If loving this person means that you can't love you, it's not worth it. Always choose you. They're just not that special that you can afford to sacrifice the one thing that makes you you and is the essence of your personal value - you.

When people tell me stories that are basically the equivalent of heavyweight dramas, I realise that many of us mistake “suffering” in our relationships for “love”. We think that it’s ‘normal’ to have to forcefeed someone our affections, to campaign like a telemarketer battling objection after objection, to feel like we’re being ‘abandoned’ even if we haven’t been an actual child for a very long time, to see the potential in someone who we believe doesn’t ‘know’ how they feel or has ‘difficulty’ showing it, and to accept what can come down to quite frankly very assholic or at the very least neglectful behaviour in our lives.

Now there will be times in a relationship where you’ll experience conflict, where each of you may feel hurt due to something the other has done and where you basically have to work harder at your commitment to one another, but this isn’t the same as being in regular, ongoing pain. In a mutual relationship, you’ll come together to weather the rough seas and you’re not going to have to shut down your feelings and suppress your identity to anaesthetise you so that you can remain in the relationship.

I’ve got no problem exchanging a cross word with a partner but I do have a problem in being treated in a manner that’s basically the equivalent of slow torture with me writhing in pain and them throwing salt on it, and maybe even jabbing me with a stick periodically to see if I’m still going.

Pain is not love; it’s pain.

When you mix up the two and think you’re suffering in your crusade for love and that only ‘real’, ‘passionate’ love is painful and hard to come by, it’s important to realise that there are many people who would pass on putting themselves through this kind of pain and opt for ‘loving love’ instead.

There are times in my life where I’ve experienced an intolerable level of pain. So intolerable that my health plummeted. The more that I hurt, the harder I fought for the relationship because I thought that there would be a tipping point and I’d go from being in some sort of personal hell to skipping through meadows. I wanted this person who I’d banked what little self-esteem I had on to come through, because the alternative was being left to pick up the pieces. I felt so dejected and rejected so of course when I garnered their limited attentions and affections, it was like that six months starving in the desert – the crumb now looked like a golden loaf.

Really, if you don’t regard and treat you well, it won’t take much to impress you.

Any ‘ole person can come along and put on their emperor’s new clothes and give you superficial affection during an intense period laden with promises, and it will feel like all of your Christmases have come together in one go.

Much of the pain stems from fear and drama and we mistake our feelings of fear and sometimes seeking or creating drama, as ‘love’, and this is because we have poor relationship habits honed over an extended period of time, likely from childhood. Some of these very painful relationships feel like ‘home’ which is why standing on the spot, jumping through hoops, feeling like nothing is good enough and being wounded by criticism or withdrawal of affection may have a powerful draw for you. You’ll want to right the wrongs of the past and if you can win them over, you believe that it will correct or cancel out whatever happened with a parent or previous partner, even though it won’t.

We convince ourselves that love is what lies on the other side of approval and the drama and pain comes with all of the trying to get it from the reluctant or defunct sources who will make use of your need for approval.

The pain of this pursuit seems more valuable, than say, a person who matches their actions and words and wants to treat you with love, care, trust, and respect. You’ll probably feel suspicious of that. What? No pain? What’s the catch? you wonder.

What you learn though as you become aware of your relationship habits and harness your pattern is that if you don’t address your self-esteem and your beliefs about love and relationships, your perception of what love encompasses becomes very destructive.

It becomes the acceptance of crumbs.

  • You convince yourself that you’re in what you deserve and that if it wasn’t what you deserved, you wouldn’t be in it in the first place or you could leave, as if you have no power or options.
  • You believe that the magnitude of pain that you experience is in direct correlation to the amount of love you have, hence the more pain you feel, the more in love you believe yourself to be.
  • You convince yourself that you’re not good enough to expect or get more and that a better relationship will elude you.
  • You believe that because you have such poor experiences and that time is passing that you must ‘settle’.
  • You become obsessed with getting attention from these ‘special’ people and aren’t concerned with the quality of attention so you end up with drama, either sought out or thrown in your direction. Not all attention is created equal!
  • You become codependent. The very person who is on one hand the very source of your pain also appears to be the sole source of your happiness. You can’t seem to function without them and you believe it’s because of your love when in actual fact it’s because of fear.
  • You think that familiar ‘butterfly’ feeling that you get around these people is excitement and passion when in actual fact, when you have a habit of being with the same poor partners, it’s familiar fear.
  • You expend so much mental energy thinking about him/her, what you think they feel and do, what you think you do and feel, the coulda, woulda, shoulda’s and betting on potential that you lose sight of the reality of them and become obsessed and infatuated with an illusion.

Many of the dysfunctional things that happen in poor relationships are easy to bag and tag as ‘love’ and ‘passion’ but it’s important to remember that reality becomes distorted in poor relationships because it’s far harder to stick around when your feet are in reality – people in poor relationships often end up on a whole other planet from their partners!

If you don’t reconcile who you think you love with the reality of who they are and the relationship you have, you’ll fail to process those feelings of drama and fear for what they are – fear and drama – and as long as you are doing this, you will continue to fall into a cycle of poor relationships that result in similar experiences.

Fear and drama make you dependent on surrounding yourselves in experiences and factors that make it more comfortable for you to believe that this is how things are.

Fear causes inaction and we end up being comfortable with the pattern of the very uncomfortable, because it seems far more uncomfortable to make positive changes that will not only make us accountable for our own happiness (or misery), but will throw the spotlight on where we are expending our emotional energy and reveal some uncomfortable truths.

At the end of the day, only you know your experience but if you have been involved with the type of person who yields poor experiences on a habitual basis, there will be many familiar things about what you’re experiencing and that’s a sign in itself that not only is something very wrong, but you’re actually gravitating to patterns that you can recreate over and over again, and that’s not love when it ends up causing you so much pain, fear, and drama.

The litmus test of all this, is if you develop a healthier relationship with you, which will result in healthier beliefs about love and relationships, will you still want this person? Will you still love him/her? Or, will you finally realise that you haven’t experienced mutual, nourishing, love yet and have in fact been mistaking pain for love?

If loving this person means that you can’t love you, it’s not worth it. Always choose you.

Your thoughts?


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302 Responses to Revisited: Is it love? Or is it fear, drama, and pain?

  1. K says:

    Great post.

    And a very sobering one too. I have come to realize, that being uncomfortable alone and working through my trauma, is a lot less uncomfortable than being in a relationship that is addictive and abusive, although this was not what happened the first several months out. I literally thought I would not survive without him.

    What I find amazing now, is that I have awareness about the times that my ex enters my “sphere” and I begin to “long” for the “good ole days”, the ADDICTIVE pull to the relationship is incredibly strong. This has a tendency to make me feel VERY angry because I know from where it comes in relationship to my childhood and that deep, overwhelming need to be and feel loved. I notice that the pull to him, also comes when I’m feeling really BAD about myself or when I’m enduring a stressful event and THAT is very telling to me in answering the “why” question with regards to being in the relationshit in the first place. Abuse feels “good” because it is familiar. I have been away from it for two years now, and am living abuse free and with peace everyday. There is no drama or chaos. I’m also learning that “joy” is not limited to balloons, confetti, and a big ole party. It’s cuddling with my very loyal wiener (dog). It’s my boys and their laughter when they’re teasing one another. It’s the total calm I have once in awhile now, that nearly brings me to tears of relief. It isn’t all the time yet, I still feel an indescribable pull to him in my thoughts, but I use this as an opportunity to QUESTION myself and what more I need to do to move forward. I’m preparing to move on to the next phase of recovery.
    I’ve also realized that I have always known how to react to pain and to drama, but didn’t have a CLUE how not too. Now that I’m not reacting to this anymore, living life without pain IS incredibly uncomfortable because I’m leaving my addiction behind and learning to embrace peace, while learning that love is NOT pain. It’s amazing to me how I have had this so confused in my life and in relationships with men and in my other relationships too. It feels BORING. It isn’t as emotionally “exciting” as the relationship was. The hyper vigilance and stress of being in the relationship and begging for crumbs,enduring more abuse, never knowing what was going to happen next,is gone, but replaced with the stress of continued retreat, changing behavior and facing myself and my past.

    I think it’s important to note that with addiction our brains are literally rewired. This is the SAME with painful, abusive relationships. It is truly emotional crack and I wonder now, if pathological relationships, which really ARE traumatic resulting in trauma bonding (addiction), aren’t more addictive and destructive than drug or alcohol use. I had an easier time completely kicking the alcohol when the relationship was over, than I have the relationship itself.
    When my mind wants to “go there”, I put him into the context of my DOC (drug of choice) and act accordingly. I know what would happen if I drank alcohol again, and it is similar to what would happen if I were drink his koolaid again too.

    When I think about it in those terms, I’m proud of myself for choosing me, and appreciate more, that my desire for peace without a life of abuse, drama and pain becomes more appealing to me each day.

    • Andrea says:

      I have to agree with you, our brains are literally rewired. It is very hard to explain to someone who has never felt this way or reacted this way in a relationship with someone. My sister and I are completely different. She cannot understand how I cannot just dump the jerk and move on. She always tells me why do I get into relationships with men that do nothing but hurt me, I should just stop. I try to explain, but if someone doesn’t get it, you can’t.
      Congratulations on being out of it. I hope to be there soon.

    • Chica8 says:

      K, I hear you on all fronts. I’m newly sober myself, and newly single after going back to the ex after 4 months of NC last year. I’m picking myself up off the ground after this last go-round with him. After many years of alcohol abuse, being obsessed with EUMs and just generally destroying my life, the calm feels good. It’s amazing that you said you put your ex in the same category as your drug of choice. I’m doing the same thing. When my mind goes “there” I think of my approach to alcohol now as a sober person, and I act accordingly. I stop the thoughts before they turn into actions. I pray about it. I ask for help if I need it. But what I don’t do, is act on the obsession. Thanks for your comment, and thank you Natalie for all you do. You’re such a blessing.

    • recoveringloveaddict says:

      K, I too have learned to look at my obsessions with the men in my past as just another “drink”. I too am a recovering alcoholic and it helped tremendously to look at them that way. I wanted the EU/AC’s in my life to fix me just like I wanted a drink to fix me. Once I looked at it that way, it became easier to stay away from them. I saw that contacting him was like picking up a drink, it was the equivalent of a relapse. I also know today that the ONLY way for me to have a healthy, loving relationship with a man is have a loving relationship with a Higher Power, otherwise the man becomes my higher power.

    • That Girl says:

      Fantastic post K.

      I know exactly what you mean and getting off that emotional crack is literally the hardest thing I ever did. I think you may be right that i may be even more addictive than what people normally think of drugs- its doubly crazy tho that society generally doesn’t understand this or sees it as something to just ‘get over’. As we who’ve been thru it know, its not that easy. I read and listened to a lot of Buddhist nun Pema Chodron’s talks on addiction and it made perfect sense in relation to this so-called love/ pain.

      Seeing it as an addiction has helped me, and also the idea that when quit the madness we are actually gaining something- our sanity, freedom, self-esteem- and not ‘losing’ anything that mattered or was good for us.

      Every time I hear of a success story like yours, I feel such happiness, and remember the joy I felt when I finally realised i was free after I left my abusive ex. Its been really tough at times since then, but like you I feel so proud of myself and for every other person who managed to choose themselves and a better life. May we all continue to do so!

    • Jule says:

      I really sgreed with and liked what you had to say and I identify with much of it. When you say you act accordingly when you put the thought of him like you do DOC, what exactly do you do? I’m interested because I am feeling the pull every day of him. I am early in recovery.

      • K says:


        Early in recovery is the hardest part. I struggled the first eight months. He contacted me early on and I was so frustrated I told him that if he continued to try to reach me, I would let his new GF know! After he stopped, the pain from wrestling myself from the overwhelming desire to call/text or email was so much, I literally spent days just keeping myself busy and if I couldn’t do that, I stayed in bed. But I also took myself off of face book for four months and only answered an email account for emails that I knew he did not know about. I didn’t check my old email,I didn’t pick up the phone if I didn’t recognize the number…

        Jule, two things really helped: Telling myself over and over, like a mantra “I’m choosing me, I’m choosing me…” and when I felt tempted to contact, I ASKED myself..what would happen if I do this? What has happened in the past when I did? (He used it to further hurt me), is it worth degrading myself further? Do I want him to have control in my life to make me FEEL bad? I’m totally serious when I tell you that in staying off FB and away from the computer most of the time, the phone,…something began to shift. The fear I should have given into when with him or wanting to contact him, became MORE than my desire to contact him. It turned into fear of hearing from him, fear of getting of FB, fear of running into him. I WANTED him out of my life. He didn’t terrorize me physically (exception:sexually), but he terrorized me psychologically..and I knew if I contacted, it would be giving him license to frighten me again.

        It takes a lot of self awareness about how you’re feeling, as well as writing it down and reviewing it. It doesn’t just come, you’re literally rewiring your brain to learn new habits and behaviors that break your addiction to him..it’s hard work. And it will feel like shit the first year..but it does get slowly better the more you keep choosing you. **hugs**

  2. Julie says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for over a year and your posts have changed my life. Thank you for all your words and for breaking it down.

  3. Alibi says:

    Yet again, an amazingly timely post. How well it describes the horrible queasy, hanging off a cliff edge feeling. I am going to re read it tomorrow, but it sums up the last few months of a relationship that started with mad passion, and ended with me being made homeless by a man I barely recognised, but who withdrew slowly, bit by bit until I couldn’t take any more. When I questioned him, he replied that I was no longer a long term viable proposition. Although I am on my own, now at least I don’t have the butterflies, the second guessing, the twisting myself in knots to please the unpleasable, the gut wrenching fear that he would end the relationship and, having stupidly rented out my property long term, would have no home. The worst has happened. I stayed with a man who turned out to be a control freak par excellence because I was afraid to be alone. Lots of work to do now to work out why, but this article and this site is a godsend.

    • K says:


      Reading your post was powerful for me. The insanity that you’re describing, fits the description of the last psychopath that I was with, as well as the reasons I put up with what I did, at least one of them anyway…

      For all the losses accumulated, and all the abuse endured, the fear of being alone seems incredibly insignificant to me now. I put off the inevitable because of that fear and allowed and caused a lot of pain doing it.

      I can say I “shoulda” about my decisions to stay in the relationship,and while I can’t change what happened, there is apart of me that will probably always wish that I had just taken the road of far less pain and that WAS being alone.

      Very powerful. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. **hugs**

      • recoveringloveaddict says:

        Alibi and K, our behavior is insane. My obsession with my “Great Obsession” (my worst one) led me to do some stupid things. One time, before there were cell phones, and he was living with his parents, I called and his mom told me he was not home. I called every 1/2 hour like clock work after that to get a hold of him.That poor woman was interrupted from whatever she was doing every 30 minutes for the next 4 hours until he came home! The very WORST thing I ever did for him was leave my 8-year old while she was sleeping to go see him down the street a mile from my home. I rationalized that she was safe asleep and wouldn’t wake up and she be alright. I was gone all night. What if there had been a fire? I am so grateful nothing happened. I remember trying to get him to come see me, but he had just gotten back from a trip and was tired. I was so obsessed with him and so sick that I willing to endanger my child to see him. I understand what Susan Smith did. She was obsessed with a man. I would like to believe that I was not capable of doing such a horrible thing, but at the same time, I understand the INSANITY, the obsession, the hold it can have over you. I do not judge her, instead my heart goes out to her. I understand the woman, who was involved with the astronaut,(in recent news) who drove miles to plan to kill the OW, reportedly wearing a diaper so she could drive straight through. I understand that, BUT, for the grace of God go I.

        • selkie says:

          I judge her. She coldly drowned her two small children then lied, faked tears on television, then said a black man had kidnapped them. My heart goes out to her dead babies, not her. Her obsession with a man will never make murdering her babies understandable to me.

          • recoveringloveaddict says:

            That’s why it’s called insanity. It is NOT understandable. I believe she was not of sound mind. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much out there at the time about love addiction. There wasn’t a BR or a Natalie. Robin Woods may have just come out with her book, “Women Who Love Too Much”, but there was no insanity defense for Susan Smith.

        • K says:

          We really can’t compare our actions to Susan Smith. CLEARLY she was a female psychopath and has some major issues of her OWN. These are what Sandra Brown M.A. refers to as gasoline to fire situations…you CAN have two people in a relationshit that fuel one another if both are disordered. NOT. PRETTY.

          I did the same thing you did recovering, only my eldest child was a baby! I left her for twenty minutes ALONE, while I went off with the first spath to get pizza down the street! I never did that again and many of my WTF moments have been with regards to my past behavior..

          I think it’s SO important to understand that when you are in a very toxic and/or pathological relationshit, whatever is very good about you, as well as VERY BAD, will show itself. There is NO. WAY. you can be in a relationshit with such toxicity and become toxic. It’s a requirement, especially with someone who is disordered. There is just no way to be healthy with unhealthy. If you’re healthy, you won’t WANT to be with someone like that, nor would you want to play their games!
          It’s also really important to understand that the differences between us and THEM is that we CAN change. I think, with some of the behaviors I’ve heard survivors partake in, that it’s a MIRACLE to have, ultimately, empathy and some sort of dignity, even a shred..if you have a conscience, there is no way you can participate in those relationshits without becoming seriously fucked up, to react, because your CONSCIENCE is fighting with their LACK of it. If that makes sense…it’s your conscience that pulls you out.

          I am so grateful for this now…all of us that have the courage to recover, are miracles. REALLY!

        • titi says:

          Jesus Christ, cut the damn drama. You left your 8-year old child alone while she was asleep. Not a nice thing to do, but it certainly is not A CRIME. Goddamnit you are comparing yourself to a psycho-mother who KILLED her children. And you’re doing this just to prove US you’re a bad mother, a failure as a parent. These are NOT YOUR thoughts, someone (probably parents) convinced you you cannot do anything right. An 8-year old is perfectly capable of staying alone in the house for a couple of hours, and, no, a fire isn’t somethin that happens all the time, so don’t use your excessive imagination to rise the levels of drama. Your biggest mistake was involvement with an asshole. Forgive yourself and move on.

          • sushi says:

            I think all the self blame we are heaping on ourselves is the continuation of the drama cycle. Hard habit to break.

  4. yoghurt says:


    I remember that the first time I read “Pain isn’t love. It’s pain”, it hit me on the jaw like a lead-filled sock.

    At the time I was in a good deal of pain and somehow I’d managed to convince myself that it was ‘proof’ that it’d work out and was fated. And I really really believed it.

    I read horoscopes all the time and convinced myself that it was ‘fated by the stars’, I cast myself as the central character in a melodramatic novel, complete with bleak windswept landscapes and a heaving bosom. I read our compatibility in the fact that we have similar colouring, the same initials and a shared fondness for Father Ted.

    Looking back, it’s difficult to believe that I was quite that stupid but I was – I created this absolutely watertight fantasy scenario and it got bigger and bigger until that one sentence blew the lid right off it.

    I’m very glad it did :)

    Nowadays, it occurs to me that (I assume) you don’t have to fight and fight and fight to convince yourself that you’re compatible with someone or that it’ll work out when you’re in a Healthy Relationship. You just know.

    It also occurs to me that feeling ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED of the way that you’re going to feel about yourself if they don’t turn up, or say something cruel, or meet someone else is a very tiring and unsustainable way to live your life.

    Hope you’re having a good and restful December, Natalie. I was thinking recently about how very very generous you are to share your insights with everyone. I was also thinking about how very happy I am these days :) – thank you very much.

    • Learner says:

      “It also occurs to me that feeling ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED of the way that you’re going to feel about yourself if they don’t turn up, or say something cruel, or meet someone else is a very tiring and unsustainable way to live your life.”
      Yes! It’s amazing how this terror keeps us hooked, at great expense to ourselves – our energy, our self-esteem, our very souls. All this hypervigilance, and over-analyzing, and worrying, and putting ourselves through great pain in order to feel validated by someone who has some “interesting” similarities and shared interests, but no *character*. No more!

      • sushi says:

        yoghurt, learner,
        I used to torture myself with worrying that all you describe above, the hypervigilance and overanalysing was my character flaw, therefore I`m not good enough (my default mode).Could not for the life of me understand why I could be insightful and perceptive and just normal with some people and feel like I was going crazy with others. They were AC`s, now I know. After learning all this on BR I just don`t see myself ever going into an EUM situation. It`s like being on a different plane.

  5. J says:

    Wow – this one hit home. Every word of this describes my now ex-husband and my relationship. I still find it hard not to beat myself up about how I could have done things ‘better’ so things wouldn’t have ended, therefore blaming myself for the outcome, rather then acknowledging that I can’t control how another person behaves. Realizing that the other person’s negative actions and emotional unavailablity are not a result of my shortcomings, but are a result of their own issues is very hard to do. Does anyone have any thoughts on how to navigate through this self blame?

    • Revolution says:

      Hi J,

      My heart goes out to you, and I totally understand (as probably most of us do) the self-blame that you are describing. Our minds may understand, but our hearts still seek to punish someone, and guess who it chooses to punish? That’s right: us. You asked for some help on stopping this, so here’s my two cents. I’ll try to be practical, and not rely on platitudes, because that’s what helps me.

      First, letting others own their stuff does NOT absolve us from owning ours. So we’re not blame-shifting, only realizing where the line is drawn between us and them. So don’t think that by letting him “own” his own EU-ness and behavior that you’re trying to absolve your own stuff. You’re not. Those are two separate things.

      Second, something that helps me is to remember the other person’s actions that you’ve observed that had NOTHING to do with you. If he treated you badly, I’m sure he has a history of doing the same with others. Friends, exes, wait staff, etc. I’m not saying to drown yourself in memories or to keep stuck thinking about him, but if you spend a few minutes thinking about how he lived his life and interacted with OTHERS, then you usually realize that this is a BIGGER pattern in this person’s life. Which means you didn’t cause it, and you can’t “cure” it with your “love.”

      That being said, you may also benefit from talking things through with a counselor, if you aren’t already. Sometimes it helps to get a passionless observer’s thoughts on the cold hard facts. I hope this helps in some small way.

    • That Girl says:

      Hi J, I second Revolution’s response and just wanted to kind of give a very short version which I had to repeat to myself endlessly when I was in the self-blame stage (well actually during there relationship as well…)
      In response to other people’s behavior- which as you rightly point out are not a result of your shortcomings- it really helped me to remember that I Didn’t Cause It; I can’t Cure it and I Can’t Control It.

      Also I started to see that the desire to self-blame, its like a form of punishment, which could be a desire to exert some control over situations which actually are terrifying exactly cos we can’t control them.
      I sometimes felt like there is a part of me that just wants to feel bad about a situation, because in a way then it feels like I’m ‘doing something’ (or taking action) except sometimes the only thing to do is do nothing and just sit with the mixture of fear, confusion and yes, also self-blame, but just step aside and see yourself doing it.
      And then question whether its actually in your best interests and whether anything positive can come out of blaming yourself- in my experience, the answer is usually no. All the best to you.

    • jewells says:

      I would suggest a therapist to work though how you determine what’s your’s and what’s his. An objective perspective to help give insight into what you are reacting to. I have a history of blaming myself for others behaviors too, it was learned at an early age. I’ve been reading these posts and blogs for a few months now and have gained much insight into his behaviour that I no longer blame myself for what transpired, but the outcome is that I decided that I needed therapy to come to terms with the underlying reasons why I found myself with him in the first place so that can own ‘my’ part in things and do better in future. It was a bad combo from the beginning, part him, part me. My job now is to figure out what part me, allowed what part him, to play this game.

    • sushi says:

      self blame is difficult to shift as it is often a habit learnt in childhood and ground in further by our experiences with AC`s. I think that improving self esteem is the answer,self blame doesn`t achieve anything positive and we would reject it. Also, understanding the “mechanics” of why you are reacting this way helps, gives you lots of aha moments and that helps with accepting that we have a right not to be perfect, sometimes we act propelled by our past. I now mostly blame myself for making mistakes getting into EU relationships in the first place, not leaving early enough ect. But I used to think things like; “if I had been more tolerant of his porn addiction our relationship would be better, I was oversensitive. Well, I wasn`t tolerant because it was outrageous and I should have left his sorry ass to do whatever floated his boat rather than let his problem destroy my self confidence completely. Have you accepted the reality of how it was and how you felt in it? Puting the facts on paper might help.

      • jewells says:

        It was short lived, the honeymoon period was in full affect until the ‘blowing cold’ began, anxiety began, then the ‘managing down’ began and the ‘penny dropped’. The reality was that he was manipulating me into an unacceptable proposition – the OW. When he realized I was actually expecting him to live up to the expectations he built, and the inevitable outcome of me dumping him, he backed off and tried to manage the situation so that I wouldn’t fully comprehend the reality of what he was doing and have it blow up in his face. Funny thing is, that managing is exactly what tipped me to what exactly he was doing and it blew up in his face. My lack of self confidence allowed him to manipulate me in the first place, I chose to believe in him, trust him…and that blew up in my face. I am complicit in that I was a fantasy believer, he must have thought he’d struck gold…until he talked too much…

        • jewells says:

          And I’m learning not to be ashamed or blame myself, that is my pattern from childhood. But to keep in mind, ‘fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me’. I am determined to not fall into this again, so I’m getting therapy to nix old patterns and beliefs to lead a happier more fulfilling life and find a healthy relationship in future… it’s not about him, it’s about me. I accept that he is who he is, that he was no good for me, what I thought was good was just pretend so he could get his ‘fix’ from me and that’s it. He’s no longer on the scene so I have plenty of room to deal with me without his obnoxious brand of mindf**** that would leave me otherwise doubting myself.

  6. Andrea says:

    This is a great post and always seems to come at exactly the same time I need to read. The “butterfly feeling” being familiar fear. The codependent feeling of pain and can’t live without them and it’s just fear! I am going through this and it’s amazing to me how addictive this person has become to me, I was starting to lose it thinking I needed to check into a rehab or something! I have quit cigarettes after 20 years and that was nothing compared to the withdrawal or thinking of withdrawal of this person. It’s why I haven’t been able to end it and see the light. I am trying so hard to do that as I know it’s not love at all. Pain really is not love and I should not be feeling anxiety and stress and worry about when he’s going to call or text or just show up at my house unannounced for 30 minutes…pretending like that’s his way of showing he cares. This has been all about drama and fear. That’s it. I find it pretty amazing how I can see all of it and I realize and recognize it for what it is, trying to win someone over reminds me of being a little girl trying to win over my parent’s affection and never being good enough. I hope that I can break through it, thanks for the great post!

    • Pandora says:

      Dear Andrea,
      I believe you and I are on the exact same page. Realizing this “relationship” is like an addiction, and possibly the most difficult experience I’ve ever had. You absolutely nailed it when you wrote of how trying to “win someone over reminds me of being a little girl trying to win over my parent’s affection and never being good enough”. Trust me, you are good enough- you are more than good enough, you are far better than this person deserves. I am facing the same struggle, accepting the same crumb diet of “affection”, looking for hidden meaning in obscured words purposely designed to keep me dangling on a string whilst he does his own thing, calling me up or deciding to see me whenever he has a need or it suits him. It’s never about my needs/ feelings/ wishes, it’s about him. Any shady behaivors are rationalised with excuses about his poor job, finances, unfair boss, etc. and all his breakups, ( and there have been many) were something about the nefarious “her”- ” her” rage issues, sex issues, control issues, religious issues, lack of trust issues, or something else. I once said to him don’t you think you need to look at your own contributions to the demise of your previous relationships? He sheepishly replied that it was a fair question; however, he never bothered to answer it. The poor man has issues out his arse, but I have stayed with him, florenced him, wished upon a thousand stars for the wonderful feelings I had in the beginning. Butterflies….. yes, I always have them when he calls, as I never know when that will be or what will be. It’s anxiety and fear. I am selling myself out to this person who is clearly not worthy of my time. Others have told me this, these marvelous posts have told me this, but it is only just NOW beginning to truly sink in. I’ll tell you what- I will if you will- go NO CONTACT, that is. I’m ready to jump off the diving board into the deep end. Are you with me, Andrea? We deserve so much more than this.
      (( Hugs )) Pandora

      • K says:


        May I share something that might be helpful?

        Now that you realize what it is? GET. OUT. :)

        K, here’s why: Before you arrive at awareness, while you are still responsible for your actions, if you’re in it and you really *know*, I mean *KNOW* what they are, you are then responsible for continuing at your own DEMISE.

        I’d like to share why this is important, because I did it several months before it was over. I was so addicted, so UNWILLING to let go, I hung on until I was SO degraded, KNOWING what he was doing, that it nearly killed me. Had I stayed another minute longer, I may well have offed myself. I had to save myself and it waa a BIG traumatic drama getting out, but I believe it’s because I hated myself much more, than being out of the relationship. I had to be in indescribable, insurmountable amounts of emotional torture before I was willing to go and that is SAD…

        Don’t let yourselves hang in there too much longer, try to see if you can begin to hold yourselves accountable to someone close to you and plan to say buh-bye.

        It’s NOT worth the additional trauma, degradation and outright and outrageous humiliation you will suffer at these men’s hands. They don’t care. They will torture you as long as you let them and it gives them a HUGE EGO MASSAGE. He’s viewing you as WEAK.

        Show your strength and resolve and let go. Don’t allow yourselves to get to the point where these men have so much power that it might just mean your life. **Hugs**

      • natashya says:

        i also now recognise the ‘butterflies’ as anxiety. of wanting to be loved in return and not knowing if i was going to be rejected or ignored.

        and you are right. it’s like an addiction. it is much worse than quitting smoking. at least with quitting smoking i had the euphoria of reaching milestones. 1 week smoke free! 1 month smoke free!

        i find the withdrawal from the ex EUM much harder to deal with. yay me for going NC! i know the reward is removing myself from the source of the pain and it’s working. i am no longer confused, getting rejected or ignored.

        the sadness, though… i am having a hard time with that. i seriously cannot wait for the day where i cannot remember the last time i thought about him. sweet indifference…

      • Andrea says:

        Hi Pandora,
        While it makes me unhappy to hear about everyone else having to go through this, I am very grateful that their are others out there that can relate and share their experiences. I am literally sitting here and my mind starts to wander and I start to “miss” him and I just came to this website and read some posts etc and comments and I feel a bit better. One thing I did notice about myself, maybe others as well, I never asked questions. I never questioned him or what he would say or things he did, I just accepted it. Some of the ambiguous statements he made about us being together or getting together, calling me his g/f at one point and yet he is apparently in love with another woman..he’s “waiting” for her to choose him (see she’s involved with a married man herself). I never ASKED him about it. I just knew he was blowing smoke and I let him. It’s almost like I was afraid to rock the boat, even though the boat had already tipped over many times before. He was saying and doing things for his convenience, maybe he thought it was what I wanted to hear to keep me hanging on. I was his Fallback Girl, his option. He’d go so far as wanting to meet my parents and then disappear. I finally told him this week that I deserve more, I’m tired of not being honest about this past 5 months of up and down, tired of not questioning anything. He knows he’s unavailable and I’ve always known it I chose to ignore it. I have not heard back and I’m grateful and yet of course I’m also in withdrawal. I know that I am missing only what I hoped would happen with him but I know that he doesn’t even love himself and if he does love this other woman, it’s not real love either. Thank you all for your comments and it’s great to hear everyone’s stories. Hugs to you all. xo

  7. MRWriter says:

    The biggest fear I deal with is the “oh, god not another AC/EUM or other garden variety jerkiness.” Instead of flushing, I rationalize, justify and otherwise put my needs on the back-burner hoping against all hope that maybe this time I’ve got them wrong or I’m being too negative. I prefer to keep the fantasy going in the face of harsh reality. I am attracting different problems than I did earlier this year and I’m not biting my tongue off anymore either…yea me & BR! It’s disappointing to discover that what you thought was promising isn’t quite as so but thanks to Natalie, I’m not nearly so crushed or afraid to discover and if that comes with a letdown at least I’m not sticking around to be a doormat or opt for crumbs or other assholery behavior. I’m choosing me and it’s frankly pretty amazing, scary, refreshing and rewarding. There are good days mixed with darker ones, but the bad aren’t as bleak as they were just a couple of months ago.

  8. Jessie says:

    Thank you for reminding me of what the “relationship” was. I have to tell myself when I get all sad about missing him that what I’m missing wasn’t in reality him, it’s what I hoped it would be, it’s how I wished it could have been. It was nice in the beginning, but he didn’t really manifest any qualities I keep thinking he has now. Now that he’s gone/with someone else. He’s probably going to be the same with her. I realize I have better thoughts to think than to speculate on his life.

  9. Flavia says:

    “Pain is not love; it’s pain.”

    This has become my motto both in romantic relationships and in day to day life.

    Whenever I catch myself thinking “what is it that is wrong with me that makes this person treat me poorly and cause this pain”, or trying justify poor behavior, I remind myself of this phrase. Then all of a sudden I’m looking at things from a different perspective where I am an individual worthy of being treated with care and respect, and opting out of painful and inappropriate situations.

    Thank you, Natalie.

  10. Shy says:

    You’re always on time guardian angel. All I can say is I wish my head & heart would work together. They say follow your heart… but the heart is such a troublemaker. Everything you said was nail on the head Nat.

  11. maya says:

    Another eye opening post, Nat.

    For me, it was definitely fear. Fear of being alone. Thankfully, I realized that I was still alone in that so-called relationship. It was also this intense fear that took me months to end it. People who have endured worse told me they counted their nightmare in years and years and that I was lucky to escape. Or let myself free.

    Sometimes, I still feel frightened, but I have to make myself understand that being alone is not as bad as being mentally tortured.

    Thanks again, Nat :) I needed this today.

    • Vel says:

      Hi Maya :-) This was a really lovely reply, I really related to what you said, And especially your 3rd paragraph, it really hit home for me, just like this article itself. It is definitly better to be alone than to put up with less than we deserve. :-) Thanks. kind regards vel :)

      • maya says:

        Thank you for the kind words,Vel:)It’s been a bad few days at work, and it has triggered a lot of negative emotions in me. But it’s good to know I can come here to destress. Let’s be good to us :)

        • Vel says:

          Hi Maya :-) Lovely to hear from you. your welcome, thank you for that and for what you wrote :) Hope your feeling ok after a crappy few days at work, you must be looking forward to the weekend. Being good to ourselves sounds like a perect plan :-) It is definately good to come on this website to distress, I find I do it a lot too. Lots of empowering and truthful posts on here. take care Maya..thanks again for the reply :) great to meet you:D kind regards

  12. PhoenixRises says:

    It is truly crazy to think how many of us are guilty of picking other things or people over our own health, sanity, and happiness. Now that I am moving towards a better mindset, I look at others’ self-esteem and self-image as crucial to any potential future with them. Does this person take care of themselves? Do they have a good concept of who they are and what they stand for (aka goals, boundaries, etc.)?

    On a sidenote, I think the idea of ‘love as torture’ and the Shakespearean tragedy that is often played out comes from societal and cultural influences. I can’t speak for the East, but many Western films and books write stories and dramas that romanticize this notion that it isn’t love if you aren’t suffering. Recently I went back to watch one of my favourite TV shows, which featured a tumultuous relationship between a couple I worshiped. Now I want to hit myself up the head, because I’m not sure why I ever found them interesting–both characters were EU and one of them was VERY emotionally abusive! So many red flags and awful behavior that I had to turn it off. It’s no wonder that people accept shady behavior when it is normalized in so many shows, songs, and books (obviously no excuse, but again, an interesting observation.)

    • Victorious says:

      PR – was it Mork and Mindy?? Ha ha! Anyway, I have to admit I felt a bit uncomfortable reading your post. My ex narc had excellent boundaries and goals. He took really good care of himself thank you very much. It was accepting anyone elses boundaries, and taking care of anyone else that he found impossible. I am just not so sure that these things are a good indicator of someone being a good partner. I tell you what is though…..my gut. And I ignored it, and shouted it down, and rode roughshod over my own intuition that Something Was Horribly Wrong cos I didn’t want to be picking up the pieces.

      • Lilia says:

        When I went NC with my own EU I had to stop watching “romantic” films and listening to those silly fbg songs (Adele comes to mind), and I had to shelve Wuthering Heights for the time being.
        I´ve become an avid follower of cowboy and action films, and have read everything by Ruth Rendell and PD James.
        Otherwise I´d just dwell on the EUM and our meant-to-be relationship, and feed those infantile feelings that led me to remain in this situation for so long.
        I discovered there are much more relationship-bs messages out there than I previously thought. Even Bonnie and Clyde makes the EUM-FBG schenario seem romantic (he is impotent aka can´t love her, she sticks around out of boredom with her previous life).
        Now that I´ve worked on myself and my own involvement is beginning to make some more sense, I can watch/read/listen to anything (cowboys aren´t really my thing) and it won´t make me question myself. I do read BR daily though, to hammer common sense into my brain.

      • Mymble says:

        That comment made me laugh (sorry).
        The AC took SUCH good care of himself! He followed a special diet (vegan, with a lot of raw food), took exercise, nice clothes and fragrance etc. I have never met a man who was so particular about his person and the quality of his life. And boundaries! Set in stone and vigilantly policed. I tiptoed round them. Look after number one, that
        was his motto and his absolute priority.

        • Victorious says:

          yep, ex narc went to gym religiously, wore lovely (expensive) clothes, had really expensive hair products (cos it was disappearing on him!)He made sure he didn’t shave every day “cos that’s why my skin is so great and soft.” He had a very weird relationship with food though which I have read is common with narcs. He was really strict with himself sometimes, having no salt, special cholesterol lowering spread, goats milk, blah blah. Then other days he would literally eat like a pig. Would have four rolls for lunch and then want cakes and scones after. Then would want 2 pizzas for dinner. NUTS!
          Boundaries. I couldn’t put it better MM. “Set in stone and religiously policed.” He once told me “I NEVER do anything I don’t want to do.” yes, he was alright Jack!

          • Alibi says:

            Hah! That is interesting. My EUM was vegetarian and I spent hours and hours researching recipes and local produce, organic ingredients. It was like having a second job! He was a stickler for housework done ina particular way (never mine), but your post reminded me when I got home early once, and caught him lying on the sofa, having consumed an enormous bag of pistachio nuts, and the shells were all over the sofa! Not even in a bowl. He looked like a naughty schoolboy, but of course it was my fault for being early :0(

            • Mymble says:

              You want to try raw veganism, it’s a regime that is incompatible with leading a normal life. I don’t think he really did stick to it; his weight used to mysteriously yoyo (sometimes he seemed to have suddenly got really fat) so I think there was binging
              going on. In a normal relationship this would be something you’d talk/joke about freely. But one of his boundaries was that we had to
              pretend at all times that he was perfect, under no circumstances poke fun at him. It was the emporer’s new clothes.
              Little things like that, they show you who the other person is and how crap your “relationship” is.

              • malaise says:

                Yup, my ex was extremely touchy. It was like walking on egg shells, I eventually felt like I couldn’t even speak lest I say something to offend him. He was hyper-sensitive to any teasing, poking fun, anything he thought was a criticism. He told me he watched the show “The Hills” and I teased him for that, I mean come ON. I thought it was funny! He got so defensive, and was rude the rest of the night. Oh, apparently he just watched the show for all the “hot chicks”. Nice. LOSER.

          • K says:


            My ex psychopath took a bevvy of vitamins his narc, eccentric mother sent him in box loads. He was all about eating healthy, but he didn’t. He also drank a ton of wine and vodka and OJ’s..
            But he was exceptionally “clean” like a woman clean. He would only wear deodorant, hated cologne, wore very fancy clothes and shoes (his closet was FULL of clothes and he was a hoarder too), and he had a mirror that hung directly across from the big front mirror in his bathroom so he could perfectly coiffe (sp) his very short, perfectly cut hair. It waa WEIRD. He hated being dirty and would often shower twice a day. It was just….WEIRD…

            • Victorious says:

              Aah K. My ex narc was just the same. actually I think we were dating the same man! He was always in the damn shower, and couldn’t understand why I was so freaked about the huge mirror that hung opposite the bath.

              • K says:


                They have a thing about mirrors…
                Mine had a thing about mirrors and watching us have sex. But I discovered something very important in observing HIM while having sex. He had NO FACIAL expression during orgasm. NONE. He had been faking it the entire time. I began to realize that the beginning of the relationshit, with all it’s intensity and quirks, sexually, that he said made sex “so intense” for him…stopped. As the relationship progressed, his “foot cramps” he’d get while orgasming…stopped.

                They are SO fake. But I think that missing facial expression absolutely blew me away and it was a sure thing,for me, that even that part of the relationship, he faked too..

                • Victorious says:

                  I was with a cerebral narc with a huge madonna/whore complex. I was the madonna so after about 3 months the sex stopped anyway. I never go to see his face when we were doing it, if you get my drift. Probably was just servicing me to keep me in his thrall. UGH!!!! Talked about it all the time though. very useful! What a wanker! ( literally!)

                  • K says:


                    I’ve been curious about the Madonna/Whore complex. My ex, I believe, had this as well. I haven’t researched it much, yet, but I wonder if it’s truly a genuine complex or just a Freudian theory that never amounted to much in the way of consistent, studied acting out behavior!

                    Yep, they are odd in every way. They can’t be consistent, committed or anything else because their personalities are soooo fragmented. It’s very odd to see it in action, such a disconnect from so many things.

              • PhoenixRises says:

                Ha! Wow these guys all sound like total winners 😉 Aren’t you glad you left when you did?!

                Also just to clarify: I meant boundaries and self-awareness in a positive way, not the extreme narcissistic way. While these men were “selective” or had strange standards, I doubt many of them are self aware, self reflective, or willing to put in the work to made needed changes to uncompromising lifestyles! I noticed a lot of us were with people concerned with appearance and materialism, which now is a huge red flag to me because most (not all, but most) use these superficial things to mask or deny what they are or how they feel.

                • La Pintura Bella says:

                  Phoenix Rises:

                  “…I doubt many of them are self aware, self reflective, or willing to put in the work to made needed changes to uncompromising lifestyles! I noticed a lot of us were with people concerned with appearance and materialism…”

                  Dead on accurate observation. They do not have ANY self-awareness and will not look at themselves. They PROJECT their negative feelings about themselves onto those closet to them. And yes, IMAGE is all important to them.

                  It’s fake, false to the nth degree. That’s the contradictory thing about narcs. They act like they have great self-esteem and confidence, but they truly don’t. They have a lot of self-loathing but are too cowardly to look at why, or to actually correct it by doing the self-reflection, counseling, work. Instead, they lie to themselves to the point they actually believe their own BS and put it out there as truth.

                  Also, I don’t think they see us as weak at all. They actually see us as strong and better than they are and they truly cannot stand it! Most narcs don’t belittle their acquaintances, co-workers, peripheral people in thier lives. Theey might behind closed doors, but not to those people’s faces. Because they aren’t important enough. However, they sure do unload every chance they get on their S.O., children, family. Why, because they HAVE to be top-dog and cannot let the stronger people in their inner circle have any power.

                  It’s very counter-intuitive. But 50 years of being intimately involved with a full-on narc (daddy dearest) has shown me the truth. They chop those they claim to love down in order to constantly bolster their own grandiose, incredibly infantile egos.

          • malaise says:

            My ex seemed to have a bipolar relationship with food and health too! He was obsessed with eating “organic” and taking a million different vitamins and supplements, and also had different “diet” drinks that he read on the internet would help him lose weight. Yet he never worked out, played video games all day in his free time, and couldn’t cook so would always order fast food for dinner. He told me his favorite food in the world was burgers! And you could definitely tell by his ever-growing gut. Most of the time when I came over his place was really clean and neat, especially for a guy, but every once in a while it would be a mess, clothes everywhere, dirty floor, unwashed dishes, and his bathroom…*shudders* Way to set a nice romantic setting Romeo

          • MissBliss says:

            Omg, my ex narc had a food thing too. He was super paranoid about gaining weight and would weigh himself every day, even though he was built like a twig. He got angry if I ordered too much food. He despised milk but ate cheese. He said he was vegetarian but ate lamb. He took expensive vitamins but he drank a bottle of wine and a couple of scotches a night. (alcoholic). The guy didn’t make any sense.
            Oh, and he also wore expensive designer clothing and wouldn’t have been caught dead in a grocery store that wasn’t organic or high end.

          • Bellaninha says:

            Wow that was my ex to a tee. Often going on these crazy health kicks but never following through. Where as I’ll have ice cream in my freezer for months he’d eat a tub of ice cream in one sitting, actually he’d raid my cupboards when he’d come over.
            Of course he’d blame being in a couple for his unhealthy eating.
            Actually when I bumped into him 7 months after our break up, he’d lost about 20-30 kg. I didn’t spend too much tim analysing that one but figured he’d be able to justify further how bad we were for each other, rather than look at his own issues.
            Thanks for another good reminder Natalie, plus all the comments on this, they really help.

            • beth d says:

              This is crazy but my ex narc was fanatical with food as well. He was totally into the 6 pack ab look and he was scared of gaining 2 pounds. Worse than a woman with the weight thing and very often didn’t want to have dessert when we went out to dinner. It is so weird to read these posts and see my ex in every one of them. He also was very into the dirty sex thing. That is a way for them to avoid true intimacy. He was also a neat freak. Thanks girls. I have done well with NC but often on the holidays I break. I have been thinking of him I know I will hear from him because he never goes away. I know this year that no matter what I will not be answering his Merry Christmas your special to me text. As long as I keep the door open I will never get rid of him so I will not break NC to answer him.

    • Sadder but Wiser says:

      It’s very interesting to reflect that many of our ideas about love and relationships come from stories – whether it’s fairy tales or movies or literature or plays. All stories require a conflict or problem that has to be resolved. Otherwise there is no plot, no sense of a beginning, middle and end. Conflict and drama is interesting to watch, but it doesn’t make a good role model for what real-life relationships should be. Not to mention the often horrible messages we get from movies about the “Pretty Woman” syndrome, the glamour of casual sex, changing others if we love them enough, life is only good if somebody loves you, “winning” the unavailable guy, being rescued by a man, (all done in less than 2 hours!) and so on.

      • yoghurt says:

        I was just thinking the exact same thing! Since I’ve been a bit better emotionally I find that I have a VERY low tolerance for most romantic films.

        They’re full of unlikely situations that shouldn’t work out but do. That’s generally the premise – and the bother for us actual factual human beans is that things that shouldn’t work out pretty much always DON’T work out. And that’s before I get onto the nasty misogynist subtext that seems to run through a lot of them (!mind-rant! specially the Revenge of the Nerd ones where an unpleasant, ill-disciplined and unattractive man persistantly humiliates his beautiful and accomplished girlfriend in various ‘hilarious’ ways. Cos that’s remotely okay…)

        Mind you, I was reading Pride and Prejudice recently and it occurred to me that THAT’S based on a pretty flimsy set of coincidences and opportunities and, again, Wouldn’t Happen In Real Life. Maybe people used to be better at realising that Fiction Isn’t Real.

        Even with those films that I quite like, I’ll still sit there and diagnose the ACs. I spent 500 Days of Summer shouting “She’s EU! Leave it alone!” at the TV.

        Incidentally, my intensely romantic, dramatic and tragical love story ended up being more like a Thomas Hardy novel, with long stretches contemplating the scenery and dragging myself about in varying states of misery for a couple of years. And I don’t like Hardy.

        • Lilia says:

          Oooh, 500 Days of Summer was such a sad one. I never understood why the guy thought she was so much better than him, I think he even told his friend she was out of his league? What is that supposed to mean anyway? As far as I could tell, she was just AC. Which of course makes the partner question himself, lower his self esteem, and everything else we´re so familiar with.

        • Confused123 says:

          I can’t watch ROMCOM’s anymore. I just cannot tolerate them after the break-up with my ass clown.
          My absolute fav (barf) are the ones where the EU man leaves the women, women find a decent guy who would probably provide her with care, love, trust and respect. The day before the wedding the EU man reappears, sweeps her off her feet and wisks her away into the sunset. YUCK! and YUCK!
          Now, personally I’ve never understood the going back to the ex business (Never ever gone or taken a ex back. When we are broken, we stay broken)
          but these movie make it seem like if they come back it’s meant to be. Yes, it’s meant to be more pain and misery.
          FYI. None of my ex’s have ever come back to me. I think they are afraid I’ll kick their ass plus I tell them if we are broken we stay broken. Full disclosure upfront. Feel free to leave but don’t come back. On of the few boundaries I had growing up. Working on the rest. :) LOL!

    • sushi says:

      my ex`es did have a good idea of what they wanted and how to take care of themselves…it always involved me running like on orbit around them while the sun shone from their bums, 100% to their beat…I think that looking at people`s values is the most important thing. How they treat you.

  13. Lacy says:

    I Love this website it has got me thru rough times.Natalie you are such an inspiration Everything you have post its so funny that its common sense and I usually live by all these rules,however I played a game with a guy I knew had issues and I did too thinking hey if we kept bumping into each other it must be meant to be well this went off and on for 9yrs.The last past 3yrs have been on.I have faults or maybe I’m just blaming me he asked to move in and have a relationship I denied him because of things I heard which actually turned out to be true.Anyway I was scared a didn’t take a chance on him but still gave him the benefits of a relationship.Feelings got stronger and I feel guilty for not letting him move in then again I don’t, he told me if he could move in he’d pay my rent he mingles and he sleeps with his daughter’s mother but its nothing like that,I was terrified of the outcome so I told him no.Its been tons of drama he feels its okay to go in my car and stay gone every other night til 5am or longer.He said he’s out having a good time and as long as he makes it back to me and how I don’t know that something has happened to him.He has made miss work once,my brother died from stomach cancer he was with me the whole time til a few days before the funeral.He left my house at 4pm ,I called him at 8, I asked him if he and I can go out I need some air he said okay.I didn’t hear from him anymore at 3am I gathered all his things and drove them to his mothers house.He came to my door at 5am I told him all his stuff was gone. He called and confirmed with his mom,he was mad he said his mom said I was disrespectful for coming to her house that late.He said I embarrassed him, I apologized to his mom the next day.a few days go by I don’t contact him he always contacts me and then we’re back on whatever relationship or non relationship we have, he has took money from me changed his num and at that point I promised to not play the game anymore,he had the nerve to stay at my door a few nights and came to my job then we we’re back on.I have changed my num for him to only show up at the door for me to deny him for the first few days then we’re back on.I have been reading your blogs for a few mths now and in my mind I am trying to do the work to move on cause really he has or it wouldn’t be this much trouble.I know I have plenty to work on myself maybe I too am emotional unavailable and a drama seeker thinking this is love,thanks for the insight sorry this is so too long I suffer from the woman that thinks and talk too much.

    • Allison says:


      How old is this guy? Does he work? He lives with his mother and still sleeps with his ex? Does he pay child support?

  14. miskwa says:

    I don’t know how long its been since the ex but I can give a few pointers. First, its gonna take time. No getting around that. Do you any sort of support network? Listen to their feedback. We become so used to being put down/ignored/hurt that it is hard to believe in ourselves anymore. Do new things. Learning a new skill empowers you. I built a new building on my land, something I can see every day and know it twas me and me alone that did that. During semester break, I am gonna replumb and replace the cabinet and sink in my bathroom (if I screw up too badly, I can always brush my teeth in the kitchen). Get outside, exercise. Avoid the ex if you can, completely. I work with my ex and feel like complete, total, unattractive shite around him and my day is essentially ruined. Avoid him.

  15. Jennifer says:

    My father. I date men like my father. Haughty, immature, insensitive, charismatic, harsh judges when it comes to physical appearance (no wonder I’ve tried to look “perfect” and have the perfect body with my unavailable exes). My father hates women. He sees them as worthless idiots who need to be silenced and controlled. He blames them for all his problems. He’s a shady character to say the least. I am drawn to shady characters like a magnet. I mean my subconscious is constantly on the hunt for these shady beings. Poor me. I feel I’m not supposed to say that but, fek it. I mean I really feel for myself. How the hell else would I know to look for anything else in relationships but what I know and what I know is shite. It’s getting better. I am starting to see addicts for who they are, not deplorable monsters (I dunno though, my dad’s pretty bad) but just human beings who can’t do relationships. I say poor me (and in the department of parents I mean it) But….I do have people in my life who care for me and I have so many resources such as food, clean water, electricity, clothes, personal care products and food, I feel like a freaking king. (I work with a very impoverished sector of the public). So, I am fortunate and blessed to see how fortunate and blessed I am. Amen to that.

    • Learner says:

      What is with us and trying to win our fathers’ love decades later with shady people? I have recently recognized the strength of this pattern with me, and started to decline engaging in drama involving my dad. He is very critical and knows how to “push my buttons”, and has always worked on the premise that I need his attention more than he needs mine. I now know this NOT to be true. I have started to be more assertive with him, graciously ignoring his sly attempts to put me down in some way, and focusing instead on what DOES work in our relationship. Some people can’t do this for various reasons (NC with parents may be better for some), but I feel I would like some sort of relationship with him, while maintaining my increasing self-esteem.
      Let’s save some energy for ourselves, and for the people who, like you say, really DO care about us – not “AC’s just like daddy”. You are right – we ARE fortunate for the good things in life, and getting more so all the time as we learn and grow :)

  16. Nancy says:

    Oh, Natalie. I lived this with my Ex husband. I finally realized that I had given up myself in trying to make the marriage work. All I wanted was to give of myself. My ex husband chipped away at my spirit for so long, I had very little to give, even to myself. I was broken (and maybe still am) for a long time. I put off dating for a long time as well and in the three years that I have been in the dating world. I was putting up with a lot of garbage to get those crumbs of affection. I fell into the attitude and practice of casual dating, not really expecting much from anyone. It was just too painful to be rejected by those who say they are looking for a relationship. Thank you for articulating what so many of us do to ourselves.

    Spend time just being you and you will learn so much about yourself.

  17. dancingqueen says:

    I have a freind who is going through a breakup right now with a man who is so manipulative; ironically, she introduced me to this site, but never reads it anymore, I think because she does not want to face the truth.

    It is really hard watching someone who is so bright, analyze all the communication from someone who is so obviously narcissistic. I have tried to get her to look at it more objectively but I am starting to realize that she has a pattern. This guy is just like the last one who was also EU and an AC. I don’t know why she can’t see this pattern because we all point it out to her but she acts like we are too hard on him. He has said and done some unbelievable things.

    Pain is definately not love. It is kind of sad how much that impresses us; it is so obvious but so many people confust the two….

  18. Gina says:

    Yes, this is a very sobering post indeed. Because of my screwed up relationship patterns, I no longer have any confidence in my ability to attract decent guys. It’s not that I am not attracted to them…I just cannot seem to meet any. Rather that settle for an EUM/AC, I feel that it’s in my best interest for me to focus my time and energy on doing things that make me feel good about myself. As a result, I now have peace of mind.

  19. c says:

    After months of agony after my break-up, I see finally how I suffered for mere crumbs. I believed I was “overreacting” or not trusting or whatever nonsense was used to support his lies. I lost myself. Chaos and pain = love, how messed up is that? Now I have the horrible shame of admitting how weak and pathetic I have been my whole life.

    This post hit home, thanks for what you share.

  20. Lilly says:

    I have just read this article and I have just experienced a massive shift in my thinking. I hope you don’t mind,it’s all a bit muddled, but I just have to get this out.

    After recently experiencing another mini-breakdown I told him I have some thinking to do regarding our research and my future. This morning, just two days later, he sent me an email asking if he could pitch to a publisher a trade book based on our research. I haven’t replied as I don’t know what to say yet. Is this a crumb disguised as a golden loaf? What does it mean and what does he want?

    As always, and in an attempt to keep myself grounded I came here and there was this article. There it was, my whole experience, as clear as crystal. From the beginning: my obsession with getting attention from this ‘special’ person, the need for approval, force-feeding him my affection, the shutting down of my feelings, etc. To the end: the withdrawal of his affection, the feeling of abandonment despite being an adult, the need for approval turning into desperation, the pain, the fear, the co-dependency, the acceptance of neglectful behaviour, the slow torture, salt and him jabbing me with a stick to see if I’m still going.

    As he found out I am still going. I haven’t worked out where yet, but it’s not in his direction. Not in an ‘intimate relationship’ way at least. Can I have a ‘working’ relationship with him? Is there something in our research that is worthy of writing a book? Am I even capable of writing a book on this subject? I don’t know yet, but I do know that he is unavailable for an intimate relationship and I don’t want him anymore.

    I can hardly believe I’ve just said that, but I mean it!

    I don’t want a man that ‘belongs’ to someone else, I don’t want a man who is capable of such cruel treatment, and, this is close to my heart right now, I don’t want a man who cannot feel anything for his own lost child.

    Going back to his latest email; what does it mean and what does he want? Probably a working relationship with some sex on the side, but it’s not about him is it? This is my life. The important question is: What do I want? I still have some way to go before I’ve worked this out, but I do know that I want a relationship that includes love, care, trust and respect. I don’t want a relationship based on illusion, the betting on potential, infatuation and obsession.

    I still have some grieving to do for my much loved baby boy, and I still cannot think of him without dissolving into tears. As far as the exMM goes however, I’ve just smiled properly for the first time in ages (with the exception of some of Revolutions comments!). To Natalie and BR community , thank you from the bottom of my heart, xxx.

    • grace says:

      Even the Beatles couldn’t work together in the end. Sometimes you just gotta go with what’s best for the bigger picture. Publishing is such a long shot, I don’t think he’s offering much.
      If you want to get published, better to do it yourself with your own work. Even if he wasn’t an ass. If it fails none of this will be worth it, if it succeeds it could be endless – royalties negotiations, future projects and so on.

    • Sadder but Wiser says:

      Also, remember no one person can or should have that much power to influence your career. Please, break these professional ties now. There are plenty of other people out there in the world who will help you, support you, encourage you, collaborate with you, and will not cause you endless agony doing so. Have some faith that the right people will show up when you need them to. He is NOT the only person who can help your career.

      • Allison says:


        Too much pain associated with this man. It’s not worth it!

        Do you need to have any more professional contact with this man?

    • Revolution says:


      Honey, congratulations. You have indeed had a shift in your thinking. Love is not pain, as Nat so aptly says. You know that. You’ve had enough pain. It’s now time to smile. Smile your ASS off, love. And I agree with Grace (*chuckling*) about the Beatles. Usually a person like this dude who shows his ass in the personal realm, will, well, show his ass eventually in the professional realm. Take your bag of marbles (your research, career, etc.) and find someone else to play with. Lord knows this guy has no honor. Don’t let him screw you over professionally too. Give him the gift of silence this season, lol. :)

      BIG WARM HUGS TO YOU, my dear. ((Lilly)) :)

    • Rave says:

      If the book idea is not a hook to draw you in, I would suggest you take care of your intellectual property.

    • Magnolia says:


      So he’s a jerk and you don’t want to work with him anymore, that’s a given.

      My ears perk up at a publishing question though. As someone who doesn’t often collaborate on writing with others, the only reason I would is if I needed the other person’s expertise and/or needed the other person’s contacts, etc.

      This guy sounds so selfish I can’t see him helping you out of the kindness of his heart. If it is out of kindness, then he’ll understand you backing away and taking your research with you – he shouldn’t need your research. He’s probably counting on you not having enough gumption to approach publishers on your own. I bet he even needs your work to make himself look good.

      Say no thanks, don’t ask him for his contact, get the contacts from someone else, and pitch your own work.

    • La Pintura Bella says:


      Congratulations on the shift in your thinking!

      I know what he wants…CONTROL. He’s not getting the sex. He feels you retreating from him. But he has an ace up the sleeve. Your research. Can he pitch the research as a book? He’d do it without you if he could and not tell you about it. However, I have a very strong feeling that he can’t do it himself. Therefore, he’s trying to hook you in the one way he thinks he has left and is a sure thing. Your work.

      YOU pitch and write the darn book! What do you need him for? You realize, don’t you, that he has you believing you need him to accomplish anything, right? YOU DON’T! HE NEEDS YOU. Why do you think he’s constantly trying to get your attention work-wise??? HE NEEDS YOU! He can’t publish without YOU. He’s got you thinking you need him to write. You need him to finish the research. You need his mentoring and guidance.

      I’m not there. From what I’ve read in your comments, it sounds to me like YOU ARE DOING ALL OF THE WORK. He suggests or looks things over. Am I correct? Dump his surface, lazy, obviously not as smart as he projects himself to be, arrogant, fake ass. If you are doing the research, doing the work, then cut him the hell out. Don’t let him hide you under a barrel and take all of the credit.

      He’s scared to death you’ll show him up and outshine him. So he’s trying to control you and finesse the situation so he looks good. Sounds to me like he’s right to be scared. You already are head and shoulders above him.

      • Lilly says:

        Grace, SBW, Allison, Rave, Revolution, Magnolia, La Pintura Bella.

        Thank you all for your advice.The development of this research has been a joint effort with me doing the research and all of the writing, but he is better at statistics and has all the contacts and experience regarding publishing. Academically, he has been very supportive and I’ve never had someone believe in me like he does.I often doubt my ability (childhood issues again), but he never has. Maybe he does need me for this work. He certainly doesn’t want me for me does he (lol). La Pintura Bella I think you might be on to something. His contribution to my thesis, which is what the book would be based on, was to suggest, look things over and tidy up the stats. I do lack confidence despite achieving a first class honours and I do believe I need him for mentoring and guidance. I’ve replied to his email saying that I need to think about it for a while. The question now is do I dare believe I can do it by myself! Love to you all, xxx.

        P.S. One day I will be posting on here and helping someone else. You have all helped me through the most painful time of my life and I truly cannot thank you enough.

        • Learner says:

          It’s so good to see you working this all out by writing out your thoughts. I think you know the answers to some of your questions:
          “Can I have a ‘working’ relationship with him?” *not if you can avoid it!*
          “Is there something in our research that is worthy of writing a book?” *I am sure there is, or he wouldn’t have suggested it*
          “Am I even capable of writing a book on this subject?” *Yes, you are. But is this book even something YOU want to do? Could you be happy continuing on with research in this area and publishing more articles? Why the book?*
          “I don’t know yet, but I do know that he is unavailable for an intimate relationship and I don’t want him anymore.” *GOOD! It is wonderful that you don’t want him anymore!
          Lilly, I must agree with the others. I have published research myself, and there are many people who can help with editing and stats. For my last paper, I had a freelance editor help with the manuscript, and a research company in DC ran all the stats for a very reasonable rate! On another project, I hired a biostatistics grad student to run the stats, on a very modest budget. I am on new research teams these days, apart from my original advisors. It can be done! And peer-reviewed journals use an anonymous process for making publication decisions. You don’t need him.
          The exMM is an emotional vampire, and, it seems, an intellectual vampire. He has you pigeon-holed you as a FBG and as someone who may not enforce boundaries around your own intellectual property. Keep him away from your neck! If you collaborate with him in the future, and have to meet face-to-face, I am sure your research documents will not be the only pre-reading he will do. No, no, he will be scanning the “Scrabble” book you gave him for ideas for your next “adventure” together!
          Your self-esteem does NOT need him.
          Your worth does NOT depend on him.
          Your heart does NOT need him.
          Your career does NOT depend on him.
          The exMM = fear, drama and pain.
          Please tell him “NO” to the book, and write it yourself IF it’s something you really want to do.
          All the best to you Lilly,
          Love, your NC sister xo

          • Lilly says:

            Learner, you can read my mind! I reflected on your question and although I’m happy to continue researching this particular area I DO NOT want to write a book on this particular aspect of it. It doesn’t really reflect who I am. I actually find it a little bit shallow. It’s really about him and his perception of who I am. He perceives me as some sort of super popular, extraverted person when I’m NOTHING of the sort. I have my moments and can kick up my heels with the best of them, but I’m really much more introverted and I’m happiest on my own. I’m not who he thinks I am or who he wants me to be. I want to go back to being me, not his version of me. As for “Scrabble”, your comment made me laugh my head off. I won’t be playing Scrabble with him anymore and that is a fact!

            I read further down that you’ve deleted all your old messages which shows just how far you have come. I can’t quite delete all of mine yet as I like to re-visit some of them now and again. It helps keep the wolf from the door! Soon though, very soon.

            Take care NC sis, love and hugs, xxx.

        • grace says:

          There are others who are good at stats, find your own statistician or take a course. Florence nightingale was good at stats, a woman can do it.
          This is too Svengali like to be healthy. Roger Vadim had dodgy mentoring relationships with Bardot, deneuve and Jane Fonda. As if they needed him!
          You don’t need a mentor or someone to look up to or anyone,s approval.
          As the apostle Paul said, when I was a child i thought as a child … now I am a man I have put away childish things.
          You still have him on a pedestal. No one is indispensable and he is not that special or necessary to your success.
          Stop depending on him. He can,t give you anything without a sting in the tail. He is dangerous. Maintain a distant professional relationship if you really have to. No more than that.

          • Lilly says:

            Grace, I agree, I do still have him up on a pedestal at least work wise. His body of work is very impressive and it’s difficult not to admire this. Maybe this will change when I start at my new university next year. I feel quite empowered by your comment. I may not be as good a statistician as him, but then again I haven’t had as much experience. I’m actually not that bad and I am capable of improvement. I’m also not a child and I do need to stop depending on him and he is dangerous to my mental health and well-being. It is time to step up and take responsibility for my own life, including my work life. Thank you, xxx.

      • Victorious says:

        Lilly. I cannot really find different words to add what has already been said so eloquently above, but I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus. Ditch him and forge ahead on your own or with someone else. He’s just not that special.

        • Lilia says:

          look at it this way. He has helped you on your way to a career in academia but now you have outgrown him and can go on by yourself.

          • Lilly says:

            Lilia, yes, he has helped me on my way and I’m very grateful, but he has also hurt me more than anyone ever has in my life. I must not forget this, thank you, xxx.

        • Lilly says:

          Victorious, I believe I might finally be getting this. He really isn’t that special is he!! Thank you, xxx.

    • K2 says:

      My god I feel like you and I are living the EXACT same nightmare.

      First off I want to say that this article of Natalie’s really made me stop and think…perhaps more than any other she has written. I’ve been NC with a EU MM for a year and a half now, whom I have to work with on a daily basis (in academia Lilly). I have been trying very hard to figure out why the loss of this ridiculous “relationship” has caused me so much grief..and it has truly been grief, to the point where I needed to see a psychiatrist with depression and suicidal ideation. This man was really a total jack*** to me on many, many occasions, and yet I clung on to him as though he were the love of my life. Serious textbook Baggage Reclaim stuff where he chased me, whirlwind love affair, slow withdrawal, my freaking out, and then his non-stop salt-pouring, stick-poking sadistic behaviour. However, in dedicating myself to working through all of this pain I’m coming to believe that perhaps I DO have an addiction to pain and drama. I never believed that I did, having coming from a fairly crazy alcoholic home as a child I thought I was in the clear because I never became addicted to drugs or alcohol myself. What I’m starting to believe now is that my addictions are manifesting in different ways, and my co-dependency on dramatic relationships is likely borne from somehow internalizing what went on with my own mum & dad…lots to think about here.

      Anyway, I broke NC about halfway through the 18 month period and honestly crawled to him, weeping and shaking (god, that’s so shameful to me now), and he greeted my true despair and loss with actual laughter and bemusement that I needed help with my mental health. His words to me regarding our 18 month long affair were, “I made a mistake. I’m allowed to make a mistake, aren’t I?” and “I am not a cheater.” Interesting. Anyway, to make an extremely long and convoluted story shorter, I just wanted to tell you that he has made several lukewarm attempts to regain my attention, ALL to do with me giving him help with publishing his research. These men are takers, they will continue to take and take and take until they kill you…if you let them. They simply do NOT CARE about what this is doing to you, your life, and your mental health. Shut him right down. You do not need him. Let him publish his own work and you get on with yours. Honestly, YOU CAN DO THIS. Make other, professional, work contacts. Start networking with other people in your field. YOU DO NOT NEED HIM. In fact, I think I can probably safely say he is likely making your work a whole hell of a lot worse. This has been true for me anyway.

      So, I just wanted to say that I’m thinking of you Lilly. You are most definitely NOT ALONE in this. Throw this guy to the curb and get on with your own show.

      Take care. xo

      • Lilly says:

        K2, I’m so sorry that you had to go through all that. I can relate to your pain, the depression and all of those dark feelings. You mention the connection with your childhood. The more I think about it the more I realise that it’s all connected. My father literally got up and left one day leaving my mum with three little girl’s age six and under. I never saw him again and he died a few years later. My much loved mother never remarried, hardly ever dated and devoted her life to us girls. I’m now terrified of abandonment and somehow the exMM fuels this fear in me. Maybe this work situation is all part of it. Given what has happened I shouldn’t even be contemplating working with this man, but his mentoring, support, and faith in my ability is a huge draw card. I’ve never experienced this type of support from a man and it’s hard to let it go. You have given me lots to think about and I’m grateful.

        I’m sorry that you still have to see that man, but I hope you keep strong. He is a cruel, cold, heartless creature and you deserve so much more. Take care of yourself K2 and thank you, xxx.

        • La Pintura Bella says:

          “…BUT his mentoring, support, and faith in my ability is a huge draw card. I’ve never experienced this type of support from a man and it’s hard to let it go.”

          FEAR.OF.ABANDONMENT! That’s all it is. Guess what Lilly…he’s already abandoned you.

          Now he’s merely sucking every last bit of life out of your carcass. I also don’t think he’s that supportive of your abilities or has TRUE faith in you and them. I think he’s jealous and covets YOUR abilities and he’s riding YOUR coat-tails while convincing you that HE is helping YOU.

          Quit excusing him. He is a Fraud. Fake. Con. Grifter. Flim-Flam Man. Huckster. Sham. Snake-Oil Salesman. Do I need to go on????

          • Lilly says:

            La Pintura Bella,K, Runnergirl, thank you for this and I am in complete agreement. Contact with this man is excruciating, I thought I was handling it, but I’m not. I requested more time to think about working with him in the future and said that I wasn’t sure about the book. He became angry and has now given me the cold shoulder. Up until a few days ago he had been sending me endless emails (BLOWING HOT), fake charm, fake humour, fake caring, but these have now dried up (FREEZING COLD). Once upon a time I may have panicked and chased him, but not anymore. I’ve learned a lot, but understanding his game doesn’t mean it isn’t hurting. I feel physically sick, but I’ve reached my limit. LPB, you are right; he has already abandoned me and he is now trying to suck the very life out of me. I literally cannot bear it anymore. It is coming up to the first anniversary and I still miss my baby. I need to focus on becoming psychological healthy and he is just bringing me down. This might sound strange, but I’m worried about my health! I am going to take a huge leap of faith and trust in myself and cut him off.

            As for my work, well I wrote my thesis while I was suffering from morning sickness (2 hospital admissions)and much psychological distress (him). He didn’t research it or write it, I did and I can do it again. He needs me; it’s NOT the other way around. Many people have said this to me AND it’s time to listen. Thank you ladies.

    • K says:


      Forgive me if I repeat something others have already said to you as I’m catching up on posts….

      I’ll give you an opinion as to your question of whether or not you can work with him.

      If you can STAND ON YOUR OWN MERITS with regards to work, CUT HIM LOOSE….here’s why: to separate working together from an intimate relationship that is unhealthy isn’t possible. Not only have you had time to heal with total NC, but it gives an excuse to stay involved and to keep spinning in the dysfunction. Toxic relationships don’t just affect the intimate relationship itself, it permeates everything else in our lives too with it’s stench.

      If your work is important to you and you’re good at what you do and you have a reputation your work is not dependent upon working with him as mutually exclusive to any other options that WOULD be healthier for you:

      In other words, if you really want to be out of the relationship and/or out of the dysfunctional spin, you will have to be away from this man completely, including with work. I have yet to see survivors that I’ve supported, able to withstand the emotional/stressful toll it takes in working with their ex’s. I haven’t met anyone that has been able to do it yet, maybe there is someone here who has? At any rate, toxic is toxic and if it’s in your life, it’s gonna stink it up.

      • runnergirl says:

        Hi Lilly,

        I’m very appreciative of your posts and I’m sorry for the pain you are still encountering. The responses to you have been helpful to me, thank you ladies.

        K, you hit it out of the ballpark: “Toxic relationships don’t just affect the intimate relationship itself, it permeates everything else in our lives too with it’s stench.” This was so true in my case. And Natalie’s comment about saying yes to an unhealthy situation means being unavailable for a healthy relationship really hit home tonight.
        Good luck to you Lily. I’m betting dimes to donuts you’d be better off on your own, academically, professionally, and emotionally…note to self Runnergirl!

  21. natashya says:

    i must admit, i do have a fear of staying single for the rest of my life. i really would like to have a partner, however… when i think back of the mornings where i would wake up and the ex EUM was sleeping next to me (with his back turned to me, of course as he would ALWAYS sleep away from me) and i would feel so sad and confused as to why he wasn’t sweet and affectionate anymore.

    what had i done to turn him off, trying to think of ways to engage him more and when that didn’t work, deal with the anxiety about that. it’s tiring.

    i’m starting to realise that my feelings of ‘love’ for him wasn’t love at all. whatever i felt was driven by fear of abandonment.

    i do feel lonely and alone these days. very much so, but the feelings of worry, disappointment, not knowing where i stood, rejection, anxiety and not being ‘good enough’ are a thousand times worse.

    • Sunshine says:

      So true, Natashya. But you mustn’t give up hope that some day you’ll find what you truly deserve: someone that will love, respect and adore you!:))) Not that I’m doing much better myself:) There’s all this fear I have to get rid of and I don’t really know how. How will I cope, how will I find the right one etc. Hang in there xxx

    • K says:


      Quick story: Friday night, my dome light in my car was stuck in the “on” position. It rarely happens and I had forgotten how to turn it off. So my son was trying to figure this out when neighbor guy showed up, parking his truck a few spaces down from my car. He saw my son and I and came over to say “hi” and see what was going on. My son couldn’t figure out how to switch the light off, so neighbor guy offered to put his groceries away and then come out and assist. great! (he’s good looking too, but eh **shrug**), so son went inside and neighbor guy came back out. I got into the passenger side of the car and he was on the driver’s side trying to figure it out. He did figure it out but we never figured out how he figured it out, lol! Anyway, so he turns to me and says, “Come over for a beer! I live in eight!” uuuuugggghhhhh, he could have saved me the urge to hurl by just keeping his face towards the window! His breath WREAKED of alcohol. I noticed that he brought more beer in with his groceries…
      I declined his offer. I didn’t feel that I needed to say why..

      When this happens, I tend to feel disappointed at first, then I go into a state of despair because each one of these men represented not only what I didn’t want, but what their seems to be an overwhelming amount of: Men with semi truck loads of issues that I no longer am able to deal with. Ten years ago, I would have said yes.

      This time, I wasn’t disappointed for as long as I was the time before. I’ve been alone for two years now and where before I had no problem swinging from my marriage into another relationshit, which is what I did, I’m too AWARE to do it now. My boundaries, my values have all changed. Very soon I will have two years of sobriety, along with just passed my two year mark away from the ex. Prior to the last ex, I never touched alcohol. Prior to the relationshit ending, I developed a problem with it and my mind automatically tied alcohol to him. It was all part of his attempts to control, as well as destroy.

      I use to think I wanted a relationship. I’m not sure that I do now. I miss having someone around, but when it comes down to an actual commitment to it? I’m good. And I’m not ready anyway. My therapist said, “You know, I think that would change for you, K, if you met a really great guy”. Maybe. Maybe not.

      I’m long winded so I need to get to the point. Eventually, you will learn to like you enough that those desires will still be there, but just feel differently to you. It won’t be a pressing need, it will be a want, but one you can also be without because honoring and respecting yourself, your boundaries and values will be coveted and cherished so much, you will want to wait for the right man.

      My neighbor is a really nice guy, and really good looking, but the alcohol use is a flush for me. I’m hearing that most men drink. That’s fine, as long as it’s socially. I think this guy is more than a social drinker, given the amounts of alcohol he buys, and the smell of it on his breath which was undeniable.

      I prefer my dog’s ass smelling breath to that any day! Hang in there natashya, you’re worth the wait.

  22. posh says:

    your posts tell me exactly what i want to hear somehow!! whenever i am losing that last bit of connection with reality and am ready to settle something you write jolts me up and tells me come on u cant seriously do that to yourself. Get out
    I am in such a relationship which to me seems just a convenient arrangement because my partner is an alcoholic ( not to judge/ demean anyone fighting something as serious and complex as addiction) but very frankly from his point of view he would rather be with anyone than be alone because there are bad days every once in while. as much as i used to be proactive in helping me out i am tired now. The aggression, verbal and physical seems too intentional and am magically singled out for it. Post event there is no remorse , apology forget about closure. So i go up and down along with his moods, his cycles of behavior and events in his life.

    Plus i don understand the need for drama. My parents did so much of it tat i had promised myself that never again i will respond to drama. But it seems i have a vulnerability towards being attracted to such people and situations. I think i have to and i can ‘fix’ it. Why the hell for god sake. I don care enough for myself to take a positive stand . All i can be is passive aggressive at a safer point in time.

    anyways your posts are helping me with some serious tough questions. Thanks. Good writing.


  23. Tulipa says:

    “•You convince yourself that you’re in what you deserve and that if it wasn’t what you deserved, you wouldn’t be in it in the first place or you could leave, as if you have no power or options.”

    Big tick I have had myself so convinced that the ex eum is it for me and all I deserve. I have gone back into it all very willingly.
    Sometimes it was like I had no options because nothing changed in the times we weren’t seeing each other I didn’t meet anyone so I’d think well this is it for me.

    “•You convince yourself that you’re not good enough to expect or get more and that a better relationship will elude you”

    Same as above I guess I didn’t think nor expect more from the relationship offered up and thought well I won’t get a better one from him nor anyone else.

    “•You become codependent. The very person who is on one hand the very source of your pain also appears to be the sole source of your happiness.”

    This is a very big issue for me especially as I have been silly enough to tell him of the pain hes caused, it hasn’t changed anything he isn’t going to change anytime soon and make me happy. The stupid thing is I know I have to be the source of my own happiness.
    I don’t know why I think I am happier with him than without him makes no sense to me. I don’t even know if I was happy with him when I was with him.

  24. Victorious says:

    Every word hit me like a sledgehammer Natalie. Maybe even more so than last time. Yes, I anaesthetised myself emotionally in order to be able to endure the pain I was going through. I was forcefeeding him my affections and I was in agony. He, by the way, was having a great old time.
    It was an addiction and I was obsessed by, not him, but my fantasy of him and the wonderful life he had future faked for us. “Skipping through meadows” just about sums it up. I need to read this every day Natalie. Although I feel I am almost there now, after 7 weeks of strict NC I am feeling so much better. I am forging “normal” friendships and relationships (not romantic) with new people and it is wonderful to realize that if you are just yourself, people actually like you anyway. That there is peace and fun out there without all the pain and anxiety.
    I honestly thought the pain I was feeling equated to a whole lotta love. I was wrong. I just didn’t want to admit it!

    • Learner says:

      Congratulations on 7 weeks NC. I remember that time being a turning point when yearning for what I thought we had together started to tone down a bit. I wish the same for you.
      Yes, there is peace and fun without pain and anxiety, and the lack of drama is refreshing to say the least!
      It’s funny that you used the “whole lotta love” expression. The exMM used to say that when he told me how he saw our future, and at the time I thought he meant “love love” but I think he actually meant “making love” I am so glad the addiction and fantasy are losing their hold on us thanks to BR!

      • Victorious says:

        Thanks Learner. yes, it does feel like a turning point. I am starting to wonder what I ever saw in him and how I managed to overlook all the evidence that he has a fairly obvious and pervasive personality disorder. I don’t hate him. I don’t feel sorry for him. I am starting to disconnect from him emotionally and that feels GREAT. Looking forward to indifference. However, what I will always be thankful for is that this relationship has led me (via googling “Why does he blow hot and cold.”) to Natalie and all of you.

        • natashya says:

          you are such an inspiration to me, victorious. thank you!

          i also can’t wait to get to the point where you are now. 17 days NC now and counting.

        • Bellaninha says:

          Both you ladies are doing incredibly well. You both seem to be really present in what the situation was and is now. Stay strong. There really is life without these guys. it won’t be long until you don’t think of them. It’s truly like kicking an addiction. Keep busy with things and people you love, really treasure those and you’ll feel warmth from somewhere else. Love to you xx

          • Victorious says:

            Thanks Bella and well done Natashya. I still have my moments, I will not lie. I still take the approach I took when I quit smoking and if I am tempted I just tell myself, not today Victorious. And then of course the next day the feeling has gone and I am strong again.

            • natashya says:

              i have no trouble with NC anymore. the idea of talking to him makes me cringe. i seriously do not want to.

              don’t get me wrong, i still have bad days where i cry about the situation (not so much about him) but i am definitely on the mend. if you had told me that i would feel this way 3 months ago, i would have laughed in your face.

              • Confused123 says:

                “if you had told me that I would feel this way 3 months ago, I would have laughed in your face.”
                Please realize that you are not alone. My 5 month relationship with him has caused me more pin than my decade plus long marriage. That still baffles me. I think it’s the expectation that never materialized plus the AC behaviour with the cheating (I feel I was replaced so easily. Am I that disposable? :( ) that bruised my soul so badly. Hence the hurt is so bad. Hugs! Stay strong.

                • natashya says:

                  confused, i also have a decade long marriage under my belt. yes, i grieved and i was sad when i ended it, but it didn’t even come close to the break up of the 4 month ‘relationship’ with the EUM.

                  i think you’re right about the ‘expectation’. when i finally decided to leave my husband, i had no expectations left, being subjected to ‘reality’ for many years.

                  with the 4 month relationship, i was technically still in the honeymoon phase when he pulled the rug from underneath me. yeah, things weren’t so rosy the last 2 months when he was withdrawing from me, but the first 2 months of pure bliss were still so very fresh. i wanted more of that!

                  i am definitely doing better, though. when i think of him, he just seems to be moving away from me, losing colour if that makes sense. i have my bad moments, like tonight, when i cried my eyes out, but the focus is shifting from him as a person to missing someone to share my life with.

                  i didn’t get cheated on, but i feel discarded just the same. the ex EUM preferred to be single to being in a relationship with me, even though he was looking for a relationship when we met (online through a dating service). i know he’s still looking, or dating or whatever. or he was til i stopped ‘stalking’ him online. but it doesn’t matter. for the longest time i felt i wasn’t ‘good enough’ but i now know that wasn’t the case. i AM good enough, i was ready to commit to him, but he couldn’t handle a real relationship with responsibilities. at the end of the day, he is the one missing out.

                  to further complicate things, i am starting all over again. i spent many years living abroad, but i’m ‘home’ now and have to rebuild everything. i am scared as hell, but now is the time to face all my fears. i am determined to do this ‘right’. i want to be a better, stronger, healthier person, and i do really want to be in a relationship again, with an equally healthy man. i am beyond done with assclownery and EUMS, that’s for sure.

                  you hang in there, too. thank you so much for your support. hugs back!

                  • Confused123 says:

                    I did everything you did (in the beginning). When the ex AC went back to his ex (they briefly dated a year ago for a month) I was gutted and I lost close to 30lbs within 45 days. He was dating her behind my back. I could barely eat or sleep. The idea that I could be replaced is what got to me (and still gets me). He is very superficial. I think he’s trying to prove to his ex-wife that he can “bag” a looker and in honesty his new GF is very tall and reasonably pretty woman. FYI, I always felt he never over his ex or ever will.

                    I did the cyber stalking a little but not excessively. Initially he was all about staying friends but it became clear that it WOULD be on his terms. I said ‘NO Thanks”. I de-friended from FB him within a week of the split. I went NC immediately. I only broke NC once as I dreamt that he was I trouble/hurt. I texted him once to see if he was OK and he replied he was and I stopped there. After that I have not spoken or heard from him. I occasionally see him around town and once it was with the new GF. Ouch! that hurt. I ignored them and played my poker face.

                    Now, I look back and say thank god I had that much self-respect. My self-esteem was a different matter. I, already had abandonment issues and they compounded with this. I lost most of friends as they were his friends, including the women I thought was my BFF. That hurt too….

                    Through it all the best thing to happen to me happened. I found Natalie and BR. I must have done something right in my life because without this site I would have truly broken.

                    Now in hind sight I can see how truly EU and AC he was and I should have stayed away as far as possible. He was my friend for a year prior to the “relationship”. So I thought ‘Oh, he’s awesome”. I put him on a pedestal and dotted on him. In the meantime, he was always looking over my shoulder. I had heard horror stories about the way he behaved with other women that he dated, but I made excuses. “He’ll be different with me”. NOT!

                    I went on a few dates after the break-up but stopped when I found myself yet again with a EUM. That one I cut and ran quickly away from. I recognized the signs of EU and AC due to Natalie’s advice here. No regrets or hurt there. I’ve stopped dating for a while. I need to focus on me and my needs. I still have faith that Mr. Right is out there and I will meet him.

                    Anyway this year has been tough. I lost a quite a bit of things and people from my life. My friend, who is religious, says its god’s way of cleaning out my life (like a detox diet or cleanse). Remove all the bad stuff and impurities from my lives and in turn it makes it better and healthier (emotionally and physically). The issue is like most detox and cleanses, it will make you sick initially prior to making you healthier. That is how I’m seeing this whole episode with the EX-AC.
                    I still wonder if they are together though. Not that I care, but I wonder as he’s apparently stated publicly that he’s hell bent on making this work with the new GF. Hugs Natashya. Stay strong And I’m here with you and we can make it together.

  25. Vel says:

    Thank you,really great,honest and helpful post :) Sometimes reading the truth hurts, but it is a good kind of hurt that creates positive and courageous changes :)
    thanks again, A brilliant article full of Honesty and truth.

  26. grace says:

    When I found myself attracted to the boyfriend I fell into the fantasy, anxiety, pain, and putting him on a pedestal. He hadn’t done anything except talk to me. Nat said “Can’t a man even talk to you?” and I thought, “evidently not”.
    I fancied myself in love with him though I hardly knew him. I knew that what I was thinking/feeling wasn’t healthy and I got to a more stable place by reminding myself of reality. Anxiety isn’t love, neither is pain or fantasy. He is not better than me or that special (well, he is special but no-one is special enough that you should be thinking about them all the time), he is not the one, we are not soulmates, we are not destined to be together, we don’t complete each other, we hardly know each other. The fear of abandonment even though we weren’t even dating was quite strong.
    Now after a year or knowing him and six months of dating I have started to love him. It’s comfortable, predictable, enjoyable and satisfying. Sometimes I wonder, is this it? I feel sometimes that I need the pain, or some high, or drama, or jealousy, or fear to convince myself that it’s love. But those feelings are less frequent and less valuable to me. I don’t give them space. I don’t feed them. It’s not necessary now I have the real thing and can recognise and appreciate it.
    He’s still not my soulmate (I don’t believe in them), we still don’t complete each other (we don’t need that), and if we end up “together forever” it will be through commitment and work from both of us.

    • Learner says:

      You go, Grace! Wonderful!

    • Bellaninha says:

      Grace thank you for continuing to post on here. Your messages are so enlightening. I’m at a point 3 years after the epiphany EUM where I’m much more connected with myself when I meet new guys, but still do falter. Like you said, it can be fantasy too early on (when a guy just talks to me!) I’m glad to hear your story unfold. I’m definitely able to flush a lot quicker, for genuine amber/red flags. Instead of pining away for months. It’s very calming to read your posts, so thanks again.

    • K says:


      I wish I could take your post and frame it to my blog.

      Time is so incredibly critical in assessing a relationship.If you take the fantasy out of it, (providing you’re not with a personality disorder or some other toxic person who is love bombing the hell out of you), you give them AND yourself to opportunity to what happens when things UNFOLD. It’s WONDERFUL that you allowed yourself the time, taking a year to get to know him, even before dating, I am encouraged with your sharing this.

      With everything you’ve shared it sounds healthy and normal to me. What a great thing for you! I’m very happy for you and I hope that you continue to stay in your awareness. This is a great example of what dating looks like when you take your TIME. Blessings!

  27. Allison says:

    Thank you for another wonderful post. I’ve maintained NC now for about 2 weeks and your posts have helped immensely.

    As a lot of the women here have noted, it’s tough being alone, but was even tougher waking up each day with him and wondering if this would be the day that he would snap (again) and decide to blow cold and end the relationship. Thinking back on all the things I put up with is heartwrenching. I was attacked for making jokes, for having platonic friends who were men, for asking him to pick me up from the airport when my Daddy had just died, for being who I was. I let that man convince me that there was something wrong with who I was and how I acted.

    And, then, with a little help from Nat, I remembered that, before him, I liked me a lot. It’s nice to have myself back again.

    And, while it’s good to learn from your mistakes and to not repeat unhealthy patterns, I think from the comments that most of us tend to really, really blame ourselves and beat ourselves up over what we could have done differently. It took me a while, but I finally realized that there was nothing I did or could have done that deserved how I was treated.

    Hang in there ladies, it gets easier.

    • Bellaninha says:

      Hey Alison, just wanted to send you some extra strength to keep strong, you sound amazing. It’s really brave to leave but from your description, you are well better off without him. He sounds soo like my EUM.

      Keep looking after you. I know I lost myself in my relationship, and it’s great to have the old me back, back to being genuine and who we are. Even better and stronger actually! Lots of love to you xxx

  28. Revolution says:

    Well done, Natalie. Well done. And I laughed my ASS OFF at “campaigning like a telemarketer.” LOL!!! So true.

    I have kind of a funny story that relates to your sobering words of (paraphrased), “If it’s a choice between loving them and loving you, always choose you.”

    Five years ago, when I was dating an AC musician, we decided to meet at a book store and then grab a cup of coffee in the adjoining cafe. Well, I got to the book store first, and so I was looking through the stacks. In traversing the aisles, I laughed when I came across a book titled something like “Why Do I Have To Hate Me to Love You?” It made me laugh because I thought it was totally cheesy (the title, anyway). Being that the AC and I had similar quirky senses of humor, I held onto it and when he arrived, I held it behind my back and said,”I got something for you,” thinking that it was going to be some grand joke. I whipped it out, and laughed as he read the title. Well, he didn’t laugh. I thought it was so ridiculous at the time, and didn’t even closely equate it (well, maybe subconsciously, hmm…) to our relationship. So I thought we’d have a “crack” at it together. Well, he got a bit uncomfortable. Interesting, huh? One of those things you don’t think about until AFTER the ship sinks.

    Natalie, I hear you loud and clear on the “love is not pain” thing. I’ve had enough “Sid and Nancy”-esque relationships. I’m over it. I’m even at a point in my life where I am accepting with my total being that if I have to stay single in order not to go through any of that again, I will GLADLY. I don’t know what the future holds, but if it’s nothing but assclowns, then I’ll happily sail solo.

  29. RT says:

    Dear Nat,
    Of all the years and years of articles you’ve published…and of your 2 books that I read…and of your Blog posts, Facebook pages and web interviews…THIS ARTICLE ALONE is the most right on, light-bulb switching, hitting-home, red-flagging, horn-sounding, sobering, head-spinning truth that I’ve ever encountered. Holy crap. This is me. Word for freakin word. Or shall I say…this WAS me. Until this moment.
    No more will it be.
    I knew that 12/12/12 yesterday was explained to some in numerology as “the gateway” to one’s future, and this article is the first thing I’ve read today, making it my own personal “sign” that I need to commit to caring for myself first and quite literally, reading this daily, to emboss it’s principals into my thoughts for the road forward.
    It moved me to tears, but I’m hoping to look back on this when I’m in a healthy relationship, and cry thankful tears that I finally “got it”.

    Thank you. A thousand times over.
    Wishing you a very happy New Year.

  30. Linda says:

    Natalie, what a wonderful post, so much of it applies to my relationship. But even more startling, on advice from some very helpful ladies (!) I had a look at old posts, in particular http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/how-to-spot-an-assclown/. Wow, he ticked all the boxes, right down to the pony. I kid you not, we bought a couple of ponies! If only I had found this site over four years ago!

    Keep up the good work everyone, the no contact, the loving yourself, the humour, the friendliness the advice and the support you all so readily offer each other. It truely is remarkable.

    Kindest regards x

    • Victorious says:

      Er, I haven’t read the assclown post. Ex narc was ALWAYS talking about buying a pony. Off to read it now……

    • Tulipa says:

      Last night i went and re read the post how to spot an ass clown.

      I must have been blind when I read it the first time round.
      I was shocked at how much deninal I have been in and the excuses I have made to myself about him just so I didn’t have to face my own life.

      Thank you for re posting the link.

  31. KC says:


    I just want to hug you right now. I have been reading your amazing posts for about two years and you have helped me through a bad divorce, break up and death of a loved one. Most of all, you have helped me discover my self esteem and self love. Thank you for your talented gift of advice and knowledge in the relationship world. This post is one I will read over and over again to remind myself that I need to sharpen my “picker”. I tend to pick the unavailable or just plain bad ones….Happy Holidays!

  32. Olivia says:

    This post made me cry. This post is me. I know that I draw all my feelings of self worth from other people, and that if I’m in pain, I’ll hang on with my fingernails to a dead relationship.
    My question is: how do you start to love yourself and build your own self-worth when you’ve spent your entire life looking for validation from other people? I’m not blind to my problem, I just don’t know how to get started with moving forward.

    • Lilia says:

      This has been discussed before in the comments, if I find the link I´ll post it. But anyway, it comes down to starting to focus on your own feelings instead of wondering if others like or don´t like you.
      So for instance, when you have any sort of interaction with someone else, you don´t ask yourself Oh did s/he find me funny or nice or whatever, but you analyse what YOU thought of the other person. How that interaction made you feel, not the other way around.
      That way, you´ll start to give yourself some much needed space and you´ll get to know yourself.
      The same time and energy you have spent deciphering others´needs and wants, you turn on you.
      That is how a shift begins and from then on you should evolve into a self-loving person.

  33. Wise ol owl says:

    After 8 months of NC, a man I never had a relationship with gave me a 5 word question on FB on a photo I posted. He had never tried to reach me in anyway after we saw each other a couple times as two brand new people just first meeting. I thought we had potential and he was very nice looking and kind. He seemed to like me, suggested we go out, but never actually came thru. So back in the first week of April, I never initiated any contact and neither did he. I guess he had a lull in his day and expected me to just jump at the oppty. to make contact—I did not. I cannot survive off crumbs alone and btw Nat, it’s true–“attraction does have an expiration date.” Where I once felt giddy to hear from him, because of BR, he’s not “testing any waters” to “see if any doors are open”–he’s just a guy with a free two seconds on his hands.

  34. Magnolia says:

    This post, and a couple of the recent ones, have got me thinking: when I turned 30, I left the man I’d been with for 6 years.

    There was so much pain involved, I felt like I was rejecting the only person who would ever love me (the only one who I felt loved me). I had never felt ‘into’ him, I agreed to be with him because I felt I was being too picky and shouldn’t throw away such clear devotion. When I ended it, I had some lies on his part to base it on, but still felt awful. He reacted as though I’d shredded his heart.

    This is a man who I travelled overseas with, who sometimes made me feel so protected, who cooked and cleaned with me, who remembered my family and wanted to be involved with them.

    This is also someone whose drinking persona always bothered me, who I had never fallen in love with, and who I suspect (but never proved) had gambling issues.

    I went into a deep dark place after I left him, I count the time as one of my two suicidal periods. I felt gutted, and the biggest torture was wondering why I couldn’t just accept that relationship as love.

    I’ve always thought I was ‘over it’, but when I think back now, I didn’t ever come to a solid place about what happened, I just kind of went in a different direction, and started my now almost-decade of serial EU and sometimes AC relationships.

    There was so much fear, drama and pain in that 6-year relationship but it was also my one experience of what I believe was being loved. Now I’m wondering if it was love. I’m also wondering if I’m just digging up an old bone to chew on to make it about me.

    I really want to believe that I can love, for real, not love-meaning-try-to-pretend-I-am-in-love-with-the-reality-of-this-dude-being-the-one-who-likes-me. Sometimes, the feelings we shared were so tender, that always thought I must be an asshole AC for not being satisfied. I still feel very grieved about it, IF I give it thought.

    Do you think it’s possible to have not thought about a long-ago relationship for quite a while but still not be over it? Still messed up by it in some way? How would you go about responsibly cleaning up that old mess, without just creating old drama for myself? What do you think: just let the whole thing lie, or start … where?

    • Linda says:


      Your post really touched my heart because my relationship was so very like yours it would seem.

      “This is a man who I travelled overseas with, who sometimes made me feel so protected, who cooked and cleaned with me, who remembered my family and wanted to be involved with them…”

      and I could add lots more to this.

      “This is also someone whose drinking persona always bothered me, who I had never fallen in love with, ….”

      again, it was the part of him to be honest I hated, because it brought about lies, deceit, texts to other women, a danger to himself and others.

      I think you were wonderful and extremely brave to leave this man. It is something I was not brave to do and then he went and left me anyway, so now I have to add rejection and him instantly with another woman to the list, and this gnaws at me day and night.

      I have no answers for you only that I do think you did the right thing, I do believe that while, like me you loved the ‘good part’ of this man, you couldn’t love the ‘bad part’.. and probably never would. And why should you? I don’t know the exact circumstances and maybe I’m jumping to conclusions and assuming your ex is very much like mine, but usually when there is drink involved, it attracts so many other bad traits.

      I do feel desparately lonely since he left, very down somedays and wonder will this pain ever go, am I strong enough to see it through … but I have too, for my children and my family.

      Maybe when you finished with this man you put in all in a little box in the back of your mind, I do that sometimes, never properly dealing with it – I don’t know. But if it is nagging at you and getting you down maybe you should talk to someone about it.

      I’m sorry I have no answers for you. Stay strong.

      Kindest regards, L x

    • Grizelda says:


      I think this too about my ex husband. Re-assessment is normal. And yet I have to ask: If a man loves you, why do you feel as if you owe him you?

    • yoghurt says:


      I recently went through a very intense phase of thinking a lot about my Ex-Before-Son’s-Dad, with whom I had a relationship between the ages of 21 and 27.

      I was okay about it when we split up, I felt as though it had run its course and we’d be good friends. Later on, after I’d had son and was in the middle of all that malarkey, I found myself looking back on it and wondering HOW I could’ve taken it for granted that someone was prepared to pay me the supreme compliment of actually being in a relationship with me.

      The most recent bout of thinking was horrid, because when I picked it apart it just really wasn’t a very good relationship. He didn’t really care very much for me (not enough to put himself out), he didn’t particularly hold my intelligence or personality in very high regard and I wasn’t ever particularly sure of him. I spent six years feeling a bit substandard, and then we split up and I felt substandard and guilty.

      It just wasn’t a very good relationship. I managed to trim it with excessive amounts of TRUE LOVE! and SOUL-MATE! baloney, but underneath all my romancing it still didn’t have a lot going for it. And it damaged me to the point where I’d even contemplate Son’s Dad, which took me to even lower lows.

      Re: Your dude (and this is speculative, so forgive me if I’ve got it wrong) – from the sounds of it he just wasn’t right for you. And the only difference between me and you and all the healthy people in the world in good relationships is that we didn’t particularly think that we deserved to be with someone who was ‘right’ for us (or even know what that looked like), so we wasted a lot more of our own and their time on a relationship that was probably only fit for the bin.

      I think it’s probably natural for thoughts of him to float to the surface as you heal on deeper levels and challenge more of your old thought patterns, but it doesn’t particularly mean anything. It was a relationship that you weren’t completely happy with. And you ended it. I think that that shows that you’re more capable of loving someone and finding someone that you love than you realise.

      • dancingqueen says:

        Yoghurt that is so true; normal people with self-esteem don’t feel like they have to stay with someone just because the other person loves them, but they don’t love them back. Nor do they stay with someone who they love, who does not love them.

        I worry too that I won’t ever meet someone but the internet thing just truly disgusts me and I am so busy; I just hope that I meet someone organically through my hobbies. I am so excited to help with a pet adoption tomorrow! Thank god for hobbies, huh?

        I must say that the calm of not having a bad relationship absolutely is better than a shit relationship. I just love knowing,every day, that my feelings are not going to be dicked around with by anyone as I am in charge and I put myself first:)

      • Magnolia says:

        Linda, Grizelda and Yoghurt:

        Thanks for weighing in. It could be that simple, huh, that it just wasn’t a great relationship, or I just didn’t love him – but where I was in my twenties, I certainly didn’t have enough self-esteem or boundaries to know that feeling that way was enough.

        My sister has always known this – though she behaves selfishly at times, she certainly has always had a better sense of “that is what I want” and saying no to what she didn’t. She’s five years younger, and I remember her saying to me once, before she *ought* to have been so wise: “Magnolia, it seems you like guys only because they like you, not because you like them.”

        I know this has been true. It’s such an old story of mine, I took it for granted that I worked that way and used to put myself down for it. I should journal it.

        Sigh – I wish I had more control over this process and over life! I’m sticking to the stay-with-my-feelings business, while also sticking to the learn-to-enjoy-life-alone project. The waking up in the morning alone combined with my daily gynecological health issues means that I think of the family I wanted with a sense of grief almost every day.

        I keep trying to dig at my internal world to suddenly have the revelation that will solve my history and solve all the lost time and bad decisions, and make me *ok*, and bring an available partner into my life. And then I think, I am okay, and that’s okay, and there is still no partner and no babies.

        At least when I think about my long-ago ex now, it’s with curiosity, and if there’s any grief, I recognize it as grief and can feel it without the awful sense of guilt and confusion that used to terrify me.

        I’m trying to learn how to hope (so that I can know what *I* want) without hoping feeling like the desperation/sadness/shame of childhood.

        Thanks for listening!

  35. Tinkerbell says:

    Victorious and Revolution.

    Both of you have been on BR for a significant amount of time. I am very glad to learn that you each have come a long way and are taking much better care of yourselves. It feels wonderful, doesn’t it? I am sure, when you look back to when you first came here, the things you were going through, you wonder how you could have ever been that person. I know that’s how I feel. Best of luck to you both. It’s been a tough road and maybe you’re not there yet, but you’re not where you WERE! The progress is evident. Hugs, Tink.

    • Victorious says:

      Wow Tinkerbell thank you so much. i always enjoy reading your posts and can see we have had similar experiences.
      This site has taught me so much. Not just about romantic relationships and how to heal from the recent relationshit with the narc, but also about what bad shape I was in. I had no boundaries, a huge ego and little self esteem. I accepted crumbs and had forgotten how to listen to my gut feeling and to trust it.
      My few months here have literally been life changing and I want to thank everyone who has helped me directly or indirectly.

    • Revolution says:

      Well damn, Tink. Thanks! :) I really appreciate your encouragement. And I love reading about your positive experiences as well. Gives me hope.

      You know what my biggest lesson in all of this has been? If it’s a choice between being a hermit and having “friends” and “boyfriends” who show me disrespect and abuse, I’ll be stockpiling my canned goods here soon. 😉

      (Hopefully it won’t come to that, but if it did, hell if I’m gonna let someone else treat me like a second-class citizen again!)

      • Victorious says:

        That’s really funny Rev. It has been snowing and horrid here recently so I went out today and stocked up on canned goods just in case I can’t get out over the holidays ( live at the top of a big hill so if it snows I am stuck)
        I love your kick-ass posts. Hope your holidays rock. And you are so right, there is a saying about how it is better to travel alone than to travel badly accompanied.

        • Revolution says:

          Thanks Victorious! You’re a sweetheart, and it’s so nice to share NC with top notch women like yourself! Stay warm and dry, love! :)

  36. lo j says:

    What is it about the clean thing?? Not that there’s anything wrong with it … though by looking at my home one might think. One of my ex, the Epiphany most sociopathic, prided himself on his cleanliness, of his home, cars, yard, etc, said, “cleanliness is next to Godliness” and made fun of me and others for our messes. My friend’s ex came home and growled at her and obsessedly cleaned, disgusted that she couldn’t keep up with housework and 3 kids (the in laws bought her a vacuum for Christmas) and both men were serial cheaters. Not just once did they cheat. Ugh. Values were a little warped.

    • Lilia says:

      lo j
      I´ve noticed the same thing. I have a psychopath aunt (actually she´s more like and evil witch) who is obsessed about cleanliness and tidyness. She stores everything in neat rows, even where nobody will see them. Her cellar is tidier than my living room. She frequently throws out clothes if they have the tiniest flaw, so much so that her husband was once left with no shirt to wear.
      Meanwhile, she is an emotional mess, aggressive, manipulative and a serial cheater.

      • dancingqueen says:

        Yeah I am another one who had an obssessively clean ex: The guy who brought me here, would line up my shoes at his house ( the pair that I wore there). He was spotless, but then he would pick on me for cleaning my house a lot. It was odd. He was only concerned with appearences. That is the line of connection I think; they just are obsessed with maintaining an image and unable to be relaxed and authentic.

  37. Jackie329 says:

    I wish that I had found this website earlier! Reading these articles and all of your posts has literally saved my sanity. I feel as though some of these people posting must have been involved with the same guy because I am living the identical scenario. I have just wasted 6 years on an EUM and I am now 1 week into NC and struggling. We were friends before becoming physically involved and that is actually the hardest thing for me to deal with right now. In the beginning he was a real gentleman and the best thing that had ever happened to me. He was my confidant, my lover and my friend and he made me happy. After 6 idyllic months his behavior became increasingly distant and strange. No communication for weeks … and then suddenly he’d ask to see me (what now transpires was just a booty call), but I would be so elated that he had taken the time to contact me that I would make excuses for him and actually be GRATEFUL for the crumbs of attention he was throwing my way. He would always tell me that he cared about me very deeply and that he valued my friendship and companionship very much… and yet he treated me with absolutely NO respect, never had time for me and refused to give me any sort of validation. He would tell me how beautiful he thought other women were and how much he wished he stood a chance with them – still I made excuses! Hot and cold, no effort at all – EVER, unless I “disappeared” for a week or so, making plans with me and then cancelling last minute for no reason and offering no explanation, . During these 6 years he has twice been involved with other women and I made the effort to be mature and remain his friend until these dalliances ended and we then picked up our familiar “friends with benefits arrangement “ and general pattern of bad behavior and acceptance. I could go on and on …. but he is the classic EUM. My self esteem has taken a real pounding here and the only way that I can cope now is to apply the NC rule (even though he has said he wants to stay friends). I understand now that all of this is connected to my self esteem and that I should have opted out LONG ago. It is so obvious to me now after finding this site that I have been desperately looking for validation from him and have been a total idiot. I am worried that it is just me that he is like this with and that he is ready to have a relationship with someone else. I worry that it was just me that somehow didn’t make the grade for him even though he meant so much to me. I worry that I will not ever be able to get over this and that this guy was my last chance and that I will never be able to feel this way about anyone else. I hate myself for allowing this to go on for so long. I am angry with myself for not having more self respect and for excusing unacceptable behavior because I was so DESPERATE to get him to recognise me as a person of worth. Feeling such bitter disappointment in myself is also not the greatest thing for my self-esteem right now, but I am determined to get past it. Christmas is going to be incredibly hard for me, but I will not compromise and go back on my NC decision! Right now I am in a whole world of pain and (oddly enough) anxiety, which is making me feel sick, but I WILL GET THROUGH IT! I am so pleased that I came across this site because I feel so much less alone in this nightmare and that has gone a long way to making me think that it is possible to overcome and break this destructive cycle. Thank you to everyone who has posted on here and especially to NML – your insight into this and your way with words is astonishing and have helped me SOOOOOOOO much.

    • tired says:

      please stay n c . I to was in the same boat and even now he is in a workshop with another women out in open , he still tries to yank my chain .it’s the ego stroke they miss .wants to pop by and see me before Xmas . I think not he wants in to play with my feelings . no I remain bc and it will stay that way however low . I get.x

    • Allison says:


      This guy is not your friend! He is a user, and has been very disrespectful towards you!

      Even if he does find another, and treats her better, it doesn’t matter, as he treated you like garbage. It only matters how he treated you!

      I have been in a similar place, but with NC, the clarity comes and the pain subsides. Soon, you will look back, and see him for the fool he is.

      Lastly, you were concerned that you would not find anyone else, I would rather be on my own that feel like this. Don’t worry, you will find someone who appreciates and loves you, but first get yourself to a healthy place, so you don’t end up with another user.

      • beth d says:

        Rest assured if he treats her better it will only be temporarily. My ex told me so many stories of his bad behavior with other women. He tried alot of those bad behavior tactics with me in the beginning and I kept breaking up with him, cutting him off and he would come back trying harder and harder. He was actually like a dream for 4-5 yrs but eventually went back to who he was. I remember reading something on here that hit me like a ton of bricks. Would you really want a man who treated other women badly. Why didn’t I get that? I am so happy I read that because when he pulled his last “pull back routine” I was finally able to walk away. It was the hardest thing I have ever done but I am happy and have a great guy now. I still think of him and sometimes obsess about the good times but it goes with the territory. I realized the only reason he treated me better was I was a challenge and good narc supply. He really was incapable of loving anyone in a healthy way. I thank BR and Natalie for making me see the light or I would still be in relationship insanity.

    • Grizelda says:

      Jackie you’re doing the right thing!

      By setting you up as Fallback Girl, he took what he could get from you while pushing your face into the dirt and was gone again by the time you turned around. Because this is who (or what!) he is. Trying to get a man like that to recognise that you are a sentient human being is utterly futile. What would be helpful for you to recognise is that he appears not to be a sentient human being himself. Look at the piles and piles of evidence before you. He is abusive of you. Who does that? Someone with no conscience, no soul, and nothing but the sucking blackness of the business end of a Hoover hose attachment where a human being’s heart should be.

      I can sense your fragility and recall when I was in my first couple of weeks NC. I won’t bullshit you, it was almost unsurvivable. Your feelings of loss, panic, anger, frustration and depression will whirl around you in orbits like a whole solar system of planetary horror. But with every circuit that they make, they get just a tiny bit weaker and further away from you at the centre. That’s how it works. Some days it doesn’t feel like it, but that’s indeed how it works. It takes a lot to withstand it, but it will be the best thing you’ve ever, ever done for yourself, and the smartest investment in you.

    • Bellaninha says:

      Hey Jacquie329, please hang in there. I’ve been where you are, almost 3 years to the date. I was with my EUM for 5 years, plus a year before that as friends too.

      It’s hard I agree to work out why we stay so long, but we did and there is life after it I can tell you, you will be fine. Your guy sounds so disrespectful to you, and not deserving of being your friend. Reading your story, the only way you will move on is No Contact. You will get there though, have faith!

      Unfortunately, like Grizelda says, the pain at the start is horrendous. Well it was for me. It’s Christmas and New Years Eve which are so hard, but please just go gently through this time, and visualise how much better off you will be next year! And even better the years after. The pain does lessen, but you do have to go through it. Unfortunately it’s like someone has died. I remember crying to my mum on the phone like a little school girl saying I couldn’t bear to look back at my last 5-6 years as it was so painful, I wanted the past just to disappear, to never have happened.

      We all deal with it differently and at different speeds. I went out partying a lot (but thats not for everyone) I also became much more involved in yoga and meditation, which keeps me balanced. Cry it all out. But through it please do remember, that it will pass, like an addiction that just has to take effort to come out the other side clean. Counselling may help too if you’ve not been before, as it’s a good chance to have time dedicated to yourself.

      I really really do know how you feel about feeling like the guy is your last chance, but no. He’s not. I’ve met loads of guys since breaking up with my epiphany EUM. Several of them are EUM themselves, some ACs, and some guys that well, it’s just not right, but that could still be my own issues not giving them a go. But I visualise my future with a good genuine guy who is kind, wants to be in the relationship together, and who adores me for all I am. Someone I don’t need to try to change. in the meantime I am meeting others from who I learn more and more about myself.

      I believe things happen as they are supposed to. You have had this moment of clarity just before Christmas which is a great time to be nurtured by friends and family and make a fresh start to the new year. Visualise how much better off you will be without him, in 1,2,3 years. You’ll have a heart open and aware and ready to devote to firstly yourself. But then if someone else comes along who adds to your life, you will be free.

      Hugs to you Jacquie. Stay strong. You are doing the best thing for you. You really will be fine xxx

  38. Learner says:

    “When you …think..that only ‘real’, ‘passionate’ love is painful and hard to come by, it’s important to realise that there are many people who would pass on putting themselves through this kind of pain and opt for ‘loving love’ instead.”
    Oh, I am so guilty of buying into the whole pain = love delusion. After 5.5 months NC, I have just found and read 2 years worth of recorded IM chats I had with the exMM. It’s amazing what a little distance and BR knowledge has done for my interpretation of our communication. I was in AGONY. So many of the chats were me telling him “I miss you so much it hurts” and different takes on “I can’t go on like this any more” and “we have to make some decisions”. He just gave some placating and vague answers, a bit of future faking thrown in, and back we went to the relationshit.

    His communication was even more self-absorbed than I had remembered. He had frequent physical complaints (pain, acid reflux). He was constantly “forgetting” to call or text when he said he would, and would give some lame excuse, and then reassure me that I was his top priority, but that “life” got in the way of his ability to communicate. Now I know that “life” included his long-term OW. I can plainly see the times he was with her, and now recognize the “code” he used for being with her: “I had a long nap”, “I had some errands to run”, “I went for a walk/bike ride to get some exercise”. I just accepted his excuses.

    He was obviously fearful of losing me as “supply” as he was willing to chat into the wee hours till I was happy with him again. He rode the waves of my pain and longing and – like you said – writhing, as if he had played this game a thousand times (maybe with OOW?). He really focused on the times we were getting together in person, because he “communicates best physically”. He spoke often of gazing onto my eyes (so he could see himself reflected positively there, no doubt), and once even quoted Peter Gabriel “In Your Eyes, I am complete”. What a narc thing to say!

    He also spoke of his wife trying to get his attention in annoying ways, and being a pain, and saying that she often cried when he left for work, or for conferences. I didn’t register appropriate empathy for her at the time, but now I feel AWFUL for her. He treats her horribly!!! I am so glad I don’t participate in that anymore.

    I have now erased all the IM chats, and I feel lighter because of it. I am encouraged that I can read this old “drama” without feeling its effects – no more butterflies or angst or yearning. Just shaking my head in disbelief. Onward and upwards to “loving love” instead of “painful love” – thanks Natalie and BR!

    • runnergirl says:

      Hi Learner,

      Your description of re-reading the IM chats with the double cheating exMM rang a bell with me. It was the same lame painful, agonizing story for me. Every time I was at the end of my rope (a very long rope BTW), he would stick around via cyberspace or phone or in-person just long enough for me to scab over and then same story, different day.
      You are spot on… “Onward and upwards to “loving love”. No such thing as “painful love” as Nat says.
      Congratulations on deleting the IM chats. Sometimes it is nice to have things in writing for a while.

      His wife cried when he left for work?

      • Learner says:

        Yes, he said his wife would cry sometimes when he left for work in the morning. He spent long hours there, and his sister said he was “never home”. The exMM is several years older than me, and his wife is even older than him. She is getting dementia at a fairly young age and apparently gets confused and weepy. Heaven help her with all this PLUS her prize of a husband to cope with!

  39. miskwa says:

    As a fellow academician I concur with previous posters: dump this bozo and go solo. It is ALL there’s about control and taking some measure of credit for your work. This is sounding uncomfortably close to my professional relationshit I had with my graduate advisor. My work was very controversial, I discovered a new source of mercury contamination in my region. He wanted (and took, without my knowing) first authorship on a number of pubs that were solely my work. At the same time, he didn’t want to piss off the locals in power who were going to loose money due to my findings so he made damned sure I could not continue the work. I lost my position in the department, had to take a job out west to pay the bills, afford healthcare, etc. and lost a wonderful partner of 12 years as a result. My car was tampered with twice: my ex or I couldve been killed. You could say this dude is the root cause of why you all hafta read about my whining about loneliness, hurt, and extreme social isolation. Lilly dump this a$$hole now; he means you no good whatsoever.

    • Lilly says:

      Miskwa, I’m shocked. Someone tampered with your car! Your post made me acknowledge that nagging underlying fear that I have when I think about the exmm sometimes. I’m not sure what it means, and it is nothing compared to what you’ve had to endure, but it can’t be good can it. I cannot offer much in the way of wisdom, and that makes me feel like I’m taking and not giving, but I am sorry that you are feeling so hurt and lonely. You are showing amazing inner strength though by coping with that dreadful excuse of a man. Sending lots of love and support your way, xxx.

  40. miskwa says:

    Yogurt and others
    I really resonated with your earlier post: I also thought AC and I were compatible on sooo many realms:
    Both more educated than most of our colleagues and in many of the same areas
    Both of us make it a priority to stay in shape in a region where most of the folks in our age group do not
    Both of us very committed to environmental and social justice
    Both of us try hard to live our values
    Both of us had to work hard to be able to put ourselves through school
    we both hate the bar scene and ski resort culture
    we are both strong people
    we are both serious outdoors folk
    we both hate TV and spectator sports
    We were both interested in marriage or a committed relationship (or so I was lead to believe)
    It turns out our boy is if not a playa, he is at the least a serial cheater and chronic overlapper. His current victim is a friend who may not even be completely out of her bad marriage. He is an extreme narc; this isn’t my diagnosis but that of a colleague with a psych degree. He seems to target weak, vulnerable women going through breakups, the last two fit this description as does another mutual and married friend he routinely flirts with. Yep, dealing with him has become an exercise in pain. I really do feel traumatized. My question, dear ladies and gents is this: I have done my best to maintain NC to the point of avoiding college social functions entirely and excluding him from those that I initiate. I am pursuing funding for a center that will have me off campus at least part of the time. However, we are on one committee together (I was asked by admin to serve and didn’t know he was on it), we teach in the same area in one field, one that I am trying to make my main area, I run our weekly meetings and he’s nearly always there, often sitting next to me. I have had my home valued and it looks like taking a lower paying position elsewhere will be financially debilitating including costing me the majority of my retirement savings as my retirement was collateral for the mortgage. A good many of my colleagues (ironically including him) have noticed that I am seriously unhappy and have asked why. He still occasionally sits down next to me at lunch, at faculty meeting, wants to discuss committee stuff, asks about my various and sundry home projects. Should I break NC long enough to tell him that he is a source of incredible pain to me still and to respect my wishes and never speak to me again? I worry that as he is a narc, knowing he is causing hurt may merely feed his ego and, even though he has been seriously slacking on the job and is in a certain amount of hot water, he has been there a long time and may be able to do me serious damage. Whaddya think?

    • Mymble says:

      I am so sorry about this. I can well imagine that I might feel the same way I was required to have see a certain person on a regular basis. Fortunately i don’t. I know he’s going to be in my town for a few days in the new year and I’ll feel anxious then even at having the tiny remote chance of an accidental
      encounter. I have never told that person how very badly he hurt me and the excrutiating pain and anxiety he caused me. I can’t say it gives me any satisfaction, it doesn’t really matter to me whether he knows or not as I know it would not have any difference to how he behaved. Although I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of his pseudo- sympathy. In your situation I would not tell him anything or ask him to do anything for you. Although what you ask is not unreasonable he will probably feel angry and resentful – he won’t like to feel that he has behaved in a less than way and he will instead decide that it is you who are mad/bad/crazy and become vengeful. You mentioned he could damage your career, that is something you need to protect at all costs until you decide what to do long term.
      I once left a good job due to the prescence of an assclown colleague I’d had a year long relationshit with, who then proceeded to work his way through the women – married and single ! I the office. We had a spectacular bust up at my leaving party (which he attended uninvited). Lets just say he came out of it looking like the loser he was, thrown down some stairs by the bouncers!
      Anyway your narc get his comeuppance in time and you will get over your hurt but if as you say he really is a narcissist I would be very careful as they can be very nasty when crossed.
      I can see that Wrecking your hardwon retirement fund isn’t a good option but still keep looking around for other opportunities – someone else mentioned to avoid “dualism” and perhaps that may apply here too? At the same time working on your own self esteem issues because this guy, he’s just a guy, he doesn’t need to matter at all (easy words to say I know, but true nonetheless). I saw a therapist for a while and I found it helpful.

    • grace says:

      Tell him nothing. He doesn’t deserve to be your confidante.
      It,s difficult and took a while and is still a challenge for me and i still slip up occasionally, but don’t let your colleagues know if you are mad, unhappy, sad, broken up etc. at work we always have to speak to ppl we don’t care for. Imagine that it’s not you speaking to them but your professional representative. It,s not an act or hypocrisy it,s necessary if work isn’t going to dissolve into a gossipy, drama filled soap opera.
      My workplace is one of the bitchiest and most cliquey offices I,ve worked in. I learned to ignore all of it. It,s worth it to me as my boss is terrific. And no job is perfect.

      • Teddie says:

        I read a sentence somewhere,not sure where, I think on a bonbon wrapping: “A problem shared is gossip.”

    • Grizelda says:


      I agree with the others who say not to give up your place, your location, your job and so on. These are YOUR things, not HIS. But I think it’s high time to coax your feelings away from this man, and I mean actively and deliberately. Lingering = Suffering. Time to let go. Or else you’ll lose everything.

      You speak in terms of physical proximities — you don’t see each other for x number of days out of the week or month, then you are in the same room together for x hours, and he sits next to you sometimes, and presumably sometimes not, you are within speaking distance x number of times per month, and then there are other gatherings he attends when again you are x number of feet away from each other… Miskwa, this isn’t working. You know this isn’t good enough for you. Don’t measure your separated-ness by physical proximity to him. That’s not where the problem lies. The problem lies in your mental/emotional proximity to him.

      You say you know he’s disordered, but you’re not responding like someone who accepts her ex is disordered. You should be screaming in horror and running away, scrambling over furniture, pushing bookcases over, shoving grannies out of the way, and losing your shoe in a desperate bid for the exit. That would be a normalish response to a real epiphany about what this man really is, what he does, how he operates, and what he intends to do to you further emotionally.

      Keep reading source articles and papers on the disorder — apply them directly to your ex, your situation, and you. When you’re tired of it, keep going and read some more. Write it all over your soul inside and out. His condition is pervasive, inflexible and permanent. There will never be the change, improvement, or amelioration for which your empathy and emotions seem to be waiting around. But if you set your natural empathy aside please, and fully immerse yourself in the reality of what harm he has done and will continue to do so long as you’re still emotionally attached to him, as well as become fully cognizant of his own lack of empathy (meaning he has no feelings you could possibly hurt by cutting him out of your affections), your emotions for him should begin to sour. And then it won’t matter whether you’re a thousand miles apart, in the same room, or he’s sitting in your lap — once your feelings for him are depleted, you won’t be in pain over him any more. And you’ll say ‘get off my damn lap.’

      • Victorious says:

        Wow Griz! “You should be screaming in horror and running away, scrambling over furniture, pushing bookcases over, shoving grannies out of the way, and losing your shoe in a desperate bid for the exit”
        So funny, I laughed out loud, but so very true. I also know this should be my reaction to my ex narc, but my reality is that even the sound of his voice has me wavering. This is why I have to stay strict NC. I feel so sorry for you Miskwa, but Griz is right. Getting over a narc is a horrid and time consuming business and it must be 1000 times harder when you have to see him so often. Try to minimize the contact and eventually the feelings will fade. I am off to chuckle at the idea of screaming at the ex narc to “get off my damn lap.”

    • sushi says:

      telling an AC/narc how they are making you feel gives them more ammunition on how to hurt you further.Speaking from experience. Sounds like he wants an opportunity to stick another pin in, don`t give him the satisfaction of letting him know he still has this (any) effect on you.I think they feed on their victim`s dignity.

    • K says:


      Wow. When you were listing all the things that you “liked” or didn’t with this man, it was a huge red banner for me…aaaahhhh…yes, he’s MIRRORING her. Not everyone is going to share every single like or dislike. With the listing, as long as it was, the mirroring was apparent.
      These men are sadistic. Changing your perceptions about it is harder, integrating knowledge into emotional understanding and then heeding it. If you’re someone who is more logic based in your thinking, these relationshits will throw you for a loop, no matter how much scholarshit you have under your belt.
      Academia is full of psychopaths. And some real whoppers too. I have no idea why….anyway, these men are sadists. They do the most passive aggressive things that make us think we need answers from them. Such as his sitting with you occasionally. In his mind, you’re allowing it is “She wants me,…bad”…he does it to torture you. they know when they have hurt you, and you don’t have to say anything for them to “get” that. They’re masters at reading our faces and body language, just enough to assess and strategize in how to cause you more discomfort.

      When it comes to pathology and people who are packin personality disorders, I never suggest any contact whatsoever. Not ever, because as long as you’re around them, for five minutes, five hours or five days, they are addicted to causing pain and if they have already done it, seeing you makes them want to do it more and if we are involved with them or have been, it is nigh impossible to untie the emotional knots with any contact. Once sucked into the pathological dynamic, the only way out is NC completely. Sandra Brown, the author of “Women Who Love Psychopaths” says, “they are sicker than we are smart”.
      They don’t feel, and with no conscience, they can target and strategize without any thought to an outcome other than your pain.

      I hope you find a solution soon.

  41. myownway says:

    Thanks for bringing me back from the brink once again. I’m getting there…

  42. Nicholas says:

    @Olivia – the way you begin to take care of yourself and love yourself, is one action at a time. After every action you take, you feel that much stronger and better about yourself.

    I ended a six year relationship on October 10th. This woman treated me like trash. Cheated on me, lied to me, manipulated me… She thought she had me right where she wanted me, and then I finally saw the light and realized how horrible my future looked with this person in it. I broke up with her and went strict NC. she tried everything to Hoover me back in, but I resisted. She declared her undying love for me, and one week later was on plenty of fish looking for her next victim… SO GLAD I stuck to NC. give people enough time and space and they’ll show you exactly who they are, and what they’re all about.
    For the first time in my adult life I’m taking deliberate time out from all romantic contact. When we first broke up I had that panicked “what if I never meet anyone again!?” Feeling, but now I don’t really give a shit if I do or not. I’m determined to get beyond desperation and fear into a place where I’m happy on my own. It’s a big commitment, maybe the second most important one I’ve ever made (after my children), and I’m worth it. I’ve come so far in two months. I still cry and feel sad and generally mourn, but go back to that hell on earth? NEVER!!!
    You’re worth it too Olivia, so worth it. You’re lovable just the way you are. So take some time, get rid of any and all assclowns in your life, and learn how to love yourself, one action at a time. For me, every time she sends me a manipulative email, or leaves a sweetly innocent sounding message on my phone, and I COMPLETELY ignore it, I’ve loved myself that little bit more. I know that picking up the phone would be the same as jumping into the middle of a sea full of man eating sharks. That’s how dangerous these toxic folks are. That’s how you have to think of them.
    One step at a time Olivia…

    • mekomeko says:

      Hello Nicolas internet just has eaten my reply to your post. hence a new one.
      What you said about being alone struck a chord with me. As I have realized that it is my biggest fear. I like to think of myself as of strong and independent person who doesn’t need validating through attachment to another person.
      And yet when my significant other broke up with me couple of days ago this was one of my first thoughts. Which I voiced to a friend of mine who simply listed all things I am into. Than she asked if I seriously think I will never meet anyone again.
      My ex broke up with me , than threw a friend card in my face. I said we will not keep in touch, he was all hurt and surprised. I felt awful about saying it to him. Bad about making him hurt. Me. Like he didn’t hurt me in the first place…I stopped feeling bad. I just released after reading through this website that I have done something good for myself. I have set a boundary and kept it. That is as you have put it Nicolas I have loved myself a lil bit more. And will continue to do so. Because as much as this breakup hurts it also sends a positive message – I am ready to care for myself. Few years ago I d be all happy to stay friends, to be his fall back girl. This time without even thinking twice I said goodbye and opened the doors to let him out.
      I also talked to someone who lost mum to cancer few days ago and whose sister will soon follow the same route. This short conversation turned me from shaky emotional and teary mess into a composed person. The tragedy this person has to go through has put things into proper perspective. This is not the end of the world. It is a break up. It is nothing compared to watching your loved ones suffer and die. I ve made first step to get over him. It has come from a surprising source.It has made me realize how blessed I am with what I have. Weirdly enough it made me find peace- I am still hurt and i still miss him. But I also know that I will stop hurting and will heal. Thus I accept the situation and wait for my emotions to run their course. Thank you all for comments and to Nat for this website. It is inspiring.

  43. Tinkerbell says:


    I am, too, so glad for you having found BR. You learn a tremendous amount here. I’ve always felt that Natalie provides the conduit and we provide, with our posts, just as much helpful information and opportunities to learn what we need to change.
    We have sooooo many similar experiences. It helps us when we get good empathetic advise from each other, just as much as it helps us to see that others have experienced much worse and are still hanging in there and getting stronger. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God that I found this website. You are realizing where you have made your mistakes. That, in itself, is progress because some ladies remain grossly misguided. So, now apply what you are learning. I know it has been 6 years and I know how difficult it is. I’m not paying you lip service. I KNOW IT IS VERY
    DIFFICULT, but keep up the good work. It will pay off. I can promise you that. NO MAN is that special to be more important to you than YOU. And, you don’t want to spend any more time trying to get water from a dry well. I applaud your efforts. Love yourself, NOW.

  44. Getting it! says:

    I am so over drama! Thankfully, these days my drama is, mostly, a distant memory. I still have one fellow hanging around – circumstances beyond my control (work) – and I am quite clear in my behaviour that I don’t want to talk to him about anything not work related. In fact, never speaking to him at all would be just fine with me. He doesn’t care because, as always, it isn’t about how I feel. It’s frustrating but it reminds me of a dynamic that I am determined to avoid in the future.

    In the other hand, I’m starting to get to know someone who is definitely not my usual type. But, he is open and forthcoming and responds to me in a reasonable timeframe. In short, he seems to be emotionally available!

  45. Tinkerbell says:


    DO NOT BREAK NC. Never, ever, ever. Once you get out, don’t go back for ANYTHING. If you are really NC why is he sitting down next to you at lunch? He should have gotten the message to leave you ALONE. Are you committed to NC? Ask yourself this. There is NO REASON under the sun why you should break NC to explain yourself. That’s just giving him an opportunity to engage. He’ll be thinking, “Aha! She doesn’t really want to let me go. She can’t be without me. She NEEDS me. She’s a weak, pathetic B—h, trying to be so big and bad.” This is what he will think and all the while be laughing at you. Do you want that? NOT! Forget what the two of you had in common. I said, “HAD”, not “Have”. If it was all so great you would not be asking yourself these questions now. DO NOT BREAK NC.

    • beth d says:

      Tinkerbell you are so right. The reason it took me so long to get into total NC was I kept explaining to my ex why we couldn’t maintain a relationship even as friends. As long as I was explaining he still felt he had a shot to get me into his web. It is very hard when they are trying to break you. My ex used the sympathy act, depression, I’m screwed up and need you tactics. He knew exactly what worked. Then he would throw in I am going to make it up to you bs with gifts, vacations etc. It was so hard because when he was good to me he was the best bf I have ever had. The highest of highs and lowest of lows is how I describe my relationship with him. Total addiction. I had to get over feeling bad about NC It took me so long and I still have trouble with it. He played the best friend card with me and I fell for it going back on NC so many times and often after months of NC. I am good without him but I will never again kid myself into thinking he can’t gain some power on me again. NC is the only way out for me and I know no matter what he throws my way I have to keep it. No explanations necessary. He will find ways to refute the explanations so it is futile.

  46. Tinkerbell says:


    I reread your post. You are NOT NC. There is all this communication still going on between you. You need to check out Natalie’s list of posts and find the ones dealing with initiating and maintaining NC, because it seems you don’t fully understand what it involves. Please do this for yourself.

    • Teddie says:

      Seconded! Miskwa, I took Nat’s NC-course and have followed religiously her sound advice ever since. Guess what, I have completely taken off the pedestal the ex-AC I had a very unhealthy for me dalliance with. We still have a working relationship, but that’s that. He is still chancing his arm occasionally, but seems to be getting it. Yesterday we had a business meeting for example, but no lunch even though he suggested it, I was like “I’m busy, dude” and I totally mean it, I have taken my power back, thanks to Natalie and the wise commentors on this blog! You go girl, take your power back!

    • Sadder but Wiser says:

      Miskwa, I agree with Tinkerbell that you aren’t taking enough of a hard NC line with him. He’s still breezing in and out, sitting with you at lunch, “asks about my various and sundry home projects” – and you are allowing all of this. You do not have to! There are many things you can do to change this – and it isn’t just a choice between two options (dualism): either allowing him to continue his insensitive and clueless contact while you writhe in private pain but outwardly look stoic OR showing him your pain, asking him to leave you alone, and then worry about him being pissed, vindictive, etc. There is a third option, and probably a fourth and fifth if you look hard enough.

      I too have to work with my callous and clueless ex, who lights up and gives me a big smile when he sees me, tries to make nice, sends me cheery emails, pretends like nothing is wrong (and from his viewpoint, nothing is! I don’t think he’s given his crappy treatment of me a second thought since he dumped me.)

      My ex was also my boss, and I worried for awhile about how my career would be affected, how he would evaluate me, etc. Then I asked myself, how would I act if I didn’t have these worries? The answer was very clear – complete NC about anything personal, and the absolute minimum contact at work. This meant that I could no longer work with him as my boss. I eventually transferred departments and now have a wonderful new boss – so I don’t ever have to rely on the ex for anything related to my career. I will never use him for a reference. I will never work for him again. I will never ask him for help, for networking, for advise, for anything. He has no avenue now to affect my work. Happily, he never did anything underhanded or vindictive regarding work, but I was prepared to fight if he had, go to HR, go to his boss, etc. if necessary. I refused to be afraid of him. He’s not that special or important.

      I still have to interact with him on projects, and meetings and even have to attend 3 and 4 day conferences in other towns with him along as part of the team. But I have some very strict rules that makes it bearable. I pass him in the hallway at work and he says hello with a big smile, I nod briefly or give a curt, unsmiling hello back. Cordial, but absolutely nothing more. I think of him as just another colleague I have a minimal, professional relationship with and don’t like very much. No small talk, no personal comments of any kind. If he’s baffled by this, too bad. We had a wonderful working relationship before we got involved, just wonderful. He probably doesn’t understand why we can’t go back to that. Too bad. I feel no need to explain anything to him, ever. In meetings, I make sure to sit on the other side of the room. If I see him in town at the cafe or in a store, I ignore him completely. He’s about the most clueless man I’ve ever met, but even he gets that I want nothing to do with him and he leaves me alone.

      You simply need to get up and leave if he sits down with you and wants to chat. No explanation, no emotion, no anger. Just say “excuse me” and get up and leave. Sit somewhere else in the room. Just simple dignity and grace. Be consistent. Stick to it. He’ll be baffled most likely, but eventually he should get it. If he doesn’t, and keeps bugging you, say something like “I’ve decided I want no personal contact with you anymore.” Period. No explanation. No anger. No worrying what he thinks about that. Don’t worry about giving him an ego stroke or anything else. You can’t control how he takes things anyway. Do what you need to do for YOU. There’s no need to keep enduring his casual and hurtful contact. If saying something is the only way to get him to stop, then do so! But you don’t have to gush out your feelings in the process. Don’t let him drop by your house to ask about tools or anything else. Keep your distance. Do what you can to make sure he keeps his.

      It’s not easy to be NC with someone at work, but if you are determined to stay where you are, it’s absolutely imperative to be NC as much as possible. Otherwise the pain is just going to continue and six months down the road you’ll be right where you are now.

  47. Intotouch says:

    Thank you for this post Natalie. I love your clarity.

    I read somewhere once not to confuse longing with love. It was a revelation to me. Like what you say about pain I thought that if I was feeling longing that meant that there was so much love there. That love is something else again shook me out of this and longing now is a warning sign for me.

  48. Grizelda says:

    Is is possible that women — although obviously there are a number of men here too with the same difficulties, but the guys are far outnumbered by the ladies — mistake pain for love because we’re hard-wired for this as part of natural selection for successful child-bearing and child-raising?

    We might have the natural built-in default response to keep giving, keep providing, keep feeling, keep loving, keep fixing, keep making everything alright… just KEEP GOING… despite the relationship being clearly to our detriment, even being totally blind to its deep irreciprocality, because that’s the kind of emotional glue and tough guts and superhuman strength that’s needed to have and raise children.

    The fact that mothers in particular endure with a smile (ok a grimace) the constant manipulations, irrationalities, selfish and capricious demands, tantrums, threats, verbal abuse, physical assaults and so on that are doled out by children at whatever typical age is related to certain developmental behaviours, means that it’s within us to not only endure whatever adverse conditions are being laid on by those we love, but we believe the problems will abate in time as they do when children grow out of one stage and into another. This is understood, and this is what we do as human beings. The species would not have lasted long if we didn’t have that in-built resilience and ‘understanding’ that we need to make sacrifices.

    Trouble is, our in-built resilience can be abused by devious and manipulative adults — family members, managers and co-workers, and men/women to whom we’re attracted or with whom we have an emotional relationship. And our default setting is to keep giving, keep providing, keep feeling, keep loving, keep fixing, keep making everything alright… just KEEP GOING. Until we realise, of course, that these people are not our children and they are not deserving of that kind of status, that kind of sacrifice, that kind of forgiveness. They, indeed, are just not that special.

    • Victorious says:

      I think you could be onto something here Grizelda. The survival of the human race depends on women being incredibly forgiving of those we love, and on us putting others needs ahead of our own on a permanent basis.
      It isn’t just about the babies either. If I wasn’t hard wired to be a mum I am telling you I would have strangled my teenage daughter by now!!
      Seriously that has given me a lot to think about.

    • K says:


      You sound so much like Sandra. Are you? :)

  49. Pandora says:

    Help. Ugh. I went off NC last night for a date with him, in which he told me ( after I asked) the remainder of his plans for the weekend. This evening,a big swing dance – this is his “thing”, but I haven’t been included because I have “trust issues” and would not be able to handle seeing him dance with other women.His words ” I’m going to dance with a lot of people.” Mind you, it’s not about picking up women, it’s excercise, socialization with his particular set of friends from this world, etc. I told him this hurt me. I have always wanted to be included in this, as I enjoy dancing. He was sorry it hurt me but he isn’t changing his plans. I was cold, we saw a film, afterwards the pain and drama exploded and I let him have it. I never know when he will invite me, call me, etc and we had a huge row. I feel completely responsible for this. I went on the offense, talking about facebook and his having blocked me from seeing certain pictures and posts, which he denied, to just my general unhappiness. I talked about a mutual friend of ours who is now in a healthy relationship with a man who adores her. I said I wanted THAT. HE said, well, maybe she has a brother. It was awful, I wish I had just kept my mouth shut, but then that’s settling for more crumbs, and I felt so badly I couldn’t just keep quiet. In the end, I ended up apologizing for causing him stress and upset and ruining the evening. Tonight, fortunately, I have other plans with friends but I am relentlessly beating myself up over this. I know this is just who he is, he isn’t going to change, but when he called me yesterday there’s some type of hope that keeps returning, maybe this is a sign of true caring. No, I think he just wants to keep me pacified while he has his cake and eats it too. He views me more like a good friend, our relationship is mostly platonic, it does not meet my needs for affirmation, affection etc. unless it is a time where I am meeting his needs- then I suddently am the “gf”. It hurts like hell, it is totally an addiction, he is beneath me in many regards and I am slowly eroding what self- esteem I have left. It is such a struggle for me to just let go and go NC although I’ve been told here time and again that is what is necessary. In fact, I sometimes feel that others here must hold me in disdain for not being able to follow through with what seems so obvious. I am in therapy, I pray constantly for the courage and strength to let it go. I do feel at times like I am loosing my mind. At other times I have great moments of clarity. Reading these posts really helps, but I question demonizing him with monikers such as ” AC” and such. Isn’t he just a product of his circumstances as I am mine? I am responsible for the choices I make. Today, I feel awful. I just need some encouragment to pick up the pieces, stop beating myself up and get on with things. Being grateful for the goodness in my life- which still exists, outside of him. Thanks for any insights/ feedback/ support.

    • natashya says:

      pandora, i don’t know the history with this man, but lots of us have fallen off the NC wagon. we know we shouldn’t contact them, and yet we do. what happens when we break NC? we get burnt and it hurts. there’s never a happy ending with these scenarios, even though we might think that we can handle it or that this time it wil be different. it never is, though, is it? we end up feeling WORSE than before.

      luckily, there’s also a positive way of looking at it. you learnt something (again). and you will keep on having to put your hand on the hot stove, til you get it. and getting it, you will. so, get back on the NC wagon. no need to beat yourself up over it. what’s done is done. NC is the only answer.

    • A says:


      When you say that you pray for the strength and courage to walk away, you paint this as a situation that it out of your control. The truth is that you are in control. You can choose to walk away and never speak to this man again. Make the decision and then keep on making it over and over again, one day at a time. It won’t be easy, but you have too much to lose to continue as things are. What are you waiting for?

    • Grizelda says:

      Pandora, ah what a terrible evening. Painful. Remember what the theme of this latest post is? ‘Pain is not love. It’s pain.’ Your evening illustrates this perfectly.

      He knows perfectly well that you want a full relationship with him, complete with all the emotional trimmings. He likes benefitting from your willingness to provide him with such trimmings and ego inflation (and sex? you say it’s ‘mostly platonic’ which seems to indicate it’s a ‘friends-with-benefits’ thing). But ask him to reciprocate and he scoffs at you. He scoffs at you and presses the painful ‘reject’ button again and again by telling you all the fun he’s going to have at the dance without you, and how you’re not invited, and what a silly girl you are with your human feelings and desires. He has you convinced that you’re being stupid and crazy and needy… while he happily basks in the glow of your I’d-do-anything-for-you affection. If that’s not a one-way ticket to Assclown Central, what is?

      Calling a user like him ‘a user’ isn’t villifying him. It’s calling a spade a spade. It’s one thing if you’re trying to draw water from his empty emotional well, and you know it’s an empty emotional well, and he keeps telling you it’s an empty emotional well, and he prevents you from continually trying to draw water from it. But that doesn’t sound like what’s going on. It’s another thing if you and he both know his well is as dry as the Sahara but he keeps encouraging you to keep dipping the bucket in, hinting that there might be some water in there some day, somehow, and if you just keep hanging around trying then maybe there’ll be a reward in it for you. What, he thinks it’s funny to watch you keep trying and failing, pulling up disappointing empty bucket after disappointing empty bucket? That’s the work of a user, a manipulator, and an assclown.

      Pandora we would never hold you in disdain! We here — all of us — have been through exactly what you’ve gone through. Some of us took naturally to NC straight away despite the inherent emotional struggle it induces, but many others found it much harder to even start NC, no less stick with it. You can’t even count the number of times our girls here have described returning to the burning house of emotional horrors and actually went inside for another try, only to find out how painful and futile it was. It’s all part of the learning process.

      • Pandora says:

        Grizelda ( and A. and Natashya);
        Thank you. Your words of encouragement are very affirming and just what I needed to hear today.

        I went on fB and saw his wonderful posts about the dance, how much fun it was, etc. I had a good time at my party and hardly gave him a thought, for which I was feeling good. Then this morning- the FB thing which sent me off on a weeping pity- party binge. However, being new to BR, these posts are hitting home. Yes, I want to take my power back. Yes, I am beginning to see that going NC is exactly the way to do that. My goal for the day is to not pick up the phone when he calls and to not call back. Then, tomorrow when I meet with my therapist, discuss whether or not I need to send a simple “do not call me” email or if that will be counterproductive ( which I suspect it might and all of you will likely agree). Grizelda, I so appreciate your obvious empathy and kindness. I believe that, one day, I will be able to look back at this and be very, very grateful he is no longer in my life, and wonder what on earth was I thinking??? Thanks again for the great insights and clarity. I will keep reading.
        A., Prayer is not that I am powerless but that I hold to God’s power to enable me to do that which is hard by human standards, just to clarify.
        Hugs to all. Have a wonderful day/ evening/ whatever it is in your time zone!
        xo Pandora

        • natashya says:

          pandora, i remember that in the first days of NC, i was still snooping online to see if the ex EUM was ‘doing something’. it was an obsession and very unproductive. if i saw him online, i got upset because in my mind he was having a good time chatting with another woman and if he wasn’t, i was upset because he was out on a date. it was a lose-lose situation.

          however, after a few weeks of sometimes looking, sometimes not, i felt the obsession go away. right now (19 days NC on take 2) i don’t even want to ‘check up’ on him. i simply don’t want to know because whatever i see or don’t see, is going to hurt me. i feel a lot more calm about it.

          i actually did send the ex EUM a short email that i was blocking him from skype and chat etc., not out of spite, but because i needed to heal. he is not an AC, just very EU. had he been an AC, i probably would have just blocked him.

          NC is so hard in the beginning. you might feel like you’re going crazy. it’s heavy withdrawal, but i notice that after about 2 weeks it gets better and now that i’m nearing 3 weeks (again), i’m starting to feel somewhat normal again.

          just know that the healing process isn’t linear. you might have a good day, followed by a bad day. it’s all normal, but staying away from the source of the pain will absolutely help you get through it.

          a technique that seems to be working for me as well is ho’oponopono, a hawaiian clearing technique – a variety on prayer. it calms me down when i get upset.

    • Bellaninha says:

      My two bits just reading your story Pandora – he sounds like an absolutely hideously mean guy. How dare he tell you you can’t come to the dance because you’ll be jealous of all the girls he’s dancing with! I’m sorry you had such a bad evening, but he doesn’t sound worthy of your time at all. I’ve been there before with guys like this. There’s actually nothing special about them, but they reel us in. Pain is definitely not love. He has no respect or kindness.
      Don’t beat yourself up about seeing him again last night but the best thing you can do is remember how crappy this has made you feel, and remember that any time you consider making or answering any contact with this JERK! You are soooo much better than him. Xxx

      • Bellaninha says:

        Oh Pandora, I saw your 2nd post, just wanted to say, you WILL get past this and have a better brighter future without him in it. Start as soon as you feel ready (I stayed far too long in a 5 year relationship, so I know you can only leave when YOU are ready) You WILL look back and be glad you made the choice to choose you with this situation. Go gently!
        Ps sorry my first message was a bit ranty! I just got annoyed with his AC attitude and him trying to control you. I am totally over such jerks!
        Peace and love to you. Keep loving yourself first xxxx

        • Pandora says:

          Thank you, Bellahina, for your two bits, they weren’t ranty at all. It was very helpful. I so appreciate the support and insight of you all! This is so effing painful but in the end it will be worth it. I love this site. It is becoming my salvation.
          xo Pandora

    • K says:


      As I read your post, I cringed. I’m SO sorry this happened. I can’t tell you how many times I did something (what I consider to be for me), so stupid.

      I didn’t have awareness at the time. I was projecting my wants, needs, feelings expectations for a relationship onto a man who could not and would not give it to me. One of the things that is so disturbing to me that stood out in your post about these men, is that he knew how you felt. Regardless of whether or not you were projecting, HE. KNEW. and he enjoyed the fact that HE. KNEW you’d also be a willing poison container for all of his pathology, which he tossed into your container without one OUNCE of empathy for you. A man who respects you, or any woman for that matter, would NEVER, EVER do this to ANY woman. One of the things I realized that these men LOVE to do, is to isolate your thinking into believing that YOU are the only one that he uses to dump his emotional toxic waste and are not worthy of more.It is one of their tactics that makes me so damned mad, because it’s purposeful and it’s sadistic. They know that it HURTS and they ENJOY IT because it gives them an ego boost. Having said that, do you really think this man would be capable of treating any other woman better? I mean in a real, genuine sense? If he can do this to you, he will do it to others too. What an asshole, Pandora! A total asshole!

      While he’s an asshole and nothing is going to change that, YOU can stop being his poison container. YOU don’t have to play that role anymore and guess what? When you stop playing, he’s not going to give a rip! He’ll find LOTS of willing victims to be poison containers, but GOOD NEWS! You don’t have to participate!

      I remember being there, pandora. I felt like shit about myself. I was caught up in the torturous mindset of having such low self worth that I really think I was addicted to the pain of his drama and sadism, just as he was addicted to causing it. That makes me feel very sad for what I endured now. I didn’t deserve that, no matter what. You don’t deserve it either, but the only one who can convince you of that is you. Sometimes in order to convince yourself, you’re going to have to make decisions and commitments to yourself that are polar opposite of what may be habitual or of what you’re feeling.

      What I mean by this, is going completely NC and, if you have to, when the withdrawal gets REALLY bad, hanging by your fingernails off the side of your couch, bed or the edge of the universe, ANYTHING but give into that addiction to pain. You’ll think you love him, miss him..nooooo…so your actions will say that you don’t with NC, and eventually the feelings will catch up when you’re out of the FOG.

      Hang in there.

  50. Linda says:

    Hi all,

    Again great posts and great support given all round. I have a question about NC, as you may know by now, there is a child involved in my ex relationship. Dad picks him up every morning to bring him to childminder (grandma) as I have my two teenage daughters to get organised for school and work to get to. So I see him everyday and when he comes to pick our son up for their ‘quality’ time together.

    Recently, the little baba has been ill with acute asthma. We spent the day in hospital yesterday. I told ex how disgusted I was that he didn’t meet me with our sick child when I had to rush him off in the night to be nebulised. And I got an awful reply which started off with ‘f**k you, I’m always there for our son’ (yeah, when he hasn’t something better to do as far as I can see) and ended with ‘hope santa brings you a life for Christmas’. I was devastated. And really need help. So my question is – would Nat’s course be suitable for someone who HAS to have contact.

    I really wanted to retaliate and say ‘just because I haven’t hopped into bed with someone already as he has done, doesn’t mean I don’t have a life, my life is me and my three beautiful children’ … but I stopped myself.

    Kindest regards L x

    • Victorious says:

      Linda, you may not like this…..You seriously do NOT have to get your teenage daughters ready for school ( unless they have special needs) This is BS. You are having WAAAAAY to much contact with the ex. YOu need to sit down and think about ways to MINIMIZE contact. No, you cannot go NC but you can go Low Contact. You may have to make adjustments to your life in order to acheive LC, and some of these changes may not be comfortable, but surely they will be less painful than having to see this AC every day? What are you doing to yourself? Do you secretly think that if you have contact he will suddenly wake up to what a brilliant woman you are and you will get validation/live happily ever after? He may not like having reduced contact but that’s just an added bonus. You need to take charge of this situation.

      • Linda says:

        Thanks Victorious, I would love to have low contact but live in rural Ireland, I mean in the middle of nowhere, hence the need to organise my girls, i.e. lift to the bus etc. (I didn’t mean I had to dress them or anything!! sorry for only giving the bare bones.)

        Also, I work with children with special needs and have to be at work at a certain time to collect them off the bus.

        I really have no choice, the only release I get is when the children are on school hols. So although I am dreading Christmas on one hand, on the other, I won’t have to look at this AC every morning.

        The only contact I have by phone is about our son. We don’t communicate when he comes to collect as he has yet to look me in the eye.

        I am passed yearning for the happy ever after but I am nowhere near passed the hurt, pain and rejection, 9 weeks today, I thought I’d be further on.

        Maybe a self esteem course would be better for me because quiet frankly, like the surrounding countryside at this time of year, it is bleak, to say the least.

        I need to move on, I have to move on. Some days I feel I can cope, others I don’t, today is a particularly bad day.

        Kind regards

        • Victorious says:

          Oh Linda that is tough. Is there any chance you could make different childcare arrangements that wouldn’t involve the ex?I really do feel for you, I don’t know how I would cope if I had to see my ex every day. It has been tough enough without seeing him. It sounds like you are doing well under bloody difficult circumstances. Maybe you just have to accept that this will be a really hard time but that it WILL come to an end, This Too Shall Pass. We never know what is aroud the corner. fate could intervene or at worst, you do know that you will eventually be indifferent to him. I know it is the timeframe that is the killer. wishing you luck.

        • natashya says:

          9 weeks isn’t a lot, linda. also, you can’t put a time frame on healing. as long as you are working on getting better, you are. some days will be bad, some days will be okay. i was hoping to wake up one morning and just be ‘over it’. unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. don’t be so hard on yourself. you’re doing the best you can.

          p.s. nat is offering a self esteem course in january!

  51. miskwa says:

    Thanks all for your strong words. I do and will have to see this dude many times a week due to our jobs, teaching in one similar area. Those times when he chooses to sit next to or when he asked me why I was so down were all public settings where I cannot tell him to eff off. Folks at work already know there’s something radically wrong; they just don’t know what the problem is. I look haggard, tired, and really sad. I still put in 150% on the job, help other colleagues, and am well regarded by students and most colleagues. Part of the issue is that outside of work I am 100% alone all the time. Theres no family ties to fall back on and most local older women friends have left or turned out to be toxic and had to be let go. Most of the few progressives here are 20-25 years younger than I and they are busy doing the family thing. I really want to be married again to someone like my ex whom I was very attracted to and we shared many values as to lifestyle, personal commitment to the envirinment and social justice and had a great intellectual relationship as well. I do well alone in many ways, probably far more self sufficient than most men but yeah, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone or have to “settle” for someone I really do not want which some colleagues think I ought to do. Most of us single women in our college system are in much the same boat; very sucessful, intelligent, caring in a region where the men are basically ski bums, old druggies, marginally employed by choice and often anti education. Welcome to the wild west. This is why AC has gotten away with his actions for so long. If there were actual healthy choices out there, most of us would have avoided him like a disease. Yep, I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about NPD, it does explain why I really feel almost traumatized by the situation and felt soo unwanted, ugly, a fu@#$% up misfit even though many have told me I am beautiful. There may also be an element of racism here based on some things he said about affirmative action. Most of the time if a relationship does not work out, I have no problem walking if not running away. This is weird, different. I will be talking to a counselor come January, dealing with dying dad was kind of a pricey adventure and I will be eating ramen noodles for a while. I am grateful that he probably did say something negative about me to his current victim as she is no longer wanting to get together. Talk about being in the middle of something. I will not risk financial ruin due to this guy but if a really good offer comes in for the house Im outta here. I will not engage him because you all are probably right, he would enjoy knowing how much hurt he has caused. I also, while accepting full blame for responding to his advances must also understand that he is very very good at what he does and has been getting away with this sort of behavior here for over 15 years even while he was married. Thanks for your tough love, eh?

  52. miskwa says:

    Thanks all for your strong words. I do and will have to see this dude many times a week due to our jobs. Those times when he chooses to sit next to or when he asked me why I was so down were all public settings where I cannot tell him to eff off. Folks at work already know there’s something radically wrong; they just don’t know what the problem is. I look haggard, tired, and really sad. I still put in 150% on the job, help other colleagues, and am well regarded by students and most colleagues. Part of the issue is that outside of work I am 100% alone all the time. Theres no family ties to fall back on and most local older women friends have left. The few progressives here are 20-25 years younger than I and they are busy doing the family thing. I really want to be married again to someone like my ex whom I was very attracted to and we shared many values as to lifestyle, personal commitment to the envirinment and social justice and had a great intellectual relationship. I do well alone in many ways, far more self sufficient than most men but yeah, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone or have to “settle” for someone I really do not want which some colleagues think I ought to do. Most of us single women in our college system are in much the same boat; very sucessful, intelligent, caring in a region where the men are basically ski bums.Welcome to the wild west. This is why AC has gotten away with his actions for so long. If there were actual healthy choices out there, most of us would have avoided him like a disease. Yep, I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about NPD, it does explain why I really feel traumatized by the situation an unwanted, ugly, a fu@#$% up misfit though many have told me I am beautiful. There may also be an element of racism here based on things he said about affirmative action. Usually if a relationship does not work out, I have no problem walking if not running away. This is weird, different. I will be talking to a counselor come January, dealing with dying dad was kind of a pricey adventure. I am grateful that he probably did say something negative about me to his current victim as she is no longer wanting to get together. Talk about being in the middle of something. I will not risk financial ruin due to this guy but if a really good offer comes in for the house Im outta here. I will not engage him because you all are probably right, he would enjoy knowing how much hurt he has caused. I also, while accepting full blame for responding to his advances must also understand that he is very very good at what he does and has been getting away with this sort of behavior here for over 15 years even while he was married. Thanks for your tough love, eh?

    • simple pleasures says:

      Miskwa and BR friends,
      I see my ex once a week. NC has been the challenge of my life. For a year now I realize I have kidded myself, I’d say to myself I was NC because I would only answer one word to his weekly validations, (“you look good”..thanks,”how’ve you been?”…fine
      etc). I realized I was grieving for a
      year, when I thought after 6 months I was near “acceptance and release” I now
      know I had just spent that time in denial and bargaining. I spend so much mental energy thinking about the day I see him. What will I wear that day, will I be able to maintain no eye contact, will I successfully avoid, ignore him. And I continued to analyze
      our Noncontact from our weekly noncontact contact. Exhausting! I now get Nat’s point, NC is something you do for you, to move on, you’re not making any statement to him, you are making it to yourself. And here’s the kicker, No Contact is a MENTAL state.
      As Griz pointed out so eloquently, he
      can be sitting on your lap, you can gaze in his eyes, say “hi ex-Narc how’s life with you? read any good books lately?” and be in total No Contact. No contact is in the heart.
      I had been in a many yeared relationship with him in my youth. I broke it off because as I kindly told him, “I can’t take it any more”. No contact then was a piece of cake (ok it took 6 months of living in another country and have no contact for 6 months before seeing him and breaking it off permanently.) Over the years I looked back on all my old beaus and have positive thoughts about all that didn’t work out. But I always thought of him and referred to him as “The agony and the ecstasy” relationship.
      I’d have dreams about him through the years. I would wake up and wonder if he was still alive, if we’d ever cross paths again. And then one day I went to this place and there he was. I thought, wonder how his adult life has been, how has his love life been over the years etc. I thought about him in a friendly dispassionate indifferent way, I thought, what did I ever see in him? I was crazy in my youth. I thought perhaps we could be friends.
      Nope. You’d think I was 22 again. Chatted him up one night and felt a visceral response to him. Broke no contact after 32 years! NEVER recontact. As Nat says, the relationship was broken, it wasn’t meant to be. Well, I won’t sit on his lap
      again thanks to BR. But I still struggle with getting back to No Contact. The mental state that is. I may see him once a week until death we do part.

  53. WildFlower says:

    Hi Everyone,

    Lately these posts from Natalie and responses from the newly awakened have somewhat shaken me out of my stupor. I thought yesterday that if our ACs had put out an ad on who they really were, we’d never have come near them. So, what I’m trying to do is focus on the facts that my AC so kindly revealed and use them as reasons to escape. My AC was a friend who was turning into more and then when I reciprocated, he turned into hurtfully way less- leaving me dazed and confused. So, allow me to share the ad my AC would have written about himself if he had half a brain and an ounce of self-awareness…

    Superficial, Coward, Mind-Game Player Seeking Kind, Understanding Gullible Girl

    If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind relationship that will leave you breathless, your mind spinning, your heart aching, look no further. I can offer you all this and more- I’ll share just enough about me to get you hooked and I’ll get you to reveal who you are so you feel that I care. I’ll find unique little ways to intrigue you, I’ll show you I can be funny, clever, upstanding, sexy, a real catch. There’s no way you can’t be attracted to the gift that I am. Then when you are, I’ll have to pull away. I’ll be sullen. I’ll distance myself. I’ll be hurtful. I’ll abruptly stop whatever intimacy we’ve developed- so, remember those long introspective email dialogues, well, you’ll soon discover they become one-sided and you’ll be talking to yourself because I won’t even respond when I see that you are hurting. I’ll avoid you. I won’t call you. I won’t make myself available any more because what I needed from you I got. I won’t even wish you a Merry Christmas, even though I labeled myself your good friend and I supposedly understand the real reason for the season; I just don’t live it. My gift to you is that I can be the best mind-game partner you’ve ever had. At the end of our interaction, you’ll feel like there must have been something wrong with you; your self-esteem will be eroded; you won’t be able to get me out of your system, even though I’ve been the cause of all this turmoil you never suspected; you’ll be a mess and you won’t know why since I’m really the kind of “catch” that should have been thrown back. So, whadaya say? If you’re interested, give me a call and for a while I’ll respond 😉 “Love”,AC

    • La Pintura Bella says:

      Absolutely BRILLIANT!!! I may print this out and post it in the local paper with his name and phone number! JK…thought I’d momentarily indulge a revenge fantasy. Hee hee.

      • Victorious says:

        Actually LPB I really will do that! Ok, no I won’t but wouldn’t it be HILARIOUS!!! I don’t think I would stop laughing for a month.

    • Grizelda says:

      Wonderful! Truth in advertising. And like they really do place ads, they take on ALL respondents. ALL of ’em, at once. But we’re not supposed to realise that.

    • 539 says:

      Amen WildFlower.


  54. Tinkerbell says:


    What you told Miskwa was absolutely spot on. I did not say all that but I certainly agree and would have. I got thrown off because in my first response I had not realized she was having all this communication with him, but you read it all and did not miss a beat.

    Miskwa? Do you feel you owe him something? YOU DON’T. You owe it to yourself to be free of him. He’s a leech so it’ll take maximum effort. And, puleeze DO NOT give him the sob story about how much he has hurt you. HE DOES NOT CARE. If he did, he’d leave you alone.

  55. Rosie says:

    I don’t think my problem in the past was mistaking pain for love…directly, at least. My father was physically and verbally abusive while my mother made every excuse in the world for him and, basically, blamed me for his abusiveness, even though I was the child and he was the adult.

    Yet, the night before my father’s major surgery, my car broke down on the freeway. I immediately called my parents and my dad immediately came to my aid in the middle of the night while being expected at the hospital around 6:00 AM. Thus, I had (sometimes still do) have no discriminatory sense as I grew up with both extremes in the same person. My problem hasn’t been trying to control or change someone. My problem has been the opposite–being too accepting of someone (Didn’t Natalie write a post about this not that long ago??). Thus, I indirectly associated pain with love in that I was raised to accept the bad with the good. Nobody’s perfect, right? Isn’t “real love” supposed to be unconditional?

    Through therapy and boundary-work I’ve become more discriminatory. In fact, I’ve come to see that treating anyone as an “object of use” is abusive behavior. Whether someone’s trying to use me for sex, a physical punching bag, a verbal and/or spiritual punching bag, a therapist’s armchair, or whatever, I’m being abused because I’m being viewed and treated as less than, as different from, what I am–a living being, a unique part of magnificent creation. It doesn’t matter that this person has “good points” (Yes! That was the post that Natalie wrote!). If I’m being abused, this person needs to go. I’m not an “object of use.

  56. Maya says:

    Hi Natalie and all,i haven’t posted in a while.I still would visit the site and read and I felt happy as I had met someone who was not displaying code red behaviour. However the first 3 months, there was a background of anxiety, we met with online dating. He was quick (4 weeks in) to asking for an exclusive relationship with me, then a week later, clarified he wanted to me to be his GF. I felt he was charming (maybe too much), sexy and we got on but he was psychologically very clever, even early on. Very in tune to how people’s minds work and knowing how to use that. I knew it had been sometime since I had felt attracted to someone and although a part of me felt it was too soon to commit, I said yes. I was worried when I saw he continued to log on to the website we met on daily. I would check externally. I have been cheated on in the past and I know my guard was up and I thought it was a bad sign. I told myself I would give him a few weeks and if he was still doing it, i’d bring it up. I know I don’t trust easily at all, like many; been let down, suspected I’ve been cheated on, met EU men before. He was different. Well I brought it up and he agreed to to delete his account but denied he had contacted girls or been on dates. He made sure he saw my account had not been used since we agreed we were in a relationship but he refused to let me look at his. I dropped it as he agreed to delete. Then I had a niggle. I remember him saying he was on another website, so I decided to check and made a fake account using an email add I only used for online dating in the last few years(yes this may seem a step too far) and indeed I found him there, and it said he was active within 24 hours. I checked daily for a week and he was on it very often so I decided to bring it up as we were now 2 months in and whilst we were seeing more of each other and I was falling for him, i had these anxieties in the background that he was not that serious about me and might still be meeting girls whilst I had really started to like him and would not consider meeting anyone as I had committed. My flatmate said, bring it up and say she had seen him online, so I did and he said he just had not got round to deleting the account but really had no time/ interest in meeting anyone and it was no big deal. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. I told myself I would not check again. My older sister is very protective and was suspicious and said she would check for me as she thought it would be silly not to and I needed to know if he could be trusted. I was so relieved when she said a month later, she could not find his profile there. By 3 months, he started acting more consistent and in short, we fell in love. In months 4-5,i really had few doubts although at times he was a bit controlling. We went away on holiday, met each others parents (first time I have introduced anyone), and i lost my virginity to him (he knew I only wanted to do this if i was in love and with one person only). We had one argument and his reaction scared me as i didn’t do something the way he liked and even though I apologised he went cold and harsh. In the last few months, I forgot about my old email add and the profiles. Then last week out of the blue, I was cooking and was using his phone for timer. Without thinking, I walked off with his phone and he was ‘where are you going with my phone’. I said for timing and he followed me and took it from me. The next thing I know he turns in to ‘i think you still have an online profile somewhere’ and i suddenly felt guilty remembering the ones i didnt delete even if they werent used so I said maybe (as i had joined some sites a while ago but no details in order just to browse) but nothing identifiable to me. He got angry as he said I had made a big deal of his in the start of our relationship. I said he was right but i did not use it and could not remember the password, had not used in months. Then one thing led to another and he demanded I show him my dating email account. I panicked thinking how bad it would look if saw emails from the website which he was on. I thought i am going to to look so bad and wish I had deleted everything ages ago after my doubt had gone. I had not actually used any dating sites to speak to or meet anyone since I was committed to him. I lied as I was scared of me as i couldnt bear to show him as he would see the fake account on the email. In the end I ended up confessing and he looked and saw the emails (a bunch of unread match emails) and he threw me out of his flat. I was hysterical, saying how sorry I was but it was not how it looked. I couldn’t believe what had happened. He said i was a liar and could not be trusted. I have since explained how i panicked, my sister can verify i was not using, and he said he loves me but has been extremely harsh, now treating me badly even though I have apologised. My friends thnk I made a mistake but his reaction is so harsh. This is so painful and i don’t know how much of his punishment I can take….

    • maya says:

      Hi Maya, not only do we have the same name – my story is just like yours. I left my NPD EUM 4 years go, and even after all this time, he is still a recurring nightmare. But I’m hoping one day, I’ll be truly rid of him. I know I’ll get there somehow.

      Hang in there, and get out quick.

    • titi says:

      There were red flags from the beginnig. Please stop feeeling guilty for everything that happens (he manipulated you into feeling guilty, although he was the one who had been spending time at those online dating sites). IT’S NOT YOUR DUTY TO GIVE ANYONE ACCESS TO YOUR PRIVATE STUFF! You were acting like a child caught doing some naughty stuff. He’s not your father, you don’t have to explain yourself to him. In this case, your email – if someone does ask for it, tell him to back off, and leave.

      He removed his ACTIVE online dating profiles only after you caught him. He exhibited some controlling behavior, and he generally behaves like an ass. What a gem, unique, one of his shitty kind.

      On the other side, you just fail to notice your own gut: you didn’t believe him from the start (and it was not only in your imagination, he did something that made you very uncomfortable). You cannot be in a healthy relationship if you don’t trust someone (and he sure doesn’t seem like a trustworthy person). You’re overrationalizing and overthinking it: you didn’t feel good in that relationship, and that’s all you need to know (no, honey, formal stuff, like meeting his parents, going on a vacation together etc. isn’t something that will fill the actual void of not having genuine intimacy with that person).

      I don’t know your relationship history, but since you’re on BR, I assume you have a history of being involved with jackasses, like we all do. Please do understand that this guy is one of those jackasses too. It has been only 4 months, cut the loses, it will hurt a bit, but you will be fine, trust me.

      Take the two following sentences as my yelling: YOU DON’T DESERVE TO BE PUNISHED, FOR GOD’S SAKE!!! THIS KIND OF BEHAVIOR IS EXTREMELY PATHOLOGICAL! Compare this shitty pattern of behavior with your parents’ behavior. Did they punish you often, did you feel you deserved to be punished? And do yourself a favor and distance from those people who you consider friends, and who obviously don’t support you.

      • Allison says:

        I agree with Titi!

        This guys is bad news! He has shown you he is not trustworthy!

        The fact that he was still active after you you were exclusive is a big problem. Hon, I think you should of bailed after you found that he was still active online, the first time. Huge red flag!

        This man has shown you who he is: lier, manipulative, controlling and untrustworthy. It is time for you to see this, and save yourself a future of deceit and mistrust.

        Time to take care of you, and get away from this creep! Don’t waste another precious 4 months of your life!

    • natashya says:

      maya, this guy is a manipulating AC. i want to bet that he actually still has online profiles still on the go. what he is giving you is PAIN. this isn’t love. i’m sorry this happened to you.

      you don’t need to take his punishment. EVER. block him from everything, go NC and give yourself time to heal.

    • Victorious says:

      Maya he sounds like a narcissist (google it) This is absolute projection. You are lucky to have escaped this man. Please whatever you do, do not go back for more abuse. He will be counting on the fact that you are in what Nat calls The justifying zone, because you lost your virginity to him. He will be waiting for your tearful apologies and he will suck you back in and be even MORE CRUEL than before. Please run screaming from this horrible man. Trust in your gut feelings. He is not who you thought he was. Flush, and move on. It sounds like you have a good support network so rely on them and stay NC from him.

    • Sm says:

      Maya you say you walked off with his phone? I’m thinking he had some texts or emails he didn’t want you to see and it escalated into this argument where you end up being the ‘guilty’ one. These other people are right, he was bad news from the beginning. I know it’s difficult but please see him for what he is and stop blaming yourself, you shouldn’t have had to be sneakily investigating him. And your suspicions were correct, he was still online. Your only mistake was staying with him after you discovered this.

    • Snowboard says:

      Hey Maya,

      Be glad he is gone. This guy sounds seriously dangerous. I don’t think what you did was that bad; yes, it revealed a lack of trust on your part, but I think most people would have done the same thing if they knew their partner was on a dating website. As women, most of us are quick to blame ourselves when a relationship ends, no matter *what* the reason. Here, this guy is exploiting that natural predilection to make you feel even worse. I suspect he will probably want to get back together with you, but *do* not take him back, as you will be in a very dangerous relationship, where you know if you make any mistakes, there will be this sort of heavy-handed retribution. I consider this sort of extreme severity a serious red flag.

  57. Lacy says:

    Allison he is 31 and I’m convinced he lives with a woman although he says he doesn’t. He continues to call and text me everyday 2 or call and come around 1 or 2 a week.I need all the prayer I can get to go thru with no contact.

    • Allison says:


      It’s a bad situation, which will only get worse.

      You know there is no future with this man, as it sounds like he has nothing to offer in any area of his life. He is a loser!

      The thing that allowed me to go NC, was to to examine what I was getting from my ex. When I was honest with myself, and recognized it was mainly drama and pain, I knew I had to move on. I had to be honest with myself. There was no future!

      It’s time to remove yourself from this cycle of drama, and cut this guy loose. The payoff is tremendous, and will positively impact all areas of your life.

      It’s up to you! There was life before this man!

  58. miskwa says:

    I don’t feel I owe him jack @#$%. If anything he owes me, a huge apology. Apart from avoiding making a scene during a meeting trying to get away from him, I avoid him entirely including a complete ban on entering the building he works in. The one time he showed up at my house this fall, it was unannounced, I was completely floored. I understand, he doesn’t give a flying for me and may well be glad if he knew seeing/talking to him ruins the rest of my day. I was something to use for attention.

  59. GettingBetter says:

    Nat, if you don’t get yourself a talk show so I can get healed at least 5 times a week! This very topic has been on my mind nonstop for the past 5 days when not 1, but 2 men have entered my romantic life: one, an EUM who disappeared without warning last January and the other, a co-worker who suddenly decided after a year of knowing each other that I had passed his many tests and I was worthy of attention. Red flags from both from Day 1. I had already suffered pain with one; weeks of wondering what I had said and/or done to make him leave me. The other had already let me know his standards in the woman he wanted to date, showing me the mountain of self-doubt in front of me that I would have to climb. After days of thinking and after reading this, I’ve made my decision: the sexy, exciting rogue who stole my heart and dumped me or the successful, mature older man who so wants to help me fix myself? And the winner is: me, Tina. The smart, sometime goofy girl that’s Getting Better. Thanks, Nat.

  60. grace says:

    You don,t trust each other and without trust there can be no relationship. He is manipulative and controlling. you have been lying and playing games. This is not retrievable. It,s also not a long relationship. I think it best to walk away and not subject yourself to any more drama.
    My boyfriend has a lot of female friends. At first I was uncomfortable with it and he would, of his own accord and not because of me, refer to them as “they” rather than “she”. My baggage is a playa ex, his a jealous ex (she would get mad about him playing music with women in the church band ) Now, though, I don,t mind his female friends and he refers to them freely. We grew to trust each other. We were open and honest. We didnt sneak about, gossip or insult each other.
    Every relationship has etuff that need overcoming and always will. How you overcome that as a couple says more about the relationship,s survivabilty than sex, drama and pain. You don,t have a viable relationship. It,s not down to your mistake or his mistake particularly. It all sounds like a big screw up which you don,t need.

  61. Jackie329 says:

    @Tinkerbell, @Allison, @Grizelda, @tired :

    Thank you for reading my story and for your comments. It helps enormously to hear from people who have been through a similar thing and actually UNDERSTAND what it is like.

    You are SO right – he is just not that special and this guy IS NOT MY FRIEND! Unfortunately I have been involved in this for so long that it is incredibly difficult to change my thought patterns and of always putting him first.

    I am now 9 days into NC and I am doing ok – better than I would be if I had not found this site and if I had not received your support. I know that if I can get through the Christmas holidays and maintain NC, I think I will be over the worst. I have already returned the gift that I had bought him for Christmas and I have deleted all texts, emails, instant messages. I have made a point of accepting every invitation from friends to socialize and to make sure that I am not alone and moping because that is when I find myself tempted to break NC.

    What is bugging me the most right now is why do I care so much what he thinks of me? Why does it matter so much whether or not he misses me? It really kills me and I hate that I still feel I need this validation and I am confused as to why this is so important to me.

  62. sushi says:

    You walked off with his phone…..and that made him accuse YOU of having online accounts??? WTF? Sounds like he may have something to hide, like an online profile or women he met there.
    Seeing that you had to practically force him to come off the dating website, and then found him on another…where he had no interest or time for it but was active often….checked that you were not active on your account but wouldn`t let you see his…this man is full of BS, he is a liar, possibly cheater, is controlling and has an anger problem. First listen to your gut and FLUSH him, and then stop feeling guilty for mistrusting him, because he cannot be trusted. Don`t let him mess with your head.

    • sushi says:

      Maya, he is punishing you like this to divert your attention from him and what he is doing. My ex put me through this mill so many times, you end up so confused you don`t even know what it is you are thinking. They behave badly, you pay for it. I need to add “a manipulator” to his list of “qualities”.
      Stop looking at your mistakes Maya and concentrate on his.

      • Grizelda says:

        Agreed, Sushi — textbook ‘projection’, his reaction to her having his phone in her hands. He projected his still being on dating sites and/or cheating onto her. Ugly stuff. And sadly pointing towards personality-disorderish behaviour.

  63. miskwa says:

    Thanks Lilly
    I have forgiven many people in my life but I do believe there are some that can never be forgiven and my grad advisor is one. I wasn’t the first life he almost destroyed; one of the huge failings of the tenure system is that it is nearly impossible to fire such people. The car thing just shows how much emotional attachment there is to an industry that doesn’t even exist there anymore. I see the same thing here; adulation of mining and acid producing mine waste by folks that never mined themselves. I am very careful about who I share opinions with around here. I do wish I could have my “real” life back.

    • dancingqueen says:

      Hey Miskwa,

      Just hang in there. I totally understand what it is like being the only progressive in the middle of nowhere; I once lived in a foreign country for two years in the mountains. I had no ability to drive, there was only 6000 people there, they regarded Americans as fat, stupid, ultra-religious Republicans, and even though I was a slim, atheist, vegetarian, Democrat I was suspect for having been born in the States. I had very few dating prospects and all the married men hit on me thinking that, because I was American, I was an easy target; it honestly sucked and moreso because I actually liked the country’s culture and enjoyed how beautiful and quaint the town was….it will get better. Hand in there, sell that house, and get back to civilization!:)

  64. Meerkat says:

    Dear Natalie – Thank you so much for this site – it has helped restore my balance on a number of occasions. This post really resonates with me as I sit here tonight typing this after my AC/EUM has told me he is “sort of seeing someone else”. Our relationship started 2 years ago after a long period of crushing on my part. He said at the start that he did not want a relationship (big red flag) but of course I thought that would change. Initially we were good as he was blowing hot and I was totally loved up, but doing the distance thing (we lived 8 hrs apart), seeing each other around twice a month and talking on the phone every night. The relationship then became a cycle of fear and drama as I looked forward to talking to him every night and also being supportive (and taking a backseat) in relation to his family (he is divorced but referred to his ex as his wife, even in front of other people when I was with him) and work issues. At times I compromised my values and suppressed my feelings to please him and in order to not rock the boat. I also helped him with various tasks in order to be the “good girlfriend” but once when I voiced my feelings regarding him actually doing this, was made to feel bad. Basically it was all about him and what he wanted to do on his terms –plans we discussed never eventuated (future faking) and if I indicated that I felt neglected then he apologized and always promised to pay me more attention – this was never sustained. Basically if I had needs then I was made to feel bad, more so if I acted on these – I was told that we were not emotionally “in sync” but physically we were well matched. He even admitted that he wanted a secretary, helper and someone to sleep with him and I fitted the bill. He did not do the small stuff and forgot my birthday – some people may not think it is important but it was to me. This year I moved to where he was living to be with him but after an initial period of happiness he felt that I hovered around him and became uncomfortable (I was not working and it was a small apartment)– the more I tried, the worse I felt and I eventually moved back to the city and got my old job back. This upset me greatly as I had come back to be with him and now he did not want me around. But we still kept in touch but after a particularly cool response to a proposed visit I called time. I did NC for around 4 days before I caved and called to try and get some answers (which of course you never really do) and I eventually went and spent a weekend with him before I left to return to my home country (we have been apart for most of this year). I am about to take up another job in a different country as I could see the futility in the relationship and which prevents me from falling back into the same old pattern with him. But I never completely lost my feelings for him and stayed in touch –recently he said he missed me and spoke in intimate terms of us being together. Previously I had told him that it was not good for me to sleep with him and also that I need to look for someone who wanted to be with me (in the hope that he would put his hand up) – this annoyed him and he said he would find someone else as well – not thinking he would do this so quickly. He continued to say he was not the right person for me and apologized for this but still wanted to sleep with me. I was prepared to settle for this and today was discussing when I would visit as I need to book the ticket when he came out with the news that he was going out to meet with other people and had to move on – this was 2 weeks after he was telling me that he missed me and wanted me. When questioned he said he said that he did not mean for it to happen and then started going on about how he could not sleep with me because he had to respect this new person. I then lost it and started demanding that he see me and that I would come and see him if he didn’t – he then started to panic and said that he would see me but could not sleep with me. When I asked him if he had every had any feelings for me he said that he initially felt that I was the one but emotionally we were not right and that he was still attracted to me physically. He then implied if the other person did not work out then we may get back together – I felt humiliated but then made it worse by demanding that he sleep with me. Having someone that wants you can be very intoxicating and when that goes then the fear is overwhelming. I suppose that I became an EUF in the process as I looked at jobs away from him or said I would go travelling for 6 months – it was like “I can survive without you” but in reality I was just hoping that he would say the words I wanted to hear but he would never say– the illusion if you like.
    It has been hard work with a lot of pain and anxiety and I feel sad when I see other couples enjoying being together. I am also fearful of being on my own again in a new place, with no support network. The biggest fear is not having the connection with him (he wants to stay friends but this is really not possible now) and that he will find happiness with this person and want to change for them. I know that this is unlikely but it still is hard to overcome thinking these thoughts. I am just so tired of thinking, waiting and analyzing every little thing and hope I can finally leave this toxic situation , stop beating myself up, and meet someone who cares, respects and loves me.

    • runnergirl says:

      Oh Meerkat,

      First, a giant hug. You sound like you are in the throws of the worst kind of hurt and pain. My thoughts are with you. He is “sort of seeing someone else” sounds a bit like “sort of being pregnant” or “sort of being married”. It sounds like he’s got the classic AC lines down. Try really hard not to beat yourself up. I’ve done some pretty humiliating things in my desperation to get a crumb from that ‘special person’. I can’t imagine what it would be like to get a job in another country with no support network. It may be just the ticket out of the pain you are experiencing and you have BR…I’ve found Natalie and the BR community to be the best support network.
      BTW, I was out last night and couldn’t help but notice all the folks who seemed to be enjoying one another. I caught myself wishing I was out with him and felt sad because it will never be.
      “The biggest fear is not having the connection with him…” In Natalie’s books she talks about the fear of abandonment which has helped me. He can’t abandon you. You CAN leave the toxic situation. You abandon yourself by staying in the pain-drama-cycle. Hope you will continue to post as you move into a wonderful new phase, new job, and new country.

      • Meerkat says:

        Hi runnergirl – thank you so much for your kind words of support. Yes, the hurt and pain is awful but I am seeing someone to talk through things as well. I have been reading BR for while to try and make sense of what was going on with this man and why. For my own health and sanity I need to walk on and leave him behind to continue on his selfish and ultimately destructive ways. It won’t be easy but there is no other way. I will continue to post when I can.

    • Victorious says:

      Wow Meerkat he sounds just lovely! Keepreading all of Nats posts, there is so much great information on them. In particular, you need to read the ones about why you CANNOT be his friend. No, really, you can’t. Sorry. Also the ones about how they DO NOT change and the “new” victim is just going to get the same old same old. Go no contact with him. Do not answer his calls or texts. The only reason he wants to keep you on the back burner is because it is nice for him to think you still want him. He still doesn’t want you though.I know it sucks but you are worth more than this treatment. You have taught him he can give you any old crumbs and you will stick around. Time to show him your tail and disappear. Good Luck.

      • Meerkat says:

        Hi Victorious – my friend who is also a BR reader has also said what you are saying. Unfortunately he can be a lovely guy but also has this not so lovely side to him. I know I have enabled his behaviour by not following through when I tried to end it before I know now it is not possible to be his friend. Yes, he does not want me, never has – only for sex and helping him out. As he said in one of his messages – I am a friend that he wants to keep but then friends don’t treat each other they way he has treated me.

    • La Pintura Bella says:


      I’m so glad you found BR. This place is going to do wonders for you. You’ll feel supported and understood and learn everything you need to never be involved with or treated like trash by people like your ex ever again.

      “He even admitted that he wanted a secretary, helper and someone to sleep with him and I fitted the bill.”

      I read this line in your comments and just about died. It all just boils down to this doesn’t it? If this statement doesn’t show us that THIS is the true, hateful thinking these ACs possess, I don’t know what will!

      Meerkat, I’m truly grateful to your ex AC. His uttering the truth of his feelings about women and relationships just blew away any and all fantasy thinking I’ll ever engage in again. I’m printing that statement out and will definitely be using it as a litmus test of any future suitor’s views.

      • Meerkat says:

        Thank you La Pintura Bella for your support, however I am not grateful to him – he has really messed with my mind with his misogynistic ways. The pain and negativity he has instilled in me will take a while to work through.

        • La Pintura Bella says:

          Totally understand. I wouldn’t be grateful either if I was the person this statement was directed towards. I also was not implying YOU should be grateful to the SOB in any way.

          For ME, the fact that he actually said what he said to you truly summed up the AC’s real thinking about women and relationships. It is a HUGE thing to keep in mind when finding out about a man’s character and values. I was really astonished to read that statement…since it really did cut right to the heart of the matter.

          • Meerkat says:

            Yes, the only thing I am grateful for was the close physical relationship which I miss very much.I thought what we had was special but obviously not that special for him. Even though he laughed when he said the maid, helper, bedmate thing he meant it as this what would give him the greatest advantage and comfort.

    • deedeeinamsterdam says:

      Oh Meerkat, how my heart bleeds for your situation, as I recognise it so well. I promise you will do just fine on your own, and thank God you got out.
      I have had the same “im not the right person”. I still feel to this day that I have lost something valuable, although it was just an impression.
      I have had the same dragging me along in a toxic so called friendship while sleeping together (getting worse every time…he ended up even stating that the sex is not even so good anymore…)
      I have also done the obsessing. Reread your post. Its truly chaotic and I remember exactly posting here on BR in the exact same way. HOWEVER, you are now in the worst place, and the only way is up. It will get better!!
      I have had the same lack of support from friends. All my friends there were also his and there was noone I could go out with and get my mind off the situation. HOWEVER I also moved out of that country in 3 weeks and that was the best thing that could have ever happened to me even though I felt extremely lonely. New setting means new start. Makes the process shorter than staying in the same city with common friends and histoy.
      Hold your head up high. Whatever humiliation you think you have put yourself through, you must accept and forgive yourself. Make sure you dont blame yourself anymore. The simple fact that you are out should give you back at least 5 points of self esteem to build it all back!! Be proud cause you have done yourself the biggest favor and stay in NO CONTACT. There is a certain strenght that comes across from a woman who simply wont even talk to you anymore, it speaks volumes and it will sting him, while allowing you to recover from this confusion and pain. Keep posting, stay with us :)

      • Meerkat says:

        Hi deedee – thank you for your support. I also had the “it’s not you, it’s me” thing as well. I think I ended up so confused in the end that I did not know fiction from reality. Yes, you are right, I am now in the worst place but am getting my appetite back but bouts of nausea continue. I also took steps to see a professional as I was evaluated as being significantly depressed with moderate stress. Luckily I am at home and have good support from a few friends which really helps. I also find writing to be really helpful – I actually kept some notes when things were tough previously and saw that I was very negative about myself and really beat myself up. Yes, I do need to be more forgiving of myself and also put strategies in place the will better protect me in the future. The only blame I place on myself is that I did not have the guts to stay away when I called time a few months back. The humiliation I feel is that he reeled me back in and then when he had lined up another option gave me the moving on speech. When we were together he did not like going out so that bites too. I have a number of insecurities that have been added to through my time with him.

        • deedeeinamsterdam says:

          The nausea! Incredible thing you mention it. I had it for weeks. Not actually vomiting but the stomach feeling that im about to. Its also what addicts in withdrawal experience. Thats how bad we fall for these ACs and situations and its incredibly difficult to survive it. I remember having images in my head of myself crawling or on my knees, unable to move, just wynting to collapse. It wasnt the reality though, it was just in my head, how I fel emotionally. On the outside though, I put on the best show of my life. Wore the prettiest things, went to work, attended the parties and events I was supposed to be at with a huge smile (fake, but hey, they dont know). I truly believe that while you are recovering, nursing your heart with your closes friends and crying daily as it is the case for many of us at that stage, its important also to remember that some things cannot be neglected. You must show up and perform, and not let your boss or random strangers witness your tragedy. Its yours only, and it heals easier and faster when you dont have to face an angry boss, neglected kids or just strangers who feel sorry for you. It doesnt help. One day you will thank yourself and your body for this ability to disimulate a bit. Strangers dont really get how serious the problem is, or dont care or worse, subconciously enjoy the the little soap opera on show. Dont give it to them :)) I did initially, until I realised it hurts just to have the guy mentioned and its sending out the wrong image about me. I am not a WEAK, CRYING, DESPERATE woman all the time, it was only that particular terrible time, but it passed and its not ME.

          • deedeeinamsterdam says:

            I just realised theres a lot of “”musts there. I apologise for them, there is nothing that ^you must do :) it was just me sharing a thought thats all :)

            • Meerkat says:

              Hi deedee, I am lucky in that I am in between jobs at the moment so can choose if I want to socialise or not. I am just keeping to myself and have the support of a very good friend which is a great help. I am feeling better now but still have sleep issues. Yes, I find it hard to even say or hear his name and generally just feel very sad and down.He actually came on line the other day to “just say hello” – how ignorant or stupid does a person have to be? I was annoyed that he would think that I would be over what he did and life would carry on as normal. I have now blocked him so he cannot just drop in when he feels like it – he gave up that right a week ago.

  65. Little Star says:

    Natalie after changing my phone number, I do not have any drama in my life. Finally, your words of wisdom started to sink in… I didn’t want to drag my two ACs to 2013, I rather be happy by myself than miserable with one of them:) I love you Natalie, I love BR!

    • Victorious says:

      Well done Little Star!!

    • swissmiss says:

      Little Star – Me, too! Maybe the holidays are a time for us to re-evaluate, or a key turning point, or a sense of a line being drawn in the sand. Who knows? When the MM called yet again, after weeks of me being NC, to convince me what paradise it would be if only he could get away from his abusive wife, if only his teenage daughter was settled, if only, if only. Before, I could sit quietly and listen to this juvenalia, letting it sail by me, Yesterday? No. Never again. It wouldn’t be paradise. It would be decades of pain. He is a one-man breeding ground for negativity. I am never putting my head on that sick pillow again. Little Star–we did it! Where did all that grieving go?! Love you Nat.

      • Victorious says:

        Well done Swiss Miss. However, to truly be NC you cannot answer their calls so block his number for calls and texts. Block his email, his facebook, everything you can think of. Then you can get on with your happy lovely life without the fool.

        • swissmiss says:

          Tx, Victorious, Thanks for your support. I agree. I blocked everything two weeks ago and felt real empowerment for the very first time. Let’s (not) do this on MY TERMS, buddy boy! No more rescuer, no more victim, no more persecutor. I am off the merry-go-round. Unfortunately, he can access hundreds of phones at work, all with different numbers. I didn’t even think before picking up. I am now far more vigilant, for sure!

      • Little Star says:

        @Victorious thank you, your support means a lot to me:)

        @Swissmiss, glad that you decided to rid off your MM, yes these men always find excuses!!! We cannot wait any longer! At least your AC is married, but mine is divorced! The last straw was when he announced that he is going to celebrate Christmas and New Year abroad:) SO I was good enough for f””” but not good enough to be taken to holiday!!! HE didn’t mentioned anything about it before, not a word BUT he arranged everything in ADVANCE!!! When I asked him who is going with him, he said his nephew! Not only he ignored me on his Birthday, he also didn’t give a shit about spending Christmas/New Year with me…I was crying for a day, and after reading Natalie’s posts/comments here, I realised I cant be his DUSTBIN anymore, I am a PERSON, who needs love and care…IF I am not going to love myself, who will???

        • swissmss says:

          Little Star- So sorry you are experiencing this, but we both know it’s for the best! I have followed your story, and there have been plenty of ‘less than’ moments. Now you are ‘less than’ the nephew. I noticed, on my own journey, that whenever I became hypnotized by the MM, the universe would make something really painful happen, that would practically light up the sky with fireworks and illuminate who he really was. I remember the day we spent hours in bed, then drove down the coast to dance in the moonlite–where he told me he and his wife were going to counseling to save their marriage!! This is exactly what has happened to you. The universe has just given you an amazing gift, practically a neon sign that says HALT! You now see how selfish and thoughtless this man is. Stay NC!!

          • Little Star says:

            Thank you so much for your words of encouragement!!! Both ACs cant reach me, I changed my number:) I hope NC will a bit easy for me, no way I will contact them from my new number, this time I will stay stong! You too, Swissmiss stay strong we can do it:) Lets have a free of ACs life?! xxx

  66. Pandora says:

    I love you all!!! Thank you for the words of advice, empathy, support and encouragement. Pain has made you all much wiser. I am so proud of myself- I did not return his call today. I am getting myself a nice cup of tea and heading for bed.
    God Bless. I am praying for all of you!

  67. La Pintura Bella says:

    “You think that familiar ‘butterfly’ feeling that you get around these people is excitement and passion when in actual fact, when you have a habit of being with the same poor partners, it’s familiar fear.”


    I have been thinking about this particular point for several days now. THIS is my biggest problem. I have realized that every guy I’ve had a relationship with has on one level or another reminded me of my narc father. Daddy issues? Oh yeah. I have also had this exact feeling in the past two relationships very early on. Literally thinking to myself, “This is feeling all too familiar.”

    For me, I am now consciously taking this feeling NOT as excitement and passion, but as an early warning signal screaming “Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!” I’m convinced it is my sub-conscious recognizing the particular person as the same guy, different package. THIS is the first and biggest red flag I need to heed ASAP.

    I’m not afraid of being alone or of never meeting anyone else. I AM VERY afraid of these repetitive bad, destructive, damaging one-sided relationshit’s that do not really exist. And I really do believe now my gut has been trying to warn me the entire time.

    So from now on, if I get that “butterflies in the stomach” feeling, I will be stepping waaay back and taking a really hard look. I will slow my roll a lot in order to make sure this isn’t another EUM/AC…cuz I WILL NOT ENGAGE IN THESE CRAP SCENARIOS EVER AGAIN!

    I get it that I’ve literally been conditioned to confuse pain with love. Being raised by a narc does that to you…its all you’ve ever known, it’s my normal. Not anymore.

    I now see the truth behind the illusion. I now see that my love has been unconditional while daddy’s has been nothing BUT conditional. And I’ve replicated that pattern with the man-boys in my life…thinking this was how it is. I’ve never had a relationship that wasn’t like this, so I didn’t have anything tangible to compare it to. I finally got wise. Never again!!!

    I finally get it that I’m the strong one. I’m NOT the one who has to play games with people. I’m not the one who has to make someone else feel like crap about themselves in order for me to feel good about myself. I’m not the one who lies and cheats and has to have a string of admirers to prove I’m desirable. However, I have been making these guys more important than myself; I have been trying to be perfect in order to prove my worth. I have been allowing these weak-willed grown children to convince me that I’m the problem. WRONG!

    It is MY turn to find the healthy, peaceful, contented, fulfilling love I deserve. I refuse to settle for anything less and I refuse to let another person on this planet convince me I am less than!

    So while I plan for my healthier life in 2013, I want to thank you ladies and gents for sharing your experiences, your wisdom and your inspiring discoveries in self-growth. I’m honored to be walking with you all and I know we are all going to be beyond amazing when we’re done!

    Natalie, I hope you realize what an absolute angel on earth you truly are. Your blog has helped me sort out and make sense of things I was very close to understanding but just couldn’t seem to connect with correctly. The past few months reading this blog and the comments of my fellow readers has done more for me than the last few years on soul-searching, introspection and counseling combined. I, for one, am forever grateful!

    • Lizzy says:

      Hear hear LPB – love this comment, and totally relate, especially to this bit: ‘I have been making these guys more important than myself; I have been trying to be perfect in order to prove my worth. I have been allowing these weak-willed grown children to convince me that I’m the problem. WRONG!’ Onwards and upwards in 2013 eh! x

    • Bob72 says:

      Bravo LPB… you actually made me just feel better reading you new found power!! :) Everyone on here deserves better than what they had before – you I know you all will find it or let it come to you if you just use the tools you learned here.

      Everyone has hurt, I would say most have gotten over it somehow some way… but so many poor souls are destined to repeat it over and over and over :( .. Me too, I see that now. This is a chance for change, to finally find our individual strengths and wake up… seems like you all are. Gives me alot of heart even when Im not feeling good about things, thanks :)

  68. runnergirl says:

    Hey Ladies,

    I have a pain story that relates to the “ability” to tolerate intolerable levels of pain. While in the deep throws of the suffering OW, I cracked a tooth which became severely infected by the time I made it to the dentist. The dentist described the infection and the pain I should have felt as a 10 plus on a scale of 10. I actually felt a twinge and described it a little uncomfortable, maybe a 2. This wasn’t the first time I had teeth issues. There was a long history of having big dental problems I didn’t feel. Apparently, physically, I’m “asymptomatic”. The worst kind of patients to treat, according to my dentist. Once she pointed it out, I started noticing little things like DYI projects where I’d fall or get scraped and not feel a thing. One summer, putting BBQ together, I scraped my elbow against the stucco and didn’t notice until I was in the shower and half my elbow was missing. I also started noticing, I also grab hot things off the BBQ or out of the oven without a mitt.
    My dentist told me that if I feel the slightest twinge, I am to call her immediately. She even gave me her cell number. I’ve been applying my dentist’s advice to my dental issues as well as any physical aliments. Of course, since the mind and the body are inextricably connected, Natalie’s advice with regards to emotional pain fits perfectly in my case. I didn’t even realize what I was experiencing was severe emotional pain. Now, if I feel the slightest twinge, I know to run.
    I’ve become much more conscious of physical pain (or twinges) as well as discomfort in general. It’s no wonder I kept putting my hand back into the fire. I didn’t realize I was getting burned.

    PS. I’ve stopped grabbing things off the BBQ or out of the oven without a mitt, although it takes a conscious thought.

    PPS. This is NOT an excuse for intolerable lame behavior on my part. It takes a conscious thought.

    • snowboard says:

      Wow, being asymptomatic seems very dangerous!!! You don’t have the internal monitor of pain to alert you when there is a problem. Be careful, runnergirl.

      I really appreciate the analogy though, to we who have had our emotional boundaries torn down, and thus don’t register a ‘violation’ when someone intrudes on us.

      I can say this has been a very disappointing year for me with men. I have just fallen into a lot of terrible habits I thought I left behind me. In the spring, there was AC#3.

      Now, there is the guy I NC-ed over the summer, who I have started hanging out with again on a regular basis (just as “friends”), and I’m now 100% sure is an EUM jerk, toying with a whole string of different girls. And yet I’m dealing with an intense love/hate obsession with him that is beginning to look a lot like how I used to obsess about guys in the past. I also ended up passively going along with that guy who forced me to kiss him earlier in the semester spending the night at my house over the weekend. I’m feeling just incredibly tired, and hopeless about the situation. It’s tiring to feel like you have made a lot of progress, and then find yourself backstepping.

      I bought a notebook, and am now going to be tracking my behavior. I have two main goals:

      (1) No alcohol for 3 months.
      (2) No going out with people in my department on Friday or Saturday nights. (That is where I always see the guy.)

      • runnergirl says:

        Hey Snowboard,
        The upside to what you are feeling is that you are feeling. You are correct when you said being asymptomatic is dangerous. It is. Keep paying attention to what you are feeling. I’m not sure it is “backstepping”, although I know that tired feeling. Maybe the universe is giving you another opportunity? Make a conscious effort to put your oven mitts on and don’t grab anything out of the fire bare handed. It’s not hopeless. I find in my case, it is time consuming to to have to think about things that seem to be second nature for some folks and that can be tiring. However, I’m starting to automatically grab the oven mitt, mostly.
        Stick to your goals. Natalie’s analogy of the exMM being like a cockroach after a nuclear bomb helps me. Think of them like cockroaches. That will make you run screaming into the night.
        Or you can think of them like a sticky buger!

        • Snowboard says:

          Thanks for the optimistic POV, Runnergirl! My New Year’s Resolution is to turn this situation around. I keep thinking how lucky I am to have access to Natalie’s brilliant mind and thus *understand* the problem, but then it’s up to me to do the difficult legwork, and I’ve been unfortunately slacking off on the job. My friends/family keep saying I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, that I should go out with the people in my department if I want to, etc. But I know myself, and this isn’t what I really want for myself, at all. Plus, I now have plenty of friends in another department, and they are genuinely wonderful (reliable, honest, supportive, etc.), so I should be using my time to get closer to them anyway. :)

    • Learner says:

      I love your physical/emotional tolerating usually-intolerable pain story. It seems to apply to our ability to be involved with these EUM’s for years on end! Our hearts and brains become anesthetized by the AC’s special cocktail of “Lie – docaine” (lies and deceit) with a sizable dose of “Morph-ine” (morphing into different forms as he sees fit to manipulate us). We need to develop a healthy allergy to “Code-eine” (code red and amber behaviour) STAT!!!

  69. That Girl says:

    Hi ladies
    Wanted to just air my reaction to this post, as what I’m wondering is whether I’m finding it hard atm exactly because my current possible romantic situation is very low on drama- which is in contrast for both of us to our last relationships.

    He is a good friend whom I even shared a house with for a bit, and lives now with one of my best female friends. We kissed a couple of times but decided not to go any further and just remain friends, as he is still fairly recently out of his relationship (mine is way past now, tho it continues to affect me in certain ways). I suppose this is a red flag though isn’t it!

    After this, we ended up kissing again, and I’m now feeling a bit confused as I feel unexpectedly very attracted to him plus I know through my friend that he is interested/ likes me, and yet both of us seem to be holding back a bit. Partly I don’t know if I’m just going for him as a ‘safe’ option, as I know him and his history well, or if I should just give it a try and see where it goes- but I feel like I wouldn’t want to mess him around and of course there’s no way of knowing in advance if it will work out.

    Also despite well over a year of being single and having a fantastic time of it, I haven’t got into anything with anyone and guess on some level I’m still scared that relationships mean hassle, entrapment and worse. But in many other ways I feel ready to have someone in my life and he is a kind, thoughtful and caring person.

    Or maybe I am actually making this all into a minor drama when the truth is it’s looking like a FWB benefits situation without any of the supposed benefits- as there is no way I’m jumping in the sack! But if one of us doesn’t take the leap and suggest we try for it to further then I suppose for whatever reason, there isn’t enough desire from either of us for it to actually develop. In which case i should just opt out from now and spare myself the hassle!

    Sorry, I guess I’m just rambling! Just having a ‘confused’ moment :) thanks for bearing with me.

  70. Bob72 says:

    Hi all.. still reading here almost daily and thought I would check in with a post since this was a good article for me too. I really can identify with the butterflies being fear thing – I just took inventory this morning and all of the really excruciating relationships (the ones I did not end but were ended by the other party), were all pretty much the same “type” of person. Almost to a T with the last two big ones. and I had the butterflies for all of them.

    My latest broken relationship was with a “party girl” of sorts who decided she wanted to try to settle down. I get that now. She genuinely thought she was in love with me and I was it for her, but she was also very emotionally unavailable and when it came down to having to have intimacy (not sex, we were doing that from the get go pretty much, closeness on a different non honeymoon stage level) she freaked out and pushed me away then said she “couldn’t do this anymore.” I felt the butterflies for her, and thought I was in love too and jumped in with both feet – ignoring or rationalizing all the things that made me uncomfortable about her and us. My relationship before this one that ended badly for me – also with a “party girl.” She was totally not ready for anything but a casual relationship and I tried to go into saviour mode, but she didn’t want to be saved or settle down. She ended up going back to her husband (they were separated at the time), but not after ripping me to shreds and having sex with alot of different guys while feeding me crumbs. I let it tear me down until I couldn’t take anymore and left her alone and found someone else… who was also a party girl lol.

    I know from stories about my mom that she was a party girl too… had me when she was 16, and had no time for me or my sister which is why my dad took us and tried to raise us alone. I met me mom again when I was 16 and she got in contact with me and talked me into coming to live with her. I then got to see for myself that she was more concerned about herself and her life and doing what she wanted to do than taking care of kids. I don’t hate her at all, and have forgiven her for anything she may have done to me, and honestly I have no feelings towards her good or bad… but apparently I am trying to correct the wrongs of my past by picking people who “feel” to me like my mom. I don’t do it conciously mind you, and I actually do feel an attraction and butterflies for these people, but it has to be more than coincedence that all these relationships with all these different people end up in one of two ways… either I try to get closer to them and they break up with me, or we do get closer then I cut and run. Ive really only had one relationship that didnt go this way, and it lasted 12 years and she was not the type of person to fit this description. It seems Ive fallen into this pattern now, because every single woman after I can say more or less they are this type of person. Carefree, social, likes to go out and have fun, not very good with plans or long term goals outside of planning a social calendar, married at least once or multiple times, seem to have a other side to them in which they want to be more stable for their kids or own lives, My last girlfriend, the one I thought was it for me and the reason I found this site, fits this same description too. I didn’t know much about her initially, but I did know she was very outgoing and social and had alot of friends/acquaintances, but the rest of the things came out as we got closer, and although I was so uncomfortable and eventually unhappy I kept going, and went into full saviour mode to try to give her what I thought she was looking for – a family and stable life, and she couldn’t see herself there once it got close and cut and ran… and really broke my heart because unfortunately she was also a fast forwarder and future faker and I thought subconciously I was finally going to redeem myself I guess. She made me think she wanted all of these things, and she probably actually did for a time because she was swept up too as much as she could be – but she went cold so completely and pushed me out that I was left shocked, hurt, and utterly spent. I couldnt have done anymore for her or her kids – and she still tossed me aside. I know I allowed it to happen to myself though and it was bound to happen. and honestly if I look deep down I think I would have left eventually if I had “won her,” because of the cost that had made me resentful underneath from feeling like she could take me or leave me after I became so committed. I need to go against my butterflies from now on and pick people that I don’t get an urge to save – at least see what happens.

    Anyway, kind of a revelation even though people who know me have been telling me for years lol sigh. As far as where I am at, I havent had any contact with her for 35 days now, not a peep of any kind electronic or otherwise. I am still fighting the urge to try to see what she is up to, but I know if I do see anything it just makes me want to get in touch with her, and nothing good can come of that, so I try my best to redirect myself. I have enough self respect not to be greeted with the anger and disdain again that she responded with the last time we had contact – when I asked her if she was seeing other people and she told me she had moved on and for me to please move on too, even while denying she was seeing anyone else but in the same breath saying she wanted to have fun and not be involved in anything f***ing serious. It still hurts that she told me the whole time up until then that she was just getting herseld together and needed this time to herself, and maybe we could try again someday… but like I said self respect will take me where self esteem didnt and she wont hear from me ever again. It still hurts though, I wish it would stop soon. I wish I didnt miss her and want to get a hold of her so bad and get validation from her. That is the type of person she is though, she is done with me so threw me away completely – which tells me that her feelings arent really what either one of us thought they were. If they were I would not be so easy to dispose of. I know I cant.

    I did hear today that she has been partying up quite a bit at some work Christmas parties and with her friends. I didn’t really want to know but was talking to someone who was telling me about seeing her over the weekend – and it made my gut wrench again :(. She even asked me if my ex was ever involved with married men – and once she explained it a little bit I am now worried about what she is doing and the path she is going down. She is apparently being way too friendly to men who are in positions at work higher than her and are also married, and typically significantly older. I dont know that she would ever take that step, and even when she was with me I know she was very socialable with alot of these guys and trusted her completely even though they talked alot, because she was with me all the time anyway. I know she was in a relationship once with a married man, but as soon as it came out he was married (she received a letter from his wife) she broke it off and never contacted him again. I know she has a deep drive to be appreciated and liked though, its an issue for her from her life growing up without it, and she tries so hard to be everything to everyone and to have these people in authority positions “like” her and give her the pat on the back she needs so bad – but I am afraid that at the very least she is getting a questionable reputation (like I heard about today) and at worst she may be getting sucked into doing something she will regret which will cost her even more of her self worth. I dont think she is thinking of how it looks even if its harmless – but other people are noticing, and its not my place to defend her anymore or explain away her actions even though I started to. She threw me away too, shes going to have to live her own life as she sees fit. I dont want to see her fall or her or her kids suffer though – I hope its just a phase for her since we broke up and she gets herself back together :(.

    I still am no contact, and will continue to be… even though my heart tells me to get a hold of her and at least tell her people are starting to talk about her. I know I will just get yelled at though and called a stalker and she’ll keep doing whatever it is she’s doing. And I still have feelngs for her, so I will be looking for crumbs from her that maybe she misses me, loves me, etc… its a fools game and I am not going to play. I can pray for her, and her kids… and that is all I can do. If she wanted to be with me she would be = I need to break my pattern and find someone healthy and good for me.

    I have been dating someone new for about a month how (I know I should be waiting but I think I can handle it). I have my eyes and heart wide open and am not taking any myths or fantasies into this… and she feels so different. I am not feeling butterflies, the attraction was not instant at all and we are slowly getting to know eachother and growing closer, and most of all she has no need to be saved – and she likes to have fun on the same level that I do. She is also a social worker by trade and has a masters in pshycology lol, and I have been open with her about my past and my last relationship and one of the first things she told me is she doesnt need to be saved from anything. She said I am nice, kind, thoughtful, and as far as she can see my biggest fault is I am too nice to the wrong type of people… and I told her if she ever sees anything from me shes concerned about to please let me know and wed talk about it. There havent been any promises made and were just dating, but so far it feels so different for me that I am getting a feeling that maybe this is how a relationship is supposed to be and I need to follow it and see what happens. I miss the instant attraction and the butterflies I wont lie – but where have those got me? Alot of hurt….

    • Skadia says:

      I just wanted to tell you that your ex sounds like my ex TO A T. Though I am a woman and he is a man – so similar, it’s scary. I miss the butterflies too. Just feeling them at all with anyone. I am not really dating anyone – too scared. I think that they really do believe that it work out someday – they just don’t which day that is and if they are wrong (and they often are) they will not expect you to show up at their door looking for “relationship change”. it’s like spending money, not getting all that was promised from the product and expecting change. Sadly you just don’t get change :( hang in there

    • Tulipa says:

      Bob finding out and hearing from friends is not no contact if a friend or people discuss her cut them off and say oh and change the topic.

      If hearing about your ex is gut wrenching then I don’t think you should be dating anybody.

    • La Pintura Bella says:


      I concur with Tulipa. You have a pattern here that you need to break. I hear you STILL wanting to save your ex. She doesn’t want it. And even if she did, it’s a bad, bad idea because then the “saved” person gets resentful, feels one-down to the savior…unhealthy every which way. If she’s getting a “rep,” that’s her business. Stay out of it.

      Um, as for the dating…STOP IT! It’s been 35 freaking days since you got your heart ripped out of your chest and thrown in your face! You think you can handle it??? Try handling being on your own, getting to the point that you don’t feel the need to save anyone but yourself and have really healed from the assclownettes!

      Sorry if this sounds harsh, but dating this soon after what you’ve been through is AVOIDANCE of looking at and working on YOURSELF. And frankly, it’s NOT fair to the new woman. I’m kinda surprised with her background in psychology that she’d even consider dating someone this fresh out of a bad breakup. If it were me, I’d be telling you to come back in a year. There isn’t a fire that you have to rush to put out. Stay platonic with this woman. You are sooooo not ready to be with anyone new and SHE is going to get hurt.

      I am sorry if this sounds like I’m beating you up. I’m very concerned because I still see lots of fantasy going on here and you looking for quick fixes. 35 days is nothing when it comes to moving on…even if it had been a great, healthy relationship. What’s the hurry???

      • natashya says:

        oh bob! i agree with la pintura. why on earth are you dating if you’re still obsessing about your ex? why not take the time and once and for all deal with YOU?

        i see it time and time again that people rush into another relationship only to get the same lesson again and again.

        when i started my ‘relationship’ with the EUM in spring, i thought i was ready. i was in many ways, but the break up showed me i still had things to learn. i am working hard to learn these lessons so i can be fully available for a healthy relationship should the opportunity present itself.

        you are EU yourself right now, still being concerned with your ex. even if the woman you are dating knows you’re fresh out of a relationship, it’s still not fair to her. and yes, i do think we have a responsibility to take care of the other.

        i’ve been avoidant all my life and what did it get me? an EUM i would have loved to spend the rest of my life with, if it wasn’t for the fact that his heart is (and possibly always will be) tied to his ex wife. if he had told me he was still dealing with that, i would have STILL gotten involved with him. my rose tinted glasses would have filtered that out oh so conveniently.

        there’s no short cuts: do the work and become a better, healthier you. i firmly believe that the only way out is through.

        • Bob72 says:

          Yes I guess I am still caught in fantasy a little, and yes I still think about her entirely too much, both of the realities and the fantasies and the coulda woulda shouldas. And some thoughts still hurt, but honestly not as much, and I guess I am being more reflective than anything. I have learned the less I know about her the better now – when I was trying to keep tabs on what she was doing even though I wasnt in direct contact with her it initially felt good or I would get a sigh of relief that I didn’t find out anything earth shattering, but then I noticed I would feel even worse once that initial relief wore off to the point it would drive me mad or I would feel like crying I wanted to get in touch with her so bad. I know now I was just keeping her “alive” and right at the front of my thoughts by doing this even though I wasn’t in contact with her. I am having a relationship with someone who isn’t even there :(. That is not fair to her, me, or anyone else. Regardless of how crappy I think I was treated then or now, she told me it was over and I need to get over thinking I have any say or power to change that whatsoever – the only person I can control is me, and I am trying harder than I ever have.

          I think if I would’ve left her alone the night we said goodbye to eachother instead of hanging on words or feelings and false glimmers of hope, I would probably be totally over it now (almost 3 months instead of just over 1) and not regretting some of the things I did that I feel chased her out of reach for good. I do know I didnt do anything terrible regardless of what she thinks based on her accusing me of stalking her – I didnt show up at her door, at her desk at work, try to catch her on lunch or in the parking lot, follow her around on her free days/weekends, call/text/email her incessantly, stalk her electronically too much – but still no contact at all would’ve left things right where they were at when we said goodbye – the last thing I wouldve remembered is her saying “I will always love you Bob” instead of her swearing at me in a text and not answering my call, and telling me to move on because she has already. And who knows – maybe I would’ve been honorable even in her eyes instead of some pathetic guy who cant get over her like I am sure she feels now. If it ever happens again (and God I hope it never does), immediate no contact and walking away is the only honorable way to go for everyone involved.

          I’m sure alot of that feeling of me being annoying she probably has is from her picking up with someone else too though… its easy to forget about someone when you have fallen for someone else – I’ve been there too. I do know it comes back around though when things don’t work out and you remember that maybe the grass wasn’t any greener, you just didn’t water the old lawn. She is still unavailable anyway, how could she not be when nothing has changed for her whatsoever? She will either do the same thing she did to me to the next guy, or get herself involved with someone who will jerk her around because he will be just as unavailable and she will be attracted to that. I don’t want any part of it anymore, no matter how much I hurt sometimes.

          As for me dating, I know its not the best idea I really do… but man just to be able to talk to someone, share thoughts, laugh a little, smile, see a movie or have dinner… things to let me remember that life has a good side as well even going through this mess… thats why I am doing it. Im not on fast forward, not being sucked into anything because theres nothing to be sucked into. Im not trying to run away from dealing with my issues – I honestly think I can use what I am learning and apply it right now with what I am doing. Get used to the feeling of something “different” that isnt an instant attraction or butterflies all over the place. Sample what a normal slow progression feels like. I made a friend, thats all so far. I know she will ask me or let me know when and if she may be looking for more. I still have alot of stuff to work through and still need to lose my hurt over my breakup, I am not fooling anyone about this, me or her. Im trying to make my circle of friends and family bigger and reconnect to people I let go while I was making my life smaller and all about one person and her kids. And from now on I will leave it “big” and find someone who adds to it naturally and not takes away from it. I won’t steer anyone wrong, just as I never want to be steered wrong again.

          • La Pintura Bella says:

            Please be very, very, very careful. Having a friend is good. Just be careful that she isn’t thinking it’s more. We gals do tend to do that when we like a guy.

            • Sadder but Wiser says:

              Exactly. The next thing that will happen is that this woman will be posting here what we’ve heard time and time again: “I’ve fallen for this guy who keeps telling me he’s not ready for a relationship right now. I don’t think he’s over his ex – but he keeps coming around. That means he really likes me, right?”

  71. Lacy says:

    Allison thanks for the advice.I am at the point where my feelings are going away.He calls and text everyday then my mind goes back to what if he is changing,and I miss out on the man I suppose to be with, then next day or so its the same old bs.This story is long and dramatical.In the summer he came to me begging said he was in the pricess of working on a relationship with me and I set it back by nagging him.Things went okay for a week then one day he left after he asked to borrow my rent money he came back the next morn at 7am which caused me to miss work.At that point I was done but he.kept coming by sitting on my front or to my job.I gave UN and of course got burned again.Now I am focusing on me The desire to be with him is fading.I just have to get it out of my head that he won’t make me an exception and give me the relationship I want and need.I

    • La Pintura Bella says:


      Let me be blunt. He was a jerk before you met him, while you were with him and he’ll be a jerk long after you are gone. These people need a bank safe to fall on their head before they ever decide to change…IF they ever decide to change.

      Stop letting him control your life. Kick his sorry butt to the curb, get healthy and go find a man…not a little boy pretending to be a man. You’ll be so much happier!

      • Victorious says:

        LPB I LOVE the idea of the bank safe falling on their head. Very Wiley Coyote. Thanks for the visual!

        • La Pintura Bella says:

          LOL Victorious! I apparently was on a rather colorful roll last night. Glad I made you giggle.

  72. Lilia says:

    Ladies, after several months of going upwards, out of the pit the ex EUM left me in, I´m not sure if I´m still on the right track. Last weekend, after much thought, I went to a dinner party this guy was also invited to. I wasn´t planning on going but then I thought Why must I interrupt my social life for his sake?

    I even looked forward to face him at last with my BR schooling, to show him I wasn´t his FBG anymore. But he didn´t go! Even though he had confirmed he would (as I found out when I was there).

    It was actually a disappointment and this left me confused because before going there, I didn´t want to see him. But the fact that he blatantly ignored this party he knew I was attending made me feel like I was an object thrown in the dustbin after he had found out he had no use for me.

    Perhaps I was secretly hoping he´d go to try to mend things with me?
    These NPD guys can really wreck your self esteem, reminds me so much of my father.

    Today I found myself composing a letter to him in my mind, telling him I was looking forward to seeing him – while in truth, I wasn´t. I am certain now that this relationship has only given me pain and more pain. I have never felt discarded like this before, whenever I´ve had a breakup my ex boyfriend would at least face me afterwards and show some kind of emotion towards me! But with this narc it´s terrible because I feel like he treats me like dirt. I know I should let it go but suddenly I´m finding that very hard. It very bad for your ego when an AC maintains NC, even if you initiated it.

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Lilia,
      What you just said..”it is very bad for your ego when an AC maintains NC even if you initiated it”. I am totally relating to this right now. I did the NC thing, told him to finally take a flying leap, get out of my life, and he’s actually listening this time. And I’m happy and yet..I’m sad as hell. Maybe I’m realizing that he’s finally over it as well. Maybe I’m wishing he would fight for me. And why the EFF would I want that anyways, he’s not a nice person at all. What is it with these AC’s that have this hold over us!

      • natashya says:

        lilia and andrea,

        be grateful they are holding up their part of the deal and that you are not confronted with them. they have nothing to offer you but turmoil and distress. your ego will get over itself :)

        cheers to recovery!

        • Lilia says:

          Yes I guess you´re right. I´m now trying to rewire my brain into thinking I´m the one who got away and that the EUM is deeply ashamed of his unhonorable behaviour.
          It may not be the truth (which I won´t ever find out anyway with this lying manipulative sob), but it makes me feel better about myself and makes me admire the decision I took of going NC.

  73. AD says:

    This is my AC’s “WANT AD”. I’d like to thank Wildflower for her brilliant idea on her posting from Dec 15th. I have to admit, even I had a good laugh writing this.

    Are you naïve? Do you have a lack of self-esteem and respect? Do you accept words at face value and never questions ambiguous statements and actions?
    If this has caught your attention, then please look no further. I’m your guy. I am the one for you. I love to play mind games. I will come into your life and turn it upside down. I’m charming, funny, sexy, a very alpha-type male and I know all the right things to say. I will have you believing that you can fly, that’s how much I can manipulate you into anything. You may have a few boundaries at first, but have no fear; I will make you forget these in a pretty short period of time. I know what to say to you to make you believe I care about you. I will take you out on a few measly dates, make you feel special; tell you that I’m thinking of you, that I miss you. I will show up unannounced at your door. You won’t know what hit you. I will text you night and day and just when you start to show you are really interested, I will back off. I will stop texting. I will avoid you. I will say something mean or just basically ignore you. You will be very confused and hurt but I will be back! I like to blow hot and cold, it’s one of my best assets. On top of everything you have read so far, I also have a girlfriend that you will come to understand is actually okay with you. You won’t ever question my relationship with her because you will now be too smitten with me. Oh, and I will usually let you down, I’m very adept at not being responsible or doing what I say I’m going to do. I’ll string you along because it’s what is best for me…but you’ll never know that because I’ll twist it so you believe I’m all about you. And wait the sex? I will tell you how awesome YOU are, how you are the best I’ve ever had. I will compliment your “skills” and your body to no end. I will brag to you about how much I am going to do to you, what I am going to do to you, and then when we actually meet up and have sex? I won’t do any of those things that I said I was going to do because basically, I just need to get off. You see my girlfriend isn’t giving me sex at present so I am a really horny guy and need a lot of attention. Don’t worry, once she starts having sex with me, I’ll disappear as I’ll be taken care of. In the meantime though, you will have someone who desires you fully.
    You will trust me, I will do whatever it takes to win you over, for only a short time.

  74. Alibi says:

    I have just re-read this article, and lots of other posts as I am having the most awful day, and so tempted to break NC which I have maintained for two months now. Having found this website in 2010 when I encountered a severely disordered individual who covered the whole gamut of control and manipulation, from mind-games to temper tantrums, and having successfully rid myself of him, I met a man who could not have been a more polar opposite. This time last year, I was on cloud nine. He was everything that was different. Kind, loving, generous, affectionate, blah blah blah. But how thick was I? He told me he loved me after three weeks, asked me to move in with him after just a few weeks more … And despite my natural wariness, I was totally convinced that this.was.it. I admit to my own foolishness, because underneath it all he was just the same as the man who led me here initially, but I didn’t see it until it was too late. He positively encouraged me to dispose of my possessions because he had everything we would need, I rented my house out long term, and turned down the best job opportunity I will ever have because he didn’t want us to be long distance, didn’t want us to spend a night apart. Bliss. He kept saying that I should never worry, that I would be safe with him …NOT. This article really made me realise just how ludicrous it all was. On the one hand, he would tell me to make myself at home, but then would criticise everything I did around the house, which turned into him criticising my appearance but ever so covertly. I honestly thought I was going mad, and then there was a butterfly-filled period of months where he just withdrew emotionally a little bit more every day. Stopped sending texts (which had been relentless at the start), stopped replying to my messages … Or I would get one word. BUSY! (No x ), he stopped taking an interest in anything I did, was sullen with my friends and family, and I realised I was having to organise even talking to my friends on the phone around whether he was in or out. I was trying harder and harder to be 1950s housewife whilst holding down a seriously disruptive responsible confrontational job. The harder I tried,the more he resented me, and his face was set in an emotionless mask. That set off the fear and the anxiety. Fear of being rejected, fear of being homeless, fear of being alone. So I tried harder again. Remembering at least some of my schooling from here before, after two days of silent treatment, I tried to talk to him, to tell him about my needs and my boundaries. Result … He drew himself up to his full height, stared at me with cold eyes and said “you have just verbally assaulted me. You are bullying me, and I won’t be bullied”. Had we not been on holiday in a remote location, I would have run away there and then. That was fear of HIM. But then came an apology … Followed by yet another lecture on my many domestic crimes. Stupidly I agreed to try and improve in that area ..but would he please not be so withdrawn ? Result? Knowing that I was starting to feel anxious, he racked it up a bit more. Silent treatment deluxe, coming in late and not telling me why, more rigid rules to follow, on and on. I felt as if the sword if Damocles was hanging above my head. I KNEW I was getting crumbs by then, so was it arrogance or fear that made me twist and turn, adapt and accommodate even more. Walking on bloody eggshells. And when the end came, it was brutal. We woke up, had sex, then he said he didn’t think it was working. When I asked him how he could have just had sex with me? He said he felt loving towards me then!!! What sort of person says that? So my fear of the fear of all the things I feared were founded. And I did think I deserved it because I had become anxious and lost my sparkle, but he seemed to know which buttons to push to turn down the sparkle further. Was it love? I no longer know. I thought it was, but the sick gut-wrenching feeling of not knowing where I stood was definitely worse than leaving for my friend’s house with my belongings in bin bags. I will never understand how I could not have been more careful or less reckless with this man, but it was such a gradual process of control that I hardly noticed until I had put all my eggs in one basket. After all his criticism, and his callous disregard for my immediate situation following the break up (he wanted it to happen ina controlled manner!), I am still struggling to think it was not my fault because I was not good enough. This was a highly intelligent man, well respected professionally but with no male friends (though lots of exes who were friends. He offered me that privilege and I declined). So much work to do now, but I do feel liberated from his watchful eye now I have my own place. A small pleasure, but my friends and family say they recognise me again. I put on the bravest face I can, but am raging at myself for not paying more attention and being utterly fooled by Prince Charming who underneath it all was as cold and manipulative as EUM no 1.

    • La Pintura Bella says:


      I’m not a qualified professional, HOWEVER, this guy is NOT EU. I would bet my own life he is a full blown malignant Narcissist. That means he’s right up there with sociopaths. HE IS PSYCHOLOGICALLY DEFECTIVE.

      You have been very traumatized, which is why you continue to blame yourself and feel responsible. It was NOT love, it WAS ABUSE. Nothing more.

      Please seek help with a therapist. This is a lot of trauma to overcome. HUGE HUG!!!!

      • Alibi says:

        Thank you LPB, I have an appointment with a therapist but not for ages so am trying to help myself. I was thinking of signing up for a course here, if I can stretch the finances that far (trying to start from scratch with a new place). I suddenly remembered a day of huge pain, when he said I needed to do more in the garden because he was busy working. I spent all bloody day pulling out weeds, but whenever I went in, he was on Facebook! I asked him if he wanted a coffee (as he was obviously so busy -left unsaid of course), and when I took it to him, he said “goodness me, you are all creased and crumpled and mucky. Not a bit like The woman in The Good Life, she always looked lovely in Wellies!” Inside, screaming I have just done the bloody garden. Response? Fear: I am losing him, I must do garden and be glamorous. I am worthless. He can’t see me any more. And he is playing games, because Facebook is not work.

        It has taken this period of NC to realise that a lot of it was about subtle control, but control all the same. And although I was unhappy, the deep issue is why I was prepared to wind my neck in (mainly because that one time I challenged him, he said I was a bully ). He had told me in the past that he had left his wife years ago because she was a control freak! I wonder ……?

        • truth=freedom says:

          Dear Alibi,
          I, too have been where you are now. Its natural to feel angry, but dont feel angry with yourself. These type of people are master manipulators, they make themselves the knight in shining armour in the beginning and slowly unfold till they are just a big jerk wrapped in tin foil. Read, read and re read all of Nat’s blogs, they are empowering and a special one for you to read is, ‘Is he a chopper’. My ex AC also called his wife a control freak, she was unemotional, stubborn, heartless and over time as he unfolded he was describing himself and not his ex wife. He still kept her as a friend, took her out every year for her birthday (I was unaware of this till just before the relationship ended.) The last Christmas we spent together he gave me my Xmas gift..a deluxe pamper package from a select beauty salon…..how wonderful you say…it would have been, had the ex wife’s NAME not been written on the gift card package!!!! He wanted it back so that he could give me my PROPER present..he DEMANDED it back….I said NO…I kept it, went for the most beautiful pampering of my life, enjoyed every minute! (did feel a bit strange being called Clare for the whole experience but what the heck)!!! BAZINGA! Hope Clare enjoyed the mini pedi!!!!
          I went NC after this, huge eye opener, am wide awake now, of course had a couple of slip ups where I met for coffee and allowed him to yank my chain but totally NC now, absolutely no regrets.
          You will get through this, hugs.

          • truth=freedom says:

            P.S As far as his reference to Felicity Kendals role in the Good Life in her wellies. Tell your AC it was TV you douch, she is an actress playing a role…..time for you Alibi to say lights, camera, action FLUSH!!!!

            • Alibi says:

              Ha ha yes, I just wish I could switch him off so easily in my head. He has been there lots today. Somebody who did not know we broke up asked what we were doing for Christmas and it suddenly brought on bout of sadness. Euurgh. Must not give in!! x

  75. Skadia says:

    Wanted to ask if anyone ever experienced an Achilles heal person. By that I mean, someone that seems to breeze right past your alarm bells. I know what pain is and drama is and I worked all my life and finally got a place where I was in really good relationships with men. Then I dated the sociopath (well at least that was the armchair diagnosis my therapist gave). My entire world was flipped upside down once I left as I realized I hadn’t gotten as far as I thought – I was shocked and bewildered I HAD NOT HEALED! WHAT WAS GOING ON???? I took my time, went NC (even had to issue a do not contact order through a lawyer) and he proceeded to date my best friend (obviously things between us fell out). I felt I was on the mend and I could reasonably see myself returning to normal – simply a blip, right? Followed the sociopath with the AC. Now, being realistic, I have to admit I was probably not healed after 6 mos of intense therapy/NC – the evidence shows it. But for whatever reason, I really really thought I was! Given everything I had gotten myself out of and everything I was so raw from… WHY did an AC get past my radar? And if I could leave an sociopath and AC, why is getting them out of my head so hard. I feel like a toy that was roughly used and is now broken forever.:/

    (experiencing a moment of self doubt as my friend ran into said ex-best friend and she is still with the sociopath – am I the crazy messed up one?)

    • La Pintura Bella says:

      Um no. Your friend is certainly crazy. 6 months of therapy is really not much. And if you’ve been dealing with a sociopath, it’s gonna take more. They are PROFESSIONAL assclowns when it comes to manipulation and hurting people…just because they can and they get a thrill out of it.

      Quit beating yourself up. Don’t put time limits on yourself. It will take as long as it takes. And BTW, these guys are drawn to you/us because WE have what they lack. Do you blame the person who is mugged??? No! So stop blaming yourself. These guys, EUs, ACs, Narcs, Sociopaths…they are emotional and psychological muggers!

      • Skadia says:

        There’s one flashing sign that I wish I could take out of the shop window! And yes, I realize now, I was not healed. Mildly frustrated but I suppose what will be, will be :/

  76. On Leaving Sugarland says:

    “Nat said “Can’t a man even talk to you?” and I thought, ‘evidently not’.”

    …pain isn’t fantasy…”

    A ‘nice guy’ at work just talked to me, and yes the fantasies started spinning in my head, simply because I found him attractive–what is that? Oh, and he made me feel safe.

    My feelings for him have since expired, as he unfolded (didn’t like what I discovered about him), and I deemed it not in my best interest to get involved with someone at work. The intensity is gone; the declarations of “he is the one” seem so silly now; yet, I remember how it felt to want him after only knowing him for two seconds, and I am grateful to have overcome another pattern, or so I thought, until the next handsome bloke talked to me, and although he did not make me feel “safe,” I still managed to run off in my head with fantasies because he talked to me every day at work.

    WTH? I dunno why a handsome man just talking to me sends me so…. I think I just want that feeling of ‘connection’ because it feels so good to really be able to talk to someone who you think…whatever…

    It sort of felt like intimacy.

    I still talk to the handsome bloke, but now I try to stay in reality, and believe you me, it isn’t easy because I can’t find anything wrong with his face, and I just get lost in it.

    And of course, he has a girlfriend, and of course he keeps approaching me, and I keep trying to play it cool, as if he isn’t turning me on…and I changed my schedule, and I have distanced myself from him.

    I really saved myself from crossing the line in my head, and I say this because nothing is really going on between us in reality–I pretty much flushed my own AC behavior by reminding myself that he has a girl friend and asking myself some important questions, and I concluded that if he were to get involved with me, that would make him a cheat, and if I were to get involved with him that would be a violation of my values.

    I wish I could say that him having a girlfriend immediately caused me to back off, but it didn’t.

    It was more like a struggle: me flirting, him flirting, me changing my perfume, and dressing nicer, and then saying wth am I doing, and doing a 180. I suppose that is alright…progress not perfection.

    I have found so much comfort in fantasies, and I know it. However, I just decided to give them up yesterday. It hurts because I am–once again–experiencing the familiar pain of knowing that I am ‘alone’, and I really do want a man in my life. I want a companion; I want a relationship, and I wanted a ‘normal’, happy family as a child, and…BUT I’ve decided that I will walk through this pain again…as hard as it is…. And, I am trying to let go of it once and for ALL…can I?

    It feels really weird and sad to sit with the reality…and the feelings of “you don’t have anyone in your life–man-wise–nope, you really don’t, stop pretending, stop fantasizing and face it–you cannot fix the past with the affections of a man–you will never have the dad you always wanted….”

    I used to think that God was going to send me a ‘good’ man, and I would have a story book family, and God would do this to make up for the lousy family that I grew up in…. Yes, I’ve been looking to make up for the past, to make sense of it.

    Coming to terms with why God would put me in such of a miserable place is difficult sometimes, but it subsides when I feel grateful for what I do have; yes, I am starting to close the door now on the “wanting a storybook family thing.”

    I never thought that I would close this door–but I am ready to release the pain, and accept that it is, and I don’t know why God …, but I want to find acceptance…damn, didn’t I say that last year?

    …starting to find things in my life that I really enjoy.

    I want to relax and stop creating drama in my life; I’m continue to take more action to find more peace and happiness for me and my family.

    And, as far as men go, I’ve decided to stop looking, especially at work! WTH?

    Yes, pain is not love, and pain can lead to growth, but you know what, I’m thinking, I’m ready to find some other way to grow.

    Thank you all–I think I’m finally, really, on my way to heading out of Sugarland.

    P.S. I think integrity in a man is one key…not looks…success, education, etc…yep, pffffffttt– they unfold….

    • La Pintura Bella says:

      Good for you, Leaving SugarLand.

      Can I offer a different way of looking at being “alone” and why God would DO this to you???

      I believe everything happens for a reason and it’s 99.9999999% of the time for a reason other than what we think it is. Maybe God put you into your family because your parents needed to learn something and YOU are the messenger??? Or perhaps YOU are the one who needs to learn something????

      God didn’t DO this to you to punish you. And He WILL send you a “good man” when you are ready to deal with that good man in reality.

      So pat yourself on the back! Your decision today just brought you one step closer to getting YOUR good man!

    • Magnolia says:


      Just want to say that I can really relate to where you are just now, catching yourself in the fantasizing and dealing with those expectations of finding love as a kind of prize for surviving childhood. Yep, yep, and yep.

      For what it’s worth, the amount of self-awareness and self-acceptance in your post that shines through suggests wonderful things for you in the future. It’s not like you’re going to forget how to see reality now that you know you want to live happily ever after in it. What I mean is, some of the lessons you learned will never leave you, some you’ll have to practice until you get even more insight that will never leave you …

      Here’s to staying in reality and to acceptance of non-storybook stories that can still be pretty darn cool, exciting, and full of love.

  77. espresso says:

    I am having a hard time right now because I am going back over the sadness, pain and exhaustion from all the things that have happened to me in the past year+ instead of celebrating the courage I have shown. I ended a long term marriage that was like an emotional desert to me and that I had stayed in too long because I was afraid that it was wrong to reject a man with “good points” and that I had no right to accept and to meet my own deeper needs for communication, emotional engagement and an adult to adult relationship (rather than a parent/child relationship where I made most of the decisions). I was doing really well initially until my ex, who said his priority was to work on himself and build the very best relationship he could with me, very quickly started an intense emotional committment with a woman he happened to meet on a plane (????) The timing of this was horrific as I had agreed to meet him for a hiking holiday with my daughter a few days after his plane trip. He completely denied the emotional engagement part even though reading his emails (sent though our business account) had all the subtlety of a 12 year old boy. Why was I traumatized so much when I initiated the breakup and don’t want to be married to him anymore?
    I think the event finally forced me to see so clearly that the man hasn’t a clue either about me or about his own needs, motives or how he comes across and so being around him is and has been dangerous to me emotionally. It took me 5 months to get over this and whatever it meant it really really traumatized me. I guess I had never seen it all so clearly before. Oh, and then after this I got into a friendship with a man I helped on a support site i run…I don’t usually become friends with people but he was funny, smart, interesting and emotionally communicative…not intimate but expressed opinions which was refreshing to me. Of course he was the BR definition of ac and as soon as I saw his future faking and MY making a relationship out of nothing (because I was so vulnerable) I checked him off and out.

    I have made a lot of changes in my life, I feel stronger and much more aware but I still get confused, anxious and afraid that I am stuck. I am heavily invested in work projects, other interests, my kids (although they are adults, friends, I love working out and running. But the concept of having another relationship…just exhausts me….I AM exhausted and would rather sit in a corner with a good book and a latte. This Christmas I will be spending more time with my ex and this was my hope- that we could be close and supportive friends in the areas we share (kids, politics, property and business – a lot). But honestly spending a lot of time with him makes me feel very edgy -like I used to feel…it IS a form of pain…I realize that he just does not have the capacity to connect emotionally so weird feelings between us are NEVER even experienced by him but I feel his lack of emotional awareness intensely..still. I really do NOT think I want/need/anything from him anymore but I would like to protect myself from him in a better way. How can I do this if strict NC isn’t an option?
    I would like to be able right now to give myself validation in terms of how I have handled this year and the strength and insight I have shown but today at least-it’s hard.

    • natashya says:

      espresso, i have read your posts before. you are brave and courageous. that doesn’t mean you can’t feel sad about what happened. embrace these feelings, you are still healing.

      i have started to read a book by pema chodron: ‘when things fall apart’. it is beautiful and has been giving me a lot of strength.

      hang in there, one day at a time ((hugs))

  78. Helen says:

    My daughter has been going through a break up/make up cycle with her boyfriend for the last ear. Her aunt gave a great analogy….it’s like quitting smoking, the pain and desire is overwhelming but the longer you go without the better you will feel.

  79. Mumsthwd says:


  80. Natalie G says:

    Hi Natalie , i saw your blog advertised and i am amazed … i so needed to hear this right now .. Thank you .
    I think I also will be treating myself this Christmas to your book/s

    Merry Christmas

    Love & light


  81. espresso says:

    Thank you for the hugs and support Natashyia! I actually have that book in my bookshelf and will pull it out. It was a down day yesterday…but I feel much stronger today.Healing really IS so up and down…..
    Hugs back!!

  82. SLW says:

    This reminds me of the relationship I just got out of 4 months ago. If you grew up in a chaotic household like myself, all you know is drama. Pain is the normal way of life. It becomes an oxymoron because when a relationship is going normal, to someone like myself it doesn’t feel right. Something must be wrong if there is no fighting or tense emotion. It’s truly an addiction.

    My last boyfriend had a slew of short term relationships with nut jobs. The last before me lasted 4 months, she tried to commit suicide twice. Once while he was with me in order to get his attention. It did the job… He went back to her not even a month after our 2 year relationship ended. Let alone our 5 year friendship prior. He was the emotionally unavailable, shows no emotions kind of dude. It was very push pull; he would open up, push me away. Just when I would get a bread crumb of hope that he is feeling comfortable to be open, he closes.. Withdraws from me. He was the type where when we would have an argument instead of speaking about it like adults he would become silent and telling me “I’ll never be good enough for you.” It was honestly one of the most addicting relationships I’ve ever been in. Because I thought I was the exception. Just like my alcoholic parents I thought, well if I just do this a little differently then my mom will stop drinking. Like with my ex, I always blamed myself. Thinking if I approached him differently or said it in a different light he would have spoke about it with me. Not the case. He would tell me I was acting like his mother, which was a jab at my heart because his mother was very critical of him and I walked on eggshells to not be anything remotely close to that. I’m not sure if any of you have been through this… He always had a sort of intimacy issue. We were 22 when we started dating. He had no sex drive, no desire to have sex. When your 22 that all you really want to do when you first start dating. It was a red flag I chose to ignore. It was like this for our whole relationship. He would give me an excuse such as I live in my parents house, I promised my dad I wouldn’t or he would use the fact that his sister had an abortion 7 years ago as an excuse that hes scared to have sex. He would of course always give me a glimmer of hope and we would have great sex and then he would take it away, and I would have to beg or ask if we or when are we going to have sex next. He blamed me, that if I hadn’t acted in a certain way maybe he would want to have sex with me. Once we went 3 months, no sex. Red flag 23453. I literally got to the point of begging. Then we would have an adult conversation he said he would try and work on it… he didnt, and if he did it was for a day. Then at the end, he just imploded. Verbal abuse flew out the window left and right. I stayed because I was addicted to the pain. The pain felt like passion. It was not passion. It was pain. It took a long time to look at it and see that it was a toxic relationship. I couldnt fix him. At the end of our hellish break up. Not even a month later he went back to his “crazy” ex of 4 months. I am baffled. Yet happy that I dont have to deal with it anymore. Thank God I saw the light.

  83. Seekingshyness says:

    I find that I’m attracted to socially awkward, shy guys…that don’t reciprocate on the same level as I do. The thing is, the guy I like now (who is shy, and with whom I was very close a couple of months back) is avoiding me, but I’m not sure if it’s because he’s shy and likes me or because he’s not interested. I am afraid of moving on because of the possibility that he may have been interested and that I let the opportunity slide… Honestly, I think that otherwise, I’ve done all I could to get him on board, perhaps he’s just slow to respond… I don’t know, but he hasn’t really shown any signs of affection for 3 months now: after we got really close, he just tells me “I have to go” every time I am near him. I think I will let it go, but there is still that slight fear that he might like me…

  84. Tinkerbell says:

    This is very late in coming because I’ve been soooo busy having less time to be attentive to the posts. But I’ve just gotta say in response to the poster who said No Contact is a mental state. It absolutely is. However, if you are in the position where you must see that person each day or once a week, month, etc, I don’t see how you can be NC if you are responding to his attempts to engage you. NC is NOT ONLY MENTAL. That’s a cop out. It has got to be physical as well. When he opens his mouth he is talking to the air because you have vanished. You don’t stick around to give him an opportunity, an then give one word responses. i don’t feel that is really trying to discourage communication. We too often are afraid of appearing angry. So what! Where did playing nicey-nicey get us? If you cannot physically remove yourself then you IGNORE. You gotta send the strongest message possible so he gets it unmistakeably. And you don’t give it another thought. End of story.

  85. malaise says:

    Natalie could also add obsession to that list. OBSESSION IS NOT LOVE.

    As someone who lives very much inside their head I realize I have a tendency to over-analyze and obsess over situations This is a pattern not only with romantic partners but with social interaction in general. I think it all comes down to having no self-worth, so I live and die by OTHER people’s validation of me. It’s an incredibly unhealthy and self-destructive way to live.

    My day could be ruined if I think someone at work is mad at me, or if I said something “dumb” at a meeting. I’d go home and ruminate and obsess for hours and possibly days after the fact. So imagine how crazy obsessed I get in a romantic relationship? I’m giving not only my mind but my body to this person, so I’m going to be that much more vulnerable and invested in what they think of me. Once I’m hooked it’s like I can’t let go until I have their approval. It’s not because I love them, it’s because I want THEM to love ME.

    I remember reading another post on BR a while ago that said basically: If it feels bad, then that’s all you need to know. From now on whenever I get that gut feeling that something is wrong, I’m going to stay with it and trust that feeling instead of always trying to rationalize and talk myself out of my own instincts.

  86. teachable says:


    There are PLENTY of ppl around who are stats boffins! This twat ISNT the only one! If ALL he’s done is help to crunch yr numbers & tidy up the edges of the reporting on YR research then, I’m sorry, it’s not even HIS research! It’s YOURS! Please, see this more clearly…

  87. ShockandAwe says:

    I just broke up with my narcissist boyfriend for the second time in the 6 months that we’ve known each other. He finally pushed me beyond my limits. You can’t imagine how patient I have been, how “nice” I tried to be, just to fix the problems that arose with the latest drama that he created out of nothing. We are in a long-distance relationship, though he comes to my country often for business. He had been telling me that he was going to book vacation with his company and come visit me over Christmas. Since the beginning of December, he kept promising me that he was going to book his flight very soon. Every day it was the same story — one excuse or another as to why he couldn’t book it. First it was the fact that he was working insane shifts (19 hours a day, 7 days a week), then it was the fact that his laptop monitor died.. I bought both excuses, because I had seen his monitor acting weird before, and it’s not unreasonable that it may have “died” on him. OK, fine. But he could’ve borrowed a laptop from a friend and bought the ticket that way. Or, gotten the ticket when he got his laptop back (a week ago). But even then, he took about a week to get down to actually searching for tickets. By then, ticket prices had skyrocketed, and he told me there’s no way he’s willing to put in 1000 British pounds to come visit me. I had even been willing to buy the ticket from here, and get reimbursed for it later on when he came here, but he had rejected that possibility. OK, fair enough, maybe he was being chivalrous and respecting me by not wanting me to put in the money, but combined with his behaviour, his pickiness every time I found a flight (he would complain about the departure time being too early, etc.), all made me wonder if he really wanted to come visit me or if he was just playing a mind game to make it look like he had done his best and *wanted* to see me, but it unfortunately did not work out. Anyway, he then sent me a text message, saying that his trip to Thailand for work in mid-January had been cancelled, and so he could come visit me then, when ticket prices were cheaper, but that he’d keep checking for last minute cheap tickets for Christmas anyway. I was pretty pissed at that: I had put my Christmas travel plans on hold (I usually go visit my sister, and I don’t go for a few days, I usually spend both Christmas and New Year’s with her, which means that if I had booked my flight to go see my sister, my bf would not have been able to come anyway). He just blew me off last minute, without even so much as an apology. Not only that, but he ASSUMED that I’d be able to accommodate him in January. Of course. Given that the universe revolves around his narcissistic self, I’d have to conform to his schedule all the time. Anyway, I was upset, so I didn’t reply to that text, because I didn’t want to say anything that would make him throw another one of his tantrums (I always walk on eggshells around him). I guess it was a mistake. I should’ve been overjoyed that he blew me off last minute like that, apparently. THe fact that I did not, got to him and his ego. He then accused me of ignoring him for a full day. Sent me an email, saying that it was over between us. I called him, and he yelled at me, saying he doesn’t need this sort of drama in his life, that he just wants to have a good, relaxing, fun time. And he hung up on me without even letting me explain my point of view (of course, I am not supposed to have an opinion). I then showered him with texts literally groveling and begging his forgiveness, telling him I was sorry, that I didn’t mean to upset him, etc. I asked him if we could talk the next morning. He ignored that. Sent him another text while he was at work, saying I hoped we could talk tonight, and he replied “yeah ok.” Called him at night (he didn’t even text me to let me know he was home), and he picked up the phone (to my surprise). Icy cold conversation, and we just ended it without a fight. He asked me if I wanted to talk later on tonight, and I said, yeah, sure, but it’s up to you, if you want to… He then said, fine, never mind, speak later… What the hell? I was bewildered. I then wondered if I hadn’t seemed interested enough in talking to him, so I texted him that I was on Skype if he wanted to talk. He texted me back saying he wasn’t in a good mood, too much pressure at work, etc., and said “speak later ok?” I said, sure, keep me posted on how work goes. I was pretty upset, but didn’t want to push my luck. An hour after that, he texts me and we have a casual conversation via text. He tells me he’s still taking a vacation (but spending it at home, watching tv). I was disappointed because he’s taking 16 days of holiday and we’re not even spending time together. Anyway, I told him, good for you. I then asked him if he had any plans to come visit me over the next year. He said “No. What a question.” I was baffled by his reaction. WHAT? He then accused me of being moody, impossible to talk to, etc. – the way I phrased my questions were apparently not to his liking. Suggested that we take a break from talking to each other for a few days. Said that I never talk about his concerns with his job (which is bullshit, because before this whole drama, I called him and we talked every day for 1 hour, and most of it was him talking about his job, his frustrations with what was going on at his workplace, etc.). When I told him that we had always talked about his job, etc., he said, “yeah that’s just smalltalk — like how’s work, what’s the weather like, etc.” WHAT? OH MY GOD. I was this close to losing it then and there. I didn’t, though. I kept my cool. He then said he was going for a cigarette, and said “speak later, ok? x.” I said ok and then I remembered that I had asked a ticket agency about the prices of tickets, and she had told me that it was about 860 pounds (not 1000 pounds as he claimed). And then I said I was going out for dinner and beer, and that I hoped he’d enjoy the rest of his evening. The next morning, I sent him a few cute pictures of animals, before he left for work. Said good morning, etc. No reply. Sent another text, asking if he was awake, and realized that while the first messages were marked as “delivered”, the latest one was marked as “sent” only, not “delivered.” Which meant that he had seen the first few messages, and turned off his phone and left for work (he is not allowed to take his personal phone into the base where he works). I was fuming. He was giving me the silent treatment. After all the groveling and begging I had done in the past few days to set things right, I was expecting a bit less of a cold treatment. But apparently that was too much to ask for. I sent him a text, telling him I had had enough of his shitty treatment after I had groveled and begged to set things right even though I had a good reason to be upset about the flight situation. I told him not to talk about chivalry (he always talked about that) until he learns how to respect women and treat them properly. I asked him not to contact me until he found it in himself to apologize. I told him that stress is no excuse to make me walk on eggshells all the time, and to force me to beg for his forgiveness for days. He got the message when he got back from work in the evening. Shortly thereafter, he deleted me from Skype. Did not reply to my text. I am assuming it’s over. I was so scared of sending that message. I had thought of doing it 3 days ago, after the first round of groveling produced a mere ice-cold treatment on his part.. but I was too scared. Too scared that things would REALLY end. Even now, I still have hope that he will come back to me and will probably accept a semblance of an apology if that means we can go back to having what we used to have. This relationship (if you can call it that) has been such a rollercoaster. Maybe it’s not good for me and my health and my career, but there are times when he’s so sweet and attentive, and loving, and it just makes me think that it’s all worth it. Most of the time, I feel guilty, though. I feel sorry for him, because I know he can be a good, caring person. I also feel incredibly guilty about that last text I sent him. It must be so hard to come home after a long day at work and find a break-up text on your phone. :( I wouldn’t want anyone to do that to me, but I had to do it for my own sanity. Did I overreact? Did he have good reason to be upset when I didn’t reply to his text mssg about the flight? I don’t know. I constantly question my own behaviour. I never used to do that. :(

    • Alibi says:

      Just read this and no, although it is a bit rich coming from me just now, I would not question what you did. I absolutely hate control and manipulation by phone…and this is what the asshole has done. It made my blood boil because it triggered memories of the bastard that led me here in 2010, and latterly the reason I am back (to get it right I hope). The phone can be an instrument of torture, and coupled with you twisting yourself up in knots, arranging your plans around only for him to act like an arse, expecting you to grovel and ignore you when you do …aaaarggh! Still thinking you overreacted? I say good for you. Like many of these jerks, the hook is that he can be sweet etc etc. CAN be. But chooses not to be when he is not calling the shots. I can’t say too much about questioning behaviour, because I am wearing that hat with AC 2 at the moment, but lots of wise folk here who would say that is part of their game plan. You are well rid. Honestly.

      • ShockandAwe says:

        Thanks, Alibi. I just coincidentally discovered today that his ex is returning to his country over the holidays (the same day that he was so desperate to return home from his job abroad). She is apparently is meeting up with a few old friends and acquaintainces there. I am now wondering if the fact that he bailed on visiting me is due to the fact that he got a message or an email from her to meet up? That could explain a lot, because even after I found tickets that cost only $100 more than the cheapest one (the one he had said he would be willing to get), he declined. If she was the reason for it, I would be doubly-pissed because he put me on the back burner in order to explore the possibility of getting back with his ex. Disgusting.

  88. Akirama says:

    Think about it, if you treated an assclown like he treats you..He would never stay around for bad treatment so why should you???

  89. Frank says:

    An extremely powerfull post..It made me teary eyed.

  90. La Pintura Bella says:


    I’m going to use excerpts from your post in my reply. I don’t now how to bold, so my replies will be in Caps…I’m not shouting. 😀

    “I just broke up with my narcissist boyfriend for the second time in the 6 months that we’ve known each other.” TWO BREAKUPS IN 6 MONTHS…BECAUSE HE’S A NARCISSIST! DO YOURSELF A FAVOR. RUN, RUN, RUN AS FAST AND AS FAR AS YOU CAN. YOU WILL BE SAVING YOUR SNITY, YOUR DIGNITY, YOUR SENSE OF SELF. IN SHORT, YOUR EMOTIONAL LIFE.




    “…combined with his behaviour, his pickiness every time I found a flight (he would complain about the departure time being too early, etc.), all made me wonder if he really wanted to come visit me or if he was just playing a mind game to make it look like he had done his best and *wanted* to see me, but it unfortunately did not work out.” BINGO!!! NO NEED TO WORRY, ANALYZE, ETC. YOU JUST SPOKE THE 100% TRUTH. YOU’VE NAILED HIS M.O.

    “Anyway, he then sent me a text message, saying that his trip to Thailand for work in mid-January had been cancelled, and so he could come visit me then, when ticket prices were cheaper, but that he’d keep checking for last minute cheap tickets for Christmas anyway.” THROWING YOU A BONE TO KEEP YOU QUIET AND TO NOT QUESTION HIM. NARCS ABHOR BEING QUESTIONED BY LESSER MORTALS…MEANING BY ANYONE ELSE ON THE ENTIRE PLANET.

    “He just blew me off last minute, without even so much as an apology.” DON’T EVEN EXPECT ONE. YOU’LL BE WAITING UNTIL THE END OF TIME. THEY DON’T APOLOGIZE.

    “Not only that, but he ASSUMED that I’d be able to accommodate him in January. Of course. Given that the universe revolves around his narcissistic self, I’d have to conform to his schedule all the time.” YOU ARE SEEING HIM CLEARLY. IS THIS REALLY WHAT LOVE LOOKS LIKE??? IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE??? TRUST ME, IT WILL ONLY GET WORSE. HE IS SHOWING YOUU WHO HE REALLY IS AND WHO HE WILL ALWAYS BE.

    “I was upset, so I didn’t reply to that text, because I didn’t want to say anything that would make him throw another one of his tantrums (I always walk on eggshells around him). THIS IS NOT ONLY TYPICAL WITH NARCS…YOU WALKING ON EGGSHELLS…BUT IT IS A HUGE, GIGANYIC, ENORMOUS RED FLAG!!! HE IS PERSONALITY DISORDERED. IT’S NOT CURABLE. GET OUT BEFORE HE LITERALLY DESTROYS YOU…WHICH IS HIS MAIN OBJECTIVE. COUNT ON IT!

    “I should’ve been overjoyed that he blew me off last minute like that, apparently. The fact that I did not, got to him and his ego.”


    i can’t continue to go through thi line by line. It’s triggering me. I will say this however:

    He is a Narcissist. It is a disorder. It IS NOT curable. He does not see you as a person, a separate being with needs, wants, desires, thoughts, opinions of your own. You are, TO HIM, a possession, an object and extension of him. In his mind, you are to think as he thinks; feel what he feels; believe what he believes; want what he wants. His goal iis to literally insinuate himself into every single facet of your life until you have no life of your own, no will of your own. If you deviate in ANY way, YOU will be punished.

    I can’t state this any clearer. I am not being dramatic or overstating the seriousness of being involved with a narcissist. Narcs, sociopaths, borderline personalities ARE assclowns on steroids. You CANNOT fix this. You CANNOT “handle” it. You CANNOT change it and you CANNOT love him into loving you. They are incapable of giving and receiving love. Period.

    My father is a narcissist. He actually has said to my face, “Don’t you know your ONLY reason for existing is to serve me?” He said it and he meant it with every fiber of his being. THIS PERFECTLY STATES HOW THEY THINK. THIS IS THEIR TRUE WORLD VIEW.

    I am begging you, please get out NOW. You have a choice. This is your chance. Go 100% NC, block him, change your number. Leave and NEVER look back. You have a chance to escape. Should you stay, or go back, you quite literally are volunteering to have your soul destroyed, one day at a time, inch by inch. And he WILL do that. It is how his brain is wired.

    You will be in my thoughts. Please, give yourself the best Christmas present EVER and do not engage any further with this guy. (hugs)

    I have 50 years experience with this. It took me 40 years to realize that this was not normal and 10 years of therapy to finally understand and believe that I have a God-given right to exist and to be.

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.