied 25 percent longer, and scored higher on a second test, than participants who focused on bolstering their self-esteem.

    Why is self-compassion so powerful? In large part, because it is non-evaluative — in other words, your ego is effectively out of the picture — you can confront your flaws and foibles head on. You can get a realistic sense of your abilities and your actions, and figure out what needs to be done differently next time.

    When your focus is instead on protecting your self-esteem, you can’t afford to really look at yourself honestly. You can’t acknowledge the need for improvement, because it means acknowledging weaknesses and shortcomings — threats to self-esteem that create feelings of anxiety and depression. How can you learn how to do things right when it’s killing you to admit — even to yourself — that you’ve done them wrong?
    Here’s an unavoidable truth: You are going to screw up. Everyone — including very successful people — makes boatloads of mistakes. The key to success is, as everyone knows, to learn from those mistakes and keep moving forward. But not everyone knows how. Self-compassion is the how you’ve been looking for. So please, give yourself a break.”


    by Heidi Grant Halvorson
    More on: Failure, Managing yourself, Personal effectiveness

    Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. is associate director for the Motivation Science Center at the Columbia University Business School and author of ….

    • paolo says:

      That’s really good DigginDeeper. Something i should remember.

    • Frequency says:

      Diggin Deeper- Thanks for the post on self compassion, ohh how we forget to cut ourselves some slack when we are under immense pressure. I am at the end of BA studies with three courses left and am struggling through my current course, and have decided to NC a man I’ve been seeing for over a year. As a result of school pressure and NC concentration I have become anxious. I stumbled across your post and feel relieved that I made a choice to take a day off from work to focus on my studies. The acceptance to be compassionate to myself amidst the chaos and anxiety of all these events has given me room to breath. Dang, I forget that I can do that sometimes.

  61. EUM Roberto says:

    Let me explain my situation more clearly, but should I post a new comment or reply to my own original?

    I really appreciate the BR community and don’t want to offend anyone (People pleaser – ha).

    @Selkie – sorry, i realize i am all over the place/hot mess lol.

    I have no GF, i’m just her booty call, but i feel she may want more and is being patient with me. I told her about sex with xwife.

    My real problem is not moving on after divorce, can’t get over ex-wife or i guess don’t want to let go,.. thanks to BR i realize that it is me trying to control the toxic situation.. I know now that I have to just get out of it instead of trying to manage it.

    I’m not “self admitted narc” as another poster mentioned below – i was trying to switch the gender roles on my story of being married to BPD similar to a women being maried to NARC. I thought i would get more empathy if I try to get you to see my situation from that angle.

    I was married to a CHOPPER since i was 19. i stuck it out till son is almost an adult now. I was isolated, gas lighted, emotionally, verball, physically abused, and sleep deprived because of the night time rages. I had to leave because she threated to kill me in my sleep.

    I’m here to learn my part that i played in this dysfunctional dance.

    After divorce, i kind of went a little bit wild, But I was faithfull during marriage.

  62. teachable says:

    my decision of how to handle this woman was to go low contact. that meant me no longer contacting her & if she contacted me not transmitting information abt my life to her & basically just getting off the phone safely – for me. I hadnt gone beyond thinking this as a strategy as things are a whirlwind when she makes an appearance & I was still reeling from the time from being literally bailed up in the supermarket & given a food voucher. (pretense of normal caring behaviour, making me doubt myself). I actually didnt expect to be hearing from her so this situation of her calling asking favours caught me totally unawares. her cold phase has lasted almost a year now. for the first while of tht I was still initiating contact but then stopped, after directly confronting her in a respectful way abt things I felt a bit uncomfortable abt. so really id already been low contact just not as strictly or conciously & not realising how serious the situation was in terms of my boundaries not being respected. (she stopped doing this after I raised it – for a while)

    I had outright previously said no to being asked to sell the music gear earlier on. at the time I was still getting a proper income & said it’s actually a big job & just not worth the small amount of $ for the all the effort & hassle involved. this is what she is like though. months later, now my $ is much more precarious she calls out of the blue & asks again. I was caught unawares & precisely b.c I am so dead broke it didnt seem like so bad an idea IF she was around to assist, for reasons described.

    I do plan to change my mind & simply say no if it turns out to be no longer convenient due to her delay. tht is easily done.

    the bigger issue I think is what Anon said. That was a good post anon. the commonality b.tween my mother, sister & this woman is they ALL entered my life during a period of serious illness & they ALL have some sort of mental health issues (diagnosed or not). This is a time when I have been isolated from my real friends geographically as I just cannot travel over to them. A number have been out to visit me, (at least half a dozen) but of course they cant come regularly as they all live far away & work full time, & study or have partners, families etc.

    Normally I would not befriend a person w any sort of PD, or bi-polar etc. I acknowledge this is discriminatory but i’ve a gutful of dealing w my mums PD & I’ve worked with ppl with these disorders (not as my chosen client grp, I avoided tht deliberately, but many survivors of sexual abuse & DV have these types of disorders so it was job to be trained in them as also do parents of kids at risk of homelessness, another of my former client groups). I don’t need or want to be dealing with those issues in my friendships so that has always been a boundary for me.

    because this woman is undiagnosed (i suspect bi polar, she has some PD traits but I’m not sure what sub type & it’s very subtle) I just disbelieved what I was seeing & discounted it. I am not a psychiatrist, but if you knew the number of clients I’ve worked with with these disorders (including DID, Schitzophrenia, the lot) you would say, teach, are YOU crazy? Why are YOU invalidating what YOU know from two & half decades of practise wisdom? it is safe on
    that basis to conclude this woman at least is suffering untreated bi polar disorder . That should have got my alarm bells ringing long ago! I heard the alarm but she kept chopping & changing her behaviour & until I shared here I thought I WAS crazy & must be imagining all this.

    Oh dear. Teach to the dunces corner today :(

  63. Late Bloomer says:

    Reading this post hits home for me. From my earliest childhood memory my parents always emphasized and have shamed me if I wasn’t at my best behavior to be nice or act nice. As a result of that I have been a people pleaser to them and everyone around me my entire life. When I would stand up for myself I would be critized of being mean, nasty, unfriendly, disrespectful etc. I would then feel bad about myself and would try to make amends or retreat within myself always feeling unworthy and unlovable. I didn’t learn until well into my late 40’s what having boundaries were and that it is okay to exercise them with everyone and not to ever feel bad about it. Growing up in a family of dysfunction. I still struggle with being my authentic self especially with men for fear that I will not be liked, accepted and loved. I so tired of second guessing myself.

    • Frequency says:

      Late Bloomer- You sound just like me, I was raised to be a people pleaser and grew up in a dysfunctional home. I took on a lot of responsibility with my younger siblings and never really managed to figure out what I wanted from life until about 2 years ago. I will be 42 this year and have finally allowed myself to say no to people. I have also figured out that people pleasing gets me into bad relationships with men who pressure me and then I inevitably fold. I have also been in extremely possessive relationships where I was controlled by the other person. I gave up friends and didn’t pursue certain goals as a result of trying to keep the peace with a partner-whew what a waste.

      Thank goodness for finally seeing the light. I have begun to create a safe space for myself to give up my self judgements, it’s helped me to accept myself even if other people don’t want to because i can’t or won’t please them. I just can’t sort through other people’s BS anymore. I need friends who are going to be honest with me and Love me for being me. And most importantly I gotta Love myself with each decision I make to protect my happiness.

  64. teachable says:

    what is lacking from yr posts is any sense tht u are wounded by yr love for anyone. All im hearing is yr sexual exploits (2 women, wild after divorce etc.

    im also not buying yr ‘casual’ arrangement… something not adding up there at all for me from the woman’s perspective. if she is trying to learn trust why did you have sex with yr ex wife? where is the trust part exactly in that? b.c you TOLD her about this? don’t even think about saying yes b.c that would be too horriffic.

    please read selkie’s post. minus the softening around the edges she phrases things with I’m leaning in the same direction but more bluntly worded.

    u seem to be flat out kidding yrself.

    it’s time to get real.

    what is it you are seeking in yr life & from the BR community & what is the exact nature of problem you hoping to resolve?

    sorry but no-one here is going applaud anyone else’s sexual conquests, as such things potentially cause others great harm.

    You are no different & I fail to hear a tone of contrition let alone care or respect for these women.

  65. teachable says:

    I’m certainly better than two weeks ago tabitha. I had a very negative side effect/reaction to a medication I had to take for three days. it was awful. really, really awful & totally messed w my head. I stopped taking it & have slowly improved at least mentally since. thankyou for noticing. bless you xx

    • Tabitha says:

      I think of you often Teach. I wish I lived closer to you and could help. You are an absolute INSPIRATION! Stay strong and take it easy.

  66. asia says:

    I have a question about the part where they start to become annoyed because we ask for.constant reassurance.if the like us.

    Is that what really annoys them? Aren’t they just going to pull away anyway, they are already giving crumbs and that is likely why we keep asking.

    • paolo says:

      That’s a really good question asia…Sounds a bit like the chicken and the egg doesn’t it…Is it because they’re giving crumbs so we need reassurance or is that we keep wanting reassurance so they pull away…From my own experience, If i feel there’s too many crumbs, i tend to ask more questions for reassurance.

    • Allison says:


      I know that it would make me nuts if someone needed constant reassurance- nothing is more unattractive than insecurity.

      If you require constant reassurance, I have to ask why you’re in the relationship to begin with? A healthy relationship does not require this, it should be easy.

      • paolo says:

        Alison..It’s hard to know if your in an unhealthy relationship if you don’t have the knowledge to understand what ‘unhealthy’ is…That’s why we’re all in here, to understand and discern, the difference, so we can spot the red flags in future and have the tools at our disposal to back away. It might drive you nuts because your maybe not the one being insecure, but if you were, wouldn’t think you were being insecure at the time, it would seem rational and logical..Being truely in love makes us in a sense blind and distorts our reality..Being in here is to help us learn how to love and not be blinded at the same time. Also, who is to say that relationships should be easy?? Easy in what sense?? Unchanging?? Unevolving??..Sounds a pretty stagnant and boring relationship to me..I don’t want drama, but i certainly wouldn’t want, ‘easy’ either.

        • Allison says:


          The people that I know that are in healthy relationships – and there are many of them – are not questioning or requiring reassurance, they know it works. Of course there can be issues at times, but they know that person will be there and do not question their loyalty and love.

          There are some people who require constant reassurance due to their own insecurities, but there is also the possibility that needs are not being met, and so they are constantly questioning and twisting themselves inside out.

          I would not want a relationship that is surrounded by drama – been there, done that – as it was too much work, and was not meant to work. No more crazy making!

          This site is amazing with providing tools as well as support, but we must also be responsible to ourselves by acting when we are in unhealthy and abusive relationships. The most important lesson I have learned from this site is to love and care for me, if something does not feel right, I’m sure it’s not.

          Lastly, I do want easy!!

          • paolo says:

            Fair enough Allison..I know what you mean about needs not being met. Those are the times ive been insecure, but decided to hang around (out of more insecurity no doubt) instead of moving on.

  67. Bonnie says:

    This is one of your most brilliant posts, writing in the first person really makes your message relatable and I am sure this resonates with women from all cultures and ages. Someone asked, “when you started feeding yourself, what did you use as food?”, if I may answer, as I have travelled down this path and healed old wounds and come through the other side to recognize and participate in a healthy, joyful, loving, relationship that I never thought possible, and never could have sustained until I learned how to “feed myself”. The nourishment is Self-Care, self-compassion, to begin genuinely taking care of yourself like you would a beloved friend. I would ask myself in difficult situations, “if I were my best friend, how would I treat her, how would I handle this for her? How would I support her, or speak up for her?”, then I started treating myself like my own best friend, with care, love, empathy and trust: self-trust, requires a willingness to pay attention to your true desires, needs, preferences, and to honor them, defend them, as the most important priority in your life. Then you will begin creating a world that honors you, and reflects what is meaningful in your life, not a world that only serves to gain approval from others at the expense of your joy. This requires the courage to set boundaries, remembering that saying “no” to someone else usually means saying “yes” to yourself, and the harder it is to say no, the more important that “no” probably is.

  68. janie says:

    Thank you for posting this, Natalie.
    I’ve told myself recently that if I go about trying to impress people, it’s really because I actually have low self esteem because deep down I don’t impress myself. I can’t fool my subconscious. Even if I can fool other people–and even if I can fool myself on a conscious level.
    I can lower my own expectations of myself so that I will meet them, instead of facing disappointment if I don’t meet higher ones. I can set a lower standard for my relationships and friends so that I won’t feel rejected by the ones I really want to be with . . . Ultimately, all this leads to is low self esteem/the vague nagging feeling of “I’m not good enough.”
    It hurts because it’s cognitive dissonance. As a human being, I do know deep down that I am good enough, but due to not wanting to re-live past hurts (which doesn’t work), haven’t lived up to actually being who I truly am. Who I truly am has lived painfully long only as potential. I’m not sure who said this first but, “Remain in your comfort zone long enough, and you’ll be safe–and eventually sorry.”

    In response to the video “Just because they’re not interested, it doesn’t mean they’ve made a value judgment of you”, it’s very true. Someone’s decision can say so much about THEM.
    For example, I actually knew an EUM who could meet a woman he was really interested in, but if he talked to her and found that she was too independent and likely to leave him when he tried to be the one in control of the relationship, he would reject a relationship and relegate her to the booty call department. He would rather have a relationship with someone he was moderately interested in, but decidedly safer to get close to.

    • Wiser says:

      “Someone’s decision can say so much about THEM.”

      This is crucial to get tattooed on our brains, that someone’s decision to, for example, choose another person over us, has NOTHING to do with our value or whether or not we’re “good enough.” I think if I hear this “not good enough” phrase again, I’m going to scream! Let’s kick this one to the curb, shall we?

      Even more important is the fact that if you get rejected by someone, odds are that they aren’t even 100% conscious of why they don’t “want” you. I was talking to a good male friend recently (a nice guy, not EUM) about how he got together with his girlfriend, now his wife. At the time he was deciding between her and another woman, and when he chose his girlfriend, the other woman was devastated. I know this because we all were friends, and I spent many hours trying to comfort her. Like all of us, she agonized over wondering what was “wrong” with her. What had she done, or failed to do? Etc. We all know the drill. Happily, she got over it, moved on, everyone ended up ok.

      But here’s the thing – it’s taken him almost 5 years to figure out what it was about Woman B that he didn’t like. And the answer was – nothing! There was nothing unlikable about her at all! She was and is a wonderful person. But something was “off” for him; for some reason he just wasn’t as comfortable with her as with his now wife.

      Guess what. What was “off” was him. He had a horrible relationship with his mother who was a religious fanatic. He associated misery with his mother and his mother with religion, even though he didn’t make the link consciously. Woman B was starting to develop an interest in exploring her spiritual life, in a very healthy and positive way, but this set up some discomfort in my friend. He just didn’t “feel right” when he was with her, and he took this to mean that she wasn’t the “right” one for him. So, his feelings were based totally on associations of something that had nothing objectively to do with her at all. If he had had a great relationship with his religious mother, it’s possible he and Woman B would be together today.

      The odd thing is that a few years after he got married, he made peace with his mother, healed whatever that was, and he and his wife developed a strong religious life themselves. Another friend of mine was crazy about a guy who had just gotten divorced – he seemed interested in her for a bit but then took up with a kind of wild, fun-loving. My friend was hurt but eventually realized that she was a serious, rather sensible sort of person, and the guy’s ex-wife was a serious sort – and the guy had been miserable in his marriage for so long that now he wanted to have FUN! And not be serious for awhile. And even more important, not be around someone who would be a reminder of his unhappy years with the serious ex. Again, he might not have even been totally conscious of this dynamic.

      Sometimes it’s all about bad timing, bad coincidences and other factors that no one can predict or control. You may not be “right” for the other person at this point in space and time, but that certainly does NOT mean that anything is “wrong” with YOU!

      • FX says:

        Wiser, this is very insightful and wise. :)

        I don’t personally recall self-blaming at the end of relationships because I know that I have ended things with really decent guys who just weren’t right for me or right for me at that moment for whatever reason. So, if I can see that it wasn’t they were unloveable, etc., but rather that I acted on my feelings/needs, why would I think there’s something inherently wrong with me when the situation is reversed?

      • Mymble says:

        Well I am not sure about this. I have ended a couple of relationships with really great guys – I did not feel there was anything at all wrong with them and actually I couldn’t quite understand myself why I was doing it. But on the other hand there were a couple of other ones where I did decide that there was a fault that made them not good enough. For example, one guy had (i felt) a weak personality, was lazy and negative. Now you could phrase this as merely “we were not compatible” but these qualities are generally not attractive to anyone. Of course I didn’t tell him exactly what reasons were. So there are two possibilities – it is about them OR it is about you, and if I am rejected, I am inclined to wonder if it wasn’t the latter.
        What is it about me that is unattractive?
        I would say that this applies more to shorter lived relationships – if I have been with someone for longer I usually have a clearer picture of where we stand with each other.
        I do realise that nobody is perfect, we all have personal failings and flaws, and sometimes a strength is a flaw viewed from a different angle. You can’t be everyones cup of tea either. Still part of my “baggage” is a feeling that there is something deeply wrong with me, an underlying inadequacy. When people don’t like me or reject me I feel a certain inevitability, that they have found me out.
        , this is so unhealthy and self defeating. How does one stop this?

      • paolo says:

        That was even more important for me to read than the post Wiser…I always blame myself at the end of relationships..Even if the woman has awefull boundaries.

      • selkie says:

        I like what you said. It’s so easy to think its us that wasn’t good enough when it could have been something that had nothing to do with us at all, just bad timing like you said.

  69. Addey says:

    Natalie – Brilliant! What a stream of consciousness feels like, so honest, so raw. Good job!

  70. asia says:


    I totally get that. But that didnt answer my question at all. If you have to ask for constant reassurance, it surely isnt a relationship to be in. But to say that is why they become annoyed with you and leave sounds too simplistic and blaming. When its really them who has the problem, and when they likely are the type to screw you around.

    Yes, its a sign of insecurity, but this person gives you a good reason to be.

    • Allison says:


      You and I, both answered your question.

      If you feel insecure in the relationship because your needs are not being met, then you need to end it, and find a relationship that is mutually fulfilling. I think that when we start to ask these types of questions, we know the relationship is going nowhere. The question is: How long do you stick with nowhere?

  71. PurpleLily says:

    (writing this while on a holiday overseas please forgive me for any typos, this is coming from my phone)

    Something went totally wrong this morning and I need your advise as to why I am feeling the way I do.

    Just before I started this holiday, I decided that when I get back, I will give dating a try again. It’s been 10 months since the EUM was done, totally NC and I started to feel stronger, learning to like myself more..

    And then last night, I met a stranger on an overnight train..

    There were the 2 boys and myself in the cabin and we had the best time talking about holidays, life etc. The stranger was someone I looked at thought wad well read, chatty, got my jokes and soon there were long glances while the group talked. Subtle flirtation from both sides.

    Then towards light out, purplelily asks the stranger ‘would it be absolutely totally insanely wildly crazy if I said I wanted to kiss you now?’.. Which only led to the longest making out session in the corridor in a rickety train. Followed by more in the morning before he gets of the train. He is kind and respectful, passionate and electric. Of course, being on a train meant no going further, even though it is discussed and no go from both.

    She gives him her email and says that she’d love to hear about his travels and study and life and would be great if he kept on touch. She doesn’t want to get his just in case she is tempted to get back into her old habit of google stalking.

    And then he leaves.. And suddenly.. Something is gone. It’s missing. Once again, it’s empty. It was my head saying “how pathetically empty are you that you stand here thinking about a man who gave you few hours of kindness and attention? You are sad and empty and a looser.. For he is gone and you stand here wishing it could be more.

    For this was more than fun, this was the first honest connection after the EUM . But I saw the scary empty part of me that hides beyond it. I sit here feeling sad that I’ll never see this person again..where is this hyper-emotional-connectedness with this stranger coming from?

    I had not planned this, I didn’t even think of it. But I sit here feeling pathetic. Am I still not ready.. Or I am a being starved of connection and care and just broken?

    • grace says:

      Do you have Nat’s dreamer book. You can prob download it and read it while on holiday. You’ve not done anything wrong but you are letting your fantasies and feelings of low self worth run away with you.
      You do not know this man. I expect he’s fine but so are many others that you could actually have a relationship with. living in the same city is a good start.

    • Wiser says:

      I think you just enjoyed a wild, spontaneous and fantasy-like moment that happens only rarely in life. Intense, out-of-the-ordinary experiences like this ‘seem’ to be filled with meaning, but that’s not always the case. And usually a deflating let-down period is inevitable. I’d chalk it up to experience, and remember it with a smile. Overnight train, the handsome stranger, furtive kisses…sounds like a great romantic fantasy to me. It came true for an electric moment – and that’s all there was. Don’t give any more meaning to it than that, it certainly doesn’t mean anything dire about you and it doesn’t mean that this is some great guy who got away.

      • Mymble says:

        I had this kind of thing happen to me quite a few times in my 20s and one in particular I for many years after thought of as “the one that got away” and “what could have been if only …” and it was only quite recently when reading natalie’s work that I realised that it was ALL my own fantasy and I barely knew him. It was very liberating to realise he was NOT THAT SPECIAL and it’s unlikely that I missed anything at all. I’d been torturing myself with regret over – er – nothing really.

  72. PurpleLily says:

    Grace, Wiser and Mymble

    Thank you so much for that. I don’t know what happened there.. It’s like I lost all direction for a few hours. How could I possibly have thought that I could spin a ‘healthy relationship’ out of something that lasted a few hours?!

    Grace, totally with you. It’s hard enough to make things work while in one city, forget over 2 continents with 25hrs flying time! I haven’t read any books by Nat but will download it and read it while I’m away.

    I don’t know him at all. Nothing about him. I only thought he was interesting and awesome from what little I saw and assumed there is more awesome behind there.. DOH! (I would get a side glance from Nat for this!) I tend to associate a lot of worth and meaning to situations and it goes out of control within my head. I don’t know why I always assume there is some treasure that us buried and that I should be out trying to find it.

    I am torturing myself, I keep telling myself that if we get to know each other it’ll be this amazing story of love and happiness.. but truth is, he’s definitely not that special and yes, haven’t missed out on the ‘best thing ever’. AGAIN all me, all my fantasy.

    Thank you SO MUCH! I needed to hear it straight. I’ll snap out of it soon. In a week, none of this will even matter!

  73. teachable says:


    One stops feeling inadequate by simply deciding one is not. As you say, we all have strengths & weaknesses & different ones will be displayed more prominently to others at different times. Only WE know ourselves in our ENTIRITY though. I’m guessing that most of us have a realistic view of ourselves & realise we are doing our best at any given time.

    If extended even a tiny bit of the compassion we wrongly throw at AC’s who use & abuse the sentiment, toward ourselves instead, I’d suggest we’d be well on our way! x

    • Mymble says:

      Didn’t see your reply until now.
      I am working on it, my circumstances are not great at the moment so don’t have a very rosy view of the world or myself. But you’re right, self compassion for the past mistakes and personal failings is necessary.
      Maybe I wasn’t “good enough” ..by their lights but my lights should be what counts for me.

  74. Debalina says:

    Absolutely amazing and such an inspirational read! So many points described me and how I feel but I am currently on this amazing path of healing and acceptance and this article has reinforced my need to heal even more. Thank you Natalie for this amazing article Xx

    • siena says:

      Debalina, I am happy to read this!I am also on this path, but on some days I feel so shaky.I come back to Natalies page each day and read everything I can get a hold of. I would love to know what some of you do to trust themselves more and get better boundaries and accept the past. What about you?

  75. Sue says:


    This post gave me the chills because this is ME. This is precisely what I do- and I don’t know what to do. I’m in a relationship I’ve been in for a little over a year now but am suffering from anxiety because my guy has been telling me I’m acting too “needy.” I know the root of my behavior is insecurity but how do I go about building up my self-esteem??? How do I start feeding myself? It often feels like only a guy can make me feel loved and wanted. Thanks for your help!!


Start any of my courses within the next 48 hours and take advantage of the low prices in my summer sale. Current courses include Build Your Self Esteem, The Pattern Breaker and The People Pleasing Diet.


Start any of my courses within the next 48 hours and take advantage of the low prices in my summer sale. Current courses include Build Your Self Esteem, The Pattern Breaker and The People Pleasing Diet.