There are a few analogies I’ve used to illustrate ‘relationship insanity’, which is carrying the same baggage, beliefs, and behaviours, choosing same person different package or variances of it, but continuing to expect different results…and then wondering why…and then lather, rinse, repeat.

I’ve asked why we keep walking into oncoming traffic and then wondering why we get run down.

I’ve talked about how the fire does indeed burn and how some will still ‘Suck It and See’ and basically get burned again to get a final ‘lesson’, effectively killing off all curiosity.

There’s also how loving and trusting blindly is similar to leaving your bag with a thief and deciding they won’t rob it because *you* love them, and then being surprised when they rob it.

Even on Facebook, a few days ago I warned how getting involved with someone who you know their disposition is to mistreat, is like getting into a cage with a dangerous animal and wondering why it attacks you.

And yet there are still plenty of us that will get run down again, will have our hands burned, will get our bag robbed, and will get in the cage with the animal and lock the door behind us.

For those of you who make efforts to change and find yourself caught up in your pattern, you’ll wonder – Why?

It’s because often while we’ll make adjustments and changes around doing the stuff, if we only go part of the way to doing that or don’t make connections between our actions and what results, we don’t fundamentally deal with the root issue and/or the beliefs around it.

Instead of learning the core lesson, we, for example think that we should try to go out in front of the oncoming traffic, albeit quicker or that we should wear protective gear, or that we should move further up that road and then try to walk out again into the oncoming traffic. Eventually we learn that if we walk out into oncoming traffic, we will very likely get run down and get busted up pretty badly. We then recognise that the solution isn’t to ‘game’ the traffic or ‘love’ it into not running us down with our superhuman efforts – it’s to stop walking into oncoming traffic period, assess the risk, and use a pedestrian crossing or wait till the road is clear.

I experienced this when I’d spent a few months No Contact and then decided to Suck It and See with my ex. Even though my self-esteem and health were already improving, I hadn’t accepted the full reality of him. In NC, this isn’t unusual because, while we’re often very much behind the decision to be NC, we can end up doing it because we know we have to and we ought to, but we secretly reserve some hope that they’ll change and make life ‘easier’ and validate us.

I’d shifted, but I hadn’t reached my tipping point and in fairness, while I’m not saying it’s a ‘solution’, my One Last Eff Up did the trick and I never regressed.

Another example is one of the most common difficulties that readers experience – trying to stay friends with their ex. We think that we can keep them around us on lesser terms, that they’ll be respectful, or maybe even recognise our fabulousness and come grovelling. When we get hurt, we lament their insensitivity or inappropriateness. The lesson we’ve missed is that aside from the fact that you can’t be friends with your ex until you’re over them, if your ex didn’t treat you well in the relationship, they sure as hell won’t when they’re out it.

Yes the ex may be annoying but the problem is that we are not adjusting our beliefs, expectations and behaviours.

Now I recognise that actually, if you’re prepared to contemplate going back to someone who not only have you experienced a painful relationship with, but that was part of a wider picture of a relationship pattern, the fact you’re even contemplating it, is your major signal to reinvigorate your efforts to work on your beliefs about relationships, love, and yourself.

Unless you fundamentally know that the issues that broke the relationship no longer exist, it is pointless returning.

You should be saying ‘WOAHHHHH! Hold your horses! I know I’ve been working on myself but what is it about me that is the same that still feels an affinity with this person and the relationship?’

If you can have that honest conversation with yourself, you won’t go back to a dodge situation blind and with bullshit excuses. – Stay on the BS Diet. Instead, you probably won’t go back at all or you’ll Suck It and See with eyes wide and a willingness to opt out.

Finding that you’re still dealing with old issues or feeling the ‘lure’ doesn’t mean you’re not working on yourself and that your efforts so far are not valid and worthy, but it does mean you have to renew your efforts and focus on you, including the stuff you’re avoiding and in denial about.

Here’s the thing: You either know based on experience or you ‘know’ based on your beliefs that the fire burns, that you will get run down, that leaving your handbag around untrustworthy people is a risky move, and that dangerous animals will rip you a new one. To repeat the behaviour says:

You’re looking for the ‘fire’ et al to prove you wrong and challenge your beliefs.

Or, you’re avoiding dealing with something else that you perceive to be more painful, making repeating the painful behaviour more attractive and ‘easier’.

Or, in spite of knowing the pain that’s in store, you don’t have enough confidence that the alternative won’t be better or hurt in another way.

Or, you’re desensitised to the pain, so yes it does hurt, but it’s familiar.

Or, in knowing that it is painful or even ‘wrong’, you want the ‘fire’ et al to ‘do the decent thing’.

Or, you may, in making changes have misguidedly come to believe that it will fix everything – taking too much responsibility for making the relationship work.

You want to be the exception to the rule. Your ego is clouding your judgment. You want to take a short-cut. You want to have a ‘fairy tale’.

It can feel like a foreign land when you leave a painful relationship or try to distance yourself from a painful pattern.

This happens because you’ve likely normalised bad behaviour. Coming out of the fog is like learning a new language and certainly for the first weeks and months, you may find it difficult to relate to those around you who don’t behave the way they [your ex/exes] do. The more intertwined you were with your ex, or cloaked in your pattern and denial you were, and the less boundaries that you had, is the harder it will be. If you are not focused on you in a healthy way and are instead focused on your ex or on blaming and shaming yourself and analysing the beejaysus out of your past, you may feel lonely or even isolated, which will exacerbate your feelings, which in turn may start to make even the most unhealthy of relationships look attractive because it’s familiar.

This is why, even though you may get frustrated with yourself, make mistakes, and hold your hands up in despair wondering if you’re on crack or something, you absolutely mustn’t give up and you do have to keep trying. Not the same old behaviours, obviously, but certainly leaving no stone unturned, distancing yourself from your pattern and doing everything it takes.

While playing Columbo or FBI agent and investigating what you or they did is to some extent a natural reaction to grieving the loss of the relationship, it’s important to not only process the evidence of your relationship/pattern, but to also focus on learning from it and moving forward. Best way to do that is to put in place boundaries that make it difficult, if not impossible for the previous behaviour to be repeated or accepted. Learn how to improve your self-esteem, talk it out with someone like a counsellor/therapist if you’re struggling, tell a close friend or family member (often they don’t know the extent of what we’ve been involved in), shake up your routine, rediscover your goals, interests and hobbies or make new ones, fill up your time if you’re inclined to stray into the danger zone when bored, and basically, keep trying.

It’s fundamentally saying ‘I will not continue to try to make a pigs ear into a silk purse’ but it’s also connecting that realisation with your previous actions.

You must keep learning the new ‘language’ – eventually it feels natural and the previous one that trapped you in poor relationships seems ridiculous to hold onto when the new one opens you up to a happier you and more positive relationships.

While there are anomalies and Chinese whisper urban myths about that person that battered their self-esteem or was treated extremely badly and then had some fairy tale ending with that person without having to do anything, for the overwhelming majority, it’s important to know and heed the rule instead of shutting it out in pursuit of being 1 in a million and getting caught in painful relationship insanity.

Your thoughts?

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

Image via SXC

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158 Responses to Relationship Insanity: Understanding Why You Feel Tempted To Go Back and Repeat Your Pattern With Your Pain Source

  1. allie says:

    Hi Natalie, really good article. I guess sometimes I think or wonder what it would be to “try again” and I think this thoughts come to me most because I am feeling lonely and then in retrospective i tend to think that things weren’t soo bad. But then I remember or read my journal during the time I was with him and that is the best proof that I was having a terrible time full of anxiaty and pain. So yes, that is a tool I am using to better myself and to not go back to the same insanity.


  2. live my gorgeous life says:

    You said
    “You must keep learning the new ‘language’ – eventually it feels natural and the previous one that trapped you in poor relationships seems ridiculous to hold onto when the new one opens you up to a happier you and more positive relationships.”

    I couldn’t agree more with that statement! I know I was caught in the white light of relationship insanity, you have got to accept that at least before you can do the work and learn the language. Then you analyse the “relationship” to death which is a place to learn something, then you realise that the scales have fallen from your eyes and you see the person as they really are, then you start to realise what YOU contributed to the party and then finally you start the work to learn the language!

    Like any new language, setting new boundaries, reclaiming your life, accepting and forgiving your own bullshit, undoing emotional, physical and financial damage does take time.

    I am calling it “learning the language of me” because there is a lot of new vocabulary to get used to like saying “no” “that doesn’t work for me” and “take a hike”! Also I am finding that other people don’t like my new language and emotionally unavailable friends , co-workers and family members are also vanishing too. Now I have to make new friends, so it is a journey, is what I am trying to say and it could involve many areas of your life.

    I have set aside at least a year to review not just where I am with relationships but all of my life because sooner or later once you realise that you have been crossing the road repeatedly and getting knocked down that maybe its NOW to take the medicine and wise up that things will only get better if you focus on your own gorgeous life and finding a better way to cross the road safely!.

    If anyone would like to join me I am at
    Pity I got gorgeous spelt wrong lol lmao at that one!, but expect to get the spellings wrong now and again!
    Learning your new language can be a lot of fun indeed! Learning to speak YOUR own new language is well worth the effort and its possible to learn new behaviours, skills and attitudes in the process !

  3. Evie says:

    I am going through the, yes I am about to say it, probably 10th major breakup with the same ‘pigs ear’. Now in my defense… I REALLY did think this time was different. He’d reached a breaking point and was actually seeking therapy.

    But it turns out he wasn’t seeking therapy for what he’d been doing to me apparently.

    And this past weekend was awful awful. It has been a month and a half since he broke up with me (all this has happened over a course of 5 years, he breaks up with me every 6 mos or so) and I probably would have gone back with him had he shown up at my doorstep. Thank goodness he didn’t and thank goodness you wrote this article right when I needed to read it.

    • Deege says:

      reminds me of myself. They are NOT going to change. They had enough time, and plenty of “significant events” which would cause someone to make a change. They are always going to think that we will take them back……until we DON’T. I wish you success.

  4. grace says:

    With my latest encounter, he disappointed me and my heart sank like a stone. It was literally a physical sensation. I thought “I’ve been here before”. My past crappy relationships flashed before my eyes and I realised it was the same insane not-so-merry go round. I started desperately googling for answers, sadly one of my search terms was “other woman” and I ended up here. I ditched him within a few months and avoided starting an affair.

    Thanks Nat. I’ve read a ton of self-help books and internet sites over the years looking for answers. None of them have presented so clearly and accurately the relationship insanity I was living. It was a relief (and also a bitter truth) to know that my situation was totally common and completely fixable. This site and counselling really helped me turn the corner. I don’t think the counselling alone would have done it. The counsellor was terrific but I also needed Nat’s BS-buster. The denial was so deep.

    I’d had one crap long-term relationship after another for over 20 years, punctuated by clinical depression and anxiety. That really is relationship insanity. If I can escape, so can you! I wish it for all of you.

    • MagicPotion says:

      Grace- I look forward to your comments (among other Posters, too numerous to mention). You have an eloquent, yet sometimes zany take on things, that not only makes me laugh, but hits the nail on the head! If you can get through those relationships, plus depression, anyone can! CONGRATS! I wish you the best cause you deserve it!

    • runnergirlno1 says:

      Hi all, I’m not sure who to reply to or where to chime in here. Apparently, we’ve all so been there, done that, and bought the same pain source t-shirt. I went through five years of very expense counseling after doing the same guy different package same pain source routine for 20 years from my 20’s to my 40’s, including 3 marriages and divorces, only one wonderful daughter though. It is a relief to know that there are others out there. I thought I was all alone and falling off the deep end. I emerged from my very expensive counseling and extensive reading vowing to not get married again until it was “right”, whatever that meant at the time. Did all the work on me, so I thought. Then I needed to revisist my pain source in the form of married men and I proceeded to get involved with 2 married men back to back. Therefore, I am not married fulfilling what I thought was my original goal but left heartbroken. I realize now, the MM’s were simply the same guy different package, including a wife a kids, and the same pain source. MM#2’s favorite saying was “I’d be playing alone on the freeway with traffic without you”. Oh dear. When I read this post and the traffic analogy, I laughed and cried. I realized that he was so right. (They always say what they mean even if we don’t want to hear it at the time.) He invited me to play on the freeway in traffic with him and I blindly signed up hoping that this time it would be the exception to the rule. We were so great together, even though we were walking the wrong way on a one way street. Now, after being run over by car after car for two years, I’m left wondering why it hurts?

      In really trying to be honest with myself this time, I figure I’m:

      1) “Or, you’re avoiding dealing with something else that you perceive to be more painful, making repeating the painful behaviour more attractive and ‘easier’”.


      2) “you’re desensitised to the pain, so yes it does hurt, but it’s familiar”.

      The pain of being the other woman was so great and the darkness was so dark. I’ve never felt such pain and darkness. It is a bit comforting to know that I’m not alone. I just can’t revisit that pain and darkness again, know matter how attractive and easier it may seem. And no matter how desensitized to pain I was, the pain associated with being the other woman, finally exceeded a 10 on the pain scale. I’m not that woman, the other woman.
      This blog, NML, and all of you have been my life source. I’m in day 34 of NC with MM and holding steady because of you all. I’m grateful. I’m not that woman, the other woman. The same guy different package WAS familiar. But, I no longer want to play in traffic. It hurts!

  5. sunshine says:

    “You should be saying ‘WOAHHHHH! Hold your horses! I know I’ve been working on myself but what is it about me that is the *same* that still feels an affinity with this person and the relationship?”

    I started to get this a few months ago, and it’s finally *really* sinking in. I kept wanting to apologize to him, over and over and over again. I have written several apology letters yet have stood strong in NC and we DID have a rational closure conversation, no reason to get back in the muck. Finally, I sat down to write yet another letter (saying the SAME thing, only more and more carefully and precisely crafted), and instead put MY name at the top of the letter. OH. I needed to forgive MYSELF for not having good boundaries, for being cruel to MYSELF, for hurting MYSELF, all of the things I wanted HIM to forgive ME for, I really needed to forgive MYSELF. I was naive about relationships, I was deluded, I was re-enacting childhood abuse stuff, I was deluded, I couldn’t admit to myself what I wanted, and I have to forgive ME and be kind to myself for all of that…I don’t need to go crawling back to HIM to get that love, validation and understanding. Instead *I’m* giving it to *me*. I really do love me and I have so much compassion and understanding for my behavior. I thought that I accepted myself all the way through that I was giving myself license to behave just any old kind of way…but now that I can accept and love the parts of myself that drove me to that kind of behavior…I am feeling so much saner, kinder, gentler, loving, calm. I noticed that when I am arguing with “him” in my mind, or defending myself to *him* in my mind, I’m actually arguing with and defending myself to MYSELF and I start using active listening techniques that I learned in peer counseling on ME. I found a book yesterday called, “The Conflict Between Us is the Conflict in Me” and wow did that really sum it up!!
    I’m making peace with my own anger, aggression abusiveness, cold-heartedness, the parts of me that reject and abandon others, the parts that don’t trust, the control patterns, et cetera. It really is all about ME but not the way I thought when I had victim mentality!! I feel better about myself by the day! Thank you thank you!!

  6. Elaine says:

    “If you are not focused on you in a healthy way and are instead focused on your ex or on blaming and shaming yourself and analysing the beejaysus out of your past, you may feel lonely or even isolated, which will exacerbate your feelings, which in turn may start to make even the most unhealthy of relationships look attractive because it’s familiar. ”

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today. It has been 13 months since the break with the EUM. I have been all of a sudden really depressed again. I don’t want him back. I know that our values are totally off. I still care for him, but know that if I had him back, I would be unhappy. He can’t give me what I want. I couldn’t figure out why I am feeling this way, maybe the winter, lack of activity. Your article and especially the words above hit the nail on the head. I miss that familiar feeling of pain. I do feel completely lonely and isolated and have been crying again, really depressed. At other times I feel relief. So confusing. You are really helping me understand the range of emotions. Hopefully, this means I am crossing over to the other side. I’m sick of overthinking all of this and just want to be done with it.

    • MH says:

      Hi Elaine,

      Wanting to be done with it is usually a sign that you are stuck unfortunately. The only way through it all is to work everything through.

      I get stuck too and for me it means and probably for you as well but only you would know though, is that were stuck because we don’t have faith in the future that things are going to get better. We think that what we had was all that we are going to get so maybe holding on would have been better than nothing at all. We think this because life has not proven to us that there is better out there. Most likely we have a tendency to settle therefore we don’t get to see what is around the corner. This thinking pattern may not be shared by you but when I read your post that is what came to my mind.

      The key is to listen to what Natalie said in this post.


  7. Layla says:

    Hi Im trying to come out of 6 year relationship with married man. He was always kind, loving ,emotionally supportive and we had many things in common. Due to long term illness his wife is unable to have sex- when I met him he had not had sex for 10 years. We started off as friends and things developed .He feels loyal to his wife and never said he would leave her. I realize I want more and have not seen him for a year. However I feel in pain daily and cant seem to move on. Music ,books ,films , everything reminds me of him.Ive never felt such a strong connection and so much love and trust for someone. Ive been married twice and they both left me for other women. After my first divorce I did counselling etc and carefully chose my second husband as he was Mr safe and respectable – but 10 years later he cheated too. 7 years later I met my married man and I fell for him Now Im 56 , in counselling again and I realize Im going to have to try and start afresh. I will mourn the loss of my married man as there were many good times. I will try and fill my life again. But will it not always be relationship insanity until more men attend counselling and go through with all the torturous soul searching that women do ? Many women I know have done a lot of work on themselves but I dont see the same level of genuine commitment to change amongs men , or am I cynical ? Or just scared ? I thought I had it all in my 30s I thought I had it all worked out but the lessons in life just keep coming.

    • grace says:

      Layla I’m 46 tomorrow (happy birthday to me) and I’m asking myself the same question. Am I going to meet anyone suitable? Surely a man my age who is unmarried has the same relationship history as mine, ie disastrous. But he probably hasn’t done the work that I’ve done to change.
      Still, I haven’t exactly put myself out there to find a man so I can’t be sure that there’s NO-ONE.
      I’m so happy single, though, it still feels like a wonderful novelty.

      • MH says:

        Hi Layla, and Grace,

        Happy birthday for tomorrow Grace,

        I keep repeating what Nat said in this post


        I know what you mean about songs, movies etc. I too was platonic friends first with my eum for 4 years and it is tough because him and I have excellent rapport. He out of all of my friends makes a huge effort to make sure I am still alive and checks in with me. We have excellent communication that I can say anything and everything to him. He provided things in my life that I dreamed about and never received before and I didn’t want to give it up but the other stuff drove me nuts that I knew I had to give up the good as well.

        I am enjoying my single life. I am hanging out with a new group of people, mixed in with friends I have had for some time now. We go to movies, do pub nights, dinners and chat like crazy. I still want a boyfriend but I know I don’t need one.

        Really we have no choice but to move forward because staying idle means we are stuck, going back means we are insane, and both will only bring misery to our lives.

    • runnergirlno1 says:

      Layla, thank you so much for your post. I’m 51 and feel the exact same way, after counseling and being over 50. I’m only 34 days of NC and everything reminds me of him. I had to get the keys to my office today which required that I drive by the softball field where he played first base and I played second base. We loved “turning two” (aka double play). I knew I didn’t want to get my keys because I would have to drive by the field where we had so much fun and went for pizza and beer with the team, and I put it off. Push comes to shove, and I have to get the key to my office, however. I got my keys today and paused at the softball field to remember the good times. Then, I remembered the dark times when after softball, pizza, and beer, he went home to his wife and I went home alone. You know the dark times I’m sure.

      “But will it not always be relationship insanity until more men attend counselling and go through with all the torturous soul searching that women do ?” Natalie, I hear Layla’s question. Is it really as simple as if we work on us, then we will attract the right person? Some of us have worked and worked and worked and we are still blindly signing up to play in traffic, walking the wrong way on a one way street, and we are over frigging 50 and we have read everything and we have been in counseling. Can we buy a break?

  8. Lindsay says:

    Another reason why alot of people repeat their own patterns is because they (themselves) ARE NOT aware of what is going on.
    I had NO IDEA for 5 years!!! – I had NO IDEA he was a EUM. He totally fooled me into thinking we had a “real relationship”.
    I think he cared & loved me, but it was ONLY to a certain degree of what he was cabale of feeling.
    I was indeed “perfect” for him b/c when we met I had told him that I didn’t care if I ever got Married…..But, with this statement I didn’t know (at the time) what message I was sending out. Because I do believe in falling in Love & being committed to someone.
    I thought we were…..UNTIL he told me this statement “I have never been in Love with anyone my whole life”.
    That did it for me, because I knew that statement included me.
    Which caused me to start looking on the Internet searching for answers…..
    I found other websites about Relationships, etc….BUT
    Your website has helped me to “see the light” & learn things about my EUM & discover NEW things about myself.
    You have given me the STRENGTH to swallow my pride & move on.

    Thank You so much for being here, where I could find you.

    • MH says:

      Another reason why alot of people repeat their own patterns is because they (themselves) ARE NOT aware of what is going on.
      I had NO IDEA for 5 years!!! – I had NO IDEA he was a EUM. He totally fooled me into thinking we had a “real relationship”.

      This is exactlly the issue that resonates with me. When in the past I didn’t state my boundaries or know that I was going against my values this is what was playing in the back ground, not that I have low self esteem , no or low boundaries, or that I am weak or stupid.

      Sometimes, it seems like we are going against our boundaries or values but actually I have even said to myself maybe my boundaries or values are too rigid. I have to let the walls come down and try new things. I think Nat’s suck it and see analogy is a part of growing, learning, in life in general and we need to sometimes test our own boundaries and learn the hard way to see if these boundaries need to stay in place or be corrected or left behind.

      I was against fwb which would be a value and boundary for me. All my friends had been hurt in previous relationships and were doing casual relationships. I was single and having no interactions with males. Even people who I barely knew would tell me that in their country it is strongly encouraged to have a purely sexual relationship if you aren’t in a commitment because it was unhealthy to go without sex. This came from a female who was married.

      I knew my Eum was trying to get me into bed for years and I was declining. He would still hang out with me and talk to me all the time so I knew he would stay even if I gave him sex. I kept fighting it and then I gave in thinking maybe everyone was right, have sex for now until I meet the one.

      Well it didn’t work that way but still I didn’t know for sure what exactly was going on and I thought I was being too rigid and that I wasn’t really living life.

      Even recently I thought I regretted the whole thing with my eum but now I look at it as a stepping stone, a part of growing in life, a phase that led me to this blog to finally see my past destructive patterns, so how can I regret one minute of it. I did have a sex life for awhile, contact with the male species and in a sense, a trial basis back into the land of relationships .

      Before I got involved with him, I didn’t want a relationship, period because my last boyfriend was a mean SOB. This past guy drove me to this blog where I learned why I was attracting SOB’s and for the first time in my life I believe that I can break this pattern of attracting them or atleast staying with them. Before my Eum I told everyone that I feared meeting another guy that will keep me stuck in my patterns. Everyone said no you won’t you have learned from the last guy but I didn’t and I told them I don’t think so. Just like this post mentions we have to do more than just acknowledge our patterns.

      When I am out with women who truly believe there is no good men left I disagree with them. Sometimes just in my head and other times I say it to them. Depends on the circumstances. This is all thanks to Natalie and this blog. I feel sorry for these women because they need to go on this blog to learn what I know now.


      I had to learn the hard way at times, test my own boundaries and values and understand that I didn’t know what was going on in my relationship with the EUM because I was checking things out and because it was a guy I trusted I was hoping that I wouldn’t get hurt.

      Would I do it all over again, hell yeah because I found NATALIE AND YOU GUYS! Will I do it again HELL NO, why because I already found you guys and Nat, I need to find true happiness in a healthly relationship now.

  9. Workshy Joe says:

    If anyone had asked me a year ago if it was possible to rekindle an old flame I would have dismissed the idea completely.

    After all, if two people split there must be a good reason for it, right?

    When I told my girlfriend in the middle of 2010 that I was DONE, the break up did not go the way I thought it would.

    I thought she might hate me, stalk me or threaten me (past experience). I thought she might simply want no further contact (also from past experience).

    Instead, we both resolved to stay friends. Neither of us bore the other any ill will. We wanted to understand each other rather than judge.

    We spoke on the phone most days and never fell out. She made some radical positive changes to her own circumstances on her own initiative that she appeared unable or unwilling to do when I was there with her.

    After months of being apart we both seemed to have a better idea of what went wrong between us and of what we both wanted out of life. It also became clear how we ended up with each other in the first place.

    I don’t have any romantic illusions. I am also ideologically opposed to the institution of marriage. Despite that, we have both reached a point where we would rather be together than be apart. Its not even about sex. Its a companionship thing.

    I am pretty convinced that if I can’t make a long-term, cohabiting, sexually exclusive relationship work with her, that it simply won’t work for me with any woman. Not for anything serious or long-term, that is.

    Being single hasn’t been a barrel of laughs for me, but if it came to that again, I’d survive, of course.

    • Leigh says:

      I am pretty convinced that if I can’t make a long-term, cohabiting, sexually exclusive relationship work with her, that it simply won’t work for me with any woman.

      Wow Joe. That would be a red flag for me.

      • Workshy Joe says:

        Ha ha!

        I’m serious though. I could grow old with her. I could grow old alone.
        Either way, I’ll live with it. Whatever will be, will be.

    • Audrey says:

      @Joe: i saw a red flag jump up when you said you’re convinced if you can’t make it work with her, you cant make it work with any other woman.
      I learnt a long time ago you can’t MAKE someone love you and you can’t MAKE yourself love someone. You either love them or you don’t and visa versa.
      And it shouldn’t be hard work – we dont want to sentence ourselves to years of “hard labour” do we???
      You say you’ve reached a point where you would both rather be together or apart. Is that really a solid enough reason to be with her?
      Is is loneliness, perhaps, that makes you want it to work with her? just a thought….
      I truly believe that is never too late to find true love – you’re not in the last chance saloon- and I always said to myself that I would never “settle” for someone just so i can have the package of being in a couple etc. and that’s something i haven’t regretted.

    • jennynic says:

      Joe, Your statement reminds me of the movie “Bridget Jones Diary” when the EUM she had been in a relationship with in the past said to her while trying to win her back, that if he couldn’t make it with her, then he couldn’t make it with anyone. She responded that that wasn’t good enough for her and it finally gave her the push she needed to let him go. It sounds like you might be okay with this woman but could take it or leave it over being single, but how fair is this to her when she might have an opportunity to find someone who feels happy to have her in his life, rather than “merely content” you confess to. Have you expressed this truth to her and given her the choice, with your reality, whether its good enough for her?
      Marriage? I am on the fence about it. I don’t think its necessary to be married to be in a monogamous relationship, but I do think that getting married says that you are in it for the long haul and are willing to stick around and work through the hard times. Committing without marriage is like saying, I want to be with you, but I would like it to be smoother and easier to get out if one of us decides to leave. It is like a commitment with a clause. Get married isn’t a guarantee it will work but it shows intent.
      Natalie, I like the statement you made about feeling like you are in a foreign land after a break up. That is exactly how I felt. It has been over 7 months NC and the fog has lifted! I look back and can hardly believe the crap I endured and also who I became in the midst of it. This foreign land has turned into a much better place. I feel so much calmer and at peace. It wasn’t easy, and the first few months of NC were really hard and full of roller coaster emotions, but I rode through them and am now off the ride! Taking time off from dating was important for me and helped me get the focus on what was really going on inside me. Now that I am feeling human again, I have started dating someone and it feels so much healthier and normal. I am still careful and checking myself a lot so I don’t fall back into fallback girl status or end up with a clever AC. Your posts have been invaluable in my progress and have really helped me learn how to uncover the dirt on myself and quit blaming the ex AC for everything. He was a complete ass, purposely hurtful and controlling, but in the end it was me who determined how much I would take. I always had the choice to leave and didn’t until it was a matter of survival for me. I can’t explain why he was the way he was, but can now see my own mistakes and lack of faith in myself. In the end, this is all I really needed to know to come out of the crap hole and change things for myself. For those of you who are still struggling, hang in there, focus on yourself. Once you start coming out of the fog and see them and YOURSELF in the true light, you will no longer have room for them on your pedestal. Walk away and don’t look back. And, thank you Natalie!

  10. grace says:

    Aw Joe – long-term, cohabiting and sexually exclusive. It’s not just about the sex, it’s companionship. You might as well get married, lol.

    All the best!

    • Workshy Joe says:

      I don’t feel any desire to get the state involved in my relationship.

      We have no kids together. Her son is a grown man with his own place and I have no objection to him being next of kin. Neither of us owns very much so property division is basically irrelevant.

      Over 50% of marriages end in divorce in the Anglosphere. Over 70% of these divorces are initiated by the woman. “Bride” magazine sells well but “Groom” magazine doesn’t exist. That should tell you something is wrong.

      Marriage is an anachronism. Alot like the British monarchy.

      • MH says:


        I am surrounded by people with good marriages and I have seen more relationships with no certificates flounder around me because when there is no cememented paper in the mix people are more free to walk away then to work on things together. There is psych stats that back up marriages lasting verses people cohabitating. I don’t know the number but I did learn this in psychology. I am sure the stats of non married couples breaking up would be higher than married but that would be hard to trace. That’s why marriage gets such a bad rap easier to do tolls from divorce rates then random surveys of relationships breaking up, no one is obligated to do the surveys in those cases.

        Again I think it goes back to how so many people view themselves, love and relationships as to why there is a strong divorce rate or so many problem relationships. Which really says more about the human race. Natalie is trying to smarten many people up one post at a time.

        I am bias because I come from a long family history of people still happily married including my parents well over thirty years. They all had their work cut out for them at different points of their lives but when the tough got going people got their crap together and worked towards the marriage. I think the lack of piece of paper would have finished many of them off at those tough times.

        I also see the red flag in what you are saying. You are giving the impression that since you coudn’t handle being single you might as well go back. Time will tell and I wish you the best too. I would address your thoughts if I was in your shoes.

        Not just you so many people think that piece of paper means nothing sad if you asked me.

      • Deege says:

        Hi Joe. It just doesn’t sound like you are happy when you are thinking of being together with her. It sounds like, convenient, or that you are resigned. You can be happy with someone. You have fit yourself into the groove of her….it will be uncomfortable being any other way, until you let go of the parts of yourself that made her fit for you. Does that make sense? I am also talking to myself here, because I have said the same thing that you have said…”IF it doesn’t work out this time, I am not going to be with anyone.” I said that line the past three or four times we broke up.

  11. FeistyWoman says:

    Hey Natalie! Been a while. 😉

    “Suck it and see”. LOL I like that. It’s true though. That’s what we do when we hope for change. We go ahead and re-taste the dirt hoping it’s going to turn into rich milk chocolate and alas, it’s still the same gritty dirt it was the first time.

    I also believe however, some people are self-masochists who want to keep punishing themselves subconsciously in knowing nothing’s going to change. They feel the need to continue to cycle through a bad relationship and the pain involved so they can feel alive. Why do you think that is?

    IMO I think it’s because they don’t feel they are good enough to have anything good, so they perpetuate crap because they also don’t know what it feels like to have anything good.

  12. Leigh says:

    I know exactly why I went back after three years of NC. I was actually on holiday where he lives and I thought I was over him to a large degree.

    At the time I met him (2005) I was vulnerable, emotionally unavailable, in a terrible marriage. My ex husband warned me. “Be careful there are predators out there that will take advantage.” He was right. I’m still on good terms with my ex husband btw.

    Last year going back to the US where AC lives was a reminder of the pending (in my mind) issues with our breakup and the quality of man that he was/is.

    1) The fact that he offered me friendship and I didn’t take him up on it.
    2) The fact that he was SURE that I would take him up on his offer of friendship.
    3) The way he manipulated the situation and took the bait when I said “You can’t have both”
    4) The way he didn’t admit to having an affair with me when his wife admitted an affair to him.
    5) The way he didn’t acknowledge his part in the break up of my marriage.

    I had already spoken to him about how wrong our relationship was. For three years I cried over it. I obsessed over it. Then I gave up on it and concentrated on getting my divorce as my marriage had been over for many years.

    Whilst driving through his hometown, I got excited because I recognised places and it brought back good memories. My girlfriend said to me “text him say hi what harm can it do?”

    I texted him and he called me back. Offered to take me to lunch. I thought about it for a week. By this time my physical self was in overdrive, I became ill. I realise now it was a combination of getting my divorce and seeing him. The day I met him it was nice, sunny, bright. He made a pass and kissed me, I was overwhelmed. As usual, he had all the old moves and all the old complaints about his wife.

    He took my face in his hands and told me he loved me. I said that I loved him too but I asked him if he loved his wife. He said yes. So I said “What are you doing here with me then?

    Red flags everywhere. I revisited for a reason. To see if what I believed was true – that he is fundamentally flawed and evil in spirit, manipulative – and to get an APOLOGY for his part in breaking up a family. In other words I was pissed at him for getting away with his part in all of this and for him still having a family life and for mine falling apart. (Which incidentally was in part my fault, in part my ex’s fault for the times he went with others)

    I can honestly say I was a mess. Everything was coming to a head and I didn’t know why. I had to see if for myself – all of it. The icing on the cake came when he didn’t wish me a happy birthday, ten days later and even though he told me “Oh I KNOW when your birthday is!” and even though he said “friends” and he started to manage down my expectations. Friends don’t do this. I don’t trust him. I don’t even like him!

    I was utterly convinced at this point that this man 1) dumped his first wife for his second and screwed her head up and was trying to set me up as plan B and 2) Had no morals and no empathy.

    I dumped him by voicemail. I’m NC, and would never go back. No amount of validation, no amount of realisation, no amount of going back after a period of time is worth the additional hurt. But I must say that the final hurt has made me stronger and admit to myself where my own failings have been.

  13. GTash says:

    Thanks so much for this timely article Nat. It’s been two months since I last was involved with the married man and finally got my mojo back – out there single having fun and not missing him at all even at work. Then bang! Out at the pub with workmates and one guy who I like a lot but who has a girlfriend (and is very close to the married man) kissed me, told me how gorgeous I was and how he has liked me for ever blah blah blah and well, basically I got back on that familiar merry go round albeit with a different guy.

    Made the decision last night that I was NOT going down that road again and reading this article this morning has cemented that promise in my mind. Quite simply, I am not that woman (anymore).

  14. MaryC says:

    I’m 15 months NC and at times I have still felt that twinge of sadness about what happened but it does get better and my perception is so different than it was back when NC started. I see clearer now that my heart has calmed but it takes time.

  15. MagicPotion says:

    First off, I want to say that for everyone who is reading this blog and who may agree with some things Nat says and disagrees with other things she says: it’s the stuff you are most resistant to that you most need to learn.

    In her last blog, I had posted about my estranged husband who just got dumped by his (smart?) girlfriend. How he was suicidal and just started taking meds. How he finally admitted to cheating on me before we were dating, while we were dating, while we were engaged, while we were married and cheated on those who came after me after I left him. He tried to reconcile with me all on the same day! Meanwhile, he spewed off a list of “terms” that I had to accept, even though the reasons I left him did not change!

    I did meet him in person (as I had commented on the last blog, my minor Suck It And See Moment). I looked at him and actually saw the little man-boy he was. No attraction, no emotion towards him. I just felt bad that he still didn’t realize the world didn’t revolve around him. Nothing we can say will wake them up- they don’t do introspection. It’s their world. There was nothing he could offer me that would give me what I need or want.

    I want to let everyone here know something very personal to me. When I left him, things had become so awful that I made the choice: stay with him and have a steady income and pretty things and new clothes, or leave and be flat-ass broke. I chose Flat Ass Broke. I live with my mother. I finally got a job (he didn’t want me to work because it would take the focus off him), even though it barely pays my bills. I left him with all the furniture, even down to the last towel. My credit is destroyed. I have a beat-up used car and he just bought a brand new one. I’m worried about my Internet bill, yet he shells out $50 at a pop for concerts. I don’t care how long it takes for me to make up the money- I’ll get there eventually. What seeing/ talking to him proved to me is: I’D RATHER BE WHERE I AM RIGHT NOW THAN WHERE I WAS BACK THEN!

    I have been reading this blog since the summer, started posting in the fall and what I can tell everyone is this: You CAN heal, it IS lonely, but there is a difference between what you think is “lonely” and being “alone”- lonely is really boredom in disguise! We don’t want them back; we’re BORED!

    I love all of you and wish you strength, healing, happiness, inner peace and self-respect!

    I’m crying as I type this because I never thought I would actually get to the place where I chose ME…I have rediscovered what I want, my interests and who I am as a person. I’m not as bad as I thought. I just let “them” make me think I was fatally flawed.

    My wish for everyone is this: please read every blog, every comment. Find strength to heal in all of our shared experiences. Stop trying to find a man until you know EXACTLY who you are, your boundaries and your goals. DO NOT ACCEPT LESS.

    • done as dinner says:

      Magic – Wow – what you did was huge, and so brave and so rare. What an accomplishment to have made a frightening choice and stuck to it. I suspect so many people stay in relationships that make them unhappy but in which they are financially secure, but ultimately at what cost? That’s something only the individual in that situation can answer for herself. This weekend I posted a response to runnergirl about feeling like you are in a giant void because it feels like you have hit rock bottom. But the other way of looking at that is to see all the room you have made in your life to begin to let good things in. It sounds like that is where you are now. I hope you are so proud of yourself. xo done.

      • MagicPotion says:

        Done- thank you!

        It takes bravery to do the right thing for yourself, no matter how hard it’s gonna be. The reason we don’t chose our selves is because, due to our internal false beliefs and their validation, we don’t think we can make it. Even when I left him, I wasn’t sure I was making the right decision- I knew he was an awful man but was scared about my financial future. You know how they say”money isn’t everything”? So true. Granted you need to eat, but if everything else relies on being trapped in hell, who cares if you starve!

        I have taken the past 10 months (yes, it took that long- enlightenment don’t come easy!) to re-establish friendships and basically veg out on the couch, comfortable with that. Sometimes, I prefer to be home alone, in my little room at my mom’s place…just thinking and being me…ice cream included!

      • MH says:

        Hi Magic,

        Good for you for choosing you and I am here to say the same thing happen to me after I dating a AC from hell.

        He paid for all of our outtings and I had a social life when with him but I was miserable. The next year I double in credit debt and had to move home for a while. I then worked two jobs and paid off all of my debt. Eventually I was able to go on trips, pay for more schooling achieve higher income jobs and I don’t need to depend on a man for my spending anymore. I chose broke too and lived in a basement suite by myself paying my own way until it got to be too much and my parents were there for me.

        It gets better, you did the right thing like you say by choosing you. I did that too and my AC was so angry at me for getting the strength and finally dumping him.

        • MH says:


          I forgot to say I broke up with him and the next year I doubled in debt because I too chose broke over being with him.

    • Allison says:


      I love your strength and decision to move on, BUT there is no reason to live like a pauper. You were 50% of that marriage, and deserve just that.

      Put your pride aside and fight for what you’re entitled to!

    • outergirl says:

      @ MagicPotion
      Do you realize you might not have the material goods yet you are happy? That he has the $$ but he’s the one who’s suicidal? He’s bankrupt, you’re rich! Good.For. You

  16. Trinity says:

    @NML, Nat,
    Wow i know you hear this a lot but once again this is perfect timing for me.
    I have spent the last few weeks thinking, ive done the work, ive survived the grief, working with the x, work on myself, hit councelling for over a year and all the rest. Only why am i still getting similiar results? For instance getting looked over for a promotion i worked so hard to get all year, apparently i was only 95% of what they needed. Why am i still surrounded by people who really aggravate me? Ive been making new friends but the majority of them ive had to let go because i felt they were wrong for me, things like being to jealous, possesive, competeive and lying. I dont feel the need to go back to the x and its not just because i know he is wrong for me its because it wouldnt work because ive changed. Im not the same….yet at the same time nothing is changing if that makes sense. I feel slightly impatient and then it starts to make me feel maybe its just all me, am i the bad guy? Becuase even the people who dont do the right thing seem to move on, find love, new jobs or what ever….but im not.
    I know that perhaps those throughts are a test for me also because it feeds the abadonment issues? Maybe some people will always just struggle, am i one of them?
    I definetly have that feeling of needing to keep working on myself, refocuss and not give up. I need to make new goals now that the old ones didnt pan out and i guess not get stuck in feeling sorry for myself? Its kinda tiring though, it feels like an uphill battle and i wish i could just have it easy for awhile, be recognised, rewarded for all my hard work in my personal life and work…… not just overlooked and mistreated. It all makes you want to close off from the world and people and yet i know that is ther polar opposite of what i should do.
    I think more discussions on this sort of topic really help Nat, for the people who have gone NC, worked hard but find themselves still a bit stuck. and only to be dissapointed again.

    • MagicPotion says:

      “Im not the same….yet at the same time nothing is changing if that makes sense.”

      Yes, makes perfect sense, you are in transition. Sometimes life takes a long, hard minute to catch up to who you are becoming.

      I went through the same thing recently, then BAM, it all fell into place. Well, at least it has started to! I’m looking for encouragement anywhere I can find it these days!

      It seems that even though you are having probs with friends, it’s your job that is the source of the frustration. If we can leave men who don’t give us what we need, no matter how much effort we put into them, we can leave jobs that don’t give us what we need, no matter how much effort we put into them!

      You mentioned “struggle”. Please check out a book by my favorite author, Stuart Wilde (yes, he was pop in the 80’s and I’m dating/aging myself here…) “Life Was Never Meant To Be A Struggle”…if you’re “struggling”, rather than applying “effort”, something is wrong…

    • Nicole says:


      I can relate to what you are saying about feeling like you are still struggling, or wondering why things are not different now that you have put in over a year’s worth of work on yourself.

      But I can also read in your post some positives amidst those frustrations. You talk about making new friends but having to let them go because they were wrong for you. That takes courage to do that. When we are working on ourselves like this, learning to have boundaries, etc., life will not just fall into place because we are ready for it to. Recognizing that the new friends are wrong for you is a good sign of you getting healthier.

      One thing I realized in the work I have done is that it’s a process, a journey, whatever you want to call it. There are definitely goals, but we never actually “arrive” at a certain destination, because as we grow, we then grow some more, and so on. And also, we all have our inherent personalities and issues to deal with. The point is to learn to navigate life in spite of them, and not let them rule us.

      I like to picture it like that movie “A Beautiful Mind”. John Nash struggled with hearing and seeing people who were not there. I liken that to how all us have our issues we struggle with. Over many years, and much work, he finally learned to live his life without them controlling him. One day, he was asked if he still saw them. He replied that, yes, he did, but it was like a diet of the mind, and he chose not to indulge them. That may or may not speak to you, but I know it certainly does to me. My issues may just be an inherent part of who I am, but will they rule me, or will I rule them?

      I went to counseling for two years after my divorce. It was very eye-opening, and I learned alot about my issues and why I have them. And the more I learned the more aggravated I became with people. I think that is part of the process, to get angry, and then work on learning to accept that you can’t change those people, but you can decide if they are healthy for you or not. Although counseling is alot of work, the REAL work is living out what you have learned, and that takes a hell of lot longer to learn to do. I know because I’m still learning, too.

      • Trinity says:

        Thanks guys, both posts were really encouraging and things you both said are exactly the types of things i needed to hear.
        Yes, makes perfect sense, you are in transition. Sometimes life takes a long, hard minute to catch up to who you are becoming.
        One day, he was asked if he still saw them. He replied that, yes, he did, but it was like a diet of the mind, and he chose not to indulge them.

        Im also hearing you both on things like the councelling, remembering to apply what ive learnt and the natural process of feel aggrivated with people and the throughts about my job.

        I was only thinking yesterday, wow this job feels like a bad relationship. Its holding me back, tiring, inconsistant, takes but doesnt give and im the one doing the hard work without being recognised.

        Thanks again guys, means a lot :)

  17. Layla2 says:

    Hi ladies, I recently found out my assclown of five years has given me an STI and he was so quick to run and he hasn’t even apologized or anything.

    That literally broke my heart cos I knew he was an asshole but I didnt know he was evil! Anyway all i have to say is this…if your on ur way out of this relationship but still kinda stuck in between please run and don’t look back.

    I was there and i had sex just ”one more time” with him and he burned me! Sooooooooo NOT worth it! But I guess the up side is that I have been forced to yank myself out of this mess.

    The funny thing is that even after he burned me I’m still thinking ”one day he’ll realize what an amazing woman i am and at least apologize to me!” I obviously need to continue working on myself but i just hope I can get through this! :S

    • Audrey says:

      @Layla2: it is you who must realise you’re amazing, not him… .. and looking for an apology is a waste of time, you won’t get one and even if you did, it wont change the fact that he’s an assclown!

  18. Gina says:

    I love the analogy, it’s like trusting a thief with your bag –

  19. Viv says:

    As always your article comes at a time when it is needed most. Yes indeed, it does feel “strange” to not keep doing the same old things over and over again, but it is the right thing to do. So I will keep doing it and keep telling myself that if I don’t keep trying I won’t get what I want. Thanks so much for you wonderful words of wisdom!

  20. Maya says:

    I discovered Natalie’s blog in the last few months when I was trying to understand the reason for my recent ‘failed’ attempt at a relationship. I hit a low point yesterday, on my birthday. Whilst I know I am lucky to have all that I have in my life, wonderful, supportive family and close friends, the career I always wanted, attractive etc…All that ‘on paper’ stuff didn’t seem to count for much, all I could focus on was I didn’t have ‘love’…And more to the point; the EUM that I wanted. I also happen to be one of the very few people in my social scene that is single (I’m 28, and consider that to be young; but literally everyone I know is married and having babies!) …Left wondering if I may be the exception to the rule, and get ‘some fairytale ending’…

    I had one troubled on-off relationship in my early twenties with my ‘best friend’ at uni, that ended badly after 5 years. My ex then went on to propose to ‘the first girl he met’ after me within a year, and I did the whole ‘why her and not me thing’, beating myself up for a long, long time… My self esteem took a real battering. I had to separate myself from our mutual friendship circle, which was very cliquey in order to move on with my life and make a fresh start. The good thing was, I had moved to a different area so naturally would not be able to ‘hang out’ with all our old mutual college friends which made it convenient… I could not bear to socialise with him, bringing this ‘new girl’ who was treated with more respect and importance than he ever gave me the entire time we were together, and be tough when he had hurt me so much (leave that story out).. I also discovered how disloyal certain friends were… I certainly struck a cord with Natalie’s post on the subject; and agree when you try and raise a guy from the ground up it’s the next woman that benefits….

    Anyway, I didn’t feel that I would be any good in a relationship for years, and didn’t meet anyone I genuinely wanted to get involved with past friendship, although I did seem to get asked out on dates… Then last year I finally met someone I was instantly attracted to, I really wanted to get to know him; admittedly a lot of what sparked the attraction was that he was ‘great on paper’, so handsome, great career and so many people said ‘what a nice guy’ he was; I thought I could not go wrong.. He was almost too good to be true. Some mutual (well meaning married) friends had been saying for a while we would be a good match, I felt like it ‘was meant to be’… but he was never particularly forthcoming… Essentially I chased after him, maybe that was half the allure; trying to get someone and ‘winning him over’…. Anyhow we eventually got together, I really thought ‘this it it’!! Yes, the first few weeks were wonderful, he showered me with compliments, amazing chemistry I had never felt with anyone, arranged dates, called when he said he would, sweet etc… I was guarded initially, and felt like it was so right, so I let it down, we were pretty physical (bit deal for me, no sex) … After just a few weeks, it was full of the ‘hot and cold’ games typically displayed by an EUM… When I called him up on it; he looked so offended, that what I was suggesting was he played ‘mind games’ … Then I explained that I didn’t know where I stood after 3 months of dating (plus this had been preceded my months of flirting, texting, instant messaging during the ‘chasing phase’), and had it not been for his withdrawing on me (one day it was all sweet, then not returning my texts/ calls for days) then being off on the phone, no apology/ explanation… I wouldn’t have felt the need to ask ‘where it was going’…. Anyway, he said he didn’t ‘want to be forced into a relationship after a conversation’ and ‘feeling pressure (all our friends expecting something)… And that he ‘didn’t want to go into boyfriend mode’, that he ‘wanted to see me’ but ‘didn’t have as much time as other people because of his busy job’ (I’m a surgeon by the way and I never pulled out the ‘busy card’ lol)….But he ‘was very attracted to me and wanted to keep seeing me (when it suited him)’…. I heard all the big red flags, and when he asked me what I thought, he was surprised when I said ‘I needed to think about what was right for me’…. Then in true EUM style, hot hot hot he blew, to the point I thought he was trying to show me he wanted me to stay interested… He went cold just before going away on a stag do (to Eastern Europe…Oh, the cliche!) and didn’t call when he got back (he said he would of course before he left)… Got some lame text saying he was sorry for not calling and to let me know when I was free for a catchup, that was the final straw for me… I ended up ending it with him over the phone, as it seemed like that was the way it was headed.. He said all the things I tried to read meaning into ‘I can’t give you what you deserve’ (exactly what it was)… ‘I’m not ready to take things to the next step’… ‘I’m not ready to settle down’ (To which I said, neither was I, nobody was asking him to, just for consistency… I don’t know why he thought I wanted to get married, but he said that was not the impression I gave him)… I was exhausted by this point of feeling so up and down, thought it would be a relief to not be in it anymore. So that was 6 months ago… I wanted to be ‘mature about it’, so said we should be friends, we had mutual friends I worked with etc and they all still go on about how ‘he is the nicest guy’… I was surprised how gutted I felt once it was over.. I mean it was not even a ‘relationship’ he made that clear, yet I felt such a huge loss… I realised this was based on the ‘illusion’ as his good behaviour was what i bet the potential of the relationship on…. But I really felt like I fell for him. The last few months has been spiced with sporadic contact, initially me (I’ve called him once after 6 weeks of nc) and then nothing from me, then lame texts from him when he wants an ego stroke… I’ve since found out he is on multiple dating websites which stung, as I thought when he sorted his issues out, he would pull his finger out and want to give things with me a real go as we had ‘so much going for us’ and I felt we let lots of factors come into play/ misunderstandings… He has never called. I got a message from him on my bday, probably the sweetest one in a while… I was determined to go no contact, then replied, feeling low again, as nothing more from him…..

    Relationship insanity, I think so! We think that we can keep them around us on lesser terms, that they’ll be respectful, or maybe even recognise our fabulousness and come grovelling.

    I realise my confidence and self esteem is low and I have dated much more respectful and decent guys since this EUM, but he seems to be the one I just can’t forget…. Sorry for the long post, just wanted to get this off my chest, inspiration needed after this silly bout of bday blues…

    Thanks to NML and all you girls, reading the blog makes me realise that I’m not alone and we all have potential to change and love healthily

    • done as dinner says:

      Maya – happy belated b-day! You write “I have dated much more respectful and decent guys since this EUM, but he seems to be the one I just can’t forget” I’ve read that encounters with narcissists take much longer to over come than do relationships with normal people. The reason is that with narcissists you are dealing with a person who has their own reality and only plays by their own rules, which they change as often as need to suit them. They also lie without blinking, contradict themselves and gaslight you. So in the end you are left feeling like you are completely crazy. Part of getting beyond them is realizing there is no logic to their behaviour. It just is. We need to re-direct our focus on to our own feelings and reactions instead. Having been involved with a narcissist, this has been my experience. Very hard to get over because they are like trying to make sense of a Dali painting.

    • Used says:

      What begins badly usually ends badly.

      You made the (initial) mistake of chasing him. Especially at the start of a relationship, the guy has to do 100% of the chasing. In fact, I believe the guy shoudl ALWAYS be doing the chasing, calling, setting up dates, etc. A woman should feel comfortable calling up a guy only after he says “I love you” and a commitment exists! And EVEN THEN the phone calls from the woman to the man should be FEW AND FAR BETWEEN. As in, once a month! Or made only when forced to, to follow up on, or clear up, plans!

      This was not meant to be, most likely.

      He MAY change his attitude toward you if he hears that you are seeing someone else. Which you should start doing, asap when you are ready.

    • TeaTime says:

      Maya – The EUM you described sounds exactly like the EUM I saw last year. He did almost everything you wrote out! It can really do a number on you when someone you think is being honest and loving suddenly tells you they aren’t interested in something serious and that what you had wasn’t even considered a relationship in their eyes. Why would they even act in those ways if they knew it wouldn’t be going anywhere? And to do this to multiple women at once? We need to move past these assclowns and EUMs! I have found working with a counsellor to build up my self esteem again has really helped. I think those of us with low self esteem should do this before being with another guy – otherwise, we’ll fall into the same pattern and fall for another EUM that will leave us scratching our heads a few months later…

    • MH says:


      We can only have someone around us when we have no more feelings and know for sure we are not going to go back. I have an ex that contacts me here and there but many years back I had to put distance into our lives. Now it doesn’t matter that he is in my life on lesser terms because I know better.

      I haven’t physically seen the last guy but I chose to take some of his calls here and there. I have still managed to work through most of my issues with him and I am still on a path. For most I agree no contact and I have had to do that for certain relationships. For him I can have little contact or I will start to idealize him if I haven’t spoken to him in awhile. Everytime I speak to him my idealization goes out the window because he reminds me of how he is still the same which is good for me and confirms why I am staying away. I know seeing him would be detrimental right now but I am not ruling it out later in life when I have a boyfriend. The two guys that I allow to contact me here and there were my friends first before becoming intimate so I think that is why it is harder to go no contact since I have a rapport with them both. I have also witness my ex help me with some really important goals over the years so his friendship has added to my life at times . Even the latest guy is there for me through some tough times like no one else and it makes a better difference. I just go into to these situations now with my eyes wide open and willing to opt out if I feel they are going to detract from me because I already know who they are.

      • Nicole says:


        I relate to what you wrote, but not sure if I entirely agree with it. I still have limited contact with my ex-AC, by phone or text, for work reasons. I hardly ever talk to him face to face. Like you, I start to idealize him if I have not spoken to him in a while, but then when I do, I am reminded of who he really is.

        But what I have noticed, for me anyway, is that when the time between contact stretches out a few weeks, there is the idealizing, but also comes with it that fear that maybe he has become the man I was hoping he would…WITHOUT ME. So, I get relief from that feeling when I speak to him. And also, I think the relief is sort of like a drug fix. Because sometimes, I think I detect a note of caring, or he’ll ask a quick “how are you”? Or we might share a joke. I get my fix (or maybe temporary validation) from these interactions.
        So, for me, I don’t see this sporadic contact as a good thing. It’s just a different form of the cycle I was in when I was in a relationship with him.

        • grace says:


          I’m with you on that – it was only when I blocked the MM that I was finally free of the worry and stress. It only took a couple of weeks from that point to pretty much forget him; before that I ‘d been having intermittent contact for a few months and couldn’t understand why it was taking me so long to move on – we weren’t actually seeing each other, I’d decided I wasn’t going to have an affair with him, my work, friendships etc were getting better.

          So why was I still bothered about him? Er, it was because I was still in contact.

        • MH says:


          Thank you for that insight, very intuitive and makes so much sense.

    • grace says:

      Wow, you’re a surgeon. You don’t need this loser! Just goes to show this has nothing to do with intelligence or being smart.

      Forget him – you’re looking to him for validation, to prove something to yourself, to win him over. Validate yourself and why do you want to win a booby prize? You’re the prize! Don’t even think about him anymore. It’s easy for me to say but I can’t in good conscience say anything else.

  21. Tallgirl10 says:

    I just had a really hard week. The good – for the several weeks before last week I had been interacting with a very controlling man (upset I was unavailable, clinked a glass down at a bartender who did not give him a drink immediately, and tried to convince me to come to his place before I felt comfortable). I watched the red flags, and I sent him packing after our second date.

    But I still feel sad. Which is really surprising. I really focused on how I felt, and checking in with myself., and I ended it clearly. Then why am I so darn sad? Like really darn sad. Still.

    • done as dinner says:

      @ Tallgirl. It’s always sad when you had hope for a situation or person and instead it turns to disappointment, and you feel like you are back to square one. Do you think that is part of it? Maybe this was a good thing though because you were able to recognize a red flag early on and abort mission, before you got hurt or wasted time. So, if this is the case, doesn’t that mean you are one step closer to something good, and sooner?

    • MagicPotion says:

      don’t beat yourself up- you just had hope that maybe this one, this time, would be normal. Been going through that off and on lately myself: they guy I met who made “racist” remarks, the guy who wanted me as a SnuggleBuddy (barf) and the one who stalked me on FB cuz he saw my pic and made dirty innuendos…all you did was hope, but congrats to you because you saw the flag and decided to forfeit the game!

    • Deege says:

      You were strong and did the right thing. It doesn’t feel good to you yet because you are going against your pattern, but you are right to nip this in the bud. I hope I will be equally strong if the situation presents itself to me.

    • MH says:


      Your sad because another one bit the dust and we delude ourselves thinking only duds are going to come our way for the rest of our lives. If you have already had many it’s hard to believe things are going to change for the good.

      That’s my take on it.

      • Tallgirl10 says:

        This seems about right. Can’t seem to catch a break. But, this time I only paid attention to me. In the past I was really worried and concerned about them. If they liked me, how they felt. None of that this time, and a big fat kick to the tush for behavior I would have ignored because I was attracted.

        • Movedup says:

          Tallgirl – watch Must Love Dogs – it will get you laughing. Its not all that uncommon really – just detach from the outcome. Expectations lead to dissapointments. Good job on keeping your eyes open. There are good men out there so don’t give up until then its catch and release. Most importantly don’t give up on you.

          • Tallgirl10 says:

            I am feeling so much better! Just needed some processing time and time to give myself a pat on the bat for way new behaviors!!! Go me. And go all of you!

    • Allison says:

      What is it that’s making you sad? You don’t know this man?

      This has been a pattern for you, as you get attached to people after a very short period of time.

      • Tallgirl10 says:

        I feel very defensive about this comment for some reason – that because I am sad I was therefore attached. I can be sad because I am learning new things or breaking old patterns. They do not have to be the same thing. I was not attached to him. This is the first time I was not worried about his feelings about me for even one second when we were interacting. I only paid attention to how I felt. But I was still sad, and pulling myself out of it. I was not sad about him, I do not know him, and what I saw was not something I am interested in, or I would have continued.

        • sunshine says:

          It may be that you were attached to your hopes and expectations, and not necessarily HIM. I deeply appreciate the way Natalie has been able to break down how we make pictures in our heads of how we want things to be and then try to get the men we date to match up with those pictures (and ourselves as well!)…and when it doesn’t happen, if we are not attached, we just roll with it. If we are attached to the pictures in our minds, then it hurts when we have to detach and we feel sad, angry…negative emotion in general.

          Byron Katie has sad that ‘sadness’ is what “confusion” feels like. We get confused when reality doesn’t sync up with our thoughts, our pictures, our expectations, our beliefs…and the jarring dissonance between the two HURTS. Hence, sadness…from confusion what’s in our minds with reality.

          • Tallgirl10 says:

            Hmmm. I am pretty sure that the reason why I was sad was because part of my ego is upset that I let go of someone who was clearly interested (even if I knew they were bad for me). My ego has led a lot of what I have done in the past and led by fear and gotten me involved with many an AC. I have had to learn to fight the negative voices in my head and get with my gut more squarely, but that can be very tiring as the old brain and thought process is there much more deeply than taking care of myself. I feel really proud of myself here, because even if I was sad, I know I did the right thing. I listened to me, I ended things when I saw a red flag, and I worked on my negative thoughts, all things I would have not done before. I would have listened to my ego, I would have seen how it went and I would have made myself to blame or at least criticized myself. In the end, I was not confused, not at all, I was just fighting old habits.

        • Allison says:


          We get defensive when a nerve is hit.

          What I was trying to say was, you only went out with guy once, and shouldn’t have cared.

          I’m sorry, I shouldn’t of said anything.

          • Tallgirl10 says:


            Indeed getting defensive is often because of a nerve, but maybe it was because you are there to attach me, which is what you did. And my guess is purposely as by your second response.

            The reason I posted was because the post is about how breaking habits is uncomfortable, which seems to answer why it was that I would have a counter intuitive feeling to standing up for myself. I did not post on some random one asking for advise, I was asking if others had had that experience.

            You interact with me online very briefly. In the past I did spend a lot of time worrying about what they felt or thought or why they did XYZ to me. That is correct. I did none of that here.

            At one date or 1000 dates, I am just as entitled to be here as you are, and I am also allowed to ask for feedback, just as you are.

            Breaking habits is hard, and I am doing the work. In fact, this whole thing has only proven to me how far I have come.
            Your opinion on my past is irrelevant.

            • NML says:

              Alison and Tallgirl10 – I think you’ve both now made your points and in the interests of abiding by the commenting guidelines, I’d appreciate it if you drew a line under this ‘tension’.

          • Tallgirl10 says:

            I just realized that my response is indeed very defensive. Interestingly, I think what is triggering me is the whole – you should not care line. All I have to say is “You are not the boss of me” :-)!

            I don’t care about him, but that does not mean I am not a robot and don’t care about my love life and where my love life is. When you date on and on and it does not work, it can make you sad – it is not about the person, it is about reflection.

            Everyone’s feelings are valid, it is when you act on them that is a problem. Or ignore them. I watched my feelings closely, and felt really icky so I cut it off. In the past, I would have “waited it out”. Or I would have tried to make it better. Or I would have just ignored that I felt sad.

            Instead, I really studied why I felt sad, which is a history or small disappointments and a reflection on where I am in. I am now feeling at peace and centered.

            Which is a really nice feeling. The feeling, I would have thought I would feel a week ago, but interestingly, I had to mourn some old stuff first. Which allows it to go away, which is very freeing.

  22. Gingerbell says:

    For me, it’s precisely everything that Natalie says but what really resonated today is this new language concept. Especially in this last relationship. I’m embarrassed of the way I felt I needed to communicate with myself and to him to get what I deemed a positive result..which really equaled not facing my stuff and continuing to be a doormat for a narcissist. I looked at some texts, emails and conversations we had during and post relationship. Yiiikes. Throughout the course of the relationship, I thought we had a very special dialogue that no one else got. He once said to me, “You’ll never meet another man who will love or understand you so deeply”. Uh huh…If that’s the case, then I’m a little afraid of what might be out there.
    And because I have exercised some of my deepest, worst patterns in relationship history with him, I suddenly feel like I have some sort of Avatar body I’m trying to figure out. Because now, for the first time in my life, I’m facing all my stuff. It’s come to such a head and glaringly obvious demise that I can’t avoid it. New language must come with new backbone.. I’ll work on it.

    • MagicPotion says:

      Gingerbell- after my AC/EUM estranged ex-husband, I flew straight into the arms of a Narc. Told me everything I have ever wanted to hear all my life. Your comment about feeling like an Avatar is so normal for us survivors of their vampirism- it’s all about THEM! We forget who we are. Hell, we forget we are even human because we lick the sweat off their asses for so long!

      I too, thought we had “something special”…the “similarities” and “connection” was so (fake?) strong! That’s how they get us- they are MASTERS of morphing into who we want them to be until they finally get us “hooked”- then they pull the rug out from under us, leaving us to think WE did something wrong. THEY are mentally ill, not us. Unfortunately, we blame ourselves…

      • Gingerbell says:

        Thanks MagicPotion.
        Re: “THEY are mentally ill, not us.” I know, right?! I called him a narcissist once.. well maybe a few times and I think he actually accepted it as a compliment. A lot of the problem was that I believed he was so great because he was so convincing of how great he was..
        The more I think of it, perhaps he had the same “connection” with his exes he suggests are just as “crazy” as I am…and by crazy he means the female gender.

  23. El says:

    I broke up with my ex 8 months ago after a 3 year fairly crap relationship (emotionally unavailable etc). I have been doing no contact but have fallen off the wagon quite a few times. I am back on no contact and feeling pretty good. I realise that I am much happier out of the relationship. However, every time I see my ex (I live in a small city), I feel very physically attracted to him..still!
    It really annoys me because I just want to move on, but I feel some sort of animalistic attraction to him whenever I see him. I feel this causes me relationship insanity because after seeing him, i begin the whole analysis process again. I do not want to be with him again…but I dont understand why i still find him so attractive.

    • Audrey says:

      @El:: I think you’re attracted to him cos you just are. But unfortunately, we can feel very attracted to guys who are no good for us. But perhaps just see it for what it is – you’re still attracted to him but he’s still no good for you.
      There’s no point in going over and over things in your mind – i’m sure it didnt work for very good reasons.
      Attraction can feel powerful and we can confuse it with thinking we still have “feelings” for a guy. We can think that because we feel attracted to him, he must still feel attracted to me and maybe he still has feelings for me too. But that’s not the case.
      At the end of the day if he mistreated you, he mistreated you and that’s what important to keep in mind.

    • Gingerbell says:

      I can relate to this, El.
      I caved in early this month when he showed up at my door and blew my 10 days no contact. I have a weakness to him, obviously if I forgot to be discerning and allowed him into my bed. Very BIG mistake.Well I’m paying for it now as he of course had no plan beyond reestablishing his ego and sending me right back to square one. The attraction can wreak havoc. Soooo, I have the most hideous picture of him holding a cupcake with a very unsavory word written in icing on it,describing a man which coincidentally describes him to a T. It’s my screen saver at the moment. Sigh.. He’s very cute but not when he is unkind.

  24. MH says:

    Wow, I needed this post. For me NC doesn’t work because absence grows the heart fonder and this works against me. I start idealizing him and thinking he is living in the land of perfect and if only I chased him like his gf did I would be living in ideal land. Then when I talk to him I learned nope she needs this blog more than me and I realize I dodged a bullet, she caught a dangerous man and I threw it back into the water where it belongs.

    That being said he contacted me over the weekend and I decided to take that call because a tragedy happened and I wanted to hear the story. I think I would have taken his call anyways. I have been avoiding contact from him a lot in the past and it keeps me in lala land.

    Anyways, he started to tell me that he missed me, and would do everything all over again, wants to leave his gf but doesn’t want to because she is super nice and the relationship is good but he misses his old life. He said see nothing has changed I am still a eff up individual. He wanted to see me that night but he admitted he wouldn’t behave by saying if I happen to make some moves he isn’t going to stop me. I told him I have never made any moves on him so why would I now especially since he has a gf. I can walk down the street and say sex and I would have a line of guys that aren’t attached so if I wanted that I would find single guys. In other words, he proposed to do things behind his gf’s back. I told him straight out that out of respect for myself and his gf I will not see him, even though I would punch him if he tried anything on me. I told him that I under no circumstances support cheating and that I am the last girl to be asking to get involved in a situation like that. I am not going to give him advice but I am going to stay away. He asked then if we could go for lunch during the week. I said no involvement. He says he is a terible boyfriend, doesn’t want to be one, but that the relationship is good and it is not the gf she is a great person it is him who cannot handle a relationship. We all know what advice he needs but I know it will be a waste of breath and nothing is going to change. What is important is I thought enough for myself and the gf to avoid him. The sad thing is he is going to find someone eventually to cheat with but that is their problem and I am glad it is not me that will be assisting that.

    Besides Nat writing a post just recently about this kind of missing and all that stuff about how these guys may cheat so they can calm their commitment fears, I already know all this and would avoid seeing him regardless to make sure I don’t faulterl to old whims. Avoiding temptation is the first and foremost way to keep from anything slipping and happening.

    You should be saying ‘WOAHHHHH! Hold your horses! I know I’ve been working on myself but what is it about me that is the *same* that still feels an affinity with this person and the relationship?’

    However, I am disturbed that because I have tried online dating recently and I haven’t been happy with the prospects a part of me today thought if he did leave his gf and things went back to the way they were without him having any girls in his life that it would be better than this life I am living that has no one in it.

    Luckily, my self esteem or boundaries kicked in and said he is still the same, the problems would remain the same, and his EU would cause anxiety in my life again. I am better off with how things are now. The blessing in disguise is his gf because he hasn’t stopped contacting me even when I have yelled at him to go away. I would never call a person again if they yelled at me to go away. I know because I have taken his calls after that it gives him the go ahead but for me, someone yelling like that would be embarrassing and I would not call again.

    I went to the movie “no strings attached” on Saturday, thinking it would be a funny movie because its the girl for once not wanting the commitment. I drove my friends home and afterwards I went home. I had my phone on silent and didn’t know he was contacting me. Later I said to my friends how funny that I go see that movie and he contacts me right afte (FYI: We were in a no strings relationship). One thing for me is when all the fun is over I want that special someone waiting for me at the end of the night. I had a great, awesome night with friends but it would have been the best if some wonderful guy was waiting . I think the only icing to the cake for me that night was hearing that he is still the same.

    In today’s post Natalie says don’t give up. that came to me today at the perfect moment because I am not happy with my dating life right now, and I wanted to give up and that is what is keeping me in affinity with him. It takes me a long time to get comfortable with a person and he has a lot of good qualities but he has fatal flaws for a relationship and I got very comfortable with him. I know I have to keep going forward and I am proud of myself that I am the one with no one and refused him.

    My morals overrided my libido because he is sexy. I chose chicks over dicks by not taking up an offer from an attached guy. I didn’t lecture him so I didn’t participate in “women who talk too much.” I stated my boundary and made it straight to the point that I don’t go for attached guys. I kept to my values of not settling for a body being there, even though I am lonely as hell when I go home and all the fun stops with all of my friends. He wanted me to pick him up and he was close by but I said no several times.

    • Allison says:

      I hope you’re not going to engage with this guy again.

      MH, his ego was stroked just by this conversation, why didn’t you hang up when it got off the topic of the tragedy? And, wasn’t there someone else you could discuss the tragedy with?

      This guy sounds like a complete creep! He has no problem with cheating and treating women like crap, yet the women in his life engage with him. He knows he’s a creep, you’ve got to listen to what he’s been telling you!

  25. msblue says:

    I don’t understand why some of the women here are having sex with married men. How would you like to be in their wives position and have your husband cheat on you? Also, if he cheated on his wife with you, if you do become his wife, aren’t you suspicious he will cheat on you, too?

    • grace says:

      It sneaks up on you. In my case, he was my ex from over 20 years ago, and was a facebook friend for several years without any sign of trouble before he started trying it on with me. Thankfully,I got away without having an affair but it was awfully close. What kept me on the straight and narrow was this site and the fact that I WAS able to take his wife/child into account. If i hadn’t come across Nat and had been younger/more naive I may have fallen for it.
      The fact is all of us here have got into relationships that emotionally healthy women wouldn’t understand – accidental FWB, cheaters, beaters, disappearers etc. Though the MM is a breed apart. Unless he lied, its obvious that he’s unavailable, no need to read the signs!
      The OW is saying loud and clear “I’m okay with coming second” (more like ninth or tenth after himself, his wife, career, kids, friends, family, house, pets, holidays, reputation). By seeing him she says it, by sleeping with him she says it and by sticking around she says it. She may not THINK she is saying it, but she is! She may as well be proclaiming it through a loudspeaker.
      Anyway, back to why women get involved – the battle for validation, it’s safe cos it’s not a proper relationship (ha ha the irony), they get hooked on the attention (aha he must really like me if he’s gonna cheat on his wife – yes I get that it’s bizarre reasoning), the dramatic highs (and lows). It’s all back to the basics – low self esteem and zero boundaries. Saying you have high self esteem and boundaries is not the same as living it.

      • runnergirlno1 says:

        Based on my experience, Grace’s explanation is spot on. In my opinion, the MM and the OW are breeds apart. It was when I started thinking (and talking) about his wife, my denial cracked. I was deep, deep, deep in denial and revisiting past my past pain source steming from a crummy relationship with my father. I have no excuse or justification for becoming involved with a MM. As Grace said, there is no need to “read the signs”, it is a flashing neon red flag. But without boundaries, low self-esteem, and a healthy dose of denial, I proceeded as though we were the couple. I deserved the darkness and pain being ninth or tenth. I signed up for it and subsequently complained about it almost everyday but did nothing to get out, until recently. I would like to apologize to his wife and all women who have been betrayed by their husbands with OW. I am no longer that woman, the other woman.

        • Allison says:

          Wow! Sounds like you’ve made some massive changes!

          Good luck on your journey!

          • runnergirlno1 says:

            Thanks Allison. Natalie’s articles and the posts from you and the others have kept me going. NC, although it hurts, has given me some time and space to take a good long look at why I am where I am. I deserve to be here. However, the pain and frustration of being NC is nothing like the darkness of being the OW. I’m holding steady and determined not to repeat my pattern with the same pain source different package. At 51, I figure I’d better get a grip soon!

    • Deege says:

      One reason is because the married man lies about his status . Mine kept her totally hidden from me, and because of my own submissive nature, I believed every word he said. Once I discovered the truth, I continued because I was selfish, because I thought we were the exception to the rule, we were going to end up together…….he told me she didn’t want to have sex with him and hadn’t been with him in years. i was a daggone fool, and i know it. i’m not proud of it. I got stuck. There is no excuse, I was selfish and had no thought of her. My feeling was, if its not me, it will be someone else, and I wanted him. I hope I never see him again. I feel lucky t o have gotten out without her knowing about me. I pray it stays that way.

      • Allison says:


        It is life changing.!

        If you allow it it will change every aspect of your life for the positive. Boundaries in all areas of ones life are so important, and I wouldn’t have learned it it weren’t for this site. Amazing life lesson! I will NEVER go back!

        Don’t doubt yourself because if you do you will end up where you were. To an outsider, it sounds like you are on a path of recovery, please have the faith, that we have in you :)

    • Marks-Poppet says:

      I feel the same, blue. It’s to do with society setting women up as rivals when we should be sisters. Natalie calls it “Putting Chicks Before Dicks.”

  26. Sally Jayes says:

    I have been going back over and over to my ex, even though each time he has left me for the same woman, and I was hoping and hoping for him to see the light and see what he was losing and change. I could not see what I was doing to myself even though I have been reading this site for weeks now. I finally think I got it though. I just could not accept I had made such a bad choice. If he changed then maybe I would be able to say to myself, “See, you were right, there was a really good man in there somewhere, he just needed my help to come out”. When in fact I should say “He is a sh*t and I messed up when I chose him and I need to stop allowing him into my life”. I have always been a perfectionist and hated to admit being wrong. Admitting I chose a loser who had no morals would have felt a bad reflection on me. Actually right now I see I am not always right, not perfect, and it really does not matter nearly as much as I thought it would. Who is perfect. We all make mistakes. It’s ok, I am ok. Now I can move on, leave him to be who he is, accept him as he is and not try to take responsibility for him and his choices. If he changes thats great for him but I cannot take the credit. I have my own life to lead. Hopefully I have learned from this experience how to spot a loser next time, but if I find I repeat my mistakes maybe I will recognise it sooner and get out faster. I need to go away and work on me so that I do not give off “rip me off” signals to all the men I come into contact with. I have nothing to prove to them. I don’t need to be their angel, the one to fix them or make up for the last one they failed with. I want to enjoy my life more and not be such a huge critic of myself. Maybe it is ok to have fun and laugh and not worry what anyone thinks of me. I still have my values to live by but I will cut myself some slack on the perfection thing. If men don’t like me for who I really am its their loss. Here’s to the future, my future.

    • EmmaNZ says:

      I think you and I are around the same point. Feeling strong……but it still sucks. Please know for certain, that there is at least one woman in the world who is feeling as you do. Kia kaha, stay strong.

  27. Deege says:

    It’s unbelievable how accurate you are in your assessment of the situation so many of us find ourselves in. I wish I could be so intelligent when it comes to my own relationships. I’ve been plunging my hands into the fire again and again for nearly eight years, and now I am ready to quit. It was easy the first few days, now its day twelve and I feel lonesome, depressed. Still, I am determined. No contact, not one word. I have not taken the bait he threw out so far, haven’t “checked” internet sites looking for him, removed his name from the contact list and emails. It is endless, the ” getting rid of ” his sorry butt. It helped on day one when I saw he was going to give me the silent treatment again, to cut my hair and shave my body hair, taking back my physical self. Now I am the silent one. I know I deserve a real man, who will communicate, and certainly one who will commit to me for a lifetime, not just stolen hours. Besides that, he was a big cheapskate. Why did I put myself through all that? That is my struggle. Thanks for your great insights, I appreciate them very much!

  28. EmmaNZ says:

    This might be classified as a reader question?
    I did “suck it and see”, and learnt my lesson and called a halt (again) 2 days ago. Once again stating NC. He lasted 1 day, and rang me today (keeping in mind, he hadn’t rung me, only texted, for months prior to this), following up on a favour he had offered. A favour that he had done nothing about for 3 weeks. Despite some little off-shoots in my brain – why’s he contacting me? Does it mean he cares/has changed/realises what he’s done? – The overwhelming wave in my head was, he is trying to maintain the idea in his head that he is a Nice Guy. ‘ See, even though she is the one that broke it off, I’m still doing her favours.’ In other words, he is using me for an ego stroke.
    Pertinent facts – I answered the call because he rang my home phone, and i don’t have caller ID, so had no clue it would be him. He is my landlord. I am employed by his best friends wife.
    So he wanted some info in order to do this favour. Asked me to text him back. Needless to say, I won’t be. But what do I do if (when?) he contacts me again about it?
    I don’t need this favour. I certainly don’t want it from him.
    Actually, typing this out has made it clearer. “Thanks, but we’re fine. Don’t worry about it.”

    • grace says:

      yes. that answer is fine. it’s not a big deal. he’s your landlord, you’re going to have to continue some contact with him. just keep it strictly business.
      he’s not the bogeyman, he’s just a … bloke. you can handle it.
      just don’t have sex with him, ha ha!

      • EmmaNZ says:

        Too true grace,

        Actually, that “he’s just a bloke” has been resonating in my head, and has been fabulous! You put it in perspective for me. Thank you.
        He did get back in touch. I responded how I suggested. Have heard nothing back. Thank gawd.

  29. Cariad says:

    As many have said, such a timely article. Had my first counselling session yesterday… Told her a bit about AC Features and she told me what to do if I ever bump into him; keep walking. Don’t look at him, don’t acknowledge him – look straight ahead and keep walking. If he follows, walk to the nearest police station. Don’t have to say anything to the police – just the act of walking into the police station says you mean business.

    I feel such a sense of relief today. I was afraid of what she’d think – that i’m a moron. It amazes me that she’s got him pegged after hearing minimal information, while it took me weeks and weeks of collecting red flags and analysing the whole thing to figure out he really is bad news.

    Spending time with my counsellor was also valuable in an unexpected sense – I was seeing what a woman with boundaries and values looks like in action. There was no room for excuses – instant red flags for her, and the fact she told me to walk to the police station was a massive wake up call for me. Didn’t expect that.

    Anyway, I hope everyone’s doing well. I feel that things are looking up and that everything’s going to be ok.

    • NML says:

      Hi Cariad. I’m really glad that you posted this and I’m even happier that you are seeking counselling. You are indeed right that it’s what boundaries looks like – no excuses, no BS’ing, no trying to analyse why the red flag exists – it’s recognising that it is a red flag and that no matter what the reason, it’s time to make a run for it. Just the act of ‘collecting’ red flags is all the info you need. One is bad enough. But thank goodness you realised.

      Don’t underestimate what she has told you and even though you may have rough days or feel the lure, don’t get hijacked by those feelings and follow through on them. And that’s for your own safety. Be safe x

      • grace says:

        Cariad, Nat

        Yeah forget the analysing. I don’t give a stuff why they do it. I don’t even analyse myself. Red flag – bugger off!

      • Cariad says:

        Hi Natalie, hi Grace – thanks for your replies. Thank you for Baggage Reclaim! Really has inspired me to take action and to get help. I think I underestimated everything that’s been going on but I won’t underestimate my counsellor’s reaction and what she said to me.

        I agree, Grace. A red flag is a red flag. Don’t analyse it and don’t try to rationalise it.

        My counsellor said the AC sounds like a Jekyll and Hyde character. He was into manipulation and control, and on top of that was confused and commitment phobic.

        I had problems enforcing boundaries with him, as even though i’d stand up for myself, to him it was information to use as ammunition. It showed him that whatever he’d done had bothered me and had ‘worked’ so he’d do it all the more.

        He was also very affectionate towards me, more so than anyone i’ve ever known. I told my counsellor and she said he probably employed those methods as at some point I must’ve signalled to him that I was lacking affection. I actually told him I usually have to ask for hugs… so he became ridiculously cuddly.

        Also I have a tendency to put myself down. By doing that i’d inadvertently fed the negative feedback – the fact he was insulting me and criticising me wasn’t a reflection of his own experience. He was reflecting me.

        I was showing him how to manipulate me. Then he lulled me into a false sense of security/insecurity so I could be controlled. I believe at the heart of it is control. Everything else is a symptom of that and might look vaguely like a relationship, but that’s a by-product, and an unwanted one for them. I think that’s why they have no concept of a relationship being the ultimate goal – to them the jackpot is having someone under control.

        One of the things I couldn’t get my head around is why he pursued me for a relationship, then when we had ‘the talk’ he backtracked so hard. I realise his actions weren’t with a view to establishing a relationship, but were methods of manipulation that had to mimic a relationship.

        While he was backtracking away I challenged him on his relationship-like behaviour but he denied it like he’d been backed into as corner. Of course he was going to deny his actions and take it all back because he was being caught out in a lie. His affection etc. was a lie.

        It never was a relationship – he said as much and my counsellor said so, which hurt at the time because I felt she was confirming his reality of whatever went on between us. But it wasn’t a relationship from my point of view either. I realise she was saying it for me. I was just under his control.

        Anyway I think it’s all sinking in, thank goodness. It finally dawned on me (this is so obvious it hurts) that it must be so much easier to walk away after seeing one red flag. At the time it would’ve pained me to just walk away after one, which is silly seeing how much more it hurts when you’ve got a load of flags to deal with. Ignoring one is just putting off the inevitable and making it painful.

        He did apologise for one red flag in a roundabout way – used my actions (or what he read into my actions) as justification for his. Ugh.

        It’s all over now. I feel safe.

        Thank you again x

  30. Audrey says:

    Your writing is so brilliant and i find everything you say so empowering.

    Regarding being friends with exes, i dont understand why anyone would want to be friends with someone they’ve been romantically involved with. Even if he’s a good guy and for example the relationship just fizzled out and he was respectful and caring, etc. i still dont think its a good idea to remain friends. It’s still opening yourself up to pain by being friends with them. I always think it’s best to cut the ties and move on and let him move on.
    And more especially, if he’s an assclown and emotionally unavailable, it’s even more cause to not be friends with him. Why give someone like that the time of day? And i dont think these types of men would make good friends anyway. We want our friends to be loyal, reliable and trustworthy. Assclowns and mr. unavailables have none of these characteristics.

    • Minky says:

      I say each to their own, but there are advantages to being friends with an ex who was caring and loyal etc. I am friends with my ex who i was with for 6 years because we started off as good friends, he is a valued person in my life, we are always there for each other and know each other inside out. The fact we were once romantically involved is irrelevant now and it’s like something that happened to two other people. It is possible to move on and still be in touch – as long as you are both totally over each other. We’re both with other people now and very happy that way – it doesn’t cause problems. I feel i would be missing out if i didn’t have my friend in my life. I try to surround myself with good people and he is one of them. But like i say – each to their own!

    • Allison says:


      I know of many people who have remained friends after the breakup. If the relationship ended on healthy and respectful terms, why wouldn’t you want to continue a friendship with someone you had spent so much time and experiences with? But, for the friendship to work, both parties have had to move on from the other for the friendship to work.

      • Audrey says:

        Allison and Minky: i take your points on board. You would have to be completely over the guy to be friends with him. If it can work for people, great, but it doesn’t work for me.

  31. debra says:

    Natalie – Perfec timing for this post, as always. This is exactly where I am right now. I have done the analyzing and the introspection and the self-analysis. I have lost all interest in him and his crap and have focused on me. I have seen my patterns, good and bad and made all kinds of painful discoveries about myself and my role in my bad relationships. For the first time, I stopped blaming – them and me- and looked honestly and seriously at what I did to contribute to the relationships coming off the rails.

    The problem is that all that can be overwhelming. For big periods of time, I felt damaged or bad or broken. I felt there was something really wrong with me (and had the complete agreement of the last AC in that respect – he thought there was something really wrong with me too!). I had been in such deep denial for so long, it seemed like I was never going to be able to crawl out of it. Then something wonderful happened. One day, I didn’t hate myself anymore. I cared more about me and my feelings than him. I went hours without beating myself up or replaying some tape of him and his nonsense. It got a little better. It has kept getting better ever since.

    I have not tried anything resembling a relationship since the last AC this summer. I don’t feel ready. I am not sure I have anything real to give and I would like to try having a healthy relationship for a change. But what has changed is me and my beliefs. I no longer believe every guy that gives me the time of day is “the one”. I no longer believe that I have to change someone else to make me happy. I no longer believe someone else holds the key to my happiness (and unhappiness). I know what red flags to watch out for. I have learned to trust my gut and my instinct. I no longer desperately need validation from someone else. I am comfortable with who I am and what I am doing. I am focused on me and learning to deal appropriately with my feelings.

    All a good start and all thanks in large part to you, this site and the wonderful women on it. It has been an amazing, exhausting, necessary, life-changing 6 months. At first, I hated the AC for what he “had done to me”. Then, I realized that I would not be where I am today without that experience. I have received numerous other wake up calls in my life in the past but drifted through them without learning a thing by keeping myself cloaked in denial. I am awake now, learning about me and life and I will try a romantic relationship if and when I am ready. It is no longer a desperate necessity. When I love myself enough to have some to give, I suspect the universe will send what I need. At least I know better than to try and get blood from a stone or love from an assclown. Lesson well learned.

  32. Ange Fonce says:

    “You must keep learning the new ‘language’ – eventually it feels natural and the previous one that trapped you in poor relationships seems ridiculous to hold onto when the new one opens you up to a happier you and more positive relationships.”

    Yet another Great post Natalie……………But it’s this one I want to comment on.

    “You must keep learning the new ‘language’ The fact of the matter is ….It is not a new language. Men and Women know this “language” but in the vast majority of people both men and women it is a “subconscious language” that they are un-aware of.

    The Animal that we are as Human Beings has been doing it’s thing successfully for many hundred of thousands of years. That’s how we all are here able to write and talk to each other on this site of Yours.

    The real problem as to why men and Women have so many problems with each other is something You often mention as I do Myself.


    And may I add………….Bad and ill-informed education of each other, Myths and stereo types. And conditioned thinking of what Men and Women as supposed to be like? Mostly based on “Assumptions” and in this day and age when there is such a wealth of scientific knowledge and evidence. That is “Criminal.”

    But the sad “truth” is people cling onto to their “Beliefs” even when those same beliefs bring them nothing but heartache.

    And one of the worst “Beliefs” I constantly hear is this one…………

    ” I believe he/she Loves me” when the evidence is any but he/she loves them.”

    So often when I work with both men and women and we start to work and pull apart the “Relationship!”

    So much is based on “beliefs, assumptions and Myths!” A pre-programmed script they the man or woman has in their Mind of what they want the other person to be. In psychological terms it is called “projection” instead of “seeing” the reality of the person who is really there!

    And we all have “Scripts” programmed into us from childbirth about men and women. And our parents have the biggest influence on our script. Then Society, education and personal experience.

    I will relate a story of a client I am working with. He is a Man in his late fifties. Muti Millionaire. Been Married five times. A very success full Man. This guy has got everything but one thing. And this something he really wants. To have a success full Loving relationship with a woman. One Woman! And when You get down to the nitty gritty with most men that is what they want too.

    But they don’t know how to because of what Natilie has mentioned in many way many times for women equally in many ways applies to men to.

    And back to the millionaire…………His script. The simple Truth is, his beliefs, his script kept him picking the wrong kind of woman for him. And in the world of business he is a wonder. But when it come to really being able to relate to a woman (And notice I used the word RELATE!) He did not know how too. He kept making bad choices for him! Because he was going by his script. Beliefs, assumptions, Myths!

    He is as Natalie has quoted “Learning a new Language!”

    Because the Man really wants to have a GREAT relationship with a woman. He is learning!

    And I can equally say this about women. They do not know how to RELATE to a man. A Man is not a Woman!

    To often people are in a relationship and do not RELATE to the man or woman they are with. Do not know or understand that other person because they are looking and relating to the other through THEIR filters of their script, beliefs, assumptions and myths.

    And when we put a label on someone that is a “judgement” discrimination. When we label someone as being this, that and everything else what we are really doing is “PROJECTING” ourselves onto the other person.

    When we call another names and say they are this, that or another. What I suggest You do……………..Is go look in the Mirror. Because really what YOU are talking about is YOURSELF!

    Your Myths, Your Beliefs, Your Assumptions, Your Script!

    As ever Lady………….An informative and insightful post. I always enjoy reading Your work Natalie.


    • Leigh says:


      Although I understand your post I don’t entirely agree that all criticism is actual projection of what we ourselves are inside.

      If someone behaves in a certain way, such as show disrespect and another recognises that person is being disrespectful, hurtful and downright nasty then a person that’s being afflicted by this behaviour is entitled to their opinion, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that their opinion (even if it’s negative) is a reflection of themselves.

      I counselled many people in the past, people that have suffered terribly at the hands of outright abuse, the people that inflicted this level of pain on my ex clients (now adults) are animals, downright nasty human beings. In my saying this, it doesn’t mean that I am nasty.

      I believe the terminology used to describe assclowns and Eu men and women is a generic term in order to recognise behaviours in others.

      Although from a humanistic and idealistic viewpoint judgement can seem so wrong unfortunately judgement is something that is an everyday occurance. In some instances it’s a necessity for survival (emotionally and physically).

    • live my gorgeous life says:


      I agree with your view on projection. Seeing people as they really are needs you to see yourself as you really are.

      We can often project ont others exactly the issues we have ourselves. Maybe like does attract like!

  33. SarahJ says:

    Afternoon ladies,

    I posted just before Christmas about my ex under a different blog, seeking some advice from you lovely lot. Your advice was fabulous and right on the money.
    You might remember he and I had maintained a close friendship after our relationship dwindled until he announced he was on-line dating women, feeling the need to tell me all about them and requesting tips from me on conversation/dating etc. He has told me he has met someone he really likes and who really likes him back. Last week he appeared at my house telling me he had feelings for me, cared about me so much, so confused about everything and then tried to tempt me into sleeping with him, he then left. I’m mentally trying to by-pass the thought of 5 years as being a ‘waste’, to see the good, bad and ugly out of it, time just moving on and me feeling caught in stuck.

    I’ve been left reeling, feeling completely disrespected and shocked at how dismissive he has been. Yes I know I’ve no control over his actions, thoughts etc and only of my own but maaan I feel so lonely. I’m trying to brush myself off, be dignified and I’ve maintained NC but god its so bloody hard. I feel like I never knew him at all.

    This post came as real kick up the backside. I’m really afraid for my next relationship and really want to change for me. I can’t change the person I am and I wouldn’t want to but maybe my relationship/dating habits need a big ole reshuffle.

    • Minky says:

      Stick with NC – it is really, really hard, but i can tell you it is the best thing in the long run. You will be lonely, you will miss him, you will despair of your future, but it is literally like coming off drugs – the withdrawl sypmtoms are terrible, but you have to go through it to get yourself clean and start again. You won’t be able to change your relationship habits and get to a healthy place if you keep engaging with him or men like him.

      Eventually NC won’t be an effort and will just be part of life – you won’t miss him, you won’t want him, you won’t care why he did what he did and why he didn’t want you. Honestly, you really will. It just takes time. I have been through it and it was one of the hardest things i’ve ever done – i adored that man beyond belief. Now he’s just another guy i once went out with. I see him out and about and we just say hi, chat in a perfectly friendly way and then get on with our lives. No feelings, no drama.

      You can do it – it won’t be easy, but you can do it. Stay strong! :)

      • SarahJ says:

        Thank you so much Minky. I know your words are gold and I keep telling myself over & over ‘you will feel better!’ eventually. I have printed off your response and I’m going to stick it somewhere it will catch my eye, so I can remind myself that all this is normal, its ok I feel like this, that I need to feel it so I can make it out the other side, all shiny & refreshed.

        Today I feel ok-ish. You are right about the withdrawal symptoms, my willpower isn’t the strongest but I’m determined to not let him, my thoughts of him & whatever he is up to creep too much into my mind space. Very hard tho. The worse is at night, mind just goes into crazy mode. I’ve booked to go and speak to my gp at the end of the week as I’m having trouble sleeping. I spend my days greeting the general public with a happy, smily face and putting on a ‘pantomine’ performance, totally exhausting when you are completely shattered mentally & emotionally. I probably look a bit la-la too at times!

        Thank you again, you are a sweetheart :-)

        • Minky says:

          Happy to help! It really helped me reading comments on here from people who had got over their exes, it gave me hope when i was feeling lost and low.

          You will have up days and down days. I would go through a few days of feeling fine, then a day of feeling crap, for no reason! The key is not to give into it, but don’t deny it either – let yourself feel it and say ‘ok, i feel like crap today’, don’t give yourself a hard time. When you do feel rubbish analyse why and work through it in your mind. Keep telling yourself it will get better. You won’t always feel like this.

          I found reading really helped – when i read i get lost in the story and don’t think about anything else. It just gives your brain a few hours off and you do feel refreshed afterwards. Find your distraction and throw yourself into it!

          Eventually you will get to the point of thinking ‘what the hell was i thinking?!’ and your life will be about you and the people who matter, not about idiots and time-wasters! You will get there!

  34. Aimee says:

    “You’re looking for the ‘fire’ et al to prove you wrong and challenge your beliefs. ” Like this one – I know I am lovable and I am going to prove it to him! Hahaha. Like his words of “I love you” mean more than his “I don’t respect you, love you, honor you” actions do.

    “Or, you’re avoiding dealing with something else that you perceive to be more painful, making repeating the painful behaviour more attractive and ‘easier’.” Like my mother’s death, or the continual rejection and disrespect from my mother’s family, thinking it might change, even with her death. Talk about denial. Conciously saying to myself that if I am going to be treated like sh**, I’d rather take it from him rather than my own extended family. How about I don’t take that crap from anyone! There’s a thought!!

    “Or, you’re desensitised to the pain, so yes it does hurt, but it’s familiar.” Familiar – the word family is in there, isn’t it? Definitely familiar!!

    “Or, you may, in making changes have misguidedly come to believe that it will fix everything – taking too much responsibility for making the relationship work.” It’s all my fault – therefore I am powerful enough to change how others treat me, change the outcome, and not have to feel “those terrible FEELINGS”!

    “This happens because you’ve likely normalised bad behaviour.” I was taught this growing up in a dysfunctional, alcoholic home. Where extended family is cruel. So you learn to live with and think it’s normal. I’m ready for a new normal ……. a new language- thank you!!

    Great article Natalie!! Needed that one right now!!

  35. sisauhair says:

    before opening this email, i closed my eyes and prayed for it to be relevant and an answer to my current question…and lo and behold it was…my current dilemma scares me to death. i got messages yesterday…typed messages from the one who almost killed me during december…the emotionally unavailable one…the married one…the one who broke my heart, burned me, left me in such agony…who so rarely chooses to speak to me with his voice, but types to me on occasion. the one who doesn’t try to see me, even though he loves (or loved…whatever…) me more than anyone else in the world…”in the world…” he says… and these messages are full of WORDS, words such as “baby,” and “sweetheart,” and “honey,” and “I’m sorry,” and “crazy about you,” and my head is just spinning…

    I barely responded at all other than saying, “I miss you.” But I am scared to death. I have been hurt so badly…I don’t want to be hurt like that again. Why is he turning on the charm now? What does he want? He doesn’t want to see me…he doesn’t want to be with me…what the hell is he doing??? WHY would he do this to me?

    I’m so….plain and ordinary…and he’s into piercings, and goth, and variety, and all this stuff…he’s not into me…what the hell does he want? to nearly kill me? again??? and for me to climb on board and allow it?

    I don’t understand…I’m so confused and scared…

    • NML says:

      Sisauhair I’ll say this to you – this doesn’t look, sound, or feel like love and it certainly doesn’t look, sound or feel like a healthy relationship. Just like you should never give someone another opportunity to reject you, they certainly shouldn’t get a chance to nearly kill you. He is toying with you and you’re already in pain just from the messages. If you won’t judge it on his past behaviour at least judge the situation on what is happening to and within you. Be safe and take care of you.

      • RB says:

        I agree with nat on that one…

        my blog-

        • sisauhair says:

          the stuff in the latest post about trying to hang on to a friendship describes me perfectly…or trying to put on armor before stepping out in traffic this time…lol…

          i’m so confused…

          i was so attached to him…i just…it honestly nearly killed me when he blew totally cold for all this time…i had become so dependent on him. i was a total bitch trying to get over him…and i’m nowhere near over him, but he’s just like…like, nothing unusual happened…

          well, it’s unusual to me!!! I don’t treat people like that and I don’t appreciate people treating me that way, either…i admit i was too clingy…(not that he’s complaining that i was too clingy…he’s not saying anything in fact…i have no idea what’s going through his mind…in fact, his mind scares me….god…his poor wife…what she must go through…i can’t imagine.)

          maybe maybe maybe i could be friends with him once i get over him, but….shew…idk….

          i’m wondering if there’s really anything there to be friends with honestly…sad huh? how someone can have the best personality, be so charming and humorous and intelligent, and then just poof! become someone else…then pop back in like nothing just happened…

          i am totally just mind blown by all this…it’s just crazy….

          • Minky says:

            You’re mindlown because you would never treat anyone this way, as you say. You should stop worrying about why he’s doing this, it’s enough that he’s messing with you. He seems to have little conscience about hurting you, he’s selfish and only thinks of himself, he deosn’t care about your feelings, your mental wellbeing, nothing. He doesn’t care! He only cares about what he wants and needs – why would you want to be friends with this person?!

            You are hurting right now and this stage is hard. Being without someone you care about is hard, but it needs to be done. You can only get a clear view of your relationship and him by stepping away and giving yourself some time to heal. Stop thinking about him and his motives, it’s a waste of your time. Concentrate on getting on with your life, healing yourself and becoming stronger. Don’t wonder why he’s emailing you – just press delete and don’t let yourself think about it anymore. No good can come of trying to figure this man out.

            Best of luck to you! I wish you all the best on your journey.

          • grace says:

            you can’t be his friend, he has a wife. how does that work? even if you don’t have sex that’s a mere technicality. i can tell you, she wouldn’t like it! charm, humour and intelligence do not make a good relationship. they are nice to have but what really counts is integrity, honesty, compassion, kindness, consistency, patience, faithfulness, commitment, love. don’t let charm blind you to the fact that you’re dealing with a lying cheat.
            don’t have anything more to do with him. you had an affair with a married man. affairs are time limited. it was always going to end like this regardless of what type of personality he has. don’t throw any more of yourself at him. look after no. 1 – you.

  36. Nicole says:

    The familiar is all I have known all my life. I learned it from my family growing up, and sought out men and friendships that felt familiar. Because it was the only language I knew.

    Working on myself through counseling has helped, but I am still in the process of trying to figure out how to find other people who speak this language. It’s like I know ABOUT the language, but because I have not actually spoken it before, I am not fluent in it, and so even if those healthy people were standing right in front of me, I am not sure I could relate to them.

    Sometimes it feels like I am standing on one side of the Grand Canyon, and I am being told that what is on the other side is better, and that I need to get there. But HOW? I am just feeling hopeless today.

  37. SpeeInSpace says:

    I’m feeling a bit down and confused right now and not sure if I have been repeating a pattern, I would appreciate some feedback, sorry this is a bit long. I have learnt a lot due to this site/book and a few other books and I’ve been attracting better and better quality of men. I stayed single for about 6 years as the father of my child was a Narc. before that I had very healthy relationships, so this really threw me. I had a few dates over those years but they all quickly blew out of the water as I was quite boundaried, but I think I was attracting EUMs only after one thing, so they were disappearing quite quickly – although at the time I kept thinking I wasn’t attractive (which I’m told I am) or my personality was too strong. In retrospect I was doing the right thing, but obviously not attracting the right men for some reason. I discovered this site after meeting a future faker which had gone past 5 dates! – that threw me too, but luckily he disappeared very quickly. I then embarked on dating properly after reading everything I could/practicing what I’d learnt – making a point though of being open and trusting, rather than cynical and interrogative but still trying to be aware.
    I dated one guy for about 3 months, whilst dating a few others, I was never his gf and luckily I never slept with him or any of the others. He treated me very well, never abusive, intelligent and interesting, but was flip-flapping and it was difficult for me to ascertain if he had the same values, as he never seemed to sort out meeting up often. Even though he said he thought I was his soul mate and he’d never felt that close to anyone, it was clear I was option B or C and I was starting to invest too much not sure if he was an EUM. I then said I was looking for a relationship which clearly he wasn’t and good luck no hard feelings and although he seemed really upset it was obvious he wasn’t ready so I blew him out with a long e-mail – so I wouldn’t hear from again :)
    Meanwhile I was introduced on a music site by a French musician (I’m a musician) to a British man who was coming over to do some recordings. We chatted a bit on the site, he got my number and sent lots of texts to arrange to meet for a daytime drink. He was very straightforward seemed really nice, but as I was continuing dating, I wasn’t placing any emphasis on if he turned up (he did live overseas after all) but thought it would be nice to put myself out there and just connect and practice some skills also. As it turned out a lot had happened to him before the date (all verifyable- which he did also) no phone, no money etc. and he could have legitimately stood me up. But he found a way via the band’s e-mail to contact me, kept apologising, even waiting for 2 hours for me in the freezing cold. He demonstrated early on his values and it was apparent we had the same core values. By the next date he spent a fortune on me, took me everywhere, was great company, kept apologising for before and it turned out we had a lot in common as well (although I wasn’t too concerned about that this time). He was extremely reliable, made it clear I was priority from word go. I didn’t think he was my type at all when I met him, and for me there was no chemistry for the first few dates – for him there was. When he went back overseas, he kept calling, e-mailing, even added me on facebook and also found access to a web-cam IM – at my insistence – so we could communicate that way also and in a very old-fashioned way would tell me he would be honoured if I agreed to be his gf, but he was making no assumptions. He even asked if it could put it on his fbook and sent me a relationship request. I stayed open and trusting but kept aware, not wanting to love and trust blindly but also not creating a self-fulfilling prophesy either. His Fbook though worried me because everything was hidden on it – he said it was to protect his friends privacy – as some had issues with each other also and he didn’t want his teenage son to see things on his wall – you can’t post on it or anything and you can’t see if he’s adding any women friends.
    He said he’d only dated a few women since the break up with his gf of 7-years a year before, who had some medical disorder -which mean’t she blew up and got violent! He hadn’t slept with anyone in that time or been in any other relationships – as he doesn’t sleep around.
    Anyway, he said he was falling in love with me soon on, and could also see us getting married in the future and I did worry he might be a ffaker too – I expressed this. He was however happy for me to slow the pace and even suggested it. He came over at great cost every 2-3 weekends put his notice in (a long notice due to his job) so he could come here to be with me (but he would get his own place). Every single thing he said he’d do, he did including this, regularly phoned and e-mailed. He came over just before Christmas and was staying with me as he’d finally finished his main job to concentrate on his music overseas also.
    What’s the problem you may ask? When he would call me he would say ‘love ya’ repeatedly like a sign off, virtually from the beginning and it seemed like he’d been used to saying this and recently. When I said it I put a lot of meaning into it and he seemed to brush it off. Hypersentive maybe, but we should always follow our gut instinct. I kept asking if he was sure he hadn’t said I love you to anyone elso during that year before me or had been in any relationship and he insisted no and he definately hadn’t slept with anyone including the dates – he knew I was open about things like this and said he felt he could tell me anything.
    Anyway, he left his Fbook open recently, I thought it was mine and couldn’t understand why I had a dating site on the top of the page with msgs in it. So I perused and as I clicked realised, he’d been clicking set e-mail responses to a number of women over the 5 months we were together, including sending about 7 Happy Birthdays to women after he’d gone back days after mine – we had got really close. Innocent enough maybe, he clicked, ‘Hi I’m interested’ to a few ‘I’d poke u exclusively if I could’ to a number over the recent month, including one when at my house over Christmas. The one that stood out, as she hadn’t e-mailed him was, ‘I have a gf but I would love to sleep with you’ and he’d added her as a friend – it was still pending and she hadn’t replied. This was 2 days before he was due to arrive for good – although he does have to keep going back every month. I then noticed some main e-mails from a women about the time he was arranging a date with me, where he was saying ‘I love you’ a lot, it won’t be long til we’re together and ‘why did you take down we are in a relationship’ and she replied I know you love me and it’s complicated but it’s not because I have other lovers’. There were no more after that, but I couldn’t understand why he couldn’t have told me – we weren’t together then. I eventually pulled him up on the relationship thing – didn’t say how I knew though and he didn’t ask. He said he’d never met her she lived in another country and he felt embarrassed about it because it was an internet relationship. I accepted this – it made sense and thought I would see if he told me about the other stuff a bit later and he didn’t. I have health problems, he’s great with that and he’s also fantastic with my son, very generous, pays for everything. He arranged for me to have a break in the sun with my friend while he looked after my son with the help of my Au Pair (boy). Before I left I was distant so ended up telling him about the sleeping e-mail – again didn’t say how I knew and he didn’t ask. I’ve been intuitive about a number of things in the past and been right, so maybe he thought that!!! I went away, we got our wires crossed as I thought he’d be on the Webcam with my son on the 2nd day away, as he didn’t say he wouldn’t be the day before – he’d also sent 5 e-mails informing me of how things were going. When he wasn’t there my child and aupair had no idea where he was or when he’d be back and no e-mails? At 1am he finally came onto Fbook I was stressed for over 7 hours, said he met his family who were back from overseas etc. and couldn’t understand why I seemed annoyed – and he deserved a day off.
    When I got back I thought I’d give him a break but he seemed distant – yes we got back late but, he’d stopped saying ‘I love you’, so some days later I discussed I didn’t feel safe and felt unloved and in the context of him initiating things with women, why I felt so stressed about why he didn’t say he wouldn’t be there on the Webcam. He got angry about why I was worried about where he was, and said I hadn’t listened when he told me before he would have that day off and that I was being unfair. I then said, ‘How would you feel if I said I was going to start dating other men’. He said, ‘see other men then’ and I said ‘ok’ in a perplexed way and he then jumped up in the middle of the night, said he was going back overseas, I’d driven a nail thro him and he’d e-mail me. Within an hour of leaving he’d changed his relationship status to single, deleted every photo of me. Went on a FB games site – I introduced him to and plastered lewd sexual innuendo msgs to all of the attractive women – told them he wouldnt be on the internet for a few weeks, and I noticed he’d been chatting some of them up over the past month too but deleting some of the msgs between them – a bit dodgy, but no contact with me. He left Sunday night, he did all of this and I still haven’t heard from him. I do have some things of his here including an expensive voucher for the end of the week, but I’m not going to contact any of his family members. His phones are dead my child hid his chargers, so but I’m not sure what to do, if he’s here or back overseas. Is he an EUM, are my patterns revisiting – did I do the wrong thing saying about the dating (I know apportioning blame). But I have a feeling he heard ‘I’m going to be seeing other men’ rather than ‘how would you feel….’ I kept in my head while I talked about this ‘choose loving you over loving him’. Should I move on? Should I contact him to clarify that he may have misheard what I said – is that why he changed his status to single? I’ve kept my relationship status the same, although his name has disappeared. I feel quite sick. Please any advice appreciated, I don’t won’t to contact any of his family members or flatmate overseas to see where he is, but I’m finding it hard and I’m not sure if I should contact him.

    • Allison says:


      OMG!!!! This guy is a nightmare!!!

      You are very lucky you got into that FB page, as it showed you that everything he has told you is a LIE. Someone is watching out for you from above!

      Why are you questioning things, this guy is a major player, and is dangerous. You have to see this!!!! Honey, what else does this guy have to do? RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Gingerbell says:

        I hope I’m not using up my commenting quota but, SpeeInSpace!! I couldn’t read this without my heart cracking. What a piece-of-work.
        This guy is like a five year old who can’t decide which chocolate he wants from a box of..Quality Street? (in the UK?) and has to take a bite out of every one of them.
        Men who seek attention like this are CHRONIC and fueling a very insatiable and demented ego.It’s so unsettling how sneaky and untrustworthy he has proven to be.There is way too much stuff to address in your story, and I am so sorry you have had to endure it all, but each one of the things he did was so outrageously not cool. ie: him saying,‘I have a gf but I would love to sleep with you’ to someone online.. There’s no stopping him. I can only imagine it getting worse and worse and doing terrible damage to your heart. You were completely within your right to say, “How would you feel if I said I was going to start dating other men?” But let’s face it, was it a rhetorical question? To me it would translate as you saying, not cool, not okay, not fair, but who cares how he translated that. Look at his decision making process so far. In the end it doesn’t matter what he is “okay” with you doing. It matters what is acceptable behavior to you and I’m taking a wild guess that this is not okay and is in fact hurting you immensely.
        He didn’t have to “change his relationship status to single”, as he was already playing single anyway.
        It’s kind of a good serendipitous happening that your child hid his chargers, isn’t it? I think so.
        You deserve the very best and I’m healing myself but I’m gonna go ahead and say there is someone FAR BETTER out there for you . I wouldn’t contact him.. let him sail overseas and well beyond your beautiful heart this is meant to be taken care of and nurtured by someone lovely and truly deserving of you.
        Much love.

    • done as dinner says:

      Stay as far away from him as you can. I work with a researcher whose work specializes in psychopathy. What you have describe here mirrors exactly the behaviour she has described to me. Psychopaths have no guilt or conscience. They insinuate themselves into your life. They begin the relationship by asking you tons of questions and seem so interested in you – what they are actually doing is learning how best to exploit you. They can empathize but it is used only to determine how to best manipulate you into getting what they want. Robert Hare, who developed the psychopathy test used internationally has written a book called Without Conscience. Get a hold of a copy and read it to protect both you and your son. Good luck and take care of yourself. done

    • Audrey says:

      Spee: Is this guy on crack??? – he sounds crazy. Spee, this guy is dangerous, a liar, cheat, user. You see from the replies of the girls here too, what we’re all saying to you. You need to ditch him pronto and go no contact.
      Spee, i think you may have been using Rori Raye’s tools and using her tools on eum/assclowns/cheaters/liars is absolutely downright dangerous. Trust me, i’m speaking from experience. Spee, please, plesase disregard Rori Raye’s tools and listen to what Natalie says here on her blogs. I think her (rori’s) philosphy is off the wall by the way).
      But Spee, what’s important here is you and this guy -he’s no good, he’ll bleed you dry.

      Tell him to get lost and dont look back.

    • grace says:

      There’s too much facebooking going on here. Nothing wrong with facebook per se but lots of people are using it to play games and he’s really taken it to the uber level. Don’t bother interacting with him unless you want a relationship based on Status Updates and Wall Posts.
      Let me spell it out for you. He does what he wants to do. What he does is what he is. He’s a liar, a cheat and a disappearing coward. You can’t weigh that up against his words and believe that his words hold more credence. Words that don’t match actions mean NOTHING. He’s gone. He doesn’t want to be with you. Breathe a sigh of relief, block him, and don’t contact him. He has told you everything you need to know, you don’t need any more words, emails, relationship updates, texts, status updates, facebook chats, posts etc etc etc.
      It doesn’t feel like it now but you’ve had a lucky escape. Well done for confronting him, now do something with what you found out – cut him off!

  38. Sarah says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have no idea how to tell you how much you have helped me!! I discovered your blog a couple of months ago right after my most recent breakup. I have to admit some things you said I didn’t quite agree with at first but now I’m starting to understand and not only agree but incorporate them into my life. Right after my ex broke up with me he immediately said that he hoped I wouldn’t cut him out of my life and that we could be friends. I told him, maybe not right away but eventually we could be friends.

    Two months have passed and we have talked a few times. I’ll admit, I had a hard time dealing with the rejection and my need for validation and contacted him a couple of times. I also didn’t want to be ‘mean’ and not respond when he contacted me (which was only lazy communication). So here I was trying to be a ‘nice person’ and remain friends with my ex but like you said ‘the fire still burns’. My breaking point happened yesterday when he wrote a note on facebook describing the end of our breakup where I left and told him that I can’t make him happy, he has to make himself happy. I felt so violatd. He made a mockery of what happened and put it for the world to see. Of course, he conveniently left out any detail that would put him in a bad light. He made it sound like I just left him when the truth is that he broke up with me and after about an hour and half of talking and him wavering about his decision did I leave the hotel room he was staying at. Throughtout our relationship he did this, he omits the truths that don’t make him look good or that he doesn’t want to admit. It’s easier to blame someone else than take responsibility for his actions. I don’t know why I thought this would be different now that we are out of a relationship.

    I think I was too scared to let go of him completely and not have him in my life at all. I can see him for who he is now and I know I don’t want to be with someone like that but I’m holding onto this part that is still hoping he will change. He has good qualities but how many times do the bad qualities have to burn me before I get it? Well, I get it now. I have to face my fears and put boundaries in place. The sky isn’t going to fall without him in my life and what is he really contributing to my life? I deleted him as a friend in facebook and will no longer have any contact with him in any way. It’s time I started choosing me.

    • live my gorgeous life says:

      Sarah, you said

      “I deleted him as a friend in facebook and will no longer have any contact with him in any way. It’s time I started choosing me.”

      That sounds like a positve idea and I am sure that there are many areas of your life that you may have let go fallow that you will be able to get reacquainted with so that you can continue to develop your life. Tying up mental energy with someone stops you focusing on the most important person in your life, YOU!

      (see my blog at
      it looks at self development)

  39. jupiter23 says:

    SpeeInSpace, make your escape. This guy is crazy and a liar. I don’t know if he is an EUM. What I do know is that he is a nutcase. He has been dishonest from the beginning. Maybe you were not together with him during some of his conversations with other women; however, he told you that he had not told others he loved them since his last girlfriend. And he obviously had.

    And when someone loves you, they don’t completely erase you from their life because of a simple question. They just don’t. He got caught in a lie, you found out he had some ridiculous secrets (how old is this guy to be having facebook affairs? goodness); and he couldn’t stand that you knew the real him. It’s that simple. He didn’t want to have to face that he is a loser.

    You asking him, “how would you feel if I dated other men?” wasn’t the right thing to do. You were trying to be a detective when you had all the evidence of his character you needed. Instead of asking that question, you should have just dumped his crazy ass. You don’t need to talk to him, you don’t need to try to get him his stuff back. You need to be grateful for your lucky escape.

    I truly understand how sad you must be. I honestly do. There are some people who are so good at lying that you cannot see their betrayal coming. But even so, you instinctively knew–you knew–that something was not quite right from the beginning. Trust that voice. Listen to that voice. This guy was never going to make you happy.

    Be strong.

  40. Maya says:

    To mh/grace/Used/teatime… Your comments were inspiring and made me feel that bit stronger — thank you!! I agree, chasing a man is never the way, if a man wants you, he will come and get you/ show you. I guess a part of me has always worked hard to go after what I want in life/ what I believe in so when I felt that way about the EUM I met… I had the same attitude. I realise that ‘love’ does not work that way, and when something feels more like a struggle than effort reaping rewards, it’s not worth it… Yes I’m a ‘career girl’ like many, but if I had to choose between my job or having the love I always wanted it wouldn’t be hard. Ideally we want to have it all, but going after an EUM and hoping he will realise how great you are and want your love is not the way… We must build our self esteem, stop obsessing over the what went wrongs/ what could have beens and move on… I agree, until I stop hankering after the EUM completely there is no way I should have contact. So hard to kick the bad habit, I certainly agree with that phrase about these men, like trying to figure out a dali painting! Anyway, some of the stories that everyone has been through are unbelievable, I should consider mine a lucky escape. I admire everyone who is sticking to
    nc and going through the pain for the better longterm outcome.

    I hope everyone gets inspired by the thoughts of a happy, bright future we all have in store for us.

    • live my gorgeous life says:

      Maya you said
      “I hope everyone gets inspired by the thoughts of a happy, bright future we all have in store for us.”

      I love that thought. Truth is you have a happy, bright future if you choose it and a miserable, obsessive one if you don’ and you continue in a relationship which no longer fits your values. Building a wonderful life is indeed an inspiring journey! Good luck with it, but its more about design than luck!

      (see my blog at:
      it charts living welland inspiring yourself to get a great life)

  41. Deege says:

    You are right on time, as always. It is just two weeks now with no contact. He did call once , no, he texted…that he wanted to come by and get a couple of things. I did not answer, I sent the things back by mail to his post office box, no note, no nothing. The truth is, I am lonesome now, was thinking he was my best friend, but I realize how sick I was to accept him after I discovered he was married. Why would I put up with that BS? I just liked him! He was fun, and I liked the sex, I liked the loving. I despised the nights he could not stay, I despised feeling I had to be on “best behavior”. I despised his love of porn sites and pictures of other women. I discovered he was still doing these sites and listing himself as single, and I think that partly gave me the courage to let him go. We have broken up many times over the past 8-9 years, and the longest time apart was about two months. All it takes is one contact and we go back. Help me, God, not to go back this time. I have some tools in place, and this strong site with great advice for which I am thankful. I want to own myself again. I don’t need a final conversation with him, I don’t need “closure”….it’s closed. I’m glad he’s gone. It hurts, but not as much as it was hurting me to love him and be his girlfriend. I want my life back. He has a pattern of shutting people out of his life whenever they do something he doesn’t like. how cowardly. His wife must be a shell. I have hope for myself, and I hope I never see or hear from him again.

    • Allison says:


      Block him, change your number and delete all contact info!

      Don’t waste another 9 years of your life!

    • Ithinka Ibeenhad says:

      Boy….that sounds familiar. I feel everything you said, only I was the dummy thinking my man was faithful. They’re all emotional unavailable, asshole clown, players…..and they hurt everyone they touch.

      But yeah….what you said, is so much how it feels. Thank you for coming up with the perfect words for it.

  42. SpeeInSpace says:

    Thank you so much for your replies, any other insights would be helpful too. The guy sent me all his hectic work schedules and rang on every break, so I know he didn’t have time to actually meet anyone in reality before he finally came here, let alone sleep with these women, however, he lied. Got to admit though some of the replies ‘Major player’ etc. feel like a punch in the mouth.. ha ha, but very much needed to be heard – oh the refreshing stark reality of truth :). You beautiful ladies have finally made me have tears in my eyes but for good reasons – I haven’t cried so far! The comment ‘if you love someone you don’t completely eradicate all trace of them because of a simple question’ says it all. What on earth does love mean to this man – funnily that’s what I was tuning in to at the start kept me constantly seeking truth.
    I will try to be strong and feel so encouraged thanks to all of your beautiful hearts. Much love to you all.

    • Audrey says:

      Spee: i sent you a reply further up.

    • done as dinner says:

      Spee – You write…
      “The guy sent me all his hectic work schedules and rang on every break, so I know he didn’t have time to actually meet anyone in reality before he finally came here, let alone sleep with these women, however, he lied.”
      Regarding sending you his work schedules and calling every week – yes that is what psychopaths do to manipulate you into trusting them – they create the illusion that you know where they are and what they are doing. Then you say “so I know he didn’t have time to actually meet anyone…” No. You only think you know what he wants you to know. You are basing your “knowledge” on what he had time or didn’t have time to do on information HE sent you. This is circular logic. Then you say however he lied. Yes. that is information you now have with certainty. Forgive me it I sound harsh, but it sounds as though you are already rationalizing “well he didn’t meet or sleep with these girls…. he only lied” If that is the case, it is a very dangerous and all too human path to go down. You cannot believe the level of betrayal, you cannot believe you were so wrong about this guy, you can’t believe he doesn’t really love you , if only you were more understanding, forgiving, etc. So you begin to rationalize and minimize his behaviour. He is dangerous. Period. He does not love you. Period. He has demonstrated this by his lying, abandonment, coming on to other women, shutting off parts of his life and revealing only what he wants you to see. Do not rationalize his behaviour or try to reconcile the person he presented when he was physically with you to the person you are slowly realizing he is. This deception is the mask dangerous men wear. They wear it well. If you engage any further, it will only get much much worse.
      Sorry to be so blunt. But what you have described here is really alarming. xo done

    • outergirl says:

      Check out Natalie’s ‘When they dripfeed you information’.
      It’s painful to be woken up from our dreams, but it’s too dangerous not to wake up.

    • grace says:


      The day you find yourself checking his schedule to see if there’s time for sex with other women is the day you call it quits.

      The relationship insanity has gone too far if you think that’s normal!

    • Nicole says:


      I agree with Grace about checking his schedule.

      I could not trust my ex-husband, and so, for a while, I constantly kept tabs on him, his work schedule, looked at his emails, phone logs, etc. I assumed that as long as I didn’t find any evidence, then everything was going to eventually be OK.

      I realized that spending the rest of my life playing detective with him was NOT the kind of marriage I wanted, nor was it healthy for me.

      • MH says:

        Done as dinner, Outer girl, Grace and Nicole

        Done as dinner: Wow, are you ever insightful and said very impressive things. Excellent take on that matter I agreed with all and wanted to say the same thing but you said it all to spee. I hope spee realizes it is fantastic out look.

        Outergirl: Excellent post to advise on drip feeding.

        Grace and Nicole : You just reminded me of an identical conversation that I had with my cousin. You guys said it right.

        My ex EUM called me up and said his current girlfriend checked his history on his computer and got mad at him for not wanting enough sex with her because he is busy getting his rocks off with porn sites. When he called me I said I will give you a couple minutes to talk but I have to go and I don’t want to be giving you too much advice about your relationship, I will give you one piece and that is it. My cousin was with me and overheard the conversation.

        When I got off the phone she said if a guy gives you reason to check up on him than it is okay. I said what Grace and Nicole said, no that is when you know it is over. This information helped me realize that he is not the guy for me because I don’t want to put up with a sex addict who is choosing sites over an intimate relationship.

        One thing people don’t realize is my EUM and I didn’t have a full blown out relationship so I didn’t get to learn a lot of his ways of what he would be like in a relationship so part of my learning is from what he is doing now in a relationship.

        I didn’t check up on my boyfriends, they did on me and that was a huge a issue for me. Yes I knew my boyfriends were untrustworthy but I knew it was not right to check through their stuff even though they did it to me. I found out the bad, the proper ways and broke things off. My boyfriends didn’t find anything because I wasn’t doing anything behind their backs so I guess they were checking because they were the ones.

        I told my eum that if she has to check up on you she is invading your privacy, and you have no trust in your relationship which isn’t a sign of a healthy relationship at all and that she is acting co-dependent. He knows I already think he is sex addict and that choosing cyber sex over a real relationship spells problems and so I didn’t need to go into that and I didn’t want to stay on the phone too long and it is not up to me to tell him about his problems but he asked about the other thing.

        Him and I were platonic friends for four years before anything happened and he does look out for me as friend too. Therefore, now that the turmoil has dissolved I just see things as how they use to be before we got involved but because I am still emotionally involved I do have to be careful and at present stay physically away.

        My cousin kept going on that it is okay to check up on untrustworthy people and I told her to stop justifying it. It is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. I asked my mother she said she has never checked my dads stuff ever, and they have been married and together well over thirty years.

  43. runnergirlno1 says:

    For all of you out there in the first few weeks of NC, keep it up and stay strong. If you are trying to decide whether to go NC, do it (Maya and Spee inSpace…oh dear). I’m no expert and only in day 35 of NC, but it is starting to get a little better with the help of the wonderful articles and support from the ladies on this site. Thank you for your responses when I just started NC and felt like a drug addict in throws of withdrawls. The support and encouragement was invaluable. I haven’t had to “suck it and see” and this article by Natalie has helped me to stay away from more pain. Don’t get me wrong, NC has been painful too but there is a way out of the pain. Staying stuck in the muck, hoping for the fairytale ending would be fruitless in my situation. As one poster stated regarding the Grand Canyon analogy, I do feel like I’m standing on one side of the Grand Canyon and have to get to the other side, however there is no bridge or shortcut across. I guess it is just down one side of the canyon one step at a time (again) and back up the other side one step at a time. I’m not waiting anymore for my cell to ring; he used to call four, five, and six times a day. I have only checked my email twice today instead of every hour. And, I’m not checking for text messages from him as well. If anybody ever texts me “Good Morning Sunshine” while waking up with their wife….! It is getting a little better, at least at this moment. Tomorrow, who knows? Sometimes it’s one hour at a time. It sucks though.

    • charla says:

      I’m at almost 60 days NC and yes, it gets easier – and in jumps and spurts. Yesterday and today, hardly thought about him at all, and it feels wonderful! You can do it ladies. You begin to see the EUM for who he really is and not as some vessel for your hopes and dreams. Mine comes up rather – no, very – empty.

  44. Allison says:


    “The guy sent me all his hectic work schedules and rang on every break, so I know he didn’t have time to actually meet anyone in reality before he finally came here, let alone sleep with these women ”

    I’m sorry, I don’t get this??? You don’t know if the guy cheated, but you do know he lied, attempt to hook up with other women, was in contact with many other women and then bailed when you asked him a question re. his behavior.

    You know this man is very dangerous to you, please do not marginalize his behavior, as this could also be destructive to your child.

  45. Tulipa says:

    In NC, this isn’t unusual because, while we’re often very much behind the decision to be NC, we can end up doing it because we know we have to and we ought to, but we secretly reserve some hope that they’ll change and make life ‘easier’ and validate us.
    Oh this is me and I am working hard to change this and to basically dose myself up with the reality of the situation. I recalled a few days ago how I have the same complaints about him 4 yrs ago as I do today he has not changed one bit so it is unlikelyhe will in the future and really I can only change me. So even though sometimes it is sheer effort not to contact him I starting to believe in no contact because it is worth it for me and get rid of that secret hope and to learn I don’t need him to validate me.

    • grace says:

      Work on your self-esteem. Try something new (I joined a football team), make new friends, go out more, do things you enjoy, spend time with family, read, get a pet, whatever rocks your boat. With a little time, probably less than you think, NC will feel different to you. At first, I felt I was being deprived of his company and it was a huge loss to me, now I think “HA! He screwed up and doesn’t get to by my friend anymore. His loss, I’m terrific!”.

  46. TJ says:

    Thanks Nat for another great article. As usual, this comes at a time when I needed it most. 0It’s been a year now and I still have my days of being distraught over the break-up. I will read and re-read your article(s)… they give me hope and let me know I am not alone. Thank you so much.

    It is true that we need to change things up, get new hobbies, just find something else, anything else to put our focus on to help us move in a new and healthy direction. I find that I think of the ex more when I am down and out, sick or just bored…. this should tell me something I suppose! After a while you just get sick of sitting by the graveside of your lost relationship… you just have to move on… make a choice to think happier thoughts. Move forward… sure, look into that rearview mirror if you have to, but only very briefly, but keep your eyes focused on the road ahead. We can shape our futures and our destiny, let’s choose to be happy. All easier said than done of course, but it can be done.

  47. phoenix says:

    No way to thank u enuf! I run a charity that uses horses to help kids w issues about boundaries and abuse. And yet couldn’t learn these lessons myself! When I finally realized that I allowed my AC to treat me in ways I wouldn’t tolerate from a horse or pre-schooler, things began to click for me. I can accept and learn the lessons I was teaching children and ignoring for myself. I read your posts every day and have shared this site w so many. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  48. phoenix says:

    I was doing so well. Then my girlfriend called to say this AC wants to call me. She thinks to apologize. I feel too vulnerable like I might go back w him, altho I doubt that’s what he wants. But why why why want to call me? I’ve been getting so much better but this is all so recent, not even 2 weeks. I feel so stupid. But smart underneath! I’m just uncovering my smarts I guess. Any advice?

    • runnergirlno1 says:

      Phoenix, I’m new at this and only in NC for 40 something days so I may not be the best one to offer advice. I’m a little warbly myself. Based on what I’ve learned just recently, he may be calling to get you to stroke his ego and maybe a few other things. Read Natalie’s article “Suck it and See” and read all the posts. What I’ve recently learned is that when they call or text or email, after two weeks or two years, it isn’t about you. It is about them and getting their needs filled as usual, usually at our expense. For me it isn’t being about smart, it’s about staying NC while the fog clears and focusing on me even though I want to run screaming into the night or his arms…I’m choosing the night right now. The night is safer than his arms.

    • Allison says:


      Two questions:

      What do you want from the contact
      What do you think you will receive from the contact

      Be honest with yourself and look at the history between the two of you, I am assuming that the reason you refer to him is AC, is b/c he was extremely hurtful and disrespectful? People do not change in two weeks.

      Be kind to yourself and get the self-love back!

      • sunshine says:

        Allison and runnergirl have very good things to say…in addition, I want to add that even though he may want to apologize, it is likely that it is ONLY to relieve himself of feelings of guilt, at the expense of YOUR emotional and mental health. It is OK to allow him to stew in his own feelings, it is not your job to take on his crappy feelings and feel worse in order to let him feel better. I know we want to be “nice” and we like the feeling of validation that an apology can bring, however, it’s really important for you to stand by NC, it will build your self-esteem to stand up for yourself and be on your own side when the going is tough and learn to really trust yourself!

        Also, please consider setting a boundary with the friend and tell her not to be a go-between or to fill you in on what he is doing at all, as it is only creating more pain for you, and prolonging the drama.
        My mantra lately has been, “A loving ‘no’ to you, is a loving YES to mySELF!”

        • runnergirlno1 says:

          Phoenix, I think Sunshine’s suggestion regarding your mutual friend is important. Re-read and think about what is happening to you when she runs interference. She may think she is doing you a favor but it is creating more pain for you in the end.

          Sunshine, thank you for the comment about letting him stew in his own feelings. I still want to bail him out at my expense. I realize, however, that when I want to bail him out of his crappy feelings, I’m just avoiding my own crappy feelings. I’m going to have to face my own crappy feelings this time around. Shoot, everyone else’s crappy feelings are so much easier to deal with than my own. Crap.

    • charla says:

      Hon, do not take his call. Move on and away from the AC. I’m at 60+ days NC and the last few have been rough, but I can see the damage he inflicted very clearly now. Take the time for you, to get more perspective – and objectivity – on what you went through. Honestly I think that if you truly love someone and they love you, then you let one another move on. And even if they don’t love you, they show you respect by not letting you get caught up in their cr*p over and over.

    • grace says:

      nothing good can come from speaking to him, you don’t even know that he wants to apologise. and even if he does it will be a precursor to something else, ie she’s apologised now i can get x,y or z from her.
      after i cut off the last guy, he texted me a month later. i was pleased to hear from him but in less than a month he was treating me worse than before. it’s as if he could do whatever he wanted as i’d shown i wasn’t firm with NC.
      basically, the only “win” you will get is to have nothing more to do with him.

      • grace says:

        phoenix – mistype – i meant to say “I’ve apologised so I can get x,y or z from her”. Mind you, don’t be surprised if he expects YOU to express some kind of apology for cutting him off. It really is all about them.

  49. WastedLove says:

    Speeinspace wrote: “Anyway, he left his Fbook open recently, I thought it was mine”

    OMG same thing happened to me. He used to let me use his PC and one day I was checking my Fbook page — and found myself logged in as him. So, always log out!

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

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

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

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